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Interview: Ask Linus Torvalds a Question
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 09:31 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's go-ahead-and-ask department:
samzenpus writes: Linus Torvalds, the man behind the development of the Linux kernel, needs no introduction to Slashdot readers. Recently, we talked about his opinion on C++, and he talked about the future of Linux when he's gone. It's been a while since we sat down with Linus to ask him questions, so he's agreed to do it again and answer any you may have. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please keep them to one per post.

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New Manufacturing Technique Halves Cost of Lithium-Ion Batteries
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's current-events department:
An anonymous reader writes: Experts in materials science at MIT have developed a new process for creating lithium-ion batteries that will drop the associated production costs by half. The researchers say fundamental battery construction techniques have been refined over the past two decades, but not re-thought. "The new battery design is a hybrid between flow batteries and conventional solid ones: In this version, while the electrode material does not flow, it is composed of a similar semisolid, colloidal suspension of particles. Chiang and Carter refer to this as a 'semisolid battery.' This approach greatly simplifies manufacturing, and also makes batteries that are flexible and resistant to damage, says Chiang. ... Instead of the standard method of applying liquid coatings to a roll of backing material, and then having to wait for that material to dry before it can move to the next manufacturing step, the new process keeps the electrode material in a liquid state and requires no drying stage at all. Using fewer, thicker electrodes, the system reduces the conventional battery architecture's number of distinct layers, as well as the amount of nonfunctional material in the structure, by 80 percent."

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Anti-Uber Taxi Protest Blocks Access To Airports In France
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's meters-are-running department:
An anonymous reader writes: Taxi drivers in France have been complaining that a recently passed law against unlicensed commercial drivers is being flouted by Uber, and going relatively unenforced by authorities. They claim to have lost 30% of their income to Uber over the past two years, and they've become fed-up with the situation. The taxi drivers have now started an indefinite, nation-wide strike in protest. Part of that strike involves blocking access to Paris's Roissy airport as well as the main road encircling the city. Protesters have also blocked access to train stations in Merseille and Aix. "The drivers — who have to pay thousands of euros for a license — say they are being unfairly undercut by Uber, which is not licensed by the authorities. Prosecutors have cracked down on Uber, filing almost 500 legal cases involving complaints about UberPOP. About 100 attacks on Uber drivers and passengers have been reported in recent weeks."

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New Google and CMU Moonshot: the 'Teacherless Classroom'
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-guinea-pigs-need-to-pay-tuition department:
theodp writes: At the behest of Google, Carnegie Mellon University will largely replace formal lectures in a popular introductory Data Structures and Algorithms course this fall with videos and a social networking tool to accommodate more students. The idea behind the multi-year research project sponsored by Google — CMU will receive $200,000 in the project's first year — is to find a way to leverage existing faculty to meet a growing demand for computer science courses, while also expanding the opportunities for underrepresented minorities, high school students and community college students, explained Jacobo Carrasquel, associate teaching professor of CS. "As we teach a wider diversity of students, with different backgrounds, we can no longer teach to 'the middle,'" Carrasquel said. "When you do that, you're not aiming at the 20 percent of the top students or the 20 percent at the bottom." The move to a "teacherless classroom" for CS students at CMU [tuition $48K] comes on the heels of another Google CS Capacity Award-inspired move at Stanford [tuition $45K], where Pair Programming was adopted in a popular introductory CS class to "reduce the increasingly demanding workload for section leaders due to high enrollment and also help students to develop important collaboration skills."

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Warner Bros. Halts Sales of AAA Batman PC Game Over Technical Problems
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's holy-lag-batman department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Batman: Arkham series of video games has been quite popular over the past several years. But when the most recent iteration, Batman: Arkham Knight, was released a couple days ago, users who bought the PC version of the game found it suffered from crippling performance issues. Now, publisher Warner Bros. made an official statement in the community forums saying they were discontinuing sales of the PC version until quality issues can be sorted out. Gamers and journalists are using it as a rallying point to encourage people to stop preordering games, as it rewards studios for releasing broken content.

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ICANN Seeks Comment On Limiting Anonymized Domain Registration
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-computer-is-broadcasting-an-ip-address department:
angry tapir writes: Privacy advocates are sounding the alarm over a potential policy change (PDF) that would prevent some people from registering website addresses without revealing their personal information. ICANN, the regulatory body that oversees domain names, has asked for public comment on whether it should prohibit the private registration of domains which are "associated with commercial activities and which are used for online financial transactions."

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High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Can Lead To Cognitive Decline
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's twinkies-make-you-stupid department:
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Oregon State University have completed a study into how the sugar and fat content of a diet relates to cognitive flexibility. They found that diets with high amounts of either led to a decline in cognitive function. "This effect was most serious on the high-sugar diet, which also showed an impairment of early learning for both long-term and short-term memory." After four weeks on a high-fat or high-sugar diet, the performance of mice on various mental and physical tests started dropping. One of the scientists, Kathy Magnusson, said, "We've known for a while that too much fat and sugar are not good for you. This work suggests that fat and sugar are altering your healthy bacterial systems, and that's one of the reasons those foods aren't good for you. It's not just the food that could be influencing your brain, but an interaction between the food and microbial changes."

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The Next Java Update Could Make Yahoo Your Default Search Provider
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's feature-not-a-bug department:
itwbennett writes: At the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced a partnership with Oracle that could result in Yahoo becoming your default search provider in your browser. Starting this month, when users are prompted to update to the next version of Java, they'll be asked to make Yahoo their default search engine on Chrome (and Internet Explorer, for what it's worth). And, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the button will be checked by default, so if you aren't looking out for it, you might unwittingly find yourself a Yahoo user.

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NHS To Give Volunteers "Synthetic Blood" Made In a Laboratory Within Two Years
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 03:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's true-blood department:
schwit1 writes: The NHS plans to test artificial blood made from human stem cells in patients and hopes to start transfusing people with artificial blood by 2017. The trials will take place in Cambridge and If successful could lead to the mass production of artificial blood. The Independent reports: "A long-awaited clinical trial of artificial red blood cells will occur before 2017, NHS scientists said. The blood is made from stem cells extracted from either the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies or the blood of adult donors. The trial, thought to be a world first, will involve small transfusions of a few teaspoons of synthetic blood to test for any adverse reactions. It will allow scientists to study the time the manufactured red blood cells can survive within human recipients. Eventually, it is hoped that the NHS will be able to make unlimited quantities of red blood cells for emergency transfusions."

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New Zealand ISPs Back Down On Anti-Geoblocking Support
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '15 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's go-ahead-and-watch department:
angry tapir writes: A number of New Zealand Internet service providers will no longer offer their customers support for circumventing regional restrictions on accessing online video content. Major New Zealand media companies SKY, TVNZ, Lightbox and MediaWorks filed a lawsuit in April, arguing that skirting geoblocks violates the distribution rights of its media clients for the New Zealand market. The parties have reached an out-of-court settlement.

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France, Up In Arms Over NSA Spying, Passes New Surveillance Law
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 11:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's was-that-wrong? department:
An anonymous reader writes: French President Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting with top security officials to respond to WikiLeaks documents that say the NSA eavesdropped on French presidents. The documents published in Liberation and investigative website Mediapart include material that appeared to capture current president, François Hollande; the prime minister in 2012, Jean-Marc Ayrault; and former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, talking candidly about Greece's economy and relations with Germany. The Intercept reports: "Yet also today, the lower house of France's legislature, the National Assembly, passed a sweeping surveillance law. The law provides a new framework for the country's intelligence agencies to expand their surveillance activities. Opponents of the law were quick to mock the government for vigorously protesting being surveilled by one of the country's closest allies while passing a law that gives its own intelligence services vast powers with what its opponents regard as little oversight. But for those who support the new law, the new revelations of NSA spying showed the urgent need to update the tools available to France's spies."

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NVIDIA Begins Supplying Open-Source Register Header Files
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 08:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's opening-it-up department:
An anonymous reader writes: NVIDIA's latest mark of their newly discovered open-source kindness is beginning to provide open-source hardware reference headers for their latest GK20A/GM20B Tegra GPUs while they are working to also provide hardware header files on their older GPUs. These programming header files in turn will help the development of the open-source Nouveau driver as up to this point they have had to do much of the development via reverse-engineering. Perhaps most interesting is that moving forward they would like to use the Nouveau kernel driver code-base as the primary development environment for new hardware.

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Lexus Creates a Hoverboard
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's marty-mcfly-approved department:
walterbyrd writes: Lexus has built a functional prototype of a hoverboard that hovers several centimeters off the ground. The "Slide" is for demonstration purposes only and works through magnetic levitation created by superconductors, a spokesperson says. USA Today reports: "As cool as that sounds, there are some major limitations. Since it operates magnetically, it only can hover over a steel surface. And it also only works as long as the liquid nitrogen holds out."

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3D Printed Supercar Chassis Unveiled
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's print-and-drive department:
ErnieKey writes: Divergent Microfactories is unveiling a revolutionary approach to car manufacturing, as evidenced by their supercar, the Blade. Using 3D printed aluminum 'nodes' in strategic manufacturing, they've created an automobile that weighs in at just 1,400 pounds, and can go from 0-60 MPH in only 2.2 seconds. DM will be producing 10,000 cars per year and also making technology available to any other companies interested.

Note: Look out in the near future for video interviews with Divergent founder Kevin Czinger and Blade project lead Brad Balzer.

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Virtually Climb El Capitan With Google's First Vertical Street View
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's going-up department:
mpicpp writes: Google Maps is incorporating its first vertical Street View by allowing users to virtually climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. To capture the 3,000-foot ascent up El Capitan Google relied on the skills of mountain climbers Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell. "People around the world will now be able to virtually experience the unique act of ascending a 3,000-foot cliff by going on a self-directed, vertical climb," the Mountain View, Calif., company said.

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The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's rent-is-too-damn-high department:
jones_supa writes: Skyrocketing rents and multiple roommates — these are the kinds of war stories you expect to hear in space-constrained cities such as New York and San Francisco. But the rental crunch has been steadily creeping inland from coastal cities and up the economic ladder. Bloomberg takes a look at the vicious cycle that keeps rents spiraling higher. People paying high rents have a harder time saving for a down payment, preventing tenants from exiting the rental market. Low vacancy rates let landlords raise rents still higher. Developers who know they can command high rents (and sales prices) are spurred to spend more to acquire developable land. Finally, higher land costs can force builders to target the higher end of the market. The interesting question is how long can this last before we reach a level that is not affordable to the majority of the demographic that is being serviced.

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Why We Need Certain Consumer Drone Regulations
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-out-of-the-way department:
stowie writes: In the last week, state and federal firefighters have fought more than 270 wildfires in California. Here's the problem: firefighters are seeing more unauthorized consumer drones flying over active wildfires. Maybe the drone owners don't know or maybe they don't care, but temporary flight restrictions are placed over wildfire areas due to the aircraft used to help contain the fires. The aircraft used to knock down flames and survey burn areas have to cease operations when there is a drone in the air.

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The Open Container Project and What It Means
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 01:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's breaking-it-down department:
An anonymous reader writes: Monday saw the announcement of the Open Container Project in San Francisco. It is a Linux Foundation project that will hold the specification and basic run-time software for using software containers. The list of folks signing up to support the effort contains the usual suspects, and this too is a good thing: Amazon Web Services, Apcera, Cisco, CoreOS, Docker, EMC, Fujitsu Limited, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Joyent, the Linux Foundation, Mesosphere, Microsoft, Pivotal, Rancher Labs, Red Hat, and VMware. In this article Stephen R. Walli takes a look at what the project means for open source.

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AMD Radeon R9 Fury X Launched, Independent Benchmarks, HBM Put To the Test
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 12:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's running-the-numbers department:
MojoKid writes: AMD officially launched the Radeon R9 Fury X based on their next generation Fiji GPU and HBM 3D stacked DRAM memory. Fiji is manufactured using TSMC's 28nm process. At its reference clocks of 1050MHz (GPU) and 500MHz (HBM), Fiji and the Radeon R9 Fury X offer peak compute performance of 8.6 TFLOPs, up to 268.8 GT/s of texture fill-rate, 67.2 GP/s of pixel fill-rate, and a whopping 512GB/s of memory bandwidth, thanks to HBM. Its compute performance, memory bandwidth, and textured fill-rate are huge upgrades over the previous generation AMD Hawaii GPU and even outpace NVIDIA's GM200, which powers the GeForce Titan X and 980 Ti. To keep the entire assembly cool, AMD strapped a close-loop liquid cooler onto the Fury X. There's a reason AMD went that route on this card, and it's not because they had to. There will be air-cooled Fury and Fury Nano cards coming in a few weeks that feature fully-functional Fiji GPUs. What the high-powered liquid-cooler on the Fury X does is allow the use of an ultra-quiet fan, with the side benefit of keeping the GPU very cool under both idle and load conditions(around 60C max under load and 30C at idle), which helps reduce overall power consumption by limiting leakage current. The AMD Radeon R9 Fury X performed very well in the benchmarks, and remained competitive with a similarly priced, reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti, but it wasn't a clear win. Generally speaking, the Fury X was the faster of the two cards at 2560x1440. With the resolution cranked up to 3840x2160, however, the Fury X and 980 Ti trade victories.

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Microsoft Brings Office To Android Smartphones For Free
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '15 at 11:32 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's coming-together department:
Mark Wilson writes: After a few weeks in preview, Microsoft Office is now available for Android smartphones. Despite Microsoft's mobile-first, cloud-first philosophy, it has actually taken some time to bring the world's most popular office suite to Android phones — it joins the tablet version of the suite that was released last year. Just like the tablet editions, the phone versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint won't cost you a penny, allowing for the viewing and editing of a range of files when on the move. There is a cloud focus with support for not only OneDrive, but also Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box, and Microsoft says it has made changes based on the feedback received during the preview period.

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