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Software Engineers Are the Heroes of New Computer History Museum Exhibit
Posted by News Fetcher on January 27 '17 at 02:41 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-the-world department:
Tekla Perry writes: The Computer History Museum set out to turn the spotlight on software engineers and show how they are the changing the world. But what projects to feature in the new, permanent exhibit [called "Make Software: Change the World!"] (that opens to the public this Saturday, January 28th)? The curators whittled a list of 100 technologies that owe their existence to breakthroughs in software down to seven: Photoshop, the MP3, the MRI, car crash simulation, Wikipedia, texting, and World of Warcraft. They expect these choices to be debated at length, in particular, World of Warcraft, but hope the exhibition elevates the prominence of software engineers and gets more than a few middle schoolers talking about targeting their career plans in that direction.

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New, Higher Measurement of Universe's Expansion May Lead To a 'New Physics'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's faster-than-expected-expansion department:
doug141 writes: Astronomers have measured the universe's current expansion rate (a value known as the Hubble constant) at about 44.7 miles (71.9 kilometers) per second per megaparsec (3.26 million light-years). This is consistent with a calculation that was announced last year by a research team, but it's considerably higher than the rate that was estimated by the European Space Agency's Planck satellite mission in 2015 -- about 41.6 miles (66.9 km) per second per megaparsec. The cause of this discrepancy is unclear. "The expansion rate of the universe is now starting to be measured in different ways with such high precision that actual discrepancies may possibly point towards new physics beyond our current knowledge of the universe," a researcher said. Mike Wall writes via Space.com: "The differences in the Hubble constant estimates may reflect something that astronomers don't understand about the early universe, or something that has changed since that long-ago epoch, scientists have said. For example, it's possible that dark energy -- the mysterious force that's thought to be driving the universe's accelerating expansion -- has grown in strength over the eons, members of Riess' team said last year. The discrepancy could also indicate that dark matter -- the strange, invisible stuff that astronomers think vastly outweighs 'normal' matter throughout the universe -- has as-yet-unappreciated characteristics, or that Einstein's theory of gravity has some holes, they added."

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New York Approves Largest US Offshore Wind Farm Off Long Island
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 09:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's renewable-energy department:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved what will be the longest U.S. offshore wind farm when it's built off the east end of Long Island. When it's all said and done, it will generate enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes on Long Island's South Fork. Computerworld reports: The South Fork Wind Farm will consist of 15 wind turbines with 90 megawatts (MW) of capacity. While the project still needs to complete its permitting process, construction could start as early as 2019 and it may be operational as early as 2022. The approval of the South Fork Wind Farm, to be located 30 miles southeast of Montauk, is the first step toward developing 1,000 megawatts (1 gigawatt) of offshore wind power, Cuomo said in a statement. The wind farm approval comes two weeks after Cuomo's State of the State Address, during which he called for the development of 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. The 2.4 gigawatt target, which is enough power generation for 1.25 million homes, is the largest commitment to offshore wind energy in U.S. history, Cuomo said. Cuomo wants New York state to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. The nation's first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, went live last month. Both the Block Island and South Fork wind farms are owned by Deepwater Wind, a company based in Providence, R.I.

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Scientists Finally Turn Hydrogen Into a Metal, Ending a 80-Year Quest
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gas-to-a-solid department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In 1935, scientists predicted that the simplest element, hydrogen, could also become metallic under pressure, and they calculated that it would take 25 GigaPascals to force this transition (each Gigapascal is about 10,000 atmospheres of pressure). That estimate, in the words of the people who have finally made metallic hydrogen, "was way off." It took until last year for us to reach pressures where the normal form of hydrogen started breaking down into individual atoms -- at 380 GigaPascals. Now, a pair of Harvard researchers has upped the pressure quite a bit more, and they have finally made hydrogen into a metal. All of these high-pressure studies rely on what are called diamond anvils. This hardware places small samples between two diamonds, which are hard enough to stand up to extreme pressure. As the diamonds are forced together, the pressure keeps going up. Current calculations suggested that metallic hydrogen might require just a slight boost in pressure from the earlier work, at pressures as low as 400 GigaPascals. But the researchers behind the new work, Ranga Dias and Isaac Silvera, discovered it needed quite a bit more than that. In making that discovery, they also came to a separate realization: normal diamonds weren't up to the task. "Diamond failure," they note, "is the principal limitation for achieving the required pressures to observe SMH," where SMH means "solid metallic hydrogen" rather than "shaking my head." The team came up with some ideas about what might be causing the diamonds to fail and corrected them. One possibility was surface defects, so they etched all diamonds down by five microns to eliminate these. Another problem may be that hydrogen under pressure could be forced into the diamond itself, weakening it. So they cooled the hydrogen to slow diffusion and added material to the anvil that absorbed free hydrogen. Shining lasers through the diamond seemed to trigger failures, so they switched to other sources of light to probe the sample. After loading the sample and cranking up the pressure (literally -- they turned a handcrank), they witnessed hydrogen's breakdown at high pressure, which converted it from a clear sample to a black substance, as had been described previously. But then, somewhere between 465 and 495 GigaPascals, the sample turned reflective, a key feature of metals The study has been published in the journal Science.

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New York Okays Largest US Offshore Wind Farm Off Long Island
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's renewable-energy department:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved what will be the longest U.S. offshore wind farm when it's built off the east end of Long Island. When it's all said and done, it will generate enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes on Long Island's South Fork. Computerworld reports: The South Fork Wind Farm will consist of 15 wind turbines with 90 megawatts (MW) of capacity. While the project still needs to complete its permitting process, construction could start as early as 2019 and it may be operational as early as 2022. The approval of the South Fork Wind Farm, to be located 30 miles southeast of Montauk, is the first step toward developing 1,000 megawatts (1 gigawatt) of offshore wind power, Cuomo said in a statement. The wind farm approval comes two weeks after Cuomo's State of the State Address, during which he called for the development of 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. The 2.4 gigawatt target, which is enough power generation for 1.25 million homes, is the largest commitment to offshore wind energy in U.S. history, Cuomo said. Cuomo wants New York state to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. The nation's first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, went live last month. Both the Block Island and South Fork wind farms are owned by Deepwater Wind, a company based in Providence, R.I.

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Google's Pixel 2 To Feature Improved Camera, CPU and Higher Price, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 04:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-to-expect department:
Google's Pixel smartphone was released in October last year, but we're already starting to hear about the "Pixel 2" successor. The "reliable" source told 9to5Google that the next Google flagship will feature an improved camera, faster CPU and higher price tag. Interestingly, the source notes a "budget" Pixel is in the works. 9to5Google reports: We're also now being told, however, that Google is once again focusing intensely on the camera with Pixel 2, that the device is currently being tested with improved chipsets from two different manufacturers, and that it will bring a higher price. Finally, the same source says Google has lately been testing lower-end Pixel devices which would bring lesser specs and a much lower price tag. As for waterproofing, this is a slight change in tone today from this same source that before told us the feature would "definitely" be coming with the next Pixel. Now we're told that the feature is "still on the table," which would suggest a less firm position from Google on the feature. More interestingly, we're now told that -- just like with last year's model -- the Pixel 2's camera will be a major focus for the Mountain View company. Our source says that, specifically, Google is aiming to master low light photography with the next-generation device. We're further told that the phone's camera will "not have large MP size," but will rather "compensate in extra features." Our source says that multiple Pixel 2 models are being tested now with improved chipsets: "some with Snapdragon 83X chips, others with Intel chips." We're also told that MediaTek was at one point collaborating with Google on the Pixel 2, but isn't any longer. Finally, our source has indicated to us that Google is internally testing a "few" prototypes of a device they referred to as "Pixel 2B" which would purportedly be released either "alongside or shortly after Pixel 2." This phone would bring with it a lower-price point and less powerful hardware, and would be "aimed at different markets," our source says. As for the price of the next Pixel, we're told that -- as of the time of this writing at least -- Google is expecting that there will be "eat least" a $50 USD increase in price.

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Breach Notification Website LeakedSource Allegedly Raided By Feds
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 04:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's source-of-the-leak department:
Breach notification service LeakedSource may be permanently shut down after the owner of the site was raided earlier this week. "At the start of the new year, LeakedSource indexed more than 3 billion records," reports CSO Online. "Their collection is the result of information sharing between a number of sources, including those who hacked the data themselves. Access to the full archive requires a membership fee." From the report: On the OGFlip forum Thursday, a user posted vague details about the LeakedSource raid, but Salted Hash has been unable to verify the claims. The U.S. Department of Justice will not comment, refusing to confirm or deny any investigations related to LeakedSource. The operators of the notification service itself have been offline for several days, and the LeakedSource website stopped working late Tuesday evening. The message from OGF reads as follows: âoeLeakedsource is down forever and won't be coming back. Owner raided early this morning. Wasn't arrested, but all SSD's got taken, and Leakedsource servers got subpoena'd and placed under federal investigation. If somehow he recovers from this and launches LS again, then I'll be wrong. But I am not wrong. (sic)"

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Tesla Sues Former Autopilot Executive For Allegedly Stealing Secrets, Poaching Coworkers
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 03:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's chamber-of-secrets department:
Tesla has filed a lawsuit Thursday against its former director of Autopilot Programs, Sterling Anderson, for breach of contract. The company alleges Anderson took proprietary information about the Autopilot program and recruited fellow Tesla employees to work with him at another autonomous driving company. In addition, the lawsuit names the former head of Google's autonomous car project, Chris Urmson, as a defendant, and alleges both executives were attempting to start a company together, called Aurora. CNBC reports: According to TechCrunch, Anderson had acted as Tesla's director of Autopilot Programs for a little over a year. Tesla alleges that Anderson, while still a Tesla employee, pulled "hundreds of gigabytes" of proprietary data from company computers, and installed it on a personal hard drive. Tesla also alleges that Anderson tried to hide his tracks by wiping phones, deleting browser histories, permanently erasing computer files, and even manipulating time stamps on related files, "in an apparent effort to obscure the dates on which they had last been modified or accessed." Tesla also alleges the pair attempted to poach at least 12 other Tesla employees, though they only successfully recruited two. "Automakers have created a get-rich-quick environment. Small teams of programmers with little more than demoware have been bought for as much as a billion dollars. Cruise Automation, a 40-person firm, was purchased by General Motors in July 2016 for nearly $1 billion. In August 2016, Uber acquired Otto, another self-driving startup that had been founded only seven months earlier, in a deal worth more than $680 million," the company said in the suit.

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First Human-Pig 'Chimera' Created in Milestone Study
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 03:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's breakthrough department:
Scientists have created a human-pig hybrid in a milestone study that raises the prospect of being able to grow human organs inside animals for use in transplants. From a report: It marks the first time that embryos combining two large, distantly-related species have been produced. The creation of this so-called chimera -- named after the cross-species beast of Greek mythology -- has been hailed as a significant first step towards generating human hearts, livers and kidneys from scratch. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, who led the work on the part-pig, part-human embryos at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, said: "The ultimate goal is to grow functional and transplantable tissue or organs, but we are far away from that. This is an important first step." The study has reignited ethical concerns that have threatened to overshadow the field's clinical promise. The work inevitably raises the spectre of intelligent animals with humanised brains and also the potential for bizarre hybrid creatures to be accidentally released into the wild. The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) placed a moratorium on funding for the controversial experiments last year while these risks were considered.

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Customer Feedback Surveys Could Be Considered Harmful
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's scratch-beneath-the-surface department:
Longtime Slashdot reader Stunt Pope writes: Customer Feedback surveys are now near-ubiquitous, subjecting us all to near-Black Mirror-esque pursuit to "rate your experience" for everything from going to the bank to ordering a pizza. Thanks to The Curse of Goodhart's Law, all of these surveys are beyond useless and even damaging. Mark Jeftovic writes in a blog post: "The shop/hire-rate-reward feedback loop has become baked-in to some systems. Many live marketplaces incorporate these feedback transactions into ratings, which then become a score which then impacts future prospects of whomever is being rated. And that's where the trouble starts. There is a point where this stops being useful and the knock-on effects of a ratings system predicated on feedback results becomes counter-productive. That point is when the ratings become targets. When a company decrees 'All customer feedback ratings must score a minimum of X, or else...' the company has just commenced the process of invalidating and corrupting all useful information to be gleaned from that feedback/survey process. A label which captures this concept is 'Goodhart's Law' -- after economist Charles Goodhart, who posited in essence that 'when a measure becomes a target, it becomes useless.'"

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Facebook Dumps Personalized 'Trending Topics' After Backlash
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 02:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's personalized-news-for-nerds department:
As the company works to strengthen its reputation as a place for news and curb the spread of misinformation on the site, Facebook announced it has removed the personalized interest-based list of news topics on the right-hand side of your news feed. Now everyone in a geographic region will see the same trending topics. CNET reports: In addition to doing away with the personalized list, there are two other big changes to the trending topics section that will start rolling out today and will take place for everyone in the U.S. "in the coming weeks." First, instead of just seeing a bare-bones topic, like "Saturn" or "X-men," two things that had been trending for me, you'll see a full headline from one of the news stories about that topic. That's the headline that had always popped up when you hovered over the topic. Second, Facebook is changing the way the topics are selected. The topics had been chosen based on how many people on Facebook are engaging with it. With the new changes, Facebook will look at the number of outlets posting stories on a particular topic, and decide its inclusion based on engagement around that group of articles. "This should surface trending topics quicker, be more effective at capturing a broader range of news and events from around the world and also help ensure that topics reflect real world events being covered by multiple news outlets," Will Cathcart, vice president of product management, said in a statement.

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Microsoft Reportedly Working On a 'Lightweight Version of Windows' Known As 'Cloud Shell'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 12:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-with-you department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Neowin: Last week, details emerged of Microsoft's plans to develop a single, unified, 'adaptive shell' for Windows 10. Known as the 'Composable Shell', or CSHELL, the company's efforts were said to be focused on establishing a universal Windows 10 version with a standardized framework to scale and adapt the OS to any type of device, display size or user experience, including smartphones, PCs, tablets, consoles, large touchscreens, and more. Today, Petri reported that Microsoft is working on a new shell for Windows known as 'Cloud Shell'. According to internal documentation referred to in that report, Cloud Shell is described as a "lightweight version of Windows designed for the modern computing world." It also hints at plans to introduce the Cloud Shell sometime in 2017 -- but little else is known about the new shell besides that. Cloud Shell is said to be connected, in some way, with the Windows Store and Universal Windows Platform app framework, and the report speculates that it may also be related to Microsoft's plans to bring the full version of Windows 10 to mobile devices with ARM-based processors, which it announced in December. However, the cloud nomenclature, and the reference to this being a 'lightweight' version of Windows could hint at a 'thin client'-style approach, in which the Windows 10 shell could be streamed from Microsoft's Azure platform to any device with an internet connection, while its cloud servers remotely handle all of the processing and storage requirements of each users' tasks.

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Chrome Now Reloads Pages 28% Faster
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's faster-browsing department:
Google has announced that it has worked with Facebook and Mozilla to make page reloads in Chrome for desktop and mobile significantly faster. According to Google's data, reloading sites with the latest version of Chrome should now be about 28 percent faster. From a report: Typically, when you reload a page, the browser ends up making hundreds of network requests just to see if the images and other resources it cached the first time you went to a site are still valid. As Google engineer Takashi Toyoshima notes in today's announcement, users typically reload pages because they either look broken or because the content looks like it should have been updated (think old-school live blogs). He argues that when browser developers first added this feature, it was mostly because broken pages were common. Today, users mostly reload pages because the content of a site seems stale.

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Twitter Scrambles For Next Big Feature, Bets On Merging Tweets, Hashtags, Moments
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-big-thing department:
Twitter is introducing a long requested feature: A better way to discover people, events and trends.
The company is introducing Explore, a tab that the company says will be a home for the most popular and relevant content on the platform. From a report: In a blog post today, product designer Angela Lam said the addition will house Trends, Moments, Search and live video. "Over the past year, we've been exploring different ways to make it simpler for people to find and use Trends, Moments, and Search," Lam wrote. "During our research process, people told us that the new Explore tab helped them easily find news, what's trending, and what's popular right now." Explore -- which will begin rolling out for iOS today and for Android within the next few weeks -- is similar to what Twitter has been testing with some users a few months back. The news also comes just a few weeks after CEO Jack Dorsey used his own account to crowdsource suggestions for what users think Twitter could do to improve the experience.

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The Doomsday Clock Is Reset: Closest To Midnight Since The 1950s
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's story-of-our-lives department:
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has taken the unprecedented step of moving the Doomsday Clock ahead 30 seconds, taking the world to two-and-a-half-minute to midnight. The scientists said Thursday that several factors weighed heavily in their decision, particularly climate change denial by people in power -- they cited U.S. President Donald Trump -- and talk about more nuclear weapons. From a report on NPR: The setting is the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1953, when scientists moved it to two minutes from midnight after seeing both the U.S. and the Soviet Union test hydrogen bombs. It remained at that mark until 1960. "Make no mistake, this has been a difficult year," Rachel Bronson, executive director and publisher of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, said as the new setting was announced Thursday.

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New Zealand To Bring Ultrafast Internet To 85 Percent Of Population
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Ultrafast broadband is coming to more than another 200,000 homes, but doubts are already being expressed that the expansion of the network isn't quite ambitious enough. From a report: Another 423,000 people will be able get ultrafast broadband (UFB) by the end of 2024 as a result of a long-awaited decision to expand the network. Prime Minister Bill English said UFB would be extended to more than 151 additional towns, on top of the 33 cities that are already getting the service. The expansion will mean UFB will be available to "up to 85 per cent" of the population, up from the 75 per cent coverage that is planned to be delivered by 2020.

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'The Future of Advertising is Fewer, Better Ads'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
For more than a decade, the online advertising world has been dominated by "display ads," served up to consumers alongside web content, search results or social media posts. But they're not the only game in town, one digital ad exec says. From a report: "I think the advertising world going forward is going to be filled with fewer, better ads," Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer said on the latest episode of Recode Media. "The display advertising market is going to crater. By giving away stuff for free for so long, we've created an ad economy that is bigger than it should be," he added. Schafer says there's a untapped value in "nonstandard" ads, meaning branded content and other forms of advertising on platforms such as Snapchat, Musical.ly, WeHeartIt and Imgur.

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Uber Was the Most-Expensed Service, With 6% of all Business Receipts in 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's making-its-way department:
Uber continues to be the transportation service of choice for business travelers, making up 52 percent of all expenses in Q4, according to a study by Certify. From a report: The online travel and expense management service provider today claimed Uber received the majority share of ground transportation, compared to 40 percent the same quarter in 2015. Additionally, the private on-demand ride hailing service was the most expensed service in 2016.

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Apple Set To Join Amazon, Google, Facebook in AI Research Group
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's For-greater-good department:
Apple will take a significant step toward disclosing more of its artificial intelligence research this week by becoming a member of a non-profit AI research consortium founded by five of the tech industry's biggest players, reports Bloomberg. Last September, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and IBM publicly announced The Partnership on AI, an organisation established "to study and formulate best practices, to advance the public's understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society." Apple released its first AI paper to the public last year.

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New Zealand To Bring Ultrafast Internet To 85 Percent Population
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '17 at 07:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Ultrafast broadband is coming to more than another 200,000 homes, but doubts are already being expressed that the expansion of the network isn't quite ambitious enough. From a report: Another 423,000 people will be able get ultrafast broadband (UFB) by the end of 2024 as a result of a long-awaited decision to expand the network. Prime Minister Bill English said UFB would be extended to more than 151 additional towns, on top of the 33 cities that are already getting the service. The expansion will mean UFB will be available to "up to 85 per cent" of the population, up from the 75 per cent coverage that is planned to be delivered by 2020.

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