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Half Of Americans Think Presidential Nominating System 'Rigged'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 01:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cards-are-stacked-against-you department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Huffington Post: More than half of American voters believe that the system U.S. political parties use to pick their candidates for the White House is "rigged" and more than two-thirds want to see the process changed. The results echo complaints from Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders that the system is stacked against them in favor of candidates with close ties to their parties -- a critique that has triggered a nationwide debate over whether the process is fair. The United States is one of just a handful of countries that gives regular voters any say in who should make it onto the presidential ballot. But the state-by-state system of primaries, caucuses and conventions is complex. The contests historically were always party events, and while the popular vote has grown in influence since the mid-20th century, the parties still have considerable sway. Just the other day, a poll was conducted by Harvard University showing a majority of young people do not support capitalism. Are the times they are a changin' or are people starting to wake up?

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Uber's New Policy Fines Riders Who Are Two Minutes Late
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 01:52 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's not-the-best-month-for-Uber department:
Uber says it has revised some of its policies to better compensate its drivers. As part of which, the company is testing charging customers a fee if they make a driver wait for more than two minutes (current waiting time is five minutes). Furthermore, the taxi aggregator says it is changing the ride cancellation grace period from five minutes to two minutes, adding that the fees can range from $5 to $10, depending on your city. Our very own Logan Abbott aka Whipslash faced this issue today. Though he tells us that the company refunded his money after he emailed and filed a complaint. The Verge reports:The feature was built in response to drivers' complaints about waiting for passengers, Uber said. In a statement released to The Verge and TechCrunch, Uber noted that these updated terms would ensure that "the whole system runs more smoothly and the Uber experience improves for everyone." Reduced wait times and the ability to charge for idle time, as well as compensation if riders cancel after two minutes, obviously benefit drivers, earning them a few extra dollars and allowing them to move onto the next fare sooner. But how this will make the passenger experience smoother is unclear. Traffic, wrong turns, and faulty GPS all contribute to making pick-up times unreliable. This can leave passengers out in the cold, waiting for drivers to arrive. Uber explained that if a driver is more than five minutes late for an estimated arrival, users can cancel the ride with no penalty.

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Intel Declares Independence From PC, Prioritizes Cloud, IoT and 5G Efforts
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 12:29 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's future-of-Intel department:
A week after announcing 12,000 job cuts, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has shared vision for the company, hinting a shift in its prime focus away from PC business. In a blog post, Krzanich said that the company will be actively growing its data center business. The chip maker also plans to focus on chips and technologies for IoT devices. "The biggest opportunity in the Internet of Things is that it encompasses just about everything in our lives today-- it's ubiquitous," Krzanich said. The company also plans to boost its memory chips business and make a push towards utilizing them in data centers and various cloud services. Intel said that it has made several investments in this field, noting the $16 billion acquisition of Altera last year. The company says it will be playing a big role in the move to 5G connectivity. "Connectivity is fundamental to every one of the cloud-to-thing segments we will drive," he writes. Over the years, Intel has failed to keep up with Moore's Law, an axiom that semiconductor density will double about every two years. The company previously extended the timeframe to 2.5 years, but Krzanich assures customers that the they are working to make further advances in order to meet the goal. "Moore's Law is fundamentally a law of economics, and Intel will confidently continue to harness its value," Krzanich said. PCWorld has extensively reported on this.

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German Nuclear Plant Infected With Computer Virus
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 12:29 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's virus,-virus-everywhere department:
archatheist shares a Reuters report: A nuclear power plant in Germany has been found to be infected with computer viruses, but they appear not to have posed a threat to the facility's operations because it is isolated from the Internet, the station's operator said on Tuesday. The Gundremmingen plant, located about 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Munich, is run by the German utility RWE. The viruses, which include "W32.Ramnit" and "Conficker", were discovered at Gundremmingen's B unit in a computer system retrofitted in 2008 with data visualization software associated with equipment for moving nuclear fuel rods, RWE said.

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Smartphone Shipments Flat For the First Time, Says IDC
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 12:29 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's give-us-something-new department:
An anonymous reader writes: Smartphone vendors shipped a total of 334.9 million smartphones worldwide last quarter. This figure is up just 0.2 percent from the 334.3 million units in Q1 2015, marking the smallest year-over-year growth on record. We saw hints of this in yesterday's Apple earnings report, when the company reported an iPhone sales drop for the first time. Despite the poor state of the worldwide smartphone market, Samsung continues to dominate. In Q1 2016, the South Korean company once again shipped more smartphones than any other vendor.

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India Makes It Compulsory For Phones To Have a 'Panic Button'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 12:29 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's women-safety department:
Reader itwbennett writes: Starting in January 2017, all feature phones sold in India will need to have a panic button that will alert "police, designated friends and relatives, for immediate response in case of distress or security related issues," said Minister of Communications, Ravi Shankar Prasad, on Twitter late Tuesday. The measure is one of many responses by the Indian government to the growing women safety issues in the country. Furthermore, starting in January 2018, mobile phones will also be required to have GPS systems to help pinpoint the location of the affected person in the event of harassment or distress, said Prasad.Mashable has more details.

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SpaceX Intends To Send a Red Dragon To Mars As Early As 2018
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's fuelling-life-on-Mars-101 department:
Reader MarkWhittington writes: SpaceX has announced that it intends to send a version of its Dragon spacecraft, called "Red Dragon," to Mars as early as 2018. The mission, to be launched on top of a Falcon Heavy rocket, would be the first to another planet conducted by a commercial enterprise. The flight of the Red Dragon would be the beginning of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's long-term dream of building a settlement on Mars.Ars Technica reports: According to the company, these initial test missions will help demonstrate the technologies needed to land large payloads propulsively on Mars. This series of missions, to be launched on the company's not-yet-completed Falcon Heavy rocket, will provide key data for SpaceX as the company develops an overall plan to send humans to the Red Planet to colonize Mars. One of the biggest challenges in landing on Mars is the fact that its atmosphere is so thin it provides little braking capacity. To land the 900kg Curiosity rover on Mars, NASA had to devise the complicated sky crane system that led to its "Seven Minutes of Terror." A Dragon would weigh much more, perhaps about 6,000kg. To solve this problem, SpaceX plans to use an upgraded spacecraft, a Dragon2 powered by eight SuperDraco engines, to land using propulsion.

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Chinese Security Robot Draws Dalek, Terminator Comparisons
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's so-it-begins department:
An anonymous reader writes: China's first "intelligent security robot," which reportedly includes an "electrically charged riot control tool" and an SOS button for people to notify police, has been compared to the killer Dalek from Doctor Who after being shown off at a tech fair. Intelligence agency whistleblower Edward Snowden shared the news on Twitter with the caption: "Surely this will end well." The robot, unveiled at the 12th Chongqing Hi-Tech Fair, is 1.49 metres tall, weighs 78 kilograms, has a claimed top speed of 18 kilometres per hour and an operating duration of eight hours between charges, according to a report by People's Daily Online. Dubbed AnBot, it was built by the National Defence University in China and has "sensors that mimic the human brain, eyes and ears." The report said AnBot represented breakthroughs in "key technologies including low-cost autonomous navigation and intelligent video analysis" and would play an important role in anti-terrorism and anti-riot operations. AnBot has an SOS button for people to use to notify police of a problem, but it is unclear what criteria AnBot uses to assess threats autonomously.

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Federal Judge Rules Amazon Must Refund Parents Duped By In-App Purchases
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 08:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's parents-worldwide-breathe-a-sigh-of-relief department:
An anonymous reader shares a Gizmodo report: A federal judge has ruled Amazon is liable for billing unwitting parents after their children made unauthorized charges in apps. The court will decide exactly how much money Amazon owes customers in the coming months. The federal judge's decision asserts that Amazon received several complaints from customers about in-app purchases that they were unaware of, mostly incurred by children. The decision points out that Amazon promoted apps as free but failed to inform parents about in-app charges that could be incurred.

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Nintendo's Mysterious 'NX' Gaming Platform To Be Launched In March 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 08:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's remember-Nintendo? department:
Nintendo has announced that its next gaming platform -- codenamed NX -- will launch worldwide on March 2017. "For our dedicated video game platform, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed 'NX' with a brand-new concept," the gaming console company said while announcing its annual results. PCWorld reports:Nintendo is placing big bets on NX. The company will continue to offer games for smartphone devices, a strategy it has started executing on, but its core business focus will be on what it describes as its "software-led hardware-software integrated business." [...] For the fiscal year ended March 31, the company sold 6.8 million units of the portable Nintendo 3DS hardware and over 48.5 million units of 3DS software. Global sales of the Wii U hardware and software were 3.26 million and 27.4 million units respectively.

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After Netflix Crackdown On Border-Hopping, Canadians Ready To Return To Piracy
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's netflix-blocking-content department:
An anonymous reader shares an article on CBCNews: Many Canadians are enraged by Netflix's declared war on cross-border watchers, who skirt the company's rules by sneaking across virtual borders to stream Netflix shows and movies restricted to other countries. Sometimes it's hard to be satisfied with Netflix Canada's library when our American neighbours have, it's estimated, access to almost double the content. But this big and bold clampdown may backfire -- at least in Canada. Turns out, Canadians are big pirates at heart. Apparently, we feel somewhat entitled to download illegal content when we don't have cheap and easy access. Instead of shelling out $10 for a Netflix subscription, some people now may opt to pay nothing at all to get what they want.

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Wikipedia Is Basically a Corporate Bureaucracy, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's curious-case-of-a-site-called-Wikipedia department:
Jennifer Ouellette, reporting for Gizmodo: Wikipedia is a voluntary organization dedicated to the noble goal of decentralized knowledge creation. But as the community has evolved over time, it has wandered further and further from its early egalitarian ideals, according to a new paper published in the journal Future Internet. In fact, such systems usually end up looking a lot like 20th-century bureaucracies. [...] This may seem surprising, since there is no policing authority on Wikipedia -- no established top-down means of control. The community is self-governing, relying primarily on social pressure to enforce the established core norms, according to co-author Simon DeDeo, a complexity scientist at Indiana University. [...] "You start with a decentralized democratic system, but over time you get the emergence of a leadership class with privileged access to information and social networks," DeDeo explained. "Their interests begin to diverge from the rest of the group. They no longer have the same needs and goals. So not only do they come to gain the most power within the system, but they may use it in ways that conflict with the needs of everybody else.""The Iron Law of Oligarchy, demonstrated by Wikipedia," wrote Sean Carroll, theoretical physicist at Caltech. "Rebel all you want, ultimately you become The Establishment."

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Report: Comcast In Talks To Buy DreamWorks For $3 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 05:34 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fun-for-the-whole-family department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Comcast is in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation in a multi-billion-dollar deal, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are reporting. The cost of the deal would be more than $3 billion, according to both news organizations, citing unnamed sources. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, has been searching for a buyer for the company, which has a current market value of $2.3 billion. DreamWorks is based in Glendale, Calif., and was founded in 1994 by Katzenberg, filmmaker Steven Spielberg and movie and music executive David Geffen. The animation unit was spun off in 2004. Philadelphia-based Comcast has two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast also owns Universal Parks and Resorts. Comcast already owns an animation studio, Illumination Entertainment, known for its work on the Despicable Me and Minions movies.

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A Complete Guide To The New 'Crypto Wars'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 02:52 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's series-of-unfortunate-events department:
blottsie writes: The latest debate over encryption did not begin with a court order demanding Apple help the FBI unlock a dead terrorist's iPhone. The new "Crypto Wars," chronicled in a comprehensive timeline by Eric Geller of the Daily Dot, dates back to at least 2003, with the introduction of "Patriot Act II." The battle over privacy and personal security versus crime-fighting and national security has, however, become a mainstream debate in recent months. The timeline covers a wide-range of incidents where the U.S. and other allied governments have tried to restrict citizens' access to strong encryption. The timeline ends with the director of national intelligence blaming NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for advancing the spread of user-friendly, widely available strong encryption.

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A Majority Of Millennials Now Reject Capitalism, Poll Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on April 27 '16 at 12:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's democratic-socialism department:
A new poll shows that a majority of young people do not support capitalism. The study was conducted by Harvard University, which polled young adults ages 18-29. It found that 51 percent of those polled rejected capitalism, that is to say, they did not support it. Only 42 percent said they support capitalism -- there was a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points. When asked what alternative system they would prefer, there wasn't a clear winner. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. When talking about politics or economics, it can get complicated and the poll does little to shed light on what parts of capitalism young people dislike or what parts of socialism young people like. It does appear to suggest young people are frustrated with the status quo and are more focused on the flaws of free markets.

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Millions Of Waze Users Can Have Their Movements Tracked By Hackers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 26 '16 at 08:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's psycho-killer department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fusion: Researchers at the University of California-Santa Barbara recently discovered a Waze vulnerability that allowed them to create thousands of "ghost drivers" that can monitor the drivers around them -- an exploit that could be used to track Waze users in real-time. Here's how the exploit works. Waze's servers communicate with phones using an SSL encrypted connection, a security precaution meant to ensure that Waze's computers are really talking to a Waze app on someone's smartphone. Zhao and his graduate students discovered they could intercept that communication by getting the phone to accept their own computer as a go-between in the connection. Once in between the phone and the Waze servers, they could reverse-engineer the Waze protocol, learning the language that the Waze app uses to talk to Waze's back-end app servers. With that knowledge in hand, the team was able to write a program that issued commands directly to Waze servers, allowing the researchers to populate the Waze system with thousands of "ghost cars" -- cars that could cause a fake traffic jam or, because Waze is a social app where drivers broadcast their locations, monitor all the drivers around them. You can read the full paper detailing the researchers' findings here. Is there a solution to not being tracked? Yes. If you're a Waze user, you can set the app to invisible mode. However, Waze turns off invisible mode every time you restart the app so beware.

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2016 Hugo Awards Shortlist Dominated By Rightwing Campaign
Posted by News Fetcher on April 26 '16 at 06:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's riven-by-controversy department:
Dave Knott quotes a report from The Guardian: The annual Hugo awards for the best science fiction of the year have once again been riven by controversy, as a concerted campaign by a conservative lobby has dominated the ballot. The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies movements, which both separately campaign against a perceived bias towards liberal and leftwing science-fiction and fantasy authors, have managed to get the majority of their preferred nominations on to the final ballot, announced today. Since 2013, the Puppies factions have posted recommendations of works to combat the Hugo tendency to reward works that leaders of the movement deem "niche, academic, overtly to the left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun." The Rabid Puppies has been successful in getting its nominations on the shortlist again this year; out of 80 recommendations, 62 have received sufficient votes to make the ballot. At MidAmeriCon II this year, it was announced that more than 4,000 nominating ballots were cast for the 2016 Hugo awards, almost double the previous record of 2,122 ballots. This news was initially greeted with cautious optimism, but the shortlist shows that the Puppies and their supporters have redoubled their efforts to "game" the awards. The shortlist will be voted upon and the winners revealed at the forthcoming Worldcon in Kansas in August.

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Zero Zero's Camera Drone Could Be A Robot Command Center In The Future
Posted by News Fetcher on April 26 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's creepy-gadgets-and-gizmos department:
Tekla Perry writes: Zero Zero Robotics comes out of stealth today with the Hover Camera drone that uses face and body recognition to follow and photograph selected subjects. Company cofounder Meng Qiu Wang explains why he did the engineering in China (he built a team of 80 that worked two years on the project), and how this flying camera will evolve to be a navigation and control system for future home robots. According Zero Zero cofounder and CEO Meng Qiu Wang, "It has two cameras. The front viewing camera is a 13-megapixel camera that records video, but also has Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), an algorithm that allows it to determine where it is. It also has a down-facing video camera, running an algorithm called optical flow, that looks at ground at 60 frames per second, so the Hover knows when it moves and can correct itself. These visual sensors are giving inputs and actual position and speed, meanwhile, the accelerometer and gyroscope gives relative position. All these signals are fed into the flight control algorithm, so when I throw it up in the air, it can just hover there." With a price of less than $600, it should compete well against the expensive DJI Phantom 4, which is already available on the market for $1400 and features autonomous flying and tracking features.

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HTC Announces $100 Million Fund For Virtual Reality Startups
Posted by News Fetcher on April 26 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's accelerated-growth department:
An anonymous reader writes: HTC today announced the Vive X accelerator program through which the company will invest from it's newly created $100 million VR fund. The fund aims to kickstart the VR ecosystem in support of the company's Vive VR headset. Applications for the accelerator program, which will open first in Beijing, Taipei, and San Francisco, are open today. The company says their aim is to "help cultivate, and grow the global VR ecosystem by supporting startups and providing them with expertise, special access to advanced VR technology, financial investment, mentorship and unmatched go-to-market support."

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Inside 'Emojigeddon': The Fight Over The Future Of The Unicode Consortium
Posted by News Fetcher on April 26 '16 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's swirling,-smiling-pile-of-poop department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report on Buzzfeed: There's trouble afoot inside the Emoji Council of Elders, or, at the very least, signs of a low-simmering schism that's being referred to by some of its participants -- perhaps with less humor than one might expect -- as "Emojigeddon." A series of frustrated emails show a deepening rift between those who adhere to the organization's original mission to code old and obscure and minority languages and those who are investing time and resources toward Unicode's newer and most popular character sets: emojis. From the article: "The correspondence offers a peek behind the scenes of the peculiar and little-known organization that's unexpectedly been tasked with building what some see as the first digital universal language." What are your thoughts of emojis? Have you embraced and intertwined them into your digital language or are you unconvinced of their ability to transcribe any kind of deep understanding?

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