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What Happens When Gaming Auteurs Try To Go It Alone?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-one-is-an-island department:
An anonymous reader writes: As news that Cliff Bleszkinski, Epic Games' legendary former creative, sets off to found his own studio, a new article takes a look at how six other gaming auteurs have fared after leaving a major developer or publisher to go it alone. The results, surprisingly, are mixed: while some, such as Double Fine's Tim Schafer, have gone on to far greater success, it doesn't always work out that way: just look at John Romero's Daikatana. The article also makes a good point that Peter Molyneux is striking out with a start-up for the third in his career now, but it may not be third time the charm: Godus has been far less well received than Black & White or Fable. Can Cliffy B avoid making the same mistakes?

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FCC Approves Plan To Spend $5B Over Next Five Years On School Wi-Fi
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-wireless-benjamins department:
itwbennett writes: The Federal Communications Commission, in a 3-2 party-line vote Friday, approved a plan to revamp the 17-year-old E-Rate program, which pays for telecom services for schools and libraries, by phasing out funding for voice service, Web hosting and paging services, and redirecting money to Wi-Fi. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had proposed a $5 billion budget for Wi-Fi, but Republican commissioners and some lawmakers had questioned where the money would come from. Still, the E-Rate revamp (PDF) approved Friday contemplates a $1 billion-a-year target for Wi-Fi projects "year after year," Wheeler said.

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First Release of LibreSSL Portable Is Available
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cryptic-announcements department:
ConstantineM writes: It has finally happened. Bob Beck of The OpenBSD Foundation has just announced that the first release of LibreSSL portable is now available, and can be found in the <tt>LibreSSL</tt> directory of your favourite OpenBSD mirror. <tt>libressl-2.0.0.tar.gz</tt> has been tested to build on various versions of Linux, Solaris, Mac OS X and FreeBSD. This is intended to be an initial portable release of OpenBSD's libressl to allow the community to start using it and providing feedback, and has been done to address the issue of incorrect portable versions being attempted by third-parties. Support for additional platforms will be added as time and resources permit.

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DARPA Successfully Demonstrates Self-Guiding Bullets
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's jerks-with-aim-bots department:
Lucas123 writes: A DARPA-funded project has successfully developed a .50 caliber sniper round capable of maneuvering during flight in order to remain on target. The self-guiding EXACTO bullet, as it's being called, is optically guided by a laser that must remain on target for the bullet to track. The EXACTO round is capable of accurately tracking a target up to 1.2 miles away, DARPA stated. The technology, which is being developed by Teledyne Scientific and Imaging, is targeted at helping snipers remain at longer distances from targets as well as improving night shots. While DARPA's tracking bullet is the first to use a standard, small-arms caliber round, in 2012 Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) successfully demonstrated a prototype self-guided bullet that was more like like a four-inch dart.

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A Peek Inside D-Wave's Quantum Computing Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hamsters-are-neither-alive-nor-dead department:
JeremyHsu writes: A one-second delay can still seem like an eternity for a quantum computing machine capable of running calculations in mere millionths of a second. That delay represents just one of the challenges D-Wave Systems overcame in building its second-generation quantum computing machine known as D-Wave Two — a system that has been leased to customers such as Google, NASA and Lockheed Martin. D-Wave's rapid-scaling approach to quantum computing has plenty of critics, but the company's experience in building large-scale quantum computing hardware could provide valuable lessons for everyone, regardless of whether the D-Wave machines live up to quantum computing's potential by proving they can outperform classical computers. (D-Wave recently detailed the hardware design changes between its first- and second-generation quantum computing machines in the the June 2014 issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity.)

"We were nervous about going down this path," says Jeremy Hilton, vice president of processor development at D-Wave Systems. "This architecture requires the qubits and the quantum devices to be intermingled with all these big classical objects. The threat you worry about is noise and impact of all this stuff hanging around the qubits. Traditional experiments in quantum computing have qubits in almost perfect isolation. But if you want quantum computing to be scalable, it will have to be immersed in a sea of computing complexity.


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The First Person Ever To Die In a Tesla Is a Guy Who Stole One
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's marketed-as-a-thief-termination-feature department:
mrspoonsi sends this news from The Verge:
Elon Musk can no longer say that no one's ever died in a Tesla automobile crash. But few people will be pointing fingers at the electric car maker for this senseless tragedy. Earlier this month, 26-year-old Joshua Slot managed to successfully ride off with a Model S he'd stolen from a Tesla service center in Los Angeles, but police quickly spotted the luxury vehicle and gave chase. According to Park Labrea News, the high-speed pursuit was eventually called off after officers were involved in a fender bender of their own, leaving the police department strained for resources and without any feasible way of catching up to Slot. Reports claim he was traveling at speeds of "nearly 100 mph," but losing the police tail apparently didn't convince Slot to hit the brakes. Instead he sped on, eventually colliding with three other vehicles and a pair of street poles. The final impact was severe enough to "split the Tesla in half" and eject Slot from the car's remains. The Tesla's front section wound up in the middle of the road and caught fire. Its rear portion flew through the air with such force that it slammed into the side of a local Jewish community center and became wedged there.

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William Binney: NSA Records and Stores 80% of All US Audio Calls
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's must-use-a-good-compression-algorithm department:
stephendavion sends a report at The Guardian about remarks from whistleblower William Binney, who left the NSA after its move toward overreaching surveillance following the September 11th attacks. Binney says, "At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the U.S. The NSA lies about what it stores." He added, "The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control, but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone." One of Binney's biggest concerns about government-led surveillance is its lack of oversight: "The FISA court has only the government’s point of view. There are no other views for the judges to consider. There have been at least 15-20 trillion constitutional violations for U.S. domestic audiences and you can double that globally."

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Gameover ZeuS Re-Emerges As Fast-Fluxing Botnet
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's game-not-quite-over-after-all department:
New submitter tylke (621801) writes: "Brian Krebs is reporting that the Gameover ZeuS botnet recently taken down by the U.S. Justice Department in June has re-emerged. The new variant of the Trojan is "stripped of the P2P code, and relies instead on an approach known as fast-flux hosting," a kind of round-robin technique that lets botnets hide phishing and malware delivery sites behind a network of compromised systems. Krebs says, "[T]his variant also includes a 'domain name generation algorithm' or DGA, which is a failsafe mechanism that can be invoked if the botnet’s normal communications system fails. The DGA creates a constantly-changing list of domain names each week (gibberish domains that are essentially long jumbles of letters).

In the event that systems infected with the malware can’t reach the fast-flux servers for new updates, the code instructs the botted systems to seek out active domains from the list specified in the DGA. All the botmasters need to do in this case to regain control over his crime machine is register just one of those domains and place the update instructions there." (Disclosure: I work for Malcovery Security, the company credited with identifying the new variant.)


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Arecibo Radio Telescope Confirms Extra-galactic Fast Radio Pulses
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's Romulan-morse-code department:
schwit1 writes: "The Arecibo radio telescope has confirmed the existence of fast radio pulses. "Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are bright flashes of radio waves that last only a few thousandths of a second. Scientists using the Parkes Observatory in Australia recorded such events for the first time, but the lack of any similar findings by other facilities led to speculation that the Australian instrument might have been picking up signals originating from sources on or near Earth. The discovery at Arecibo is the first detection of a fast radio burst using an instrument other than the Parkes radio telescope. The position of the radio burst is in the direction of the constellation Auriga in the Northern sky.

"Our result is important because it eliminates any doubt that these radio bursts are truly of cosmic origin," continues Victoria Kaspi, an astrophysics professor at McGill University in Montreal and Principal Investigator for the pulsar-survey project that detected this fast radio burst. "The radio waves show every sign of having come from far outside our galaxy – a really exciting prospect." Exactly what may be causing such radio bursts represents a major new enigma for astrophysicists. Possibilities include a range of exotic astrophysical objects, such as evaporating black holes, mergers of neutron stars, or flares from magnetars — a type of neutron star with extremely powerful magnetic fields." Be warned: All of the above theories could also be wrong. These fast radio flashes could just as easily turn out to be something entirely unpredicted.


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Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's wake-me-if-there's-fire department:
grahamsaa writes: Like many others in IT, I sometimes have to do server maintenance at unfortunate times. 6AM is the norm for us, but in some cases we're expected to do it as early as 2AM, which isn't exactly optimal. I understand that critical services can't be taken down during business hours, and most of our products are used 24 hours a day, but for some things it seems like it would be possible to automate maintenance (and downtime).

I have a maintenance window at about 5AM tomorrow. It's fairly simple — upgrade CentOS, remove a package, install a package, reboot. Downtime shouldn't be more than 5 minutes. While I don't think it would be wise to automate this window, I think with sufficient testing we might be able to automate future maintenance windows so I or someone else can sleep in. Aside from the benefit of getting a bit more sleep, automating this kind of thing means that it can be written, reviewed and tested well in advance. Of course, if something goes horribly wrong having a live body keeping watch is probably helpful. That said, we do have people on call 24/7 and they could probably respond capably in an emergency. Have any of you tried to do something like this? What's your experience been like?


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Amazon Seeks US Exemption To Test Delivery Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-thought-asking-forgiveness-was-better department:
angry tapir writes: Amazon.com has asked the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for permission to test drones outdoors for use in its Prime Air package delivery service. In the run up to launching the service, which aims to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less, the online retailer is developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour, and will carry 5pound (2.3 kilogram) payloads, which account for 86 percent of the products sold on Amazon.
They need to ask permission because the FAA specifically banned such behavior last month.

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Insurance Claims Reveal Hidden Electronic Damage From Geomagnetic Storms
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's new-bofh-excuse department:
KentuckyFC writes: On 13 March 1989, a powerful geomagnetic storm severely disrupted the Hydro-Québec high-voltage grid triggering numerous circuit breakers and blacking out much of eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. Since then, Earth has been hit by numerous solar maelstroms without such large-scale disruption. But the smaller-scale effect of these storms on low voltage transmissions lines, and the equipment connected to them, has been unknown. Until now. Researchers from the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory have analyzed insurance claims for damage to industrial electrical equipment between 2000 and 2010 and found a clear correlation with geomagnetic activity. They say that the number of claims increases by up to 20 per cent on the days of highest geomagnetic activity. On this basis, they calculate that the economic impact of geomagnetic damage must amount to several billion dollars per year. That raises the question of the impact these storms have on household electronic equipment, such as computers, smartphones and tablets, and whether domestic insurance claims might throw some light on the issue.

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Child Thought To Be Cured of HIV Relapses, Tests Positive Again
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's poor-kid department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Mississippi child, who was born with HIV passed from her mother, received HIV treatment for 18 months after her birth. In the course of over two years after the treatment, her blood indicated no trace of the virus or of HIV-specific antibodies, leading many to hope that she may have been cured completely. Earlier this month, however, the virus was detected again. Nearly 4 years old, the child is once more being given HIV treatment, and scientists are trying to figure out how she could have gone so long before relapsing.

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Google's Experimental Newsroom Avoids Negative Headlines
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's giant-earthquake-provides-thousands-with-early-access-to-afterlife department:
theodp writes: After Brazil's dramatic World Cup defeat by Germany, writes NPR's Aarti Shahani, Google's experimental newsroom focused on search trends that didn't rub salt in Brazil's wounds, choosing to not publish a single trend on Brazilian search terms. Copywriter Tessa Hewson said they were just too negative. "We might try and wait until we can do a slightly more upbeat trend." It's a decision that puzzles Shahani, but producer Sam Clohesy explained, "a negative story about Brazil won't necessarily get a lot of traction in social." In old-school newsrooms, if it bleeds, it leads. But because this new newsroom is focused on getting content onto everyone's smartphone, marketing expert Rakesh Agrawal says, editors may have another bias: to comb through the big data in search of happy thoughts.

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Asteroid Mining Bill Introduced In Congress To Protect Private Property Rights
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can't-take-the-sky-from-me department:
MarkWhittington writes: "Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL) announced on Thursday that he was introducing a bill along with Rep, Derek Kilmer (D-WA) called the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014 (PDF). The act is designed to protect the private property rights for entities mining asteroids and to otherwise encourage asteroid mining. The bill is in apparent reaction to efforts by companies like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries to locate and mine Earth approaching asteroids for their resources.

The crucial part of the short piece of legislation states that the resources mined from an asteroid would be the property of the entity undertaking the operation. This language gets around the provision of the Outer Space Treaty that says states are forbidden to establish national sovereignty over celestial bodies, which would be a prerequisite to the United States allowing a private entity to own an asteroid. It rather grants mineral rights to the asteroid, something the treaty does not mention. There is no enforcement mechanism in the event of a dispute with another country, however."


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Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 04:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bend-like-the-broadcast-reed department:
An anonymous reader writes Rather than completely shuttering its TV-over-the-internet business, Aereo has decided to embrace the Supreme Court's recent decision against it. In a letter to the lower court overseeing the litigation between the company and network broadcasters, Aereo asks to be considered a cable company and to be allowed to pay royalties as such. Cable companies pay royalties to obtain a copyright statutory license under the Copyright Act to retransmit over-the-air programming, and the royalties are set by the government, not the broadcasters. The broadcasters are not happy with this move, of course, claiming that Aereo should not be allowed to flip-flop on how it defines itself.

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Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '14 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's charge-and-detect department:
sciencehabit writes Scientists have found a way to combine Van de Graaff generators with a common laboratory instrument to detect drugs, explosives, and other illicit materials on the human body. In the laboratory, scientists had a volunteer touch a Van de Graaff generator for 2 seconds to charge his body to 400,000 volts. This ionized compounds on the surface of his body. The person then pointed their charged finger toward the inlet of a mass spectrometer, and ions from their body entered the machine. In various tests, the machine correctly identified explosives, flammable solvents, cocaine, and acetaminophen on the skin.

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Google, Dropbox, and Others Forge Patent "Arms Control Pact"
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '14 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's working-together department:
jfruh writes Patent trolling is a serious irritant and financial drain on many big tech companies — but those same companies can't guarantee that their own future management won't sell the patents they own to a 'non-practicing entity', especially in the case of sale or bankruptcy. That's why a number of tech giants, including Google and Dropbox, have formed the 'License or Transfer Network,' in which a patent will automatically be licensed to everyone else in the network in the event that it's sold to a third party.

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Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '14 at 08:46 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-scratch-your-back-you-publish-my-paper department:
blackbeak (1227080) writes The Washington Post reports that the Journal of Vibration and Control's review system was hijacked by a ring of reviewers. 60 articles have been retracted as a result. "After a 14-month investigation, JVC determined the ring involved “aliases” and fake e-mail addresses of reviewers — up to 130 of them — in an apparently successful effort to get friendly reviews of submissions and as many articles published as possible by Chen and his friends.'On at least one occasion, the author Peter Chen reviewed his own paper under one of the aliases he created,' according to the SAGE announcement."

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FTC Files Suit Against Amazon For In-App Purchases
Posted by News Fetcher on July 10 '14 at 06:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-fool-his-kids-and-his-money department:
Charliemopps writes The Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Amazon for illegally billing parents for in-app purchases of digital goods prior to requiring a password for making purchases. "The FTC's complaint, filed Thursday, asks the court to force Amazon to refund the money to those customers. In-app purchases typically involve virtual goods bought within an app, like extra coins or energy in a game, according to the FTC. Some bills totaled hundreds of dollars, and some virtual goods cost as much as $99.99." We recently told you about Amazon's refusal to reach a settlement over these FTC complaints.

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