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NYPD Starts Body Camera Pilot Program
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '14 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's every-step-you-take-every-move-you-make department:
An anonymous reader writes: In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, calls for continuous recording of all police activity have become loud and strenuous. Now, one of the biggest police forces in the world will begin testing body cameras. The New York Police Department announced a pilot program to test the wearable cameras in high-crime districts. "[T]he participation of the New York department, with its 35,000 uniformed members and vast footprint on the country's policing policy, could permanently shift the balance in favor of the cameras, which both civil libertarians and many police chiefs have cited as a way to improve relations between citizens and law enforcement, particularly in heavily policed minority communities." The NYPD will be testing hardware from two manufacturers: Vievu and Taser International. While the 60-camera pilot program will get running for about $60,000, IT costs are expected to quickly outstrip that amount.

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Newly Discovered Asteroid To Pass Within Geostationary Orbit Sunday
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '14 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's how's-that-space-program-coming-along department:
theshowmecanuck writes: A newly found asteroid the size of a house will give earth a close flyby this weekend. It will pass just below satellites in geostationary orbit, and above New Zealand around 14:18 EDT / 18:18 GMT / 06:18 NZST this coming Sunday (Monday morning in NZ). "Asteroid 2014 RC was initially discovered on the night of August 31 by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, and independently detected the next night by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope, located on the summit of Haleakal on Maui, Hawaii," NASA officials said in a statement.

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Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '14 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-you-modify-it-so-it-doesn't-taste-like-coffee department:
nbauman sends word that researchers have completed a project to sequence the genome of Coffea canephora, a species of plant responsible for roughly 30% of the world's coffee production. In the course of their genetic mapping, the researchers "pinpointed genetic attributes that could help in the development of new coffee varieties better able to endure drought, disease and pests, with the added benefit of enhancing flavor and caffeine levels." They also discovered a broad range of genes that contribute to the production of flavor-related compounds and caffeine. Plant genomist Victor Albert said, "For any agricultural plant, having a genome is a prerequisite for any sort of high technology breeding or molecular modification. Without a genome, we couldn't do any real advanced research on coffee that would allow us to improve it — not in this day and age."

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NVIDIA Sues Qualcomm and Samsung Seeking To Ban Import of Samsung Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '14 at 04:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sue-baby-sue department:
Calibax writes NVIDIA has filed complaints against Samsung and Qualcomm at the ITC and in the U.S. District court in Delaware. The suit alleges that the companies are both infringing NVIDIA GPU patents covering technology including programmable shading, unified shaders and multithreaded parallel processing. NVIDIA is seeking damages and a ban on U.S. import of a number of devices with Snapdragon and Exynos processors until there is an agreement on licensing.

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Egypt's Oldest Pyramid Is Being Destroyed By Its Own Restoration Team
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '14 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's this-won't-take-long department:
Taffykay writes The oldest pyramid in Egypt, the Pyramid of Djoserat Saqqara, is being destroyed by the very company the Egyptian government has hired to restore it. The roughly 4,600-year-old structure has been in trouble since an earthquake hit the region in 1992, but in a difficult political and economic climate for the country, those now tasked with preserving the pyramid are said to be doing more harm than good.

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Dirty Diapers Used To Grow Mushrooms
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '14 at 12:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's hold-the-mushrooms-please department:
Zothecula writes While their contents might be considered an environmental hazard by many, disposable diapers themselves pose a more significant problem for the environment. According to the EPA, the average baby will work their way through 8,000 of them before they end up in landfill where they'll take centuries to break down. In an effort to reduce the problem, scientists at Mexico's Autonomous Metropolitan University, Azcapotzalco (UAM-A), have turned used diapers to the task of growing mushrooms.

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Music Training's Cognitive Benefits Could Help "At-Risk" Students
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 11:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's every-gambler-brews-delicious-framboise department:
AthanasiusKircher writes In recent years, emphasis on standardized testing and basic skills has forced many schools to cut back on things like arts and extracurricular activities. A study out this week from Northwestern University hints that schools may be hurting "at-risk" kids even more by cutting such programs. Just two years of music lessons were shown to have significant effects on brain activity and language processing which the researchers argue could help close achievement gaps between at-risk students and more affluent students. Aside from better brain response to language observed in the lab, practical effects of the interventions were readily apparent: 'Leaders at Harmony Project approached the researchers after the non-profit observed that their students were performing much better than other public school students in the area. Since 2008, over 90 percent of high school seniors who participated in Harmony Project's free music lessons went on to college, even though the high school dropout rates in the surrounding Los Angeles areas can reach up to 50 percent.' Note that this is only one of several ongoing studies showing significant cognitive benefits for music training among at-risk students; an article last year from The Atlantic gives a more detailed summary of related research.

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Is There a Creativity Deficit In Science?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 09:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's doing-things-differently department:
nerdyalien writes with this story that explores the impact of reduced science funding on innovation in science. "There’s a current problem in biomedical research,” says American biochemist Robert Lefkowitz, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. “The emphasis is on doing things which are not risky. To have a grant proposal funded, you have to propose something and then present what is called preliminary data, which is basically evidence that you’ve already done what you’re proposing to do. If there’s any risk involved, then your proposal won’t be funded. So the entire system tends to encourage not particularly creative research, relatively descriptive and incremental changes which are incremental advances which you are certain to make but not change things very much."...There is no more important time for science to leverage its most creative minds in attempting to solve our global challenges. Although there have been massive increases in funding over the last few decades, the ideas and researchers that have been rewarded by the current peer-review system have tended to be safer, incremental, and established. If we want science to be its most innovative, it's not about finding brilliant, passionate creative scientists; it's about supporting the ones we already have.

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Twitpic Shutting Down Over Trademark Dispute
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 06:16 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what's-in-a-name? department:
First time accepted submitter exiguus writes As of September 25th Twitpic will be no more. Twitter, allegedly, has threatened to deny them access to their API. Noah Everett said "Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic." Resources will be made available to users to download their videos and photos, but a date when that function will be available has not been made available. "We'll let everyone know when this feature is live in the next few days."

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Intel Unveils MICA "My Intelligent Communication Accessory" Smart Bracelet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's speak-to-the-wrist department:
MojoKid writes With a few companies introducing smartwatch products at IFA in Berlin, Intel's taking a slightly different approach. The chip-maker's wearable debut in Berlin is far different than those being issued by LG, Samsung, and Motorola, focusing on fashion instead of nuts-and-bolts. It's called MICA, which is short for "My Intelligent Communication Accessory," and Intel's calling it a "feminine accessory blending seamlessly into everyday life." While it handles text messages, push alerts, and other notifications like most other smartwatches, it's also snazzed up on the design front. Details are murky in terms of operating system, etc., but make no mistake: Intel's entry into the wearables arena is a piece like no other.

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Giant Dinosaur Unearthed In Argentina
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 04:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-going-to-need-a-bigger-rock-hammer department:
sciencehabit writes Researchers working in Argentina have discovered the most complete skeleton of a titanosaur, a group of gigantic plant-eating dinosaurs that dominated the Southern Hemisphere beginning about 90 million years ago. The new dino, named Dreadnoughtus schrani, was 26 meters long and weighed about 59 metric tons—that is, twice as long as Tyrannosaurus rex and as heavy as a herd of elephants. That puts it on a par with other well-known giants such as Argentinosaurus (but it's four times as large as the perhaps better known Diplodocus). The researchers say that the beast was so big it would have had no fear of predators. And it was about to get bigger: A close examination of the fossils, especially its back and shoulder bones, indicates that the animal was still growing when it died.

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Google To Refund $19M In In-App Purchases Made By Kids
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's here's-your-money-kid department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google has agreed pay $19 million to refund customers unfairly charged for in-app purchases made by children without authorization from their parents. The company has agreed to change its billing practices to ensure that it obtains informed consent from customers before charging them for items sold within mobile apps, according to the FTC. "For millions of American families, smartphones and tablets have become a part of their daily lives," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it's vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply, including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorize.""

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UCLA, CIsco & More Launch Consortium To Replace TCP/IP
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's still-involves-controls-and-protocols department:
alphadogg writes Big name academic and vendor organizations have unveiled a consortium this week that's pushing Named Data Networking (NDN), an emerging Internet architecture designed to better accommodate data and application access in an increasingly mobile world. The Named Data Networking Consortium http://named-data.net/ members, which include universities such as UCLA and China's Tsinghua University as well as vendors such as Cisco and VeriSign, are meeting this week at a two-day workshop at UCLA to discuss NDN's promise for scientific research. Big data, eHealth and climate research are among the application areas on the table. The NDN effort has been backed in large part by the National Science Foundation, which has put more than $13.5 million into it since 2010.

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Hackers Break Into HealthCare.gov
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's our-bad department:
mpicpp is one of many to point out that hackers broke into the HealthCare.gov website in July and uploaded malicious software. "Hackers silently infected a Healthcare.gov computer server this summer. But the malware didn't manage to steal anyone's data, federal officials say. On Thursday, the Health and Human Services Department, which manages the Obamacare website, explained what happened. And officials stressed that personal information was never at risk. "Our review indicates that the server did not contain consumer personal information; data was not transmitted outside the agency, and the website was not specifically targeted," HHS spokesman Kevin Griffis said. But it was a close call, showing just how vulnerable computer systems can be. It all happened because of a series of mistakes. A computer server that routinely tests portions of the website wasn't properly set up. It was never supposed to be connected to the Internet — but someone had accidentally connected it anyway. That left it open to attack, and on July 8, malware slipped past the Obamacare security system, officials said.

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White House Names Google's Megan Smith As CTO
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's let's-see-about-getting-that-cable-fixed department:
itwbennett writes that, as expected, The White House has named long-time Google executive Megan Smith as the government's new CTO, in charge of improving technology and the use of data across agencies. Smith most recently served as vice president at Google's tech lab, Google[x]. She previously served as CEO of PlanetOut, helped design early smartphone technologies at General Magic and worked on multimedia products at Apple Japan in Tokyo. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, and just might be, as noted in a previous Slashdot post, the first US CTO worthy of the title. Also on Thursday, the White House named Alexander Macgillivray, a former general counsel and head of public policy at Twitter, as deputy U.S. CTO.

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Buenos Aires Issues a 'Netflix Tax' For All Digital Entertainment
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's that-is-not-nettily-neutral department:
New submitter DoILookAmused writes A few years ago, the Argentinean government implemented a 35% tax on all offshore buys using a credit card. In yesterday's press release, the city of Buenos Aires announced it will charge a 3% gross income tax for all streaming or media purchase abroad allegedly to bring it to "competitive prices with local media companies". This tax doesn't supersede the national 35% tax, which has sparked several reactions.

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Slashdot Talks with David Nalley About Apache CloudStack (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 01:15 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's my-cloud-is-cloudier-than-your-cloud department:
This Citrix Web page at buildacloud.org says, "David is a PMC (Project Management Commitee) member of the Apache CloudStack project, jClouds committer, Fedora contributor and an Open Source Evangelist for the Open Source Business Office at Citrix." CloudStack has been an Apache Top Level Project since March 2013, with David on board all the way. He's obviously the right person to turn to for an Apache CloudStack update, including some commentary on the differences between Apache CloudStack and OpenStack, two projects often viewed as competitors. (Alternate Video Link)

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Privacy Vulnerabilities In Coursera, Including Exposed Student Email Addresses
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's don't-I-know-you-from-the-semiotics-class? department:
An anonymous reader writes Coursera, the online education platform with over 9 million students, appears to have some serious privacy shortcomings. According to one of Stanford's instructors, 'any teacher can dump the entire user database, including over nine million names and email addresses.' Also, 'if you are logged into your Coursera account, any website that you visit can list your course enrollments.' The attack even has a working proof of concept [note: requires Coursera account]. A week after the problems were reported, Coursera still hasn't fixed them.

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Intellectual Ventures Sheds At Least Part of Its "Patent Troll" Reputation
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's look-sir-it-has-atoms department:
pacopico writes Intellectual Ventures, the world's most infamous patent troll, has changed its tune — maybe. According to a story in Businessweek, the company has started turning a number of its ideas into products, ranging from hydration sensors to waterless washing machines and self-healing concrete. The story reveals some new tidbits about IV, including that it pays inventors $17,000 per idea, has a new start-up fund and that one of its cofounders got tossed out of school for hacking. IV is obvisouly trying to improve its reputation, but plenty of skeptics remain who think this is just a ruse meant to draw attention away from its patent lawsuits.

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Steve Ballmer Authored Your Blue Screen of Death
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's and-he-approved-this-message department:
Nerval's Lobster writes Millions of people have shrieked in horror and dismay at Microsoft's infamous 'Blue Screen of Death.' What fewer people know—at least until now—is that the text accompanying the BSoD was originally written by Steve 'Developers! Developers! Developers!' Ballmer, who recently stepped down as Microsoft's CEO. According to Microsoft developer Raymond Chen, Ballmer didn't like the original text that accompanied the BSoD in Windows 3.1, so he wrote up a new version. If you used Windows at any point in the past two decades, you can thank him for that infuriatingly passive 'This Windows application has stopped responding to the system' message, accompanied by the offer to hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart the PC (and lose all your unsaved data). At least Ballmer didn't try to write something like, 'RESTART! RESTART! RESTART!'

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