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Scientists Hold A Secret Meeting To Consider Creating A Synthetic Human Genome
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 08:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's genetically-modified-organisms department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The New York Times, summarized by Gizmodo: Earlier this week, over a hundred scientists, lawyers, and entrepreneurs held a secret meeting to discuss the possibility of creating a synthetic human genome. Creating a synthetic human genome differs from gene editing as scientists would use chemicals to manufacture all the DNA contained in human chromosomes, instead of patching a gene here and there. Synthetic genomics, unlike genetic modifications, in that it doesn't use naturally occurring genes. Instead, it relies on the custom-designed base pair series. Currently, customers view synthetic genomics as a way to build novel microbes and animals, but with humans it raises the prospect of custom-designed humans, without any parents. George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and one of the organizers of the proposed project, says the characterization was a misunderstanding, and that the project was aimed to generally improve the ability to synthesize long strands of DNA, which could be applied to various types of animals, plants and microbes. "They're painting a picture which I don't think represents the project," Dr. Church said in an interview. The project was initially called "HGP2: The Human Genome Synthesis Project." However, the name was later changed to "HGP-Write: Testing Large Synthetic Genomes In Cells." Why the change? Because the original headline was suppose to be headline-grabbing, or so they say.

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Google Devs Planing Flash's Demise With New 'HTML5 By Default' Chrome Setting
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 06:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's phased-out department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: In a Google Groups thread named "Intent to implement: HTML5 by Default," the Google developers announced initial plans to implement a new feature in the Chromium core that will disable the playback of Flash content by default, and use HTML5 instead, if available. The feature is scheduled to ship with Chromium builds in Q4 2016, according to the current timeline. To avoid "overprompting," a whitelist will allow ten major websites to continue to show Flash content by default without pestering users with "Allow domain.com to run Flash Player" prompts. The whitelist will be in effect one year only. The list includes the domains of YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, VK, Live, Yandex, OK.ru, Twitch, Amazon, and Mail.ru, the biggest sites running Flash content today. Previews of the settings and prompts UI are also available.

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Google Paying Arizona Residents $20/Hr To Test Self-Driving Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 06:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's extreme-weather-conditions department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report on Mashable: Google is paying Arizona residents $20 per hour to test its self-driving vehicles. The 'Self-Driving Vehicle Operator/Operations Associate' needs to have a clean driving record, no criminal history, a BS or a BA degree and the ability to type at least 40 words per minute, according to the job listing. The job involves driving 6-8 hours a day in a two person team, five days a week while monitoring the car's systems with "constant focus" and filling up daily reports. "[Test drivers] give our engineers feedback about how our cars are driving and interacting with others on the road, and can take control of the vehicle if needed," Brian Torcellini, head of operations for Google's Self-Driving Car testing program, told The Arizona Republic. The job listing comes about a month after Google announced it would expand its self-driving car testing program to Phoenix, Arizona. At that announcement, Google said it wants to test how autonomous vehicles behave in Phoenix's desert conditions and high temperatures.

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The Pirate Bay Loses Its Main Domain Name In Court Battle
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's peer-to-peer department:
Dave Knott writes: The world's most popular torrent website, The Pirate Bay, is suffering a major blow after the Swedish Court ruled Thursday that it will seize the domain names 'ThePirateBay.se' and 'PirateBay.se' and hand over them to the state. This is the latest development in an ongoing legal tug-of-war between The Pirate Bay and Swedish prosecutors, which has at various times seen the courts rule in favor of either side, only to see the case proceed via further appeals. Despite previous criminal convictions, the torrent site has always remained functioning by moving to different web domains several times. However, this time, The Pirate Bay loses its main .SE domain, the world's 225th most popular website according to the Alexa ranking, as reported by the Swedish newspaper DN.

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Professor Surprises Students With AI Teacher Assistant
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's teacher-assistant department:
An anonymous reader writes: Jill Watson is an artificial intelligence bot, it is also Ashok Goel's teaching assistant. Ashok Goel, a computer science professor at Georgia Tech, hired Jill Watson to answer questions online for his students so that his teaching staff wasn't so overworked. On average, Goel and his staff receive more than 10,000 questions from students online each semester. So he decided to use IBM Watson, an artificial intelligence system designed to answer questions. After training and tweaking it for months, he was able to spit out good enough answers. Originally, Goel didn't reveal Watson's true identity to his students until after the last final exam was turned in at the end of the class. Students were amazed. "I feel like I am part of history because of Jill and this class!" wrote one student in the class's online forum. "Just when I wanted to nominate Jill Watson as an outstanding TA in the CIOS survey!" said another. Goel is now working to bring the bot to as as many education centers are possible. He expects the bot's question-answering abilities to help online classes, where there's little engagement with a human instructor.

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Ask Slashdot: What Was The Greatest Era Of Innovation?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's history-lesson department:
speedplane writes: The New York Times is running a story on innovation over the past 150 years. [The story starts at the end of the American Civil War with the newly completed transcontinental railway in the 1870s. Then it highlights the profoundly different lifestyle of the 1920s, the end of 'The Great War' and the beginning of the Great Depression. By the 1970s, many of the transportation and communication changes from the 20s became fundamental parts of daily life. The story ends in 2016, an era in which human life has changed the most in the last 46 years.] We're in the golden age of innovation, an era in which digital technology is transforming the underpinnings of human existence. Or so a techno-optimist might argue. We're in a depressing era in which innovation has slowed and living standards are barely rising. That's what some skeptical economists believe. The truth is, this isn't a debate that can be settled objectively. What do slashdotters think is the greatest era of innovation?

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Hyundai's New 'Wearable Robot' Gives You Super-Strength
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Tony-Stark department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: South Korean automaker Hyundai has unveiled what is apparently a new robotic exoskeleton. In a blog post the company compares its "wearable robot" prototype to an Iron Man suit, saying it gives the wearer extra strength, allowing them to lift objects "hundreds of kilograms" in weight. The company says that in the future the exoskeleton could be used in factories, by the military, or to help with physical rehabilitation. The suit appears to be a development of Hyundai's H-LEX platform. Hyundai isn't the only one working on robotic exoskeletons. The FDA recently approved a powered lower-limb exoskeleton for clinical and personal use, which allows people paralyzed below the waist to stand up and walk. Panasonic on the other hand is developing exoskeletons for factory workers.

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Mac Users Reporting Widespread System Freezes With OS X El Capitan 10.11.4 Update
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 02:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's update-that-needs-updating department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mac Rumors: A large number of MacBook Pro owners running OS X El Capitan are reporting widespread system freezes since installing the 10.11.4 update to Apple's Mac OS. The problem appears to be concentrated on 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros (Early 2015) running 10.11.4. Users report that their system becomes totally unresponsive at seemingly random times, with no way to regain access to their Mac other than to force a hard reboot. The issue was initially reported by MacRumors forum member Antonnn on March 25, four days after Apple released what is the third update to the Mac OS. In Antonnn's case, the freezes have been occurring "about once a week," first when browsing in Safari, but then also during the use of other Mac apps, including Adobe Photoshop and several third-party browsers. The freeze seems to affect not only the screen and mouse cursor but also the Mac's Force Touch trackpad, which completely loses feedback. Apple Support is apparently aware of the issue but have so far offered no concrete solution. Meanwhile, some users have resorted to downgrading their system to 10.11.3 by restoring from a Time Machine backup or performing a clean install. Hundreds of others have posted to a dedicated thread discussing the issue. Bill Mattheis posted a video on YouTube of the freezing he has experienced on his MacBook Pro.

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Ontario Parents Refusing To Vaccinate Their Children Could Be Forced to Take Science Class
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 02:31 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's teaching-a-lesson department:
Ontario is considering making parents who choose to not vaccinate their children for non-medical reasons take a science class. The health ministry of Canada's most populous province has proposed a bill which would force those parents sit through the education session before applying for a vaccine exemption. In the class, they will be taught about the importance of vaccination for their children. Quartz offers more context: Ontario was the first province in Canada to introduce immunization laws (PDF) in 1982, which required children attending school be vaccinated against certain diseases -- including diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and measles -- unless they have a signed exemption. After routine immunization was introduced, cases of those diseases dramatically reduced.
Parents who apply for an exemption (PDF) for non-medical reasons risk having their child pulled from school if there's an outbreak, or the immediate risk of an outbreak, of a designated disease.

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China's Tech Work Culture Is So Intense People Sleep and Bathe In Their Offices
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 01:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's different-culture,-different-lifestyle department:
An anonymous reader writes: China's technology sector is booming at an intensely fast pace. Many startups are seeing their business grow faster than they can hire, placing a heavy burden on those already working within the industry. "The pace of Chinese internet company growth is extremely fast," Cui Meng, general manager and cofounder of data startup Goopal, told Reuters. "I've been to the US and the competitive environment there isn't as intense as in China." This has led many workers to put in overtime, sleeping at their desks, on cots, or even in provided bunk beds. Many employees are encouraged to live at the office during the workweek. Lunchtime naps are generally allowed, and those who end up staying past midnight usually pass out in the office.Reuters has amazing photographs of such offices and employees.

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Amazon Introduces $20 Dash-Like Button For IoT
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 01:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's interesting-stuff department:
An anonymous reader shares a Slashgear article: Amazon has revealed a programmable Dash Button which can be assigned to any product or purpose, a customizable version of its one-touch reordering gadgets. The AWS IoT Button looks just like the existing Dash Buttons, which allow products from more than 100 brands to be ordered with a single tap -- no web browser required -- and delivered to a preset address, but is designed for developers and Internet of Things tinkerers to dig into. So, rather than having a new multipack of toilet rolls, or a fresh box of laundry detergent added to your shopping list, the AWS IoT Button could be used to trigger your lights, integrate with popular APIs from Twitter, Slack, Facebook, or others, or summon a car through Uber.It appears Amazon has already sold out its current batch.

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Bing Bans 'Computer Support' Ads From Its Network
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 11:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's making-web-safer department:
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has changed the terms of service for its Bing Ad network to disallow ads which offer computer support service. Its Bing Ads User Safety Policy now reads: Bing Ads disallows the promotion of third party online technical support services to consumers because of serious quality issues that can impact end user safety. These ads mislead users, tricking them to believe that their PC is infected. This is clearly a move to block scammers from making victims of Bing users, but any and all third party tech support ads will be blocked, including, perhaps legitimate ones.

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Fitness App Runkeeper Secretly Tracks Users At All Times, Sends Data to Advertisers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 11:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's they-know-what-you-did-last-summer department:
An anonymous reader writes: FitnessKeeper, the company behind running app Runkeeper, is in hot water in Europe. The company has received a formal complaint from the Norwegian Consumer Council for breaching European data protection laws. But why? Runkeeper tracks its users' location at all times -- not just when the app is active -- and sends that data to advertisers. The NCC, a consumer rights watchdog, is conducting an investigation into 20 apps' terms and conditions to see if the apps do what their permissions say they do and to monitor data flows. Tinder has already been reported to the Norwegian data protection authority for similar breaches of privacy laws. The NCC's investigation into Runkeeper discovered that user location data is tracked around the clock and gets transmitted to a third party advertiser in the U.S. called Kiip.me.Finn Myrstad, the council's digital policy director, said: We checked the apps technically, to see the data flows and to see if the apps actually do what they say they do. Everyone understands that Runkeeper tracks users while they exercise, but to continue after the training has ended is not okay. Not only is it a breach of privacy laws, we are also convinced that users do not want to be tracked in this way, or for information to be shared with third party advertisers.

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Raspbian Linux OS Gets Major Update, Adds Bluetooth Support to Pi 3
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 11:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's tiny-computer-gets-better department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Raspberry Pi 3 was launched with built-in chip for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, however, software support for Bluetooth was lacking until now. The drivers were there, but today's update to the Raspbian Linux distribution adds much-needed GUI tools to help you establish Bluetooth connections. Another cool addition is a new backup tool. Long explains the refreshingly simplistic "SD Card Copier". There are other improvements as well including the mouse settings, and the ability to empty the wastebasket through right-clicking as seen below (yes, seriously). There is even a new shutdown dialog, something even casual users should notice.Official blog post here.

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Raspberry Pi 3 Gets Major Update, Adds Bluetooth Support
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's tiny-computer-gets-better department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Raspberry Pi 3 was launched with built-in chip for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, however, software support for Bluetooth was lacking until now. The drivers were there, but today's update to the Raspbian Linux distribution adds much-needed GUI tools to help you establish Bluetooth connections. Another cool addition is a new backup tool. Long explains the refreshingly simplistic "SD Card Copier". There are other improvements as well including the mouse settings, and the ability to empty the wastebasket through right-clicking as seen below (yes, seriously). There is even a new shutdown dialog, something even casual users should notice.Official blog post here.

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Second Bank Hit By 'Sophisticated' Malware Attack, Says Swift
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's bank's-sophisticated-security-or-its-lack-thereof department:
An anonymous reader cites an article on The Guardian: Swift, the global financial messaging network that banks use to move billions of dollars every day, warned of a second malware attack similar to the one that led to February's $81 million cyberheist at the Bangladesh central bank. The second case targeted a commercial bank, Swift spokeswoman Natasha de Teran said, without naming it. It was not immediately clear how much money, if any, was stolen in the second attack. Swift said in a statement that the attackers exhibited a "deep and sophisticated knowledge of specific operational controls" at targeted banks and may have been aided by "malicious insiders or cyber attacks, or a combination of both." The organization, a Belgian co-operative owned by member banks, said that forensic experts believe the second case showed that the Bangladesh heist was not a single occurrence, "but part of a wider and highly adaptive campaign targeting banks."

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Linksys WRT Routers Won't Block Open Source Firmware, Despite FCC Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-open-source department:
The FCC requires all manufacturers to prevent users from having any direct ability to change RF parameters (frequency limits, output power, country codes, etc). The easiest way for a router manufacturer to comply with FCC's guideline is to block the open source router firmware -- which is what TP-Link has been doing. But thankfully, at least one router manufacturer doesn't think blocking the firmware is the right way to go about it. Ars Technica reports: Linksys has been collaborating with chipmaker Marvell and the makers of OpenWrt to make sure its latest WRT routers can comply with the new rules without blocking open source firmware, company officials told Ars. Linksys' effort stands in contrast with TP-Link, which said it would entirely prevent loading of open source firmware on its routers to satisfy the new Federal Communications Commission requirements. "They're named WRT... it's almost our responsibility to the open source community," Linksys router product manager Vince La Duca told Ars. Cybersecurity experts have urged the router manufacturers to not block open source firmware.

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France's After Work Email Ban Is 1 Step Closer To Reality
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 08:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's work-life-balance department:
Jesse Ferreras, writing for Huffington Post: France is that much closer to becoming the first country to ban after-work emails. The country's lower parliamentary house passed a bill this week that would ban companies with 50 or more employees from sending emails outside regular work hours, BBC News reported. It now goes to the Senate, where members will study it before sending it back to the National Assembly to enshrine it in French law. The bill would make businesses come up with hours during which employees cannot check or send emails. And it comes as workers are finding it increasingly difficult to detach themselves from work, Socialist MP Benoit Hamon told BBC News.Hamon adds: "Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash -- like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails -- they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down."

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Astronauts Won't Be Flying To Space In Boeing's Starliner Until 2018
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 08:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's all-eyes-to-spacex-now department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Boeing Starliner, one of two new spacecraft meant to break the Russian stranglehold on sending people to orbit, has hit a snag. Originally scheduled to start flying next year, the Starliner won't carry a crewed mission to the International Space Station until 2018 at the earliest. Six years is long enough. Ever since the 2011 retirement of the space shuttle NASA has been pushing for privately built craft capable of ferrying astronauts to orbit, which would let the agency buy American-made ships and end its dependency on renting seats aboard Russian spacecraft. The Starliner and SpaceX's Dragon were chosen, and 2017 was to be the year. But while SpaceX has sent its ship to the ISS on multiple uncrewed cargo resupply missions, the Starliner won't make such trips until 2017 and won't carry people until 2018 at the earliest. SpaceX maintains that it will be able to send crews to orbit in 2017.GeekWire explains: "For Boeing to shift its crewed test flight from 2017 to 2018 isn't as much of a slip as it might sound: The company's earlier schedule had called for the visit to the space station to take place in mid-December."

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Oregon ISP Now Forcing Cordcutters to Sign up For TV to Avoid Caps
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 07:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's that-should-do-it department:
An anonymous reader writes: Oregon ISP BendBroadband has revised its usage-based broadband policies to favor customers that subscribe to TV services as well. According to a blog post by the company, Bend is deploying a number of new speed upgrades, including new Ultra 50, Ultra 100 and Ultra 300 Mbps speed tiers. The company is telling users on its Bronze and Silver Internet plans that they should be eligible for a free upgrade later this month. But another post adds a different wrinkle: Bend says it's removing its current usage caps if you bundle TV and phone service. These caps have historically ranged from 150 to 500 GB. "Customers who subscribe to Bronze or above internet (including Silver, Gold and Platinum) and Essentials or above TV (including Preferred, Preferred Plus and The Works) are no longer limited on data usage and will no longer pay overage fees," says the company.The report cites similar practices by other ISPs, suggesting that it's quickly becoming an industry standard.

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