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Nerve Cells Made From Blood Cells
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '15 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's beats-turning-water-into-wine department:
BarbaraHudson writes: CBC reports that Canadian scientists are turning blood into nerve cells. They do so by manipulating stem cells that have been taken from a patient's blood, eventually switching them into neural stem cells (abstract). These can then give rise to multiple different nerve cells suitable for use in the rest of the body. Team leader Mick Bhatia said, "We can actually take a patient's blood sample, as routinely performed in a doctor's office, and with it we can produce one million sensory neurons. We can also make central nervous system cells." They're working on turning the neural stem cells into motor neurons for treatment of diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

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Software Patch Fixes Mars Curiosity Rover's Auto-focus Glitch
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's careful-with-those-semi-colons department:
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have successfully uploaded and applied a software patch to NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars. The patch fixes a focusing problem that cropped up in November when the laser that helps to focus one of its cameras failed. "Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind," said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. "The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus." Before the fix, scientists had to shoot images at nine different focus settings to distill a decent set of data. Now, they say the new software results in better images in a single shot than even before the laser broke down. The program that runs the instrument is only 40 kilobytes in size.

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Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's how-kind-of-them department:
Mark Wilson sends word that Amazon will begin paying corporate taxes on profits made in the UK. The company had previously been recording most of its UK sales as being in Luxembourg, which let them avoid the higher taxes in the UK. But at the end of last year, UK regulators decided they were losing too much tax revenue because of this practice, so they began implementing legislation that would impose a 25% tax on corporations routing their profits elsewhere. Amazon is the first large corporation to make the change, and it's expected to put pressure on Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others to do the same.

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Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's need-an-opposite-for-bill-nye-the-science-guy department:
sciencehabit sends news of a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology which found that science is still perceived as a predominantly male profession across the world. The results were broken out by country, and while the overall trend stayed consistent throughout (PDF), there were variations in perception. For explicit bias: "Countries where this association was strongest included South Africa and Japan. The United States ranked in the middle, with a score similar to Austria, Mexico, and Brazil. Portugal, Spain, and Canada were among the countries where the explicit bias was weakest." For implicit bias: "Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, and Sweden were among the countries with the highest implicit bias scores. The United States again came in at the middle of the pack, scoring similarly to Singapore. Portugal, Spain, and Mexico had among the lowest implicit bias scores, though the respondents still associated science more with men than with women."

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The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-when-you-want-to-travel-in-a-highly-inefficient-manner department:
Dave Knott writes: Fans of 1980s cinema were disappointed when the year 2015 arrived without a practical version Marty McFly's hoverboard. Now, a Montréal-based man has brought it closer to reality by setting a new record for longest "flight" by hoverboard. In a filmed test recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records, Catalin Alexandru Duru pilots his somewhat cumbersome looking rig for 250 meters — five times the previous record — at a height of five meters above Quebec's Lake Ouareau. Duru and his business partner "hope to have a new prototype finished by the end of the year and then have hoverboards available for purchase across the country. He wouldn't say how much the prototype cost to build, but said that the first generation of the machine will likely be 'quite expensive.'" "This thing is still quite dangerous," he added, explaining that the pilot uses only his or her feet to fly the contraption. The commercial version's software will limit it to flying below a height of about one-and-a-half meters above the ground.

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Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's won't-run-on-your-brilloPad department:
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.

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Oculus Founder Hit With Lawsuit
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-so-luckey department:
An anonymous reader writes: Palmer Luckey, founder of VR headset-maker Oculus, has been sued by a company accusing him of taking their confidential information and passing it off as his own. Total Recall Technologies, based in Hawaii, claims it hired Luckey in 2011 to build a head-mounted display. Part of that employment involved Luckey signing a confidentiality agreement. In August, 2012, Luckey launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift headset, and Facebook bought his company last year for $2 billion. TRT is seeking compensatory and punitive damages (PDF).

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Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's have-it-your-way department:
BarbaraHudson writes: Reuters is reporting that the citizens of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriages. While it's also legal in 19 other countries, Ireland was the first to decide this by putting the question to the citizens. "This has really touched a nerve in Ireland," Equality Minister Aodhan O'Riordain said at the main count center in Dublin. "It's a very strong message to every LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) young person in Ireland and every LGBT young person in the world." Observers say the loss of moral authority of the Catholic church after a series of sex scandals was a strong contributing factor, with priests limiting their appeals to the people sitting in their pews. In contrast, the "Yes" side dominated social media.

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Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's no-that-is-impossible department:
An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.

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Death In the Browser Tab
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-about-chrome's-memory-management department:
theodp writes: "There you are watching another death on video," writes the NY Times' Teju Cole. "In the course of ordinary life — at lunch or in bed, in a car or in the park — you are suddenly plunged into someone else's crisis, someone else's horror. It arrives, absurdly, in the midst of banal things. That is how, late one afternoon in April, I watched Walter Scott die. The footage of his death, taken by a passer-by, had just been published online on the front page of The New York Times. I watched it, sitting at my desk in Brooklyn, and was stunned by it." Cole continues, "For most of human history, to see someone die, you had to be there. Depictions of death, if there were any, came later, at a certain remove of time and space." Disturbing as they may be (Cole notes he couldn't bear to watch the ISIS beheading videos), such images may ultimately change things for the better. Is it better to publish them than sweep them under the carpet?

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Researchers Devise Voting System That Seems Secure, But Is Hard To Use
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's find-the-candidate-and-hand-them-your-vote department:
An anonymous reader writes: According to an article in ReadWrite, a team of British and American researchers have developed a hacker resistant process for online voting called Du-Vote. It uses a credit card-sized device that helps to divide the security-sensitive tasks between your computer and the device in a way that neither your computer nor the device learns how you voted (PDF). If a hacker managed to control the computer and the Du-Vote token, he still can't change the votes without being detected.

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New 'Deep Learning' Technique Lets Robots Learn Through Trial-and-Error
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-killing-all-humans-didn't-work,-so-kill-all-humans-next-time department:
jan_jes writes: UC Berkeley researchers turned to a branch of artificial intelligence known as deep learning for developing algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error. It's a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence. Their demonstration robot completes tasks such as "putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more" without pre-programmed details about its surroundings. The challenge of putting robots into real-life settings (e.g. homes or offices) is that those environments are constantly changing. The robot must be able to perceive and adapt to its surroundings, so this type of learning is an important step.

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Hacker Warns Starbucks of Security Flaw, Gets Accused of Fraud
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's biting-the-hand-that-doesn't-steal-from-you department:
Andy Smith writes: Here's another company that just doesn't get security research. White hat hacker Egor Homakov found a security flaw in Starbucks gift cards which allowed people to steal money from the company. He reported the flaw to Starbucks, but rather than thank him, the company accused him of fraud and said he had been acting maliciously.

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TPP Fast Track Passes Key Vote In the Senate, Moves On To the House
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us department:
onproton writes: The Senate voted yesterday to reauthorize the controversial Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which expedites, or 'Fast Tracks,' the passage of trade agreements through Congress. If also approved by the House, it will grant the authority to decide and negotiate the terms of agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the executive branch, significantly limiting congressional involvement and leaving little room for debate. Proponents of the bill, namely the USTR, claim that Fast Tracking the TPP is critical to successfully negotiating its terms internationally, and will "ensure that Congress, stakeholders and the public are closely involved before, during and after the conclusion of trade agreement negotiations." Though in reality, it does not introduce significant changes in the transparency or reporting requirements that are currently in place, which have allowed the negotiations of this deal to be held in secret since 2009. With concerns being raised about the deal's impacts on everything from intellectual property rights to government sovereignty, it is surprising to many that Congress would abdicate their role in determining the specifics of agreements that may have far reaching implications for their constituents.

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Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man department:

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Bank of England Accidentally E-mails Top-Secret "Brexit" Plan To the Guardian
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '15 at 01:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's brexit-is-good-with-toast-and-jam department:
schwit1 writes: The first rule of "Project Bookend" is that you don't talk about "Project Bookend." In retrospect, maybe the first rule should have been "you don't accidentally e-mail 'Project Bookend' to a news agency," because as the Guardian reports, one of its editors opened his inbox and was surprised to find a message from the BOE's Head of Press Jeremy Harrison outlining the UK financial market equivalent of the Manhattan project. Project Bookend is a secret (or 'was' a secret) initiative undertaken by the BOE to study what the fallout might be from a potential 'Brexit', but if anyone asked what Sir Jon Cunliffe and a few senior staffers were up to, they were instructed to say that they were busy investigating "a broad range of European economic issues." And if you haven't heard the term before, "Brexit" refers to the possibility of Britain leaving the EU -- one of the possible outcomes of an upcoming referendum.

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NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate
Posted by News Fetcher on May 22 '15 at 11:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's couldn't-have-happened-to-a-nicer-bill department:
New submitter Steven King writes with a link to The Daily Dot's report that the U.S. Senate has rejected a controversial bill, thus "all but guaranteeing that key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire"; had it passed, the bill would have allowed continued use of some mass data-collection practices, but with the addition of stronger oversight. From the article:

The Senate failed to reach agreement on passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which the government has used to conduct bulk surveillance of Americans' phone records. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, but Senate Democrats, who unified behind the bill, did not get enough Republican votes to assure passage. The linked piece also mentions that the EFF shifted its position on this bill, after a panel of Federal judges ruled that the Feds at the NSA had overstepped their bounds in collecting a seemingly unlimited trove of metadata relating to American citizen's phone calls.

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25 Years Today - Windows 3.0
Posted by News Fetcher on May 22 '15 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hindsight-is-warm-and-fuzzy department:
An anonymous reader writes: Windows 3.0 was launched on 22 May 1990 — I know, 'coz I was there as a SDE on the team. I still have, um, several of the shrink-wrapped boxes of the product — with either 3.5 inch and 5.25 floppies rattling around inside them — complete with their distinctive 'I witnessed the event' sticker!

It was a big deal for me, and I still consider Win 3 as *the* most significant Windows' release, and I wonder what other Slashdotters think, looking back on Win 3?


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Epic's VR Demo Scene For the GTX 980 Now Runs On Morpheus PS4 Headset At 60 FPS
Posted by News Fetcher on May 22 '15 at 05:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's blit-blit-bloop-bleep department:
An anonymous reader writes: Originally created as a Unreal Engine 4 demo scene to push the limits of VR-capable graphics on the Oculus Rift 'Crescent Bay' prototype VR headset, Showdown is now running flawlessly at 60 FPS on Morpheus, Sony's PS4 VR headset. The demo was previously only able to run at Oculus' 90 FPS target VR framerate on the Nvidia GTX 980, a GPU which costs nearly $200 more than the PS4 itself. To the delight of UE4 developers, the performance improvement comes from general optimizations to UE4 on PS4, rather than specific optimizations to Showdown.

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California Votes To Ban Microbeads
Posted by News Fetcher on May 22 '15 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's stock-up-now-on-crest department:
New submitter Kristine Lofgren writes: The California Assembly just passed a vote to ban toxic microbeads, the tiny flecks found in toothpastes and exfoliants. Microbeads cause a range of problems, from clogging waterways to getting stuck in gums. The ban would be the strictest of its kind in the nation. As the article notes, the California Senate would need to pass a bill as well, for this ban to take effect, and if that happens, the resulting prohibition will come into place in 2020. From the article: Last year, Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to pass a ban on the usage of microbeads in cosmetics, approving a law that will go into effect in 2018, and earlier this year two congressmen introduced a bipartisan bill to outlaw the use of microbeads nationwide. And for exceptionally good reason; the beads, which serve as exfoliants and colorants are a massive source of water pollution, with scientists estimating that 471 million plastic microbeads are released into San Francisco Bay alone every single day.

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