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First ISS-To-Earth 'Handshake' Demonstrates Space-to-Ground Remote Control
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's interspace-thumb-war-tournament-scheduled-for-tuesday department:
Zothecula writes: NASA astronaut Terry Virts, aboard the International Space Station, and ESA telerobotics specialist André Schiele, in the Netherlands, made space history this week with the first telerobotic "handshake" between space and Earth. Using special force feedback joysticks that acquire force data and create the sensation of pressure, Virts and Schiele brought the agencies closer to allowing astronauts in remote locations to naturally and safely control robotic devices and perform potentially dangerous or otherwise impossible tasks.

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Ubuntu Software Center Criticized For Mixing Free and Non-Free Software
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-cross-the-streams department:
An anonymous reader writes: Tony Mobily has been watching the evolution of the Ubuntu Software Center for quite a while now. He had doubts about its interface and its speed, but liked the fact that it offered an easy, down-to-earth interface that allowed users to install software conveniently. However, the evolution of USC is worrying him a lot. Mobily is against confusing proprietary software with non-proprietary software, which USC seems to be doing. USC plays an important role — especially for newbie users, who can use it to discover new software more readily than via the package management system. But is there room for improvement?

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Cuba Forms a CS Professional Society -- It's No ACM
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's close-but-no-cigar department:
lpress writes: The formation of the Unión de Informáticos de Cuba (UIC) was announced at a Havana conference and a 7,500 person teleconference (no mean feat in Cuba). My first reaction was "cool — like a Cuban ACM," but there are significant differences between ACM and UIC. For example, one must apply to the Ministry of Communication to be accepted into the UIC and the application form asks about membership in political organizations like the Communist Party or Young Communists League along with technical qualifications. A CS degree is required (sorry Bill Gates). UIC members must be Cuban, while ACM has chapters in 57 nations. ACM has student chapters, but they are less needed in Cuba, which has over 600 youth computer clubs where kids take classes and play games and promising students are tracked and channeled into technical schools.

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Anti-TPP Website Being Blacklisted
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fighting-the-anti-fight department:
so.dan writes: The CTO of Fight for the Future — the non-profit activism group behind Battle for the Net, Blackout Congress, and Stop Fast Track — Jeff Lyon, is seeking advice regarding a problem with facing the website they created — stopfasttrack.com — to fight the secret Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.

The site been blacklisted by Twitter, Facebook, and major email providers as malicious/spam. Over the last week, nobody has been able to post the website on social networks, or send any emails with their URL. Lyon has posted a summary of the relevant details on Reddit in the hope of obtaining useful feedback regarding what the cause might be. However, none of the answers there right now seem particularly useful, so I'm hoping the Slashdot community can help him out by posting here.

Lyon indicates that the blackout has occurred at a particularly crucial point in the campaign to kill the TPP, as most members of the House of Representatives would likely vote against it were it brought to a vote now, and as pro-TPP interests have started to escalate their lobbying efforts on the House to counteract what would otherwise be a no vote.


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Amazon Hiring Devs For Its First PC Game
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's jack-of-all-trades,-master-of-something-something department:
An anonymous reader writes: Several outlets are reporting that Amazon is preparing to dip its toes in yet another market: PC video games. They're specifically hiring for this purpose now, though they seem to have had plans for some time: "In addition to acquiring Killer Instinct developer Double Helix last year, Amazon has also hired notable developers like Kim Swift, designer of Portal, as well as Clint Hocking, who previously worked on franchises like Far Cry and Splinter Cell. Meanwhile, according to a report from Kotaku, Amazon has spent a lot of cash licensing the CryEngine, the same one used to make high-end PC games like Crysis 3. Outside of development, Amazon also acquired game streaming service Twitch last August for $970 million, and made gaming a big focus for its Fire TV media box."

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Intel Skylake & Broxton Graphics Processors To Start Mandating Binary Blobs
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's give-the-people-what-they-want-or-actually-maybe-not department:
An anonymous reader writes: Intel has often been portrayed as the golden child within the Linux community and by those desiring a fully-free system without tainting their kernel with binary blobs while wanting a fully-supported open-source driver. The Intel Linux graphics driver over the years hasn't required any firmware blobs for acceleration, compared to AMD's open-source driver having many binary-only microcode files and Nouveau also needing blobs — including firmware files that NVIDIA still hasn't released for their latest GPUs. However, beginning with Intel Skylake and Broxton CPUs, their open-source driver will now too require closed-source firmware. The required "GuC" and "DMC" firmware files are for handling the new hardware's display microcontroller and workload scheduling engine. These firmware files are explicitly closed-source licensed and forbid any reverse-engineering. What choices are left for those wanting a fully-free, de-blobbed system while having a usable desktop?

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Have Some Physicists Abandoned the Empirical Method?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-a-string-breaks-free-from-a-D-brane-in-the-forest,-does-it-make-a-sound? department:
HughPickens.com writes: Adam Frank and Marcelo Gleiser write in the NY Times that two leading researchers, George Ellis and Joseph Silk, recently published a controversial piece called "Scientific Method: Defend the Integrity of Physics," that criticized a newfound willingness among some scientists to explicitly set aside the need for experimental confirmation of today's most ambitious cosmic theories — so long as those theories are "sufficiently elegant and explanatory." Whether or not you agree with them, Ellis and Silk have identified a mounting concern in fundamental physics: Today, our most ambitious science can seem at odds with the empirical methodology that has historically given physics its credibility.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Librarians As the First Line of Privacy Defense
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hope-you-enjoyed-the-alex-comfort-books department:
The Guardian features a look at the influence of librarians in the evolving fight for various of the liberties that here on Slashdot we group together as Your Rights Online. The article points out that the evolution of libraries from book repositiories to more general centers for information technology means that librarians have been pressured in many small ways to give up their patrons' privacy, and have (at least often) successfully resisted that pressure, including some from the NSA. A small slice: The first politician to discover the danger of underestimating what happens when you have thousands of librarians on your case was attorney general John Ashcroft who, in 2003, accused the American Library Association of “baseless hysteria” and ridiculed their protests against the Patriot Act. ... US libraries were once protected from blanket requests for records of what their patrons were reading or viewing online, but the legislation rushed through after after 9/11 threatened to wreck this tradition of confidentiality in ways that presaged later discoveries of bulk telephone and internet record collection."

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Airbus Unveils Its First Stage Reuseability Concept
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 03:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's sincere-flattery department:
schwit1 writes: The competition heats up: Airbus unveiled Friday its prototype design to recover and reuse the engines and avionics of its Ariane rockets. From the article: "The Airbus team concluded that SpaceX's design of returning the full stage to Earth could be simplified by separating the propulsion bay from the rest of the stage, protecting the motor on reentry and, using the winglets and turbofans, return horizontally to a conventional air strip. "We are using an aerodynamic shield so that the motor is not subjected to such high stress on reentry," [technical director Herve] Gilibert said. "We need very little fuel for the turbofans and the performance penalty we pay for the Ariane 6 launcher is far less than the 30 percent or more performance penalty that SpaceX pays for the reusable Falcon 9 first stage." Gee, for decades Arianespace and Boeing and Lockheed Martin and everyone else in the launch industry insisted it made no economic sense to try to recover and reuse the first stage of their rockets. Then SpaceX comes along and makes an effort to do so, without as yet even coming close, and suddenly everyone agrees it is economically essential to do it as well. Isn't competition wonderful?

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Quantum Gravity Will Be Just Fine Without String Theory
Posted by News Fetcher on June 06 '15 at 12:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-you-send-it-money-anyhow department:
StartsWithABang writes: It's a difficult fact to accept: our two most fundamental theories that describe reality, General Relativity for gravitation and the Standard Model / Quantum Field Theory for the other three forces, are fundamentally incompatible with one another. When an electron moves through a double slit, for example, its gravitational field can't move through both slits, at least not without a quantum theory of gravity. String Theory is often touted as the only game in town as far as formulating a quantum theory of gravity is concerned, but in fact there are five viable options, each with different pros, cons, and approaches to the problem. Many of them, in fact, have undergone significant developments in the past 5-10 years, something String Theory cannot claim.

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Placenta Eating Offers No Benefit To Mom
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 10:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's may-I-interest-you-in-some-calamari? department:
Dave Knott writes: While some celebrity moms swear by it and have made it trendy, a new study says that consuming the placenta after birth offers women and their babies no benefit. In fact, the practice — known as placentophagy — may even pose unknown risks to mothers and infants, according to a team from Northwestern University in Chicago, who pored over the accumulated research on the issue. They found no data to support that eating the placenta — either raw, cooked or in pill form — protects against postpartum depression, reduces pain after childbirth, increases a woman's energy, helps with lactation, improves mother-child bonding, replenishes iron in the body, or improves skin elasticity. The researchers also said that there are no studies examining the risks associated with eating the placenta, which acts as a filter to absorb and protect fetuses from toxins and pollutants.

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Supreme Court May Decide the Fate of APIs (But Also Klingonese and Dothraki)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 10:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's will-people-finally-stop-saying-frak? department:
New submitter nerdpocalypse writes: In a larger battle than even Godzilla v. Mothra, Google v. Oracle threatens not only Japan but the entire nerd world. What is at stake is how a language can be [copyrighted]. This affects not just programming languages, APIs, and everything that runs ... well ... everything, but also the copyright status of new languages such as Klingon and Dothraki.

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2014 Underhanded C Contest Winners Announced
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's like-a-tongue-in-a-human-cheek-forever department:
Rei writes with a bit of news from earlier this week: It's that time of year again — the results of the 2014 Underhanded C Contest have been announced. Techniques used for secretly alerting a user to a NSA request include (among others) misleadingly long loop execution, replacing user #defines with system ones, K&R style function declarations to avoid type checking, and using system #includes to covertly change structure packing. The winning entry exploits a system-provided function that is implemented as a poorly protected macro, tricking it into executing a piece of code given as an argument multiple times.

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How Ready Is IPv6 To Succeed IPv4?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 04:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's depends-what-you-want-to-do-with-it department:
New submitter unixisc writes: Over the last 2 years, June 6th had been observed as IPv6 day. The first time, IPv6 connections were turned on by participants just for a day, and last year, it was turned on for good. A year later, how successful is the global transition to IPv6? According to Cisco 6labs, adaption rates vary from 50% in Belgium to 6% in China, with the US coming somewhere in the middle at 37%. A lot of issues around IPv6, such as the absence of NAT, have apparently been resolved (NAPT is now available and recognized by the IETF). So what are the remaining issues holding people up — be it ISPs, businesses, consumers or anybody else? When could we be near a year when we could turn off all IPv4 connectivity worldwide on an IPv6 only day and nobody would notice?

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How To Store Your Data For 1 Million Years
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's send-it-to-the-irs department:
Whiteox writes with Fast Company's article about Robert Grass and his team, which is exploring how to use DNA as a data storage mechanism, along with others working on truly long-term storage. Both commercial interests and academic researchers are interested in protecting data not just for years or decades, but for multi-century stretches, right out into the millions. From the article: The idea of storing information on DNA traces back to a Soviet lab in the 1960s, but the first successful implementation wasn't achieved until 2012, when biologist George Church and his colleagues announced in the journal Science that they had encoded one of Church's books in DNA. More recently, reports the New Yorker, the artist Joe Davis, now in residence at Church's lab, has announced plans to encode bits of Wikipedia into a particularly old strain of apple, so that he can create "a living, literal tree of knowledge. "Impressive," writes Whiteox, "but I wonder if our future selves can make life from our archived data?"

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Ask Slashdot: Options After Google Chrome Discontinues NPAPI Support?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 03:01 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's singularity-not-yet-here department:
An anonymous reader writes: I've been using Google Chrome almost exclusively for more than 3 years. I stopped using Mozilla Firefox because it was becoming bloated and slow, and I migrated all my bookmarks etc. to Chrome. Now Chrome plans to end NPAPI support — which means that I will not be able to access any sites that use Java, and I need this for work. I tried going back to Firefox for a couple of days but it still seems slow — starting it takes time, even the time taken to load a page seems more than Chrome. So what are my options now? Export all my bookmarks and go back to Mozilla Firefox and just learn to live with the performance drop? Or can I tweak Firefox performance in any way? FWIW, I am on a Windows 7 machine at work.

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Google Releases Report On Autonomous Vehicle Accidents
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's still-waiting-on-squirrel-death-count department:
An anonymous reader writes: Back in May, a report from the Associated Press pieced together information on car accidents that involved autonomous vehicles. Google, the company testing the most self-driving cars on public roads right now, said the automation technology was not at fault in any of the accidents. However, they took criticism for declining to provide any detail. Now, they've changed that stance, releasing specifics on all of the accidents involving their autonomous cars. They set up a new website for releasing monthly reports. According to their first report (PDF), there have been 12 accidents since 2010. The vast majority of them involved another car rear-ending the Google car while waiting at a stop sign/light. There was one incident where another car rolled a stop sign, one in which another car veered into the AV's lane, and one incident where a Google employee driving the car in manual mode rear-ended another car. None of the accidents resulted in an injury.

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How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars For Haiti and Built 6 Homes
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bad-work-if-you-can-get-it department:
An anonymous reader points out an investigation from NPR and Propublica into how the Red Cross spent the $500 million in relief funds they gathered to help Haiti after the country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010. They found "a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success." While the organization claims to have built homes for 130,000 people, investigators only found six permanent homes they could attribute to the charity. The Red Cross admitted afterward that the 130,000 number included people who had attended a seminar on how to fix their own homes.

"Lacking the expertise to mount its own projects, the Red Cross ended up giving much of the money to other groups to do the work. Those groups took out a piece of every dollar to cover overhead and management. Even on the projects done by others, the Red Cross had its own significant expenses – in one case, adding up to a third of the project’s budget." The Red Cross raised far more money for Haiti than any other charity, but is unwilling to provide details on where the money went. In one case, a brochure that extolled the virtues of one project claimed $24 million had been spent on a particular area — but residents of that area haven't seen any improvement in living conditions, and are unable to get information from the Red Cross. The former director of the Red Cross's shelter program said charity officials had no idea how to spend the money they'd accumulated.

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5G Is On Its Way, But Approaching Slowly
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-learning-from-the-4G-situation department:
New submitter CarlottaHapsburg writes: Ericsson and Nokia are leading the pack when it comes to developing 5G, but there are some major complicating factors: flexible architecture, functioning key standards, the U.S.'s lethargy in expanding mmWave, and even the definition of what 5G is and can do. It'll get here, but not soon: "5G networks are widely expected to start to roll out by 2020, with a few early debuts at such global events as the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. It is an ambitious deadline given what is expected from 5G -- no less than the disruption of the communications market in general, and telecom in particular, as well as related sectors such as test equipment." The FCC's Tom Wheeler says 5G is different for every manufacturer, like a Picasso painting. It should be an exciting five years of further developments and definitions — and, hopefully, American preparedness.

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Linux World Domination Creates Shortage of Linux-Skilled Workers (2 Short Videos)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 05 '15 at 12:15 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's yes-we-know-it's-really-gnu/linux department:
Linux World Domination Creates Shortage of Linux-Skilled Workers (2 Videos)

Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin doesn't use the phrase 'world domination' in these videos, but he could. He lists enough computing niches where GNU/Linux is the major player -- from supercomputers to the next generation of automotive systems -- that with or without world domination, Linux has obviously become an extremely important, widely used operating system that has grown amazingly since Linus Torvalds first shared his humble kernel with the world in 1991. With great popularity has come a great need for people who know how to administer and otherwise work with Linux, so the Linux Foundation is developing new courses in tandem with massive open online course (MOOC) provider edX. Unlike some of the Linux Foundation's previous course offerings, their edX ones are free to audit, and the cost for certification (if you want a cred, not just knowledge) is lower than many IT certification tests and certificates.

These videos (both visible today) were made remotely, with Timothy Lord at one end in Austin, TX, and Jim Zemlin at the other end in Tokyo, Japan. Their sound quality suffers from the distance involved, but they are generally intelligible -- and, of course, you can always choose to read the transcript instead of watching the videos.

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