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After Legal Fight, NCI Researchers Publish Study Linking Diesel Exhaust, Cancer
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's the-truth-will-out department:
ananyo writes "A landmark study involving U.S. miners that links cancer rates to diesel fume exposure has been published after a seventeen-year legal battle with an industry group. A February 27 Slashdot story had reported that lawyers for the mining industry had sent threatening letters to scientific journals advising them against publishing the study. Initiated in 1998, after the first of many legal delays, the study analyzed exposures in detail for more than 12,000 workers while controlling for smoking and other risk factors. In the end, the scientists found that miners faced a threefold risk of lethal lung cancer, and underground workers who were heavily exposed to diesel fumes faced a fivefold risk. The two concluding papers from the study are available in full."

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The Worst Job In the Digital World
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 05:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nobody-should-be-the-internet's-filter-mechanism department:
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports on one of the worst jobs in the digital world — moderating photos and posts on Facebook and other social networking sites flagged as unsuitable by other users. Last year Amine Derkaoui, a 21-year-old Moroccan man, spent a few weeks training to screen illicit Facebook content through an outsourcing firm, for which he was paid $1 an hour. 'It must be the worst salary paid by Facebook,' says Derkaoui. 'And the job itself was very upsetting – no one likes to see a human cut into pieces every day.' Other moderators, mainly young, well-educated people working in Asia, Africa and Central America, have similar stories. 'Paedophilia, necrophilia, beheadings, suicides, etc,' says one. 'I left [because] I value my sanity.' Facebook's one-page cheat sheet lays out exactly what must be confirmed and deleted by the team. Pictures of naked private parts, drugs (apart from marijuana) and sexual activity (apart from foreplay) are all banned. Once something is reported by a user, the moderator sitting at his computer in Morocco or Mexico has three options: delete it; ignore it; or escalate it, which refers it back to a Facebook employee in California who will, if necessary, report it to the authorities. Emma Barnett adds that although this invisible army of moderators receive basic training, they work from home, do not appear to undergo criminal checks, and have worrying access to users' personal details. 'Maybe disgruntled commuters, old schoolfriends and new mothers will think twice before sharing intimate information with their "friends" – only to find that two minutes later it's being viewed by an under-vetted, unfulfilled person on a dollar an hour in an internet café in Marrakech.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Do Kids Still Take Interest In Programming For Its Own Sake?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's too-hip-to-be-cool department:
nirgle writes "I have been wondering lately if there are any kids interested in programming for its own sake anymore. When I was my nephew's age, computers were still fascinating: There wasn't a laptop on every table, facebook wasn't splattered on every screen, and you couldn't get any question answered in just a couple seconds with Google. When I was 10, I would have done anything for a close programming mentor instead of the 5-foot high stack of books that I had to read cover-to-cover on my own. So I was happy when my nephew started asking about learning to do what "Uncle Jay does." Does the responsibility now shift to us to kindle early fires in computer science, or is programming now just another profession for the educational system to manage?"
Another reader pointed out a related post on the Invent with Python blog titled "Nobody wants to learn how to program."

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MIT App Inventor Back Online
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 11:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's getting-the-band-back-together department:
mikejuk writes "If you have been missing App Inventor, you'll be relieved to learn that it is now available again — albeit still in beta. After two months, MIT has managed to open the beta program and users can once again create App Inventor Android programs. However, you still need a Google ID to sign in, and among the known issues is the problem that MIT App Inventor cannot load projects that are as large as those supported by the Google version. It also reports that some projects have loaded with missing blocks. While the world seems to be intent on making a fuss about the educational impact of cheap hardware like Raspberry Pi, really valuable tools that could produce a new generation of programmers such as App Inventor don't seem to get the headlines or the concern due when they go missing for months."

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AMD Confirms CPU Bug Found By DragonFly BSD's Matt Dillon
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-not-me-it's-you department:
An anonymous reader writes "Matt Dillon of DragonFly BSD just announced that AMD confirmed a CPU bug he found. Matt quotes part of the mail exchange and it looks like 'consecutive back-to-back pops and (near) return instructions can create a condition where the processor incorrectly updates the stack pointer.' The specific manifestations in DragonFly were random segmentation faults under heavy load."

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Redheads Feel Pain Differently Than the Rest of Us
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-redheads-were-harmed-in-the-posting-of-this-story department:
schwit1 writes "If you think redheads are inherently different, well, you'd be right; they're better than you. In fact, they have a higher pain threshold than most of us, and can handle spicier food, too. It turns out that gingers are less sensitive to stinging pain in the skin, according to researchers who injected capsicum, the active ingredient in chilies, into the arms of patients. Professor Lars Arendt-Nielsen, one of the researchers, said, 'Our tests showed that redheads are less sensitive to this particular type of pain. They react less to pressure close to the injected area, or to a pinprick. They seem to be a bit better protected, and that is a really interesting finding.' The finding also means redheads can handle spicier food, reports Science Nordic. It lends some scientific weight to previous suggestions that gingers have a different pain response to the rest of, which were even investigated by MythBusters."

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Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-all-those-bits-sound-so-good department:
An anonymous reader writes "A recent post at Xiph.org provides a long and incredibly detailed explanation of why 24-bit/192kHz music downloads — touted as being of 'uncompromised studio quality' — don't make any sense. The post walks us through some of the basics of ear anatomy, sampling rates, and listening tests, finally concluding that lossless formats and a decent pair of headphones will do a lot more for your audio enjoyment than 24/192 recordings. 'Why push back against 24/192? Because it's a solution to a problem that doesn't exist, a business model based on willful ignorance and scamming people. The more that pseudoscience goes unchecked in the world at large, the harder it is for truth to overcome truthiness... even if this is a small and relatively insignificant example.'"

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App Turns Tablet Into Math Aid For Visually Impaired Students
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 06:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shaking-things-up department:
Science_afficionado writes "An engineering grad student at Vanderbilt has developed an app for Android tablets equipped with haptic feedback that turns them into a valuable tool for teaching mathematics and other STEM subjects to visually impaired students. 'Gorlewicz has programmed these tablets so they vibrate or generate a specific tone when the student’s fingertip touches a line, curve or shape displayed on the screen. The devices can generate vibrations with a number of different frequencies and hundreds of different sounds. This allows Gorlewicz to assign different tactile or audio signals to different features. For example, in an exercise that includes an X-Y grid, she can set the horizontal and vertical lines to vibrate at different frequencies and set points to make a certain tone. In this way, it’s easier for the students to distinguish between the gridlines and the points on the grid.'"

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Google's Rules of Acquisition
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's once-you-have-their-money-you-never-give-it-back department:
waderoush writes "For many startup entrepreneurs, getting acquired by Google is the dream exit. But these days Google is getting a lot more discriminating about what kinds of companies it buys — and a lot more careful about how it integrates newly acquired teams. This article offers an in-depth look at how Google achieves a two-thirds success rate with acquisitions, and why things still occasionally go south. 'The return on our acquisition dollars has been extraordinary,' says vice president of business development David Lawee, Google's M&A czar. But Google insiders say it still takes a lot of work to make sure acquired startups go the way of Android (the mobile operating system, acquired in 2005) and not Aardvark (the social search site, acquired in 2010 and shut down in 2011)."

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Spider Silk Spun Into Violin Strings
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's peter-parker-in-concert department:
jones_supa writes "A Japanese researcher wanted to see how spider silk would convert to strings of a violin. Dr. Shigeyoshi Osaki of Nara Medical University used 300 female Nephila maculata spiders to provide the dragline silk. For each string, Osaki twisted thousands of individual strands of silk in one direction to form a bundle. The strings were then prepared from three of these bundles twisted together in the opposite direction. The final product withstood less tension before breaking than a traditional gut string, but more than an aluminum-coated, nylon-core string. This kind of spider-string is described as having a 'soft and profound timbre.'"

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Building a Case For Telecommuting
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's where-did-my-robot-avatar-go department:
Esther Schindler writes "Many of us geeks prefer to work at home without distractions, but a lot of bosses still believe that if they don't see you, you must be lolling about, eating bon-bons and playing Angry Birds. 'There may be many reasons a manager is distrustful of telecommuting but the phenomenon of what Albiero calls "presentism"—that is, only trusting and rewarding the folks you see at their computer is a major factor.' So it may be of some use to read through the research compiled by Diann Daniel that says telecommuting creates happier and more productive employees (which naturally include fewer distractions and better work-life balance), and an accompanying infographic showing the environmental benefits from reduced commuting. She follows it up with suggestions on how managers can mentor and support teleworkers. Some of this is general advice, but some of the tips are more specific: 'It may seem like a lot more work—all this up-front addressing of communication issues that happen far more naturally in the office—but the upside is increased efficiency. Albiero sees this especially in the area of meetings. He speaks of one client who has now instituted a meeting format that is structured to allow for the first five minutes of all meetings to be "small-talk minutes." Thus, everyone knows they needn't call in for those minutes unless they want to join."

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AMD Gives Up Its Share In GlobalFoundries
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's letting-the-chips-fall-where-they-may department:
MrSeb writes "Three years ago today, AMD spun off its fab division, in a move the company claimed would allow it to more effectively leverage its assets, inject new capital into the foundry side of the business, and make it more competitive vis-à-vis Chipzilla. Today, that dream is dead. AMD announced today that it would give up its 8.8% equity stake in the company. When AMD created GlobalFoundries in 2009, the company held a 34.2% share in the foundry. The main thing that AMD gains from this deal is manufacturing flexibility. Previously, Sunnyvale had agreed to manufacture 28nm APUs solely with GlobalFoundries. This new agreement voids that arrangement, freeing AMD to work with TSMC and other foundries.. It's not an agreement that came cheap, though — not only is AMD giving up its 8.8% equity share of GF, it's agreed to pay the manufacturer some $425 million by the end of Q1 2013. AMD will take a $703M charge against the transaction. It's unclear how this move will pan out. We know AMD killed Krishna/Wichita due to manufacturing problems, Llano limped along for most of 2011, and GF's problems at 32nm impacted AMD's ability to sell 45nm chips into the channel. From a macroeconomic perspective, AMD is simply transferring its business to a foundry partner that's more able to meet its needs. One could argue that AMD's decision to get out of the foundry business is a logical extension of new-CEO Rory Read's plan to de-emphasize cutting-edge silicon in favor of SoCs. Time will tell."

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DARPA-Funded 'Cheetah' Breaks Speed Record For Legged Robots
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's enjoy-your-nightmares-tonight department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Boston Dynamics, a Waltham, Massachusetts technology firm and DARPA contractor, announced Monday that it's broken the speed record for running, legged robots. Its new four-legged creation is Cheetah, a robot that can run at 18 miles an hour, far faster than the 13.1 miles per hour record set by MIT in 1989. The video it's released shows Cheetah running on a treadmill, but the company hopes to both increase the robot's speed and take it onto outdoor terrain in the near future. Boston Dynamics rose to fame with its four-legged cargo robot Big Dog which showed an uncanny ability to walk over terrain and recover its footing even when it slips or is kicked. The firm followed up with Petman, a two-legged prototype that applies the same technology to human-style walking."

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The Fallout From a Flickr DMCA Takedown
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's potholes-on-the-information-superhighway department:
Maddog Batty writes "Dave Gorman, UK comic and Flickr user, recently received a DMCA takedown notice for one of his own pictures which had become rather popular — 160,000 views + lots of comments. The takedown was in error (from a porn company) and Flickr allowed him to repost the image. However, the fallout is that all the original comments are now lost and the many links to the original picture are now broken. Sure, Flickr needed to remove the image, but shouldn't there be a way to reinstate it while keeping all the original comments and links?"

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Next-gen Game Controllers Tug At Thumb Tips
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's strict-catch-and-release-policy department:
An anonymous reader writes "Engineers at the University of Utah have designed a new kind of video game controller that not only vibrates like existing devices, but pulls and stretches the thumb tips in different directions to simulate various types of movement. 'We have developed feedback modes that enhance immersiveness and realism for gaming scenarios such as collision, recoil from a gun, the feeling of being pushed by ocean waves or crawling prone in a first-person shooter game,' said the lead researcher on the project, adding he hoped the technology would be adopted in the next generation of gaming consoles."

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Cloud To Create 14 Million Jobs? Not So Much
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's buzzwords-don't-get-silver-linings department:
jfruh writes "Did you hear about the study from Microsoft and IDC (PDF), declaring that adoption of cloud technologies would create 14 million jobs? Well, don't believe the hype. The study posts that, once small and medium business can use cloud products to just eliminate their IT department, they'll use those savings to hire people for their core business. It's a dubious proposition, and one that wouldn't be good news for IT workers even if things do play out that way."

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Precise W Boson Mass Measurement Helps Lead the Way To the Higgs Boson
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's over-the-river-and-through-the-woods department:
New submitter SchrodingerZ writes "'The world's most precise measurement of the mass of the W Boson, one of nature's elementary particles, has been achieved by scientists from the CDF and DZero collaborations at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.' This new number (80387 +- 17 MeV/c^2) puts more constraint on the mass of the theorized Higgs Boson, which is theorized to give mass to all other things, supporting the standard model. 'Scientists employ two techniques to find the hiding place of the Higgs particle: the direct production of Higgs particles and precision measurements of other particles and forces that could be influenced by the existence of a Higgs particle.'"

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Rob Malda (CmdrTaco) Joins the Washington Post
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that-name-sounds-familiar department:
kodiaktau writes "Slashdot founder and long time cat herder Rob Malda joins the Washington Post per an announcement today. According to the press release, he will be the Chief Strategist and Editor-at-Large working for WaPo Labs."
Rob has a more detailed description of the job on his blog: "Don Graham is trying to accomplish something that is a bit of a cliche these days: A startup inside an established corporation. A group that can exist at a nexus between newspapers, websites, cable networks, and TV stations and think about the big picture and the future without the normal burdens associated with a business operating at a large scale. ... They are actively iterating and experimenting in many directions, with strong support from the top of the organization. ... Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli assures me that I'll also be working with the newsroom where I can contribute words, ideas, and tools that will improve the experience of the journalists doing work that I personally believe transcends the bottom line."

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Canadian Music Industry Wants Subscriber Disclosure Without Court Oversight
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they-get-cranky-when-the-leafs-lose department:
An anonymous reader writes "The incredible demands of the Canadian music industry as it seeks a massive overhaul of Canadian copyright law continues. It is seeking increased liability for social networking sites, search engines, blogging platforms, video sites, and many other websites featuring third party contributions, plus a new iPod tax, and an extension in the term of copyright. Last week, it went further, demanding a requirement for Internet providers to disclose customer name and address information to copyright owners without court oversight as well as takedowns with no due process and unlimited statutory damages."

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Smartphones More Dangerous Than Alcohol, When Driving
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '12 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mothers-against-tweeting-while-driving department:
judgecorp writes "The Institute of Advanced Motorists in the UK has carried out live tests which prove that using smartphones impairs driving ability more than drug or alcohol use, making reaction times 37.6 percent slower (PDF). The result is a big concern since a quarter of drivers admit to sending texts from their phones while driving. 'Young people have grown up with smartphones and using them is part of everyday life. But more work needs to be done by the government and social network providers to show young people that they are risking their lives and the lives of others if they use their smartphones while driving.'"

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