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The Problems Apple Music Needs To Fix Before Launch
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-before-lunch department:
journovampire writes: In less than two weeks, Apple Music arrives for consumers, but it still has some serious problems. Many in the industry are predicting the biggest digital music launch in history, but Apple hasn't even achieved its primary stated goal of de-fragmenting the music market. To illustrate, the article points out that Apple Music catalog is currently missing the current most popular artist (Adele), the most popular artist of the past decade (Taylor Swift), and the most popular artist of all time (The Beatles). The company is also promising a three-month free trial period. Great for customers, but not great for musicians, who won't see a dime from that trial, regardless of how much their music is being played. Apple has likely made you-scratch-my-back deals with the major publishers, but indies have no bargaining power. They've been hesitant to jump on board, and that only decreases the selection. Add to that the complications by DRM, Apple Connect, and the new service flat out not working on some music devices (competitors to Apple, now that they own Beats), and you have a recipe for yet another troubled streaming site.

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The Tools Don't Get You the Job
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 11:31 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's buzzword-compliance department:
An anonymous reader writes: It's a trend that seems to permeate education across every discipline, from creative to technical: reliance on a single expensive, proprietary, vendor-driven tool. Whether it's the predominance of Adobe in design programs, of Visual Studio in many computer science programs, or even Microsoft Office components in business schools, too often students come away with education that teaches them how to be rote users of a tool rather than critical thinkers who can apply skills in their discipline across toolsets. Relying on knowledge of a single tool chain can create single point of failure for a student's education when licensing comes back to bite. What can we do to bring more software choice into education to give students more opportunity when they get out into the real world?

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IMAX Tries To Censor Ars Technica Over SteamVR Comparison
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's reading-this-article-having-an-IMAX-theater-on-a-two-dimensional-window department:
Cutting_Crew writes: An article published last week at Ars Technica looked at the SteamVR virtual reality headset created by Valve. Contained in the article is a quote from game designer Alex Schwartz, who said in reference to the device, "The jump between a regular game and playing a room scale VR experience is X times 100. It’s like saying, 'I have an IMAX theater in my house.' It’s so much better that we can get away with a cumbersome setup." Now, for that single quoted reference, IMAX has sent a trademark complaint to Ars and demanded that they take the story down. "The company said our story required a retraction because it included a brief reference to IMAX—included without IMAX's permission. 'Any unauthorized use of our trademark is expressly forbidden.'"

If you look at the letter from IMAX (PDF), you'll see they think the reference to IMAX is "misleading to readers." They further request that "all future articles regarding this "room-scale" virtual reality system make no reference to our registered trademark." Apparently, IMAX has never heard of the Streisand Effect.


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Orbiting 'Rest Stops' Could Repair Crumbling Satellites
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's maybe-stop-making-satellites-out-of-granite department:
astroengine writes: Satellites are numerous, vital to many modern activities, and incredibly expensive to build and launch. They're constructed with redundancy and simplicity in mind because if something goes wrong after the satellite reaches orbit, we can't do much to help it. Now, NASA is talking about building an orbital service station that can perform maintenance, repair, and even refueling operations on these satellites. "Is there a way working with humans and robots together to extend the useful life of satellites, by fixing them and by not allowing fuel to spill out, but give it more propellant, close it up and send it on its way?," said Benjamin Reed, deputy director of the Satellite Servicing Program Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "Yes, We have the technologies to be able to do it."

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June 30th Leap Second Could Trigger Unexpected Issues
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's quick,-everybody-expect-them-instead department:
dkatana writes: On January 31, 2013, approximately 400 milliseconds before the official release of the EIA Natural Gas Report, trading activity exploded in Natural Gas Futures. It is believed that was the result of some fast computer trading systems being programmed to act, and have a one-second advance access to the report. On June 30th a leap second will be added to the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to keep it synchronized with the slowly lengthening solar day. In this article, Charles Babcock gives a detailed account of the issues, and some disturbing possibilities: The last time a second needed to be added to the day was on June 30, 2012. For Qantas Airlines in Australia, it was a memorable event. Its systems, including flight reservations, went down for two hours as internal system clocks fell out of synch with external clocks.

The original author of the NTP protocol, Prof. David Mills at the University of Delaware, set a direct and simple way to add the second: Count the last second of June 30 twice, using a special notation on the second count for the record. Google will use a different approach: Over a 20-hour period on June 30, Google will add a couple of milliseconds to each of its NTP servers' updates. By the end of the day, a full second has been added. As the NTP protocol and Google timekeepers enter the first second of July, their methods may differ, but they both agree on the time.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Planned Sequel To Fairphone Promises an Ethical, Repairable Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's remember-when-phones-didn't-involve-ethics department:
New submitter sackvillian writes: An article in Wired reports on the ongoing development of the Fairphone 2, planned for European release in September. The phone is the follow-up to the Indiegogo-funded original that inevitably had room for improvement. The manufacturers promise a modular phone with an emphasis on repairability and expandability, with otherwise respectable specs (Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, 2GB RAM, Dual SIM, 8MP camera). It runs on a customized Android 5.1. So, the inevitable question arises — would you be willing to sacrifice some performance (and pay a significant premium) for a phone that's repairable, moddable, and ethical?

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UK's Legalization of CD Ripping Is Unlawful, Court Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-that,-everyone-who-owns-music department:
Last year the UK finally passed legislation to make the copying and ripping of CDs for personal use legal. After the legislation passed, several groups of rightsholders applied for a judicial review, arguing that the change would cause financial harm to them. (They suggested an alternative: taxing blank CDs and storage devices, sharing the resulting funds among rightsholders.) Now, the UK's High Court issued a ruling that agrees with them: "the decision to introduce section 28B [private copying] in the absence of a compensation mechanism is unlawful." The exceptions in place for private copying are now unlawful, and the UK government will need to amend the legislation if it is to have any meaningful effect.

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SourceForge Suspends Independent Project Mirroring
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's reflecting-on-mirrors department:
vivaoporto writes: In a reversal motivated by community concerns (like the high profile outcry over the distribution of an ads-enabled installer for GIMP and the accusation by Fyodor of the hijacking of the nmap SourceForge project), SourceForge has discontinued third-party bundling of mirrored content.

Along with that, as of June 18th, SourceForge started "removing SourceForge-maintained mirrored projects" and engaging their "newly-formed Community Panel to discuss site features and program policies including a redesigned mirror program." Of the 295 mirrored projects, they removed all that were "not co-maintained with one or more of the original developers, except where the upstream site has been discontinued." For those wanting to reach SourceForge for some constructive feedback, they point to the recently-established Community Voice forum.

Note: SourceForge and Slashdot share a corporate overlord.

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Editing DNA For Fame and Fortune
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's careful-what-you-optimize-for department:
An anonymous reader writes: The world of genome editing is booming, with several startups racing to develop new tools and therapies out of the DNA-hacking insights of several hotshot scientists. Venture capitalists are pouring big money into this so-called 'CRISPR craze,' which has attracted over $600 million in funding since the beginning of 2013. But major questions loom over who is the rightful owner of this technology, and the leading parties are battling for control of the key patents. Will this new crop of genome-editing companies survive long enough to fulfill their promise of treating genetic disorders? As the patent feud wages on, lives and fortunes hang in the balance.

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Twitter To Introduce Curated Information Stream
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-don't-care-what-you-had-for-breakfast department:
stephendavion writes: Twitter will start curating tweets on live events, the microblogging service said, as it plans major changes to make its real-time news feed more user friendly. Dubbed Project Lightning, the changes will let users follow events instead of just people, and instantly upload photos and videos that can be shared across websites, social news and entertainment website Buzzfeed reported on Thursday.
Another reader points out coverage at Wired, which argues that this is a bigger change for Twitter than it sounds: "What Project Lightning represents, more than anything, is the long-overdue death of the Twitter timeline. (Or its demotion, at the very least, in the hope it’ll quietly resign.) With this change, Twitter doesn’t have to look like an endlessly flowing, context-free stream of tweets; instead, you can see a hand-curated set of tweets, links, images, and videos related to what’s happening right now. ... In short, this effort puts a stake through the idea that Twitter is a social network. It’s not. It never should have tried to be. It’s not about people, jokes, and #brands. It’s about information, about news and pictures and stories."

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Google Criticized For 'Opaque' Audio-Listening Binary In Debian Chromium
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ok-google-stop-listening-to-me-breathe department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google has fallen under criticism for including a compiled audio-monitoring binary in Chromium for Debian. A report was logged at Debian's bug register on Tuesday noting the presence of a non-auditable 'hotword' module in Chromium 43. The module facilitates Google's "OK, Google" functionality, which listens for that phrase via a Chrome user's microphone and attempts afterwards to interpret the user's instructions as a search query. Matt Giuca from the Chromium development team responded after the furore developed, disclaiming Google from any responsibility from auditing Chromium code, but promising clearer controls over the feature in release 45.

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Privately Owned Armored Trucks Raise Eyebrows After Dallas Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 04:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's new-must-have-toy department:
HughPickens.com writes: Manny Fernandez writes in the NY Times that the scores of military and police-style vans, trucks and cars offered for sale on Craigslist and eBay have raised concerns for some law enforcement officials, particularly after the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. Officials say the vehicles appear to be legal for the most part, so there is little they can do. Jeff Funicello, for example, is selling his black 1975 GMC armored truck on Craigslist. The body is armored, and the windows are bulletproof. It has sliding portholes to point rifles from and a sprinkler system inside. Long ago, it transported money, and it was once the target of a shootout in the 1980s. Of course, people have been driving reinforced cars long before the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. But the celebrities and executives who install bulletproof windows and other types of armor on their vehicles often do not want it noticed. Celebrity clients generally demand that the exteriors of their luxury armored vehicles look normal so they blend in. However those who buy and sell armored vans want people to look. And the popularity of apocalyptic movies and television shows has put a new twist and added a macabre cachet to such vehicles "This is America," says Funicello. "I should be able to have a howitzer or a bazooka if I want one. If I wanted to buy a fire truck, I could."

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Google Launches YouTube Newswire To Verify Eyewitness Videos
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 03:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's like-you-were-there department:
An anonymous reader writes: YouTube has started a video news service to showcase the most interesting clips recorded and posted by eyewitnesses at events unfolding around the world. In partnership with the social news group Storyful, YouTube Newswire will be "a curated feed of the most newsworthy eyewitness videos of the day, which have been verified by Storyful's team of editors," a blog post said. Cnet reports: "In addition to the newswire, YouTube on Thursday announced two other projects that have to do with eyewitness journalism. One of the projects, called the First Draft Coalition, will serve as an educational resource for journalists — helping them to verify eyewitness videos and consider the ethics of using them in stories. The other is a partnership with the Witness Media Lab, focused on eyewitness videos having to do with human rights issues."

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BBC Develops "Mind-Control TV" Headset For iPlayer App
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '15 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's use-your-head department:
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC has teamed up with tech company This Place to develop a prototype television headset that can be operated with the power of brainwaves. The Mind Control TV prototype works with an experimental version of the BBC's iPlayer on-demand platform. "It's an internal prototype designed to give our programme makers, technologists and other users an idea of how this technology might be used in future. It was much easier for some than it was for others, but they all managed to get it to work." said Cyrus Saihan, head of business development for the BBC's Digital division.

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Jimmy Wales: London Is Better For Tech Than "Dreadful" Silicon Valley
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '15 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's home-is-where-the-tech-is department:
Mickeycaskill writes: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has praised London as a tech hub, saying its cultural assets make it an ideal place to do business and superior to Silicon Valley as a place to live. “I meet people around London and they ask ‘when do you go back to San Francisco?’ assuming I’m here for a few days, but I live in London,” he said at the launch of Tech.London. “There’s always this bit of British self-deprecation about ‘oh well, things are so great in Silicon Valley’. But I can tell you, things aren’t that great in Silicon Valley. London has all these incredible advantages of a tech scene, but it’s also a place people want to live. Nobody wants to live in Silicon Valley – it’s dreadful out there. London is this incredible cultural city, it’s at the crossroads of the world. In the US you have San Francisco for tech, Los Angeles for movies and Washington for politics. In London you have all these things. It’s a great place to do business.”

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Researchers Claim a Few Cat Videos Per Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '15 at 08:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's you-still-can-haz-cheeseburger department:
bigwophh writes: A study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior suggests that watching videos of cats may be good for your health. The study pinged nearly 7,000 people and asked them how viewing cat videos affected their moods. Of those surveyed, over a third (36 percent) described themselves as a "cat person" and nearly two-thirds (60 percent) said they have an affinity for both dogs and cats. Survey subjects noted less tendencies towards feeling anxious, sad, or annoyed after watching cat videos, including times when they viewed the videos while at work or trying to study. They also reported feeling more energetic and more positive afterwards. There may have been some guilt from putting off work or studying to watch Internet videos, but the amusement they got from seeing the antics of cats more than made up for it.

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US Airlines Say Smaller Carry-Ons Are Not In the Cards
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '15 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
New submitter callgen writes: Airlines for America, a trade group for U.S. carriers, has rejected proposed international standards for carry-on bags. Last week, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced an initiative to "optimize" airlines' accommodation of carry-on bags by suggesting a new standard luggage size. It suggested a standard of 55cm x 35cm x 19cm, 58% of the size that Southwest allows. Most standard carry-ons are larger than IATA's recommendations, meaning travelers would have to purchase new luggage if the smaller size was adopted.

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Google Pulling Back the Veil On Its Custom-Built Data Centers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '15 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's show-and-tell department:
jfruh writes: In the mid-'00s, as Google scaled up its data centers to meet increasing demand, "we could not buy, for any price, a data-center network that would meet the requirements of our distributed systems," says Amin Vahdat, the company's networking technical lead. So they had to build their own software-defined networks inside what were essentially vast warehouse-sized computers. And now the company is starting to tell the world how they did it.

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E3 2015: A Lot of Nostalgia For Old Games
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '15 at 03:46 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what's-old-is-new department:
_xeno_ writes: E3 2015 saw a lot of game companies banking on nostalgia, but much less hype for new games. While the biggest thing coming out of Microsoft's press conference was undoubtedly the Hololens, the biggest buzz from E3 was probably Sony's announcement of Square Enix's announcement of a remake of a two decade old game (Final Fantasy VII), seconded by the announcement of a sequel to a fifteen year old game (Shenmue). Nintendo announced mostly new sequels as well. Ultimately, though, it isn't surprising that the biggest buzz is around old games. Old games are a known quantity, while truly new games are — well, new. Who knows if they're going to be the next classic or not?

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Near Misses Lead To More Consumer Drone Legislation
Posted by News Fetcher on June 18 '15 at 03:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's learning-to-fly department:
stowie writes: Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has introduced the Consumer Drone Safety Act that looks to shore up safety features on consumer drones and the federal laws that govern them. This bill has nothing to do with the FAA's proposed rules on small commercial drones, this is all about hobbyist drones. It's looking to regulate the maximum height for flight, the weather and time-of-day conditions for flight, and any areas where flights may be prohibited. If passed, the act would require manufacturers to update existing consumer drones to meet these requirements, potentially through an automatic software update. The bill would require safety features for new consumer drones such as Geo-fencing to govern the altitude and location of flights, collision-avoidance software, and more.

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