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Windows 10 the Last Version of Windows? Not So Fast.
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '15 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's branding-is-the-devil department:
A multitude of tech sites are breathlessly reporting that Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows. These claims are based on a brief comment from developer evangelist Jerry Nixon while speaking a Microsoft Ignite session on "Tiles, Notifications, and Action Center." However, as Paul Thurrott points out, you probably shouldn't take this news too seriously. Windows development has been changing for the past several years. At the very least, we've known since we learned Windows 8 would be developed for multiple form factors. We've known it specifically about Windows 10 since it was announced — Microsoft has talked about transitioning away from giant, monolithic updates. Thurrott says,
The reason anyone is talking like this is that Microsoft is pushing a "Windows as a service" vision, which doesn't mean "subscription service" but rather that it plans to upgrade Windows 10 going forward with both functional and security updates, plus of course bug fixes. You know, just like it's done with every single version of Windows. Ever. ... In other words, nothing to see here. Beyond the usual: things change. If it makes sense to keep updating Windows 10 and not change the brand or version number, Microsoft will do that. If it makes sense to release something called Windows 10 R2, Windows 11, or Windows Yoghurt — seriously, who cares? — then they'll do that.

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Ask Slashdot: What's the Future of Desktop Applications?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '15 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's software-becomes-softwhere department:
MrNaz writes: Over the last fifteen years or so, we have seen the dynamic web mature rapidly. The functionality of dynamic web sites has expanded from the mere display of dynamic information to fully fledged applications rivaling the functionality and aesthetics of desktop applications. Google Docs, MS Office 365, and Pixlr Express provide in-browser functionality that, in bygone years, was the preserve of desktop software.

The rapid deployment of high speed internet access, fiber to the home, cable and other last-mile technologies, even in developing nations, means that the problem of needing offline access to functionality is becoming more and more a moot point. It is also rapidly doing away with the problem of lengthy load times for bulky web code.

My question: Is this trend a progression to the ultimate conclusion where the browser becomes the operating system and our physical hardware becomes little more than a web appliance? Or is there an upper limit: will there always be a place where desktop applications are more appropriate than applications delivered in a browser? If so, where does this limit lie? What factors should software vendors take into consideration when deciding whether to build new functionality on the web or into desktop applications?


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Psychologist: Porn and Video Game Addiction Are Leading To 'Masculinity Crisis'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '15 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's suggests-going-outside-and-chopping-some-wood department:
HughPickens.com writes: Philip Zimbardo is a prominent psychologist from Stanford, most notable for leading the notorious Stanford prison experiment. He has published new research findings based on the lives of 20,000 young men, and his conclusion is stark: there is a developing "masculinity crisis" caused by addiction to video games and pornography. "Our focus is on young men who play video games to excess, and do it in social isolation — they are alone in their room," says Zimbardo. "It begins to change brain function. It begins to change the reward center of the brain, and produces a kind of excitement and addiction. What I'm saying is — boys' brains are becoming digitally rewired."

As an example, Zimbardo uses this quote from one young man: "When I'm in class, I'll wish I was playing World of Warcraft. When I'm with a girl, I'll wish I was watching pornography, because I'll never get rejected." Zimbardo doesn't think there's a specific time threshold at which playing video games goes from being acceptable to excessive. He says it varies by individual, and is more based on a "psychological change in mindset." To fight the problem, he suggest families need to track how much time is being spent on video games compared to other activities. "He also called for better sex education in schools — which should focus not only on biology and safety, but also on emotions, physical contact and romantic relationships."


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'Breaking Bad' Crypto Ransomware Targets Australian Users
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '15 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-am-the-one-who-hacks department:
An anonymous reader writes: A new strain of the Trojan.Cryptolocker.S targeting Australia is using the branding of popular TV crime drama 'Breaking Bad' to theme its extortion demands. After encrypting all the files on the victim's computer, the ransomware presents a message that uses a logo and character quotes from the show, in addition to a YouTube video from the game Grand Theft Auto V, thought to be a tribute to Breaking Bad.

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Self-Driving Cars In California: 4 Out of 48 Have Accidents, None Their Fault
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '15 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-mister-bond,-i-expect-you-to-frown-and-examine-your-fender-for-dents department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Associated Press reports that 48 self-driving cars have been navigating the roads of California since the state began issuing permits last year. Of those, only four have been in accidents, and none of the accidents were the fault of the autonomous driving technology. Seven different companies have tested autonomous cars on California's roads, but Google, which is responsible for almost half of them, was involved in three of the four accidents — the other one happened to a car from Delphi Automotive. All four of the accidents happened at speeds of under 10 mph, and human drivers were in control during two of them. The Delphi accident happened when another car broadsided it while its human driver was waiting to make a left turn.

The AP pieced together its report from the DMV and people who saw the accident reports. But critics note that there aren't direct channels to find this information. Since one of the chief selling points of autonomous cars is their relative safety over cars piloted by humans, the lack of official transparency is troubling. "Google, which has 23 Lexus SUVs, would not discuss its three accidents in detail." Instead, the company affirmed its cars' accidents were "a handful of minor fender-benders, light damage, no injuries, so far caused by human error and inattention."


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Study Reveals Wikimedia Foundation Is 'Awash In Money'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '15 at 04:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
New submitter Harold Dumbacher writes: Few things seen on Wikipedia aggravate its users more than the annual fundraising banners. Yet millions of people continue to contribute, seeming to think that Wikipedia will "go offline" if they aren't given more donations. Yet as a new Wikipediocracy blog post reveals, the Wikimedia Foundation is rolling in dough — $53 million in net assets as of this year (that's actual hard sitting-around currency, currently put into various investment vehicles). Meanwhile it only costs about $2.5 million to actually keep Wikimedia project servers online and handling user traffic. The rest of the WMF's annual donations go for "staff salaries, travel and miscellaneous." And evidently, many people are growing disgruntled with this ongoing state of affairs, even Wikimedia staff who benefit from it.

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Linux Mint Will Continue To Provide Both Systemd and Upstart
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '15 at 03:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's shades-of-the-gnome-transition department:
jones_supa writes: After Debian adopted systemd, many other Linux distributions based on that operating system made the switch as well. Ubuntu has already rolled out systemd in 15.04, but Linux Mint is providing dual options for users. The Ubuntu transition was surprisingly painless, and no one really put up a fight, but the Linux Mint team chose the middle ground. The Mint developers consider that the project needs to still wait for systemd to become more stable and mature, before it will be the default and only option.

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Australia: Your Digital Games (and Movies!) Could Be About to Jump In Price
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '15 at 01:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-lunch-money-was-jangling department:
dotarray writes with a snippet of news from Australia about expanded taxation for digital goods. From Player Attack comes the gist: Australians really are about to start paying more for digital services — including Steam games — as Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed plans to introduce a 'Netflix tax' in this week's Federal Budget. As mentioned last week, this is not a new tax, but an extension of Australia's current Goods and Services Tax to include digital services, adding 10% to virtual items and services purchased online. Details have not yet been revealed, but potential services include not only Steam games but also Netflix subscriptions and even Uber trips.

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FCC Tosses Petition Challenging Its New Internet Regulations
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-what-else-would-they-do? department:
A petition submitted to the FCC by several of the players (including AT&T, CenturyLink, and USTelecom) who would be most affected by the agency's recently asserted Internet regulatory powers has been rejected by the agency's leadership. The Internet providers, along with the CTIA trade association, asserted that the FCC's Open Internet order is aganst the public interest. Per The Verge, the Commission last Friday "denied the petition, issuing an order that states its classification of broadband internet as a telecommunications service "falls well within the Commission's statutory authority, is consistent with Supreme Court precedent, and fully complies with the Administrative Procedure Act."

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Apple Watch Hack Adds a Browser For Your Wrist
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's close-at-hand department:
TechCrunch reports that the Apple Watch now evidently has an tantalizing, but unofficial, feature: a browser, created by the jailbreak developer known as Comex. "Not great" is their headline-level assessment of what it looks like to use, which can't be too surprising: even a large watch face is still a small screen, by comparison to a laptop, a tablet, or even a phone. Venture Beat's assessment is similar: "As you’d expect, it’s an awkward mess." Making hardware do things it wasn't intended to is still a worthy pursuit, though, and TechCrunch notes: Out of the box, running arbitrary code like this shouldn’t be possible — while a native SDK is inbound, only stuff built with Apple’s somewhat limited WatchKit framework is supposed to run on the device for now. Is this a subtle demonstration of the world’s first jailbroken Apple Watch?

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British Pilots: Poll Data Says Public Wants Strict Rules For Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's are-new-rules-actually-needed? department:
According to the Guardian, a survey of members of the British public conducted on behalf of the British Airline Pilots Association reveals support among those surveyed for strict rules governing drone flights in urban areas, and (probably less surprising) calling for serious consquences in the form of jail sentences for those who endanger passenger aircraft with drone flights. A slice: The study, which will be presented on Monday at a drone safety summit organised by UK pilots, revealed that about a third of those polled think no one should be able to fly drones over urban areas.

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Russian Company Unveils Homegrown PC Chips
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-formerly-soviet-russia department:
Reader WheatGrass shares the news from Russia Insider that MCST, Moscow Center of SPARC Technologies, has begun taking orders for Russian-made computer chips, though at least one expert quoted warns that the technology lags five years behind that of western companies; that sounds about right, in that the chips are described as "comparable with Intel Corp’s Core i3 and Intel Core i5 processors." Also from the article: Besides the chips, MCST unveiled a new PC, the Elbrus ARM-401 which is powered by the Elbrus-4C chip and runs its own Linux-based Elbrus operating system. MCST said that other operating systems, including Microsoft’s Windows and other Linux distributions, can be installed on the Elbrus ARM-401. Finally, the company has built its own data center server rack, the Elbrus-4.4, which is powered by four Elbrus-4C microprocessors and supports up to 384GB of RAM.

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Can Earthquakes Be Predicted Algorithmically?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hindsight-is-excellent department:
An anonymous reader with this story about a practical application of big data analysis as applied to the trove of sensor readings taken by satellites and by ground-based senosrs. A company called Terra Seismic says that earthquakes can be predicted 20-30 days before they occur, by sifting data for thermal, ionic, and other abnormalities in areas where quakes are considered likely. Says the linked article: "The company claims to have successfully predicted a number of earthquakes. For example, on 5th of April 2013, the firm issued a forecast for Japan. On 12th April 2013, an earthquake hit the identified area and 33 people were injured. On 4th June 2013, the firm again made a prediction for an earthquake in North Italy. On 21st June, an earthquake hit the identified area. On 3rd March 2013, the firm issued a forecast for an earthquake in Iran. Again, after 35 days, an earthquake hit the identified area."

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The Challenge of Web Hosting Once You're Dead
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can-I-have-your-watch-after-you-fight-el-guapo? department:
reifman writes: Hosting a website (even WordPress) after your death has a variety of unexpected complexities, from renewing your domain name, to hosting, security, monitoring, troubleshooting and more. It's a gaping hole that we as technologists should start thinking more about — especially because all of us are going to die, some of us unexpectedly sooner than we'd like or planned for. The only real solution I found was to share credentials and designate funds to descendants — you've done this, right?

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How To Set Up a Pirate EBook Store In Google Play Books
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's pirate-business-plan department:
Nate the greatest writes: Most ebook pirates simply upload ebooks to a one of many pirate sites, but the entrepreneurial ones have opened storefronts in Google Play Books. They invent an author's name, and then upload dozens if not hundreds of pirated ebooks under that name, The names can range from Devad Akbak to Ispanyolca, but the really clever pirates choose a legit sounding name like Bestsellers — Books USA Press or Fort Press and then start selling ebooks.

Thanks to Google's indifference, the pirates can continue to sell ebooks no matter how many times copyright holders might complain. If Google takes a pirated ebook down in response to a DMCA notice, the pirates simply upload another copy of the same title.


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Examining Costs and Prices For California's High-Speed Rail Project
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's Now-How-Much-Would-You-Pay? department:
The L.A. Times features a look at the contentious issue of a publicly funded high-speed rail system for travel within the state of California, which focuses especially on an obvious question: how much would it cost for passengers to ride? This isn't a straightforward answer, though, partly because the system isn't expected to be operational for another 13 years, and the estimates vary wildly for what would be a trip of more than 400 miles that touches on some of the U.S.'s most expensive real estate. From the Times' article:

"The current $86 fare [for an L.A. to San Francisco ticket] is calculated in 2013 dollars based on a formula that prices tickets at 83% of average airline fares to help attract riders. The rail fare is an average that includes economy and premium seats, nonstop and multi-stop trains, as well as last-minute and advance purchase tickets. A premium, same-day nonstop bullet train trip would cost more than $86.

But compared with current average prices on several high-speed rail systems in Asia and Europe, $86 would be a bargain, equating to about 20 cents a mile or less, the Times review found. The analysis was based on a 438-mile route in the mid-range of what state officials expect the final alignment to measure."


How much would you be willing to pay to take a fast train between L.A. and San Francisco?

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Prison Messaging System JPay Withdraws Copyright Claims
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's got-you-coming-and-going department:
Florida-based JPay has a specialized business model and an audience that is at least in part a (literally) captive one: the company specializes in logistics and communications services involving prisons and prisoners, ranging from payment services to logistics to electronic communications with prisoners. Now, via Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing comes a report from the EFF that the company has back-pedaled on a particularly strange aspect of the terms under which the company provided messaging services for prisoners: namely, JPay's terms of service made exhaustive copyright claims on messages sent by prisoners, claiming rights to "all content, whether it be text, images, or video" send via the service. That language has now been excised, but not in time to prevent at least one bad outcome; from the EFF's description:
[Valerie] Buford has been running a social media campaign to overturn her [brother, Leon Benson's] murder conviction. However, after Buford published a videogram that her brother recorded via JPay to Facebook, prison administrators cut off her access to the JPay system, sent Benson to solitary confinement, and stripped away some of his earned "good time." To justify the discipline, prison officials said they were enforcing JPay's intellectual property rights and terms of service.


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Researchers Discover Breakthrough Drug Delivery Method By Changing Shape of Pill
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-your-face department:
ErnieKey writes: Researchers at the UCL School of Pharmacy, University College London have found a way to change the rate of dissolution within medication via a 3D printing method. Researchers used MakerBot's water- soluble filament, cut it into tiny pieces and mixed in acetaminophen. They then used the Filabot extruder to extrude a drug infused filament. With this filament they printed odd shaped pills and tested them to see what effect different shapes had on the speed at which they dissolved. What they concluded was that these odd shaped pills allowed for different rates of absorption, enabling custom medications for patients.

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Ask Slashdot: How To Own the Rights To Software Developed At Work?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-can-ask-now-or-cry-later department:
New submitter ToneyTime writes: I'm a young developer building custom add ins for my companies chosen SAAS platform as a full time staff member. The platform supports a developer community to share code and plug-ins with an option to sell the code. While I don't plan on having a breakthrough app, I am interested in sharing the solutions I create with the hopefully potential of selling. All solutions are created and made by me for the business needs and aim to keep any company specific data out. I have a good relationship with management and can develop on my own personal instance of the platform, but would be doing so on company time. Going contractor is a bit premature for me at this stage. Any advice, references or stories to learn from?

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Poker Pros Win Against AI, But Experts Peg Match As Statistical Draw
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '15 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-this-rate-they-win-next-year department:
hypnosec writes with some positive news for Skynet watchers, in that humans still have at least a slight lead against the AIs who might one day imprison us in energy-harvesting goo tanks, or at least beating us in Las Vegas. The two-day poker showdown involving four of the world's top (human) players and a Carnegie Mellon University AI program called Claudico saw the professionals win, after several days of heads-up no-limit Texas Hold'em. "Despite the win, the poker players' $732,713 collective lead over Claudico wasn't quite large enough to attain statistical significance, experts have said. This means that the results can't be accepted as scientifically reliable thereby indicating that the "Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence" competition effectively ended in a statistical tie." On the other hand, the computers sure got over what looked like a rout by the humans.

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