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How Voter Shortsightedness Skews Elections
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-don't-like-the-last-thing-you-did-so-i-don't-like-you department:
sciencehabit writes "'Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?' Ronald Reagan's famous question in the U.S. presidential election of 1980 is generally a good yardstick for picking a candidate, or at least for judging a leader's economic policies. But few voters follow it. Instead, they are swayed by economic swings in the months leading up to the election, often ignoring the larger trends. Why are we so shortsighted? A psychological study of voting behavior suggests an answer and points to a simple fix. ... Healy and Lenz challenged their subjects to evaluate hypothetical governments based on slightly varying information. For example, some received information expressed as yearly income while others received the same information expressed as a yearly growth rate. The same information in a plot of steadily increasing average personal income over 3 years—$32,400, $33,100, $33,800—can also be expressed as a steadily decreasing rate of growth—3%, 2.3%, 2.1%. That did the trick. Just changing the units of the data was enough to cure voter fickleness. When economic trends were expressed as yearly income rather than rates of change, the subjects made accurate judgments. But if the same information was expressed as a change over time—the bias reappeared."

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Audience Jeers Contestant Who Uses Game Theory To Win At 'Jeopardy'
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's comments-must-be-in-the-form-of-a-question department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "USA Today reports that Arthur Chu, an insurance compliance analyst and aspiring actor, has won $102,800 in four Jeopardy! appearances using a strategy — jumping around the board instead of running categories straight down, betting odd amounts on Daily Doubles and doing a final wager to tie — that has fans calling him a 'villain' and 'smug.' Arthur's in-game strategy of searching for the Daily Double that has made him such a target. Typically, contestants choose a single category and progressively move from the lowest amount up to the highest, giving viewers an easy-to-understand escalation of difficulty. But Arthur has his sights solely set on finding those hidden Daily Doubles, which are usually located on the three highest-paying rungs in the categories (the category itself is random). That means, rather than building up in difficulty, he begins at the most difficult questions. Once the two most difficult questions have been taken off the board in one column, he quickly jumps to another category. It's a grating experience for the viewer, who isn't given enough to time to get in a rhythm or fully comprehend the new subject area. 'The more unpredictable you are, the more you put your opponents off-balance, the longer you can keep an initial advantage,' says Chu. 'It greatly increases your chance of winning the game if you can pull it off, and I saw no reason not to do it.' Another contra-intuitive move Chu has made is playing for a tie rather than to win in 'Final Jeopardy' because that allows you advance to the next round which is the most important thing, not the amount of money you win in one game. 'In terms of influence on the game,Arthur looks like a trendsetter of things to come,' says Eric Levenson. 'Hopefully that has more to do with his game theory than with his aggressive button-pressing.'"

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Kansas Delays Municipal Broadband Ban
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hold-up-cowboy department:
Mokurai writes with an update to a story from last week about legislation in Kansas that would have banned most municipal broadband, including the expansion of Google Fiber. Now, after the public backlash that erupted online, government officials have postponed the legislation's hearings, putting it on hold indefinitely. From the article:
"Senate Bill 304 would prohibit cities and counties from building public broadband networks. The Commerce Committee, which [Sen. Julia Lynn] chairs, was scheduled to have a hearing Tuesday, but Lynn released a statement that hearings have been postponed indefinitely. 'Based on the concerns I heard last week, I visited with industry representatives and they have agreed to spend some time gathering input before we move forward with a public hearing,' Lynn said in a statement. 'We'll revisit the topic when some of these initial concerns have been addressed.' Lynn elaborated while exiting a Senate Judiciary hearing. The senator said she has instructed 'the parties' involved with the bill to address the public’s concerns. The bill was introduced by John Federico, a cable industry lobbyist."

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Asus Announces Small Form Factor 'Chromebox' PCs
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doesn't-look-like-a-trash-can department:
MojoKid writes "Asus stepped out this morning with something new for the Chrome OS powered hardware crowd, called a "Chromebox" small form factor PC. Just as Google has been evangelizing with its Chromebook notebook initiative, the pitch for these Chromebox systems is that they're capable of doing everything you need to do in today's connected world. While not everyone will totally agree with that marketing pitch — gaming, 3D modeling, and a host of specialized tasks are better suited for a PC with higher specs — there's certainly a market for these types of devices. They're low cost, fairly well equipped, and able to handle a wide variety of daily computing chores. There are two SKUs being released in the U.S. The first starts at $179 and sports an Intel Celeron 2955U processor, and the second features an Intel Core i3 4010U CPU (no mention of price just yet), both of which are based on Intel's 4th generation Haswell CPU architecture. Beyond the processor, these fan-less boxes come with two SO-DIMM memory slots with 2GB or 4GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, a 16GB SSD, a GbE LAN port, 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, 2-in-1 memory card reader, four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, a DisplayPort, an audio jack, and a Kensington Lock. ASUS also includes a VESA mount kit with each Chromebox, and Google tosses in 100GB of Google Drive space free for two years."

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US Democrats Introduce Bill To Restore Net Neutrality
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doubtful-prospects department:
New submitter litehacksaur111 writes "Lawmakers are introducing the Open Internet Preservation Act (PDF) which aims to restore net neutrality rules enforced by the FCC before being struck down by the DC appeals court. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) said, 'The Internet is an engine of economic growth because it has always been an open platform for competition and innovation. Our bill very simply ensures that consumers can continue to access the content and applications of their choosing online.' Unfortunately, it looks unlikely the bill will make it through Congress. 'Republicans are almost entirely united in opposition to the Internet rules, meaning the bill is unlikely to ever receive a vote in the GOP-controlled House.'"

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Firefox 27 Released: TLS 1.2 Support, SPDY 3.1, SocialAPI Improvements
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
jones_supa writes "Mozilla has released Firefox 27 for Linux, Android, Mac, and Windows (download). One of the big changes is enabling support for TLS 1.1 and 1.2 by default. Firefox 27 also supports the SPDY 3.1 protocol. Developers got some new toys: support was added for ES6 generators in SpiderMonkey, the debugger will de-obfuscate JavaScript, and style sheets can be reset by using <tt>all:unset</tt>. Mozilla also announced some new social integration options. In addition to all these changes, the Android version got some UI improvements and font readability upgrades. For a future release, Mozilla is currently testing a new approach for Firefox Sync in Nightly builds. They recognized the headaches involved with how it works, and they're now opting to use a simple e-mail and password combination like Google Chrome does. In the old system, users were forced to store an auto-generated authorization code, which, if lost, would render their bookmarks, passwords and browsing history inaccessible. "

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Will Microsoft IIS Overtake Apache?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's netcraft-hints-at-it department:
First time accepted submitter jcdr writes "February's 2014 Web Server Survey by Netcraft shows a massive increase [in the share of] Microsoft's web server since 2013. Microsoft's market share is now only 5.4 percentage points lower than Apache's, which is the closest it has ever been. If recent trends continue, Microsoft could overtake Apache within the next few months, ending Apache's 17+ year reign as the most common web server."

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Watch Bill Nye and Ken Ham Clash Over Creationism Live
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-you're-still-making-up-your-mind-I-see department:
New submitter Max McDaniel writes to point out this live stream of the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham concerning the viability of creationism in a scientific age taking place at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky (of which Ham is the founder). Note: the presentation is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern; the live feed is likely to remain less interesting until then.

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Government To Require Vehicle-to-vehicle Communication
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bumper-sticker-transponder department:
An anonymous reader writes "For decades, the focus of auto safety has primarily been on surviving the traumatic impact of crashes through features like air bags and seat belts. But now the focus has shifted to avoiding crashes by developing technology to make future vehicles 'smart' enough to detect and respond to threats, such as an oncoming vehicle. The technology, known as 'vehicle-to-vehicle,' or "V2V," lets cars 'talk' to each other and exchange safety data, such as speed and position. If a nearby car abruptly changes lanes and moves into another car's blind spot, the car would be alerted. Federal transportation officials did not announce when the new regulations would go into effect but said they hope to propose the new V2V rules before President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017." Combine this with remote kill-switches or pulse guns, Amber-alert scrolling signs, proliferating cameras, automatic plate recognition and unstoppable text messages from on high for some not-so-distant driving dystopia.

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Who's Writing Linux These Days?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's thought-we-were-an-autonomous-collective department:
cold fjord writes "IEEE Spectrum reports, "About once a year, the Linux Foundation analyzes the online repository that holds the source code of the kernel, or core, of the Linux operating system. As well as tracking the increasing complexity of the ever-evolving kernel over a series of releases from versions 3.0 to 3.10, the report also reveals who is contributing code, and the dominant role corporations now play in what began as an all-volunteer project in 1991. While volunteer contributors still represent a plurality among developers, over 80 percent of code is contributed by people who are paid for their work. ""

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Why Games Should Be In the Public Domain
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's beats-the-alternative department:
Robotron23 writes "Rock, Paper, Shotgun author John Walker shook a hornet's nest by suggesting old videogames should enter the public domain during GOG's Time Machine sale. George Broussard of Duke Nukem fame took to Twitter, saying the author should be fired. In response to these comments RPS commissioned an editorial arguing why games and other media should enter the public domain much more rapidly than at present. 'I would no more steal a car than I would tolerate a company telling me that they had the exclusive rights to the idea of cars themselves.' says Walker, paraphrasing a notorious anti-piracy ad. 'However, there are things I'm very happy to "steal," like knowledge, inspiration, or good ideas...It was until incredibly recently that amongst such things as knowledge, inspiration and good ideas were the likes of literature and music.'"

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AMD Open-Sources Video Encode Engine
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's drag-out-the-home-movies department:
An anonymous reader writes "AMD's latest feature added to their open-source Radeon DRM graphics driver is VCE video encoding via a large code drop that happened this morning. A patched kernel and Mesa will now allow the Radeon driver with their latest-generation hardware to provide low-latency H.264 video encoding on the GPU rather than CPU. The support is still being tuned and it only supports the VCE2 engine but the patches can be found on the mailing list until they land in the trunk in the coming months."

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Satya Nadella Named Microsoft CEO
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's don't-blame-me-I-voted-for-kodos department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "As widely expected after last week's rumors, Satya Nadella has been named the new CEO of Microsoft. Nadella is Microsoft's third CEO, after co-founder Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. He's been with the company for more than twenty years, eventually becoming executive vice president of its Cloud and Enterprise division; Nadella and his team were responsible for the creation of 'Cloud OS,' the platform that powers Microsoft's large-scale cloud services such as SkyDrive, Azure, and Office 365. Under his guidance, Microsoft's revenue from cloud services has grown by several billion dollars over the past few years. In his email to employees, Nadella said that he was 'humbled' by his appointment, and that he had asked Bill Gates to act as a close adviser in the months and years ahead." He devoted much of the rest of the email "to explaining his philosophy of technology, and how that will ultimately influence his leadership. 'The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things,' he added. 'We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization.' A lot of tech companies would disagree the assertion that Microsoft is the 'only' company capable of merging hardware and software into forms that businesses and consumers find appealing, but Nadella must do his best to reassert his company's position as a technology leader. Nadella indicated near the end of his email that he would follow through on the 'One Microsoft' strategy formulated under Ballmer, which includes a massive reorganization currently underway." Reader rjmarvin notes that "Nadella will take over as CEO immediately, allowing Steve Ballmer to retire early," and reader SmartAboutThings says that "John Thompson, a lead independent director for the Board of Directors, will take over the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors that Gates held."

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Now Published: Study Showing Pirate Bay Blockade Has No Effect
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-they-don't-tell-you-about-on-the-e-channel department:
First time accepted submitter Neelix21 writes "Last week a Dutch court decided that the blockade of the Pirate Bay website was ineffective and disproportionate. The academic study that measured this effect has now been published: 'This paper studies the effectiveness of this approach towards online copyright enforcement, using both a consumer survey and a newly developed non-infringing technology for BitTorrent monitoring. While a small group of respondents download less from illegal sources or claim to have stopped doing so, no impact is found on the percentage of the Dutch population downloading from illegal sources.' The torrent monitoring technique also shows that if you are downloading a public torrent, anyone can find out." Happily, the linked paper is not paywalled.

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NZ Govt May Gut Privacy Laws For US Citizens and Ex-Pats
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-you-didn't-buy-the-premium-package? department:
Master Moose writes with an excerpt from stuff.co.az indicating that New Zealands government "wants to override privacy laws to supply the U.S. Government with private details about Americans living in New Zealand. As part of a global tax-dodging crackdown, the U.S. is forcing banks and other financial institutions to hand over the private financial details of U.S. 'persons' and companies based overseas. From July this year, Kiwi banks and insurers will be required to provide U.S. tax authorities with American customers' contact details, bank account numbers and transaction history. The move comes amid continuing criticism of New Zealand's participation in Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement talks, aimed at securing a wider-reaching free trade deal with the U.S. and other countries. Critics say the secretive talks could restrict New Zealand's ability to make its own laws on everything from the environment to employment."

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Layoffs At Now-Private Dell May Hit Over 15,000 Staffers
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's layoffs-happen-to-public-firms-too department:
schwit1 writes "Curious why Michael Dell was so eager to take the company he founded private? So he could do stuff like this without attracting too much attention. According to the Channel Register, the recently LBOed company is 'starting the expected huge layoff program this week, claiming numbers will be north of 15,000.' Of course, with a private sponsor in charge of the recently public company, the only thing that matters now is maximizing cash flows in an environment of falling PC sales, a commoditisation of the server market and a perceived need to better serve enterprises with their ever-increasing mobile and cloud-focused IT requirements — things that do not bode well for Dell's EBITDA — and the result is perhaps the largest axing round in the company's history. But at least the shareholders cashed out while they could."

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Adobe's New Ebook DRM Will Leave Existing Users Out In the Cold Come July
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's remember-when-sharing-books-was-normal department:
Nate the greatest writes "Whether it's EA and SimCity, the Sony rootkit scandal, or Ubisoft, we've all read numerous stories about companies using DRM in stupid ways that harm their customers, and now we can add Adobe to the list. Adobe has just announced a new timeline for adoption of their recently launched 'hardened' DRM, and it's going to take your breath away. In a video posted to Youtube, Adobe reps have stated that Adobe expects all of their ebook partners to start adopting the new DRM in March. This is the same DRM that was launched only a few weeks ago and is already causing problems, but that hasn't stopped Adobe. They also expect all the stores that use Adobe's DRM to sell ebooks (as well as the ebook app and ebook reader developers) to have fully adopted the new ebook DRM by July 2014. That's when Adobe plans to end support for the old DRM (which everyone is using now). Given the dozens and dozens of different ebook readers released over the past few years, including models from companies that have gone under, this is going to present a significant problem for a lot of readers. Few, if any, will be updated in time to meet Adobe's deadline, and that's going to leave many readers unable to buy DRMed ebooks."

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Microsoft's IE Is the Most Targeted Application By Security Researchers
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's easy-pickings department:
darthcamaro writes "Though Microsoft hasn't yet patched its Internet Explorer web browser in 2014, it did patch IE at least once every month in 2013. According to HP's 2013 Cyber Risk Report, more researchers tried to sell IE vulnerabilities than any other product vulnerability. 'IE is the most prevalent browser on the systems that attackers want to compromise' said Jacob West, CTO of HP's Enterprise Security Group."

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Many Lasers Become One In Lockheed Martin's 30 kW Laser Weapon
Posted by News Fetcher on February 04 '14 at 12:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's ready-main-phaser-array department:
Zothecula writes "In another step forward for laser weapons that brings to mind the Death Star's superlaser, Lockheed Martin has demonstrated a30-kilowatt fiber laser produced by combining many lasers into a single beam of light. According to the company, this is the highest power laser yet that was still able to maintain beam quality and electrical efficiency, paving the way for a laser weapon system suitable, if not for a Death Star, for a wide range of air, land, and sea military platforms."

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EU Commission: Corruption Across EU Costs €120 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on February 03 '14 at 09:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's i'd-like-to-buy-a-law department:
cold fjord writes with news that the EU has completed its first report on corruption in member states, and the results aren't looking too good. From the article: "'The extent of corruption in Europe is 'breathtaking' and it costs the EU economy at least 120bn euros (£99bn) annually, the European Commission says. EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem has presented a full report on the problem. She said the true cost of corruption was 'probably much higher' than € 120bn. Three-quarters of Europeans surveyed for the Commission study said that corruption was widespread, and more than half said the level had increased. 'The extent of the problem in Europe is breathtaking, although Sweden is among the countries with the least problems,' Ms Malmstroem wrote in Sweden's Goeteborgs-Posten daily. The cost to the EU economy is equivalent to the bloc's annual budget. For the report the Commission studied corruption in all 28 EU member states. The Commission says it is the first time it has done such a survey. "

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