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Why Bhutan Might Get Drone Delivery Copters Before Seattle Does
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's go-where-they'll-let-you-in department:
From Quartz comes the story of a Silicon Valley start-up trying to kickstart a delivery system using package-laden drones to overfly gridlocked traffic — in Bhutan. Bhutanese roads are slow, the weather can be brutal, and there are very few physicians to go around.

That’s why, earlier this year, the Bhutanese government and the World Health Organization reached out to Matternet, a Palo Alto company backed by some big name American investors that develops transportation networks using unmanned aerial vehicles to reach hard-to-access places. ... The project in Bhutan, however, is the first big test for the startup. Matternet is aiming to build a network of low-cost quadcopters to connect the country’s main hospitals with rural communities. Matternet uses small quadcopters that can carry loads of about four pounds across 20 km at a time, to and from pre-designated landing stations. The company is able to track these flights in real-time, and aims to eventually deploy fully-automated landing stations that replace drone batteries, giving them extended range and flight time. The drones it uses typically cost between $2,000-5,000.

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TEPCO: Nearly All Nuclear Fuel Melted At Fukushima No. 3 Reactor
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's bit-warm-in-here department:
mdsolar (1045926) writes "Almost all of the nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant melted within days of the March 11, 2011, disaster, according to a new estimate by Tokyo Electric Power Co. TEPCO originally estimated that about 60 percent of the nuclear fuel melted at the reactor. But the latest estimate released on Aug. 6 revealed that the fuel started to melt about six hours earlier than previously thought. TEPCO said most of the melted fuel likely dropped to the bottom of the containment unit from the pressure vessel after the disaster set off by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami."

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Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 11:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's this-case-is-totally-proprietary department:
First time accepted submitter PotatoHead (12771) writes "This is a big win for Open Hardware Proponents! The Parallax Propeller Microcontroller VERILOG code was released today, and it's complete! Everything you need to run Open Code on an Open CPU design. This matters because you can now build a device that is open hardware, open code all the way down to the CPU level! Either use a product CPU, and have access to it's source code to understand what and how it does things, or load that CPU onto a suitable FPGA and modify it or combine it with your design."

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Ask Slashdot: Best PDF Handling Library?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 11:01 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-vi-is-not-the-answer department:
New submitter Fotis Georgatos (3006465) writes I recently engaged in a conversation about handling PDF texts for a range of needs, such as creation, manipulation, merging, text extraction and searching, digital signing etc etc. A couple of potential picks popped up (PDFBox, itext), given some Java experience of the other fellows. And then comes the reality of choosing software as a long term knowledge investment! ideally, we would like to combine these features:


open source, with a community following ; the kind of stuff Slashdotters would prefer

tidy software architecture; simple things should remain simple

allow open API allowing usage across many languages (say: Python & Java)

clear licensing status, not estranging future commercial use

serious multilingual & font support

PDF-handling rich features, not limiting usage for invoicing, e-commerce, reports & data mining

digital signing should not go against other features
I'd like to poll the collective Slashdot crowd wisdom about if/which PDF related libraries, they have written software with, keeps them happy for *all* the above reasons. And if not happy with that all, what do they thing is the best bet for learning one piece of software in the area, with great reusability across different circumstances and little need for extra hacks? I'd really like to hear the smoked out war stories. It is easy to obtain a list of such libraries, yet tricky to understand whethe people have obtained success with them!

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Expensive Hotels Really Do Have Faster Wi-Fi
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's starbucks-is-my-airport-lounge department:
OpenSignal, by means of mobile apps for iOS and Android, has been amassing data on Wi-Fi and cell-network signal strength. They released yesterday a few of their findings on the speed of Wi-Fi available at U.S. chain hotels (download speeds, specifically). Though it shouldn't be surprising that (as their data shows) more expensive hotels generally have faster speeds, I know it hasn't always matched my own experience. (Hotel chains also vary, even within brands, in whether the in-room Wi-Fi is free, cheap, or exorbitant.) If the in-room connection is flaky or expensive, though, from the same report it seems you'll do better by popping into a Google-networked Starbucks location than one fed by AT&T, and McDonalds beats Panera Bread by quite a bit.

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With Chinese Investment, Nicaraguan Passage Could Dwarf Panama Canal
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's start-digging department:
Nicaragua is now home to the early stages of one of the largest infrastructure projects on earth, plans for which have been raising questions for some time now. In a move that will affect global trade in the long term, "A Chinese telecom billionaire has joined forces with Nicaragua's famously anti-American president to construct a waterway between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean to rival the Panama Canal. The massive engineering undertaking would literally slice through Nicaragua and be large enough to accommodate the supertankers that are the hallmark of fleets around the world today." (Here's a related article with a bit more on the project from Wang Jing, the Chinese telecoms entrepreneur now also at the head of the Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co.) One potential problem with the canal: disruption of surfing in Nicaragua.

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California Man Sues Sony Because Killzone: Shadowfall Isn't Really 1080
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's gaming-culture department:
Sonny Yatsen (603655) writes A California man with nothing better to do has launched a class-action lawsuit against Sony because he claims he was harmed because Killzone: Shadowfall's multiplayer mode doesn't have native 1080p resolution as Sony originally claimed. He now demands 'all economic, monetary, actual, consequential, statutory and compensatory damages' as well as punitive damages from Sony.

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Google Will Give a Search Edge To Websites That Use Encryption
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bit-of-an-incentive department:
As TechCrunch reports, Google will begin using website encryption, or HTTPS, as a ranking signal – a move which should prompt website developers who have dragged their heels on increased security measures, or who debated whether their website was “important” enough to require encryption, to make a change. Initially, HTTPS will only be a lightweight signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, says Google. ... Over time, however, encryption’s effect on search ranking [may] strengthen, as the company places more importance on website security. ... While HTTPS and site encryption have been a best practice in the security community for years, the revelation that the NSA has been tapping the cables, so to speak, to mine user information directly has prompted many technology companies to consider increasing their own security measures, too. Yahoo, for example, also announced in November its plans to encrypt its data center traffic.

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2D To 3D Object Manipulation Software Lends Depth to Photographs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's artist's-conception department:
Iddo Genuth (903542) writes "A group of students from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, Berkeley have developed free software which uses regular 2D images and combines them with free 3D models of objects to create unbelievable video results. The group of four students created the software (currently for Mac OS X only) that allows users to perform 3D manipulations, such as rotations, translations, scaling, deformation, and 3D copy-paste, to objects in photographs. However unlike many 3D object manipulation software, the team's approach seamlessly reveals hidden parts of objects in photographs, and produces plausible shadows and shading."

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Oracle Database Redaction Trivial To Bypass, Says David Litchfield
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let-me-ask-that-another-way department:
msm1267 (2804139) writes "Researcher David Litchfield is back at it again, dissecting Oracle software looking for critical bugs. At the Black Hat 2014 conference, Litchfield delivered research on a new data redaction service the company added in Oracle 12c. The service is designed to allow administrators to mask sensitive data, such as credit card numbers or health information, during certain operations. But when Litchfield took a close look he found a slew of trivially exploitable vulnerabilities that bypass the data redaction service and trick the system into returning data that should be masked."

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New Car Heads-Up Display To Be Controlled By Hand Gestures, Voice Commands
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's don't-take-that-call department:
Lucas123 (935744) writes "A new company has just opened a crowdsourcing campaign for a heads-up display that plugs into your car's OBD II port and works with iPhones and Android OS-enabled mobile devices via Bluetooth to project a 5.1-in transparent screen that appears to float six feet in front of the windshield. The HUD, called Navdy, works with navigation apps such as Google Maps for turn-by-turn directions, and music apps such as Spotify, Pandora, iTunes Music and Google Play Music. Using voice commands via Apple's Siri or Google Voice, the HUD can also write, read aloud or display notifications from text messages or social media apps, such as Twitter. Phone calls, texting or other applications can also be controlled with hand gestures enabled by an infrared camera."

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Massive Russian Hack Has Researchers Scratching Their Heads
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's schroedinger's-breach department:
itwbennett writes Some security researchers on Wednesday said it's still unclear just how serious Hold Security's discovery of a massive database of stolen credentials really is. "The only way we can know if this is a big deal is if we know what the information is and where it came from," said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at Sophos. "But I can't answer that because the people who disclosed this decided they want to make money off of this. There's no way for others to verify." Wisniewski was referring to an offer by Hold Security to notify website operators if they were affected, but only if they sign up for its breach notification service, which starts at $120 per year."

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Snowden Granted 3 More Years of Russian Residency
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's backwards-world department:
SiggyRadiation writes Edward Snowden is allowed to stay in Russia for three more years. According to the NYPost:"His lawyer, Analtoly Kucherena, was quoted by Russian news agencies on Thursday as saying Snowden now has been granted residency for three more years, but that he had not been granted political asylum. That status, which would allow him to stay in Russia permanently, must be decided by a separate procedure, Kucherena said, but didn't say whether Snowden is seeking it." The question that remains, of course, is did the Russians use this as leverage over him to get to more information or influence him? Or is the positive PR in itself enough for the Russians in the current climate of tensions and economic sanctions relating to the Ukraine crisis?"

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Apple and Samsung Agree To Drop Cases Outside the US
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 04:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's why-can't-we-be-friends? department:
mrspoonsi writes Apple and Samsung have agreed to withdraw all legal cases against each other outside the United States. The two rivals have sued each other over a range of patent disputes in nine countries outside the US, including the UK, South Korea, Japan and Germany. A joint statement said the agreement "does not involve any licensing arrangements", and they would continue to pursue existing cases in US courts. The two firms are the biggest players in the smartphone and tablet PC market. But they have been involved in a bitter legal battle, spread across various countries, which has escalated in recent years.

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Algorithm Predicts US Supreme Court Decisions 70% of Time
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 02:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's telling-the-future department:
stephendavion writes A legal scholar says he and colleagues have developed an algorithm that can predict, with 70 percent accuracy, whether the US Supreme Court will uphold or reverse the lower-court decision before it. "Using only data available prior to the date of decision, our model correctly identifies 69.7 percent of the Court's overall affirm and reverse decisions and correctly forecasts 70.9% of the votes of individual justices across 7,700 cases and more than 68,000 justice votes," Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law scholar, wrote on his blog Tuesday.

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Ancient Worms May Have Saved Life On Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '14 at 12:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's thank-a-worm-today department:
sciencehabit writes You can credit your existence to tiny wormlike creatures that lived 500 million years ago, a new study suggests. By tunneling through the sea floor, scientists say, these creatures kept oxygen concentrations at just the right level to allow animals and other complex life to evolve. The finding may help answer an enduring mystery of Earth's past. The idea is that as they dug and wiggled, these early multicellular creatures—some were likely worms as long as 40 cm—exposed new layers of seafloor sediment to the ocean's water. Each new batch of sediment that settles onto the sea floor contains bacteria; as those bacteria were exposed to the oxygen in the water, they began storing a chemical called phosphate in their cells. So as the creatures churned up more sediment layers, more phosphate built up in ocean sediments and less was found in seawater. Because algae and other photosynthetic ocean life require phosphate to grow, removing phosphate from seawater reduced their growth. Less photosynthesis, in turn, meant less oxygen released into the ocean. In this way, the system formed a negative feedback loop that automatically slowed the rise in oxygen levels as the levels increased.

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City of London Police Take Down Proxy Service Over Piracy Concerns
Posted by News Fetcher on August 06 '14 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's shutting-it-down department:
Mr_Silver writes TorrentFreak is reporting that the City of London Police (a private police force in government-backed livery with an authority that does not go beyond the corporate-controlled City of London area — so not to be confused with the Metropolitan Police) has seized control of a number of domains including Immunicity, a general proxy server that was set up as a censorship circumvention tool. This appears to be their next step after placing banner adverts on websites.

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US Intelligence Wants Tools To Tell: Who's the Smartest of Them All?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 06 '14 at 08:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's finding-big-brains department:
coondoggie writes Can a tool or technology be applied to the brain and accurately predict out of a given group of people who will be the smartest? The research arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) is looking for exactly those kinds of tools."IARPA is looking to get a handle on the state of the art in brain-based predictors of future cognitive performance. In particular, IARPA is interested in non-invasive analyses of brain structure and/or function that can be used to predict who will best learn complex skills and accomplish tasks within real-world environments, and with outcome measures, that are relevant to national security.

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Transatomic Power Receives Seed Funding From Founders Fund Science
Posted by News Fetcher on August 06 '14 at 06:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's power-up department:
pmaccabe writes "The company aiming to make a Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor(WAMSR) is now getting $2 million from the venture capital firm Founders Fund. From the article: "The Founders Fund is the firm behind some of the more successful Internet startups out there including Facebook, Yammer and Spotify, but also some science-focused companies such as Climate Corporation, Space-X and satellite startup Planet Labs. The fund, which was created by PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and his partners, promotes this manifesto: 'we wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.'”

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Man-Made "Dead Zone" In Gulf of Mexico the Size of Connecticut
Posted by News Fetcher on August 06 '14 at 05:46 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-doomed department:
Taco Cowboy writes Somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico there is a man-made "Dead Zone" the size of the State of Connecticut. Inside that "Dead Zone" the water contain no oxygen, or too little, to support normal marine life, especially the bottom dwelling fish and shrimps. The "Dead Zone" measures about 5,000 Square Miles (13,000 Square Kilometer) is caused by excess nutrient runoff from farms along the Mississippi River, which empties into the Gulf. The excess nutrients feed algae growth, which consumes oxygen when it works its way to the Gulf bottom. The Gulf dead zone, which fluctuates in size but measured 5,052 square miles this summer, is exceeded only by a similar zone in the Baltic Sea around Finland. The number of dead zones worldwide currently totals more than 550 and has been increasing for decades.

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