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The Driverless Future: Buses, Not Taxis
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-about-segway department:
jfruh writes Driverless vehicles are coming. The question is: what form will they take? Uber's management has suggested that, rather than owning our own private autonomous, cars, we'll all be glad to pay Uber by the trip for a private ride in one. But an Italian consultant working on experimental driverless vehicles in Europe thinks that the future will lie with automated buses, because driverless cars, "may be able to go and park themselves out of harm's way, they may be able to do more trips per day, but they will still need a 10 ft wide lane to move a flow of 3600 persons per hour ... their advantages completely fade away in an urban street, where the frequent obstacles and interruptions will make robots provide a performance that will be equal, or worse than, that of a human driver, at least in terms of capacity and density."

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Forbes Revisits the Surface Pro 3, Which May Face LG Competition
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's plusses-minuses department:
Forbes writer Marco Chiappetta revisits Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 half a year after its U.S. debut, and finds the tablet-laptop hybrid has held up pretty well, but suffers some dings worth knowing about before jumping at holiday sale prices, pointing out a number of scenarios where a full-fledged notebook, even if it’s roughly the same size, will be the better choice. I’ve found that the Surface Pro 3 is ideal for users that will likely fire the machine up when sitting at a desk or when in a conference room-type environment that has a table. The Surface Pro 3’s performance is plenty good for everyday computing and office applications, and the screen is top notch. Using the Surface Pro 3 as a notepad with its stylus is also very useful. In fact, over the course of the device’s life, Microsoft has issued a number of firmware, driver, and OS updates that have improved the overall responsiveness and usefulness of the Surface Pro 3. For those who want a laptop, though for actual laptop use, the Surface is an awkward fit. However, a thin, tablet-convertible, touchscreen laptop may appear soon from LG, as well.

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Hayabusa 2 Asteroid Probe Postponed By Weather Until Early December
Posted by News Fetcher on November 30 '14 at 01:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-just-whenever department:
As reported by The Register, Japan's Hayabusa 2 mission to mine (or at least sample) an asteroid, which was to have been launched Saturday, has been delayed by weather, until a time no earlier than Monday, Dec. 1st (and from JAXA's web site, it appears that Dec. 3rd is the current target):

If all goes to plan, the space probe will lift off next month and fly out to asteroid 1999JU3 by mid-2018 using ion engines. The craft will orbit the rock before dropping a bomb onto the surface. The resulting blast should leave a hole [in] the asteroid. The probe will then land and dig around in the rubble for material from below the surface using a "sampler horn". The probe will then take off again and head for home carrying its booty, and is due to return in 2020 or slightly later.

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Kim Dotcom Faces Jail At Bail Hearing
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 10:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's such-cynicism department:
An anonymous reader writes A bail hearing will resume on Monday at which New Zealand authorities will claim one-time internet tycoon Kim Dotcom is a flight risk and should be sent to jail to await his extradition hearing. The Crown quizzed Dotcom on his finances, contacts and even his online gaming habits this week. Authorities argued he had breached bail conditions by trying to sell a Rolls Royce and having contact with former Megaupload colleagues. Dotcom is wanted in the US on criminal copyright violation and racketeering charges.

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Graphene May Top Kevlar As a Bullet-Stopping Material
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's kevlar's-watching-its-back department:
The Royal Society of Chemistry reports that U.S. researchers Edwin Thomas and Jae-Hwang Lee have been testing the strength of graphene mesh in one role it's probably destined to appear in down the road: as ballistic shielding material. From the article: We cannot use conventional techniques such as a gun barrel or gunpowder [on this scale],’ explains Lee. ‘Instead we used a laser to accelerate a microscale silica bullet [at the multilayer graphene target].’

The bullet was propelled into stacked graphene sheets at supersonic speeds of up to 2000mph by the gases produced by laser pulses rapidly evaporating a gold film. The team calculated the energy difference of the bullet before and after to determine the energy absorbed.

Neil Bourne, director of the National Centre for Matter under Extreme Conditions in the UK, who was not involved in the research, described the technique as ‘very exciting’. ‘They have taken a standard laboratory ballistics configuration and demonstrated its utility on microscopic scales,’ he says.

Graphene was able to absorb up to 0.92MJ/kg of ballistic energy in the test, with cracks forming around the impact zone. By comparison, steel targets only absorbed up to 0.08MJ/kg at the same speed.


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A Rift In OnePlus, Cyanogen Relationship
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-companies-fight department:
As reported at SlashGear and Engadget, One Plus (which has been selling phones running Android-derived Cyanogen Mod rather than Android proper) has won't be selling its phones with Cyanogen Mod to Indian consumers. Instead, according to Slashgear, "When OnePlus launches their device for the Indian market, Cyanogen won't be on it. Cyanogen has instead chosen to go with Micromax, an OEM more familiar to the Indian market. Cyanogen and Micromax also have an exclusive deal." ZDNet reports that One Plus's One, loaded with Android 5.0 after this kerfuffle, will be available to Indian buyers for a 72-hour period (already in progress), rather than by invitation only, which had previously been the only option.

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Music Publishers Sue Cox Communications Over Piracy
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-must-crack-the-whip department:
wabrandsma (2551008) writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica:
BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music have sued Cox Communications for copyright infringement, arguing that the Internet service provider doesn't do enough to punish those who download music illegally.
Both BMG and Round Hill are clients of Rightscorp, a copyright enforcement agent whose business is based on threatening ISPs with a high-stakes lawsuit if they don't forward settlement notices to users that Rightscorp believes are "repeat infringers" of copyright.

In their complaint (PDF), the music publishers also decided to publicly post IP addresses.


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Ask Slashdot: Making a 'Wife Friendly' Gaming PC?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-any-spouse-reallly department:
shadeshope writes Having just gotten married, I find that for some inexplicable reason my wife doesn't like my huge, noisy, 'ugly' gaming PC being in the living room. I have tried hiding it in a TV cabinet: still too noisy. I have placed it in another room and run HDMI and USB cables, but the propagation delay caused horrible tearing and lag when playing games. Have any other slashdotters encountered this problem? I don't want to buy a console (Steam sales let me game so cheaply), or mess with water cooling. Ideally I would just hide it in the attic, is there some wireless technology that would be fast enough for gaming use? I have become quite attached to 'behemoth.' I have been upgrading him for years and he is the centre of my digital life. I run plex home theatre, media centre, steam, iTunes and air server. Will I have to do my gaming in the spare room? Once I have sorted this small problem going to try and make a case for the efficacy of a projector to replace the television..... it takes up less space, motorized screen could be hidden when not in use, etc.

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Finland Dumps Handwriting In Favor of Typing
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's take-a-letter-maria department:
mikejuk writes It seems incredible that in the 21st century schools are still teaching children to scratch marks on paper. Well in Finland they are taking a step in the direction of the future by giving up teaching handwriting. The Savon Sanomat newspaper reports that from autumn 2016 cursive handwriting will no longer be a compulsory part of the school curriculum. Instead the schools will teach keyboard skills and 'texting'. The idea of teaching proper keyboard skills to children is unquestionably a great idea, the idea of texting is a little more dubious and many will mourn the loss of a traditional skill like cursive writing. So what about a world where cursive writing is forgotten? What do you do when your computer is dead and you need to leave a note? The death of cursive script probably isn't the death of handwriting but the death of doing it quickly and with style. Some no doubt will want to master it just for the sake of it — like driving a stick shift. I know some U.S. schools have done the same; how proficient should kids be with cursive?

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SKA Space Telescope To Offer Neighbors Cheap Broadband
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's port-in-a-storm department:
An anonymous reader writes The Square Kilometer Array is a giant space telescope currently being built in the middle of the Karoo in South Africa, which when complete will be 50 times more sensitive than any existing Earth-based telescope. The problem is that it's so sensitive, the thousands of antennas need to be protected from terrestrial radio interference. Given that cell masts and technologies like TB white spaces are the only way people living in the remote areas near SKA are going to be able to get affordable net access, this is a bit of a problem. In order that its neighbours aren't completely cut-off, SKA is offering them subsidised satellite broadband instead. Which is nice.

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Bad Lockup Bug Plagues Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's therefore-it-plagues-you department:
jones_supa (887896) writes "A hard to track system lockup bug seems to have appeared in the span of couple of most recent Linux kernel releases. Dave Jones of Red Hat was the one to first report his experience of frequent lockups with 3.18. Later he found out that the issue is present in 3.17 too. The problem was first suspected to be related to Xen. A patch dating back to 2005 was pushed for Xen to fix a <tt>vmalloc_fault()</tt> path that was similar to what was reported by Dave. The patch had a comment that read "the line below does not always work. Needs investigating!" But it looks like this issue was never properly investigated. Due to the nature of the bug and its difficulty in tracking down, testers might be finding multiple but similar bugs within the kernel. Linus even suggested taking a look in the watchdog code. He also concluded the Xen bug to be a different issue. The bug hunt continues in the Linux Kernel Mailing List."

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Taxi Medallion Prices Plummet Under Pressure From Uber
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's battling-baptists-and-bootleggers department:
HughPickens.com writes Most major American cities have long used a system to limit the number of operating taxicabs, typically a medallion system: Drivers must own or rent a medallion to operate a taxi, and the city issues a fixed number of them. Now Josh Barro reports at the NYT that in major cities throughout the United States, taxi medallion prices are tumbling as taxis face competition from car-service apps like Uber and Lyft. The average price of an individual New York City taxi medallion fell to $872,000 in October, down 17 percent from a peak reached in the spring of 2013, according to an analysis of sales data. "I'm already at peace with the idea that I'm going to go bankrupt," said Larry Ionescu, who owns 98 Chicago taxi medallions. As recently as April, Boston taxi medallions were selling for $700,000. The last sale, in October, was for $561,000. "Right now Uber has a strong presence here in Boston, and that's having a dramatic impact on the taxi industry and the medallion values," says Donna Blythe-Shaw, a spokeswoman for the Boston Taxi Drivers' Association. "We hear that there's a couple of medallion owners that have offered to sell at 425 and nobody's touched them."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Gilbert, AZ Censors Biology Books the Old-Fashioned Way
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's biology-vs-culture department:
nbauman writes The Gilbert, AZ school board has voted to tear out a page from Campbell's Biology (a standard highly-recommended textbook that many doctors and scientists fondly remember), because it discusses contraception without also discussing adoption. Julie Smith, a member of the Gilbert Public Schools governing board, said that she was a Catholic and "we do not contracept." Smith convinced the board that Campbell's violates Arizona law to teach "preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption" over abortion. The Arizona Education Department decided that the pages didn't violate Arizona law, but nevermind. Rachel Maddow generously risked hassles for copyright violation and posted the missing pages as a service to Arizona honors biology students.

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FAA Report Says Near Collisions With Drones On the Rise
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hence-the-need-for-turret-guns department:
The Washington Post reports that Pilots around the United States have reported a surge in near-collisions and other dangerous encounters with small drones in the past six months at a time when the Federal Aviation Administration is gradually opening the nation’s skies to remotely controlled aircraft, according to FAA records. ... Many of the previously unreported incident reports — released Wednesday by the FAA in response to long-standing public-records requests from The Washington Post and other news organizations — occurred near New York and Washington. The FAA data indicates that drones are posing a much greater hazard to air traffic than previously recognized. Until Wednesday, the FAA had publicly disclosed only one other near-collision between a drone and a passenger aircraft: a March 22 incident involving a US Airways regional airliner near Tallahassee, Fla.

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Hackers Breach Payment Systems of Major Parking Garage Operator
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 04:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's situational-awareness-only-goes-so-far department:
wiredmikey writes Parking garage operator SP+ said on Friday that an unauthorized attacker gained access to its payment processing systems and was able to access customer names and payment card information. The company, which operates roughly 4,200 parking facilities in hundreds of cities across North America, said the attack affected 17 SP+ parking facilities. According to the company, an unauthorized person had used a remote access tool to connect to the payment processing systems to install malware which searched for payment card data that was being routed through the computers that accept payments made at the parking facilities. Parking facilities in Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Evanston were affected by the breach, though a majority of the locations affected were located in Chicago.

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In UK Study, Girls Best Boys At Making Computer Games
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '14 at 01:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's distaff-side department:
New submitter Esteanil writes Researchers in the University of Sussex's Informatics department asked pupils at a secondary school to design and program their own computer game using a new visual programming language.

The young people, aged 12-13, spent eight weeks developing their own 3D role-playing games.
The girls in the classroom wrote more complex programs in their games than the boys and also learnt more about coding.
The girls used seven different triggers – almost twice as many as the boys – and were much more successful at creating complex scripts with two or more parts and conditional clauses.
Boys nearly always chose to trigger their scripts on when a character says something, which is the first and easiest trigger to learn.


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Creative Commons To Pass One Billion Licensed Works In 2015
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '14 at 10:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's pretty-soon-you're-talking-real-non-money department:
Jason Hibbets writes Sharing is winning. In 2015, Creative Commons is expected to pass one billion licensed works under the commons. Millions of creators around the world use CC licenses to give others permission to use their work in ways that they wouldn't otherwise be allowed to. Those millions of users are the proof that Creative Commons works. But measuring the size of the commons has always been a challenge. Until now...

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New Analysis Pushes Back Possible Origin For Antikythera Mechanism
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '14 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's spin-the-dials-backwards department:
We've mentioned several times over the years the Antikythera Mechanism, the astounding early analog computer recovered from a Greek shipwreck in shape good enough to allow modern recreations. The device has been attributed to different Greek mathemeticians and thinkers, such as Archimedes, Hipparchus, and Posidonius, but as reader puddingebola writes, "Current research suggests its origin may be much earlier, and its working based on Babylonian arithmetical methods rather than Greek Trigonometry, which did not exist at the time. Puddingebola excerpts from the NYT article:

Writing this month in the journal Archive for History of Exact Sciences, Dr. Carman and Dr. Evans took a different tack. Starting with the ways the device's eclipse patterns fit Babylonian eclipse records, the two scientists used a process of elimination to reach a conclusion that the "epoch date," or starting point, of the Antikythera Mechanism's calendar was 50 years to a century earlier than had been generally believed.

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Single Pixel Camera Takes Images Through Breast Tissue
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '14 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-at-a-time-folks department:
KentuckyFC writes Single pixel cameras are currently turning photography on its head. They work by recording lots of exposures of a scene through a randomising media such as frosted glass. Although seemingly random, these exposures are correlated because the light all comes from the same scene. So its possible to number crunch the image data looking for this correlation and then use it to reassemble the original image. Physicists have been using this technique, called ghost imaging, for several years to make high resolution images, 3D photos and even 3D movies. Now one group has replaced the randomising medium with breast tissue from a chicken. They've then used the single pixel technique to take clear pictures of an object hidden inside the breast tissue. The potential for medical imaging is clear. Curiously, this technique has a long history dating back to the 19th century when Victorian doctors would look for testicular cancer by holding a candle behind the scrotum and looking for suspicious shadows. The new technique should be more comfortable.

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Ask Slashdot: Objective C Vs. Swift For a New iOS Developer?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '14 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's past-vs-future department:
RegularDave writes: I'm a recent grad from a master's program in a potentially worthless social science field, and I've considered getting into iOS development. Several of my friends who were in similar situations after grad school have done so and are making a healthy living getting contract work. Although they had CS and Physics degrees going into iOS, neither had worked in objective C and both essentially went through a crash courses (either self-taught or through intensive classes) in order to get their first gigs. I have two questions. First, am I an idiot for thinking I can teach myself either objective C or Swift on my own without any academic CS background (I've tinkered in HTML, CSS, and C classes online with some success)? Second, if I'm not an idiot for attempting to learn either language, which should I concentrate on?

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