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The First Billion-Pixel Mosaic of Mars

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 8:50am
StartsWithABang writes In 2012, Mars Science Laboratory performed the first robotically-controlled soft landing of a vehicle of such incredible mass: nearly half a tonne. A few months later, the rover, Curiosity, took the first ever billion-pixel mosaic from the Red Planet's surface, with breathtaking views of the terrain and alternate views of what the soils would look like were they here on Earth. Now in its third year on Mars, Curiosity is roving the low slopes of its ultimate destination: Mount Sharp.

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"Google Glass Isn't Dead!" Says Google's CEO Eric Schmidt

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 8:30am
lord_rob the only on writes "After Google stopped selling its wearable Glass device in January this year, many people speculated that the controversial gadget was on its way out for good. However, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said that the technology behind Glass is too important to throw away, and that the program has been put under the control of Nest's Tony Fadell to "make it ready for users" in the future.

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Magic Leap's AR Demo Video

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 1:25pm
First time accepted submitter iMadeGhostzilla writes TechCrunch reports: "Magic Leap is showing what it might look like to use its hardware for augmented reality gaming in the future, with a new demo of what the team is apparently 'playing in the office' right now. The brief video shows examples of interacting with YouTube and Gmail apps, along with browsing a menu system for OS-level interaction. The person in the video from whose perspective it's apparently shot then selects a shooter game, tests out a weapon after choosing from a variety of options, does some tower-defense style stuff by placing a current and fights some visually impressive but fairly generic baddies. [...] The video was posted with an apology for Magic Leap's absence at TED." Commenters on reddit and elsewhere believe the video is fake. Magic Leap recently came into the spotlight with its recent $540M backing by Google and others.

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UK Government Admits Intelligence Services Allowed To Break Into Any System

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 12:19pm
An anonymous reader writes Recently, Techdirt noted that the FBI may soon have permission to break into computers anywhere on the planet. It will come as no surprise to learn that the U.S.'s partner in crime, the UK, granted similar powers to its own intelligence services some time back. What's more unexpected is that it has now publicly said as much, as Privacy International explains: "The British Government has admitted its intelligence services have the broad power to hack into personal phones, computers, and communications networks, and claims they are legally justified to hack anyone, anywhere in the world, even if the target is not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime." That important admission was made in what the UK government calls its "Open Response" to court cases started last year against GCHQ.

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A Software Project Full of "Male Anatomy" Jokes Causes Controversy

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 11:16am
An anonymous reader writes with the story of a Github user's joke repository that is causing some controversy. "There's no question that the tech world is an overwhelmingly male place. There's legit concern that tech is run-amok with 'brogrammers' that make women programmers feel unwelcome. On the other hand, people just want to laugh. It's at that intersection that programmer Randy Hunt, aka 'letsgetrandy' posted a 'project' earlier this week to software hosting site GitHub called 'DICSS.' The project, which is actual free and open source software, is surrounded by geeky jokes about the male anatomy. And it's gone nuts, so to speak, becoming the most trending project on Github, and the subject of a lot of chatter on Twitter. And, Hunt tells us, the folks at Github are scratching their heads wondering what they should do about it. Some people love DICSS ... and some people are, understandably, offended. The offended people point out that this is exactly the sort of thing that makes tech unwelcoming to women, and not just because of the original project, but because of some of the comments (posted as "commits") that might take the joke too far."

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WHO Report Links Weed Killer Ingredient To Cancer Risk

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 10:15am
An anonymous reader sends word that a common weed killer may cause cancer according to the World Health Organization. "The world's most widely used weed killer can 'probably' cause cancer, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The WHO's cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides, was 'classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.' It also said there was 'limited evidence' that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma." Unsurprisingly, Monsanto, Roundup's manufacturer disagrees saying there is no evidence to support the findings and calls on WHO to hold a meeting to explain their conclusions.

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Islamic State Doxes US Soldiers, Airmen, Calls On Supporters To Kill Them

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 9:15am
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about the latest weapon used by ISIS: doxing. "Middle East terrorist organization Islamic State (ISIS) has called on its followers take the fight to 100 members of the United States military residing in the US. A group calling itself the 'Islamic State Hacking Division' has posted names, addresses, and photographs of soldiers, sailors, and airmen online, asking its 'brothers residing in America' to murder them, according to Reuters. Although the posting purports to come from the 'Hacking Division,' US Department of Defense officials say that none of their systems appear to have been breached by the group. Instead, the personal data was almost certainly culled from publicly available sources, a DoD official told the New York Times on the condition of anonymity."

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FTC's Internal Memo On Google Teaches Companies a Terrible Lesson

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 8:16am
schwit1 writes FTC staffers spent enormous time pouring through Google's business practices and documents as well as interviewing executives and rivals. They came to the conclusion that Google was acting in anti-competitive ways, such as restricting advertisers from working with rival search engines. But commissioners balked at the prospect of a lengthy and protracted legal fight. For a big company, that process may have been enlightening. Agency staffers might find evidence of anti-competitive behavior. But that doesn't mean the firm will face the music in the end. Previous attempts to go after big companies — such as the Justice Department's long-running antitrust case against Microsoft in the 1990s — loomed large in regulators' minds at the time of the Google probe, according to a former official who worked at the agency then. "Even if we were in the right and could win," said the former official, "it could take a lot of resources away from other enforcement."

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Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Nitrogen Discovery On Comet

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 7:20am
An anonymous reader sends word that the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft has detected traces of molecular nitrogen on the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. "A peculiar mix of molecular nitrogen on the comet target of Europe's Rosetta spacecraft may offer clues to the conditions that gave birth to the entire solar system. Molecular nitrogen was one of the key ingredients of the young solar system. Its detection in Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which Rosetta is currently orbiting, suggests that the comet formed under low-temperature conditions (a requirement to keeping nitrogen as ice), according to officials with the European Space Agency."

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DuckDuckGo Donates $100,000 Among Four FOSS Projects

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 6:22am
jones_supa writes As is the search engine company's annual habit, DuckDuckGo has chosen to advance four open source projects by donating to them. The primary focus this year was to support FOSS projects that bring privacy tools to anyone who needs them. $25,000 goes to The Freedom of the Press Foundation to support SecureDrop, which is a whistleblower submission used to securely accept documents from anonymous sources. The Electronic Frontier Foundation was given $25,000 to support PrivacyBadger, which is a browser add-on that stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking your surfing habits. Another $25,000 arrives at GPGTools to support GPG Suite, which is a software package for OS X that encrypts files or messages. Finally, $25,000 was donated to Riseup to support Tails, which is a live operating system that aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity.

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Mars One Delayed 2 Years, CEO Releases Video In Response To Criticism

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 5:25am
CryoKeen writes It's interesting how different news sites spin #marsgate. From Yahoo News: "The private colonization project Mars One has pushed its planned launch of the first humans toward the Red Planet back by two years, to 2026. The delay was necessitated by a lack of investment funding, which has slowed work on a robotic precursor mission that Mars One had wanted to send toward the Red Planet in 2018, Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp said in a new video posted today... 'We had a very successful investment round in 2013 that has financed all the things that we have done up to now. And we have actually come to an agreement with a consortium of investors late last year for a much bigger round of investments. Unfortunately, the paperwork of that deal is taking much longer than we expected,' Lansdorp said in the video." This Astrowatch article is a lot more scathing and to the point: "Mars One, the Dutch company planning to send people on a one-way trip to Mars, that recently selected a group of 100 hopefuls, struggles with criticism. In a Medium story this week, Mars One finalist Joseph Roche presented multiple reasons as to why he believed the entire operation is a complete scam. In response, the company published a video Thursday in which Bas Lansdorp, CEO and Co-founder of Mars One, replies to recent criticism concerning the feasibility of Mars One's human trip to Mars. He also revealed that the mission will be delayed for two years. Roche said that the 'only way' to get selected for the next round of the Mars One candidacy process was to donate money. 'My nightmare about it is that people continue to support it and give it money and attention, and it then gets to the point where it inevitably falls on its face,' Roche told Elmo Keep for Medium."

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How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 4:27am
HughPickens.com writes Bill Davidow And Michael S. Malone write in the WSJ that recent rains have barely made a dent in California's enduring drought, now in its fourth year. Thus, it's time to solve the state's water problem with radical solutions, and they can begin with "virtual water." This concept describes water that is used to produce food or other commodities, such as cotton. According to Davidow and Malone, when those commodities are shipped out of state, virtual water is exported. Today California exports about six trillion gallons of virtual water, or about 500 gallons per resident a day. How can this happen amid drought? The problem is mispricing. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that farmers would waste far less of it, and the effects of California's drought—its worst in recorded history—would not be so severe. "A free market would raise the price of water, reflecting its scarcity, and lead to a reduction in the export of virtual water," say Davidow and Malone. "A long history of local politics, complicated regulation and seemingly arbitrary controls on distribution have led to gross inefficiency." For example, producing almonds is highly profitable when water is cheap but almond trees are thirsty, and almond production uses about 10% of California's total water supply. The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. "Suppose an almond farmer could sell real water to any buyer, regardless of county boundaries, at market prices—many hundreds of dollars per acre-foot—if he agreed to cut his usage in half, say, by drawing only two acre-feet, instead of four, from his wells," say the authors. "He might have to curtail all or part of his almond orchard and grow more water-efficient crops. But he also might make enough money selling his water to make that decision worthwhile." Using a similar strategy across its agricultural industry, California might be able to reverse the economic logic that has driven farmers to plant more water-intensive crops. "This would take creative thinking, something California is known for, and trust in the power of free markets," conclude the authors adding that "almost anything would be better, and fairer, than the current contradictory and self-defeating regulations."

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LightEater Malware Attack Places Millions of Unpatched BIOSes At Risk

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 2:09am
Mark Wilson writes Two minutes is all it takes to completely destroy a computer. In a presentation entitled 'How many million BIOSes would you like to infect?' at security conference CanSecWest, security researchers Corey Kallenberg and Xeno Kovah revealed that even an unskilled person could use an implant called LightEater to infect a vulnerable system in mere moments. The attack could be used to render a computer unusable, but it could also be used to steal passwords and intercept encrypted data. The problem affects motherboards from companies including Gigabyte, Acer, MSI, HP and Asus. It is exacerbated by manufactures reusing code across multiple UEFI BIOSes and places home users, businesses and governments at risk.

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In Response to Pollution Spike, Paris Temporarily Halves Traffic By Decree

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 11:28pm
As reported by News.com.au, the city of Paris has implemented a harsh (but temporary) measure for drivers, in response to a surge in pollution: banning cars with even-numbered registration plates from the streets. According to the article, City mayor Anne Hidalgo had asked authorities to prevent one in every two cars from taking to the capital’s streets and make all public transport temporarily free in a bid to drive down pollution. Only vehicles with numberplates ending in an odd number will be allowed to drive, though exceptions exist for vehicles like taxis, electric cars and ambulances. ... Public transportation is to be free until at least Monday in Paris and its surrounding towns in an effort to force pollution down by coaxing drivers to give up their cars for a few days. Similar emergency measures were last implemented almost exactly a year ago — on March 17 — during a particularly bad spike in the pollution levels.

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Hundreds Expelled, Many Arrested, For Cheating In India's School Exams

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 8:15pm
Etherwalk writes Sources conflict, but it looks like as many as 300 people have been arrested for cheating in the Indian state of Bihar after the Hindustan Times published images of dozens of men climbing the walls of a test center to pass answers inside. 500-700+ students were expelled and police had been bribed to look the other way. Xinhau's version of the story omits any reference to police bribery, while The ABC's omits the fact that police fired guns into the air.

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For Boot Camp Users, New Macs Require Windows 8 Or Newer

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 5:19pm
For anyone using Windows 7 by way of Apple's Boot Camp utility, beware: support for Windows via Boot Camp remains, but for the newest Apple laptops, it's only for Windows 8 for now. From Slashgear: This applies to the 2015 MacBook Air, and the 13-inch model of the 2015 MacBook Pro. Windows 8 will remain compatible, as will the forthcoming Windows 10. The 2013 Mac Pro also dropped Boot Camp support for Windows 7, while 2014 iMacs are still compatible, along with 2014 MacBook Airs and 2014 MacBook Pros. For those who still prefer to run Windows 7 on their Macs, there are other options. This change to Boot Camp will not affect using the Microsoft operating system through virtualization software, such as Parallels and VMware Fusion. Also at PC Mag.

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How To Encode 2.05 Bits Per Photon, By Using Twisted Light

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 3:29pm
Thorfinn.au writes Researchers at the University of Rochester and their collaborators have developed a way to transfer 2.05 bits per photon by using "twisted light." [Abstract here.]This remarkable achievement is possible because the researchers used the orbital angular momentum of the photons to encode information, rather than the more commonly used polarization of light. The new approach doubles the 1 bit per photon that is possible with current systems that rely on light polarization and could help increase the efficiency of quantum cryptography systems.

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Ebola-Proof Tablet Developed By Google Set For Deployment In Sierra Leone

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 2:36pm
MojoKid writes Google has co-developed a tablet device for use by workers battling Ebola in Sierra Leone. The modified Sony Xperia tablet comes with an extra protective shell, and can withstand chlorine dousing as well as exposure to the high humidity and storms that are typical of life in West Africa. It can even be used by workers wearing protective gloves. Since even a single piece of paper leaving a high-risk zone poses a risk of passing on the infection, doctors on site at the height of the current outbreak of the disease were reduced to shouting patient notes to workers on the other side of a protective zone fence. Those workers would then enter the information into patient records. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) technology advisor Ivan Gayton said this practice was "error prone, exhausting, and it wasted five or 10 minutes of the hour medics can spend fully dressed inside the protective zone before they collapse from heat exhaustion." To address the issue, MSF challenged a number of technology volunteers to create an "Ebola-proof tablet" to improve efficiency. This collective, which included Whitespell's Pim de Witte and Hack4Good's Daniel Cunningham, grew to include a member of Google's Crisis Response Team, and it was this group that co-developed the device.

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Greenpeace Co-Founder Declares Himself a Climate Change Skeptic

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 1:42pm
New submitter PensacolaSlick writes that [Patrick Moore a], co-founder of Greenpeace, and seven-year director of Greenpeace International, with other very pro-environmental credentials, has come out with a brief rationale for why he is "skeptical that humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will be catastrophic in the near future." He argues instead that in a historical context, human activity has saved the planet, declaring that "at 400 parts per million, all our food crops, forests, and natural ecosystems are still on a starvation diet for carbon dioxide." (Consider the source, which according to the New York Times is "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism.") Moore breaks with what might be expected of a Greenpeace founder as well in that he is currently chair of Allow Golden Rice.

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MRIs Show Our Brains Shutting Down When We See Security Prompts

Sat, 03/21/2015 - 12:47pm
antdude writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) show our brains shutting down when we see security prompts. The MRI images show a "precipitous drop" in visual processing after even one repeated exposure to a standard security warning and a "large overall drop" after 13 of them. Previously, such warning fatigue has been observed only indirectly, such as one study finding that only 14 percent of participants recognized content changes to confirmation dialog boxes or another that recorded users clicking through one-half of all SSL warnings in less than two seconds.

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