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Updated: 15 hours 21 min ago

How Silicon Valley Got That Way -- and Why It Will Continue To Rule

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 7:47am
An anonymous reader writes: Lots of places want to be 'the next Silicon Valley.' But the Valley's top historian looks back (even talks to Steve Jobs about his respect for the past!) to explain why SV is unique. While there are threats to continued dominance, she thinks it's just too hard for another region to challenge SV's supremacy.

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Chrome Passes 25% Market Share, IE and Firefox Slip

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 6:41am
An anonymous reader writes: In April 2015, we saw the naming of Microsoft Edge, the release of Chrome 42, and the first full month of Firefox 37 availability. Now we're learning that Google's browser has finally passed the 25 percent market share mark. Hit the link for some probably unnecessarily fine-grained statistics on recent browser trends. Have your browser habits shifted recently? Which browsers do you use most often?

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Statues of Assange, Snowden and Manning Go Up In Berlin

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 5:43am
HughPickens.com writes: RT Times reports that Alexanderplatz square in Berlin has become the stage for a provocative art piece which celebrates whistleblowers and encourages ordinary citizens to speak out. "They have lost their freedom for the truth, so they remind us how important it is to know the truth," says sculptor Davide Dormino. The life-sized statues of the three whistleblowers stand upon three chairs, as if speaking in an impromptu public meeting. Next to them is a fourth, empty chair. "The fourth chair is open to anyone here in Berlin who wants to get up and say anything they want," says the artist. Dormino, who came up with the idea together with the US journalist Charles Glass, specifically chose a classical bronze statue for his depiction – and not an installation or abstract piece – since statues are usually made of establishment figures. According to Domino while men who order others to their deaths get immortalized, those who resist are often forgotten, so "the statue pays homage to three who said no to war, to the lies that lead to war and to the intrusion into private life that helps to perpetuate war." Activists and members of Germany's Green party unveiled the life-size bronze statues on May Day.

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Bill Gates Owes His Career To Steven Spielberg's Dad; You May, Too

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 4:32am
theodp writes: On the 51st birthday of the BASIC programing language, GE Reports decided it was finally time to give-credit-where-credit-was-long-overdue, reporting that Arnold Spielberg, the 98-year-old father of Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, helped revolutionize computing when he designed the GE-225 mainframe computer. The machine allowed a team of Dartmouth University students and researchers to develop BASIC, which quickly spread and ushered in the era of personal computers. BASIC helped kickstart many computing careers, include those of Bill Gates and Paul Allen, as well as Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.

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Unable To Hack Into Grading System, Georgia Student Torches Computer Lab

Sun, 05/03/2015 - 2:33am
McGruber writes: A 15 year-old Douglas County, Georgia high school student has been charged with five felonies, including burglary and arson, after sheriff's deputies caught him while responding to a 1 AM fire at Alexander High School. The boy admitted to investigators that he set fire to a computer after trying, unsuccessfully, to hack into the school computer system to change his grade on a failed test. "It's very sad and tragic. He could have very easily come to one of his counselors and asked for help," said Lt. Glenn Daniel with the Douglas County Sheriff's Department. "From what we can tell, (the student) was mad and frustrated because he could not hack into the system." Lt. Daniel said the charges could land the young man in prison for several years. The computer lab was cleaned up and re-opened in time for the start of that day's classes.

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Free Comic Book Day Event Features Neil Gaiman, the Simpsons

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 11:36am
An anonymous reader writes: Today comic book stores around the world celebrate "Free Comic Book Day", offering anyone who pays them a visit some free comic books. This year there's 50 different titles to choose from, including a reprint of Neil Gaiman's "Lady Justice" (not seen in print in nearly 25 years) and a new Fight Club story by Chuck Palahniuk. The Marvel and D.C. universes are represented, as well as Dr. Who, The Simpsons, Jim Henson's Labyrinth, and even something called Steampunk Goldilocks. Saturday many bookstores will also be recognizing "Independent Bookstores Day" with special events, though ironically, some fans may be tempted to visit Amazon.com instead to download some free Kindle editions of last year's free comic books.

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Native Hawaiian Panel Withdraws Support For World's Largest Telescope

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 10:45am
sciencehabit writes: Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) – a state agency established to advocate for native Hawaiins — voted Thursday to withdraw their support for construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano. The vote follows weeks of protests by Native Hawaiians who say the massive structure would desecrate one of their most holy places. The protests have shut down construction of the telescope, which would be the world's largest optical telescope if completed. The vote, which reverses a 2009 decision to endorse the project, strikes a powerful if symbolic blow against a project that, for many native Hawaiians, has come to symbolize more than a century of assaults against their land, culture and sovereignty.

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Inside the Military-Police Center That Spies On Baltimore's Rioters

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 9:43am
Lasrick writes: Adam Weinstein on a program designed to catch terrorists attacking Baltimore that is now being used to spy on protesters: 'On Ambassador Road, just off I-695 around the corner from the FBI, nearly 100 employees sit in a high-tech suite and wait for terrorists to attack Baltimore. They've waited 11 years. But they still have plenty of work to do, like using the intel community's toys to target this week's street protests.' Great read.

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My High School CS Homework Is the Centerfold

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 8:18am
theodp writes: To paraphrase the J. Geils Band, Maddie Zug's high school computer science homework is the centerfold. In a Washington Post op-ed, Zug, a student at the top-ranked Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, argues that a centerfold does not belong in the classroom. "I first saw a picture of Playboy magazine's Miss November 1972 a year ago as a junior at TJ," Zug explains. "My artificial intelligence teacher told our class to search Google for Lena Soderberg (not the full image, though!) and use her picture to test our latest coding assignment...Soderberg has a history with computer science. In the 1970s, male programmers at the University of Southern California needed to test their image-processing algorithm. They scanned what they had handy: the centerfold of a Playboy magazine. Before long, the image became a convention in industry and academia." (Wikipedia has a nice background, too.)

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AT&T Bills Elderly Customer $24,298.93 For Landline Dial-Up Service

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 7:20am
McGruber writes: 83-year-old Woodland Hills, California resident Ron Dorff usually pays $51 a month to AT&T for a landline, which he uses to access the Internet via an old-school, low-speed AOL dial-up subscription.... but then, in March, AT&T sent him a bill for $8,596.57. He called AT&T and their service rep couldn't make heads or tails of the bill, so she said she'd send a technician to his house. None came, so Dorff figured that everything was ok. Dorff's next monthly bill was for $15,687.64, bringing his total outstanding debt to AT&T, including late fees, to $24,298.93. If he didn't pay by May 8, AT&T warned, his bill would rise to at least $24,786.16. Droff then called David Lazarus, business columnist for the LA Times, who got in touch with AT&T, who wasted little time in deciding it would waive the more than $24,000 in charges. AT&T spokeshole Georgia Taylor claims Dorff's modem somehow had started dialing a long-distance number when it accessed AOL, and the per-minute charges went into orbit as he stayed connected for hours. AT&T declined to answer the LA Times questions about why AT&T didn't spot the problem itself and proactively take steps to fix things? AT&T also declined to elaborate on whether AT&T's billing system is capable of spotting unusual charges and, if so, why it doesn't routinely do so.

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Should Developers Still Pay For Game Engines?

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 6:22am
Nerval's Lobster writes: Game developers no longer have to pay for the software they need to make great video games, because the tools used by some of the biggest and most successful studios in the world are available to everyone, for free. Among the existing major engines, there is one holdout that does not offer a free version: Crytek continues to charge everyone for CryEngine, and is intent on continuing to do so. That's not to say Crytek is being unreasonable. The company introduced a $10-per-month subscription last year, making it accessible to indie developers who can't afford the higher-priced package that includes full source code. "With CryEngine, Crytek is going to the high-end," Crytek co-founder Faruk Yerli recently told Develop, a news site for developers. Unity3D is going for the low-end while Unreal is aiming for everything from low- to high-end, he added. But according to some developers queried by Dice, there is little reality to the idea that the big three engines are divided between low, mid-end, and high-end capabilities. If you're a developer, is it still worth paying for a game engine?

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Long Uptime Makes Boeing 787 Lose Electrical Power

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 5:27am
jones_supa writes: A dangerous software glitch has been found in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. If the plane is left turned on for 248 days, it will enter a failsafe mode that will lead to the plane losing all of its power, according to a new directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration. If the bug is triggered, all the Generator Control Units will shut off, leaving the plane without power, and the control of the plane will be lost. Boeing is working on a software upgrade that will address the problems, the FAA says. The company is said to have found the problem during laboratory testing of the plane, and thankfully there are no reports of it being triggered on the field.

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The Pioneer Who Invented the Weather Forecast

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 4:28am
HughPickens.com writes: Peter Moore has a fascinating article on BBC about how Admiral Robert FitzRoy, the man who invented the weather forecast in the 1860s faced skepticism and even mockery in his time but whose vision of a public forecasting service, funded by government for the benefit of all, is fundamental to our way of life. Chiefly remembered today as Charles Darwin's taciturn captain on HMS Beagle, during the famous circumnavigation in the 1830s, in his lifetime FitzRoy found celebrity from his pioneering daily weather predictions, which he called by a new name of his own invention — "forecasts". There was no such thing as a weather forecast in 1854 when FitzRoy established what would later be called the Met Office. With no forecasts, fishermen, farmers and others who worked in the open had to rely on weather wisdom — the appearance of clouds or the behavior of animals — to tell them what was coming as the belief persisted among many that weather was completely chaotic. But FitzRoy was troubled by the massive loss of life at sea around the coasts of Victorian Britain where from 1855 to 1860, 7,402 ships were wrecked off the coasts with a total of 7,201 lost lives. With the telegraph network expanding quickly, FitzRoy was able to start gathering real-time weather data from the coasts at his London office. If he thought a storm was imminent, he could telegraph a port where a drum was raised in the harbor. It was, he said, "a race to warn the outpost before the gale reaches them". For FitzRoy the forecasts were a by-product of his storm warnings. As he was analyzing atmospheric data anyway, he reasoned that he might as well forward his conclusions — fine, fair, rainy or stormy — on to the newspapers for publication. "Prophecies and predictions they are not," he wrote, "the term forecast is strictly applicable to such an opinion as is the result of scientific combination and calculation." The forecasts soon became a quirk of this brave new Victorian society. FitzRoy's forecasts had a particular appeal for the horseracing classes who used the predictions to help them pick their outfits or lay their bets. But FitzRoy soon faced serious difficulties. Some politicians complained about the cost of the telegraphing back and forth. The response to FitzRoy's work was the beginning of an attitude that we reserve for our weather forecasters today. The papers enjoyed nothing more than conflating the role of the forecaster with that of God and the scientific community were skeptical of his methods. While the majority of fishermen were supportive, others begrudged a day's lost catch to a mistaken signal. FitzRoy retired from his west London home to Norwood, south of the capital, for a period of rest but he struggled to recover and on 30 April 1865 FitzRoy cut his throat at his residence, Lyndhurst-house, Norwood, on Sunday morning. "In time, the revolutionary nature of FitzRoy's work would be recognised," says Moore. "FitzRoy's vision of a weather-prediction service funded by government for the benefit of its citizens would not die. In 1871, the United States would start issuing its own weather "probabilities", and by the end of the decade what was now being called the Met Office would resume its own forecasts in Britain."

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Square Enix Witch Chapter Real-Time CG DX12 Demo Impresses At Microsoft BUILD

Sat, 05/02/2015 - 2:44am
MojoKid writes: Computer generated graphics have come a long way in the past several years and are starting to blur the line between animation and real actors. One of the more difficult tasks for CG artists is to recreate human emotions, especially crying, though you wouldn't know it after watching a tech demo that Square Enix showed off at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference. The real-time tech demo is called Witch Chapter 0 [cry] and is part of a research project that studies various next generation technologies. For this particular demo, Square Enix put a lot of research into real-time CG technology utilizing DirectX 12 in collaboration with Microsoft and NVIDIA, the company said. It's an ongoing project that will help form Square Enix's Luminous Studio engine for future games. The short demo shows some pretty impressive graphics, with an amazing level of detail. As the camera zooms in, you can clearly see imperfections in the skin, along with glistening effects from areas where the face is wet with either tears or water

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Unnoticed For Years, Malware Turned Linux Servers Into Spamming Machines

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 11:42pm
An anonymous reader writes: For over 5 years, and perhaps even longer, servers around the world running Linux and FreeBSD operating systems have been targeted by an individual or group that compromised them via a backdoor Trojan, then made them send out spam, ESET researchers have found. What's more, it seems that the spammers are connected with a software company called Yellsoft, which sells DirectMailer, a "system for automated e-mail distribution" that allows users to send out anonymous email in bulk. Here's the white paper in which the researchers explain the exploit.

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Seafloor Sensors Record Possible Eruption of Underwater Volcano

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 8:50pm
vinces99 writes: Thanks to high-tech instruments installed last summer by the University of Washington to bring the deep sea online, what appears to be an eruption of Axial Volcano on April 23 was observed in real time by scientists on shore. "It was an astonishing experience to see the changes taking place 300 miles away with no one anywhere nearby, and the data flowed back to land at the speed of light through the fiber-optic cable ... in milliseconds," said John Delaney, a UW professor of oceanography who led the installation of the instruments as part of a larger effort sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Delaney organized a workshop on campus in mid-April at which marine scientists discussed how this high-tech observatory would support their science. Then, just before midnight on April 23 until about noon the next day, the seismic activity went off the charts. The gradually increasing rumblings of the mountain were documented over recent weeks by William Wilcock, a UW marine geophysicist who studies such systems. During last week's event, the earthquakes increased from hundreds per day to thousands, and the center of the volcanic crater dropped by about 6 feet in 12 hours. "The only way that could have happened was to have the magma move from beneath the caldera to some other location," Delaney said.

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Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 6:10pm
New submitter IoTdude writes: The Claudico super computer uses an algorithm to account for gargantuan amounts of complexity by representing the number of possible Heads-Up No-limit Texas Hold'em decisions. Claudico also updates its strategy as it goes along, but its basic approach to the game involves getting into every hand by calling bets. And it's not working out so far. Halfway through the competition, the four human pros had a cumulative lead of 626,892 chips. Though much could change in the week remaining, a lead of around 600,000 chips is considered statistically significant.

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Want 30 Job Offers a Month? It's Not As Great As You Think

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 4:02pm
An anonymous reader writes: Software engineers suffer from a problem that most other industries wish they had: too much demand. There's a great story at the Atlantic entitled Imagine Getting 30 Job Offers a Month (It Isn't as Awesome as You Might Think). This is a problem that many engineers deal with: place your resume on a job board and proceed to be spammed multiple times per day for jobs in places that you would never go to (URGENT REQUIREMENT IN DETROIT!!!!!, etc). Google "recruiter spam" and there are many tales of engineers being overwhelmed by this. One engineer, fed up by a lack of a recruiting spam blackhole, set up NoRecruitingSpam.com with directions on how to stop this modern tech scourge. Have you been the victim of recruiting spam?

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Android and iOS App Porting Will Not Be Available At Windows 10 Launch

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 3:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: Arguably the biggest news out of Microsoft's Build 2015 conference was that developers will be able to bring Web apps, Windows desktop apps (Win32), as well as Android and iOS mobile apps to the Windows Store. Yet each of these work differently, and there are a lot of nuances, so we talked to Todd Brix, general manager of Windows apps and store, to get some more detail. First and foremost, upon Windows 10's launch, developers will only be able to bring Web apps to the Windows Store. The Win32, Android, and iOS app toolkits will not be ready in time. That said, with Microsoft's Windows as a service strategy, they will arrive as part of later updates

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Judge Tosses United Airlines Lawsuit Over 'Hidden City' Tickets

Fri, 05/01/2015 - 2:41pm
An anonymous reader writes: United Airlines lost a legal round in its effort to stop a website that helps people find 'hidden city' ticket pairs. The airline, along with online travel site Orbitz, sued New York-based Skiplagged.com and its founder, Aktarer Zaman, in November seeking an injunction to stop the site from sending users to Orbitz to purchase United tickets. A federal judge ruled Thursday that Illinois isn't the proper venue for the carrier's claims.

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