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Amazon's Kindle Textbook Creator turns authors into teachers (and vice versa)

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 18:36
While e-books are everywhere, electronic textbooks never really caught on, despite their potential to bring immersive learning at a lower cost. Amazon is trying to change that with the Kindle Textbook Creator, a free app from its newly formed Kindle ...

Silk Road Journal Found On Ulbricht's Laptop: "Everyone Knows Too Much"

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 18:30
sarahnaomi writes On Wednesday, prosecutors in the Silk Road trial began to lay out the wealth of evidence found on the laptop taken from accused kingpin Ross Ulbricht in a San Francisco library in October 2013. The evidence presented by prosecutor Timothy Howard was the most comprehensive and damning thus far, including more than a thousand pages of chats between the site's pseudonymous operator Dread Pirate Roberts and Silk Road administrators. Also entered into evidence was a journal that dates back to at least 2010 describing the creation and operation of the site. FBI computer scientist Thomas Kiernan, the second witness in the trial, testified about the day Ulbricht was arrested and the evidence gathered from his laptop.

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Adobe Patches One Flash Zero Day, Another Still Unfixed

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 18:03
Trailrunner7 writes Adobe has released an emergency update for Flash to address a zero-day vulnerability that is being actively exploited. The company also is looking into reports of exploits for a separate Flash bug not fixed in the new release, which is being used in attacks by the Angler exploit kit. The vulnerability that Adobe patched Thursday is under active attack, but Adobe officials said that this flaw is not the one that security researcher Kafeine said Wednesday was being used in the Angler attacks. The patch for Flash comes just a day after Kafeine disclosed that some instances of the Angler exploit kit contained an exploit for a previously unknown vulnerability in the software. Adobe officials said Wednesday that they were investigating the reports. Kafeine initially saw Angler attacking the latest version of Flash in IE on Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, but said the exploit wasn't being used against Chrome or Firefox. On Thursday he said on Twitter that the group behind Angler had changed the code to exploit Firefox as well as fully patched IE 11 on Windows 8.1.

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LG's bendy G Flex 2 hits Korea this month

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 17:59
We liked the LG G Flex 2 enough to both bring it onstage at CES this year and put it in the running for our Best of Show awards. The curved flagship phone didn't go all the way in the end, but hey, if you happen to be in Korea this month a mere 800,0...

Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 17:51
HughPickens.com writes Stomp on the gas in a new Ford Mustang or F-150 and you'll hear a meaty, throaty rumble — the same style of roar that Americans have associated with auto power and performance for decades. Now Drew Harwell reports at the Washington Post that the auto industry's dirty little secret is that the engine growl in some of America's best-selling cars and trucks is actually a finely tuned bit of lip-syncing, boosted through special pipes or digitally faked altogether. "Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry's dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks," writes Harwell. "Without them, today's more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away." For example Ford sound engineers and developers worked on an "Active Noise Control" system on the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost that amplifies the engine's purr through the car speakers. Afterward, the automaker surveyed members of Mustang fan clubs on which processed "sound concepts" they most enjoyed. Among purists, the trickery has inspired an identity crisis and cut to the heart of American auto legend. The "aural experience" of a car, they argue, is an intangible that's just as priceless as what's revving under the hood. "For a car guy, it's literally music to hear that thing rumble," says Mike Rhynard, "It's a mind-trick. It's something it's not. And no one wants to be deceived." Other drivers ask if it really matters if the sound is fake? A driver who didn't know the difference might enjoy the thrum and thunder of it nonetheless. Is taking the best part of an eight-cylinder rev and cloaking a better engine with it really, for carmakers, so wrong? "It may be a necessary evil in the eyes of Ford," says Andrew Hard, "but it's sad to think that an iconic muscle car like the Mustang, a car famous for its bellowing, guttural soundtrack, has to fake its engine noise in 2015. Welcome to the future."

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T-Mobile will ignore bad credit if you're loyal and want a new phone

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 17:18
And the Un-carrier march continues unabated. This time, T-Mobile CEO John Legere address the consumer masses via YouTube to launch a new initiative that aims to help put a smartphone in the hands of anyone who wants one... and can pay their bills. St...

Blogger Who Revealed GOP Leader's KKK Ties Had Home Internet Lines Cut

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 17:10
blottsie writes Last month, Lamar White, Jr. set off a firestorm in Washington when a post on his personal blog revealed that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the third most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives, was a featured speaker at a white nationalist conference put on by former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke. Then someone climbed in his back yard and severed his Internet cables.

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Russia's new combat robot shoots guns and drives ATVs... slowly

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 16:38
When someone describes a machine as a "combat robot," you'd probably imagine something akin to the Terminator or perhaps even Boston Dynamics' BigDog. Maybe that's why Russian president Vladimir Putin didn't look impressed when he was presented his c...

The Untold Story of the Invention of the Game Cartridge

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 16:29
harrymcc writes In 1973, an obscure company which had been making electronic cash registers looked for a new business opportunity. It ended up inventing the game cartridge--an innovation which kickstarted a billion-dollar industry and helped establish videogames as a creative medium. The story has never been told until now, but over at Fast Company, Benj Edwards chronicles the fascinating tale, based on interviews with the engineers responsible for the feat back in the mid-1970s.

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Stir's new smart desk is a relative bargain at $2,990

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 16:00
We poke fun at Stir sometimes, but that's mostly because $3,900 is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a standing desk -- yes, even a "smart" one. But once you get past the sticker shock, it's clear the company is doing some cool things: The exis...

Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 15:47
DW100 writes In a bizarre public blog post the CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, has claimed that net neutrality laws should include forcing app developers to make their services available on all operating systems. Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back. Some excerpts from Chen's plea: Netflix, which has forcefully advocated carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. ... Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system. Since "content providers" are writing code they think makes sense for one reason or another (expected returns financial or psychic), a mandate to write more code seems like a good way to re-learn why contract law frowns on specific performance.

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Google Maps Coordinate field-worker tool is closing down

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 15:28
Google's never shy about spiking its services (even popular ones). Today's victim? Google Maps Coordinate. As a refresher (and as the name suggests), this service was designed to help organize teams out in the field. Think sales reps, roadside repair...

DALER: a Bio-Inspired Robot That Can Both Fly and Walk

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 15:24
An anonymous reader writes The issue of how to use one robot across multiple terrains is an ongoing question in robotics research. In a paper published in Bioinspiration and Biomimetics today, a team from LIS, EPFL and NCCR Robotics propose a new kind of flying robot that can also walk. Called the DALER (Deployable Air-Land Exploration Robot), the robot uses adaptive morphology inspired by the common vampire bat, Desmodus rotundus, meaning that the wings have been actuated using a foldable skeleton mechanism covered with a soft fabric so that they can be used both as wings and as legs (whegs).

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User Plea Means EISA Support Not Removed From Linux

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 15:07
jones_supa writes A patch was proposed to the Linux Kernel Mailing List to drop support for the old EISA bus. However a user chimed in: "Well, I'd like to keep my x86 box up and alive, to support EISA FDDI equipment I maintain if nothing else — which in particular means the current head version of Linux, not some ancient branch." Linus Torvalds was friendly about the case: "So if we actually have a user, and it works, then no, we're not removing EISA support. It's not like it hurts us or is in some way fundamentally broken, like the old i386 code was (i386 kernel page fault semantics really were broken, and the lack of some instructions made it more painful to maintain than needed — not like EISA at all, which is just a pure add-on on the side)." In addition to Intel 80386, recent years have also seen MCA bus support being removed from the kernel. Linux generally strives to keep support even for crusty hardware if there provably is still user(s) of the particular gear.

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Forget detention: Illinois students might have to forfeit their Facebook passwords

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 14:54
A law that went into effect at the start of 2015 will allow Illinois school districts to demand the social media passwords for students that break the rules or are suspected of cyberbullying. Motherboard received a copy of the letter sent to parents,...

TalkTalk updates its mobile plans ahead of inevitable quad-play competition

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 14:44
TalkTalk has long been a friend to the price-conscious consumer, offering low-cost TV, broadband and mobile services as alternatives to pricier options from the Skys and EEs of this world. In recent history, however, it's been exploring opportunities...

BlackBerry's CEO doesn't understand what net neutrality is

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 14:29
Think that net neutrality means all companies have the same, unfettered access to the internet without throttling or "fast lanes?" BlackBerry's CEO John Chen doesn't agree! In a letter to the Senate, he dismissed the need for tight "Title II" governm...

Simon Pegg On Board To Co-Write Next Star Trek Film

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 14:26
According to a report at The Verge, itself based on another at Deadline.com, Shaun of the Dead creator Simon Pegg is to co-write (along with Doug Jung) the next Star Trek film. Pegg is also signed on to play Scotty, as he did in both the Star Trek reboot and Into Darkness.

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NVIDIA's newest GPU crams in Maxwell power without a hefty price

Engadget - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 14:00
If you've been tempted by NVIDIA's high-end GTX 970 and 980 video cards, but couldn't justify their high prices, the company's latest entry is made for you. Nvidia is rounding out its Maxwell family of video cards today with the GTX 960, a desktop GP...

Science By Democracy Doesn't Work

Slashdot - Thu, 22/01/2015 - 13:44
StartsWithABang writes The US Senate just voted on whether climate change is a hoax, knowing full well that debates or votes don't change what is or isn't scientifically true or valid. Nevertheless, debates have always been a thing in science, and they do have their place: in raising what points would be needed to validate, robustly confirm or refute competing explanations, theories or ideas. The greatest scientific debate in all of history — along with its conclusions — illustrates exactly this.

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