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Obama Planning New Rules For Oil and Gas Industry's Methane Emissions
Posted by News Fetcher on January 14 '15 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-at-all-controversial-nope department:
mdsolar sends this quote from the NY Times:
In President Obama's latest move using executive authority to tackle climate change, administration officials will announce plans this week to impose new regulations on the oil and gas industry's emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, according to a person familiar with Mr. Obama's plans. The administration's goal is to cut methane emissions from oil and gas production by up to 45 percent by 2025 from the levels recorded in 2012.

The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the proposed regulations this summer, and final regulations by 2016, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the administration had asked the person not to speak about the plan. The White House declined to comment on the effort. Methane, which leaks from oil and gas wells, accounts for just 9 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas pollution — but it is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on global warming.


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Man Saves Wife's Sight By 3D Printing Her Tumor
Posted by News Fetcher on January 14 '15 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's insurance-companies-to-soon-require-full-body-prints department:
An anonymous reader writes: Michael Balzer, a former software engineer and Air Force technical instructor, found himself unsatisfied with a doctor's diagnosis of a small tumor behind his wife's left eye. Balzer had recently become proficient at creating 3D models, so he asked the doctor for the raw medical imaging data and took a look himself. In addition to correcting a later misdiagnosis, Balzer 3D printed models of his wife's cranium and helped neurosurgeons plan a procedure to remove the tumor, instead of waiting to see how it developed, like previous doctors had recommended. During the procedure, surgeons found the tumor was beginning to entangle her optic nerve, and even a six-month wait would have had dire consequences for her eyesight.

Medical researchers like Dr. Michael Patton believe this sort of prototyping will become "the new normal" in a very short time. He says, "What you can now do through 3D printing is like what you're able to do in the software world: Rapid iteration, fail fast, get something to market quickly. You can print the prototypes, and then you can print out model organs on which to test the products. You can potentially obviate the need for some animal studies, and you can do this proof of concept before extensive patient trials are conducted.


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Ammonia Leak Alarm On the ISS Forces Evacuation of US Side: Crew Safe
Posted by News Fetcher on January 14 '15 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's send-up-a-plumber department:
New submitter BabelBuilder writes: An alarm signaling a possible ammonia leak aboard the ISS this morning caused the crew to evacuate the U.S. side of the station. All crew aboard the station are safe. "Flight controllers in Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston saw an increase in pressure in the station's water loop for thermal control system B then later saw a cabin pressure increase that could be indicative of an ammonia leak in the worst case scenario. Acting conservatively to protect for the worst case scenario, the crew was directed to isolate themselves in the Russian segment while the teams are evaluating the situation." They don't yet know whether it was caused by a faulty sensor, a problem in the relay box, or another malfunction.

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Where Cellular Networks Don't Exist, People Are Building Their Own
Posted by News Fetcher on January 14 '15 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's teach-a-man-to-mobile-and-he'll-tweet-for-the-rest-of-his-life department:
New submitter TechCurmudgeon writes: According to a story at Wired, towns in Mexico that aren't served by the nation's telecom monopoly are taking matters in their own hands with the help of a non-profit and open source technology. "Strategically ignored by Mexico's major telecoms, Yaee is putting itself on the mobile communications grid with the help of a Oaxaca-based telecommunications non-profit called Rhizomatica." A locally-made tower is the backbone of Yaee's first cellular network. The town's network is composed of two antennas and an open-source base station from a Canadian company called NuRAN. Once Yaee gets the tower installed and the network online, its 500 citizens will, for the first time, be able to make cell phone calls from home, and for cheaper rates than almost anywhere else in Mexico.

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The Legacy of CPU Features Since 1980s
Posted by News Fetcher on January 14 '15 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-slices-it-dices-it-juliennes-fries department:
jones_supa writes: David Albert asked the following question:

"My mental model of CPUs is stuck in the 1980s: basically boxes that do arithmetic, logic, bit twiddling and shifting, and loading and storing things in memory. I'm vaguely aware of various newer developments like vector instructions (SIMD) and the idea that newer CPUs have support for virtualization (though I have no idea what that means in practice). What cool developments have I been missing? "

An article by Dan Luu answers this question and provides a good overview of various cool tricks modern CPUs can perform. The slightly older presentation Compiler++ by Jim Radigan also gives some insight on how C++ translates to modern instruction sets.


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OpenBSD's Kernel Gets W^X Treatment On Amd64
Posted by News Fetcher on January 14 '15 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's write-stuff department:
New submitter brynet tips this news from Theo de Raadt:
Over the last two months Mike Larkin (mlarkin@) modified the amd64 kernel to follow the W^X principles. It started as a humble exercise to fix the .rodata segment, and kind of went crazy. As a result, no part of the kernel address space is writeable and executable simultaneously. At least that is the idea, modulo mistakes. Final attention to detail (which some of you experienced in buggy drafts in snapshots) was to make the MP and ACPI trampolines follow W^X, furthermore they are unmapped when not required. Final picture is many architectures were improved, but amd64 and sparc64 look the best due to MMU features available to service the W^X model. The entire safety model is also improved by a limited form of kernel ASLR (the code segment does not move around yet, but data and page table ASLR is fairly good."

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Obama Unveils Plan To Bring About Faster Internet In the US
Posted by News Fetcher on January 14 '15 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's grease-the-tubes department:
An anonymous reader writes: President Obama is rolling out a new plan to boost the speed of internet connections throughout the U.S. For one, he'll be asking the FCC for assistance in neutralizing state laws (PDF) that prevent cities from building municipal broadband services. "At speeds of 4 Mbps or less, 75 percent of consumers have a choice between two or more fixed providers, and 15 percent can select among three or more ISPs. However, in the market for Internet service that can deliver 25 Mbps downstream—the speed increasingly recognized as a baseline to get the full benefits of Internet access—three out of four Americans do not have a choice between providers." The state laws laws restrict competition and give the major ISPs no incentive to invest and innovate.

Obama will also be directing other federal agencies to increase the amount of money they grant and loan to ISP-related projects. "Any effort by the FCC to preempt anti-muni-broadband laws will likely focus on a controversial part of the FCC's congressional charter known as "Section 706." That part of the law recognizes the FCC's authority to stimulate broadband deployment, which supporters of preemption argue the tactic would promote. If Section 706 sounds familiar, that's because it's also the legal tool some say should be used to promote net neutrality, or the principle that broadband companies shouldn't speed up or slow down some Web sites over others."


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Ars: Samsung Gear VR Is Today's Best Virtual Reality
Posted by News Fetcher on January 14 '15 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's jury-still-out-on-today's-best-actual-reality department:
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung took a distinctly different tack from Oculus VR in developing virtual reality tech. Whereas Oculus has a dedicated device, Samsung simply has a high-tech piece of headgear that you strap a Galaxy Note 4 phone into. A review popped up at Ars Technica after a month using the device, and they say it works surprisingly well. Quoting: "Though the weight of the two units is comparable, the Gear VR benefits from a strap system that distributes that weight on the upper forehead and the back of the skull rather than through an elastic death grip around the eye area."

They still say a purchase is hard to justify, simply because the content selection is lacking. But as that improves, the price tag will become worth it. "Simple, minimally interactive virtual reality experiences like The Deep, BluVR, and Titans of Space have become go-to apps when passing the Gear VR around a party for friends to check out. It's incredible just sitting in place and following along with your gaze as sea life or entire planets fly by in sharp, well-rendered, 360-degree glory."


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Uber Will Provide Transit Data To Cities
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's how-best-to-distribute-starbucks-franchises department:
mpicpp notes that transportation company Uber will be sharing the transit data it collects with city governments in order to "provide new insights to help manage urban growth, relieve traffic congestion, expand public transportation, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions." The company's first partnership will be with Boston, where Uber and other ridesharing services have been formally recognized by the state. Mayor Walsh said, "[D]ata is driving our conversations, our policy making and how we envision the future of our city. We are using data to change the way we deliver services and we welcome the opportunity to add to our resources. This will help us reach our transportation goals, improve the quality of our neighborhoods and allow us to think smarter, finding more innovative and creative solutions to some of our most pressing challenges."

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Human Language May Have Evolved To Help Our Ancestors Make Tools
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 09:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's try-pointing-the-sharp-thing-toward-that-mastodon department:
sciencehabit writes: If there's one thing that distinguishes humans from other animals, it's our ability to use language. But when and why did this trait evolve? A new study concludes that the art of conversation may have arisen early in human evolution, because it made it easier for our ancestors to teach each other how to make stone tools — a skill that was crucial for the spectacular success of our lineage. The study involved getting a number of college students to try to make their own primitive stone tools, some using language, others not. The team discovered that only those that used language were able to make effective tools.

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Authors Alarmed As Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops Nature Words
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sign-of-the-times department:
Freshly Exhumed writes: Margaret Atwood, Andrew Motion, and Michael Morpurgo are among 28 authors criticizing Oxford University Press's decision to scrap a number of words associated with nature from its junior dictionary. In an open letter (PDF) released on Monday, the acclaimed writers said they are "profoundly alarmed" and urged the publisher to reinstate words cut since 2007 in the next edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Among words to be dropped are acorn, blackberries, and minnows.

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China's Engineering Mega-Projects Dwarf the Great Wall
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's turning-the-moon-into-an-anti-tsunami-device department:
HughPickens.com writes:
David Barboza has an interesting article in the NYT about China's engineering megaprojects. For example, there's the world's longest underwater tunnel, which will run twice the length of the one under the English Channel, and bore deep into one of Asia's active earthquake zones, creating a rail link between two northern port cities, Dalian and Yantai. Throughout China, equally ambitious projects with multibillion-dollar price tags are already underway. The world's largest bridge. The biggest airport. The longest gas pipeline. Such enormous infrastructure projects are a Chinese tradition. From the Great Wall to the Grand Canal and the Three Gorges Dam, this nation for centuries has used colossal public-works projects to showcase its engineering prowess and project its economic might.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Is 'SimCity' Homelessness a Bug Or a Feature?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-the-guiliani-addon department:
sarahnaomi writes: SimCity players have discussed a variety of creative strategies for their virtual homelessness problem. They've suggested waiting for natural disasters like tornadoes to blow the vagrants away, bulldozing parks where they congregate, or creating such a woefully insufficient city infrastructure that the homeless would leave on their own.

You can read all of these proposed final solutions in Matteo Bittanti's How to Get Rid of Homelessness, "a 600-page epic split in two volumes documenting the so-called 'homeless scandal' that affected 2013's SimCity." Bittanti collected, selected, and transcribed thousands of these messages exchanged by players on publisher Electronic Arts' official forums, Reddit, and the largest online SimCity community Simtropolis, who experienced and then tried to "eradicate" the phenomenon of homelessness that "plagued" SimCity."


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Exploring Some Lesser-Known Scripting Languages
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-dangerous-to-go-alone,-import-this department:
Nerval's Lobster writes: Scripting languages are used in everything from games and Web pages to operating-system shells and general applications, as well as standalone scripts. While many of these scripting languages are common and open to modification, there are some interesting, open-source ones that are worth a look, even if they don't have the substantial audience of some of the popular ones. Wren, Candle, Fancy, Pikt, and PPL all show what a single developer can do if they set out with enough motivation to create open-source scripting languages. The results often prove surprisingly powerful.

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Apple Awarded Gesture-Control Patent
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nothing-is-obvious-to-the-uspto department:
mpicpp points out a report that Apple has been awarded a broad patent for gesture control of a computer interface (8,933,876). The company inherited the patent after their acquisition of motion-sensor company PrimeSense in 2013. (PrimeSense's technology is used in Microsoft's Kinect gesture control system.) Here's the patent's abstract:
A method, including receiving, by a computer executing a non-tactile three dimensional (3D) user interface, a set of multiple 3D coordinates representing a gesture by a hand positioned within a field of view of a sensing device coupled to the computer, the gesture including a first motion in a first direction along a selected axis in space, followed by a second motion in a second direction, opposite to the first direction, along the selected axis. Upon detecting completion of the gesture, the non-tactile 3D user interface is transitioned from a first state to a second state.

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PC Shipments Are Slowly Recovering
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tablets-not-magic-panacea,-film-at-11 department:
mrspoonsi sends this news from TechCrunch:
Over the past two years, the growing popularity of mobile devices has eaten into PC sales. A new report by Gartner, however, shows that shipments may continue to enjoy a very slow but steady uptick this year as tablet sales hit a peak. The research firm found that worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 grew one percent year-over-year, the first increase since 2012. In the U.S., PC shipments increased 13.1 percent year-over-year, the fastest increase in four years, thanks to holiday purchases. Inexpensive laptops (about $200 to $300), thin and light notebooks, and laptops with a detachable screen helped drive growth. Lenovo continued to be the number one PC maker in terms of shipment volume, with a 19.4 percent marketshare.

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Firefox 35 Arrives With MP4 Playback On Mac, Android Download Manager Support
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 35 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Major additions to the browser include room-based Firefox Hello conversations, H.264 (MP4 files) playback on OS X, and integration with the Android download manager. Mozilla has opened up the Firefox Marketplace for the desktop, currently in beta. While Firefox Marketplace is already available on Firefox OS and Firefox for Android, the company is now asking users to help test apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Full changelogs: desktop and Android."

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Lawrence Krauss On Scientists As Celebrities: Good For Science?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's use-it-if-you've-got-it department:
Lasrick writes: Lawrence Krauss explores the reasons why scientists such as Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and Neil deGrasse Tyson became celebrities, and he shares his own experience as a best selling author and frequent guest on television programs like Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Krauss describes how public acclaim is often uncorrelated to scientific accomplishment and depends more on communication skills and personality traits. Nevertheless, he argues that the entire scientific community benefits when credible scientists gain a wider audience, and that celebrity is an opportunity that should not be squandered. Scientists who become recognizable have a chance and perhaps even a responsibility, which they have often exploited, to promote science literacy, combat scientific nonsense, motivate young people, and steer public policy discussions toward sound decision making wherever they can.

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Wireless Keylogger Masquerades as USB Phone Charger
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's in-case-you-were-running-out-of-attack-vectors-to-worry-about department:
msm1267 writes: Hardware hacker and security researcher Samy Kamkar has released a slick new device that masquerades as a typical USB wall charger but in fact houses a keylogger capable of recording keystrokes from nearby wireless keyboards. The device is known as KeySweeper, and Kamkar has released the source code and instructions for building one of your own. The components are inexpensive and easily available, and include an Arduino microcontroller, the charger itself, and a handful of other bits. When it's plugged into a wall socket, the KeySweeper will connect to a nearby Microsoft wireless keyboard and passively sniff, decrypt and record all of the keystrokes and send them back to the operator over the Web.

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Talk to the World Through Ubi -- and Use Gestures, Too (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '15 at 11:45 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's not-quite-star-trek-but-getting-there department:
'The Ubi is an always-on voice-activated computer ready to help. Just plug it in, talk to it and it'll help you connect with your world.' That Kickstarter project description back in 2012 helped UBI raise $229,594 even though they only hoped for $36,000. So now they sell Ubis for $299, as you can see for yourself by clicking the "BUY NOW" button in the upper right corner of www.TheUbi.com, their site's main page. A cynic might say that a decent Android phone can perform most Ubi functions, including a growing number of home automation control tasks, and that Android voice recognition gets better with each new release. But Ubi is cute, and round, and "you can talk through it to the ones you love."

That's great, but Android phones can do that, too. What a smartphone can't do is compete with Ubi Interactive, which may finally give us gesture-based computer input that is not only exciting in a Star Trek way, but is also practical for home and business use. This, along with Kinect, looks like a product that has a solid future ahead of it. (<a>Alternate Video Link</a>)

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