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Oculus Rift Raises Another $16 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
Craefter writes "It seems that the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset caught the attention of investors after its showing at E3 this year. Spark Capital and Matrix Partners were able to push $16 million at Oculus VR in the hopes that the product will live up to the hype. The HD unit looks a bit more slick than the ski-goggles-with-a-tablet-glued-to-it prototype, but the device would look even more appealing if the next-gen consoles would commit to supporting it. (We all know how well the PS3's 'wave-stick' did as an afterthought.) That said, major titles like the 9-year-old Half-Life 2 and the 6-year-old Team Fortress 2 are getting full support for the device. Hopefully some developers are looking into support for the Oculus Rift as a launch feature, rather than an addition years after the fact. IA bit like the EAX standard from Soundblaster. That worked out well too."

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KWin Maintainer: Fanboys and Trolls Are the Cancer Killing Free Software
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also:-language-arguments,-phone-debates,-console-wars department:
An anonymous reader writes "Martin Gräßlin, maintainer of the KWin window manager, writes an informative blog post about his experiences with the less favorable pockets of the Free Software community. Quoting: 'Years ago I had a clear political opinion. I was a civil-rights activist. I appreciated freedom and anything limiting freedom was a problem to me. Freedom of speech was one of the most important rights for me. I thought that democracy has to be able to survive radical or insulting opinions. In a democracy any opinion should have a right even if it's against democracy. I had been a member of the lawsuit against data preservation in Germany. I supported the German Pirate Party during the last election campaign because of a new censorship law. That I became a KDE developer is clearly linked to the fact that it is a free software community. But over the last years my opinion changed. Nowadays I think that not every opinion needs to be tolerated. I find it completely acceptable to censor certain comments and encourage others to censor, too. What was able to change my opinion in such a radical way? After all I still consider civil rights as extremely important. The answer is simple: Fanboys and trolls.'"

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Google Files First Amendment Challenge Against FISA Gag Order
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's straight-to-the-top department:
The Washington Post reports that Google has filed a motion challenging the gag orders preventing it from disclosing information about the data requests it receives from government agencies. The motion cites the free speech protections of the First Amendment. "FISA court data requests typically are known only to small numbers of a company’s employees. Discussing the requests openly, either within or beyond the walls of an involved company, can violate federal law." From the filing (PDF): "On June 6, 2013, The Guardian newspaper published a story mischaracterizing the scope and nature of Google's receipt of and compliance with foreign intelligence surveillance requests. ... In light of the intense public interest generated by The Guardian's and Post's erroneous articles, and others that have followed them, Google seeks to increase its transparency with users and the public regarding its receipt of national security requests, if any. ... Google's reputation and business has been harmed by the false or misleading reports in the media, and Google's users are concerned by the allegation. Google must respond to such claims with more than generalities. ... In particular, Google seeks a declaratory judgment that Google as a right under the First Amendment to publish ... two aggregate unclassified numbers: (1) the total number of FISA requests it receives, if any; and (2) the total number of users or accounts encompassed within such requests."

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Microsoft To Start Dumping Surface RT To Schools For $199
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's use-them-to-play-oregon-trail department:
onyxruby writes "In a move that will remind many of Apple in the '80s, Microsoft is going to start dumping Surface RT computers to educational institutions. In an effort to try to gain mindshare for their struggling Surface RT platform, Microsoft is giving away 10,000 Surface RTs to teachers through the International Society for Technology in Education. They're also preparing to offer $199 Surface RTs to K12 and higher education institutions. The strategy of flooding the educational market was quite successful for Apple. Unfortunately for Microsoft, today's computers require management and the Surface RT presents significant management challenges in terms of the inability to join the computer to a domain or available management tools."

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With an Eye Toward Disaster, NYC Debuts Solar Charging Stations
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-always-sunny-in-new-york-city department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "When hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City last fall, it left a sizable percentage of the metropolis without electricity. Residents had trouble keeping their phones and tablets charged, and often walked across whole neighborhoods to reach zones with power. Come the next disaster, at least a few citizens could communicate a little easier thanks to 25 solar-powered charging stations going up around the city. The stations—known as 'Street Charge' — are the result of a partnership between AT&T, Brooklyn design studio Pensa, and portable solar-power maker Goal Zero (with approval by the city's Parks Department). The first unit will deploy in Brooklyn's Fort Green Park on June 18, followed in short order by others in Union Square, Central Park, the Rockaways, and other locations. Each station incorporates lithium-ion batteries in addition to solar panels; charging a phone to full capacity could take as long as two hours, but the time necessary for a partial charge is much shorter. But a couple of charging stations also won't help very much if half the city is without power: In order to help mitigate the effects of the next hurricane, New York City major Michael Bloomberg has put forward a $20 billion plan for seawalls, levees, and dozens of other improvements. 'Sandy exposed weaknesses in the city's telecommunications infrastructure — including the location of critical facilities in areas that are susceptible to flooding,' reads one section of the plan's accompanying report. The city will harden the system 'by increasing the accountability of telecommunications providers to invest in resiliency and by using new regulatory authority to enable rapid recovery after extreme weather events.'"

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2013 U.S. Wireless Network Tests: AT&T Fastest, Verizon Most Reliable
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 11:31 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tmobile-took-the-'at-least-they're-trying'-prize department:
adeelarshad82 writes "For the fourth year running, PCMag sent drivers out on U.S. roads to test the nation's Fastest Mobile Networks. Using eight identical Samsung phones, the drivers tested out eight separate networks for four major carriers across 30 cities evenly spread across six regions. Using Sensorly's 2013 software, a broad suite of tests were conducted every three minutes: a 'ping' to test network latency, multi-threaded HTTP upload and download tests including separate 'time to first byte' measures, a 4MB single-threaded file download, a 2MB single-threaded file upload, the download of a 1MB Web page with 70 elements, and 100kbps and 500kbps UDP streams designed to simulate streaming media. Nearly 90,000 data cycles later, the data not only revealed the fastest networks (AT&T) and the most consistent (Verizon), but also other interesting points. The tests recorded the fastest download speed (66.11 Mbits/sec) in New Orleans and the best average in Austin (27.25 Mbits/sec), both for AT&T's LTE network. The tests also found T-Mobile's HSPA network to have the worst Average-Time-To-First-Byte, even when compared with AT&T HSPA network. Also according to the tests, Sprint's LTE network didn't even come close to competing with other LTE networks, to the point that in some cities its LTE network speed averaged less than T-Mobile's HSPA network speed."

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How Ubiquitous Autonomous Cars Could Affect Society (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 10:45 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's my-car's-robot-driver-has-more-chrome-than-yours department:
We talked with Peter Wayner about autonomous cars on June 5. He had a lot to say on this topic, to the point where we seem to be doing a whole series of interviews with him because autonomous cars might have a lot of unanticipated effects on our lives and our economy. Heck, Peter has enough to say about driverless cars to fill a book, Future Ride, which we hope he finishes editing soon because we (Tim and Robin) want to read it. While that book is brewing, watch for some thoughts on how autonomous cars (and delivery vans) might affect us in the near future.

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First Particle Comprising Four Quarks Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's odo-is-going-to-be-busy department:
ananyo writes "Physicists have resurrected a particle that may have existed in the first hot moments after the Big Bang. Arcanely called Zc(3900), it is the first confirmed particle made of four quarks, the building blocks of much of the Universe's matter (abstract one, abstract two). Until now, observed particles made of quarks have contained only three quarks (such as protons and neutrons) or two quarks (such as the pions and kaons found in cosmic rays)."

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Jon 'Maddog' Hall On Project Cauã: a Server In Every Highrise
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cafeterias-and-slaughterhouses-too department:
Qedward writes with an excerpt at TechWorld about a new project from
Jon "Maddog" Hall, which is about to launch in Brazil:
"The vision of Project Cauã is to promote more efficient computing following the thin client/server model, while creating up to two million privately-funded high-tech jobs in Brazil, and another three to four million in the rest of Latin America. Hall explained that Sao Paolo in Brazil is the second largest city in the Western Hemisphere and has about twelve times the population density of New York City. As a result, there are a lot of people living and working in very tall buildings. Project Cauã will aim to put a server system in the basement of all of these tall buildings and thin clients throughout the building, so that residents and businesses can run all of their data and applications remotely."

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HFT Nothing To Worry About (at Least In Australia)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's three-crocs-for-a-lorry-of-shrimp-fair-dinkum department:
angry tapir writes "Although software-driven high-frequency trading has got a pretty bad rap (being blamed for the so-called 'Flash Crash' in 2012 for example) Australia's chief financial regulator ASIC says that, in Australia at least, it's not cause for concern. After an in-depth study of HFT in Australian markets, ASIC decided to hold off on previously considered regulatory changes (such as implementing a 'pause' for some small trades)."

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Shapeshifting: Proposal For a New Periodic Table of the Elements
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's settlers-of-catan-eat-your-heart-out department:
First time accepted submitter ramorim writes "In honor of the Chemist Day, celebrated in Brazil on this day June 18, 2013, I publish a proposal for a new Periodic Table of Elements (Original, in Portugese) in a modular spiral-hexagonal model, with continuity and connectivity for all constituent units of the matter. This proposal indeed permits to extrapolate the hypothetical elements of the G-block and H-block in the same model."

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NASA Selects 8 New Astronaut Trainees, Including 4 Women
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bruce-willis-in-the-wheel-well-with-a-pipe-wrench department:
illiteratehack writes "NASA has selected a 39-year-old chief technology officer to become a trainee astronaut. Josh Cassada is the current chief technology officer and co-founder of Quantum Opus, a firm that specialises in photonics. Cassada is one of eight individuals selected by NASA from 6,100 applicants for astronaut training, though what their future mission may be has yet to be revealed."
Of the astronaut trainees selected, four of them are women — a new record.

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UK Town of Ipswich Remodelled As Zelda Level
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's every-legend-needs-a-map department:
cyclomedia writes "Switch Fringe is a relatively new not-for-profit annual music and arts festival in the UK town of Ipswich, and this year's programme features a full page map of the town with details about each venue. Unlike most other maps this one is in the form of a Zelda level. This is in part due to this year's theme "Reimagining Ipswich", that PixelH8 is coming out of semi-retirement to play a gig during the preceedings and possibly due to the fact that the map's designer — The Decibel Kid — spent too much time playing Zelda on a Gameboy Color during the first Web bubble."

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BitCoin Mining, Other Virtual Activity Taxable Under US Law
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's them-as-has-gits department:
chicksdaddy writes "Beware you barrons of BitCoin – you World of Warcraft one-percenters: the long arm of the Internal Revenue Service may soon be reaching into your treasure hoard to extract Uncle Sam's fair share of your virtual wealth. A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on virtual economies finds that many types of transactions in virtual economies – including Bitcoin mining and virtual transactions that result in real-world profit – are likely taxable under current U.S. law, but that the IRS does a poor job of tracking such business activity and informing buyers and sellers of their duty to pay taxes on virtual earnings. The report, 'Virtual Economies and Currencies: Additional IRS Guidance Could Reduce Tax Compliance Risks' found that the growing use of virtual currencies like BitCoin and virtual game currencies warrants the U.S.'s tax collection agency to mitigate the risks. Those include efforts to educate taxpayers and the publication of basic tax reporting requirements for transactions using virtual currencies, The Security Ledger reports."

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ITIF Senior Fellow Claims "America's Broadband Networks Lead the World"
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's att-clearly-breaking-the-curve department:
McGruber writes "In an Op-Ed published in The NY Times, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF.org) Senior Fellow Richard Bennett (http://www.itif.org/people/richard-bennett) claims that 'America's broadband networks lead the world by many measures, and they are improving at a more rapid rate than networks in most developed countries.' Mr. Bennett also says that'"the most critical issue facing American broadband has nothing to do with the quality of our networks; it is our relatively low rates of subscribership.'"

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UnGrounded: British Airways Attempts to Bottle Some Startup Spirit
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's brainstorming-dammit-not-barnstorming department:
theodp writes "Bill Gates already called dibbs on polio, so British Airways had to settle for tackling the 'global misalignment of talent' problem, putting '100 of the most forward-thinking founders, CEOs, venture capitalists, and Silicon Valley game-changers' on a flight from San Francisco to London to 'innovate and collaborate to find an effective solution to this growing global challenge.' UnGroundedThinking.com showcases the winning concepts, which include Advisher (an online community to help foster women in STEM), INIT ('nutritional labels' to disclose products' 'STEM ingredients'), DGTL (rewards young women with fashionable clothes for completing coding challenges), Beacons in a Backpack (solar powered backpacks pre-loaded with videos, multimedia content, and game-powered educational tools that also serve as mobile hotspots for rural/remote areas), Tech21 (STEM education program aimed at 21-years-and-older post-college grads in the workforce), Certify.me (allows STEM talent from across the globe to audition for potential employers via standardized-quality assessments), and STEAM Truck (a mobile dance lab where STEM art installations teach kids that science is fun and valuable). 'This has the feel of Southby [SXSW],' gushed a Google Ventures general partner. "It's a serendipitous occasion. It's about time we presented engineers to kids as role models — not just firefighters, cops, doctors, detectives. Who knows? Maybe The Internship changes that.'"

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TiVo Series 5 Coming This Fall
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's are-there-even-six-bladed-razors-yet? department:
WebGangsta writes "The rumor mill continues to grow closer and closer to reality, as The Verge is reporting the upcoming SERIES 5 TiVo will have 6 tuners, support OTA recording (an old TiVo feature being brought back), storage beyond the 2TB limit, and more. While some would say that TiVo today is nothing more than a Patent Holder (albeit a successful one), there's still a market for a cable box that doubles as a streaming player. Is hardware the future of TiVo, or should they go and just license their software to all? And don't get us started on those 'TiVo Buying Hulu' or 'Apple/Google buying TiVo' rumors... that's a different story for a different day."

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How To Block the NSA From Your Friends List
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 04:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's echo-chamber department:
Atticus Rex writes "The fact that our social networking services are so centralized is a big part of why they fall so easily to government surveillance. It only takes a handful of amoral Zuckerbergs to hand over hundreds of millions of people's data to PRISM. That's why this Slate article makes the case for a mass migration to decentralized, free software social networks, which are much more robust to spying and interference. On top of that, these systems respect your freedom as a software user (or developer), and they're less likely to pepper you with obnoxious advertisements."

On a related note, identi.ca is ditching their Twitter clone platform for pump.io which promises an experience closer to the Facebook news feed. Unfortunately, adoption seems slow since Facebook, Google, et al have an interest in preventing interoperability and it can be lonely on the distributed social network.

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Have We Hit Peak HFT?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '13 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's if-that's-what-you-call-economic-collapse department:
CowboyRobot writes "There was a time when people wanted the fastest networks so that they could trade at lightning speeds. They deployed the smartest formulas at trading venues where no one could know who was asking for that big block of stocks on the other end of the deal. It was a wild time and people made a lot of money along with some very unwise decisions. Wall Street seems to be acting out the lyrics to a Don Henley song. The party's over, the hangover is raging and no one really knows what happened the night before. The number of shares traded via high-frequency trading are down and politicians want to roll out a tax to serve as a speed bump. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin and Oregon Representative Peter DeFazio want a .03 percent tax on nearly every trade in nearly every market in the U.S.. Some are wondering if microsecond dealings are poised to fade away. As the founder of HFT firm Tower Research Capital Mark Gorton puts it, 'The easy money's gone. We're doing more things better than ever before and making less money doing it.'"

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Intel Announces New Enterprise Xeons, More Powerful Xeon Phi Cards
Posted by News Fetcher on June 17 '13 at 11:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's send-me-ten department:
MojoKid writes "Intel announced a set of new enterprise products today aimed at furthering its strengths in the TOP500 supercomputing market. As of today, the Chinese Tiahne-2 supercomputer (aka Milky Way 2) is now the fastest supercomputer on the planet at roughly ~54PFLOPs. Intel is putting its own major push behind heterogeneous computing with the Tianhe-2. Each node contains two Ivy Bridge sockets and three Xeon Phi cards. Each node, therefore, contains 422.4GFLOP/s in Ivy Bridge performance — but 3.43TFLOPs/s worth of Xeon Phi. In addition, we'll see new Xeons based on this technology later this year, in the 22nm E5-2600 V2 family, with up to 12 cores. The new chips will be built on Ivy Bridge technology and will offer up to 12 cores / 24 threads. The new Xeons, however, aren't really the interesting part of the story. Today, Intel is adding cards to the current Xeon Phi lineup — the 7120P, 3120P, 3120A, and 5120D. The 3120P and 3120A are the same card — the 'P' is passively cooled, while the "A" integrates a fan. Both of these solutions have 57 CPUs and 6GB of RAM. Intel states that they offer ~1TFLOP of performance, which puts them on par with the 5110P that launched last year, but with slightly less memory and presumably a lower price point. At the top of the line, Intel is introducing the 7120P and 7120X — the 7120P comes with an integrated heat spreader, the 7120X doesn't. Clock speeds are higher on this card, it has 61 cores instead of 60, 16GB of GDDR5, and 352GBps of memory bandwidth. Customers who need lots of cores and not much RAM can opt for one of the cheaper 3100 cards, while the 7100 family allows for much greater data sets."

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