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"Secret Serum" Used To Treat Americans With Ebola

Slashdot - Tue, 05/08/2014 - 00:01
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with news that the two Americans infected with Ebola in Liberia and transported to Atlanta for treatment were given an experimental drug, and their conditions appear to be improving. From the article: While some people do fight off the disease on their own, in the case of the two Americans, an experimental serum may have saved their lives. As Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol waited in a Liberian hospital, someone from the National Institutes of Health reached out to Samaritan's Purse, one of the two North Carolina-based Christian relief groups the two were working with, and offered to have vials of an experimental drug called ZMapp sent to Liberia, according to CNN's unnamed source. Although the Food and Drug Administration does allow experimental drugs to occasionally be distributed in life-threatening circumstances without approval under the expanded access or "compassionate use" conditions. It's not yet clear whether that approval was granted in this case or not. ... Brantly, who had been sick for nine days already ... [received] the first dose ... within an hour, he was able to breathe better and a rash on his body started to fade. The next day he was able to shower without help before boarding the air ambulance that flew him to Atlanta.

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Barry Shein Founded the First Dialup ISP (Video)

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 23:14
Back in the dawn of prehistory, only universities, government agencies, and a few big corporations could get on the Internet. The rest of us either had computers connected to nothing (except maybe an electric outlet), Compuserve, Prodigy, AOL or another service or possibly to an online bulletin board service (BBS). And then, one day in 1989, Barry Shein hooked a server and some modems to an Internet node he managed for a corporate/academic wholesale Internet provider -- and started selling dialup accounts for $20 per month to individuals, small companies, and just about anyone else who came along. Barry called his ISP The World, which is still out there with a retro home page ("Page last modified April 27, 2006"), still selling shell accounts. We may run a second interview with Barry next week, so please stay tuned. (Alternate Video Link)

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Tesla's Already Shopping For More Office Space

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 20:45
cartechboy writes Remember four years ago when Tesla's new headquarters in Palo Alto, California seemed like a big risk? Yeah, time flies and now the Silicon Valley startup is already running out of room. Apparently the electric-car maker is already looking for 200,000-300,000 square feet of office space in the lower Peninsula market. Part of the motivation is that the company would like to have employees closer to its Fremont factory, which is 20 miles from its current headquarters. With heavy traffic that journey can take up to an hour or more. While not looking to relocate its headquarters, Tesla's simply looking to expand its space. Meanwhile, we all eagerly await to hear if the Gigafactory will indeed end up being built in Nevada.

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Linux Kernel Shuffling Zombie Juror Aka 3.16 Released

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 20:17
sfcrazy writes Linus Torvalds has announced the release of Linux kernel 3.16 codenamed "Shuffling Zombie Juror", which brings many notable improvements. Linus said, "So while 3.16 looked a bit iffy for a while, things cleared up nicely, and there was no reason to do extra release candidates like I feared just a couple of weeks ago." It also means that working on 3.17 has started, "And as usual (previous release being the exception) that means that the merge window for 3.17 is obviously open," said Linus.

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Japan To Launch a Military Space Force In 2019

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 15:23
Taco Cowboy writes Japan is planning to launch a military space force by 2019. The Mainichi Shimbun is reporting that Japan plans to create a "space force" within its existing Self Defence Force, hoping to have it operational by 2019. Japan would provide the US military with information obtained by the force as part of the joint bid to strengthen ties in space, the so-called "fourth battlefield", Kyodo news agency said, citing unnamed sources. Note that this plan, which involves simply looking into space using old civilian astronomy equipment and radar, is just the beginning. The transforming space fighters and combat mechs will presumably come later.

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Japan To Launch a Military Space Force In 2019

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 15:23
Taco Cowboy writes Japan is planning to launch a military space force by 2019. The Mainichi Shimbun is reporting that Japan plans to create a "space force" within its existing Self Defence Force, hoping to have it operational by 2019. Japan would provide the US military with information obtained by the force as part of the joint bid to strengthen ties in space, the so-called "fourth battlefield", Kyodo news agency said, citing unnamed sources. Note that this plan, which involves simply looking into space using old civilian astronomy equipment and radar, is just the beginning. The transforming space fighters and combat mechs will presumably come later.

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Extracting Audio From Visual Information

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 14:38
rtoz writes Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag (video) photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.

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How Facebook Sold You Krill Oil

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 13:07
An anonymous reader writes with this look at how Facebook tries to make and sell "thumbstopper" ads compelling enough to get people to stop scrolling through their news feeds. With its trove of knowledge about the likes, histories and social connections of its 1.3 billion users worldwide, Facebook executives argue, it can help advertisers reach exactly the right audience and measure the impact of their ads — while also, like TV, conveying a broad brand message. Facebook, which made $1.5 billion in profit on $7.9 billion in revenue last year, sees particular value in promoting its TV-like qualities, given that advertisers spend $200 billion a year on that medium. "We want to hold ourselves accountable for delivering results," said Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vice president for global marketing solutions, in a recent interview. "Not smoke and mirrors, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't."

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NFL Players To Use Tablet Computers During Games

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 10:09
An anonymous reader writes A $400 million partnership between the NFL and Microsoft that replaces the old method of studying opponents from the sidelines using printed black-and-white photos with tablet computers is just one of the hi-tech upgrades to the NFL this year. From the article: "The referees are also going wireless so they can talk with each other without huddling, and coaches will sport new Bose headsets. But the appearance of Microsoft Surface tablets marks the first time players and coaches can legally use such electronic devices on the field during the game. The tablets will come into play for the first time Sunday night, when the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills play in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio."

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Apple $450 Million e-Book Settlement Wins Court Approval

Slashdot - Mon, 04/08/2014 - 00:32
An anonymous reader writes A week after Judge Denise Cote put forward concerns over a proposed settlement with consumers over e-book price-fixing in the iBookstore, she has given Apple preliminary approval for its $450 million settlement. "The proposed settlement agreement is within the range of those that may be approved as fair and reasonable, such that notice to the class is appropriate," Cote said. "Preliminary approval is granted." Cote set a final fairness hearing for Nov. 21.

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How Google Handles 'Right To Be Forgotten' Requests

Slashdot - Sun, 03/08/2014 - 01:04
An anonymous reader writes: In response to an inquiry from European data protection regulators, Google has detailed how they evaluate and act on requests to de-index search results. Google's procedures for responding to "right-to-be-forgotten" requests are explained in a lengthy document that was made publicly available. "Google of course claims its own economic interest does not come into play when making these rtbf judgements — beyond an 'abstract consideration' of a search engine needing to help people find the most relevant information for their query. ... Google also goes into lengthy detail to justify its decision to inform publishers when it has removed links to content on their sites — a decision which has resulted in media outlets writing new articles about delisted content, thereby resulting in the rtbf ruling causing the opposite effect to that intended (i.e. fresh publicity, not fair obscurity)."

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The World's Most Hackable Cars

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 20:51
ancientribe writes: If you're wondering whether the most tech-loaded vehicles are also the most vulnerable to hackers, there is now research that shows it. Charlie Miller, a security engineer with Twitter, and Chris Valasek, director of security intelligence at IOActive, studied modern auto models and concluded that the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, the 2014 Infiniti Q50, and the 2015 Escalade are the most likely to get hacked. The key is whether their networked features that can communicate outside the vehicle are on the same network as the car's automated physical functions. They also name the least-hackable cars, and will share the details of their new findings next week at Black Hat USA in Las Vegas.

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Ask Slashdot: IT Personnel As Ostriches?

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 19:50
MonOptIt writes: I'm a new IT professional, having recently switched from a different sci/tech field. My first gig is with a mid-size (50ish) nonprofit which includes a wide variety of departments and functions. I'm the sole on-site IT support, which means that I'm working with every employee/department regularly both at HQ and off-site locations. My questions for the seasoned pros are: Do you find yourself deliberately ignoring office politics, overheard conversations, open documents or emails, etc as you go about your work? If not, how do you preserve the impartiality/neutrality which seems (to my novice mind) necessary to be effective in this position? In either case: how do you deal with the possibility of accidentally learning something you're not supposed to know? E.g. troubleshooting a user's email program when they've left sensitive/eyes-only emails open on their workstation. Are there protections or policies that are standard, or is this a legal and professional gray-area?

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Fixing a 7,000-Ton Drill

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 18:46
An anonymous reader writes: At the end of last year, we discussed Bertha, the world's largest tunnel boring machine. During an effort to drill a viaduct beneath downtown Seattle, the machine — clocking in at 7,000 tons, 57.5 feet in diameter, and 326 feet long — got hamstrung by an 8-inch-diameter steel pipe. The complexity and scope of the repair plan rivals that of the project itself. "The rescue operation (workers call it "the intervention") began in late spring with construction on the shaft to reach Bertha. Workers have been sinking pilings in a ring to prevent the shaft from collapsing, using 24,000 cubic yards of concrete — enough for a medium-size office building. Once that ring is complete, digging on the shaft will start. When the shaft is ready, Bertha, which is damaged but still operational, will be turned back on so she can chew through the concrete pilings to reach the center of the shaft. There, the machine will rest on a cradle where workers can detach the front end and hoist it out." That detachable front end? It weighs about 2,000 tons by itself. The repair bill is estimated at about $125 million.

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PlayStation Now, Sony's 'Netflix For Games' -- Pros and Cons

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 17:41
An anonymous reader writes: When Sony acquired nascent cloud gaming service Gaikai, it was obvious they were interested in bringing streamed gaming to the PlayStation. The service is in the process of coming online, in a beta test that started this week. The idea is simple, and one that game companies are excited about — but it's also complex and expensive, creating a new problem for each one it solves. The biggest difficulty you'd expect — latency — actually seems to hold up pretty well. It'll even hold its own when fighting for bandwidth with Netflix and other video streams. But the expense of using the service is excessive. "To rent Darksiders, a game that's been practically given away to PC owners thanks to Humble Bundle and the collapse of publisher THQ, you can pay $14.99 for 90 days, $7.99 for 30 days, $5.99 for 5 days or — no joke — $4.99 for four hours. ... Final Fantasy 13-2 costs $29.99 for 90 days. A used copy of the same costs $20 at GameStop." In addition, the pricing options are unusual and unpredictable. Users can't simply pay a flat monthly fee for service. "Variable pricing is in place because Sony gave the publishers and developers free reign to set their own prices, which results in wildly disparate costs for different games and different periods of rental time. It's not even mandatory that you have to have all four categories of rental time. I went to check out Saints Row 3 and found that it only had the four hour and 90 day options."

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The Great Taxi Upheaval

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 16:38
An anonymous reader writes: Uber, Lyft, and a variety of competitors are becoming ubiquitous. Their presence is jarring not because of how different they are from conventional taxis, but simply because they're different at all. Taxis really haven't changed much over the years. Watch a movie from the '90s and you can't help but chuckle at the giant, clunky mobile phones they use. But you can go all the way back to movies from '30s and scenes with taxis won't be unfamiliar. New York Magazine has a series of articles about the taxi revolution currently underway. "So far, Uber appears to be pinching traditional car services—Carmel, Dial 7, and the like—hardest. (They have apps, too, but Uber's is the one you've heard of.) The big question is about the prices for medallions, because so much of the yellow-cab business depends on their future value. ... [I]t's hard to see how those prices won't slip. Medallions, after all, are part of a top-down system formed to fight the abuses and dangers of the old crooked New York: rattletrap cars, overclocked meters, bribed inspectors. Its heavy regulation in turn empowered the taxi lobby and (somewhat) the drivers union. That system may be a pain to deal with, but in its defense, it provided predictability and security. The loosey-goosey libertarian alternative, conceived in the clean Northern California air, calls upon the market to provide checks and balances. A poorly served passenger can, instead of turning to a city agency for recourse, switch allegiances or sue."

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Cell Phone Unlocking Is Legal -- For Now

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 15:35
On Friday President Obama signed into a law a bill allowing mobile devices to be legally unlocked, so that consumers can switch between carriers. The legislation was kicked off by a successful petition on Whitehouse.gov after the Librarian of Congress decided that cell phones no longer needed an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's anti-hacking provision. The legislation (PDF) passed both houses of Congress and is now law. Unfortunately, the new bill doesn't guarantee permanent legality. It simply reinstates the exemption, and leaves the DMCA alone. For the next year, cell phone unlocking will certainly be legal, but after that, the Librarian of Congress once again has the ability to void the exemption once every three years.

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If You're Always Working, You're Never Working Well

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 14:30
An anonymous reader writes: Hard work is almost an axiom in the U.S. — office culture continually rewards people who are at their desks early and stay late, regardless of actual performance. Over the past decade, it's encroached even further into workers' private lives with the advent of smartphones. An article at the Harvard Business Review takes issue with the idea that more work is always better: "When we accept this new and permanent ambient workload — checking business news in bed or responding to coworkers' emails during breakfast — we may believe that we are dedicated, tireless workers. But, actually, we're mostly just getting the small, easy things done. Being busy does not equate to being effective. ... And let's not forget about ambient play, which often distracts us from accomplishing our most important tasks. Facebook and Twitter report that their sites are most active during office hours. After all, the employee who's required to respond to her boss on Sunday morning will think nothing of responding to friends on Wednesday afternoon. And research shows (PDF) that these digital derailments are costly: it's not only the minutes lost responding to a tweet but also the time and energy required to 'reenter' the original task." How do we shift business culture to reward effective work more than the appearance of work?

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Critics To FTC: Why Do You Hate In-App Purchasing Freedom?

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 13:26
jfruh writes The FTC has moved aggressively recently against companies that make it too easy for people — especially kids — to rack up huge charges on purchases within apps. But at a dicussion panel sponsored by free-market think tank TechFreedom, critics pushed back. Joshua Wright, an FTC commissioner who dissented in a recent settlement with Apple, says a 15-minute open purchase window produced "obvious and intuitive consumer benefits" and that the FTC "simply substituted its own judgment for a private firm's decision as to how to design a product to satisfy as many users as possible."

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Driverless Buses Ruled Out For London, For Now

Slashdot - Sat, 02/08/2014 - 10:40
An anonymous reader writes The office of the Mayor of London went into a bit of a panic this week after their own paper suggested that driverless buses could appear on the streets of the UK's capital at some point in the next four decades. The Mayor's office went so far as to suggest that they were really talking about driverless underground trains. Even more bizarre was the reaction of the city's taxi drivers' association — whose spokesperson claimed that the failure to deliver 'simple' software tasks such as speech recognition meant there was no chance of driverless buses appearing on London's streets.

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