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Facebook Buying Oculus VR For $2 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 02:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-on-earth department:
Several readers sent word that Facebook will acquire Oculus VR for $2 billion. Mark Zuckerberg says the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is the beginning of something big: "This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures." The obvious question is: why Facebook would buy a company focused on VR gaming? The Oculus team says, "But when you consider it more carefully, we're culturally aligned with a focus on innovating and hiring the best and brightest; we believe communication drives new platforms; we want to contribute to a more open, connected world; and we both see virtual reality as the next step. ... It opens doors to new opportunities and partnerships, reduces risk on the manufacturing and work capital side, allows us to publish more made-for-VR content, and lets us focus on what we do best: solving hard engineering challenges and delivering the future of VR." Put more simply: money and connections.

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WHO: Air Pollution 'Killed 7 Million People' In 2012
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's commence-the-war-on-air department:
dryriver sends word of new figures from the World Health Organization that estimate around 7 million people died in 2012 as a result of their exposure to air pollution. "In particular, the new data reveal a stronger link between both indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure and cardiovascular diseases, such as strokes and ischaemic heart disease, as well as between air pollution and cancer. This is in addition to air pollution’s role in the development of respiratory diseases, including acute respiratory infections and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases." The Organization says the bulk of the deaths occurred in South-East Asia and the Western Pacific Regions (PDF), with indoor air pollution causing more deaths than outdoor pollution in those areas, largely due to the use of coal, wood, and biomass stoves for cooking.

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Klingon Beer
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 02:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-drink-and-warp-drive department:
An anonymous reader writes: "We may not have Saurian Brandy or Romulan Ale, but we'll soon have Klingon Beer. Tin Man Brewing Company in Evansville, Indiana has gotten the OK from CBS to create 'Klingon Warnog,' a Dunkelweizen with 'a modern aroma [of] predominantly mild banana and clove.' It will have an ABV of 5.5%. The Klingon beer will apparently join Vulcan Ale in the Federation of Beer. I wonder what their Prime Directive is."

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Scientists Develop Solar Cell That Can Also Emit Light
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bidirectional-photon-technology department:
An anonymous reader writes: "Scientists at the Nanyang Technological University have developed a solar cell that not only converts sunlight into electricity but also emits light as electricity passes through it. Tuning the composition of the solar cell enables it to emit different wavelengths of light (abstract), and because it is only about 1 micrometer thick, the material is semi-translucent and therefore could potentially be used in windows. The solar cell is comprised of the semiconducting mineral perovskite, which has been studied as a replacement for silicon in solar panels since 2009. Perovskite solar cells are not yet as efficient at energy conversion as silicon solar cells, but gains in this area of development coupled with cheaper manufacturing costs (10-20 cents per watt projected as opposed to 75 cents per watt with silicon solar panels and 50 cents per watt with fossil fuels) make perovskite a popular subject matter in the solar cell industry."

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IRS: Bitcoin Is Property, Not Currency
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cryptoproperty-doesn't-have-the-same-ring-to-it department:
An anonymous reader sends this news from Bloomberg:
"The U.S. government will treat Bitcoin as property for tax purposes, applying rules it uses to govern stocks and barter transactions, the Internal Revenue Service said in its first substantive ruling on the issue. Today's IRS guidance will provide certainty for investors, along with potential income-tax liability. Under the ruling, purchasing a $2 cup of coffee with Bitcoins bought for $1 would trigger $1 in capital gains for the coffee drinker and $2 of income for the coffee shop. ... Under the IRS ruling, Bitcoin investors would be treated like stock investors. Bitcoins held for more than a year and then sold would pay the lower tax rates applicable to capital gains — a maximum of 23.8 percent compared with the 43.4 percent top rate on property sold within a year of purchase. For investors with losses, U.S. tax law allows taxpayers to subtract capital losses from any capital gains. They can also subtract up to $3,000 of capital losses a year from ordinary income.'"

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Microsoft Posts Source Code For MS-DOS and Word For Windows
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's historical-sources department:
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft, along with the Computer History Museum, has posted the source code for MS-DOS 1.1 and 2.0, and Word for Windows 1.1a. It's been a long time coming — DOS 2.0 was released for IBM PCs in 1983, and Word for Windows 1.1a came out in 1990. The museum, with Microsoft's consent, has made the code available for non-commercial use. They've also explained some of the history of this software's development: '[In August, 1980], IBM had already contracted with Microsoft to provide a BASIC interpreter for the PC, so they asked them to investigate also providing the operating system. Microsoft proposed licensing "86-DOS", which had been written by Tim Paterson at Seattle Computer Products (SCP) for their 8086-based computer kit because the 16-bit version of CP/M was late. When SCP signed the licensing deal [7] with Microsoft, they didn't know for sure who the computer manufacturer was. Paterson said "We all had our suspicions that it was IBM that Microsoft was dealing with, but we didn't know for sure." [1] He left SCP to work for Microsoft in 1981. "The first day on the job I walk through the door and 'Hey! It's IBM.'" Microsoft originally licensed 86-DOS in December 1980 for a flat fee of $25,000. By the next summer they recognized the importance of owning it and being able to license it to other companies making IBM-PC clones, so they purchased all rights for an additional $50,000.'"

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Diablo 3 Expansion Reaper of Souls Launches
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stay-awhile-and-listen department:
Today Blizzard released the first expansion to Diablo 3, titled Reaper of Souls. The expansion continues the story with Act 5, which includes trips to Westmarch and Pandemonium. The level cap goes up to 70, there's a new class: the Crusader, and a new crafting NPC: the Mystic. The Mystic lets players reroll specific stats on their gear and change how the gear looks. The loot system has seen a drastic revamp, and Blizzard recently shut down the game's controversial auction house so they could have players find better and more interesting gear by fighting monsters. There's a new type of gameplay called Adventure Mode, which unlocks all waypoints and lets players go wherever they want, unrestricted by the campaign progression. This includes completely randomized dungeons, which can pull art and monsters from almost anywhere in the game. They've combined Adventure Mode with the Bounty system, which opens up randomized objectives scattered throughout the world. Blizzard has confirmed that the first major content patch after the expansion will bring ladders and leaderboards.

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Ask Slashdot: Fastest, Cheapest Path To a Bachelor's Degree?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's assume-the-identity-of-a-current-holder department:
First time accepted submitter AnOminusCowHerd (3399855) writes "I have an Associates degree in programming and systems analysis, and over a decade of experience in the field. I work primarily as a contractor, so I'm finding a new job/contract every year or two. And every year, it gets harder to convince potential employers/clients that 10-12 years of hands-on experience doing what they need done, trumps an additional 2 years of general IT education.

So, I'd like to get a Bachelor's degree (preferably IT-related, ideally CS, accredited of course). If I can actually learn something interesting and useful in the process, that would be a perk, but mainly, I just want a BSCS to add to my resume. I would gladly consider something like the new GA Tech MOOC-based MSCS degree program — in fact, I applied there, and was turned down. After the initial offering, they rewrote the admissions requirements to spell out the fact that only people with a completed 4-year degree would be considered, work experience notwithstanding."


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Jimmy Carter: Snowden Disclosures Are 'Good For Americans To Know'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's easy-for-him-to-say department:
McGruber writes: "Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter defended the disclosures by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden on Monday, saying revelations that U.S. intelligence agencies were collecting meta-data of Americans' phone calls and e-mails have been 'probably constructive in the long run.' 'I think it's wrong,' President Carter said of the NSA program. 'I think it's an intrusion on one of the basic human rights of Americans, is to have some degree of privacy if we don't want other people to read what we communicate.'"
It's important to note that Carter doesn't believe Snowden should necessarily get a pass for his actions. Carter said, "I think it's inevitable that he should be prosecuted and I think he would be prosecuted, [if he comes back to the U.S.] But I don't think he ought to be executed as a traitor or any kind of extreme punishment like that." Nevertheless, Carter thinks NSA surveillance has gotten out of control. "We've gone a long way down the road of violating Americans' basic civil rights, as far as privacy is concerned." He added, "For the last two or three years, when I want to write a highly personal letter to a foreign leader, or even some American leaders, I hand-write it and mail it, because I feel that my telephone calls and my email are being monitored, and there are some things I just don’t want anybody to know except me and my wife."

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Ouya Dropping 'Free-to-Play' Requirement
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's free-as-in-pay-me department:
itwbennett (1594911) writes "One of the Ouya micro-consoles's selling points has been that you can sample every game for free. That requirement is going away soon. In a recent blog post, Ouya's Bob Mills said, 'In the coming weeks, we're going to let devs choose if they want to charge up front for their games. Now they'll be able to choose between a free-to-try or paid model.' Good news for developers, perhaps not as good for customers. 'Maybe this new policy will attract new developers that can offer something compelling enough to be a system seller,' writes blogger Peter Smith."

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Remote ATM Attack Uses SMS To Dispense Cash
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's $$$-rofl-omg-$$$ department:
judgecorp (778838) writes "A newly discovered malware attack uses a smartphone connected to the computer that manages an ATM, and then sends an SMS message to instruct it to dispense cash. The attack was reported by Symantec, and builds on a previous piece of malware called Backdoor.Ploutus. It is being used in actual attacks, and Symantec has demonstrated it with an ATM in its labs, though it is not revealing the brand of the vulnerable machines."

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How 3D Printer Maker Aleph Objects Pushes the Open Source Envelope
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's catch-us-if-you-can department:
Lemeowski (3017099) writes "In a time where there's a 'gold rush' for 3D printing patents, there's one company that's doing everything it can to keep its 3D printers as open as possible. Jeff Moe, CEO of Aleph Objects, said in an interview with Opensource.com that his company's strategy is 'to not patent anything, but to establish prior art as soon as we can. So when we develop things we try to push it out there as soon as possible and hope to establish prior art if there isn't prior art already. That allows us to develop a lot more quickly.' The company makes the Lulzbot 3D printers, and goes to the extreme of publishing every last detail about its printers, Moe said, including syncing its internal file system that it uses to share files on the development of the machine to the public every hour so you can see what they're doing."

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Big Data Breaches Give Credit Monitoring Services a Boost
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's glaziers-love-broken-windows department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "As attacks like the one on Target have exposed up to 40 million customer payment card accounts and the names, addresses and email addresses of as many as 70 million shoppers, Tiffany Hsu and E. Scott Reckard report in the LA Times that increased activity by data hackers has produced millions of victims but there has been one big winner: credit monitoring businesses. "It's almost a terrible thing to say, but these kinds of situations raise awareness of the need to protect yourself and to be more vigilant in checking your transactions," says Yaron Samid. Meanwhile services with names such as BillGuard and Identity Guard report a surge in sign-ups from people anxious to be protected. For example, the number of AAA Southern California members opting in for the club's identity theft monitoring service — whether for free or for an extra charge — boomed in January, up 58% from December." (More below.)

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Jimmy Wales To 'Holistic Healers': Prove Your Claims the Old-Fashioned Way
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-not-just-petition-with-auras? department:
Barence (1228440) writes with this excerpt from PC Pro: "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has issued a sharp response to petitioners calling for his site to "allow for true scientific discourse" on holistic healing. The petition, currently running on the Change.org site, claims that much of the information on Wikipedia relating to holistic approaches to healing is "biased, misleading, out of date, or just plain wrong". It has attracted almost 8,000 supporters at the time of publication. Wales's response to the petition, posted on the same page, is far from conciliatory: 'No, you have to be kidding me,' he writes. 'Every single person who signed this petition needs to go back to check their premises and think harder about what it means to be honest, factual, truthful. What we won't do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of 'true scientific discourse'. It isn't.'"

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Adam Carolla Joins Fight Against Podcast Patent Troll
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's save-penn's-sunday-school department:
First time accepted submitter tor528 (896250) writes "Patent troll Personal Audio has sued top podcasters including Adam Carolla and HowStuffWorks, claiming that they own the patent for delivery of episodic content over the Internet. Adam Carolla is fighting back and has started a Fund Anything campaign to cover legal fees. From the Fund Anything campaign page: 'If Adam Carolla loses this battle, then every other Podcast will be quickly shut down. Why? Because Patent Trolls like Personal Audio would use a victory over Carolla as leverage to extort money from every other Podcast.. As you probably know, Podcasts are inherently small, owner-operated businesses that do not have the financial resources to fight off this type of an assault. Therefore, Podcasts as we know them today would cease to exist.' James Logan of Personal Audio answered Slashdotters' questions in June 2013.
Links to the patent in question can be found on Personal Audio's website. The EFF filed a challenge against Personal Audio's podcasting patent in October 2013."


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White House To Propose Ending NSA Phone Records Collection
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 04:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's kind-of-sort-of department:
The New York Times reported last night that the White House is planning to introduce a legislative package that would mostly end the NSA's bulk collection of phone records. Instead, phone companies would be required to hand over records up to "two hops" from a target number. Phone companies would be required to retain records for 18 months (already legally mandated) instead of the NSA storing records for five years. It does not appear that secret courts and secret orders from the court would be abolished, however. From the article: "The new type of surveillance court orders envisioned by the administration would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received, the officials said ... The administration’s proposal would also include a provision clarifying whether Section 215 of the Patriot Act, due to expire next year unless Congress reauthorizes it, may in the future be legitimately interpreted as allowing bulk data collection of telephone data. ... The proposal would not, however, affect other forms of bulk collection under the same provision."

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Google Glass Signs Deal With Ray Ban's Parent Company
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '14 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's you're-not-cool-enough department:
sfcrazy (1542989) writes with news that fancier Google Glasswear is coming soon "Google has signed a deal with The Luxottica Group, the world's largest eyewear company (controlling 80% of the eyewear market). Luxottica owns Ray-Ban, Oakley, Vogue-Eyewear, Persol, Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli. and Arnette. The deal shows how serious Google is about Glass contrary to the skepticism raised by high-profiled users like Robert Scoble who spelled doom for the device."

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3D Printing: Have You Taken the Plunge Yet? Planning To?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 11:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's well-have-you? department:
First time accepted submitter mandark1967 (630856) writes "With recent advances in working with different filaments (Wood filament, Nylon, etc) and price drops seen lately, I'm curious to know how many of you have decided to take the plung and get into 3D Printing. There are several kits available now or even assembled units that are in the same cost range as a 'gamer' video card (DaVinci 1.0 for $499, Printrbot Simple 2014 — $399, 3d Stuffmaker — $499).

I'm wondering if any of you have purchased a 3D printer and how you like it so far. I've been in the computer field since the 80's but never did CAD work before so I was very hesitant to take the plunge, fearing the steep learning curve of mastering programs like Blender or AutoCAD. What I found, however, was programs like TinkerCAD and 123Design made it very easy to learn basic CAD so I decided to pick up a 3D Printer last week. After a week or so of design work and printing out many items, I think I've picked up a few skills and I can actually see myself making a little money on the side creating and selling items. I don't think I'd trade my current job for one designing and printing items, but it is nice to have a little income on the side if I choose to do that."


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Microsoft Word Zero-Day Used In Targeted Attacks
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 08:31 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's upgrade-your-word-processor department:
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "Microsoft warned on Monday of a remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2014-1761) in Microsoft Word 2010 that is being actively exploited in targeted attacks. If successfully exploited, an attacker could gain the same user rights as the current user, Microsoft said, noting that users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than accounts with administrative privileges. 'The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user opens a specially crafted RTF file using an affected version of Microsoft Word, or previews or opens a specially crafted RTF email message in Microsoft Outlook while using Microsoft Word as the email viewer,' Microsoft explained Microsoft did not share any details on the attacks that leveraged the vulnerability, but did credit Drew Hintz, Shane Huntley, and Matty Pellegrino of the Google Security Team for reporting it to Microsoft."

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Researchers Find Problems With Rules of Bitcoin
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 06:16 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's ruining-everything-with-math department:
holy_calamity (872269) writes "Using game theory to analyze the rules of cryptocurrency Bitocin suggests some changes are needed to make the currency sustainable in the long term, reports MIT Technology Review. Studies from Princeton and Cornell found that current rules governing the mining of bitcoins leave room for cheats or encourage behavior that could destabilize the currency. Such changes could be difficult to implement, given the fact Bitcoin — by design — lacks any central authority."

The main problem discovered is that transaction fees do not provide enough incentive to continue operating as "miner" after there are no more bitcoins left to be mined.

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