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Implant Injects DNA Into Ear, Improves Hearing
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 02:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's assimilating-individual-organs department:
sciencehabit writes "Many people with profound hearing loss have been helped by devices called cochlear implants, but their hearing is still far from perfect. They often have trouble distinguishing different musical pitches, for example, or hearing a conversation in a noisy room. Now, researchers have found a clever way of using cochlear implants to deliver new genes into the ear — a therapy that, in guinea pigs, dramatically improves hearing (abstract)."

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The Hackers Who Recovered NASA's Lost Lunar Photos
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 02:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's best-thing-to-come-out-of-a-mcdonald's department:
An anonymous reader sends this story from Wired:
"The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data tapes. They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise. Thanks to the technical savvy and DIY engineering of the team at LOIRP, it's being seen at a higher resolution than was ever previously possible. ... The photos were stored with remarkably high fidelity on the tapes, but at the time had to be copied from projection screens onto paper, sometimes at sizes so large that warehouses and even old churches were rented out to hang them up. The results were pretty grainy, but clear enough to identify landing sites and potential hazards. After the low-fi printing, the tapes were shoved into boxes and forgotten. ... The drives had to be rebuilt and in some cases completely re-engineered using instruction manuals or the advice of people who used to service them. The data they recovered then had to be demodulated and digitized, which added more layers of technical difficulties."

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The Witcher 3 and Projekt Red's DRM-Free Stand
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 01:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-you-swear-to-give-the-whole-game-and-nothing-but-the-game department:
An anonymous reader writes "This article goes into the making of upcoming fantasy title The Witcher 3. The studio, CD Projekt Red, reveals that, unusually, it'll be releasing the game as a DRM-free download. 'We believe that DRM does more harm to legit gamers than good for the gaming industry, that's why the game will also be completely DRM-free,' says the game's level designer, Miles Tost. The game will build on the strengths of The Witcher 2 while attempting to broaden its scope. 'We want to combine the strong pull of closed-world RPGs story-wise, with a world where you can go anywhere and do anything you want.'"

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Michigan FIRST Robot Championship Bout for 2014 (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 01:30 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's wang-em-bang-em-robots department:
For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, AKA FIRST, holds annual robot challenges, in which student teams build robots, then operate them to the cheers of an adoring crowd. Slashdot watched the Dexter Dreadbots build their 2014 contender. (The Dreadbots are Slashdot's home team.) And we've watched other FIRST competitions before, but this is the 2014 Michigan state championships. The next step after the state finals is an appearance at the National Championship Competition, which starts today, April 23, in St. Louis, although the first day is speeches and such, not actual competition. Keep an eye on usfirst.org to see who wins. And before that, you can watch the matches themselves, streamed live courtesy of NASA. (Alternate video link.)

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Skilled Manual Labor Critical To US STEM Dominance
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's jobs-that-make-the-world-go-'round department:
Doofus writes: "The Wall Street Journal has an eye-catching headline: Welders Make $150,000? Bring Back Shop Class. Quoting: 'According to the 2011 Skills Gap Survey by the Manufacturing Institute, about 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled nationally because employers can't find qualified workers. To help produce a new generation of welders, pipe-fitters, electricians, carpenters, machinists and other skilled tradesmen, high schools should introduce students to the pleasure and pride they can take in making and building things in shop class.
American employers are so yearning to motivate young people to work in manufacturing and the skilled trades that many are willing to pay to train and recruit future laborers. CEO Karen Wright of Ariel Corp. in Mount Vernon, Ohio, recently announced that the manufacturer of gas compressors is donating $1 million to the Knox County Career Center to update the center's computer-integrated manufacturing equipment, so students can train on the same machines used in Ariel's operations.' How many of us liked shop? How many young people should be training for skilled manufacturing and service jobs rather than getting history or political science degrees?"


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OnePlus One Revealed: a CyanogenMod Smartphone
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's new-kit-on-the-block department:
An anonymous reader writes "Spec-wise, OnePlus One will go toe-to-toe with the latest flagship phones like the Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8), and Sony Xperia Z2. In some areas, it even surpasses them, and at a price point of $300. The One has the same 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AC SoC as the Samsung Galaxy S5, build quality similar to the HTC One (M8), and the large 3000+ mAh battery and Sony camera of the Xperia Z2. It also runs CyanogenMod 11S, which is based on Android 4.4."

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How Much Data Plan Bandwidth Is Wasted By DRM?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's phoning-home-adds-up department:
Bennett Haselton writes:
"If you watch a movie or TV show (legally) on your mobile device while away from your home network, it's usually by streaming it on a data plan. This consumes an enormous amount of a scarce resource (data bundled with your cell phone provider's data plan), most of it unnecessarily, since many of those users could have downloaded
the movie in advance on their home broadband connection — if it weren't for pointless DRM restrictions."

Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

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Aereo To SCOTUS: Shut Us Down and You Shut Down Cloud Storage
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 09:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's dedpuplication-considered-massively-infringing department:
jfruh (300774) writes "Aereo is currently fighting for its life before the Supreme Court, and has issued a warning: if you take us down, you could take the entire cloud storage industry down with us. The company argues that they only provide customers with access to shows picked up by an individual antenna that they've rented. If the constitutes a 'public performance,' then so does the act of downloading a copyrighted document stored in a cloud storage service — even if the customer has purchased the right to use that document."

v3rgEz sent in a link to the transcript of the first day of arguments.

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Google Opens Up Street View Archives From 2007 To Today
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 09:01 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's just-look-at-that-urban-decay department:
mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that Google is publishing all Street View imagery back to 2007. Quoting Ars: "The feature hasn't rolled out to many accounts yet, but it looks like a small, draggable window will be added to the Street View interface. Just move the time slider around and you'll be able to jump through past images. Granted, Street View has only been around for a few years, so the archives only go back to 2007. A few of the events Google suggests browsing through are the building of One World Trade Center and the destruction and rebuilding of Onagawa, Japan after the 2011 earthquake. Besides being really cool, the move will save Google from having to choose a canonical Street View image for every location. If the current image is blacked-out or wrong in some way, you can just click back to the previous one."

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Asteroid Impacts Bigger Risk Than Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 08:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's just-build-space-lasers department:
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The B612 Foundation, a U.S.-based nuclear test monitoring group, has disclosed that their acoustic sensors show asteroid impacts to be much more common than previously thought. Between 2000 and 2013 their infrasound system detected 26 major explosions due to asteroid strikes. The impacts were gauged at energies of 1 to 600 kilotons, compared to 45 kilotons for 1945 Hiroshima bomb."

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AT&T Plans To Launch Internet Video Service
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's yet-another-awful-option-no-one-wants department:
An anonymous reader writes "AT&T officially announced on Tuesday their intention to launch a Netflix-like service in collaboration with an investment group run by a former Fox president. AT&T is following in the footsteps of Verizon, which partnered with Redbox in 2012 to offer the same type of service, and like Verizon, is also still negotiating with Netflix on payments to not throttle Netflix traffic."

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ARIN Is Down To the Last /8 of IPv4 Addresses
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's end-times department:
An anonymous reader writes "On 3 February 2011, the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) issued the remaining five /8 address blocks, each containing 16.7 million addresses, in the global free pool equally to the five RIRs, and as such ARIN is no longer able to receive additional IPv4 resources from the IANA. After yesterday's large allocation (104.64.0.0/10) to Akamai, the address pool remaining to be assigned by ARIN is now down to the last /8. This triggers stricter allocation rules and marks the end of general availability of new IPv4 addresses in North America. ARIN thus follows the RIRs of Asia, Europe and South America into the final phase of IPv4 depletion."

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You Can Now Run Beta Versions of OS X—For Free
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's debian-did-it-better department:
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple on Tuesday announced the OS X Beta Seed Program, which allows anyone to download and install pre-release Mac software for the sake of testing and submitting feedback before the public launch. Until Tuesday, Apple charged users $99 a year to test out new OS X software—doing so required a paid-up developer account. (Testing new iPhone software still requires a separate developer account for another $99 a year.) Now, much the same way new OS X software is now totally free to download, it's also free to try out. All you need is an Apple ID to sign up."

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Supreme Court OKs Stop and Search Based On Anonymous 911 Tips
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 06:01 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's someone-said-you-were-a-sinner department:
An anonymous reader writes "On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police officers are legally allowed to stop and search vehicles based solely on anonymous 911 tips. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority opinion, reasoned that 'a 911 call has some features that allow for identifying and tracking callers' as well as for recording their calls, both of which he believed gave anonymous callers enough reliability for police officers to act on their tips with reasonable suspicion against the people being reported.

The specific case before them involved an anonymous woman who called 911 to report a driver who forced her off the road. She gave the driver's license plate number and the make and model of his car as well as the location of the incident in question. Police officers later found him, pulled him over, smelled marijuana, and searched his car. They found 30 pounds of weed and subsequently arrested the driver. The driver later challenged the constitutionality of the arrest, claiming that a tip from an anonymous source was unreliable and therefore failed to meet the criteria of reasonable suspicion, which would have justified the stop and search. Five of the nine justices disagreed with him."


The ruling itself (PDF).

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Face Recognition Algorithm Finally Outperforms Humans
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's man-is-obsolete department:
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Face recognition has come a long way in recent years. In ideal lighting conditions, given the same pose, facial expression etc, it easily outperforms humans. But the real world isn't like that. People grow beards, wear make up and glasses, make strange faces and so on, which makes the task of facial recognition tricky even for humans. A well-known photo database called Labelled Faces in the Wild captures much of this variation. It consists of 13,000 face images of almost 6000 public figures collected off the web. When images of the same person are paired, humans can correctly spot matches and mismatches 97.53 per cent of the time. By comparison, face recognition algorithms have never come close to this. Now a group of computer scientists have developed a new algorithm called GaussianFace that outperforms humans in this task for the first time. The algorithm normalises each face into a 150 x 120 pixel image by transforming it based on five image landmarks: the position of both eyes, the nose and the two corners of the mouth. After being trained on a wide variety of images in advance, it can then compare faces looking for similarities. It does this with an accuracy of 98.52 per cent; the first time an algorithm has beaten human-level performance in such challenging real-world conditions. You can test yourself on some of the image pairs on the other side of the link."

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Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action In College Admissions
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sensitive-subjects department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: "The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 — 2, has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. 'This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it,' wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues.' Kennedy's core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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'The Door Problem' of Game Design
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's making-adoorable-games department:
An anonymous reader writes "Game design is one of those jobs everybody thinks they can do. After all, they've played a few games, and they know what they liked and disliked, right? How hard could it be? Well, professional game designer Liz England has summed up the difficulty of the job and the breadth of knowledge needed to do it in what she calls 'the door problem.' Quoting: 'Premise: You are making a game. Are there doors in your game? Can the player open them? Can the player open every door in the game? What tells a player a door is locked and will open, as opposed to a door that they will never open? What happens if there are two players? Does it only lock after both players pass through the door? What if the level is REALLY BIG and can't all exist at the same time?' This is just a few of the questions that need answering. She then goes through how other employees in the company respond to the issue, often complicating it. 'Network Programmer: "Do all the players need to see the door open at the same time?" Release Engineer: "You need to get your doors in by 3pm if you want them on the disk." Producer: "Do we need to give everyone those doors or can we save them for a pre-order bonus?"'"

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The $5,600 Tablet
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '14 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
An anonymous reader writes "Tablets have come a long way in the past few years, and it has become possible to find a capable device for under $200. But what about the tablets pushing toward the high end of the spectrum? Xplore Technologies sells a line of tablets that top out at $5,600. Who on earth would pay that much? The military, of course. 'The DMSR models both have handles and are encased in tough protective covers. They can be dropped more than 2 meters onto a plywood floor and 1.2 meters onto concrete, and can operate in temperatures between -30 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 to 60 degrees Celsius). They've been tested to the U.S. military's tough MIL-STD-810G standard for extreme conditions. The tablets run Windows and come with Intel's latest Core i5 or i7 Haswell processors. Solid-state drive options extend to 480GB. ... They display images at 1024 x 768 resolution. That's less than some cheaper Windows tablets, but Xplore claims to offer excellent LCD visibility in sunlight thanks to a display luminescence of 1,300 NITS. The tablets have internal fans but can still run for up to eight-and-a-half hours on a 10-cell battery, Xplore said. They weigh a hefty 2.4 kilograms.'"

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WRT54G Successor Falls Flat On Promises
Posted by News Fetcher on April 22 '14 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's too-good-to-be-true department:
New submitter JImbob0i0 writes: "Back in January, Linksys/Belkin made a big deal about their new router, the WRT1900AC, which they claimed was a successor to the venerable WRT54G, and how they were working with OpenWRT. They released it this week, but their promises have fallen far short. You need to apply patches (which don't apply cleanly) and compile yourself in order to get it to work... so long as you don't need wireless support. There has not been much response from Linksys on the mailing list to criticism of the improperly formatted patch dump and poor reviews as a result."

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Google's Project Ara Could Bring PC-Like Hardware Ecosystem To Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on April 22 '14 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's without-the-liquid-cooling-i-hope department:
An anonymous reader writes "Now that Google's modular phone effort, Project Ara, looks a bit less like vaporware, people are starting to figure out its implications for the future of cellphones. One fascinating possibility is that it could transform the cellphone purchasing process into something resembling desktop computer purchasing. Enthusiasts could search out the individual parts they like the best and assemble them into cellphone Voltron. People who just want a decent phone with no hassle could look at pre-built offerings — and not just from Apple, Samsung, and the like. It could open up a whole new group of phone 'manufacturers.' Of course, this comes with drawbacks, too — if you think fragmentation is bad now, imagine trying to support thousands of different hardware combinations."

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