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Canadian Prime Minister To Music Lobby: Here's Your Copyright Term Extension
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '15 at 03:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's plenty-more-where-that-came-from department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Canadian government's decision to extend the term of copyright
for sound recordings in the budget may have taken most copyright
observers by surprise, but not the music industry. The extension
will reduce
competition
, increase
costs for consumers
, and harm
access to Canadian Heritage
, but apparently all it took was a
letter from the music industry lobby to the Prime Minister of
Canada. Michael Geist reports on a
letter sent by Prime Minister Stephen Harper
to the music
lobby on the day the change was announced confirming
that industry lobbying convinced him to extend the term of copyright
without any public consultation or discussion.


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European Telecoms May Block Mobile Ads, Spelling Trouble For Google
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '15 at 01:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's scrabble-will-still-show-their-ads-to-me-I-bet department:
Mark Wilson with news that may have a big impact on both advertisers and end-users who use their phones as portals to ad-supported websites. Several European telecom providers are apparently planning to use ad-blocking software at the data-center level, which would mean benefit for users (in the form of less obnoxious advertising, and less data being eaten by it) but quite a pickle for online advertisers, and sites that rely on advertising revenue. From BetaNews's article (based on this Financial Times article, paywalled):

Talking to the Financial Times, one wireless carrier said that the software had been installed at its data centers and could be enabled by the end of the year. With the potential to automatically block most ads on web pages and within apps, the repercussion of the ad boycott could be huge as mobile providers try to wrestle control from the likes of Google.

I just wish my mobile provider would start testing this out, too.

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How MMO Design Has Improved Bar Trivia
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 10:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's want-to-double-down-on-greasy-bar-food? department:
Polygon.com features a look at how (very) different computer game worlds can meet, in the form of game designer Ralph Koster's Kitchen Disasters-style rescue effort to revive a game quite unlike the ones he's famous for designing, like Ultima Online. Bar-trivia provider Buzztime has been putting electronic trivia games into bars for three decades -- and in that time, the number of options available to potential players has jumped. Bar trivia has crept into the domain of things like vinyl-based juke-boxes: not without appeal, but not exactly modern. Koster has tried to apply modern game design paradigms and objectives, and revamped the game:

Koster's Jackpot Trivia is now being introduced in a few hundred locations. Buzztime operates in around 4,000 bars and restaurants, but already the new addition has increased game usage by 15 percent.

Much of the improvements came from Koster's experiences of making and playing MMOs, and on the MMO's influence on all games. "These days, a lot of the qualities of MMOs are popping up on everything from social media to systems that sit outside and on top of games, like everything around Xbox Live and Steam," he says.


The re-vamp means, for Buzztime, better matching of opponents, as part of an overall redesign of incentives and risks: players have also gotten finer-grained control over their plays, by being able to assign weight to their answers: that means they can guess with less penalty when answers are tough, or take advantage of confidence in knowledge about a category in which they're strong.

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House Science Committee Approves Changes To Space Law
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wildcat-days department:
schwit1 writes: In a series of party line votes, the House Science Committee has approved a number of changes to the laws that govern the private commercial space industry. Almost all of the changes were advocated by the industry itself, so in general they move to ease the regulatory and liability burdens that has been hampering the industry since the 2004 revisions to space law. While it is very unlikely commercial space can ever get free of strong federal regulation, these changes indicate that they can eventually get some of the worst regulations eased.

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Planetary Society Wants To Launch a Crowd-Funded Solar Sail
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 05:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's unfurling department:
jan_jes writes to note that The Planetary Society is attempting to crowdfund its own version of the light-powered space-craft popularized by Carl Saga as a "solar sailer." (YouTube video, with the Society's CEO Bill Nye.)

The current model is a CubeSat no bigger than a breadbox with four sails. If the team manages to raise enough money, LightSail will be sent to orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in 2016. LightSail will be released into an orbit with an altitude of 720 kilometers (450 miles), high enough to escape most of the planet's atmospheric drag.

Their crowdfunding goal has been far surpassed (more than $476,000 at this writing), but more can't hurt; maybe NASA could use some of the surplus.

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A Look At GTA V PC Performance and Image Quality At 4K
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-you're-saying-more-is-better department:
MojoKid writes: Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series has been wildly successful for many years now, offering some of the edgiest story lines, game play tactics and objectives the gaming industry has ever seen. With psychopathic main characters, you are left in the depraved communities of Los Santos and Blaine County, to walk a path few would dare choose in real life. And it's rather entertaining of course, that you're tasked with leaving a virtual world worse off than you found it, consequences be damned. But what does it take to run GTA V at 4K (3840X2160) resolution? This article takes a look at that, as well as how it scales over multiple NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPUs, along with some screen shots that look at image quality at Ultra HD resolution. It's safe to say one strong, high-end GPU will get the job done, but two in SLI or CrossFire are better of course, if you want to max out all IQ settings.

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Gets Death Penalty In Boston Marathon Bombing
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-say-ye? department:
mpicpp writes with a link to the New York Times's version of story that a Boston jury earlier today returned a verdict of death in the Boston Marathon bombing. From that report: A federal jury on Friday condemned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a failed college student, to death for setting off bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured hundreds more in the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. The jury of seven women and five men, which last month convicted Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, of all 30 charges against him, 17 of which carry the death penalty, took more than 14 hours to reach its decision. It was the first time a federal jury had sentenced a terrorist to death in the post-Sept. 11 era, according to Kevin McNally, director of the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, which coordinates the defense in capital punishment cases.

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Ask Slashdot: What's On Your Keychain?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 02:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's seventeen-carabiners-and-a-blockbuster-video-minicard department:
kuhnto writes: I was playing with my key chain and started to wonder: what does everyone on Slashdot have on their key chains? What cool things do you have that you want to share? I'll start: car key, car alarm dongle, house key, Kingston USB Drive, AAA micro flashlight, and a Swiss-tech Utili-key.
To extend this a bit: what other things do you usually carry around with you, aside from the common items like phones, keyrings, and card/cash holders?

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Mechanical 'Clicky' Keyboards Still Have Followers (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 01:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's clack-clack-clack-the-keyboard-types-on-down-the-track department:
For a good number of years, the sound of the old IBM or other mechanical keyboard clacking away was the sound of programmers (or writers) at work on their computers. Then, according to Edgar Matias, president and cofounder of the Matias Corporation, computer companies started using membrane switches and other cheaper ways to make keyboards, which made a lot of people mutter curse words under their breath as they beat their fingers against keys that had to go all the way to the bottom of their travel to work, unlike the good old mechanical keyboards we once knew and loved.

Enter Edgar Matias, who started out making the half keyboard, which is like a chorded keyboard except that you can use your QWERTY typing skills with little modification -- assuming you or your boss has $595 (!) to lay out on a keyboard. But after that Edgar started making QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards for semi-competitive prices. FYI: No Slashdot person got a free keyboard (or extra money) for making this video, but I have a Matias keyboard, and in my opinion it's far better than the cheapie it replaced. A lot of other people seem to want "real" keyboards, too, which they buy from Matias or from other companies such as Unicomp, which makes keyboards just like the classic, heavily-loved IBM Model M. Again, I've owned a Unicomp keyboard (that I bought; it was not a giveaway) and it was excellent. Both companies put out quality products that are far easier on your hands and wrists than the $10 or $20 keyboards sold by big box electronics retailers.

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Oculus Rift Hardware Requirements Revealed, Linux and OS X Development Halted
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sad-penguin department:
An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has selected the baseline hardware requirements for running their Rift virtual reality headset. To no one's surprise, they're fairly steep: NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater, Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater, and 8GB+ RAM. It will also require at least two USB 3.0 ports and "HDMI 1.3 video output supporting a 297MHz clock via a direct output architecture."

Oculus chief architect Atman Binstock explains: "On the raw rendering costs: a traditional 1080p game at 60Hz requires 124 million shaded pixels per second. In contrast, the Rift runs at 2160×1200 at 90Hz split over dual displays, consuming 233 million pixels per second. At the default eye-target scale, the Rift's rendering requirements go much higher: around 400 million shaded pixels per second. This means that by raw rendering costs alone, a VR game will require approximately 3x the GPU power of 1080p rendering." He also points out that PC graphics can afford a fluctuating frame rate — it doesn't matter too much if it bounces between 30-60fps. The Rift has no such luxury, however.

The last requirement is more onerous: WIndows 7 SP1 or newer. Binstock says their development for OS X and Linux has been "paused" so they can focus on delivering content for Windows. They have no timeline for going back to the less popular platforms.


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The Solution To Argentina's Banking Problems Is To Go Cashless
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's why-would-you-carry-around-slips-of-paper-and-shards-of-metal-anyway department:
dkatana writes: There is no way back for Argentinian people to trust their own currency. Several governments have used the "Peso/Dollar" exchange to dig into people's savings, reward their friends and limit the freedom of citizens to use other currencies.

Short of Dollarizing the economy again, the only solution for the country is going cashless. People are desperate, and they're looking for alternatives such as mobile payments, Amazon gift cards and Bitcoin to store their savings away from government control. A digital currency could help curb black market exchanges, fight corruption and restore the country's image.


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The Solution To Argentina's Banking Problems Is Go Cashless
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's why-would-you-carry-around-slips-of-paper-and-shards-of-metal-anyway department:
dkatana writes: There is no way back for Argentinian people to trust their own currency. Several governments have used the "Peso/Dollar" exchange to dig into people's savings, reward their friends and limit the freedom of citizens to use other currencies.

Short of Dollarizing the economy again, the only solution for the country is going cashless. People are desperate, and they're looking for alternatives such as mobile payments, Amazon gift cards and Bitcoin to store their savings away from government control. A digital currency could help curb black market exchanges, fight corruption and restore the country's image.


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Larson B Ice Shelf In Antarctica To Disintegrate Within 5 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's grab-some-popcorn department:
BarbaraHudson writes: A new study (abstract) from NASA scientists predicts an Antarctic ice shelf half the size of Rhode Island will disintegrate around 2020. The shelf has existed for roughly 10,000 years. "Ice shelves are the gatekeepers for glaciers flowing from Antarctica toward the ocean. Without them, glacial ice enters the ocean faster and accelerates the pace of global sea level rise." At its thickest point, the ice shelf remnant is a half kilometer tall, and spans approximately 1,600 square kilometers. "The glaciers' thicknesses and flow speeds changed only slightly in the first couple of years following the 2002 collapse, leading researchers to assume they remained stable. The new study revealed, however, that Leppard and Flask glaciers have thinned by 65-72 feet (20-22 meters) and accelerated considerably in the intervening years. The fastest-moving part of Flask Glacier had accelerated 36 percent by 2012 to a flow speed of 2,300 feet (700 meters) a year."

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Rust 1.0 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ironing-out-the-biggest-wrinkles department:
TopSpin writes: Rust 1.0 has arrived, and release parties in Paris, LA and San Francisco are taking place today. From the Rust Programming Language blog: "The current Rust language is the result of a lot of iteration and experimentation. The process has worked out well for us: Rust today is both simpler and more powerful than we originally thought would be possible. But all that experimentation also made it difficult to maintain projects written in Rust, since the language and standard library were constantly changing. The 1.0 release marks the end of that churn. This release is the official beginning of our commitment to stability, and as such it offers a firm foundation for building applications and libraries. From this point forward, breaking changes are largely out of scope (some minor caveats apply, such as compiler bugs)." You can read about specific changes in the changelog.

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Penn State Yanks Engineering Network From Internet After China-Based Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-day-another-breach department:
coondoggie writes: Penn State's College of Engineering has disconnected its network from the Internet in response to two sophisticated cyberattacks – one from a what the university called a "threat actor based in China" – in an attempt to recover all infected systems. The university said there was no indication that research data or personal information was stolen in the attacks, though usernames and passwords had been compromised.

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Here Comes the Keurig of Everything
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-the-lazy-people-who-only-eat-4-things department:
Tekla Perry writes: Keurig made a huge business out of single-serving coffee machines. Now, as more complex machinery shrinks in size and cost, many companies are trying to duplicate that success for other types of food and drink. Startups are introducing the Keurig of cocktails, the Keurig of Jell-O shots, and the Keurig of dinner (it makes stir fries, stews, and risottos). The question is: does having a single- or limited-purpose device make really make sense for consumables that aren't coffee? Counter space is not infinite, and most people want more variety out of their lunches, dinners, and nightcaps than they do for their morning pick-me-up. (Also, let's retire this metaphor before we get a Keurig for cats.)

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MenuetOS, an Operating System Written Entirely In Assembly, Hits 1.0
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's done-until-it's-more-done department:
angry tapir writes: MenuetOS, a GUI-toting, x86-based operating system written entirely in assembly language that's super-fast and can fit on a floppy disk, has hit version 1.0 — after almost a decade and a half of development. (And yes, it can run Doom). The developers say it's stable on all hardware with which they've tested it. In this article, they talk about what MenuetOS can do, and what they plan for the future. "For version 2.0 we'll mostly keep improving different application classes, which are already present in 1.00. For example, more options for configuring the GUI and improving the HTTP client. The kernel is already working well, so now we have more time to focus on driver and application side."

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Biologists Create Self-Healing Concrete
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's building-borg-golems department:
Mr.Intel writes: A team of microbiologists from the Delft University of Technology claims to have invented "bioconcrete" — concrete that heals cracks and breaks using bacteria. The goal was to find a type of bacteria that could live inside concrete and also produce small amount of limestone that could re-seal cracks. This is a difficult prospect because concrete is quite dry and strongly alkaline. The bacteria needed to be able to stay alive for years in those conditions before being activated by water. The bacteria also need a food source — simply adding sugar to concrete will make it weak. The scientists used calcium lactate instead, adding biodegradable capsules of it to the concrete mix. "When cracks eventually begin to form in the concrete, water enters and open the capsules. The bacteria then germinate, multiply and feed on the lactate, and in doing so they combine the calcium with carbonate ions to form calcite, or limestone, which closes up the cracks."

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Turtle Receives First-Ever 3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implant of Its Kind
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-is-not-a-ninja department:
ErnieKey writes: A wounded loggerhead turtle showed up in Turkey, with significant damage to its upper and lower jaws. It was taken to the Sea Turtle Research, Rescue and Rehabilitation Center at Pamukkale University (PAU) for help. The PAU team, working with BTech Innovation, was able to make a 3D printed titanium jaw implant for the turtle. The operation was a success, and the patient — the world's first sea turtle to receive a 3D printed implant — is recovering.

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How SpaceX and the Quest For Mars Almost Sunk Tesla Motors
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '15 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rocket-bucks-versus-car-bucks department:
braindrainbahrain writes: Elon Musk and his rocket company are well known to Slashdottters. This article and book excerpt tell the story of the creation of SpaceX and how it almost sank Musk's other company, Tesla Motors. Musk recalls, "I could either pick SpaceX or Tesla or split the money I had left between them. That was a tough decision. If I split the money, maybe both of them would die. If I gave the money to just one company, the probability of it surviving was greater, but then it would mean certain death for the other company." But then, at the last moment, years of work at SpaceX finally paid off: "[O]n Dec. 23, 2008, SpaceX received a wonderful shock. The company won a $1.6 billion contract for 12 NASA resupply flights to the space station. Then the Tesla deal ended up closing successfully, on Christmas Eve, hours before Tesla would have gone bankrupt. Musk had just a few hundred thousand dollars left and could not have made payroll the next day." Also, it turns out the inspiration for SpaceX was the idea of sending mice to Mars.

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