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Arduino Gaming: Not So Retro Any More
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 11:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's new-and-shiny department:
beckman101 writes "Two years ago the Gameduino brought retro-style gaming to the Arduino. This week its successor launched on Kickstarter, still fully open-source but with a video that shows it running some contemporary-looking demos. Plus, it has a touch screen and a pretty decent 3-axis accelerometer. Farewell to the retro?"

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How DirecTV Overhauled Its 800-Person IT Group With a Game
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hopefully-not-russian-roulette department:
mattydread23 writes "Most gamification efforts fail. But when DirecTV wanted to encourage its IT staff to be more open about sharing failures, it created a massive internal game called F12. Less than a year later, it's got 97% participation and nearly everybody in the IT group actually likes competing. So what did DirecTV do right? The most important thing was to devote a full-time staffer to the game, and to keep updating it constantly."

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HP CEO Meg Whitman To Employees: No More Telecommuting For You
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's p.s.-you're-all-slackers department:
McGruber writes "AllThingsD has the news that Hewlett-Packard has enacted a policy requiring most employees to work from the office and not from home. According to an undated question-and-answer document distributed to HP employees, the new policy is aimed at instigating a cultural shift that 'will help create a more connected workforce and drive greater collaboration and innovation.' The memo also said, 'During this critical turnaround period, HP needs all hands on deck. We recognize that in the past, we may have asked certain employees to work from home for various reasons. We now need to build a stronger culture of engagement and collaboration and the more employees we get into the office the better company we will be.' One major complication is that numerous HP offices don't have sufficient space to accommodate all of their employees. According to sources familiar with the company's operations, as many as 80,000 employees, and possibly more, were working from home in part because the company didn't have desks for them all within its own buildings."

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US Adults Score Poorly On Worldwide Test
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 06:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-our-cheese-consumption-is-tough-to-beat department:
New submitter Norwell Bob sends this excerpt from an Associated Press report:
"It's long been known that America's school kids haven't measured well compared with international peers. Now, there's a new twist: Adults don't either. In math, reading and problem-solving using technology – all skills considered critical for global competitiveness and economic strength – American adults scored below the international average on a global test, according to results (PDF) released Tuesday."

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Car Dealers vs the Web: GM Shifts Toward Online Purchasing
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-you-see-which-way-the-wind-is-blowing department:
cartechboy writes "Car dealers may be in for a new battle, and it turns out existing car manufacturers are joining the fun. Tesla Motors began the rebellion by trying to sell electric cars directly to buyers. Car dealers have fought that effort state-by-state and even complained to the DMV about Tesla's website. But things just got a little more interesting. General Motors announced plans to expand its new web-based shopping tool (aka a shopping web site) that allows customers to bypass showrooms when buying new cars. The idea is to use the Web as a giant test platform to see if the automaker can better target people who use the web to buy things. The catch is that the web app, called 'Shop-Click-Drive' will allow users to do almost everything they'd do at a dealer: customize the car, get pricing and financing and even arrange for delivery. But then when you push the button, your "purchase" will be routed to GM's network of 4,300 dealers, so you still have to visit a local dealer to sign on the dotted line. Even with this limitation, the move is still making dealers nervous. GM dealers aren't required to participate in the web-based test, and company officials say they have had some dealers turn it down."

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The Ridiculous Tech Fees You're Still Paying
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's selling-wifi-at-the-airport-makes-you-evil department:
Esther Schindler writes "None of us like to spend money (except on shiny new toys). But even we curmudgeons can understand that companies need to charge for things that cost them money; and profit-making is at the heart of our economy. Still, several charges appear on our bills that can drive even the most complacent techie into a screaming fit. How did this advertised price turn into that much on the final bill? Why are they charging for it in the first place? Herewith, fees that make no sense at all — and yet we still fork over money for them. For example: 'While Internet access is free in coffee shops, some public transit, and even campsites, as of 2009 15% of hotels charged guests for the privilege of checking their e-mail and catching up on watching cat videos. Oddly, budget and midscale hotel chains are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi, while luxurious hotels — already costing the traveler more — regularly ding us.'"

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AMD's New Radeons Revisit Old Silicon, Enable Dormant Features
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-mean-we-can-actually-use-the-whole-thing? department:
crookedvulture writes "The first reviews of AMD's Radeon R7 and R9 graphics cards have hit the web, revealing cards based on the same GPU technology used in the existing HD 7000 series. The R9 280X is basically a tweaked variant of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz priced at $300 instead of $400, while the R9 270X is a revised version of the Radeon HD 7870 for $200. Thanks largely to lower prices, the R9 models compare favorably to rival GeForce offerings, even if there's nothing exciting going on at the chip level. There's more intrigue with the Radeon R7 260X, which shares the same GPU silicon as the HD 7790 for only $140. Turns out that graphics chip has some secret functionality that's been exposed by the R7 260X, including advanced shaders, simplified multimonitor support, and a TrueAudio DSP block dedicated to audio processing. AMD's current drivers support the shaders and multimonitor mojo in the 7790 right now, and a future update promises to unlock the DSP. The R7 260X isn't nearly as appealing as the R9 cards, though. It's slower overall than not only GeForce 650 Ti Boost cards from Nvidia, but also AMD's own Radeon HD 7850 1GB. We're still waiting on the Radeon R9 290X, which will be the first graphics card based on AMD's next-gen Hawaii GPU."
More reviews available from AnandTech, Hexus, Hot Hardware, and PC Perspective.

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New High Tech $100 Bills Start To Circulate Today
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "New $100 bills made their debut today in the U.S. They include high tech features designed to make it easier for the public to authenticate but more difficult for counterfeiters to replicate. Those measures include a blue, 3-D security ribbon, as well as color-shifting ink that changes from copper to green when the note is tilted (PDF). That ink can be found on a large '100' on the back of the bill, on one of the '100's' on the front, and on a new image of an ink well that's also on the front. 'The $100 is the highest value denomination that we issue, and it circulates broadly around the world,' says Michael Lambert, assistant director for cash at the Federal Reserve Board. 'Therefore, we took the necessary time to develop advanced security features that are easy for the public to use in everyday transactions, but difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.' The bill was originally due to reach banks in 2011, but three years ago the Federal Reserve announced that a problem with the currency's new security measures was causing the bills to crease during printing, which left blank spaces on the bills. This led the Feds to shred more than 30 million of the bills in 2012. The image of Benjamin Franklin will be the same as on the current bill, but like all the other newly designed currencies, it will no longer be surrounded by an dark oval. Except for the $1 and $2 bill, all U.S. paper currency has been redesigned in the last 10 years to combat counterfeiting."

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NC School District Recalls Its Amplify Tablets After 10% Break In Under a Month
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's kids-break-things-film-at-11 department:
Nate the greatest writes "Guilford County Schools' headline grabbing tablet program is back in the news again. The program came to an abrupt end last Friday when the school district announced that they were recalling all of the Amplify tablets. GCS had leased over 15 thousand of the tablets (at a cost of $200 a year) for its middle school students, but decided to recall the tablets just one month into the school year after some 1500 students reported a broken screen. Around two thousand complained of improperly fitting cases, and there were also 175 reports of malfunctioning power supplies. There's currently no explanation for the cases or power supplies, but GCS has stated that the tablets broke because they lacked a layer of Gorilla Glass. This was listed in the contract, but the school district did not confirm the condition of the tablets before accepting them. This program was the poster child for News Corp.'s entry into the educational market. It was the single largest program to use the Amplify tablet, and its failure represents a serious setback. The Amplify tablet now has a record for poor construction quality and a breakage rate that is 12 times higher than what Squaretrade reported in early 2012 for the iPad 2."

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ESA Begins Mars Rover Tests In Chile
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-they-find-water?! department:
Zothecula writes "The Atacama desert in Chile is so dry that parts of it are utterly devoid of life down to bacteria. That and its sandy, rock-strewn terrain makes it so similar to Mars that it's a perfect spot for ESA to trial its Sample Acquisition Field Experiment with a Rover (SAFER), which this week is carrying out tests related to navigation, remote control and the use of scientific instruments. The agency's goal is the latest in a series of tests to develop technologies and gain practical experience in anticipation of ESA's launch of the ExoMars rover to the Red Planet in 2018."

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Police Demand Summary Domain Takedown, Traffic Redirection
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's please-and-thank-you-or-else department:
Stunt Pope writes "This morning, Toronto-based domain registrar easyDNS received a request from the City of London (UK) police demanding that they summarily take down a BitTorrent search site based out of Singapore — or else they would 'refer the matter to ICANN' — suggesting easyDNS could lose its accreditation. The police further directed easyDNS to point all traffic for the domain to an IP address that promoted competing commercial online music services based out of London, UK."
easyDNS raises some important questions in the blog post they put up after receiving the request. Quoting: "Who decides what is illegal? What makes somebody a criminal? Given that the subtext of the request contains a threat to refer the matter to ICANN if we don't play along, this is a non-trivial question. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always thought it was something that gets decided in a court of law, as opposed to 'some guy on the internet' sending emails. While that's plenty reason enough for some registrars to take down domain names, it doesn't fly here."

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Tour Houston's Texas-Sized Hackerspace (Video 2 of 2)
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's every-hackerspace-should-have-foosball-and-pancake-breakfasts department:
A few weeks ago, on his way to LinuxCon, Timothy stopped by the biggest hackerspace he'd ever seen. Houston's TX/RX Labs is not just big — it's busy, and booked. Unlike some spaces we've highlighted here before (like Seattle's Metrix:CreateSpace and Brooklyn's GenSpace, TX/RX Labs has room and year-round sunshine enough to contemplate putting a multi-kilowatt solar array in the backyard. Besides an array of CNC machines, 3-D printers, and wood- and metal-working equipment, TX/RX has workbenches available for members to rent. (These are serious workspaces, made in-house of poured concrete and welded steel tubing.) There's also a classroom full of donated workstations, lounge space, a small collection of old (but working) military trucks, and a kitchen big enough for their Pancake Science Sunday breakfasts. Labs member Steve Cameron showed me around. You saw Part One of his tour last week. Today's video is Part Two.

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Obama Administration Refuses To Overturn Import Ban On Samsung Products
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-sure-this-won't-be-construed-as-favoritism-by-anybody-anywhere department:
Chris453 writes "In August 2013, President Obama issued a veto to an import ban of the iPhone 4S after Samsung won several court battles against Apple claiming that the iPhone 4S violated several of Samsung's patents. A few months ago, Samsung was on the receiving end of a very similar case filed by Apple. The International Trade Commission decided that several of Samsung's phones (Transform, Acclaim, Indulge, and Intercept models) violated Apple's patents, and should face import bans. Despite the similarities between the two cases, the Obama administration today announced that it would not veto the International Trade Commission import ban against Samsung products. The move that could spark a trade dispute between the U.S. and South Korea."

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When Does the Universe Compute?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's mice-were-quite-clear-about-this department:
KentuckyFC writes "The idea that every physical event is a computation has spread like wildfire through science. That has triggered an unprecedented interest in unconventional computing such as quantum computing, DNA computing and even the ability of a single-celled organism, called slime mold, to solve mazes. However, that may need to change now that physicists have worked out a formal way of distinguishing between systems that compute and those that don't. One key is the ability to encode and decode information. 'Without the encode and decode steps, there is no computation; there is simply a physical system undergoing evolution,' they say. That means computers must be engineered systems based on well understood laws of physics that can be used to predict the outcome of an abstract evolution. So slime mold fails the test while most forms of quantum computation pass."

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No FiOS In Boston? We'll Make an Ad Anyway
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's unawareness-campaign department:
Zott writes "The Boston Globe has a front-page story about Verizon's FiOS that recounts what many of us here in Boston and some surrounding urban areas know already: Verizon won't invest in the physical plant and actually offer the fiber optic Internet and TV service here in the 'hub of the universe.' This hasn't stopped Verizon from launching a new advertising campaign with Donnie Wahlberg (member of New Kids on the Block, actor, and well-known Boston native) standing in Copley Square and the Charlestown neighborhood touting the product. It goes even further, though — according to the Globe's article, '"This is New England, where people tell it straight," says Wahlberg... "No phonies, no fakers, no shortcuts."' Except for the shortcut in the fine print that's presumably in the ad somewhere: 'FiOS not available in all areas.'"

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Digital Revolution Will Kill Jobs, Inflame Social Unrest, Says Gartner
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-you-can't-take-analysts-seriously department:
dcblogs writes "Gartner says new technologies are decreasing jobs. In the industrial revolution — and revolutions since — there was an invigoration of jobs. For instance, assembly lines for cars led to a vast infrastructure that could support mass production giving rise to everything from car dealers to road building and utility expansion into new suburban areas. But the "digital industrial revolution" is not following the same path. "What we're seeing is a decline in the overall number of people required to do a job," said Daryl Plummer, a Gartner analyst at the research firm's Symposium ITxpo. Plummer points to a company like Kodak, which once employed 130,000, versus Instagram's 13. The analyst believes social unrest movements, similar to Occupy Wall Street, will emerge again by 2014 as the job creation problem deepens." Isn't "decline in the overall number of people required to do a job" precisely what assembly lines effect, even if some job categories as a result require fewer humans? We recently posted a contrary analysis arguing that the Luddites are wrong.

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NSA's New Utah Data Center Suffering Meltdowns
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's high-grade-shadenfreude department:
linuxwrangler writes "NSA's new Utah data-center has been sufferering numerous power-surges that have caused as much as $100,000 damage per event. The root cause is 'not yet sufficiently understood' but is suspected to relate to the site's 'inability to simultaneously run computers and keep them cool.' Frustrating the analysis and repair are 'incomplete information about the design of the electrical system' and the fact that "regular quality controls in design and construction were bypassed in an effort to fast track the Utah project."" Ars Technica has a short article, too, as does ITworld.

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11-Year-Old Coloradan Will Brew Beer In Space, By Proxy
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-10-years-he-can-try-it-legally department:
minty3 writes "An 11-year-old Colorado boy may have found a way to literally make a beer that's out of this world. Michal Bodzianowski, a sixth grader at Douglas County's STEM School and Academy in Highlands Ranch, Colo., recently won a national competition where his beer-making experiment will be flown to the International Space Station." Noting that beer is safer than contaminated water, Bodzianowski note that beer could be useful “in future civilization as an emergency backup hydration and medical source."

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Red Cross Wants Consequences For Video-Game Mayhem
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's design-by-committee department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) wants developers to consider building "virtual consequences" for mayhem into their video games. 'Gamers should be rewarded for respecting the law of armed conflict and there should be virtual penalties for serious violations of the law of armed conflict, in other words war crimes,' read the ICRC's new statement on the matter. 'Game scenarios should not reward players for actions that in real life would be considered war crimes.' Like many a concerned parent or Congressional committee before it, the ICRC believes that violent video games trivialize armed conflict to the point where players could see various brands of mayhem as acceptable behavior. At the same time, the ICRC's statement makes it clear that the organization doesn't want to be actively involved in a debate over video-game violence, although it is talking to developers about ways to accurately build the laws of armed conflict into games. But let's be clear: the ICRC doesn't want to spoil players' enjoyment of the aforementioned digital splatter. 'We would like to see the law of armed conflict integrated into the games so that players have a realistic experience and deal first hand with the dilemmas facing real combatants on real battlefields,' the statement continued. 'The strong sales of new releases that have done this prove that integrating the law of armed conflict does not undermine the commercial success of the games.'"

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Alcatel-Lucent To Cut 10,000 Workers, Calls It "Shift Plan"
Posted by News Fetcher on October 08 '13 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's drop-the-f department:
Dawn Kawamoto writes "Alcatel-Lucent is planning to cut 10,000 workers by 2015. The telecom equipment maker's newly minted CEO calls this restructuring part of his Shift Plan. Under this plan, Alcatel-Lucent wants to save 1 billion Euros in costs and refocus its operations on next-gen IP networking, cloud and ultra-broadband access and away from legacy technologies like its 2G and 3G wireless. In the meantime, Wall Street thinks it may be cleaning itself up for a sale of some of its assets or its operations to Nokia, which will need to bolster its telecom equipment business after selling its smartphone operations to Microsoft. But a Nokia-Microsoft deal may be too little, too late."

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