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Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pleading-for-sanity department:
An anonymous reader writes: The EFF, representing a coalition of computer scientists, filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court yesterday hoping for a ruling that APIs can't be copyrighted. The names backing the brief include Bjarne Stroustrup, Ken Thompson, Guido van Rossum, and many other luminaries. "The brief explains that the freedom to re-implement and extend existing APIs has been the key to competition and progress in both hardware and software development. It made possible the emergence and success of many robust industries we now take for granted—for example, mainframes, PCs, and workstations/servers—by ensuring that competitors could challenge established players and advance the state of the art. The litigation began several years ago when Oracle sued Google over its use of Java APIs in the Android OS. Google wrote its own implementation of the Java APIs, but, in order to allow developers to write their own programs for Android, Google's implementation used the same names, organization, and functionality as the Java APIs."

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Codecademy's ReSkillUSA: Gestation Period For New Developers Is 3 Months
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's four-if-you-want-them-to-play-well-with-others department:
theodp writes: TechCrunch reports that Codecademy has teamed up with online and offline coding schools to create ReskillUSA. "3 months," explains ReskillUSA's website, is "how long it takes a dedicated beginner to learn the skills to qualify for computing and web development jobs." TechCrunch's Anthony Ha explains,"By teaming up with other organizations, Codecademy is also hoping to convince employers that completing one of those programs is a meaningful qualification for a job, and that you don't necessarily need a bachelor's degree in computer science." In his Medium post, Codecademy CEO Zach Sims calls on "students learning for the jobs of the future or employers interested in hiring a diverse and skilled workforce – to join us. The future of our economy depends on it."

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Does Watson Have the Answer To Big Blue's Uncertain Future?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-sorry-dave,-i-need-those-TPS-reports-right-now department:
HughPickens.com writes: IBM has recently delivered a string of disappointing quarters, and announced recently that it would take a multibillion-dollar hit to offload its struggling chip business. But Will Knight writes at MIT Technology Review that Watson may have the answer to IBM's uncertain future. IBM's vast research department was recently reorganized to ramp up efforts related to cognitive computing. The push began with the development of the original Watson, but has expanded to include other areas of software and hardware research aimed at helping machines provide useful insights from huge quantities of often-messy data. "We're betting billions of dollars, and a third of this division now is working on it," says John Kelly, director of IBM Research, said of cognitive computing, a term the company uses to refer to artificial intelligence techniques related to Watson. The hope is that the Watson Business Group, a division aimed making its Jeopardy!-winning cognitive computing application more of a commercial success, will be able to answer more complicated questions in all sorts of industries, including health care, financial investment, and oil discovery; and that it will help IBM build a lucrative new computer-driven consulting business.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Amazon's Echo Chamber
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let's-build-a-robot-that-will-help-people-buy-things department:
An anonymous reader writes: The announcement this Thursday of another dubious piece of hardware from Amazon led Dustin Curtis to write an article critical of Amazon's hardware strategy, saying the company just doesn't understand what makes a device good or bad. Curtis says, "With Amazon.com, it can heavily and successfully promote and sell its products, giving it false indicators of success. It's an echo chamber. They make a product, they market the product on Amazon.com, they sell the product to Amazon.com customers, they get a false sense of success, the customer puts the product in a drawer and never uses it, and then Amazon moves on to the next product. Finally, with the Fire Phone, customers have been pushing back.

The media strategy that seems to be driving Jeff Bezos to make mobile consumption devices (with Amazon's media stores and Prime video/music) is flawed. No one makes money selling media for consumption anymore. That market is quickly and brutally dying. The media market is now so efficient that all profit is completely sucked out of the equation by the time you get to the consumption delivery system, to the point that it is barely possible to break even."


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Joey Hess Resigns From Debian
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-patience department:
An anonymous reader writes: Long-time Debian developer Joey Hess has posted a resignation letter to the Debian mailing list. Hess was a big part of the development of the Debian installer, debhelper, Alien, and other systems. He says, "It's become abundantly clear that this is no longer the project I originally joined in 1996. We've made some good things, and I wish everyone well, but I'm out. ... If I have one regret from my 18 years in Debian, it's that when the Debian constitution was originally proposed, despite seeing it as dubious, I neglected to speak out against it. It's clear to me now that it's a toxic document, that has slowly but surely led Debian in very unhealthy directions."

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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's having-problems-is-not-a-problem department:
Ichijo writes: A new study (abstract) from Duke University tested whether the desirability of a solution affects beliefs in the existence of the associated problem. Researchers found that 'yes, people will deny the problem when they don't like the solution. Quoting: "Participants in the experiment, including both self-identified Republicans and Democrats, read a statement asserting that global temperatures will rise 3.2 degrees in the 21st century. They were then asked to evaluate a proposed policy solution to address the warming. When the policy solution emphasized a tax on carbon emissions or some other form of government regulation, which is generally opposed by Republican ideology, only 22 percent of Republicans said they believed the temperatures would rise at least as much as indicated by the scientific statement they read.

But when the proposed policy solution emphasized the free market, such as with innovative green technology, 55 percent of Republicans agreed with the scientific statement. The researchers found liberal-leaning individuals exhibited a similar aversion to solutions they viewed as politically undesirable in an experiment involving violent home break-ins. When the proposed solution called for looser versus tighter gun-control laws, those with more liberal gun-control ideologies were more likely to downplay the frequency of violent home break-ins."


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Elon Musk's Next Mission: Internet Satellites
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's next-billion department:
An anonymous reader writes: According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Elon Musk is looking at a new project: smaller, cheaper satellites that can provide internet access for people all across the world. "Mr. Musk is working with Greg Wyler, a satellite-industry veteran and former Google Inc. executive, these people said. Mr. Wyler founded WorldVu Satellites Ltd., which controls a large block of radio spectrum. In talks with industry executives, Messrs. Musk and Wyler have discussed launching around 700 satellites, each weighing less than 250 pounds, the people said. That is about half the size of the smallest communications satellites now in commercial use. The satellite constellation would be 10 times the size of the largest current fleet, managed by Iridium Communications Inc. ... The smallest communications satellites now weigh under 500 pounds and cost several million dollars each. WorldVu hopes to bring the cost of manufacturing smaller models under $1 million, according to two people familiar with its plans."

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Americans Rejoice At Lower Gas Prices
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's another-shoe-will-aways-drop department:
HughPickens.com writes Drivers across America are rejoicing at falling gasoline prices as pumps across the country dip below $3 a gallon. According to Sharon E. Burke while it's nice to get the break at the gas pump and the economic benefits of an energy boom at home, the national security price of oil remains high and the United States should be doing everything it can to diversify global energy suppliers. Ultimately, the only way to solve our long term energy problem is to make a sustained, long-term investment in the alternatives to petroleum. But October saw a 52 percent jump in Jeep SUV sales and a 36 percent rise in Ram trucks while some hybrid and electric vehicle sales fell at the same time. "This is like putting a Big Mac in front of people who need to diet or watch their cholesterol," says Anthony Perl. "Some people might have the willpower to stick with their program, and some people will wait until their first heart attack before committing to a diet—but if we do that at a planetary scale it will be pretty traumatic."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Start-Up Vsenn Emerges From Stealth With Project Ara Modular Phone Competitor
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 02:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's stick-'em-up-I-mean-together department:
MojoKid writes When Phonebloks visionary Dave Hakkens began evangelizing the idea of a modular phone with interchangeable components, many scoffed at the idea saying it couldn't be done or wasn't commercially feasible, that is until Google stepped up and backed a team of engineers for Project Ara. Ultimately, Project Ara's proof of concept efforts bore fruit and the vision is quickly becoming reality, now with apparently new competitors entering the fray. A start-up company by the name of Vsenn has come out of cover to disclose it's intention to start a "smartphone evolution" and it also turns out that company has been co-founded by a former Nokia Android X Program Manager. The company also makes some lofty promises and has set big goals, noting not only modular hardware design but "guaranteed updates, maximum security and customizable looks." From encryption to secure VPN cloud services and back covers that are easily changed out, Vsenn seems to be targeting not only "Phonebloks-style" modularity and customizations like Project Ara but also some of the secure device and communication hot buttons that both Apple and Google have been acting on on as of late with iOS and Android Lollipop.

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Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Data Warehouse Server System?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 11:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's index-cards-and-an-actual-warehouse department:
New submitter puzzled_decoy writes The company I work has decided to get in on this "big data" thing. We are trying to find a good data warehouse system to host and run analytics on, you guessed it, a bunch of data. Right now we are looking into MSSQL, a company called Domo, and Oracle contacted us. Google BigQuery may be another option. At its core, we need to be able to query huge amounts of data in sometimes rather odd ways. We need a strong ETLlayer, and hopefully we can put some nice visual reporting service on top of wherever the data is stored. So, what is your experience with "big data" servers and services? What would you recommend, and what are the pitfalls you've encountered?

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Dealer-Installed GPS Tracker Leads To Kidnapper's Arrest in Maryland
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 08:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's cheaper-than-lojack department:
New submitter FarnsworthG writes A news story about the capture of a kidnapper mentioned that he was caught because a car dealer had secretly installed a GPS device on his car. Apparently this is becoming common for "buy-here-pay-here" dealers. The devices are sold by Spireon, among many others. Raises interesting privacy questions. FarnsworthG also points to this Jalopnik article condemning the practice, when it's done without disclosure. The kidnapping itself, of Philadelphia nursing assistant Carlesha Freeland-Gaither, was captured by a surveillance camera.

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Florida-Based Magic Leap Builds Its Team With Bay Area Hires
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 04:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-man-you're-supposed-to-eat-local department:
Tekla Perry writes Stealthy 'cinematic reality' company Magic Leap may be based in Florida--but it's doing a lot of hiring from the Bay Area, scooping up engineers from Pixar, Google, Apple, and Intel--along with a few Willow Garage alums. And it's got openings for many many more. Are all these folks with long-term Silicon Valley roots really going to move to South Florida? Or is Magic Leap getting ready to open up a Silicon Valley research center to house the brain trust it is gathering? Here's what we know about Magic Leap and its technology, who's joining it, and what other kinds of engineers the company aims to hire.

Magic Leap has a lot of money to do all that hiring, having just raised more than half a billion dollars, the bulk of it from Google. If you're working in the Bay Area now, would you look forward to a move to Florida, or rather stay where you are?

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More Tor .Onion Sites May Get Digital Certificates Soon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's try-to-stop-from-crying department:
Trailrunner7 writes News broke last week that Facebook had built a hidden services version of its social network available to users browsing anonymously via the Tor Project's proxy service. Unlike any .onion domain before it, Facebook's would be verified by a legitimate digital signature, signed and issued by DigiCert. Late yesterday, Jeremy Rowley, DigiCert's vice president of business development and legal, explained his company's decision to support this endeavor in a blog entry. He also noted that DigiCert is considering opening up its certification business to other .Onion domains in the future. "Using a digital certificate from DigiCert, Tor users are able to identify the exact .onion address operated by Facebook," Rowley explained. "Tor users can evaluate the digital certificate contents to discover that the entity operating the onion address is the same entity as the one operating facebook.com."

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NASA Pondering $1.5 Million Stratospheric Airship Competition
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's to-boldly-go-where-skydivers-have-gone-before department:
coondoggie writes: NASA this week said it was contemplating a public competition to build airships capable of reaching the stratosphere where they could remain for a period of time gathering astronomical data or watching environmental changes on the ground. Airship Challenge's goals (PDF) include: a minimum altitude of 20km, maintained for 20 hours; successful return of payload data as well as cargo up to 20kg; and a demonstration of the airship's scalability for longer/larger missions.

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Worldwide Aaron Swartz Day Memorial Hackathons This Weekend
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department:
New submitter sterlingcrispin writes: There are hackathons taking place all over the world in memory of Aaron Swartz this weekend, November 8th and 9th. The goal is to "bring together the varied communities that Aaron touched to figure out how the important problems of the world connect, and to share the load of working on those problems." If you are interested in open access, privacy, free speech, transparency, citizen activism, human rights, and information ethics please attend, promote this event, and contribute to its growth.

I'm organizing the Los Angeles meet up and would love to see you there! Here are the other cities hosting one.


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The Largest Kuiper Belt Object Isn't Pluto Or Eris, But Triton
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-not-a-planet department:
StartsWithABang writes: Out beyond Neptune, the last of our Solar System's gas giants, the icy graveyard of failed planetesimals lurks: the Kuiper Belt. Among these mixes of ice, snow, dust and rock are a number of worlds — possibly a few hundred — massive enough to pull themselves into hydrostatic equilibrium. The most famous among them are Pluto, the first one ever discovered, and Eris, of comparable size but undoubtedly more massive. But there's an even larger, more massive object from the Kuiper Belt than either of these, yet you never hear about it: it's Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, a true Kuiper Belt object!

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New NXP SoC Gives Android Its Apple Pay
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's supported-by-one-used-book-store-and-a-dude-in-his-garage department:
dkatana writes: NXP, having worked with Apple on Apple Pay, is now launching its PN66T module for secure NFC mobile transactions — for Android. It's intended to implement the same functionality of Apple Pay. While NXP claims the module is OS independent, the features clearly indicate that Android devices are the likely recipients of the SoC. The PN66T is Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMVCo) certified, and also supports American Express ExpressPay, thus fully covering the three big credit card companies, ensuring compatibility and interoperability with existing and future payment methods.

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Blizzard Announces Overwatch, a First-Person Shooter
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's gorillas-with-guns department:
Today at Blizzcon, Blizzard announced its first new franchise in 17 years: Overwatch. It's a first-person shooter, a type of game Blizzard hasn't made before. It seems to be based on team deathmatch combat, with a number of characters/classes that all have different abilities. The beta test will start sometime in 2015 (you can sign-up here at the official site, unless it gets crushed by traffic). Game director Jeffrey Kaplan (a.k.a. Tigole) said one of their big goals is to make it an approachable game in a way shooters often aren't. A cinematic trailer is available, as is a gameplay trailer. Blizzard has set up stations for players at Blizzcon to play Overwatch this weekend, so more details will be coming soon.

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Zuckerberg: Most of Facebook Will Be Video Within Five Years
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-deliver-electric-shock-if-you-look-away department:
jfruh writes: Facebook recently held its first ever town-hall meeting in which Mark Zuckerberg took questions from the general public, and one of his answers might raise some eyebrows. When asked if the increasing numbers of photos being uploaded might strain the company's servers, he said the infrastructure is more than up to the task, because they're preparing for the notion that "in five years, most of [Facebook] will be video."

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Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-life-jim-but-not-as-we-know department:
An anonymous reader writes: In a new paper published in Science, researchers at the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute note that "there are reasons to believe that current approaches [to discovering life] may indeed miss taxa, particularly if they are very different from those that have so far been characterized." They believe life forms exist that don't fall into the established eukaryota, archaea, or bacteria kingdoms. They argue that there may be life out there that doesn't use the four DNA and RNA bases that we're used to; there may be life out there that has evolved completely separately from everything that we have ever known to exist; there may be life that lives in places we haven't even looked.

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