By timothy from Slashdot's for-contributions-and-general-awesomeness department
It's been a long time since Slashdot has awarded the Beanies -- nearly 15 years
, in fact. But there's no time like the present, especially since tomorrow edges on the new year, and in early 2015 we'd like to offer a Beanie once again, to recognize and honor your favorite person, people (or project; keep reading) of the past year. Rather than a fine-grained list of categories like in 2000, though, this time around we're keeping it simple: we can always complicate things later, if warranted. So, please nominate below whoever you think most deserves kudos for the last twelve months. Is it ...
Edward Snowden, for the impact his leaks (though they began in 2013) have continued to make? (Or William Binney, for similar reasons
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzay
, who fought a difficult battle for children's right to an education?
Telescope popularizer John Dobson, who died earlier this year at the age of 98
, after bringing space a little more down to earth for many thousands of people?
May-Britt Moser, her husband Edvard Moser, and John O'Keefe for their discoveries
about how the brain navigates through the world?
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By Soulskill from Slashdot's tortured-the-aliens-until-they-left department
sends word that the CIA has taken the blame for a majority of early UFO sightings
. In a tweet, the agency said, "It was us," and linked to a document summarizing their use of U-2 spy planes from 1954-1974
(PDF)."High-altitude testing of the U-2led to an unexpected side effect — a tremendous increase in reports of unidentified flying objects," the CIA wrote in the document, which it wrote in 1998. "In the mid-1950s, most commercial airliners flew at altitudes between 10,000 and 20,000 feet and [many] military aircraftoperated at altitudes below 40,000 feet. Consequently, once U-2s started flying at altitudes above 60,000 feet, air-traffic controllers began receiving increasing numbers of UFO reports." [T]he CIA cross-referenced UFO sightings to U-2 flight logs. "This enabled the investigators to eliminate the majority of the UFO reports," the CIA wrote, "although they could not reveal to the letter writers the true cause of the UFO sightings."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tales-from-the-IT-kitchen department
An anonymous reader writes: A post at iFixit explains how one user with a failing MacBook Pro fixed it by baking it in the oven. The device had overheating issues for months, reaching temperatures over 100 C. When it finally died, some research suggested the extreme heat caused the logic board to flex and break the solder connections. The solution was to simply reflow the solder, but that's hard to do with a MBP. "Instead, I cracked open the back of my laptop, disconnected all eleven connectors and three heat sinks from the logic board, and turned the oven up to 340 F. I put my $900 part on a cookie sheet and baked it for seven nerve-wracking minutes. After it cooled, I reapplied thermal paste, put it all back together, and cheered when it booted. It ran great for the next eight months." The laptop failed again, and another brief vacation into the oven got it running once more.Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's sad-news-for-families department
Searchers have found traces of the crashed AirAsia Flight 8501, which lost contact with ground controllers
shortly after requesting a weather-related course change. Reuters reports that both debris and some passenger remains have been recovered
off the coast of Borneo, in a search complicated by waves "up to three meters high." From the report:About 30 ships and 21 aircraft from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States have been involved in the search.
The plane, which did not issue a distress signal, disappeared after its pilot failed to get permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather because of heavy air traffic, officials said. It was travelling at 32,000 feet (9,753 metres) and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet, officials said earlier. Pilots and aviation experts said thunderstorms, and requests to gain altitude to avoid them, were not unusual in that area.
... Online discussion among pilots has centred on unconfirmed secondary radar data from Malaysia that suggested the aircraft was climbing at a speed of 353 knots, about 100 knots too slow, and that it might have stalled.
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By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-a-chill-pill department
An anonymous reader writes: If you live in a developed nation, you're probably pretty warm throughout most of the day. Enclosed spaces, thick clothing, and heating devices do a good job to keep the cold away. But this hasn't been the case for most of human history. Even in warmer climates, humans often had to deal with chilly nights and tough winters. That's where our metabolic system evolved, and now people are doing research to figure out if that's a better natural state for maintaining our health.
One recent study found that "when people cool their bedrooms from 75 degrees to 66 degrees, they gain brown fat, the metabolically active fat that burns calories to generate heat." Another showed that "even after controlling for diet, lifestyle, and other factors, people who live in warmer parts of Spain are more likely to be obese than people who live in the cooler parts." The article talks about people letting their house temperatures drop into the 50s and wearing ice vests during the day, all in the name of further research.Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's champions-who-cannot-wear-belts department
An anonymous reader writes: The 7th Thoresen Chess Engines Competition (TCEC) has ended, and a new victor has been crowned: Komodo. The article provides some background on how the different competitive chess engines have been developed, and how we can expect Moore's Law to affect computer dominance in other complex games in the future.
"Although it is coming on 18 years since Deep Blue beat Kasparov, humans are still barely fending off computers at shogi, while we retain some breathing room at Go. ... Ten years ago, each doubling of speed was thought to add 50 Elo points to strength. Now the estimate is closer to 30. Under the double-in-2-years version of Moore's Law, using an average of 50 Elo gained per doubling since Kasparov was beaten, one gets 450 Elo over 18 years, which again checks out. To be sure, the gains in computer chess have come from better algorithms, not just speed, and include nonlinear jumps, so Go should not count on a cushion of (25 – 14)*9 = 99 years."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's race-to-zero department
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon is now offering an ebook subscription service — $9.99/month gets you access to 700,000 titles, both self-published and traditionally published. The funds are gathered together, Amazon takes its cut, and the rest is divided up based on how many times a given book was read.
Some authors like it, and some don't, but John Scalzi pointed out that this business model is notable for being different from how the writing industry has worked in the past: "[T]he thing to actively dislike about the Kindle Unlimited 'payment from a pot' plan is the fact that it and any other plan like it absolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game. In traditional publishing, your success as an author does not limit my success — the potential pool of money is so large as to be effectively unlimited, and one's payment is independent of any other purchase a consumer might make, or what any other reader might read.
In the traditional publishing model, it's in my interest to encourage readers to read other authors, because people who read more buy more books — the proverbial tide lifts all boats. In the Kindle Unlimited model, the more authors you and everyone else reads, the less I can potentially earn. And ultimately, there's a cap on how much I can earn — a cap imposed by Amazon, or whoever else is in charge of the 'pot.'"Read Replies (0)
Quake On an Oscilloscope
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '14 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rocket-jump-with-an-electromagnet department
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Pekka Väänänen has posted a fascinating report on how he got Quake running on an oscilloscope (video link). Obviously, the graphic details gets stripped down to basic lines, but even then, you need to cull any useless or unseen geometry to make things run smoothly. He says, "To cull the duplicates a <tt>std::unordered_set</tt> of the C++ standard library is used. The indices of the triangle edges are saved in pairs, packed in a single <tt>uint64_t</tt>, the lower index being first. The set is cleared between each object, so the same line could still be drawn twice or more if the same vertices are stored in different meshes. Before saving a line for end-of-the-frame-submit, its indices in the mesh are checked against the set, and discarded if already saved this frame. At the end of each frame all saved lines are checked against the depth buffer of the rendered scene. If a line lies completely behind the depth buffer, it can be safely discarded because it shouldn't be visible."Read Replies (0)