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One of Silicon Valley's Most Esteemed VCs Says Startups Are 'Mostly Crap'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 12:00 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's keeping-it-real department:
An anonymous reader cites an article on VanityFair: Former Facebook employee Chamath Palihapitiya won't pull punches when it comes to lame tech companies. Palihapitiya's firm, Social Capital, has backed numerous tech companies with valuations in the billions, such as Slack, Box, and SurveyMonkey. But that doesn't mean that he is bullish on unicorn culture. He says "Most of those businesses are fundamentally not good, they're poorly run, and they never should have been invested in in the first place. But the capital came in because the person who had control of the capital was able to justify it intellectually to themselves versus something else that could have become the next Facebook or Google. [...] The reality is, great companies can go public in any market. When we talk about the I.P.O. slowdowns what we're really saying is that there really just aren't that many good companies being built. We need to divorce ourselves from venture capital as an occupation and focus on using capital as a way to take really big bets on things that just seem totally audacious. Right now we haven't done enough of that, and the result is that most of the things we've funded are mostly crap and largely worthless."

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Apple Re-posts iOS 9.3 Build For Older Devices Affected By Activation Lock Bug
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 10:33 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's second-time's-a-charm department:
An anonymous reader cites an article on MacRumors: Just a few days after releasing the iOS 9.3 update, Apple stopped offering it to a selection of older devices including the iPad Air and earlier and the iPhone 5s and earlier due to an activation issue. When the update was pulled, Apple promised to release a new version of iOS 9.3 shortly. Apple today made good on that promise and has released a new version of iOS 9.3, build 13E237, which is now available for all iOS 9 users with older devices as an over-the-air update or through iTunes. Customers with older devices who had not yet updated to iOS 9.3 will be able to do so now.

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Sony's More Powerful PS4 To Be Announced Before PlayStation VR Launch
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 10:33 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's new,-improved-PS-is-coming department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report on Polygon about Sony's alleged PlayStation 4K, which Kotaku reported about earlier: Sony's more powerful version of the PlayStation 4 -- also known as the "PlayStation 4.5" and "PlayStation 4K" -- is expected to be announced prior to the launch of PlayStation VR this October, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal (paywall link). The upgraded PS4 will reportedly be able to play 4K resolution content, according to the report, and deliver "a richer gaming environment, including a high-end virtual-reality experience."

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Oculus Rift Review: Virtual Reality is Almost Here
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 09:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's virtual-reality-is-here department:
In what can be seen as a major milestone in the nascent, but fast-evolving virtual reality technology space, Facebook-owned Oculus on Monday began shipping the commercial version of the Rift. Several technology publications have posted their reviews of the Oculus Rift. The Verge, for instance, says: The high cost of buying and running high-end VR headsets makes them inaccessible to many people, and the Rift in particular is relentlessly focused on gaming. Within these limitations, though, the Rift makes a good case for seated VR, and it lays a solid foundation for what's to come. The headset you can buy today is not Oculus' most ambitious vision for virtual reality -- but it's a vision that Oculus has successfully delivered on. The publication has given the Rift a score of 8 out of 10, noting that the retail price of the Rift, and the accompanying gaming PC, is a tad too expensive. It also found the lack of motion controls a weakness. Cnet writes: You simply must try the Oculus Rift. It's breathtaking. I just wouldn't buy one right now -- and there's no reason you should feel the need to, either (especially with its arch-rival, the HTC Vive, also just days away). The longer you wait to buy, the better it will get. This is just day one for Oculus -- and for the future of virtual reality.

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Security Flaw In Truecaller Android App Exposes Data of Millions of Users
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 09:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's vulnerable-app,-exposable-data department:
An anonymous reader writes about a newly found vulnerability in Truecaller: Security researchers have found a flaw in Truecaller, a popular service that indexes phone numbers and helps users block spammers and telemarketers. An article on Softpedia explains the vulnerability, "When users first install the Android app, they are prompted to enter their phone number, email address, and other personal details. This information is verified by phone call or SMS message. Upon opening the app for the second time, no login screens are shown. In a proof-of-concept code shared with Softpedia, researchers were able to retrieve personal details for other users based on an IMEI code just by interacting with the app's servers. The servers exposed data such as the user's Truecaller account name, his gender, email address, profile image, home address, and whatever else was stored in his profile. Additionally, the IMEI code also allowed the researchers to modify account settings."

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Google Scales the Great Firewall, Falls Off 105 Minutes Later
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 09:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's breaking-the-wall department:
An anonymous reader writes: Citizens of mainland China unexpectedly found themselves with unfettered access to Google search late last night, commencing a golden age of censorship-free searching that lasted all of 105 minutes. For the duration of the film Edward Scissorhands, lasting from 11:30pm on Sunday to 1:15am on Monday morning, Google's search -- but not other services like Gmail or YouTube -- was unblocked

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Popular Transmission BitTorrent Client Released For Windows
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 07:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's handy-software department:
An anonymous reader quotes an article on The Next Web: Transmission, one of the most popular BitTorrent clients for OS X and Linux, has finally arrived on Windows after roughly a decade in existence. The open-source file sharing app, developed by volunteers and available without ads for free, boasts a small footprint (about 25MB on Windows), support for encryption, a Web interface so you can control it through your browser, as well as the ability to set different speed limits for individual torrents. The current version isn't yet being actively promoted -- to download it, you'll need to head to Transmission's download directory page.

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Why BART Is Falling Apart
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 07:21 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-state-the-value-in-krytrons department:
HughPickens.com writes: Matthias Gafni writes in the San Jose Mercury News that the engineers who built BART, the rapid transit system serving the San Francisco Bay Area that started operation in 1972, used principles developed for the aerospace industry rather than tried-and-true rail standards. And that's the trouble. "Back when BART was created, (the designers) were absolutely determined to establish a new product, and they intended to export it around the world," says Rod Diridon. "They may have gotten a little ahead of themselves using new technology. Although it worked, it was extremely complex for the time period, and they never did export the equipment because it was so difficult for other countries to install and maintain." The Space Age innovations have made it more challenging for the transit agency to maintain the BART system from the beginning. Plus, the aging system was designed to move 100,000 people per week and now carries 430,000 a day, so the loss of even a single car gets magnified with crowded commutes, delays and bus bridges. For example, rather than stick to the standard rail track width of 4 feet, 8.5 inches, BART engineers debuted a 5-foot, 6-inch width track, a gauge that remains to this day almost exclusive to the system. Industry experts say the unique track width necessitates custom-made wheel sets, brake assemblies and track repair vehicles.

< article continued at Slashdot's please-state-the-value-in-krytrons department >

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Zero-Rating Harms Poor People, Public Interest Groups Tell FCC
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 07:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's along-the-lines-of-net-neutrality department:
An anonymous reader links to an article on Motherboard: The nation's largest internet service providers are undermining US open internet rules, threatening free speech, and disproportionately harming poor people by using a controversial industry practice called "zero-rating," a coalition of public interest groups wrote in a letter to federal regulators on Monday. Companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T use zero-rating, which refers to a variety of practices that exempt certain services from monthly data caps, to undercut "the spirit and the text" of federal rules designed to protect net neutrality, the principle that all content on the internet should be equally accessible, the groups wrote. Zero-rated plans "distort competition, thwart innovation, threaten free speech, and restrict consumer choice -- all harms the rules were meant to prevent," the groups wrote. "These harms tend to fall disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color, who tend to rely on mobile networks as their primary or exclusive means of access to the internet."

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Glare On Cellphones?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 05:51 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's my-eyes-my-eyes department:
An anonymous reader writes: As far as I know, I am not particularly sensitive to glare; I've used CRTs in offices full of overhead fluorescent lights, and just ignored the terrible reflections, and I've worked in places where the natural sunlight cleverly funneled in by architects was bounced around by glass walls and mirrors in just the right way to irritate. Still, I never found it much of a problem. Now, though, I work in a field that has me both working outdoors a lot, and traveling by car a fair amount, too. Now that days are getting longer, especially up here in the Pacific Northwest, I know that I'll be squinting and cursing a lot at my phone. My question(s): Are there are any modern smart phones you can recommend with a truly or even passably day-light readable screen? I don't care if it's e-ink (that would be cool), transflective (long promised!) or maybe just a secondary screen with some daylight-readable technology. Barring that, how do you deal with glare on a phone, when you need to use it on a sunny day? Same answer could apply to laptop use, I suppose. Do you build a little glare shield, of the kind that camera operators use? Wear a giant hood of privacy and darkness? I know I'm not alone — I see lots of others squinting and cursing at their cell phones, cupping it with their hands at their eyes, or ducking into scant shade just to see whether the call that's coming is one they need to take, or to read a text. I've tried quite a few phones that have been praised by reviewers for their bright, crisp, daylight-friendly displays, but I think those reviewers probably lived in New York or San Francisco, and were reading in either shadow or fog, because even the brightest Samsungs, Motorolas, and LGs I've seen cannot hold a candle to the summer sun north of Seattle.

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Ubuntu Tablet Now Available For Pre-Order
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 04:31 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's success-just-to-get-this-far department:
prisoninmate writes: During last month's MWC 2016 event, Canonical had the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet on display at their huge booth, along with the superb Meizu PRO 5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone, and the Sony Xperia Z1 and OnePlus One Ubuntu Phones. The company teased users last week with the availability for pre-order of the first ever Ubuntu tablet for March 28, and that day has arrived. Probably the most important aspect of the BQ Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet, which interested many users, was the price, and we can tell you now that it costs €289.90 for the Full HD version, and €249.90 for the HD model. It can be pre-ordered now from BQ's online store.

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Slaughter At The Bridge: Uncovering A Colossal Bronze Age Battle
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '16 at 01:41 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's West-European-Prehistory department:
schwit1 quotes a report from the American Association for the Advancement of Science via Sciencemag.org: About 3200 years ago, two armies clashed at a river crossing near the Baltic Sea. The confrontation can't be found in any history books -- the written word didn't become common in these parts for another 2000 years -- but this was no skirmish between local clans. Thousands of warriors came together in a brutal struggle, perhaps fought on a single day, using weapons crafted from wood, flint, and bronze, a metal that was then the height of military technology. "If our hypothesis is correct that all of the finds belong to the same event, we're dealing with a conflict of a scale hitherto completely unknown north of the Alps," says dig co-director Thomas Terberger, an archaeologist at the Lower Saxony State Service for Cultural Heritage in Hannover. "There's nothing to compare it to." It may even be the earliest direct evidence -- with weapons and warriors together -- of a battle this size anywhere in the ancient world.

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Volcano Erupts In Southwest Alaska, Sending Ash 20,000 Feet
Posted by News Fetcher on March 27 '16 at 10:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-can't-it-just-salivate? department:
USA Today reports that according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Pavlov Volcano, "about 600 miles southwest of Anchorage, erupted at 4:18 p.m. local time. The agency says the eruption also led to tremors on the ground. ... The USGS has raised the volcano alert level to âoeWarningâ and the aviation warning to 'Red.'" Television station KTUU of Anchorage has a few photos of the emerging ash plume, which has so far risen to about 20,000 feet (hence that aviation warning).

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Redbox Plans To Launch New Streaming Service 'Redbox Digital'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 27 '16 at 09:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's late-to-the-game department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Consumer Reports: Redbox, the movie and game-rental kiosk service, might be getting back into the streaming game a few years after its digital streaming service, Redbox Instant, failed. The new Redbox streaming service could be a pay-per-view option for rentals and purchases like Apple iTunes or Vudu. The trade publication Variety -- which broke the story, citing "multiple sources" familiar with the company -- said that the new service will be called Redbox Digital and that Redbox is close to launching a beta of the service.
Compared to a subscription service, negotiating the rights to pay-per-view titles should be easier for Redbox. And since many Redbox streaming customers already use their site to search for and reserve titles, it would be much more convenient for them to be able to immediately order a digital version. Another potential benefit would be the price of the rentals. The reason why physical Redbox kiosks are popular is because the $1.50 rental price for DVDs, and $2 rental price for Blu-ray discs are relatively cheap. Redbox Digital may gain some attraction if, and only if, there are considerable savings for users, otherwise there would be little reason to choose Redbox over a more established pay-per-view service, such as Amazon Instant, Google Play, or Vudu.

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Japan's Space Agency Loses Contact With New X-Ray Telescope Satellite "Hitomi"
Posted by News Fetcher on March 27 '16 at 09:32 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's vacuum-of-space-sucks department:
As carried here by the San Francisco Chronicle, The Associated Press reports that Japanese space agency JAXA reports that it has lost contact with its new satellite "Hitomi," deployed last month and designed to explore deep space with X-ray telescopes. The AP story linked quotes Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who surmises that an "energetic event" has sent the craft into a tumble. The agency's release on the failure is terse, but leaves some room for hope:

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) found that communication with the X-ray Astronomy Satellite âoeHitomiâ (ASTRO-H), launched on February 17, 2016 (JST), failed from the start of its operation originally scheduled at 16:40, Saturday March 26 (JST). Up to now, JAXA has not been able to figure out the state of health of the satellite.
While the cause of communication failure is under investigation, JAXA received short signal from the satellite, and is working for recovery.

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Japan's Loses Contact With New X-Ray Telescope Satellite "Hitomi"
Posted by News Fetcher on March 27 '16 at 06:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's vacuum-of-space-sucks department:
As carried here by the San Francisco Chronicle, The Associated Press reports that Japanese space agency JAXA reports that it has lost contact with its new satellite "Hitomi," deployed last month and designed to explore deep space with X-ray telescopes. The AP story linked quotes Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who surmises that an "energetic event" has sent the craft into a tumble. The agency's release on the failure is terse, but leaves some room for hope:

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) found that communication with the X-ray Astronomy Satellite âoeHitomiâ (ASTRO-H), launched on February 17, 2016 (JST), failed from the start of its operation originally scheduled at 16:40, Saturday March 26 (JST). Up to now, JAXA has not been able to figure out the state of health of the satellite.
While the cause of communication failure is under investigation, JAXA received short signal from the satellite, and is working for recovery.

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Microsoft Releases a Version of Windows 10 For the Chinese Government
Posted by News Fetcher on March 27 '16 at 05:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's doing-more-for-the-Chinese-government department:
Tech In Asia reports that Microsoft has completed their Windows 10 Chinese Government Edition, citing Caixin magazine's interview with Microsoft China's CEO. "Haupter told Caixin that it features fewer of Microsoft's consumer-targeted apps and services," the site reports, "while including more management and security controls, in accordance with the needs of China's government." It was back in December that Microsoft first announced their plans for this joint venture with the Chinese government. While Windows is popular in China's fast-growing market, "piracy of Microsoft's software runs rampant," reported PC World, adding that "in order to actually make money from Chinese consumers and businesses, Microsoft needs them to pay up."

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Researcher Measures Brain Reactions To Donald Trump
Posted by News Fetcher on March 27 '16 at 04:03 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's this-is-your-brain-on-politics department:
An anonymous reader writes: Sam Barnett "has been strapping electrode caps on focus group participants and showing them primary season debates," reports CNN, and there's one clear conclusion. "Seeing Trumps face, hearing Trump's voice, lights up the brain." His data captured big surges in neural activity for hot-button topics like immigration, and revealed that while Marco Rubio actually triggered slightly more brain activity among men, Trump clearly produced the highest reactions among women and overall. "The focus group participants might have been excited by Trump. Or they might have been repulsed," reports CNN. "But one thing was for sure: they weren't bored." Barnett has also used electroencephalography (or EEG) to study advertising, and in the future he hopes to also apply it to other complex forms of brain stimulation like movies and even hedge-fund investing.

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Court Stops FCC's Latest Attempt To Lower Prison Phone Rates
Posted by News Fetcher on March 27 '16 at 04:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cost-per-minute department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Prison phone companies have convinced a court to halt new rate caps on inmate calling for the second time this month. The first stay was issued March 7 and prevented the FCC from implementing new rate caps of 11 cents to 22 cents per minute on both interstate and intrastate calls from prisons. But the stay -- which remains in place while the prison phone companies' lawsuit against the FCC is still pending -- did not disturb an earlier "interim" cap of 21 cents to 25 cents per minute that applied only to interstate calls, those that cross state lines. The order also didn't specifically object to the FCC changing its definition of "inmate calling service" to include both interstate and intrastate calls. Seizing on this ambiguity, the FCC decided that it could impose the interim caps on both interstate and intrastate calls. But prison phone companies Securus Technologies, Global Tel Link (GTL), and Telmate all asked the federal appeals court to stop the caps from being applied to intrastate calls. A court order issued Wednesday sided with the prison phone companies, saying that "petitioners have satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review." As a result, the interim rate caps will still apply only to interstate calls.

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University of Illinois Transmits Record 57Gbps Through Fiber Optic Lines
Posted by News Fetcher on March 27 '16 at 02:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's that's-a-lot-of-data department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Engineers at the University of Illinois have set a new record for fiber-optic data transmission, breaking previous theories that fiber optics have a limit in how much data they can carry. The engineers transmitted 57Gbps of error-free data at room temperature. The group, led by Professor Milton Feng, improved on its previous work in 2014, when it achieved 40Gbps. The keywords here are "error free," which is what makes this research unique from others that claim faster speeds. Fang said, "There is a lot of data out there, but if your data transmission is not fast enough, you cannot use data that's been collected; you cannot use upcoming technologies that use large data streams, like virtual reality. The direction toward fiber-optic communication is going to increase because there's a higher speed data rate, especially over distance."

Engadget writes in an update to a similar report: "Reader Tanj notes that this is specifically a record for VCSEL (vertical cavity surface-emitting laser) fiber, not fiber as a whole."

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