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How Many Digits of Pi Does NASA Use?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '16 at 09:02 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's piece-of-pi department:
An anonymous reader quotes an article on Kottke.org: Mathematicians have calculated pi out to more than 13 trillion decimal places, a calculation that took 208 days. NASA's Marc Rayman explains that in order to send out probes and slingshot them accurately throughout the solar system, NASA needs to use only 15 decimal places. Rayman explains, "The most distant spacecraft from Earth is Voyager 1. It is about 12.5 billion miles away. Let's say we have a circle with a radius of exactly that size (or 25 billion miles in diameter) and we want to calculate the circumference, which is pi times the radius times 2. Using pi rounded to the 15th decimal, as I gave above, that comes out to a little more than 78 billion miles. We don't need to be concerned here with exactly what the value is (you can multiply it out if you like) but rather what the error in the value is by not using more digits of pi. In other words, by cutting pi off at the 15th decimal point, we would calculate a circumference for that circle that is very slightly off. It turns out that our calculated circumference of the 25 billion mile diameter circle would be wrong by 1.5 inches. Think about that. We have a circle more than 78 billion miles around, and our calculation of that distance would be off by perhaps less than the length of your little finger."

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Scientists Are Developing the World's Biggest Wind Turbine With 656-Ft. Long Blades
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '16 at 09:02 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's mind-blowing department:
An anonymous reader writes from an LATimes article: Efforts to increase wind power mean that turbine blades are getting bigger and bigger. But a new design in the works takes the idea to levels most people can barely imagine: Blades up to 656.2 feet long -- more than two football fields. Today's longest blades are 262.5 feet. The blades at Imperial County's Ocotillo wind farm, which sends electricity to San Diego, are 173.9 feet long. "We call it the extreme scale," Eric Loth, a University of Virginia professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, said of the planned mega-blades. "There's nothing like it." The blades would look much different look from today's wind turbines. They wouldn't face the wind but would go downwind, aligning the blades to flow with the wind instead of fighting it. And instead of a single stiff blade, each blade would be broken into segments, allowing it to be more easily fabricated. In addition, the concept would allow the blades to "morph" -- spread out when the wind is blowing lightly to capture as much power as possible.

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Microsoft Working on Tool to Port Chrome Extensions to Edge
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '16 at 07:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's browsers-getting-better department:
Earlier this week, Microsoft released a new Windows 10 build for Insiders that, among other things, brings support for extensions to Microsoft Edge. There aren't many extensions to play with currently, but a Microsoft engineer says the company is working on a tool to allow developers to bring their Chrome extensions to its store. "Lots of questions on this," tweeted Jacob Rossi. "Yes we're working on a porting tool to run Chrome extensions in Edge. Not yet finished and not all APIs supported."

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Is $699 Too Much For a 13.3-inch Android E-ink Reader?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '16 at 06:11 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's to-each-according-to-his-needs department:
Robotech_Master writes: GoodEReader editor Michael Kozlowski is running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to sell a $699 13.3" Android e-ink tablet. The campaign seeks $42,000--enough to fund the 60-device minimum order set by the OEM. But is it really a good deal for that much money? As an early-adopter or business-class device, it very well might be.

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Cinema-Quality Unity Engine 'Adam' Demo Claims To Run Real-Time On GeForce GTX 980
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '16 at 04:53 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's leadering-to-better-graphics department:
MojoKid writes: This week at GDC 2016 the team at Unity revealed their stable release of the Unity 5.3.4 game engine along with a beta of Unity 5.4. There are a number of upgrades included with Unity 5.4 including in-editor artist workflow improvements, VR rendering pipeline optimizations, improved multithreaded rendering, customizable particles which can use Light Probe Proxy Volumes (LPPV) to add more realistic lighting models and the ability to drop in textures from tools like Quixel DDo Painter. But for a jaw-dropping look at what's possible with the Unity 5.4 engine, check out the short film "Adam" that Unity has developed to demo it. The film showcases all of Unity Engine 5.4's effects and gives a great look at what to expect from Unity-based games coming in 2016. Unity will showcase the full film at Unite Europe 2016 in Amsterdam. But what's most impressive about Adam perhaps is that Unity says that this is all being run in real-time at 1440p resolution on just an upper-midrange GeForce GTX 980 card.

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Laid-Off Abbott IT Workers Won't Have To Train Their Replacements
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '16 at 02:11 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's overlords-vary-in-their-demands department:
dcblogs writes: An angry letter from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) protesting Abbott Labs' IT employee layoff may be having an impact, but not the way the senator wanted. The layoffs are part of plan by Abbott to shift some IT work to India-based Wipro, a major user H-1B visas, and Abbott is proceeding with the cuts despite Durbin's plea "to reconsider this plan and retain these U.S. workers." Abbott put the number of impacted IT employees at "fewer than 150." Durbin's letter has it at 180. But Abbott may be making changes in how the layoffs are conducted. IT employees, who only spoke on the condition of anonymity, said they were initially told they would be training replacements. But Abbott said Friday that the "affected Abbott IT employees are not being asked to train their replacements." The firm's statement appears to confirm the latest employee accounts of what's going on. One worker said the replacement training may be limited to employees who aren't losing their jobs. The training of replacements was a major issue for Durbin. In his letter to the firm, Durbin wrote: "To add insult to injury, the Abbott Labs IT staff who will be laid off will first be forced to train their replacements."

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What Lies Beneath: The First Transatlantic Communications Cables
Posted by News Fetcher on March 19 '16 at 12:52 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's earlier-cables-were-just-decorative department:
szczys writes: Our global information networks are connected by many many fibre optic cables sitting on the the ocean floor. The precursor to this technology goes all the way back to 1858 when the first telegraph cable connecting North America and Europe was laid. The story of efforts to lay transatlantic cables is fascinating. First attempts were met with many failures including broken cable in the first few miles of installation, and even frying the first successful connection with 2000 volts within a month of completion. But the technology improved quickly and just a century later we laid the first voice cables that used — get this — vacuum tubes in the signal repeaters. This seems a good time to link to one of my favorite-ever pieces in Wired, about a more modern but similarly impressive cable install, as told by Neal Stephenson.

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Security Researcher Goes Missing After Investigating Bangladesh Bank Cyber-Heist
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 10:13 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's doesn't-sound-promising department:
An anonymous reader writes: Tanvir Hassan Zoha, 34, security researcher, has gone missing just days after accusing Bangladesh's central bank officials of negligence, which facilitated the theft of over $81 million from the country's oversea accounts (hackers tried to steal $1 billion, but a typo stopped them). Zoha was apparently kidnapped this Wednesday after a jeep pulled over in front of his rickshaw. The friend that was with him was released hours later unharmed. When trying to contact police, family members were re-routed between police stations, and eventually gave up, contacting the media.

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AMD Publishes Preview Linux Hybrid Driver With Vulkan, OpenGL 4.5 Support
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 07:21 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's time-to-move-the-pixels department:
An anonymous reader writes: AMD has finally published the previously talked about closed-source Radeon Vulkan driver for Linux. Announced by AMD via the Phoronix Forums is the new hybrid driver dubbed "AMD GPU-PRO Beta Driver – Linux." This closed-source user-space driver provides the first AMD Vulkan support on Linux along with OpenGL 4.5, OpenCL 2.0, and VDPAU video acceleration capabilities. But in using the open-source AMDGPU kernel driver, only the very latest AMD GPUs are currently supported (GCN 1.2+).

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: the 140-Character Limit 'Is Staying'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 05:52 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's long-enough-for-anybody department:
An anonymous reader writes: The rumor that Twitter will scrap its 140-character limit for tweets just won't die. In an interview with NBC this morning, CEO Jack Dorsey has gone on record to say that the limit is staying.

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More Devs Now Use OS X Than Linux, Says Survey
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's keeping-up-with-the-trends department:
An anonymous reader writes from an article on 9to5Mac: Stack Overflow reports that more developers now use OS X than Linux as their primary OS, and that if the trend continues, fewer than half of all developers will be using Windows next year. The site says it carried out "the most comprehensive developer survey ever conducted," with more than 56,000 coders across 173 countries taking part.

The survey also mentioned more were still developing for Android than iOS -- 61.9% versus 47.5%. However, almost a third of developers are using Swift, which was also the second most loved language after Rust.

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South Korea Commits $863 Million To AI Research After AlphaGo 'Shock'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's the-demise-of-humans department:
schwit1 writes: In reaction to the recent Go victory by a computer program over a human, the government of South Korea has quickly accelerated its plans to back research into the field of artificial intelligence with a commitment of $863 million and the establishment of [a] public/private institute. According to Nature.com, "It is not immediately clear whether the cash represents new funding, or had been previously allocated to AI efforts. But it does include the founding of a high-profile, public-private research center with participation from several Korean conglomerates, including Samsung, LG Electronics and Hyundai Motor, as well as the technology firm Naver, based near Seoul. The timing of the announcement indicates the impact [AlphaGo has on South Korea], which two days earlier wrapped up a 4-1 victory over grandmaster Lee Sedol in an exhibition match in Seoul. The feat was hailed as a milestone for AI research. But it also shocked the Korean public, stoking widespread concern over the capabilities of AI, as well as a spate of newspaper headlines worrying that South Korea was falling behind in a crucial growth industry. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has also announced the formation of a council that will provide recommendations to overhaul the nation's research and development process to enhance productivity. In her [March 17] speech, she emphasized that "artificial intelligence can be a blessing for human society" and called it "the fourth industrial revolution." She added, "Above all, Korean society is ironically lucky, that thanks to the 'AlphaGo shock,' we have learned the importance of AI before it is too late."' Not surprisingly, some academics are complaining that the money is going to [the] industry rather than the universities. Will this crony capitalistic approach produce any real development, or will it instead end up [being] a pork-laden jobs program for South Korean politicians?

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Neural Mechanisms In Mouse Brains Indicate We Actively Forget As We Learn
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's forgetting-to-learn department:
An anonymous reader writes from an article on MedicalXpress: They say that once you've learned to ride a bicycle, you never forget how to do it. But new research suggests that while learning, the brain is actively trying to forget. "This is the first time that a pathway in the brain has been linked to forgetting, to actively erasing memories," says Cornelius Gross, who led the work at EMBL. At the simplest level, learning involves making associations, and remembering them. Working with mice, Gross and colleagues studied the hippocampus, a region of the brain that's long been know to help form memories. Information enters this part of the brain through three different routes. As memories are cemented, connections between neurons along the 'main' router become stronger. When they blocked this main route, the scientists found that the mice were no longer capable of learning a Pavlovian response -- associating a sound to a consequence, and anticipating that consequence. But if the mice had learned that association before the scientists stopped information flow in that main route, they could still retrieve that memory. This confirmed that this route is involved in forming memories, but isn't essential for recalling those memories. The latter probably involves the second route into the hippocampus, the scientists surmise. But blocking that main route had an unexpected consequence: the connections along it were weakened, meaning the memory was being erased.

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Sexism Is Still a Thing At Microsoft's GDC Party
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's catering-to-the-demographics department:
An anonymous reader writes from an article on TechCrunch: Microsoft hired a bunch of women wearing very little clothing to dance and socialize with people at the company's official Game Developers Conference after-party last night in San Francisco, Business Insider reports. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said in a statement to TechCrunch. "At Xbox-hosted events at GDC this past week, we represented Xbox and Microsoft in a way that was not consistent or aligned to our values. It was unequivocally wrong and will not be tolerated. I know we disappointed many people and I'm personally committed to holding ourselves to higher standards. We must ensure that diversity and inclusion are central to our everyday business and core values. We will do better in the future." What's problematic is that Microsoft chose to throw a party that clearly caters to heterosexual men by hiring women as objects of sex.

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NSA Suggested Clinton Use A $4,750 Windows CE PDA
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-antivirus-protection department:
An anonymous reader writes from an article on Ars Technica: When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was pushing to get a waiver allowing her to use a BlackBerry like President Barack Obama back in 2009, the National Security Agency had a very short list of devices approved for classified communications. The General Dynamics' Sectera Edge and L3 Communications' Guardian were the two devices built for the Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device (SME PED) program. They were the only devices anyone in government without an explicit security waver (like the one the president got, along with his souped-up BlackBerry 8830) could use until as recently as last year to get mobile access to top secret encrypted calls and secure e-mail. At the time Clinton was asking for a phone, only the Sectera Edge was available (the Guardian was running behind in development) and it required multiple server-side and phone-side e-mail additions, desktop synchronization software, and other supporting products. The "Executive Kit" version of the Edge, priced for government purchase at $4,750, included: Type 1 Sectera Edge (GSM or CDMA) device plus: Executive Carry Case, Leather Holster Travel Charger, Red/Black USB Cables, Vehicle Charger, Earbud, Stylus 10-pack, microSD Card with User Manual, Spare Battery, Privacy Shield 4-pack, Antivirus Software, Apriva Email Client and Perpetual Rights fee and Office Suite for Windows CE.

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Uber Seeking To Buy Self-Driving Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 01:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nokia-references department:
An anonymous reader writes from an article on Reuters: In order to save money from hiring drivers, ride-hailing service Uber has shown interest in placing a large order for self-driving cars, an auto industry source said on Friday. "They wanted autonomous cars," the source, who declined to be named, said. "It seemed like they were shopping around." Earlier on Friday, Germany's Manager Magazin reported that Uber had placed an order for at least 100,000 Mercedes S-Class cars, citing sources at both companies. [The top-flight limousine does not yet have fully autonomous driving functionality.] Another source familiar with the matter said no order had been placed with Mercedes-Benz. Diamler and Uber declined to comment. Auto industry executives are wary of doing deals with newcomers from the technology and software business who threaten to upend established business models based on manufacturing and selling cars. "We don't want to end up like Nokia's handset business, which was once hugely profitable... then disappeared," a second auto industry source said about doing a deal with Uber.

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Sony Working on 'PlayStation 4.5' With Enhanced VR and 4K Support
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 01:41 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's whispers-in-high-school-hallways department:
An anonymous reader writes: Citing multiple sources, Kotaku says that Sony is working on a 'PlayStation 4.5.' The gaming console will supposedly have an upgraded GPU which will support high-end 4K resolution for games, and have more processing power which would enhance the games supported by PlayStation VR. From the report, "A more powerful PS4 would also allow the machine to be more competitive with PCs in the world of virtual reality. With a higher-end GPU, the PS4 could more easily match up against the more expensive Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality headsets, which are designed to work with powerful PCs."

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Microsoft Revises Windows 7, 8 On Skylake Cut-Off Date To 2018
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 12:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's backtracking department:
An anonymous reader writes from a ZDNet story: Microsoft is softening its stance on how long and how completely it will continue to support Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users running Skylake-based devices. Instead of cutting off full, extended support for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 on Skylake on July 17, 2017, Microsoft will now guarantee full extended support to July 17, 2018. Microsoft also tightened up the wording as to what kinds of security updates Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will get once that date comes. "After July 2018, all critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates will be addressed for Skylake systems until extended support ends for Windows 7, January 14, 2020 and Windows 8.1 on January 10, 2023," it said. Many users weren't pleased with Microsoft's initial decision. And it appears OEMs weren't thrilled about it, either. Adrienne Mueller, Product Manager at Lenovo said earlier this month, "The thought here is that Microsoft is really just pushing customers to move to Windows 10. A lot of reactions from our customers...is can we influence Microsoft and tell them they're not ready to transition and try to get them to prolong support on that? We've tried, and Microsoft's not really willing to do that."

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Bank of England Teams With New UK Cybersecurity Body
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 12:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's easy-access-to-information department:
An anonymous reader writes: In its first project the UK's new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) will work with the Bank of England to produce guidelines for Britain's financial sector. The partnership will aim to bolster businesses' resilience to online threats which could damage the country's economy. The National Cyber Security Centre will seek to protect critical national infrastructure and ensure a safer online environment for UK consumers and organizations, which are increasingly threatened by crime groups, hackers and terrorists. The centre will bring together leading national cyber experts to advise on managing online security strategy.

In addition, the new centre will aim to offer more access to information relating to various cybersecurity threats, something that the GCHQ has not always been able to do since it is a secret intelligence service. The NCSC will work with both the private and public sector, acting as the focal point for communication and advice. It will be based in London and is expected to be open for business in October.

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Pwn2Own 2016 Recap: Hackers Earn $460,000 For 21 Hacks
Posted by News Fetcher on March 18 '16 at 10:52 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's money-is-a-good-incentive department:
wiredmikey writes from an article on SecurityWeek: Pwn2Own 2016 has come to an end, with researchers earning a total of $460,000 in cash for disclosing 21 new vulnerabilities in Windows, OS X, Flash, Safari, Edge and Chrome. On the first day of the well-known hacking competition, contestants earned $282,500 for vulnerabilities in Safari, Flash Player, Chrome, Windows and OS X. On the second day, Tencent Security Team Sniper took the lead after demonstrating a successful root-level code execution exploit in Safari via a use-after-free flaw in Safari and an out-of-bounds issue in Mac OS X. The exploit earned them $40,000 and 10 Master of Pwn points. This year's contestants earned nearly $100,000 less for their exploits compared to Pwn2Own 2015, when researchers walked away with more than $550,000 for their exploits.

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