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Linux 3.14 Kernel Released

Slashdot - Mon, 31/03/2014 - 14:09
An anonymous reader writes "The Linux 3.14 "Shuffling Zombie Juror" kernel has been released. Significant improvements to Linux 3.14 include the mainlining of SCHED_DEADLINE, stable support for Intel Broadwell CPU graphics, Xen PVH support, stable support for ZRAM, and many other additions. There's also a tentative feature list on KernelNewbies.org."

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UN Court: Japanese Whaling "Not Scientific"

Slashdot - Mon, 31/03/2014 - 13:45
First time accepted submitter Nodsnarb (2851527) writes "The UN's international Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Japan's Antarctic whaling program is not for scientific purposes. In a statement, the court said that Japan's programme involved activities which 'can broadly be characterised as scientific research.' However, it said that 'the evidence does not establish that the programme's design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives.' It added: 'The court concludes that the special permits granted by Japan for the killing, taking and treating of whales in connection with JARPA II are not 'for purposes of scientific research' pursuant to [the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling].'"

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Dropbox's New Policy of Scanning Files For DMCA Issues

Slashdot - Mon, 31/03/2014 - 13:02
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "This weekend a small corner of the Internet exploded with concern that Dropbox was going too far, actually scanning users' private and directly peer-shared files for potential copyright issues. What's actually going on is a little more complicated than that, but shows that sharing a file on Dropbox isn't always the same as sharing that file directly from your hard drive over something like e-mail or instant messenger. The whole kerfuffle started yesterday evening, when one Darrell Whitelaw tweeted a picture of an error he received when trying to share a link to a Dropbox file with a friend via IM. The Dropbox web page warned him and his friend that 'certain files in this folder can't be shared due to a takedown request in accordance with the DMCA.'"

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An Engineer's Eureka Moment With a GM Flaw

Slashdot - Mon, 31/03/2014 - 04:02
theodp (442580) writes "Hired by the family of Brooke Melton in their wrongful-death lawsuit against GM, engineer Mark Hood was at a loss to explain why the engine in Melton's 2005 Chevy Cobalt had suddenly shut off, causing her fatal accident in 2010. Hood had photographed, X-rayed and disassembled the two-inch ignition switch, focusing on the tiny plastic and metal switch that controlled the ignition, but it wasn't until he bought a replacement for $30 from a local GM dealership that the mystery quickly unraveled. Eyeing the old and new parts, Hood quickly figured out a problem now linked to 13 deaths that GM had known about for a decade. Even though the new switch had the same identification number — 10392423 — Hood found big differences — a tiny metal plunger in the switch was longer in the replacement part, the switch's spring was more compressed, and most importantly, the force needed to turn the ignition on and off was greater. 'It's satisfying to me because I'm working on behalf of the Meltons,' Hood said. 'It won't bring their daughter back, but if it goes toward a better understanding of the problem, it might save someone else.' Next week, GM CEO Mary Barra will testify before Congress about events leading up to the wide-ranging recall of 2.6 million vehicles."

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OpenSUSE To Offer Rolling Release KDE Experience

Slashdot - Mon, 31/03/2014 - 01:06
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "openSUSE and KDE teams are working on creating four KDE SC repositories for openSUSE which will enable users to get the the kind of experience they want. Users can stick to the default repos that come with openSUSE if they want to use what openSUSE offers. Those users who want to stay updated with the latest KDE SC releases can use the "KDE:Current" repository which will always remain updated. 3rd repo "KDE:Distro:Factory" will offer KDE packages which are being tested and prepared before they are pushed to the 'Current' repo. The fourth repo "KDE:Unstable:SC" will offer early builds as they are being devloped."

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West Nile Virus May Have Met Its Match: Tobacco

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 19:37
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a compound produced using genetically altered tobacco plants that may prove useful in battling the West Nile virus. "Some people think of tobacco as a drug, whereas others think of it as a therapy — or both. But for the most part, it's hard to find people who think of the tobacco plant in terms of its medical applications. Qiang Chen, an infectious disease researcher at Arizona State University, is one such person. His team of scientists conducted an experiment, published today in PLOS ONE, that demonstrates how a drug produced in tobacco plants can be used to prevent death in mice infected with a lethal dose of West Nile virus. The study represents an important first step in the development of a treatment for the mosquito-borne disease that has killed 400 people in the US within the last two years."

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Daylight Saving Time Linked To Heart Attacks

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 18:33
jones_supa (887896) writes "Switching over to daylight saving time, and hence losing one hour of sleep, raised the risk of having a heart attack the following Monday by 25 percent, compared to other Mondays during the year, according to a new U.S. study released on Saturday. By contrast, heart attack risk fell 21 percent later in the year, on the Tuesday after the clock was returned to standard time, and people got the extra hour of sleep. The not-so-subtle impact of moving the clock forward and backward was seen in a comparison of hospital admissions from a database of non-federal Michigan hospitals. It examined admissions before the start of daylight saving time and the Monday immediately after, for four consecutive years. Researchers cited limitations to the study, noting it was restricted to one state and heart attacks that required artery-opening procedures, such as stents."

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Samsung SSD 840 EVO MSATA Tested

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 17:32
MojoKid (1002251) writes "Shortly after 2.5-inch versions of Samsung's SSD 840 EVO drives hit the market, the company prepared an array of mSATA drives featuring the same controller and NAND flash. The Samsung SSD 840 EVO mSATA series of drives are essentially identical to their 2.5" counterparts, save for the mSATA drives' much smaller form factor. Like their 2.5" counterparts, Samsung's mSATA 840 EVO series of drives feature an updated, triple-core Samsung MEX controller, which operates at 400MHz. The 840 EVO's MEX controller has also been updated to support the SATA 3.1 spec, which incorporates a few new features, like support for queued TRIM commands. Along with the MEX controller, all of the Samsung 840 EVO mSATA series drives feature LPDDR2-1066 DRAM cache memory. The 120GB drive sports 256MB of cache, the 250GB and 500GB drive have 512MB of cache, and the 750GB and 1TB drives have 1GB of cache. Performance-wise, SSD 840 EVO series of mSATA solid state drives performs extremely well, whether using synthetic benchmarks, trace-based tests like PCMark, or highly-compressible or incompressible data."

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How Ford's Virtual Reality Lab Helps Engineers

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 16:30
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Facebook bought OculusVR and the world tilted a little on its axis. But good old Ford has been using VR all along without much fanfare. VR tech effectively gives Ford engineers X-ray vision, so they can — virtually — see through a vehicle's structure, which helps to design mechanical hardware, and spot issues with designs that might interfere with vehicle 'hard points.' Ford's engineers also use VR headsets to check out exterior and interior designs of cars that don't exist in the physical world — at least not yet. Team members walk around virtual cars to preview designs, or "get in" to check if interior layouts will work in the real world."

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Famous Paintings Help Study the Earth's Past Atmosphere

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 15:26
houghi (78078) writes "From European Geosciences Union: 'A team of Greek and German researchers has shown that the colours of sunsets painted by famous artists can be used to estimate pollution levels in the Earth's past atmosphere. In particular, the paintings reveal that ash and gas released during major volcanic eruptions scatter the different colours of sunlight, making sunsets appear more red.' The original paper can be found here. In the last 150 years, the sunsets have become redder, likely reflecting increased man-made pollution."

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Researchers: Rats Didn't Spread Black Death, Humans Did

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 14:25
concertina226 (2447056) writes "Scientists studying the human remains of plague victims found during excavations for London's new Crossrail train line have concluded that humans spread the Black Death rather than rats, a fact that could rewrite history books. University of Keele scientists, working together with Crossrail's lead archaeologist Jay Carver and osteologists from the Museum of London, analyzed the bones and teeth of 25 skeletons dug up by Crossrail. They found DNA of Yersinia pestis, which is responsible for the Black Death, on the teeth of some of the victims."

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How Facebook and Oculus Could Be a Great Combination

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 13:23
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "Nate Swammer writes at Slashgear that with Facebook's purchase of Oculus for a cool $2 billion, the fervor surrounding virtual reality headwear quickly turned to disdain. Betrayal, confusion, and anger became the order of the day for contributors who gave Oculus $2.4 million through its Kickstarter campaign. But now that passions have cooled and looking at the issues dispassionately, the Facebook acquisition may turn out much better than anticipated for users. While many may have a fervent distrust for Facebook, this deal bodes well for Oculus, and by virtue, us. First Oculus wasn't flush, and although Oculus may have had some hustle behind it, it may not have been enough. John Carmack, Oculus CTO, said via Twitter, 'I expect the FB deal will avoid several embarrassing scaling crisis for VR.' The headwear already famously suffered from a supply chain issue not long ago, which actually stopped it dead in its tracks. Next, in their official announcement of the Facebook deal, gaming was barely a blip on the radar. It wasn't until the very end that gaming was even mentioned, with the bulk of the post discussing 'culture' and driving virtual reality forward. There was little to indicate any big titles were coming for Oculus. The fact is, Oculus needed help. Not technical assistance, but someone who could be their Sony, more or less. John Carmack says he has 'a deep respect for the technical scale that FB operates at. The cyberspace we want for VR will be at this scale.' Perhaps Facebook isn't the most popular choice, but they are the partner Oculus chose for their future says Swammer. 'Like Google purchasing Android in 2005, it all seems so strange right now [remember this story we discussed in 2009] — but we see how that turned out. If VR really is the next frontier, Facebook just staked their claim to a big slab of land in the heart of some virtual country they'll likely let us see someday — via Oculus.""

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Ultima Online</em> Devs Building Player-Run MMORPG

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 11:27
An anonymous reader writes: "A group of former developers for Ultima Online has created a game company called Citadel Studios, and they're working on a new MMORPG called Shards Online. '[CEO Derek] Brinkmann described the game as a player-run MMO, which means at the highest level they can run their own servers and change the settings of that world, altering how long nighttime lasts or how quickly players can gain skills. On the next level down, server administrators can take the form of god characters, who can spawn monsters in the world, create items and launch live events. And in the level below that, players can modify the gameplay code. ... The game is set in a multiverse, where players can travel through different worlds. While all the worlds are unified by the same rule-set, Cotten told Polygon that they are each themed differently, and these themes will offer players a different experience. There's a world inspired by high fantasy. There's a world that is coming out of a steampunk industrial revolution. There's a world that consists of a coliseum in which players can fight each other in player-versus-player battles.'"

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Aaron Swartz and MIT: The Inside Story

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 10:19
An anonymous reader writes: "The Boston Globe has reviewed over 7,000 pages of documents from Aaron Swartz's court case, shedding light on the activities that got him in trouble and how MIT reacted to his case. Quoting: 'Most vividly, the e-mails underscore the dissonant instincts the university grappled with. There was the eagerness of some MIT employees to help investigators and prosecutors with the case, and then there was, by contrast, the glacial pace of the institution's early reaction to the intruder's provocation. MIT, for example, knew for 2½ months which campus building the downloader had operated out of before anyone searched it for him or his laptop — even as the university told JSTOR they had no way to identify the interloper. And once Swartz was unmasked, the ambivalence continued. MIT never encouraged Swartz's prosecution, and once told his prosecutor they had no interest in jail time. However, e-mails illustrate how MIT energetically assisted authorities in capturing him and gathering evidence — even prodding JSTOR to get answers for prosecutors more quickly — before a subpoena had been issued. ... But a number of JSTOR's internal e-mails show a much angrier face in the months that Swartz eluded capture, with employees sharing frustration about MIT's "rather tepid level of concern." JSTOR officials repeatedly raised the prospect, among themselves, of going to the police, e-mails show."

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WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone &mdash; Forever

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 07:11
retroworks writes: "Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon Communications are lobbying states, one by one, to hang up the plain, old telephone system, what the industry now calls POTS — the copper-wired landline phone system whose reliability and reach made the U.S. a communications powerhouse for more than 100 years. Is landline obsolete, and should be immune from grandparents-era social protection? The article continues, 'Last week, Michigan joined more than 30 other states that have passed or are considering laws that restrict state-government oversight and eliminate "carrier of last resort" mandates, effectively ending the universal-service guarantee that gives every U.S. resident access to local-exchange wireline telephone service, the POTS. (There are no federal regulations guaranteeing Internet access.) ... In Mantoloking, N.J., Verizon wants to replace the landline system, which Hurricane Sandy wiped out, with its wireless Voice Link. That would make it the first entire town to go landline-less, a move that isn't sitting well with all residents."

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China Prosecuted Internet Policeman In Paid Deletion Cases

Slashdot - Sun, 30/03/2014 - 04:05
hackingbear writes: "In China, censorship is not just about politics; it's also a vibrant business. Police in Beijing have detained at least ten people, including employees at web giant Baidu and a web censor working at the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau (cached version), over allegations that they deleted defamatory online posts about companies and government enterprises in return for money, the Beijing News reports. The case was first surfaced when Baidu noticed and reported several of its workers' illegal activities. From 2010 to 2012, Gu, an ex-Baidu employee, is believed to have deleted over 2,000 posts on Baidu, 500 on news site Sohu and 20 posts on qianlong.com, with over 2 million yuan ($322,000) reportedly changing hands. While Gu can delete negative Internet posts for topics ranging from environmental issues to product quality problems on behalf of companies, he could not delete posts relating to his government clients. So he paid and asked Liu, a Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau web censor, to issue official orders to the web sites to remove the posts (Google translation of Chinese original). Liu was found to have accepted 770,000 yuan ($124,000) from Gu for deleting posts. He also received 150,000 yuan ($24,000) from other sources."

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Crows Complete Basic Aesop's Fable Task

Slashdot - Sat, 29/03/2014 - 17:39
jones_supa writes: "New Caledonian crows — already known to be smart — may also understand how to displace water to receive a reward, with the causal understanding level of a 5-7 year-old child, according to results published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Sarah Jelbert from University of Auckland and colleagues. As demonstrated in the included video, 'Scientists used the Aesop's fable riddle — in which subjects drop stones into water to raise the water level and obtain an out-of reach-reward — to assess New Caledonian crows' causal understanding of water displacement. ... Crows completed 4 of 6 water displacement tasks, including preferentially dropping stones into a water-filled tube instead of a sand-filled tube, dropping sinking objects rather than floating objects, using solid objects rather than hollow objects, and dropping objects into a tube with a high water level rather than a low one. However, they failed two more challenging tasks, one that required understanding of the width of the tube, and one that required understanding of counterintuitive cues for a U-shaped displacement task.' The authors note that these tasks did not test insightful problem solving, but were directed at the birds' understanding of volume displacement."

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GCHQ and NSA Targeted World Leaders, Private German Companies

Slashdot - Sat, 29/03/2014 - 16:34
Advocatus Diaboli sends this news from Der Spiegel: "Documents show that Britain's GCHQ intelligence service infiltrated German Internet firms and America's NSA obtained a court order to spy on Germany and collected information about the chancellor in a special database. Is it time for the country to open a formal espionage investigation? ... A secret NSA document dealing with high-ranking targets has provided further indications that Merkel was a target. The document is a presentation from the NSA's Center for Content Extraction, whose multiple tasks include the automated analysis of all types of text data. The lists appear to contain 122 country leaders. Twelve names are listed as an example, including Merkel's."

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Charter Challenges Comcast/Time Warner Merger

Slashdot - Sat, 29/03/2014 - 15:33
An anonymous reader writes "Regional ISP Charter Communications is fighting back against the potential merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Charter had been bidding for TWC before Comcast got involved, and now they're urging shareholders to reject the deal. 'From the regulatory perspective, it is difficult to imagine a transaction that could concentrate the industry more than the proposed Comcast merger,' they said in an SEC filing. James Stewart with the NY Times explains what Comcast would look like if the merger continues — when you add the TWC deal to the NBCUniversal pickup a few years ago, Comcast is starting to resemble a global tech company. He also explains why the deal isn't setting off antitrust alarm bells: 'Time Warner Cable operates in 29 states, but thanks to the old system of regional and municipal cable monopolies, Comcast and Time Warner Cable don't compete anywhere. Justice Department merger guidelines define geographical markets, which is why regulators weighing airline mergers examine competition on individual routes, not national market share. ... Under conventional antitrust standards, it's pretty much an open-and-shut case.'"

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Yahoo May Build Its Own YouTube

Slashdot - Sat, 29/03/2014 - 14:31
An anonymous reader writes "Re/code reports that Yahoo will soon be stepping into the realm of internet video. They're seeking to take advantage of complaints from users who make videos for YouTube that they don't make enough money for their efforts. Yahoo has told content producers it can get them a bigger slice of the pie. 'For now, at least, Yahoo isn't talking about replicating YouTube's open platform, which lets users upload 100 hours of content every minute to the site. Instead, it is interested in cherry-picking particularly popular, more professional YouTube fare. Yahoo has also told some video owners that it can use its well-trafficked home page and other high-profile real estate to promote their clips on a non-exclusive basis. After a year, one source inside Yahoo said, it might open the platform up further.'"

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