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Combat Lasers To Be Added To US Fighter Jets
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 05:42 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's flight-sabers department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NextBigFuture:
The US Air Force plans to arm its fleet of drones and fighter jets with high-tech laser weapons.... Ground testing of a laser weapon called the High Energy Laser, or HEL, was slated to take place last year at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, service officials said...

The Air Force plans to begin firing laser weapons from larger platforms such as C-17s and C-130s until the technological miniaturization efforts can configure the weapon to fire from fighter jets such as an F-15, F-16 or F-35. Instead of flying with six or seven missiles on an aircraft, a directed energy weapons system could fire thousands of shots using a single gallon of jet fuel.

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Swiss City of Zug Will Accept Bitcoin For Public Service Payments
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 04:28 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's current-currencies department:
Slashdot reader Mickeycaskill writes: The Swiss city of Zug, famed for its financial sector and low tax rates, will accept Bitcoin as payment for public services up the value of 200 Swiss Francs.The city council hopes the use of digital currencies will help stimulate the local fintech sector and promote the region as a financial hub. If the trial is successful, the value of transactions could be increased and other towns in the canton will join in. "We want to express our openness to new technologies," said Mayor Dolfi Muller. "We will invite FinTech companies in Zug to meet with the City Council to exchange ideas. Our goal is to provide the best environment for their development."

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Neuroscience Explains Why Dieters Rarely Lose Weight
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 12:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's food-for-thought department:
HughPickens.com writes: According to a new study, the chance of an obese person attaining normal body weight is 1 in 210 for men and 1 in 124 for women, increasing to 1 in 1,290 for men and 1 in 677 for women with severe obesity, suggesting that current weight management programs focused on dieting and exercise are not effective in tackling obesity. Now neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt writes in the New York Times that "in the long run dieting is rarely effective, doesn't reliably improve health and does more harm than good". And according to Aamodt, the root of the problem is not willpower but neuroscience. Metabolic suppression is one of several powerful tools that the brain uses to keep the body within a certain weight range, called the set point. The range, which varies from person to person, is determined by genes and life experience. When dieters' weight drops below it, they not only burn fewer calories but also produce more hunger-inducing hormones and find eating more rewarding. If someone starts at 120 pounds and drops to 80, her brain rightfully declares a starvation state of emergency, using every method available to get that weight back up to normal. This coordinated brain response is a major reason that dieters find weight loss so hard to achieve and maintain. According to Aamodt dieting can actually lead to weight gain because dieting is stressful. Calorie restriction produces stress hormones, which act on fat cells to increase the amount of abdominal fat. Such fat is associated with medical problems like diabetes and heart disease, regardless of overall weight.... Aamodt recommends mindful eating -- paying attention to signals of hunger and fullness, without judgment, to relearn how to eat only as much as the brain's weight-regulation system commands.

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Debian Dropping Support For Older CPUs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 08:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's throwing-in-the-chips department:
An anonymous reader shares DistroWatch's report that the Debian distribution will soon be dropping support for older, 32-bit processors. The Debian project supports a wide range of hardware architectures, including 32-bit x86 CPUs. Changes are happening in Debian's development branches which will make older versions of the 32-bit architecture obsolete. Ben Hutchings provides the details: "Last year it was decided to increase the minimum CPU features for the i386 architecture to 686-class in the Stretch release cycle. This means dropping support for 586-class and hybrid 586/686 processors. (Support for 486-class processors was dropped, somewhat accidentally, in Squeeze.) This was implemented in the Linux kernel packages starting with Linux 4.3, which was uploaded to Unstable in December last year. In case you missed that change, GCC for i386 has recently been changed to target 686-class processors and is generating code that will crash on other processors. Any such systems still running Testing or Unstable will need to be switched to run Stable (Jessie)."
Hutching's announcement includes a list of processors which will no longer be supported after Debian "Jessie".

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NVIDIA Shows New Doom Demo On GeForce GTX 1080
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 06:42 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's power-up department:
MojoKid shares a video showing the upcoming Doom game on NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card using the Vulkan API, quoting this report from HotHardware:
At a private briefing with NVIDIA, representatives from id software came out on stage to show off the upcoming game...the first public demonstration of the game using both NVIDIA's new flagship and the next-gen API, which is a low-overhead, cross-platform graphics and compute API akin to DirectX 12 and AMD's Mantle. In the initial part of the demo, the game is running smoothly, but its frame rate is capped at 60 frames per second. A few minutes in, however, at about the :53 second mark...the rep from id says, "We're going to uncap the framerate and see what Vulkan and Pascal can do".

With the framerate cap removed, the framerate jumps into triple digit territory and bounces between 120 and 170 frames per second, give or take. Note that the game was running on a projector at a resolution of 1080p with all in-game image quality options set to their maximum values. The game is very reminiscent of previous Doom titles and the action is non-stop.

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UAE Bank Suffers Massive Data Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 03:42 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's too-big-to-flail department:
An anonymous reader writes: Two weeks ago, Qatar's National Bank suffered a massive data breach at the hands of Turkish hackers. That data included details about Qatar's royal family and Al Jazeera reporters... Now it appears that the same hacker group has dumped data from a UAE bank. The data appears to be the same data stolen by a hacker last year, who tried to blackmail the bank for $3 million. An analysis of the data can be found here.

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Are US Courts 'Going Dark'?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 03:42 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's judge-dread department:
An anonymous reader writes: Judge Stephen Wm. Smith argues that questions about the government's "golden age of surveillance" miss an equally significant trend: that the U.S. Courts are "going dark". In a new editorial, he writes that "Before the digital age, executed search warrants were routinely placed on the court docket available for public inspection," but after the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, more than 30,000 secret court surveillance orders were given just in 2006. He predicts that today's figure is more than double, "And those figures do not include surveillance orders obtained by state and local authorities, who handle more than 15 times the number of felony investigations that the feds do. Based on that ratio, the annual rate of secret surveillance orders by federal and state courts combined could easily exceed half a million."

Judge Smith also cites an increase in cases -- even civil cases -- that are completely sealed, but also an increase in "private arbitration" and other ways of resolving disputes which are shielded from the public eye. "Employers, Internet service providers, and consumer lenders have led a mass exodus from the court system. By the click of a mouse or tick of a box, the American public is constantly inveigled to divert the enforcement of its legal rights to venues closed off from public scrutiny. Justice is becoming privatized, like so many other formerly public goods turned over to invisible hands -- electricity, water, education, prisons, highways, the military." The judge's conclusion? "Over the last 40 years, secrecy in all aspects of the judicial process has risen to literally unprecedented levels. "

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Lego Robots Crack Gesture-Based Security
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 02:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mental-blocks department:
An anonymous reader writes: Lego Robots outfitted with a "finger" made from molded Play-Doh were able to bypass seven different gesture-based security systems at least 70% of the time, according to a new study funded by DARPA. Gestural ID systems "tend to take a rosy view of the security world in which hackers attempt to breach such defenses via crude impersonation," reports Vice, which notes that the systems now turn out to be far less reliable against automated attacks using a careful "forgery" of a user's gestures. DARPA titled their report "Robotic Robbery on the Touch Screen," writing that it "demonstrates the threat that robots pose to touch-based authentication, and provides compelling evidence as to why the zero-effort attack should cease to be used as the benchmark for touch-based authentication systems."

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Microsoft Will Stop Supporting Windows Live Mail 2012
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 02:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's you-will-be-assimilated department:
An anonymous reader writes: "Windows Live Mail 2012 users are on notice: Switch to a modern email client or lose access to any Microsoft email accounts they have," reports InfoWorld. In a Thursday blog post, Microsoft informed users of their Windows Live Mail software that "the time has come for you to upgrade to a new email application." Outlook.com is moving to a new Office 365 infrastructure which uses protocols not supported by Windows Live Mail, meaning its users "will not be able to send or receive Outlook.com email from Windows Live Mail 2012 after your account is upgraded." InfoWorld points out this affects users with email addresses ending with @outlook.com, @hotmail.com, @live.com, or @msn.com.

The Outlook team's corporate vice president posted on the Office.com blog that "We recognize that changes like this can be difficult and apologize for any inconvenience this causes you..." adding that "we are confident that you will love the benefits and performance of the new Outlook.com," and recommending users switch to the Mail app on Windows. The Inquirer reports that Microsoft also emailed the software's users, suggesting that "If you are using Windows 7, you can upgrade to a newer version of Windows to enjoy the Mail app and the other benefits."

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New "Perfect Game" Donkey Kong Record May Be Unbeatable
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 11:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's now-Mario-retires department:
An anonymous reader writes:
Standing in front on a Donkey Kong arcade cabinet, Wes Copeland set a new all-time high score on Thursday, playing Donkey Kong for 3 hours, 20 minutes, and scoring 1,218,000 points."It's how he took the title, though that's so staggering," reports Polygon. "Copeland did not lose a single Mario in the game. He took his first life all the way from the first level all the way to the end, cashing in the extra lives to obliterate all comers." Since the game ends after 22 levels, it will be difficult to surpass Copeland's "perfect game".
For comparison, Steve Wiebe set a high score in 2007 with just 695,500 points in the documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters," eventually bumping his score up to 1,064,500 by 2010. But Thursday, posting a picture of his new high score on Facebook, Copeland announced that "This will be my last record score. I don't believe I can put up a game any higher than this."

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Uber and Lyft Spend $8.2 Million To Lose Fingerprint Election, Vow To Leave Austin
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 11:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's keeping-Austin-weird department:
On Saturday voters in Austin, Texas refused to repeal a new regulation that requires fingerprinting drivers for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. In Austin's most expensive election ever, the ride-sharing services spent over $8.2 million pushing Proposition 1, apparently outspending their opponents by a 80:1 ratio. But on election day, the proposal to repeal ultimately received just 39,083 votes -- 44% of the total cast -- meaning the lobbyists spent $209 for each vote received. Both services have said they will cease operations in Austin rather than perform the fingerprint-based criminal background checks.

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Dropbox Cuts Several Employee Perks as Silicon Valley Startups Brace For Cold
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 10:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's cost-cutting department:
Not everything is working out at Dropbox, popular cloud storage and sharing service, last valued at $10 billion. Business Insider is reporting a major cost cutting at the San Francisco-based company. As part of it, the publication reports, Dropbox has cancelled its free shuttle in San Francisco, its gym washing service, pushed back dinner time by an hour and curtailed the number of guests to five per month (previously it was unlimited). These cuttings will directly impact Dropbox's profitability. According to a leaked memo, obtained by BI, employee perks alone cost the company at least $25,000 a year for each employee. (Dropbox has nearly 1,500 employees.) From the report: Dropbox isn't the only high-profile startup to unleash a company wide cost-cutting campaign lately. A number of unicorn startups, worth over $1 billion, including Evernote, Jawbone, and Tango, have all gone through some form of cost cuts, whether layoffs, office closures, or reduced employee perks. [...] A lot of this has to do with the slowing venture funding environment in Silicon Valley. Investors have become much more conservative with their money lately, and are losing patience for startups that have failed to generate returns after years of free spending. For Dropbox, the cost cuts may have less to do with the state of the VC market than with its own ambitions. Dropbox CEO Drew Houston has repeatedly said in the past that he doesn't need to raise capital in the private market anymore. Instead, Dropbox may want to show investors that its business is strong enough to IPO.

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Prisons Moving To All-Video Visitation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 08:53 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's do-not-pass-Go department:
"A new system called 'video visitation' is replacing in-person jail visits with glitchy, expensive Skype-like video calls," reports Tech.Mic. "It's inhumane, dystopian and actually increases in-prison violence -- but god, it makes money."
Slashdot reader gurps_npc writes: In-person costs a lot to administer, while you can charge people to 'visit' via video conferencing. (Charge as in overcharge -- just like they charge up to $14 a minute for normal, audio only telephone calls). This is new, and the few studies that have been done show that doing this increases violence in the prison -- and it's believed to also increase recidivism. But the companies making a ton on it like that -- repeat customers and all. Of course, the service is horrible, often being full of static and dropped calls -- and the company doesn't help you fix the problem.

Meanwhile, the EFF reports that last year Facebook disabled 53 U.S prisoner and 74 U.K. prisoner accounts at the request of the government, and is urging people to report takedown requests for inmate social media to OnlineCensorship.org.

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Linux Mint 18 Will Ship Without Multimedia Support
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 08:53 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's freshly-minted department:
An anonymous reader quotes this report from Distrowatch: Linux Mint 18 will no longer provide separate, codec-free installation media for OEM and magazine distribution. Instead, the distribution will ship without multimedia support while making it easy for users to acquire media codecs during the initial installation of the operating system. "OEM installation disks and NoCodec images will no longer be released. Instead, similar to other distributions, images will ship without codecs and will support both traditional and OEM installations. This will reduce our release cycle to 4 separate events and the production and testing of 12 ISO images. Multimedia codecs can be installed easily: From the welcome screen, by clicking on "Multimedia Codecs", or from the main menu, by clicking on "Menu"->"Sound and Video"->"Install Multimedia Codecs", or during the installation process, by clicking a checkbox option." Additional information on the upcoming release of Linux Mint 18 can be found in the project's monthly newsletter.

Softpedia points out that they're using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS as the package base, meaning "more hardware devices and components are now supported."

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Airline Delays Flight Over Passenger's Suspicious Math Equations
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 07:22 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's irrational-numbers department:
Earthquake Retrofit shares this article from the Associated Press: "An Ivy League professor said his flight was delayed because a fellow passenger thought the math equations he was writing might be a sign he was a terrorist... He said the woman sitting next to him passed a note to a flight attendant and the plane headed back to the gate. Guido Menzio, who is Italian and has curly, dark hair, said the pilot then asked for a word and he was questioned by an official... "They tell me that the woman was concerned that I was a terrorist because I was writing strange things on a pad of paper..." He was treated respectfully throughout, he added. But, he said, he was concerned about a delay that a brief conversation or an Internet search could have resolved. "Not seeking additional information after reports of 'suspicious activity'... is going to create a lot of problems, especially as xenophobic attitudes may be emerging."

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Researcher Writes A Machine Language For The Universe
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 06:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's answer-is-42 department:
Slashdot reader smugfunt shares a blog post from systems scientist George Mobus:

"There is a fundamental language of systems that provides a way to describe both structures and functions that is universal across any kind of system... I am nearing completion of the basic specification of the language and will be presenting my results at the next ISSS conference in Boulder CO this July... This language, which I formally call SL, but privately call "systemese", is like the machine language of the universe. Any system you choose to analyze and model can be described in this language...! The beauty of the approach is that the end product of analysis is a compilable program that is the model of the system. The language does not just cover dynamics (e.g. system dynamics), or agents (agent-based), or evolutionary (e.g., genetic algorithms) models. It incorporates all of the above plus real adaptivity and learning (e.g. biological-like), and real evolvability (as when species or corporations evolve in complex non-stationary environments)... Systemese and mentalese (the language of thought), a concept advanced by philosopher of mind Jerry Fodor, are basically one in the same! That is, our brains, at a subconscious level, use systemese to construct our models of how the world works.

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Lyft Plans Self-Driving Taxi Fleet By 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 04:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's car-talk department:
An anonymous reader writes:
Lyft hopes to launch a self-driving fleet of taxis as soon as next year, according to reports, arriving in the market years before Apple and Google. "There will still be a human 'driver' in the cars, as mandated by law for the time being," writes BGR, adding that eventually the driver will become obsolete. "But said human will be there solely in the event of a malfunction. Otherwise, Lyft's new vehicles will drive themselves."

Meanwhile, Fortune writes that most analysts believe it will be four years before Apple gets a car on the road, though they're moving in that direction and even hired a Tesla executive last month. They add that both Apple and Google are now eyeing at least 400,000 square feet of Bay Area real estate to use in the development of their self-driving fleets.

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Siri Voice Actress Doesn't Use Siri
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 04:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's does-Siri-dream-of-electric-sheep? department:
An anonymous coward writes: Susan Bennett, the actress who provided the voice of Apple's Siri assistant, says she "doesn't really" use Siri herself. "It's too weird," she says in a new interview. While she uses many Apple products, "I'm used to hearing my voice on radio and TV commercials and that sort of thing, but to hear my own voice coming out of this little computer phone is too strange."
Bennett says she recorded every sound combination in the English language one fateful July in 2005, working five days a week, four hours a day, but didn't know it was for Siri until six years later, in 2011, when another voice actor e-mailed,"Hey, we're playing around with this new iPhone. Isn't this you?" Bennett says she was "kind of horrified, because I hadn't been told... On the other hand, I was extremely flattered."

In the interview she also says she felt "dissed" when Siri answered one of her first questions, "What are you doing," with a disgusted "I'm talking to you..." Although on her personal web site, Bennett shares a recording of herself being interviewed by Siri.

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Kobo Customers Losing Books From Their Libraries After Software Upgrade
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '16 at 12:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's one-second-it's-here,-at-other-it-isn't department:
Reader Robotech_Master writes: After a recent Kobo software upgrade, a number of Kobo customers have reported losing e-books from their libraries -- notably, e-books that had been transferred to Kobo from their Sony Reader libraries when Sony left the consumer e-book business. One customer reported missing 460 e-books, and the only way to get them back in her library would be to search and re-add them one at a time! Customers who downloaded their e-books and illegally broke the DRM don't have this problem, of course.From the report: A Kobo representative actually chimed in on the thread, telling MobileRead users that they were following the thread and trying to fix the glitches that had been caused by the recent software changes and restore customers' e-books. It's good that they're paying attention, and that's definitely better than my first go-round with Barnes and Noble support over my own missing e-book. Hopefully they'll get it sorted out soon. That being said, this drives home yet again the point that publisher-imposed DRM has made and is making continued maintenance of e-book libraries from commercial providers a big old mess. About the only way you can be sure you can retain the e-books you pay for is to outright break the law and crack the DRM in order to be able to back them up against your company going out of business and losing the purchases you paid for.

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Amazon Bows To Pressure To Bring Same-Day Deliveries To Poor Areas
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '16 at 08:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Prime-numbers department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune:
After pressure from lawmakers, Amazon is revamping its same-day delivery service in response to complaints that it failed to provide service to poor, minority neighborhoods. The retail giant said it would bring its same-day delivery service to all Zip Codes in the 27 cities where its offered, not just in the wealthier areas, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday.

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