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Did Snakes Help Build the Primate Brain?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 01:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's snakes-on-a-brain department:
sciencehabit writes "A new study of the monkey brain suggests that primates are uniquely adapted to recognize the features of snakes and react in a flash. What's more, by selecting for traits that helped animals avoid them, the reptiles ultimately endowed us with forward-facing eyes, for example, and enlarged visual centers deep in our brains that are specialized for picking out specific features in the world around us, such as the general shape of a snake's body camouflaged among leaves.The results lend support to a controversial hypothesis: that primates as we know them would never have evolved without snakes."

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Apple 27-inch iMac With Intel's Haswell Inside Tested
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 11:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's shinier-newer department:
MojoKid writes "Apple's late 2013 edition iMacs are largely unchanged in external form, though they're upgraded in function with a revamped foundation that now pairs Intel's Haswell 4th Generation Core processors with NVIDIA's GeForce 700 Series graphics. The Cupertino company also outfitted these latest models with faster flash storage options, including support for PCI-E based storage, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology, all wrapped in a 21.5-inch (1920x1080) or 27-inch IPS displays with a 2560x1440 resolution. As configured, the 27-inch iMac reviewed here bolted through benchmarks with relative ease and posted especially solid figures in gaming tests, including a 3DMark 11 score of 3,068 in Windows 7 (via Boot Camp). Running Cinebench 11.5 in Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks also helped showcase the CPU and GPU combination. Storage benchmarks weren't nearly as impressive though, for iMacs based on standard spinning media. For real IO throughput, it's advisable to go with Apple's Flash storage options."

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UK Prime Minister Threatens To Block Further Snowden Revelations
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 09:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's on-with-their-heads department:
Bruce66423 writes "From the article: 'In a statement to MPs on Monday about last week's European summit in Brussels, where he warned of the dangers of a "lah-di-dah, airy-fairy view" about the dangers of leaks, the prime minister said his preference was to talk to newspapers rather than resort to the courts. But he said it would be difficult to avoid acting if newspapers declined to heed government advice.' So that will achieve something won't it? Don't these politicians understand that blocking publication in just the UK achieves nothing? The information is held outside the UK, and will be published there; all he's doing is showing his real colors"

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Telegraph Contributor Says Coding Is For Exceptionally Dull Weirdos
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 06:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's more-like-exceptionally-exciting-weirdos department:
mikejuk writes "The UK Government is trying to figure out how to teach children to code by changing what is taught in schools. The Telegraph, a leading UK newspaper, has put the other side of the case: Coding is for 'exceptionally dull weirdo(s).' The recent blog post by Willard Foxton is an amazing insight into the world of the non-programming mind. He goes on to say: 'Coding is a niche, mechanical skill, a bit like plumbing or car repair.' So coding is a mechanical skill — I guess he must be thinking of copy typing. 'As a subject, it only appeals to a limited set of people — the aforementioned dull weirdos. There's a reason most startup co-founders are "the charming ideas guy" paired with "the tech genius". It's because if you leave the tech genius on his own he'll start muttering to himself.' Why is it I feel a bout of muttering coming on? 'If a school subject is to be taught to everyone, it needs to have a vital application in everyday life — and that's just not true of coding.' Of course it all depends on what you mean by 'vital application.' The article is reactionary and designed to get people annoyed and posting comments — just over 600 at the moment — but what is worrying is that the viewpoint will ring true with anyone dumb enough not to be able to see the bigger picture. The same attitude extends to all STEM subjects. The next step in the argument is — why teach physics, chemistry, biology, and math (as distinct from arithmetic) to anyone but exceptionally dumb weirdos."

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Even the Author of the Patriot Act Is Trying To Stop the NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's clinging-to-power department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will introduce an anti-NSA bill tomorrow in the House, and if it makes its winding way to becoming law, it will be a big step towards curtailing the NSA's bulk metadata collection. Wisconsin Rep. Sensenbrenner, along with 60 co-sponsors, aims to amend one section of the Patriot Act, Section 215, in a bill known as the United and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act — also known by its less-clunky acronym version, the USA Freedom Act."

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Web Literacy Standard Announced By Mozilla
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 04:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's required-reading department:
An anonymous reader writes "Doug Belshaw and Carla Casilli, along with a community of stakeholders, have been working on a specification of skills needed for web literacy. Doug report that Brett Gaylor and Chris Lawrence announced version 1.0 of the spec. In a nutshell it's described as 'A map of the territory for the skills and competencies Mozilla and community think are important to get better at to more effectively read, write & participate on the Web.' Usages include writing curricula influenced by it, and issuing Open Badges that align with it (using the 'alignment' metadata field). Doug also calls for help with localization of the spec into other languages."

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Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth Wins Austria's Big Brother Award
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 03:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's it-burns department:
sfcrazy writes "Austria's Big Brother Awards awarded the coveted Big Brother Award to Ubuntu's founder Mark Shuttleworth for Ubuntu Dash's privacy reducing online extensions to local searches."

From the article: "What’s bad here and raises question here is that despite repeated requests Canonical refused to make the tracking option opt-in. The feature is installed and enabled by default so the moment one install Ubuntu it starts sending info to Canonical servers until the user deliberately disables it."

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HP Sues Seven Optical Drive Makers Over Price-Fixing
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 03:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's level-playing-field department:
Lucas123 writes "HP has filed a lawsuit against seven makers of optical disk drive technology, claiming the companies engaged in widespread price fixing in order to drive up the cost of Blu-ray, DVD and CD drives for PC and peripheral equipment makers. The suit was filed Thursday at the district court in Houston against Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, NEC, TEAC and Quanta Storage. The lawsuit claims the conspiracy to drive up prices took place from at least Jan. 1, 2004 through Jan. 1, 2010, when "almost all forms of home entertainment and data storage were on optical discs" and the companies controlled 90% of the optical disk market. HP alleges the companies used industry events, such as CES, as cover to communicate competitive information and hammer out anticompetitive agreements."

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Why Is Broadband More Expensive In the US Than Elsewhere?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pay-up department:
mrspoonsi writes "The BBC reports "Home broadband in the US costs far more than elsewhere. At high speeds, it costs nearly three times as much as in the UK and France, and more than five times as much as in South Korea. Why?...'Americans pay so much because they don't have a choice,' says Susan Crawford, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama on science, technology and innovation policy. We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight."

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Is Europa Too Prickly To Land On?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 01:01 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's watch-your-step department:
astroengine writes "A deadly bed of icy javelins — known as penitentes — could be awaiting any spacecraft that tries to land on some parts of the ice-covered world Europa, say researchers who have carefully modeled the ice processes at work on parts of the Jovian moon to detect features beyond the current low resolution images. If the prediction of long vertical blades of ice is correct, it will not only help engineers design a lander to tame or avoid the sabers, but also help explain a couple of nagging mysteries about the strange moon. 'This is a game changer,' said planetary scientist Don Blankenship of the University of Texas in Austin. Blankenship has been involved in NASA's planning process for sending a reconnaissance spacecraft and eventually a lander to Europa."

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Mozilla Location Service: Geolocation Lookups From Cell Towers and WiFi Data
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's where-in-the-world department:
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today launched an experimental pilot project called Mozilla Location Service. The organization explains its goal is to provide geolocation lookups based on publicly observable cell tower and WiFi access point information. Mozilla admits that many commercial services already exist in this space, but it wants to provide a public one. The company points out there isn't a single 'large' public service that provides this data, which is becoming increasingly important when building various parts of the mobile ecosystem."

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NVIDIA Updates SHIELD With Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Console Mode, New Titles
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's latest-and-greatest department:
MojoKid writes "NVIDIA announced a major update to its SHIELD Android gaming device today, with the over-the-air update delivering the latest build of Android (v4.3 Jelly Bean) to the handheld console. NVIDIA also launched GameStream in order to bring more PC titles to streaming devices. Wait, need more? How about SHIELD Gamepad Mapper, which turns touch-based Android games into ones that can be enjoyed with SHIELD's console-quality controls. Alongside that Android update comes Console Mode, which turns SHIELD into a portable living room game console. Users will be able to pair up a Bluetooth controller, kick back on the couch, indulge in Android games, browse the Web, and watch your favorite movies all at 1080p."

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Hardware Is Now Open (sourced) For Business
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's free-and-open-model department:
ptorrone writes "CNBC has an interesting article about the growing trend of hardware companies going open-source. 'The open-source hardware movement is migrating from the garage to the marketplace. Companies that follow an open-source philosophy make their physical designs and software code available to the public. By doing so, these companies engage a wave of makers, hobbyists and designers who don't just want to buy products, but have a hand in developing them.'"

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Book Review: the App Generation
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
First time accepted submitter Sara Konrath writes "The App Generation gives an overview of how digital media and technology may affect young people's perceptions of themselves, their ability to relate to others, and their creativity. As the director of the Interdisciplinary Program on Empathy and Altruism Research (iPEAR), my research finds that there have been generational changes in personality traits related to social functioning. For example, we find that narcissism has been rising while dispositional empathy has been declining in recent generations. I also study the relationship between such traits and the use of social media. Considering this, I was excited to get a copy of the book ahead of its release date." Keep reading for the rest of Sara's review. The App Generation: How Today's Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World
author Howard Gardner, Katie Davis
pages 256
publisher Yale University Press
rating 7/10
reviewer Sara Konrath
ISBN 978-0300196214
summary How life for this generation differs from life before the digital era.

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Anti-Poaching Lawsuit Against Apple, Google and Others Given the Green Light
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 10:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's hands-off department:
An anonymous reader writes "A class action lawsuit against Apple, Google and a number of other high-profile tech companies has been given the green light by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. The lawsuit stems from anti-poaching agreements that Apple a number of tech companies entered into from 2005 through 2009. Parties to the agreement all promised not to recruit employees from one another. The companies involved include Apple, Intel, Google, Intuit, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Adobe."

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Debian To Replace SysVinit, Switch To Systemd Or Upstart
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's changing-it-up department:
An anonymous reader writes "Debian has been one of the last holdouts using SysVinit over a modern init system, but now after much discussion amongst Debian developers, they are deciding whether to support systemd or Upstart as their default init system. The Debian technical committee has been asked to vote on which init system to use, which could swing in favor of using Upstart due to the Canonical bias present on the committee."

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Lost Star Wars Footage Found On LaserDisc
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that's-some-bonus-footage department:
drxenos writes "A LaserDisc purchased on eBay was found to contain raw footage from Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi. From the article: 'The origin of the LaserDisc isn't entirely clear, but it was purchased for $699 off eBay, apparently once used to demonstrate Lucasfilm's EditDroid station — one of the first digital film editing systems sold nearly 30 years ago. Ironically, George Lucas himself never used EditDroid to make a movie; the Star Wars clips were loaded simply to show off its capabilities to prospective buyers.'"

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Stung By Scandal, South Korea Weighs Up Cost of Curbing Nuclear Power
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 08:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's add-it-up department:
mdsolar writes in about an ongoing scandal in South Korea that has rocked their nuclear power program. "It started with a few bogus safety certificates for cables shutting a handful of South Korean nuclear reactors. Now, the scandal has snowballed, with 100 people indicted and Seoul under pressure to rethink its reliance on nuclear power. A shift away from nuclear, which generates a third of South Korea's electricity, could cost tens of billions of dollars a year by boosting imports of liquefied natural gas, oil or coal. Although helping calm safety concerns, it would also push the government into a politically sensitive debate over whether state utilities could pass on sharply higher power bills to households and companies. Gas, which makes up half of South Korea's energy bill while accounting for only a fifth of its power, would likely be the main substitute for nuclear, as it is considered cleaner than coal and plants can be built more easily near cities."

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Oracle Eyes Optical Links As Final Frontier of Data-Center Scaling
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 08:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's shine-on department:
An anonymous reader writes "Oracle is exploring silicon photonics, an optical technology drawing widespread interest, as a potential weapon in the battle against data-center power consumption. Advances in CPU and memory design could boost efficiency dramatically over the next few years. When they do, the interconnects among components, servers and switches will effectively become the power hogs of the data center, according to Ashok Krishnamoorthy, architect and chief technologist in photonics at Oracle. Oracle isn't often associated with networking and may not even manufacture or sell the technologies it's now studying. But as a big player in computing and storage, it could benefit from fostering a future technology that helps make faster, more efficient data centers possible."

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CAPTCHA Busted? Company Claims To Have Broken Protection System
Posted by News Fetcher on October 28 '13 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's spell-this department:
sciencehabit writes "A software company called Vicarious claims to have created a computer algorithm that can solve CAPTCHA with greater than 90% accuracy. If true, the advance would represent a major breakthrough in artificial intelligence. It would also mean that the internet will have to start looking for a new security system. The problem, however, is that Vicarious has provided little evidence for its claims, though some well-known scientists are behind the work."

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