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Updated: 6 hours 39 min ago

Samsung Buys Kickstarter-Funded Internet of Things Startup For $200MM

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 7:36am
jfruh writes: In September of 2012, SmartThings took to Kickstarter with the promise of delivering an "Internet of things" package to backers, including a hub device that would control various home gadgets via the user's smartphone. They aimed to raise $250,000. They got $1.2 million. And now they've been bought by Samsung for a reported $200 million, as the South Korean electronics market tries to get a foothold into this emerging market.

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Is Remote Instruction the Future of College?

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 6:54am
An anonymous reader writes: The Atlantic reports on a new online learning venture called Project Minerva. Its goal is to blend the most effective parts of online and real-life college education. The problem with most online courses is that the vast majority of people who sign up for them never finish — they aren't engaged enough. Minerva is set up to encourage more interaction between a live professor and other students. Quoting: "[A]t first it reminded me of the opening credits of The Brady Bunch: a grid of images of the professor and eight "students" (the others were all Minerva employees) appeared on the screen before me, and we introduced ourselves. ... Within a few minutes, though, the experience got more intense. Bonabeau began by polling us on our understanding of the reading, a Nature article about the sudden depletion of North Atlantic cod in the early 1990s. He asked us which of four possible interpretations of the article was the most accurate. In an ordinary undergraduate seminar, this might have been an occasion for timid silence, until the class's biggest loudmouth or most caffeinated student ventured a guess. But the Minerva class extended no refuge for the timid, nor privilege for the garrulous. Within seconds, every student had to provide an answer, and Bonabeau displayed our choices so that we could be called upon to defend them." The professor has fine-grained control over the class, and can easily divide students into groups, or link up directly for one-on-one advice. The project hopes that having a professor directly involved (and using modern tools) will bring the online learning experience up to speed with more traditional methods.

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Posting Soccer Goals On Vine Is Illegal, Say England's Premier League

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 6:12am
New submitter JonnyCalcutta writes: The football Premier League in England is warning about posting clips of goals on online services such as Vine and Twitter. The claim is that posting these clips is "illegal under copyright laws." I'm naturally dubious about blanket statements from rightsholders already known to push the truth, especially concerning such short clips, but I don't know enough about copyright law to understand the implications fully. Is it illegal? What can they actually do about it? Does adding commentary give the uploader any rights to post?

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World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor Launches Nov. 13th

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 5:51am
An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday at Gamescom, Blizzard announced the release date for the latest expansion to World of Warcraft, titled Warlords of Draenor. The expansion will launch on Thursday, November 13th. The launch date is 10 days prior to the game's 10th anniversary, and both will be celebrated by a lengthy incursion event in-game. Blizzard also released the cinematic trailer for Warlords of Draenor.

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Web Trolls Winning As Incivility Increases

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 5:30am
mdsolar sends this story from the NY Times: The Internet may be losing the war against trolls. At the very least, it isn't winning. And unless social networks, media sites and governments come up with some innovative way of defeating online troublemakers, the digital world will never be free of the trolls' collective sway. That's the dismal judgment of the handful of scholars who study the broad category of online incivility known as trolling, a problem whose scope is not clear, but whose victims keep mounting. "As long as the Internet keeps operating according to a click-based economy, trolls will maybe not win, but they will always be present," said Whitney Phillips, a lecturer at Humboldt State University and the author of This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, a forthcoming book about her years of studying bad behavior online. "The faster that the whole media system goes, the more trolls have a foothold to stand on. They are perfectly calibrated to exploit the way media is disseminated these days."

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The Billion-Dollar Website

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 4:47am
stoborrobots writes: The Government Accountability Office has investigated the cost blowouts associated with how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) handled the Healthcare.gov project. It has released a 60-page report entitled Healthcare.gov: Ineffective Planning and Oversight Practices Underscore the Need for Improved Contract Management, with a 5 page summary. The key takeaway messages are: CMS undertook the development of Healthcare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices... [The task] was a complex effort with compressed time frames. To be expedient, CMS issued task orders ... when key technical requirements were unknown... CMS identified major performance issues ... but took only limited steps to hold the contractor accountable.CMS awarded a new contract to another firm [and the new contract's cost has doubled] due to changes such as new requirements and other enhancements...

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The Man Responsible For Pop-Up Ads On Building a Better Web

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 4:05am
An anonymous reader writes Above all, Ethan Zuckerman wants you to know that he is sorry. In the mid-1990s, Zuckerman was working as a designer and programmer for Tripod.com when he wrote the code for the first pop-up ad. He says: "At the end of the day, the business model that got us funded was advertising. The model that got us acquired was analyzing users’ personal homepages so we could better target ads to them. Along the way, we ended up creating one of the most hated tools in the advertiser’s toolkit: the pop-up ad. It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good."

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DARPA Contemplates Vast Ocean Network

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 2:35am
coondoggie writes Probably one of the last and perhaps unforgiving areas of the world not truly "wired" is above and below the ocean. Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) want to explore the possibility of seriously changing that notion and develop what it calls "a system-of-systems architecture and critical components to support networked maritime operations, to include undersea, surface, and above surface domains."

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Correcting Killer Architecture

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 1:34am
minstrelmike writes In Leeds, England, architects are adding a plethora of baffles and other structures to prevent the channeling of winds from a skyscraper that have pushed baby carriages into the street and caused one pedestrian death by blowing over a truck. Other architectural mistakes listed in the article include death ray buildings that can melt car bumpers and landscape ponds that blind tenants.

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US Defense Contractors Still Waiting For Breach Notification Rules

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 11:02pm
An anonymous reader writes US Department of Defense contractors will have to wait until September 24 to see what specific rules they will be required to follow when it comes to the reporting of computer breaches to the DoD. This particular requirement has been mandated by the US Congress last year, in an attempt to get clear view of the type and frequency of attacks contractors face. The US Congress will require "cleared defense contractors" — i.e. those who have been granted clearance by the DoD to access, receive, or store classified information — to effect a rapid report in the wake of a successful breach, and to include in it a description of the technique or method used in the penetration, a sample of the malicious software used (if discovered), and a summary of information created for the Department in connection with any Department program that has been potentially compromised due to such penetration.

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How Drones Entered the FBI's Spying Toolkit

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 8:26pm
Jason Koebler writes The FBI has had an eager eye on surveillance drones since first experimenting with remote control airplanes in 1995. But budget cuts nearly ended the Bureau's unmanned machinations in 2010, and it took a dedicated push aimed at making drones "a tool the FBI cannot do without" to cement their place in the FBI's surveillance toolkit. The near termination—and subsequent expansion—of the FBI's drone program over the past four years is chronicled in hundreds of heavily-redacted pages released under a lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington over the past several months.

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Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 6:07pm
An anonymous reader is just one of many who have pointed out that things don't look good for Uber in Berlin. Berlin has banned car service Uber, which allows users to summon a ride on their smartphone, for not offering drivers and vehicles licensed to carry passengers, or full insurance cover, the German capital said. The ban takes immediate effect and Uber risks fines of up to 25,000 euros each time it violates the city's Public Transport Act, Berlin authorities said in a statement. Uber said on Thursday it would appeal against the decision, accusing Berlin of denying its people choice and mobility. "As a new entrant we are bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn't changed in years. Competition is good for everyone and it raises the bar and ultimately it's the consumer who wins," said Fabien Nestmann, German General Manager at Uber. Undaunted by the setback in Berlin, Uber has launched uberTAXI in Hong Kong.

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Kevlar Protects Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 4:18pm
Brandon Butler writes As an ode to Shark Week: Sharks have been known to show an appetite for fiber cables underwater, and last week a Google official said to prevent sharks from wreaking havoc on the company's trans-Pacific fiber lines, it wraps them in Kevlar. It's believed that the emission of electrical currents from the fiber piping is mistaken by sharks occasionally as prey. In related news, a growing number of scientists are becoming disgruntled with the Discovery network's sensationalist programs. Many shark experts are refusing to work with the channel after such programs as their Megalodon "documentary" and their latest Shark of Darkness (not to mention the mermaid special, which was sadly missing a singing crab.) Sockatume writes The Verge has an article on Discovery's hugely successful Shark Week, discussing how the increasing sensationalist special event misrepresents science and exploits nature and local history for shock value. Scientists who appeared in and were misrepresented by the channel's programming are beginning to encourage their peers to stay away from the Discovery network, which stands by the programming 's viewing figures.

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Kevlar Protect Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 4:18pm
Brandon Butler writes As an ode to Shark Week: Sharks have been known to show an appetite for fiber cables underwater, and last week a Google official said to prevent sharks from wreaking havoc on the company's trans-Pacific fiber lines, it wraps them in Kevlar. It's believed that the emission of electrical currents from the fiber piping is mistaken by sharks occasionally as prey. In related news, a growing number of scientists are becoming disgruntled with the Discovery network's sensationalist programs. Many shark experts are refusing to work with the channel after such programs as their Megalodon "documentary" and their latest Shark of Darkness (not to mention the mermaid special, which was sadly missing a singing crab.) Sockatume writes The Verge has an article on Discovery's hugely successful Shark Week, discussing how the increasing sensationalist special event misrepresents science and exploits nature and local history for shock value. Scientists who appeared in and were misrepresented by the channel's programming are beginning to encourage their peers to stay away from the Discovery network, which stands by the programming 's viewing figures.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








World's Fastest Camera Captures 4.4 Trillion Frames Per Second

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 3:37pm
Diggester writes Japanese researchers have recently designed a motion picture camera which is capable of capturing 4.4 trillion frames per second, making it the fastest camera in the world. The technique that allows for such speed is called STAMP (sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography). The research paper, published in the journal Nature Photonics has the full details.

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Hemp Fibers Make Better Supercapacitors Than Graphene

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 2:55pm
biodata (1981610) writes "BBC News is reporting findings published in the journal ACS Nano by Dr David Mitlin from Clarkson University. Dr. Mitlin's team took waste hemp stems and recycled the material into supercapacitors with performance as good, or better, than those built from graphene, at a fraction of the raw materials cost. "We're making graphene-like materials for a thousandth of the price - and we're doing it with waste. The hemp we use is perfectly legal to grow. It has no THC in it at all - so there's no overlap with any recreational activities," Mitlin says.

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A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 2:10pm
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Harvard's Self-Organizing Systems Research Group—describe their thousand-robot swarm in a paper published today in Science (they actually built 1024 robots). In the past, researchers have only been able to program at most a couple hundred robots to work together. Now, these researchers have programmed the biggest robot swarm yet. Alone, the simple little robot can't do much, but working with 1,000 or more like-minded fellow bots, it becomes part of a swarm that can self-assemble into any two-dimensional shape. These are some of the first steps toward creating huge herds of tiny robots that form larger structures—including bigger robots."

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Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 1:27pm
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Given the hundreds of thousands of apps currently on offer, it's hard for any one app (no matter how well designed) to stand out on Apple's App Store, much less stay atop the bestseller charts for very long. In an August 10 blog posting, former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée offered Apple CEO Tim Cook some advice: Let humans curate the App Store. 'Instead of using algorithms to sort and promote the apps that you permit on your shelves, why not assign a small group of adepts to create and shepherd an App Store Guide,' he wrote. 'A weekly newsletter will identify notable new titles, respond to counter-opinions, perhaps present a developer profile, footnote the occasional errata and mea culpa.' Whether or not such an idea would effectively surface all the good content now buried under layers of Flappy Bird rip-offs is an open question; what's certain is that, despite Apple's rosy picture, developers around the world face a lot of uncertainty and competition when it comes to making significant money off their apps. Sure, some developers are making a ton of cash, but the rising tide doesn't necessarily float all boats. If you had the opportunity, how would you revamp/revise/upgrade/adjust/destroy the App Store to better serve the developers who put apps in it?

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Can Our Computers Continue To Get Smaller and More Powerful?

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 12:45pm
aarondubrow (1866212) writes In a [note, paywalled] review article in this week's issue of the journal Nature (described in a National Science Foundation press release), Igor Markov of the University of Michigan/Google reviews limiting factors in the development of computing systems to help determine what is achievable, in principle and in practice, using today's and emerging technologies. "Understanding these important limits," says Markov, "will help us to bet on the right new techniques and technologies." Ars Technica does a great job of expanding on the various limitations that Markov describes, and the ways in which engineering can push back against them.

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Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part Two of Two)

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 12:05pm
Yesterday we ran Part One of this two-part video. This is part two. To recap yesterday's text introduction: Detroit recently hosted the North American Science Fiction Convention, drawing thousands of SF fans to see and hear a variety of talks on all sorts of topics. One of the biggest panels featured a discussion on perhaps the greatest technological disappointment of the past fifty years: Where are our d@%& flying cars? Panelists included author and database consultant Jonathan Stars, expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson, author and founder of the Artemis Project Ian Randal Strock, novelist Cindy A. Matthews, Fermilab physicist Bill Higgins, general manager of a nanotechnology company Dr. Charles Dezelah, and astrobiology expert Dr. Nicolle Zellner. As it turns out, the reality of situation is far less enticing than the dream -- but new technologies offer a glimmer of hope. (Alternate Video Link)

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