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Humans Not Solely To Blame For Passenger Pigeon Extinction
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 01:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's who's-to-blame department:
sciencehabit (1205606) writes When the last passenger pigeon died at a zoo in 1914, the species became a cautionary tale of the dramatic impact humans can have on the world. But a new study finds that the bird experienced multiple population booms and crashes over the million years before its final demise. The sensitivity of the population to natural fluctuations, the authors argue, could have been what made it so vulnerable to extinction.

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Shawn Raymond's Tandem Bike is Shorter Than Yours (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 01:15 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's get-on-your-mechanical-pony-and-ride department:
This isn't a "both peddlers are equal" bike. The person sitting in the rear seat is in the "control" position. Because of the wide handlebars, he or she can reach around the person in the front seat to steer. The person in the front seat can't really do much except enjoy the ride, or maybe lean back and whisper a sweet nothing or two if the person in the back seat is someone the front-seater loves. The bike is called the UnaTandem (turn music off in the lower left corner of the page), and Shawn Raymond tried to get Kickstarter funding for it back in 2012 but only raised $1651, which was quite a ways short of his $70,000 goal. So, with Kickstarter in the rear view mirror, Shawn is trying to do his own crowdfunding. Will this work? Can he get enough people to buy into his idea of a tandem bike that gives you the old "riding on the handlebars" feeling to get his company off the ground? Can he use his own money (assuming he has enough) to build and sell his tandem bikes without bringing in outside investors at all? And then there's the price problem. Shawn says he's looking at a retail price in the $850 range. That may not seem like a lot to some, but you can buy 10 Walmart bikes for that much. Or four or five bikes from specialty bicycle or sporting goods stores. Despite the high price, some will undoubtedly buy these short tandem bikes and like them. But will enough people buy enough of them to make this a viable business? Shawn obviously thinks so. (Alternate Video Link)

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Starbucks Offers Workers 2 Years of Free College
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's grande-school department:
mpicpp writes Starbucks baristas working through college are about to get an extra boost from their employer. The company announced it will offer both full and part-time employees a generous tuition reimbursement benefit that covers two full years of classes. The benefit is through a partnership with Arizona State University's online studies program. Employees can choose from any of more than 40 undergraduate degrees, and aren't limited to only business classes.

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US Agency Aims To Regulate Map Aids In Vehicles
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's the-right-way-to-go department:
An anonymous reader writes in with news about proposed rules regarding mapping technology used in cars.Many are in favor of rules that prevent texting while driving, but in-car navigation is a murkier legal area — how do you minimize distractions without limiting the ability to get from point A to point B? Like it or not, the US government may settle that debate before long. The proposed Grow America Act would let the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set rules for dash-mounted GPS units, smartphone mapping apps and anything else you'd use for driving directions. While it's not clear what the NHTSA would do with its power, the Department of Transportation's voluntary guidelines ask for limits on eye-catching visuals (think videos) and interaction times; don't be surprised if these enter the rulebooks.

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Artificial Pancreas Shows Promise In Diabetes Test
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-more-needles department:
An anonymous reader writes A cure for Type 1 diabetes is still far from sight, but new research suggests an artificial "bionic pancreas" holds promise for making it much more easily manageable. From the article: "Currently about one-third of people with Type 1 diabetes rely on insulin pumps to regulate blood sugar. They eliminate the need for injections and can be programmed to mimic the natural release of insulin by dispensing small doses regularly. But these pumps do not automatically adjust to the patient's variable insulin needs, and they do not dispense glucagon. The new device, described in a report in The New England Journal of Medicine, dispenses both hormones, and it does so with little intervention from the patient."

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Book Review: Security Without Obscurity
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
benrothke (2577567) writes Having worked at the same consulting firm and also on a project with author J.J. Stapleton (full disclosure); I knew he was a really smart guy. In Security without Obscurity: A Guide to Confidentiality, Authentication and Integrity, Stapleton shows how broad his security knowledge is to the world. When it comes to the world of encryption and cryptography, Stapleton has had his hand in a lot of different cryptographic pies. He has been part of cryptographic accreditation committees for many different standard bodies across the globe. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review. Security without Obscurity: A Guide to Confidentiality, Authentication and Integrity
author J.J. Stapleton
pages 355
publisher Auerbach Publications
rating 8/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-1466592148
summary Great guide to enterprise authentication from an expert

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Ikea Sends IkeaHackers Blog a C&D Order
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's stop-it department:
An anonymous reader writes Ikea has sent the IkeaHackers blog a C&D order over the usage of the Ikea name. IkeaHackers hosts articles on how to hack Ikea furniture to make it more useful in daily life. From the article: "Speaking to the BBC, an Ikea representative said: 'We feel a great responsibility to our customers and that they always can trust Ikea... many people want to know what really is connected to Ikea - and what isn't. And we think that people should have that right. When other companies use the Ikea name for economic gain, it creates confusion and rights are lost.'

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New Sensor To Detect Food-Borne Bacteria On Site
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's just-eat-it department:
Zothecula (1870348) writes According to the CDC, around 48 million people in the US get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die as a result of foodborne illnesses every year. One of the main culprits is listeriosis (or listeria), which is responsible for approximately 1,600 illnesses and 260 deaths. Now researchers at the University of Southampton are using a device designed to detect the most common cause of listeriosis directly on food preparation surfaces, without the need to send samples away for laboratory testing.

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Chinese Gov't Reveals Microsoft's Secret List of Android-Killer Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 09:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-it-and-weep department:
walterbyrd (182728) writes "A list of hundreds of patents that Microsoft believes entitle it to royalties over Android phones, and perhaps smartphones in general, has been published on a Chinese language website. The patents Microsoft plans to wield against Android describe a range of technologies. They include lots of technologies developed at Microsoft, as well as patents that Microsoft acquired by participating in the Rockstar Consortium, which spent $4.5 billion on patents that were auctioned off after the Nortel bankruptcy."

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Interviews: Ask "The King of Kong" Billy Mitchell About Classic Video Games
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's go-ahead-and-ask department:
samzenpus (5) writes Billy Mitchell owns the Rickey's World Famous Restaurant chain, sells his own line of hot sauces, and was called, "probably the greatest arcade-video-game player of all time". He was the first to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and held many record scores in other arcade games. He is probably most famous for the 2007 documentary,"The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters". The film follows a challenger on his quest to surpass Billy's high score in Donkey Kong, which Mitchell had set in 1982. Since the film was made, the Kong crown has been held by a number people including twice by Mitchell. Billy has agreed to put down the quarters and answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

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EU, South Korea Collaborate On Superfast 5G Standards
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 07:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's greased-lightning department:
jfruh writes The European Commission and the South Korean government announced that they will be harmonizing their radio spectrum policy in an attempt to help bring 5G wireless tech to market by 2020. While the technology is still in an embryonic state, but one South Korean researcher predicts it could be over a thousand times faster than current 4G networks.

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"Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 07:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-banana-a-day department:
schwit1 (797399) writes "A super-enriched genetically engineered banana will soon go through its first human trial, which will test its effect on vitamin A levels, Australian researchers said Monday. The project plans to have the special banana varieties — enriched with alpha and beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A — growing in Uganda by 2020. The bananas are now being sent to the United States, and it is expected that the six-week trial measuring how well they lift vitamin A levels in humans will begin soon."

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NASA's Horizons Spacecraft To Probe Pluto Moon For Underground Ocean
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's finding-water department:
An anonymous reader writes NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is moving towards Pluto to explore Charon, one of Pluto's moons. The aim of the mission is to search of evidence of an ancient underground ocean on the moon. "Our model predicts different fracture patterns on the surface of Charon depending on the thickness of its surface ice, the structure of the moon's interior and how easily it deforms, and how its orbit evolved," said Alyssa Rhoden of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "By comparing the actual New Horizons observations of Charon to the various predictions, we can see what fits best and discover if Charon could have had a subsurface ocean in its past, driven by high eccentricity."

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Google Fiber Is Officially Making It's Way To Portland
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's getting-more-fiber department:
An anonymous reader writes This week the Portland City Council has approved a franchise agreement with Google to bring its fiber service to Portland. "As a result of the unanimous vote, Google will be subject to a five percent 'franchise fee' on its video revenues. It won't have to pay a three percent 'PEG' fee that Portland otherwise charges rival Comcast, but it will offer free Internet service for Portland residents for a $300, one-time fee. It'll also provide free Internet service to some to-be-determined nonprofits, in addition to providing a total of three free Wi-Fi networks in various parts of the city."

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Average HS Student Given Little Chance of AP CS Success
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 04:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's inopportunity-for-all department:
theodp (442580) writes AP Computer Science is taught in just 10% of our high schools," lamented The White House last December as President Obama kicked off CSEdWeek. "China teaches all of its students one year of computer science." And the U.S. Dept. of Education has made the AP CS exam its Poster Child for inequity in education (citing a viral-but-misinterpreted study). But ignored in all the hand-wringing over low AP CS enrollment is one huge barrier to the goal of AP-CS-for-all: College Board materials indicate that the average 11th grader's combined PSAT/NMSQT score of 96 in reading and math gives him/her only a 20%-30% probability of getting a score of '3' on the AP CS exam (a score '4' or '5' may be required for college credit). The College Board suggests schools tap a pool of students with a "60-100% likelihood of scoring 3 or higher", so it's probably no surprise that CS teachers are advised to turn to the College Board's AP Potential tool to identify students who are likely to succeed (sample Student Detail for an "average" kid) and send their parents recruitment letters — Georgia Tech even offers some gender-specific examples — to help fill class rosters.

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BMW, Mazda Keen To Meet With Tesla About Charging Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 02:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let's-talk-about-supercharger-deserts department:
PC Magazine reports that following Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would be freeing for other electric car makers to use the various patents that the company has amassed, at least two companies — Mazda and BMW — are said to be interested in meeting with Tesla, for a very good reason: According to undisclosed sources speaking to the Financial Times, both Nissan and BMW would be interested in working with Tesla to craft up some universal vehicle charging standards. To quote unnamed official: "It is obviously clear that everyone would benefit if there was a far more simple way for everyone to charge their cars."

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Why the Moon's New Birthday Means the Earth Is Older Than We Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '14 at 12:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-measure-the-depth-of-the-mold department:
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes You're likely familiar with the theory of how the Moon formed: a stray body smashed into our young Earth, heating the planet and flinging debris into its orbit. That debris coalesced and formed the Moon. The impact theory still holds, but a team of geochemists from the University of Lorraine in Nancy, France has refined the date, finding that the Moon is about 60 million years older than we thought. As it turns out, that also means the Earth is 60 million years older than previously thought, which is a particularly cool finding considering just how hard it is to estimate the age of our planet.

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Bitcoin Security Endangered By Powerful Mining Pool
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '14 at 08:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's cornering-the-market department:
An anonymous reader writes Ars Technica reports that for the first time in Bitcoin's five-year history, a single entity has repeatedly provided more than half of the total computational power required to mine new digital coins, in some cases for sustained periods of time. It's an event that, if it persists, signals the end of crypto currency's decentralized structure."

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Judge Orders DOJ To Turn Over FISA Surveillance Documents
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '14 at 06:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's let-me-take-a-look-at-those department:
itwbennett (1594911) writes "In a victory for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which is suing to make the DOJ release information about surveillance on U.S. citizens, a California judge on Friday ordered the Department of Justice to produce 66 pages of documents for her review. The judge said the agency failed to justify keeping the documents secret and she will decide whether the documents, including one opinion and four orders by the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), were improperly withheld from the public."

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How To Make Espresso In Space
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '14 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's they-finally-saw-airplane-II department:
In a story that's sure to bring to the surface the long-debunked myth of an over-elaborate NASA quest to create a pen to operate in space, Wired reports that the coffee situation abooard the International Space Station is about the improve: the station will be getting a 20kg, custom designed Lavazza espresso machine, to be delivered along with Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Among other differences from terrestrial espresso machines: the resulting beverage must be pumped into a straw-friendly bag rather than a demitasse. I wonder if there could be some way to adapt a (much lighter) Aeropress for space purposes, as a backup.

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