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Wikimedia Community Debates H.264 Support On Wikipedia Sites.
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's side-loading department:
bigmammoth writes "Wikimedia has been a long time supporter of royalty free formats, but is now considering a shift in their position. From the RfC: ;To support the MP4 standard as a complement to the open formats now used on our sites, it has been proposed that videos be automatically transcoded and stored in both open and MP4 formats on our sites, as soon as they are uploaded or viewed by users. The unencumbered WebM and Ogg versions would remain our primary reference for platforms that support them. But the MP4 versions 'ould enable many mobile and desktop users who cannot view these unencumbered video files to watch them in MP4 format.'
This has stirred a heated debate within the Wikimedia community as to whether the mp4 / h.264 format should be supported. Many wikimedia regulars have weighed in, resulting in currently an even split between adding the H.264 support or not. The request for comment is open to all users of Wikimedia, including the broader community of readers. What do you think about supporting H.264 on Wikimedia sites?"


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Microsoft Remotely Deleted Tor From Windows Machines To Stop Botnet
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's because-they-can department:
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft remotely deleted old versions of Tor anonymizing software from Windows machines to prevent them from being exploited by Sefnit, a botnet that spread through the Tor network. It's unclear how many machines were affected, but the total number of computers on the Tor network ballooned from 1 million to 5.5 million as Sefnit spread. 'By October, the Tor network had dropped two million users thanks to Sefnit clients that had been axed. No one, not even the Tor developers themselves, knew how Microsoft had gone on a silent offensive against such a big opponent and won a decisive battle,' the Daily Dot reported.

In a blog post, Microsoft claimed it views Tor as a 'good application,' but leaving it installed presented a severe threat to the infected machines."


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CES 2014: HAL© is a Voice- and Gesture-Operated Remote (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's open-the-pod-bay-doors department:
According to the company's website, "HAL© is the future of television and media management. Using proprietary gesture and voice control technology..." In this case, HAL© stands for “Human Algorithm LTE.” It looks like it's a lot safer than the original HAL 9000, anyway. Is it ready for prime time? If their CES demo is any indication, not quite. They say HAL© is going to ship in the fall of 2014. The technology? They won't say beyond, "It's proprietary." Ah! Then it must be good, right? Another voice-operated remote control -- that's already available for purchase from major retailers -- is the Ivee Sleek. There are other HALs out there, too. Like this one. And this one, which is a home automation server that costs $2499.00 (& up). Anyway, the retail price for HAL(circle-C) is supposed to be $199 when it hits the streets. And even though it doesn't look like HAL© can do much that I can't already do with my Android phone, Skyvi, and a Chromecast, it might be fun to test and review once it's in production.

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Google Releases Dart 1.1
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's is-it-on-target department:
rjmarvin writes "Google released version 1.1 of its Dart open-source web programming language today, with new features and improved tools. The Dart Editor is updated with improved debugging, code implementation and more descriptive toolkits, and new UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and documentation support command-line and server-side Dart applications. Google also highlighted benchmarks such as the Richards benchmark, where Dart 1.1 is running 25% faster than JavaScript, as part of the larger competition between Dart and JavaScript in creating more complex applications in the web development space."

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NSA Collects 200 Million Text Messages Per Day
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-why-do-you-hate-america? department:
ilikenwf writes "A new release from the files obtained by Edward Snowden have revealed that the NSA collects millions of text messages per day. These are used to gain travel plans, financial data, and social network data. The majority of these texts and data belong to people who are not being investigated for any crime or association. Supposedly, "non-US" data is removed, but we all know that means it is sent to a partner country for analysis, which is then sent back to the NSA."

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Previously-Unseen Photos of Challenger Disaster Appear Online
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's things-in-odd-places department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Twenty-six photos of the space shuttle Challenger disaster have appeared online. According to io9, "Michael Hindes of West Springfield, MA, was sorting through boxes of his grandparents' old photographs when he happened upon 26 harrowing photos of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster of 1986. To his knowledge, these photos have never been publicly released." Hindes told the Website that the photographer was "a friend of his grandfather, who worked for NASA as an electrician on the Agency's hulking, spacecraft-schlepping crawler transporters." Someone at Reddit (which also has a lengthy thread devoted to the images) also threw together a GIF of the liftoff and subsequent explosion."

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Google Removes "Search Nearby" Function From Updated Google Maps
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's where-are-you-again? department:
First time accepted submitter BillCable writes "One of the most useful and intuitive features of Google's Map tool was the "Search nearby" link. After searching for a location, users could click on a marker on the map to pop open a window with the address and other details. This window also contained a link to 'Search nearby' — extremely useful if you want to find a list of restaurants near a hotel, the closest pharmacy, or any other business you might want to patronize. Google recently updated their map tool, and 'Search nearby' is no longer present. The 300 posts to the Google Product Forums complaining about this omission indicates this is a feature Maps users sorely miss. Goggle's work-around (detailed by Google staff in said thread) are a poor substitute and unreliable. There is no indication Google will add the feature to their new tool. For now users are able to revert to the original Google Maps with the 'Search nearby' feature intact. But there's concern that when Google discontinues support that the feature will be lost. So why would Google remove one of its best features?"

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Telescope Designer and Astronomer John Dobson, 1915-2014
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-he-gets-the-whole-sky department:
As noted by Sky & Telescope, SpaceWatchtower, and many other sources, astronomer and telescope innovator John Dobson died yesterday in Burbank, California, at the age of 98. He's famous as an inspiration for others to explore astronomy, in part through the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers, which he co-founded in 1967, and as designer of the telescope variety which bears his name.

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Starbucks Phone App Stores Password Unencrypted
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's don't-spend-it-all-in-one-place department:
JThaddeus writes "The Daily Caller reports a serious security flaw in the Starbucks phone app: 'Starbucks confirmed late Tuesday that anyone could access the unencrypted data stored on the official Starbucks app simply by connecting the phone to a computer – bypassing lock screen or PIN security features with no hacking or jailbreaking necessary.' The linked report is for iOS. No mention of Android, but do you think it is any different?" (Starbucks says they've addressed the problem.)

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Graphene Sheath Modulates Fiber-Optic Transmission At 200 GHz
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let's-go-straight-to-x-rays department:
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers in China have shown that a graphene sheath can modulate light transmission through an optical fiber at 200 GHz. The graphene, even crudely draped over the optic fiber on a microscope slide, absorbed some of the light passing through the fiber. But a preceding short-wavelength light pulse could temporarily disable the effect, enabling an all-optical infrared fiber-optic switch. Recovery was fast enough to enable modulation of transmitted light at 200 GHz using conventional fiber-optic communication wavelengths and thinned commercial telecommunications fibers. The findings could have use in telecommunications industry and future high-speed on-chip optical interconnects."

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Man Jailed For Refusing To Reveal USB Password
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-yeah-forgot-to-mention department:
judgecorp writes "Syed Hussain, already serving time for helping to plot attacks against UK targets, got another four months for refusing to divulge the password of a USB stick the police and GCHQ wanted to examine. The USB was believed to contain data about a suspected fraud unconnected with national security, and Husein claimed to have forgotten it under stress, He later remembered it and it turned out to be a password he had used on other systems investigated by the police."

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BitTorrent's Bram Cohen Unveils New Steganography Tool DissidentX
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-does-this-guy-know? department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "For the last year Bram Cohen, who created the breakthrough file-sharing protocol BitTorrent a decade ago, has been working on a tool he calls DissidentX, a steganography tool that's available now but is still being improved with the help of a group of researchers at Stanford. Like any stego tool, DissidentX can camouflage users' secrets in an inconspicuous website, a corporate document, or any other, pre-existing file from a Rick Astley video to a digital copy of Crime and Punishment. But it uses a new form of steganography based on cryptographic hashes to make the presence of a hidden message far harder for an eavesdropper to detect than in traditional stego. And it also makes it possible to encode multiple encrypted messages to different keys in the same cover text."

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Intel Dev: GTK's Biggest Problem, and What Qt Does Better
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 07:01 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's choosing-sides department:
Freshly Exhumed writes "Phoronix has an article about how Dirk Hohndel of Intel's Open-Source Technology Center has stirred the hornet's nest with a talk at Australia's Linux.Conf.Au (MP4 file) about what he views as the biggest problem with the GTK: he finds dealing with upstream GTK/GNOME developers to be tough, with frequent abuse and flame-wars, with accusations from the developers that "you're doing it wrong." Conversely, he found the Qt development community to be quite the opposite: willing to engage and help, with plenty of application developer documentation and fewer communication problems than with their GTK counterparts."

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Adobe Adds 3D Printer Support To Photoshop
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-guys-is-there-where-the-bandwagon-stops? department:
angry tapir writes "Adobe has rolled out an update to Photoshop that incorporates direct support for 3D printing. According to Adobe, they don't expect most users to directly create 3D meshes in Photoshop. Instead they expect most of the time people will import objects from other applications and then use Photoshop as a finishing tool to tweak and repair meshes — in a similar fashion to how Photoshop can be used to tweak photos before production. The application currently directly supports MakerBot printers and the online Shapeways service. More printer support is coming (printer profiles are editable XML files) and the application can also export STL files that can be copied to a USB drive and used on other brands of 3D printer."

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Paging Dr. MacGyver: Maker Movement Comes To Medical Gear
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-me-an-avocado-an-ice-pick-and-my-snorkel department:
eggboard writes "The maker movement has started to rapidly turn to medical gear, especially in developing nations. The early results are quite marvelous, but there are a ton of concerns, too. The pace of change is incredibly fast. From the article: '[Many people] without any without any formal medical training—can take advantage of access to global supply chains, cutting-edge medical knowledge, and recent leaps in design and fabrication technology that have made the prototyping process faster, cheaper, and simpler than ever before. Even as concerns about safety and liability are only starting to be addressed, medical inventors and other technical tinkerers are already improving and saving lives—sometimes their own.'"

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How To Make 96,000lbs of WWII Machinery Into High-Tech Research Platform
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what's-old-is-new department:
coondoggie writes "The US Naval Research Laboratory is taking a 96,000-pound piece of World War II-era machinery and turning it into a test-bed for leading edge communications and radar applications. The equipment was originally known as a three-axis tilting platform designed to simulate the movements of a large ship at sea. It was built by Westinghouse in 1943 as a gun platform requiring only primitive motion in roll, pitch and yaw, according to the Navy Lab. Specifically it was used as a mechanically operated deck with a heavy machine gun director and a machine gun mount installed. Gun crews and director operators could be trained on the platform under conditions that approximated the movements of a vessel at sea."

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Revolutionary Scuba Mask Creates Breathable Oxygen Underwater On Its Own
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 01:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's swim-with-the-fishes department:
schwit1 writes "With the Triton Oxygen Respirator, it might be possible to breathe beneath the surface of the water as if you were a fish. Requiring no bulky tank to keep your lungs pumping properly. The regulator comprises a plastic mouthpiece that requires you to simply bite down. There are two arms that branch out to the sides of the scuba mask that have been developed to function like the efficient gills of a marine creature. The scaly texture conceals small holes in the material where water is sucked in. Chambers inside separate the oxygen and release the liquid so that you can breath comfortably in the ocean."

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Scientists Glue Sensors To 5,000 Bees In a Bid To Better Understand Them
Posted by News Fetcher on January 16 '14 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's glue-honey department:
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at the University of Tasmania working with CSIRO have decided to use the latest sensor technology to help them better understand the behavior of thousands of bees. An RFID sensor has been attached with glue to the back of around 5,000 honey bees in Hobart, Tasmania. In order for that to work, shaving the area of the bee where the sensor would sit was necessary in some cases. Thankfully the bee was asleep during the process, and the sensor is small and light enough that they likely won't notice it is there. With the sensors attached, checkpoints can be setup around the area where the bees travel and pollinate in order to create a three-dimensional map of their movements."

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Apple Devices To Reach Parity With Windows PCs In 2014
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '14 at 10:01 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-grown-up department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Horace Dediu writes at Aymco that in 2013 there were 18.8 times more Windows PCs sold than Macs, a reduction in the Windows advantage from about 19.8x in 2012. But the bigger story is how Apple's mobile platform including iOS devices has nearly reached the sales volume of Windows. In 2013 there were only 1.18 more Windows PCs than Apple devices sold. Odds are that in 2014 Apple and Windows will be at parity. Dediu says that the Windows advantage itself came from the way computing was purchased in the period of its ascent in the 1980s and 1990s 'when computing platform decisions were made first by companies then by developers and later by individuals who took their cues from what standards were already established. As these decisions created network effects, the cycle repeated and the majority platform strengthened.' There was concentration in decision making in the 80s so a platform could win by convincing 500 individuals who had the authority (as CIOs) to impose through fiat a standard on the centers of gravity of purchasing power. Today, with mobile products there are billions of decision makers. and the decision making process for buying computers, which began with large companies IT departments making decisions with multi-year horizons, has changed to billions of individuals making decisions with no horizons. Companies have become the laggards and individuals the early adopters of technology. 'Ultimately, it was the removal of the intermediary between buyer and beneficiary which dissolved Microsoft's power over the purchase decision,' concludes Dediu. 'The computer has become personal not just in the sense of how it's used but in the sense of how it's owned.' Finally, all the above is almost moot, given the rise of Android, something that is beating both Cupertino and Redmond alike."

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Robots Test Their Own World Wide Web
Posted by News Fetcher on January 15 '14 at 07:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-humans-allowed department:
An anonymous reader writes "A new system called RoboEarth is currently being tested at Eindhoven University which will enable robots to complete tasks by sharing knowledge through a cloud based world-wide-web. The current study is based in a hospital setting where robots are sharing information to complete tasks like moving around by sharing a map of the room and serving drinks to 'patients'. The aim of the system is that robots and humans will be able to upload information to a cloud based database which can be accessed and used by robots. This will enable robots to share information and also to learn from each other. It will also allow robots to react to changes within their environment without having to be reprogrammed."

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