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Fake Pub Studies Drinking Habits
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 05:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's top-shelf-research department:
sciencehabit writes "In a pub on the campus of London South Bank University, you may think you're drinking an ice cold brew, but don't be too sure. A fake pub with barstools, beer pumps, and all the trappings of a real one was built on the university for psychologists to better understand how and why we drink. Hidden cameras and a cheerful staff — who are undercover psychology students — help analyze behavior when customers, or test subjects, pay a visit."

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White House Responds To Net Neutrality Petition
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sanitized-to-remove-any-promises-or-useful-information department:
bostonidealist writes "The White House has officially responded to a We The People petition created on January 15, 2014, which urged the President to 'direct the FCC to classify ISPs as "common carriers"' after the D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals 'struck down the Federal Communications Commission's open internet rules.' The White House statement says, 'absent net neutrality, the Internet could turn into a high-priced private toll road that would be inaccessible to the next generation of visionaries,' but notes, 'The FCC is an independent agency. Chairman Wheeler has publicly pledged to use the full authority granted by Congress to maintain a robust, free and open Internet — a principle that this White House vigorously supports.'"

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A New Car UI
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 04:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's eyes-on-the-road department:
An anonymous reader writes "As our cars have become more complex, so have the user interfaces with which we control them. Using the current crop of infotainment systems embedded in a car's dash is byzantine and frustrating. UI designer Matthaeus Krenn has put up a post demonstrating his efforts to reinvent in-car UIs in a way that doesn't force people to squint at tiny buttons, instead leaving more of their attention for the road. It's based on using a touch-screen display that realigns the interface to wherever you put your fingers down. It also reacts differently depending on how many fingers you use to touch the screen."

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Darker Arctic Boosting Global Warming
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's melting-ice-and-plunging-albedo department:
The Grim Reefer sends this news from an Associated Press report:
"The Arctic isn't nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that's turning out to be a global problem, a new study says. With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun's heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected, according to a study (abstract) published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That extra absorbed energy is so big that it measures about one-quarter of the entire heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide, said the study's lead author, Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California. The Arctic grew 8 per cent darker between 1979 and 2011, Eisenman found, measuring how much sunlight is reflected back into space."
The same decrease in ice contributes to the weather circumstances that led to extremely low temperatures across parts of the United States this winter.

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Does Crime Leave a Genetic Trace?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's finally-an-explanation-for-the-hamburgler department:
gallifreyan99 writes "Scientists have spent decades trying to understand and fix social problems like violence and alcoholism, usually focusing on the poor and disadvantaged. But now a small band of researchers is claiming that biology plays a vitally important role — because trauma can change you at a genetic level that gets passed on to kids, grandkids, and perhaps even beyond."
Part of the research involved testing the effect of stress on the genetics of mice. A number of mice were subjected to stressful situations and then allowed to raise their children. The children, when later subjected to stress, were more vulnerable to it than normal mice (for example, they would stop struggling in a potentially fatal situation earlier than 'happy' mice). This was expected. What's interesting is that when those children were later bred with normal mice, and that third generation was raised by normal mice (so that parental neglect wasn't a factor), they still showed the same vulnerability to stress. A subsequent generation showed the same.

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A Primer on Data Backup for Small- to Medium-Sized Companies (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's prepare-for-the-worst-days-and-the-best-days-will-take-care-of-themselves department:
This is a conversation with Jeff Whitehead and Lou Montulli, respectively Vice President of Technical Operations/CTO and Chief Scientist for Zetta.net, a company that specializes in online backup and disaster recovery service. Also, while this interview was arranged without his help, in the interest of full disclosure we'd like to tell you that Zetta's CEO is Ali Jenab, who used to be CEO of Slashdot's parent company. But this discussion isn't about Ali or Zetta.net, but about data backup, and what methods are best and most cost-effective for companies ranging from home-based businesses up to enterprise operations with thousands of employees. Among other things, we discussed the importance of multiple-site storage for important data, a factor that was drilled in to us yesterday by an article titled Another Iron Mountain Fire Points Up Shortcomings of Physical Storage by long-time tech journalist Sharon Fisher. And never forget: You don't know how effective your backup and data storage arrangements are until you try to retrieve your data -- and if you don't try to retrieve data until you need it, and things don't work, you are in big trouble. (Don't see the video? Here's a link.)

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Are You a Competent Cyborg?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's assimilation-is-taking-longer-than-i-expected department:
An anonymous reader writes "Beyond your smartphone screen lies an infinitely more interesting world, if only you could get past the myopic app view you're currently bound to. Glen Martin ponders the existential unease lying at the root of the Internet of Things: 'We're already cyborgs: biological matrices augmented by wirelessly connected silicon arrays of various configurations. The problem is that we're pretty clunky as cyborgs go. We rely on screens and mobile devices to extend our powers beyond the biological. That leads to everything from atrophying social skills as face-to-face interactions decline to fatal encounters with garbage trucks as we wander, texting and oblivious, into traffic. So, if we're going to be cyborgs, argues Breseman, let's be competent, sophisticated cyborgs. For one thing, it's now in our ability to upgrade beyond the screen. For another, being better cyborgs may make us — paradoxically — more human.'"

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Can Reactive Programming Handle Complexity?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's 8,000-nested-if-statements department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "A recent article on Reactive Programming, which suggested that five lines of Reactive could solve a problem that required 500 lines using Java or 200 lines using triggers, led many readers to question (passionately) whether Reactive enables you to address not just typical problems, but complex ones as well. In a follow-up column, Espresso Logic CTO Val Huber argues that, while it certainly can't solve all use cases, Reactive Programming is very capable of addressing many complex problems, and can address all other scenarios via a transparent integration with procedural languages. He shows how Reactive can handle complexity using two different scenarios: a classically complicated database application (a bill of materials price rollup) and procedural integration (to address external systems such as email and transactions not limited by a database update). Take a look at his work; do you agree?"

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NVIDIA Launches GTX 750 Ti With New Maxwell Architecture
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's new-hardware-for-the-graphics-arms-race department:
Vigile writes "NVIDIA is launching the GeForce GTX 750 Ti today, which would normally just be a passing mention for a new $150 mainstream graphics card. But company is using this as the starting point for its Maxwell architecture, which is actually pretty interesting. With a new GPU design that reorganizes the compute structure into smaller blocks, Maxwell is able to provide 66% more CUDA cores with a die size that is just 25% bigger than the previous generation all while continuing to use the same 28nm process technology we have today. Power and area efficiency were the target design points for Maxwell as it will eventually be integrated into NVIDIA's Tegra line, too. As a result the GeForce GTX 750 Ti is able to outperform AMD's Radeon R7 260X by 5-10% while using 35 watts less power at the same time."

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A Mathematical Proof Too Long To Check
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's which-this-margin-is-too-narrow-to-contain department:
mikejuk writes "Mathematicians have generally gotten over their unease with computer-assisted proofs. But in the case of a new proof from researchers at the University of Liverpool, we may have crossed a line. The proof is currently contained within a 13 GB file — less space than is required to hold the entirety of Wikipedia. Its size makes it unlikely that humans will be able to check and confirm the proof. The theorem that has been proved is in connection with a long running conjecture of Paul Erdos in 1930. Discrepancy theory is about how possible it is to distribute something evenly. It occurs in lots of different forms and even has a connection with cryptography. In 1993 it was proved that an infinite series cannot have a discrepancy of 1 or less. This proved the theorem for C=1. The recent progress, which pushes C up to 2, was made possible by a clever idea of using a SAT solver — a program that find values that make an expression true. Things went well up to length 1160, which was proved to have discrepancy 2, but at length 1161 the SAT returned the result that there was no assignment. The negative result generated an unsatisfiability certificate: the proof that a sequence of length 1161 has no subsequence with discrepancy 2 requires over 13 gigabytes of data. As the authors of the paper write: '[it]...is probably one of longest proofs of a non-trivial mathematical result ever produced. ... one may have doubts about to which degree this can be accepted as a proof of a mathematical statement.' Does this matter? Probably not — as long as other programs can check the result and the program itself has to be considered part of the proof."

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Oops: Security Holes In Belkin Home Automation Gear
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's did-you-leave-the-iron-on-or-shall-I? department:
chicksdaddy writes "The Security Ledger reports that the security firm IOActive has discovered serious security holes in the WeMo home automation technology from Belkin. The vulnerabilities could allow remote attackers to use Belkin's WeMo devices to virtually vandalize connected homes, or as a stepping stone to other computers connected on a home network. IOActive researcher Mike Davis said on Tuesday that his research into Belkin's WeMo technology found the 'devices expose users to several potentially costly threats, from home fires with possible tragic consequences down to the simple waste of electricity.' IOActive provided information on Davis's research to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT), which issued an advisory on the WeMo issues on Tuesday. There has been no response yet from Belkin."

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Ask Slashdot: Anti-Camera Device For Use In a Small Bus?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's only-we-control-the-blackmail department:
Paul server guy writes "I am building a limousine bus, and the owners want to prevent occupants from using cameras on board. (But they would like the cameras mounted on the bus to continue to operate; I think they would consider this optional.) They would also like to do it without having to wear any 'anti-paparazzi' clothing (because they also want to protect the other guests on board), and without destroying the cameras. (So no EMP generators, please). We've done some testing with high-power IR, but that proved ineffective. Does anyone have any ideas that they are willing to share?"

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Windows 8 Metro: The Good Kind of Market Segmentation?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's keyboards-with-giant-letters department:
nk497 writes "A UX designer working at Microsoft has taken to Reddit to explain why Windows 8's Metro screen isn't designed for power users — but is still good news for them. Jacob Miller, posting as 'pwnies,' said Metro is the 'antithesis of a [power user's desktop],' and designed for 'your computer illiterate little sister,' not for content creators or power users. By splitting Windows into Metro and the desktop, Microsoft has created space for casual users as well as power users."

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N. Korea Could Face Prosecution For 'Crimes Against Humanity'
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-that-would-be-an-accurate-move department:
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Telegraph: "North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, has been warned that he could face prosecution for crimes against humanity after a United Nations inquiry accused him of some of the worst human rights abuses since the Second World War. In some of the harshest criticism ever unleashed by the international community against the Pyongyang regime, a UN panel branded it 'a shock to the conscience of humanity.' Michael Kirby, a retired Australian judge who has spent nearly a year taking testimony from victims of the regime, said much of it reminded him of atrocities perpetrated by Nazi Germany and Pol Pot's Cambodia. Yesterday his team published a 374-page report detailing allegations of murder, torture, rape, abductions, enslavement, and starvation, describing North Korea as a dictatorship 'that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.' In a bid to put pressure on Kim Jong-un, 31, Mr Kirby has taken the unusual step of writing to the North Korean leader to warn him that both he and hundreds of his henchmen could one day face prosecution."

More at BBC, including a cache of report."

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Gabe Newell Responds: Yes, We're Looking For Cheaters Via DNS
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 07:31 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-maybe-you-were-just-visiting department:
dotarray writes "Valve has stepped up to answer allegations that the company's anti-cheat system was scanning users' internet history. Rather than a simple, sanitized press release or a refusal to comment on 'rumours and innuendo,' Valve CEO and gaming hero Gabe Newell has personally responded."

Newell or not, not everyone will like the answer. The short version is that Yes, Valve is scanning DNS caches, with a two-tiered approach intended to find cheating users by looking for cheat servers in their histories. Says Newell: "Less than a tenth of one percent of clients triggered this second check, accessing the DNS cache. 570 cheaters are being banned due to DNS searches."

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Silk Road 2.0 Pledges To Compensate Users For Stolen Bitcoins
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-they'll-do-it-bit-by-bit department:
An anonymous reader writes "Online black market Silk Road 2.0 has pledged to pay back more than £1.7 million worth of bitcoins stolen from its servers during a heist last week. Speaking in a post on Reddit, Silk Road 2.0 moderator Defcon said the website would refund the more than 4,000 bitcoins stolen during the heist, and would not pay its staff until users had been reimbursed."

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French, German Leaders: Keep European Email Off US Servers
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 06:02 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-least-those-countries-don't-spy department:
jfruh writes "In her weekly podcast, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she'd be discussing European email security with French President Francois Hollande. Specifically, in the wake of the NSA spying revelations, the two leaders will try to keep European email off of American servers altogether to avoid snooping. This comes as Merkel's government faces criminal complaints for assisting aspects of the NSA's programs."

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Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 05:17 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's assuming-you're-a-cable-exec department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Berin Szoka and Brent Skorup write that everyone assumes that cable companies have all the market power, and so of course a bigger cable company means disaster. But content owners may be the real heavyweights here: It was Netflix that withheld high-quality streaming from Time Warner Cable customers last year, not vice versa and it was ESPN that first proposed to subsidize its mobile viewers' data usage last year. 'We need to move away from the fear-mongering and exaggerations about threats to the Internet as well as simplistic assumptions about how Internet traffic moves. The real problems online are far more complex and less scary. And it's not about net neutrality, but about net capacity.' The debate is really about who pays for — and who profits from — the increasingly elaborate infrastructure required to make the Internet do something it was never designed to do in the first place: stream high-speed video. 'While many were quick to assume that broadband providers were throttling Netflix traffic, the explanation could be far simpler: The company simply lacked the capacity to handle the "Super HD" video quality it began offering last year.' A two-sided market means broadband providers would have an incentive to help because they would receive revenue from two major sources: content providers (through sponsorship or ads), and consumers (through subscription fees). 'Unfortunately, this kind of market innovation is viewed as controversial or even harmful to consumers by some policy and Internet advocates. But these concerns are premature, unfounded, and arise mostly from status quo bias: Carriers and providers haven't priced like this before, so of course change will create some kind of harm,' conclude Szoka and Skorup. 'Bottom line: The FCC should stop trying to ban prioritization outright and focus only on actual abuses of market power.'"

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Reporting From the Web's Underbelly
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 02:32 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's shotgun-submission department:
mspohr writes "The New York Times has an interesting article about Brian Krebs (Krebs on Security): 'In the last year, Eastern European cybercriminals have stolen Brian Krebs's identity a half dozen times, brought down his website, included his name and some unpleasant epithets in their malware code, sent fecal matter and heroin to his doorstep, and called a SWAT team to his home just as his mother was arriving for dinner.' His reporting is definitely on the edge. 'Mr. Krebs, 41, tries to write pieces that cannot be found elsewhere. His widely read cybersecurity blog, Krebs on Security, covers a particularly dark corner of the Internet: profit-seeking cybercriminals, many based in Eastern Europe, who make billions off pharmaceutical sales, malware, spam, frauds and heists like the recent ones that Mr. Krebs was first to uncover at Adobe, Target and Neiman Marcus.' The article concludes with this: 'Mr. Joffe worries Mr. Krebs's enemies could do far worse. "I don't understand why he hasn't moved to a new, undisclosed address," he said. "But Brian needs a bodyguard."' (He does have a shotgun.)"

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Why Improbable Things Really Aren't
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '14 at 12:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's learn-to-count department:
First time accepted submitter sixoh1 writes "Scientific American has an excellent summary of a new book 'The Improbabilty Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day' by David J. Hand. The summary offers a quick way to relate statistical math (something that's really hard to intuit) to our daily experiences with unlikely events. The simple equations here make it easier to understand that improbable things really are not so improbable, which Hand call the 'Improbability Principle:' 'How can a huge number of opportunities occur without people realizing they are there? The law of combinations, a related strand of the Improbability Principle, points the way. It says: the number of combinations of interacting elements increases exponentially with the number of elements. The 'birthday problem' is a well-known example. Now if only we could harness this to make an infinite improbability drive!"

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