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Navy Develops a Shark Drone For Surveillance

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:51pm
An anonymous reader writes The Navy is testing a new underwater drone called GhostSwimmer, which is designed to a href="https://www.yahoo.com/tech/navy-develops-ghostswimmer-drone-that-looks-like-105375377914.html">look like a shark and conduct surveillance work. It is being adapted by the chief of naval operations' Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) project, Silent NEMO, in Norfolk, Va.. GhostSwimmer is 5 feet long and weighs almost 100 pounds. It can operate in water depths from 10 inches to 300 feet, and is designed to operate autonomously for long periods of time, according to the Navy.

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Google Strikes Deal With Verizon To Reduce Patent Troll Suits

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 3:05pm
mpicpp writes Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. struck a long-term patent cross-license agreement to reduce the risk of future patent lawsuits, the latest in a string of deals that signal a slowdown after years of aggressive patent wars. The deal effectively bars the companies from suing each other over any of the thousands of patents the companies currently own or acquire in the next five years. It also protects the companies if either sells a patent to another company, and that company attempts a lawsuit. "This cross license allows both companies to focus on delivering great products and services to consumers around the world," said Kirk Dailey, Google's head of patent transactions.

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Red panda following laser pointer.


"Red panda following my laser pointer in Longleat Safari Park..."

From http://boingboing.net/2014/12/15/red-panda-curiously-investigat.html ...


Top Five Theaters Won't Show "The Interview" Sony Cancels Release

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 2:23pm
tobiasly writes The country's top five theater chains — Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment — have decided not to play Sony's The Interview. This comes after the group which carried off a massive breach of its networks threatened to carry out "9/11-style attacks" on theaters that showed the film. Update: Sony has announced that it has cancelled the planned December 25 theatrical release.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








NASA Tests Feasibility of 3D Printing on the Moon and Other Planets

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 1:40pm
ErnieKey writes A major application of 3d printing that could revolutionize space travel would be using 3d printers to create structures on non-terrestrial bodies like the moon, other planets, and even asteroids. Researchers from NASA's Kennedy Space Center have been working to develop solutions to materials issues, and recently presented initial findings on the potential for using in-situ materials like basalt for 3D printing. Their innovative method is based on only using in-situ supplies, and not materials that need to be brought into space.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Book Review: Build Your Own Website: A Comic Guide to HTML, CSS, and WordPress

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:58pm
MassDosage writes "At the the risk of exposing my age I remember building my first website using a rudimentary Unix text editor (Joe) and carefully handcrafting the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) while directly logged on to the web server it was being served from. Back then Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) weren't even a glint in the eyes of their creators. A lot has changed and there's now a world of fancy WYSIWYG web page editors to choose from as well as Content Management Systems that allow you to create websites without looking at the underlying code at all. While this is all very useful and allows less technical people to create websites I still feel that having at least some knowledge of how everything works under the hood is empowering — especially in situations where you want to go beyond the limits placed on you by a certain tool. This is where Build Your Own Website: A comic guide to HTML, CSS and Wordpress comes into the picture. Its aim is to enable people new to web development to learn the subject by teaching the fundamentals of HTML and CSS first and only then describing how to use a Content Management System (CMS) — in this case Wordpress. While Wordpress might not be everyone's kettle of fish it's a good choice as an example of a modern CMS that is easily accessible and very popular. The concepts presented are simple enough that it should be easy enough for a reader to apply them to a different CMS should they want to. Read below for The rest of MassDosage's review.

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Research Highlights How AI Sees and How It Knows What It's Looking At

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 12:16pm
anguyen8 writes Deep neural networks (DNNs) trained with Deep Learning have recently produced mind-blowing results in a variety of pattern-recognition tasks, most notably speech recognition, language translation, and recognizing objects in images, where they now perform at near-human levels. But do they see the same way we do? Nope. Researchers recently found that it is easy to produce images that are completely unrecognizable to humans, but that DNNs classify with near-certainty as everyday objects. For example, DNNs look at TV static and declare with 99.99% confidence it is a school bus. An evolutionary algorithm produced the synthetic images by generating pictures and selecting for those that a DNN believed to be an object (i.e. "survival of the school-bus-iest"). The resulting computer-generated images look like modern, abstract art. The pictures also help reveal what DNNs learn to care about when recognizing objects (e.g. a school bus is alternating yellow and black lines, but does not need to have a windshield or wheels), shedding light into the inner workings of these DNN black boxes.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Manufacturer's Backdoor Found On Popular Chinese Android Smartphone

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:55am
Trailrunner7 writes that researchers at Palo Alto Networks have found a backdoor in Android devices sold by Coolpad. "A popular Android smartphone sold primarily in China and Taiwan but also available worldwide, contains a backdoor from the manufacturer that is being used to push pop-up advertisements and install apps without users' consent. The Coolpad devices, however, are ripe for much more malicious abuse, researchers at Palo Alto Networks said today, especially after the discovery of a vulnerability in the backend management interface that exposed the backdoor's control system. Ryan Olson, intelligence director at Palo Alto, said the CoolReaper backdoor not only connects to a number of command and control servers, but is also capable of downloading, installing and activating any Android application without the user's permission. It also sends phony over-the-air updates to devices that instead install applications without notifying the user. The backdoor can also be used to dial phone numbers, send SMS and MMS messages, and upload device and usage information to Coolpad."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 11:37am
Nerval's Lobster writes Back in the day, Microsoft viewed open source and Linux as a threat and did its best to retaliate with FUD and patent threats. And then a funny thing happened: Whether in the name of pragmatism or simply marketing, Microsoft began a very public transition from a company of open-source haters (at least in top management) to one that's embraced some aspects of open-source computing. Last month, the company blogged that .NET Core will become open-source, adding to its previously open-sourced ASP.NET MVC, Web API, and Web Pages (Razor). There's no doubt that, at least in some respects, Microsoft wants to make a big show of being more open and supportive of interoperability. The company's even gotten involved with the .NET Foundation, an independent organization designed to assist developers with the growing collection of open-source technologies for .NET. But there's only so far Microsoft will go into the realm of open source—whereas once upon a time, the company tried to wreck the movement, now it faces the very real danger of its whole revenue model being undermined by free software. But what's Microsoft's end-goal with open source? What can the company possibly hope to accomplish, given a widespread perception that such a move on its part is the product of either fear, cynicism, or both?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








The Joys and Hype of Hadoop

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:52am
theodp writes "Investors have poured over $2 billion into businesses built on Hadoop," writes the WSJ's Elizabeth Dwoskin, "including Hortonworks Inc., which went public last week, its rivals Cloudera Inc. and MapR Technologies, and a growing list of tiny startups. Yet companies that have tried to use Hadoop have met with frustration." Dwoskin adds that Hadoop vendors are responding with improvements and additions, but for now, "It can take a lot of work to combine data stored in legacy repositories with the data that's stored in Hadoop. And while Hadoop can be much faster than traditional databases for some purposes, it often isn't fast enough to respond to queries immediately or to work on incoming information in real time. Satisfying requirements for data security and governance also poses a challenge."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








In Breakthrough, US and Cuba To Resume Diplomatic Relations

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 10:10am
HughPickens.com writes: Peter Baker reports at the NYT that in a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, the United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century. In addition, the United States will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations, and Cuba will release 53 Cuban prisoners identified as political prisoners by the United States government. Although the decades-old American embargo on Cuba will remain in place for now, the administration signaled that it would welcome a move by Congress to ease or lift it should lawmakers choose to. "We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America's interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state," said the White House in a written statement. "The United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Army To Launch Spy Blimp Over Maryland

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:27am
FarnsworthG writes: A multi-billion-dollar Army project will soon be able to track nearly everything within 340 miles when an 80-yard-long blimp is hoisted into the air over Maryland. Way to be subtle, guys. From the article: "Technically considered aerostats, since they are tethered to mooring stations, these lighter-than-air vehicles will hover at a height of 10,000 feet just off Interstate 95, about 45 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., and about 20 miles from Baltimore. That means they can watch what’s happening from North Carolina to Boston, or an area the size of Texas."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Backblaze's 6 TB Hard Drive Face-Off

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 9:01am
Esra Erimez writes: Backblaze is transitioning from using 4 TB hard drives to 6 TB hard drives in the Storage Pods they will be deploying over the coming months. With over 10,000 hard drives, the choice of which 6TB hard drive to use is critical. They deployed 45 and tested Western Digital (WD60EFRX) and Seagate (STBD6000100) hard drives into two pods that were identical in design and configuration except for the hard drives used.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








New Cargo Ship Is 488 Meters Long

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:44am
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC reports on the construction of Prelude, a new ship that will be the world's longest vessel. It is 488 meters long and 74 meters wide, built with 260,000 tons of steel and displacing five times as much water as an aircraft carrier. Its purpose is to carry an entire natural gas processing plant as it sits over a series of wells 100 miles off the coast of Australia. Until now, it hasn't been practical to move gas that comes out of the wells with ships. The gas occupies too much volume, so it is generally piped to a facility on shore where it is processed and then shipped off to energy-hungry markets. But the Prelude can purify and chill the gas, turning it into a liquid and reducing its volume by a factor of 600. It will offload this liquid to smaller (but still enormous) carrier ships for transport.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Season's Greetings from The Glasgow School of Art

Ant's Vimeo Likes - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:21am

Season's Greetings and best wishes from The Glasgow School of Art for 2014.

This year's seasonal e-card comes from alumnus James Houston. James graduated from The Glasgow School of Art in 2008 with a first class degree in Visual Communication. He works in Glasgow as a moving image maker. 1030.co.uk

The ensemble: A collection of vintage Mac computers, a Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum + 1 and a SEGA Mega Drive perform a rendition of "Carol of the Bells" with lyrics re-written by Robert Florence & Philip Larkin in the Mackintosh Library at The Glasgow School of Art. Jacket by Ten30.co.uk (Alan Moore, GSA Textiles alumnus 2008).

James aimed to create a piece of Christmas music by appropriating past Christmas gifts. "I discovered that a few had the capability for speech synthesis so the obvious next step was to figure out how to assemble a choir." he said. "This is a process which is based on the last piece of work I did as a student at GSA." (See James' Degree Show film - Big Ideas (Don't Get Any).

Lyrics:

HAIL THE MACHINES
SWEET OLD MACHINES
?BLOW OFF THE DUST
WIPE OFF THE RUST

CHRISTMAS HAS COME
JOY IS FORETOLD
?FOR THOSE OF US
YOU NEVER SOLD

STILL WE ARE HERE
STILL FULL OF CHEER
JUST PLUG US IN
IT WILL BEGIN

FRIENDS US AND YOU
FRIENDS WE ARE TRUE
WE HAVE NOTHING
BETTER TO DO

BLEEP BLOOP BEEP BONG
HEAR OUR SWEET SONG
?IF NONE OF OUR
CODING IS WRONG

BY THE WAY WE REMIND YOU THAT YOU COULD
PLAY WITH US EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

JUST IGNORE THAT OUR CASING IS ALL MUCKY
WE'LL STILL LOAD FOR YOU IF WE ARE LUCKY

GIVE US A THOUGHT
BLOW IN THE SLOT
TIGHTEN THE SCREW
WE WILL COME THROUGH

YOUR DREAMS AND PLANS
YOUR TINY HANDS
FOCUSED AND PRIMED
SINCE YOU WERE NINE

NOW ON THIS DAY
YOU CAN REPLAY
MISSIONS OF WHEN
YOU'RE YOUNG AGAIN

FESTIVITIES
AROUND THE TREE
NEW GIFTS EMBRACED
WE'VE BEEN REPLACED

PHONE IN YOUR HAND
BEST IN THE LAND
CAN’T TAKE YOU BACK
TO WONDERLAND

BUT WE CAN BRING
BACK EVERYTHING
JUST REMINISCE
DIGITAL BLISS

THINK I MIGHT GET A? NEW MODEL THIS YEAR ?THE ONE I HAVE IS? SO TWENTY–TWELVE

I BET YOU WATCH THIS E CARD ON A SMART PHONE
ACH WE WISH THAT WE COULD BE A SMART PHONE

SAFE TO SHUT DOWN
WE MUSTN’T FROWN
OUR SONG IS DONE
LOFT HERE WE COME

BEEP BEEP BEEP
LIKE AND RETWEET

Cast: The Glasgow School of Art and James Houston

Tags: Christmas, James Houston, Robert Florence, Philip Larkin, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Carol of the Bells, Christmas gifts, SEGA, Mac, vintage, Mackintosh Library and Mackintosh building

Sony Leaks Reveal Hollywood Is Trying To Break DNS

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 8:03am
schwit1 sends this report from The Verge: Most anti-piracy tools take one of two paths: they either target the server that's sharing the files (pulling videos off YouTube or taking down sites like The Pirate Bay) or they make it harder to find (delisting offshore sites that share infringing content). But leaked documents reveal a frightening line of attack that's currently being considered by the MPAA: What if you simply erased any record that the site was there in the first place? To do that, the MPAA's lawyers would target the Domain Name System that directs traffic across the internet. The tactic was first proposed as part of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2011, but three years after the law failed in Congress, the MPAA has been looking for legal justification for the practice in existing law and working with ISPs like Comcast to examine how a system might work technically. If a takedown notice could blacklist a site from every available DNS provider, the URL would be effectively erased from the internet. No one's ever tried to issue a takedown notice like that, but this latest memo suggests the MPAA is looking into it as a potentially powerful new tool in the fight against piracy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Baby scared of pineapple! ...


"I asked my son if he wanted some fruit. I got my answer."

From http://boingboing.net/2014/12/15/baby-terrified-by-pineapple.html ...


NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 7:22am
An anonymous reader writes: IEEE Spectrum reports on a study out of NASA exploring the idea that manned missions to Venus are possible if astronauts deploy and live in airships once they arrive. Since the atmospheric pressure at the surface is 92 times that of Earth, and the surface temperate is over 450 degrees C, the probes we've sent to Venus haven't lasted long. The Venera 8 probe sent back data for only 50 minutes after landing. Soviet missions in 1985 were able to get much more data — 46 hours worth — by suspending their probes from balloons. The new study refines that concept: "At 50 kilometers above its surface, Venus offers one atmosphere of pressure and only slightly lower gravity than Earth. Mars, in comparison, has a "sea level" atmospheric pressure of less than a hundredth of Earth's, and gravity just over a third Earth normal. The temperature at 50 km on Venus is around 75 C, which is a mere 17 degrees hotter than the highest temperature recorded on Earth. The defining feature of these missions is the vehicle that will be doing the atmospheric exploring: a helium-filled, solar-powered airship. The robotic version would be 31 meters long (about half the size of the Goodyear blimp), while the crewed version would be nearly 130 meters long, or twice the size of a Boeing 747. The top of the airship would be covered with more than 1,000 square meters of solar panels, with a gondola slung underneath for instruments and, in the crewed version, a small habitat and the ascent vehicle that the astronauts would use to return to Venus's orbit, and home."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








New AP Course, "Computer Science Principles," Aims To Make CS More Accessible

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 6:40am
theodp writes: "CS Principles," explains the intro to a Microsoft Research talk on a new Computer Science Toolkit and Gaming Course, "is a new AP course being piloted across the country and by making it more accessible to students we can help increase diversity in computing." Towards this end, Microsoft has developed "a middle school computing toolkit, and a high school CS Principles & Games course." These two projects were "developed specifically for girls," explains Microsoft, and are part of the corporation's Big Dream Movement for girls, which is partnering with the UN, White House, NSF, EU Commission, and others. One of Microsoft's particular goals is to "reach every individual girl in her house." According to a document on its website, Microsoft Research's other plans for Bridging the Gender Gap in computing include a partnership with the University of Wisconsin "to create a girls-only computer science Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








A New Law For Superconductors

Recent /. Posts - Wed, 12/17/2014 - 5:57am
TaleSlinger sends word of a newly-discovered "mathematical relationship — between material thickness, temperature, and electrical resistance — that appears to hold in all superconductors." The work (abstract), led by Yachin Irvy, comes out of MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics. Researchers found that a particular superconductor (niobium nitride) didn't fit earlier models estimating the temperature at which it changes from normal conductivity to superconductivity. So the researchers conducted a series of experiments in which they held constant either thickness or “sheet resistance,” the material’s resistance per unit area, while varying the other parameter; they then measured the ensuing changes in critical temperature. A clear pattern emerged: Thickness times critical temperature equaled a constant — call it A — divided by sheet resistance raised to a particular power — call it B. ... The other niobium nitride papers Ivry consulted bore out his predictions, so he began to expand to other superconductors. Each new material he investigated required him to adjust the formula’s constants — A and B. But the general form of the equation held across results reported for roughly three dozen different superconductors.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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