By samzenpus from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department
writes with news that Ralph H Baer, the father of video games and the inventor of the Magnavox Odyssey, has passed away at 92
. "At the dawn of the television age in 1951, a young engineer named Ralph Baer approached executives at an electronics firm and suggested the radical idea of offering games on the bulky TV boxes. 'And of course,' he said, 'I got the regular reaction: "Who needs this?" And nothing happened.' It took another 15 years before Mr. Baer, who died Dec. 6 at 92, developed a prototype that would make him the widely acknowledged father of video games. His design helped lay the groundwork for an industry that transformed the role of the television set and generated tens of billions of dollars last year. Mr. Baer 'saw that there was this interesting device sitting in millions of American homes — but it was a one-way instrument,' said Arthur P. Molella, director of the Smithsonian Institution's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. 'He said, "Maybe there's some way we can interact with this thing."'"Read Replies (0)
By samzenpus from Slashdot's yippee-ki-yay-sara-sorcher department
An anonymous reader writes Have you ever wondered what it is like to have your online identity hijacked and replaced with a Russian-speaking Bruce Willis impostor? Here's a lesson in online impersonation from Passcode, The Christian Science Monitor's soon-to-launch section on security and privacy in the digital age. From the article: "Weeks prior, I changed my handle from @SaraSorcherNJ to the simpler @SaraSorcher when I left my job at National Journal covering national security to join The Christian Science Monitor to help lead our new section on, somewhat ironically considering the situation, security and privacy. Apparently within days of that change, someone - or a bot - had taken over my former work identity. My real account, @SaraSorcher, still existed. In my picture, I was still smiling and wearing a gray suit. The @SaraSorcherNJ account — Fake Me — sported a smirking, balding Willis in a track suit and v-neck white tee. I tweet about news and wonky security policy issues. Fake Russian-speaking Me enjoys 'watching Hannibal, eating apples and pondering the nature of existence.'"Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-bet-fresh-laptop-batteries-would-work-even-better department
sends news of an IBM study
(PDF) which found that discarded laptop batteries could be used to power lights
in areas where there's little or no electrical grid. Of the sample IBM tested, 70% of the used batteries were able to power an LED light for more than four hours every day
throughout an entire year.The concept was trialed in the Indian city of Bangalore this year. The adapted power packs are expected to prove popular with street vendors, who are not on the electric grid, as well as poor families living in slums. The IBM team created what they called an UrJar — a device that uses lithium-ion cells from the old batteries to power low-energy DC devices, such as a light. The researchers are aiming to help the approximately 400 million people in India who are off grid.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bet-you-wish-you'd-stood-in-bed department
New submitter cyberjock1980
tips news that an engineer has been caught trying to deliver schematics for an aircraft carrier to the Egyptian government
. The 35-year-old civilian received security clearance four months ago after working for the U.S. Navy since February. FBI agents made contact with him, pretending to be with the Egyptian government. They struck a deal to buy documents about the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford
, the first in a new line of improved, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The man sold four CAD drawings for the carrier, and was later seen photographing another set of schematics. A bond hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tyrannical-algorithms department
An anonymous reader tips news that the Chaos Computer Club's website was inaccessible for many internet users in the UK
after being blocked by the filter set up to block porn sites
. Additionally, Vodafone users are unable to access the ticket site to this year's Chaos Commuication Conference. In a post on its website, the CCC said, "Internet filters simply do not work, but leaving technical limitation aside, the CCC's example shows that unsolicited overblocking, meaning wrongly classified websites, is a common phenomenon in large censorship infrastructures. However, it may very well be that the CCC is considered 'extremist' judged by British standards of freedom of speech." CCC spokesperson Dirk Engling added, "We see this as proof that censorship infrastructure – no matter for which reasons it was set up, and no matter which country you are in – will always be abused for political reasons."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's learning-to-teach-to-learn department
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Quanta Magazine:"Using the latest deep-learning protocols, computer models consisting of networks of artificial neurons are becoming increasingly adept at image, speech and pattern recognition — core technologies in robotic personal assistants, complex data analysis and self-driving cars. But for all their progress training computers to pick out salient features from other, irrelevant bits of data, researchers have never fully understood why the algorithms or biological learning work.
Now, two physicists have shown that one form of deep learning works exactly like one of the most important and ubiquitous mathematical techniques in physics, a procedure for calculating the large-scale behavior of physical systems such as elementary particles, fluids and the cosmos. The new work, completed by Pankaj Mehta of Boston University and David Schwab of Northwestern University, demonstrates that a statistical technique called "renormalization," which allows physicists to accurately describe systems without knowing the exact state of all their component parts, also enables the artificial neural networks to categorize data as, say, "a cat" regardless of its color, size or posture in a given video.
"They actually wrote down on paper, with exact proofs, something that people only dreamed existed," said Ilya Nemenman, a biophysicist at Emory University.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's $15000-for-porpoise-sweaters department
An anonymous reader writes: The National Science Foundation (NSF) and a contractor have been accused by both an audit and by Congress of a significant misuse of funds in a major ecological monitoring project costing almost a half a billion dollars. From the article: "With a construction budget of $433.7 million, NEON is planned to consist of 106 sites across the United States. Arrays of sensors at each site will monitor climate change and human impacts for 30 years, building an unprecedented continental-scale data set. Although some initially doubted its merits, the allure of big-data ecology eventually won over most scientists.
But a 2011 audit of the project's proposed construction budget stalled three times when, according to the independent Defense Contract Audit Agency, NEON's accounting proved so poor that the review could not be completed. Eventually, DCAA issued an adverse ruling, concluding that nearly 36% of NEON's budget proposal was questionable or undocumented.
When the NSF green-lit the project, the agency's inspector-general ordered the audit released on 24 November, which found unallowable expenses including a $25,000 winter holiday party, $11,000 to provide coffee for employees, $3,000 for board-of-directors dinners that included alcohol, $3,000 for t-shirts and other clothes, $83,000 for "business development" and $112,000 for lobbying."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that-sounds-super-helpful department
writes: One of the EU's selling points is that it provides a single regulatory apparatus for the entire European market — but this isn't the case for everything. Data protection laws, for instance, provide a confusing thicket of different regulations across the continent, and now, much to the frustration of large American Internet companies, it seems that a plan to consolidate these rules under a single EU agency are coming apart.
In other EU news, reader Presto Vivace points out that German Chancellor Angel Merkel has spoken out against net neutrality
. She said, "An innovation-friendly internet means that there is a guaranteed reliability for special services
. These can only develop when predictable quality standards are available."Read Replies (0)