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Windows 10 For PCs Build 14997 Leaks Online
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '16 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's windows-10-builds department:
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft had last week said that it wouldn't be releasing a new Windows 10 build for insiders on Fast ring this year. But the supposed build has leaked online. The build 14997 contains a few new features, such as a refreshed Settings app, theme support from the Store (you might recall that with 14986, you could download them from the Store, but had to install them manually), a number of Edge improvements such as tab expansion, blue light reduction features, and more. Since it's a leaked build, we would suggest treading carefully before downloading it. You might just want to avoid it until it's available from the official channel.

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Power Surge: Chinese Electric Car Battery Maker Charges For Global Market
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '16 at 06:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's eyeing-global-expansion department:
A dusty village on the outskirts of Ningde, a third-tier city in China's southeast, seems an unlikely place for the headquarters of a potential global leader in future automotive technology. Reuters writes about a promising company from China that is eyeing global expansion. From the article: Yet China's top-down industrial policy diktats - move up the value chain, clean up polluted urban skies, and shift to plug-in cars -- have Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd poised to go from hometown hero to national champion, and beyond. China's answer to Japan's Panasonic Corp and South Korea's LG Chem Ltd has tripled its production capacity for lithium-ion car batteries in the past year to keep up with a surge in China's sales of electric cars. After a second major funding round completed in October, the company's value quadrupled to 80 billion yuan ($11.5 billion), CEO Huang Shilin said last week. CATL, which hopes to list on Beijing's over-the-counter exchange as part of plans to raise at least another 30 billion yuan by 2020, could be a dominant force globally.

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Some Pixels Have Problems
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '16 at 05:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Android-issues department:
An anonymous reader quotes Tech Times:
Pixel owners have so far reported on camera issues, audio issues, LTE band 4 connectivity problems and others, but the random freezing remains among the most persistent ones. While most previous issues have already received a fix, users have been complaining about the Google Pixel or Pixel XL randomly freezing since November and it seems Google has yet to get to the bottom of this. The official Pixel User Community forum has a long thread on the matter and the discussion started a good while back [in early November]...

[U]sers reporting on the Pixel Community Forum run different apps and they haven't found a common denominator just yet, and some don't have any third-party apps at all, further suggesting that the issue might not be caused by a third-party app. On the other hand, some Pixel owners got rid of this issue by uninstalling a third-party app called Live360 Family Locator, but others didn't even have the app installed and still experienced the issues.

Despite the problems, "most Pixel owners thus far have been quite pleased with their device," notes BGR -- though Softpedia also reports on some users complaining about "static and distorted sounds when at the three highest volume levels."

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VidAngel Keeps Streaming Videos, Defying Movie Studios and a US Judge
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '16 at 01:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pirates-of-Salt-Lake-City department:
The Deseret News reports that Hollywood studios "aren't happy with VidAngel, saying in a statement Wednesday that the Utah-based streaming service 'continues to illegally stream our content without a license and is expanding its infringement by adding new titles' despite a judge's recent injunction." Or, as VidAngel explains on their blog, "We say we're legal. Disney says we're pirates." Long-time Slashdot reader goombah99 writes:
VidAngel...will edit any major movie of objectionable content exactly as you request (and no more than you request), then stream it to you for $1. Such bowdlerizing and DVD streaming services are expressly written into section 110 of Title 17, the copyright act (paragraph 11 added in the 2005 Family Viewing act). Therefore both aspects that the studios are suing over, the streaming of a DVD and the editing of it by a third party, is plainly legal... There's a petition to save this act from encroachment [signed by more than 30,000 families].
In just five days in October, VidAngel raised $10.1 million in a "mini-IPO" -- reportedly the fastest one ever -- to fund their ongoing fight against the movie studios. VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon says "We'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. We're happy to pay more. We're happy to rent more. We're happy to pay the prices the studios want us to pay. Just give us filtering."

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After Brexit, More Than 100 Firms May Move To Ireland
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 10:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's London-to-Dublin department:
An anonymous reader quotes The Daily Mirror:

Ireland has said it has received more than 100 inquiries from major firms looking to move from the UK because of Brexit. Martin Shanahan, the chief executive of the Industrial Development Agency, said the bulk of the interest came from banks and financial institutions based in the City of London. He told the Guardian newspaper that Dublin was looking to capitalize on Brexit by wooing firms with its low corporation tax rate and status as the only English speaking country in the EU after the UK leaves the trading bloc... A recent report by accountants PwC said up to 100,000 jobs in the UK financial services sector could be lost if the UK cannot strike a deal on passporting.

The New York Times also reports on the European Medicines Agency -- which oversees approval of drugs across Europe (like America's FDA) from London. The agency believes that relocating to a different country could mean losing up to half its employees, which would majorly impact the licensing and monitoring of prescription drugs for the entire European Union.

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Is Your Internet Connection Free From Bufferbloat?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 08:02 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-Wi-Fi department:
Bufferbloat is that "undesirable latency that comes from a router or other network equipment buffering too much data," according to the site for
an ongoing project trying to address it. Now long-time Slashdot reader mtaht writes:Inside the lede-project, two core new bufferbloat-fighting techniques are poised to enter the linux mainline kernel and thousands of routers -- the first being a fq-codel'd and airtime fair scheduler for wifi, and the second, the new "cake" qdisc, which outperforms fq_codel across the board for shaping inbound and outbound connections.
His submission ends with a question for Slashdot readers. "It's been nearly six years since the start of the bufferbloat project. Have you or has your ISP fixed your bufferbloat yet?"

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You're An Adult, But Your Brain Might Not Be, Researchers Say
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 04:02 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's feeling-like-a-kid department:
"The human brain reaches its adult volume by age 10, but the neurons that make it up continue to change for years after that," reports the New York Times, citing a new paper by neuroscience researchers that questions when "adulthood" really begins. An anonymous reader writes:

One of the paper's authors -- an associate psychology professor at Harvard -- tells CNN that "There is no agreed-on benchmark that, when reached, would allow a neuroscientist to say 'Aha! This brain is fully developed'. However, it is safe to say that by almost any metric, the brain is continuing to develop actively well past the age of 18..."
"Some children, researchers have found, have neural networks that look as if they belong to an adult..." adds the Times, noting that adolescents also "do about as well as adults on cognition tests, for instance. But if they're feeling strong emotions, those scores can plummet. The problem seems to be that teenagers have not yet developed a strong brain system that keeps emotions under control."
And this cuts both ways, according to a psychologist at Temple University who wants the voting age lowered to 16. ("Sixteen-year-olds are just as good at logical reasoning as older people are," he tells the Times) But he also believes judges should consider the lack of emotional control when sentencing defendants -- even if they're in their early 20s. "Most crime situations that young people are involved in are emotionally arousing situations -- they're scared, or they're angry, intoxicated or whatever."

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Facing Layoff, An IT Employee Makes A Bold Counteroffer
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 02:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Bob-Cratchit-vs-Scrooge department:
ComputerWorld reports:
In early December, Carnival Corp. told about 200 IT employees that the company was transferring their work to Capgemini, a large IT outsourcing firm. The employees had a choice: Either agree to take a job with the contractor or leave without severance. The employees had until the week before Christmas to make a decision about their future with the cruise line. By agreeing to a job with Paris-based Capgemini, employees are guaranteed employment for six months, said Roger Frizzell, a Carnival spokesman. "Our expectation is that many will continue to work on our account or placed into other open positions within Capgemini" that go well beyond the six-month period, he said in an email.

Senior IT engineer Matthew Culver told CBS that the requested "knowledge transfer activities" just meant training their own replacements, and "he isn't buying any of it," writes Slashdot reader dcblogs.
"After receiving his offer letter from Capgemini, he sent a counteroffer. It asked for $500,000...and apology letters to all the affected families," signed by the company's CEO. In addition, the letter also demanded a $100,000 donation to any charity that provides services to unemployed American workers. "I appreciate your time and attention to this matter, and I sincerely hope that you can fulfill these terms." And he's also working directly with a lawyer for an advocacy group that aims to "stop the abuse of H-1B and other foreign worker programs."

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FreeDOS 1.2 Is Finally Released
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 01:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's long-term-projects department:
Long-time Slashdot reader Jim Hall -- part of GNOME's board of directors -- has a Christmas gift. Since 1994 he's been overseeing an open source project that maintains a replacement for the MS-DOS operating system, and has just announced the release of the "updated, more modern" FreeDOS 1.2!

[Y]ou'll find a few nice surprises. FreeDOS 1.2 now makes it easier to connect to a network. And you can find more tools and games, and a few graphical desktop options including OpenGEM. But the first thing you'll probably notice is the all-new new installer that makes it much easier to install FreeDOS. And after you install FreeDOS, try the FDIMPLES program to install new programs or to remove any you don't want. Official announcement also available at the FreeDOS Project blog.
FreeDOS also lets you play classic DOS games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem, and Jill of the Jungle -- and today marks a very special occasion, since it's been almost five years since the release of FreeDos 1.1. "If you've followed FreeDOS, you know that we don't have a very fast release cycle," Jim writes on his blog. "We just don't need to; DOS isn't exactly a moving target anymore..."

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Flickering Lights May Illuminate A Path To Alzheimer's Treatment
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 11:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's rays-of-hope department:
Slashdot reader rpavlicek writes, "Research done by MIT late this year has shown that light signals can improve the brain's neuron gamma frequency which can reverse the effects of Alzheimer's disease (by removing brain plaque). Beneficial effects were found in both intercranial and optical stimuli." The Los Angeles Times reports:

New research demonstrates that, in mice whose brains are under attack by Alzheimer's dementia, exposure to lights that flicker at a precise frequency can right the brain's faulty signaling and energize its immune cells to fight off the disease... In mice, these effects were limited to the visual cortex. In humans with Alzheimer's, that's not one of the brain regions that gets gummed up early or significantly by amyloid plaques. But the authors of the new research held out hope that the light therapy might induce gamma oscillations, or their immune-boosting effect, more broadly in human brains, or that some change in delivery of the light might extend its effects to brain regions, such as the hippocampus, that are profoundly affected by Alzheimer's.
A startup has already approached the FDA seeking clinical trials, and the L.A. Times adds that "Even if the new research does not yield a treatment for Alzheimer's, it is expected to deepen understanding of a key player in the disease -- the brain's dedicated immune system -- and point to ways it can be used to fight the disease."

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The Recent Changes In Earth's Magnetic Field
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 10:32 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's speaking-of-the-north-pole department:
Europe's Swarm constellation of satellites have documented bigger-than-expected changes that have been occurring in the Earth's magnetic field. Earlier this year SpaceWeather.com reported that the data show clearly that "the field has weakened by about 3.5% at high latitudes over North America, while it has strengthened about 2% over Asia. The region where the field is at its weakest -- the South Atlantic Anomaly -- has moved steadily westward and weakened further by about 2%. These changes have occurred over the relatively brief period between 1999 and mid-2016." Science writer Robert Zimmerman reports:
It was already known that the field has weakened globally by about 10% since the 19th century. These changes appear to be part of that generally weakening. Some scientists have proposed that this is the beginning of an overall flip of the magnetic field's polarity, something that happens on average about every 300,000 years and last occurred 780,000 years ago. At the moment, however, we have no idea if this theory is correct.

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Did Google.org Steal the Christmas Spirit?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 09:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's feeling-Grinchy department:
Google.org gives nonprofits roughly $100 million each year. But now the Register argues that festive giving "has become a 'Googlicious' sales push." Among other things, The Register criticizes the $30 million in grant funding that Google.org gave this Christmas "to nonprofits to bring phones, tablets, hardware and training to communities that can benefit from them most," some of which utilized the crowdfunding site DonorsChoose (which tacks a fee of at least $30 fee onto every donation). "The most critical learning resources that teachers need are often exercise books, pen and paper, but incentives built into the process steer educators to request and receive Google hardware, rather than humble classroom staples," claims the Register. theodp writes:

[O]ne can't help but wonder if Google.org's decision to award $18,130 to teachers at Timberland Charter Academy for Chromebooks to help make students "become 'Google'licious" while leaving another humbler $399 request from a teacher at the same school for basic school supplies -- pencils, paper, erasers, etc. -- unfunded is more aligned with Google's interests than the Christmas spirit. Google, The Register reminds readers, lowered its 2015 tax bill by $3.6 billion using the old Dutch Sandwich loophole trick, according to new regulatory filings in the Netherlands.

The article even criticizes the "Santa's Village" site at Google.org, which includes games like Code Boogie, plus a game about airport security at the North Pole. Their complaint is its "Season of Giving" game, which invites children to print out and color ornaments that represent charities -- including DonorsChoose.org. The article ends by quoting Slashdot reader theodp ("who documents the influence of Big Tech in education") as saying "Nothing says Christmas fun more than making ornaments to celebrate Google's pet causes..."

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China 'Smart Restaurant' Uses Facial Recognition To Make Meal Suggestions
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 05:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's how-about-chicken department:
An anonymous reader quotes TechCrunch's report about Baidu's newest project:

The search giant sometimes referred to as the 'Google of China' partnered with KFC to open a new "smart restaurant" in Beijing, which employs facial recognition to make recommendations about what customers might order, based on factors like their age, gender and facial expression... image recognition hardware installed at the KFC will scan customer faces, seeking to infer moods, and guess other information including gender an age in order to inform their recommendation... And the setup also has built-in recognition, so if you're a return customer, it can 'remember' what you ordered before and suggest your past favorites.
Baidu has also worked on another KFC restaurant in Shanghai where the orders were taken by a voice-activated robot.

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Voice Is the Next Big Platform, But Amazon Already Owns It
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '16 at 01:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Alexa-crush-the-competition department:
Six million homes already have an Amazon device with it Alexa voice assistant -- about 5% of all households. But Backchannel argues that Amazon is already dominating the race to become the operating system for future voice-activated devices, with Forrester tech analyst James McQuivey pointing out that "having microphones in your environment is a lot more convenient than pulling out your phone."

The Alexa-enabled Echo is a true unicorn, one of those rare products that arrives every few years and fundamentally changes the way we live... After years of false starts, voice interface will finally creep into the mainstream as more people purchase voice-enabled speakers and other gadgets, and as the tech that powers voice starts to improve.

Despite competition from Google Home, and a rumored "Home Hub" from Microsoft, Amazon "has a two-year jump on its competition, having first introduced the Echo speaker in November 2014," notes the article, adding that Amazon also "opened its platform early to third-party developers." (Alexa now has more than 5,000 "skills".) They argue that Amazon is already winning the war of the operating systems by familiarizing consumers with "a new computing interface -- a voice devoid of a screen -- that will eventually grow to be more ubiquitous and more useful than our smartphones... Soon, you'll speak your wants into the air -- anywhere -- and a woman's warm voice with a mid-Atlantic accent will talk back to you, ready to fulfill your commands."

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Are Airlines Intentionally Overbooking Their Flights?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 24 '16 at 08:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's that's-the-ticket department:
"if you sell one seat to two different people, and only one of them shows up, you get extra money," explains an article in Popular Mechanics shared by schwit1. Citing a recent TED-Ed video, they argue that the airlines' strategy for booking flights "makes perfect sense, just not for you."

The most frustrating part? This math could be tuned to ensure the maximum number of tickets sold with a near zero percent chance too many people show up. Instead, the most profitable solutions often involve a decent chance a few passengers getting screwed, because the extra ticket sales outweigh having to put someone up in a hotel now and then.

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'Star Wars' Actress Carrie Fisher 'Stable' After In-Flight Heart Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on December 24 '16 at 07:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's may-the-force-be-with-her department:
!Best-known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy and The Force Awakens, actress Carrie Fisher is recovering from a "cardiac event" Friday. An anonymous reader quotes ABC:
Her brother, Todd Fisher, told The Associated Press that she was "out of emergency" and stabilized at a Los Angeles hospital Friday afternoon... The 60-year-old "Star Wars" star experienced medical trouble during a flight from London and was treated by paramedics immediately upon landing in Los Angeles around noon Friday, according to reports citing unnamed sources.

Fisher reportedly remains in the intensive care unit while lots of celebrities are now wishing her a speedy recovery for Christmas, including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels, Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, and Billy Dee Williams, as well as Star Trek actors William Shatner and George Takei. Many fans are using the hashtag #MayTheForceBeWithHer, and she's even receiving messages of support from the Twitter account set up for her therapy dog, Gary.

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Store Adds Donald Trump's Picture To $150,000 Gold-Encased iPhones
Posted by News Fetcher on December 24 '16 at 04:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Christmas-gift-ideas department:
An anonymous reader quotes CNN's report about an iPhone 7 "encased in solid gold, encrusted with diamonds and bearing the face of Donald Trump."
Priced around $151,000, it's just one example of the mind-blowing bling sold by Goldgenie, a store in the United Arab Emirates where the super rich do their shopping. "There are very wealthy, high-net-worth individuals all over the world and sometimes its very difficult to buy gifts for them because they have everything," said Frank Fernando, Goldgenie's managing director... But the phones are far from the most expensive item on sale. A gold-plated racing bike will set you back about $350,000.

If you're thinking no one would buy a $150,000 Trump phone, think again. In the last month, they've sold ten of them.

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US Court Demands Documents On AT&T/Police Collaboration
Posted by News Fetcher on December 24 '16 at 03:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's detailed-records-on-call-detail-records department:
"The federal government has not justified its excessive secrecy about the massive telephone surveillance program known as Hemisphere, a court ruled in an EFF Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on Thursday." schwit1 quotes the EFF announcement: As a result, the federal government must submit roughly 260 pages of previously withheld or heavily redacted records to the court so that it can review them and decide whether to make more information about Hemisphere public.
Hemisphere is a partnership between AT&T and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that allows police almost real-time access to telephone call detail records. The program is both extremely controversial -- AT&T requires police to hide its use from the public -- and appears to violate our First and Fourth Amendment rights.

Government lawyers had argued the disputed documents were restricted to use at the federal level, but the court remained unconvinced, especially "after EFF demonstrated that many of them appeared to have been given to state and local law enforcement."

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How Would You Generate C Code Using Common Lisp Macros?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 24 '16 at 01:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's one-language-to-rule-them-all department:
Long-time Slashdot reader kruhft brings news about a new S-Expression based language transpiler that has the feel of C.
This structure allows for the creation of code generation macros using the full power of the host Common Lisp environment, a language designed for operating on S-Expressions, also known as Lists. It is unknown exactly what power might come about from this combination of low level processing with high level code generation.

This has prompted some discussion online about other attempts to convert Lisp to C -- raising several more questions. How (and why) would you convert your Lisp code into C, and what would then be the best uses for this capability?

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US Congressional Committee Concludes Encryption Backdoors Won't Work
Posted by News Fetcher on December 24 '16 at 12:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's talking-vs-unlocking department:
"Any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest," reports a bipartisan committee in the U.S. Congress. Mark Wilson quotes Beta News:

The Congressional Encryption Working Group (EWG) was set up in the wake of the Apple vs FBI case in which the FBI wanted to gain access to the encrypted contents of a shooter's iPhone. The group has just published its end-of-year report summarizing months of meetings, analysis and debate. The report makes four key observations, starting off with: "Any measure that weakens encryption works against the national interest".

This is certainly not a new argument against encryption backdoors for the likes of the FBI, but it is an important one... The group says: "Congress should not weaken this vital technology... Cryptography experts and information security professionals believe that it is exceedingly difficult and impractical, if not impossible, to devise and implement a system that gives law enforcement exceptional access to encrypted data without also compromising security against hackers, industrial spies, and other malicious actors...

The report recommends that instead, Congress "should foster cooperation between the law enforcement community and technology companies," adding "there is already substantial cooperation between the private sector and law enforcement." [PDF] It also suggests that analyzing the metadata from "our digital 'footprints'...could play a role in filling in the gap. The technology community leverages this information every day to improve services and target advertisements. There appears to be an opportunity for law enforcement to better leverage this information in criminal investigations."

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