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Comcast Brings Fiber To City That It Sued 7 Years Ago To Stop Fiber Rollout
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery department:
An anonymous reader writes with the latest update in Comcast's "if you can't beat them, join them" fiber plan. In April 2008, Comcast sued the Chattanooga Electric Power Board (EPB) to prevent it from building a fiber network to serve residents who were getting slow speeds from the incumbent cable provider. Comcast claimed that EPB illegally subsidized the buildout with ratepayer funds, but it quickly lost in court, and EPB built its fiber network and began offering Internet, TV, and phone service. After EPB launched in 2009, incumbents Comcast and AT&T finally started upgrading their services, EPB officials told Ars when we interviewed them in 2013. But not until this year has Comcast had an Internet offering that can match or beat EPB's $70 gigabit service. Comcast announced its 2Gbps fiber-to-the-home service on April 2, launching first in Atlanta, then in cities in Florida and California, and now in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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Obama Announces e-Book Scheme For Low-Income Communities
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's you-get-a-book-and-you-get-a-book-and-you-get-a-book department:
An anonymous reader writes: The White House has today launched an initiative encouraging top book publishers to supply $250 million worth of free e-books to low-income students. Partnering with local governments and schools nationwide, President Obama hopes that the e-book scheme will support low-income households who significantly trail the national average for computer ownership and digital connectivity. At Anacostia Library in Southeast Washington, D.C., Obama announced that libraries and schools in poorer communities would be supported by the scheme and efforts would be made to increase internet access at these establishments. Publishers involved in the program include Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Bloomsbury, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. NGOs, such as book donation charity Firstbook, and public libraries will also be working together to develop apps to support the digital reading program.

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FBI Slammed On Capitol Hill For "Stupid" Ideas About Encryption
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's stupid-is-as-stupid-does department:
blottsie writes: At a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, the FBI endured outright hostility as both technical experts and members of Congress from both parties roundly criticized the law enforcement agency's desire to place so-called back doors into encryption technology. "Creating a technological backdoor just for good guys is technologically stupid," said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), a Stanford University computer science graduate. "That's just stupid. Our founders understood that an Orwellian overreaching government is one of the most dangerous things this world could have," Lieu said.

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Second Ever Super-rare Pocket Shark Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 02:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can-the-jaguar-shark-be-far-behind? department:
The Grim Reefer writes: Scientists working off the coast of the US have found something pretty incredible — the second pocket shark ever discovered, some 36 years after the first one was spotted off the coast of Peru. The team, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), say the tiny creature — which measures just 13 cm (5.5 inches) long — was caught off the coast of Louisiana, where they were observing the feeding habits of sperm whales. It belongs to the genus Mollisquama, which has earned itself the nickname 'pocket shark', not because of its pocked-sized dimensions, but because of the unique and rather mysterious orifice it has above its pectoral fin.

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Messenger's Mercury Trip Ends With a Bang, and Silence
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hell-of-a-way-to-go department:
mpicpp writes with an expected followup: Nasa's Messenger mission to Mercury has reached its explosive conclusion, after 10 years in space and four in orbit. Now fully out of fuel, the spacecraft smashed into a region near Mercury's north pole, out of sight from Earth, at about 20:00 GMT on Thursday. Mission scientists confirmed the impact minutes later, when the craft's next possible communication pass was silent. Messenger reached Mercury in 2011 and far exceeded its primary mission plan of one year in orbit. That mission ended with an inevitable collision: Messenger slammed into our Solar System's hottest planet at 8,750mph (14,000km/h) — 12 times quicker than the speed of sound. The impact will have completely obliterated this history-making craft. And it only happened because Mercury has no thick atmosphere to burn up incoming objects — the same reason its surface is so pock-marked by impact craters. According to calculations, the 513kg, three-metre craft will have blasted a brand new crater the size of a tennis court. But that lasting monument is far too small to be visible from Earth.

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Microsoft Integrates Autodesk's 3D Printing Platform Spark Into Windows 10
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's try-explaining-that-to-grandma department:
An anonymous reader writes: At Microsoft's Build 2015 developer conference today, Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft vice president of developer and platform evangelism, announced new 3D printing features in Windows 10. More specifically, Autodesk Spark is being integrated into Microsoft's latest and greatest operating system. Spark is a platform for building 3D printing software, hardware, materials, and services. Adding it to Windows 10 is a big win for Autodesk.

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Can Riots Be Predicted By Social Media?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-the-best-ones department:
sciencehabit writes: The broken glass and burned wreckage are still being cleared in the wake of the riots that convulsed Baltimore's streets on 27 April. The final trigger of the unrest was the funeral of a 25-year-old African-American man who had died in police custody, but observers point to many other root causes, from income inequality to racial discrimination. But for a few researchers who are studying Baltimore's unrest, the question is not the ultimate causes of the riot but its mechanism: How do such riots self-organize and spread? One of those researchers, Dan Braha, a social scientist at the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been collecting data from Twitter that spans the riot from buildup to aftermath, part of a larger study of social media and social unrest around the world. He spoke to Science about how researchers are helping to predict the riots of the future.

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Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-dilbert-principle department:
Nerval's Lobster writes: You've heard of the Peter Principle, which suggests that all employees manage to rise to the level of their incompetence. (That is to say, everybody is promoted until their skills and strengths no longer align with their current position.) While the Peter Principle is often treated as a truism, a recent Gallup study (registration required)—the result of four decades' worth of research, involving 2.5 million manager-led teams—suggests that it holds a significant degree of real-world truth (registration required). "Gallup has found that only 10 percent of working people possess the talent to be a great manager," the study mentions in its introduction. "Companies use outdated notions of succession to put people in these roles." In Gallup's estimation, there are so many bad managers out there that one out of every two employees have "left their job to get away," according to the study. "Managers who are not engaged or who are actively disengaged cost the U.S. economy $319 billion to $398 billion annually." In other words, there are a lot of pointy-haired managers out there.

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US Senate Targets Patent Trolls
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's crimes-of-opportunity department:
New submitter jeffkoch writes: Last year, the United States Senate failed to pass bipartisan legislation to combat patent trolls when it was killed by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Congressional-insider newspaper Roll Call reports today that, "Knowing Reid would no longer control the Senate's legislative schedule in 2015, staff for John Cornyn, (a Republican from Texas), and Charles E. Schumer, (a Democrat from New York)", began work in February to assemble a new bill and to build support among fellow members of the Senate. Patent law is usually not a partisan issue, and President Barack Obama has called for getting an overhaul to his desk on several occasions including in his 2014 State of the Union speech. The last overhaul of United States patent law, the America Invents Act, took several years to be developed. The U.S. Congress is likely to act on the proposed legislation before they recess in August. "Patent trolls are taking a system meant to drive innovation and instead using it to stifle job-creating businesses around the country. Main Street stores, tech startups and more are being smothered by the abuse that is all too common in our patent system, and it's time for that to end," Schumer said in a statement. "This bipartisan bill shifts the legal burden back onto those who would abuse the patent system in order to make a quick buck at the expense of businesses that are playing by the rules."

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Paul Hudak, Co-creator of Haskell, Has Died
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's leaving-a-legacy department:
Esther Schindler writes: Yale is reporting that Paul Hudak, professor of computer science and master of Saybrook College, died last night after a long battle with leukemia. He was known as one of the principle designers of Haskell, which you probably don't need to be told he defined as "a purely functional programming language."

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Apple, IBM To Bring iPads To 5 Million Elderly Japanese
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's get-them-from-los-angeles-school-kids department:
itwbennett writes: An initiative between Apple, IBM and Japan Post Holdings could put iPads in the hands of up to 5 million members of Japan's elderly population. The iPads, which will run custom apps from IBM, will supplement Japan Post's Watch Over service where, for a monthly fee, postal employees check on elderly residents and relay information on their well-being to family members.

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Bitcoin Is Disrupting the Argentine Economy
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-promises-are-fulfilled department:
HughPickens.com writes: Nathaniel Popper writes in the NYT that with its volatile currency and dysfunctional banks, Argentina is the perfect place to experiment with a new digital currency. The number of Bitcoin users in Argentina is relatively small; it barely registers on most charts of global Bitcoin usage. But Argentina has been quietly gaining renown in technology circles as the first, and almost only, place where Bitcoins are being regularly used by ordinary people for real commercial transactions. For example, BitPagos is selling bitcoins in over 8,000 Argentine convenience stores and is helping more than 200 hotels, both cheap and boutique, take credit-card payments from foreign tourists. The money brought to Argentina using Bitcoin circumvents the onerous government restrictions on receiving money from abroad

The Rock Hostel is one of hundreds of hotels in the country using BitPagos to collect credit-card payments from foreign customers. If owner Rodriguez Pons accepted credit-card payments from American customers through the usual financial channels, customers would be billed in dollars, and when those dollars came to Pons's Argentine bank account, they would be converted at the official rate, about 30 percent lower than the black-market rate. It would also take 20 days for Pons to get her pesos. BitPagos helped counter these drawbacks by taking the credit-card payment in the United States and then using the dollars to buy Bitcoins, generally from Coinbase, before sending them to Pons immediately.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Tech Credited With Reducing Nigerian Election Death Toll
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 08:31 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's pat-answers department:
jfruh writes: Dozens died in the runup to Nigeria's most recent election — a shocking statistic to many Westerners, but a relief in comparison to the much more serious violence that plagued earlier elections. Observers are crediting technology with making the election safer: the use of biometric IDs gave voters more confidence in the results, and social media gave people a chance to blow of anger that might've otherwise results in street brawls.

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Submersible Photographs WW2 Japanese Sub's Long-Lost Airplane Hangar
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's flight-was-delayed-and-then-cancelled department:
Zothecula writes: Until the 1960s, Japan's three I-400-class subs were the largest submarines ever built. They were so large, in fact, that they could each carry and launch three Aichi M6A Seiran amphibious aircraft. The idea was that the submarines could stealthily bring the planes to within striking distance of US coastal cities, where they could then take off and conduct bombing runs. Now, for the first time since it was scuttled at the end of World War II, one of the sunken subs' aircraft hangars has been photographed. The M6A on display at the Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center is worth seeing, if you get a chance.

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New Study Suggests Flying Is Greener Than Driving
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's electric-planes-are-hard department:
New submitter Desert Leap writes: The Washington Post reports a new study that suggests it is more environmentally friendly to fly rather than to drive. Analysis from the University of Michigan Transport Research Institute found that driving uses 57% more energy than flying per passenger mile. This is largely due to the number of occupied plane seats increasing while passengers per car decreased. Of course, "results may vary" for individual trips depending on many factors, such as distance flown (long flights are more fuel efficient) and the kind of car, and how many riders. One factoid is interesting: it takes 4,211 BTUs per person mile to drive. This number will fall as we switch over to electric vehicles. For example, a Tesla Model S takes about 1,100 BTUs per vehicle mile. Will future aircraft be able to also make the switch to electric?

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Microsoft Announces Windows Holographic Platform
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-it's-an-illusion department:
An anonymous reader writes: At its Build 2015 developer conference [Wednesday], Microsoft announced the Windows Holographic Platform. In short, the company will let developers turn Windows 10 apps into holograms for HoloLens. On stage, Microsoft showed a Windows video app that you can simply control with your voice: Just say "follow me" and the video app moves along as you walk around a room. "Every single universal Windows app has these capabilities," said Alex Kipman, technical fellow for the operating system group at Microsoft. Apps can look like little windows, or they can be more than that. The demo included a photos app, a browser, Skype, a holographic Start Menu, and even a dog on the floor.

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Tattoos Found To Interfere With Apple Watch Sensors
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's clashing-hipsterisms department:
An anonymous reader writes: A number of early Apple Watch adopters have complained that their tattoos cause interference with many of the new product's key features. According to multiple tattooed sources, inked wrists and hands can disrupt communication with the wearable's sensors installed in the underside of the device leading to malfunction. Owners of Apple Watch have taken to social media to voice their frustration using the hashtag #tattoogate and sharing their disappointment over the newly discovered Apple flaw. One user reported that the Watch's lock system did not disable as it should when the device was placed on a decorated area of skin – forcing those affected to constantly enter their security pins. A further source suggested that notification alerts would fail to 'ping' as they are supposed to, and that heart rate monitoring differed significantly between tattooed and non-tattooed wrist readings.

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White House Outsources K-12 CS Education To Infosys Charity
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's perhaps-someone-besides-mama-cass-is-getting-fat department:
theodp writes: In December, the White House praised the leadership of Code.org for their efforts to get more computer science into K-12 schools, which were bankrolled by $20 million in philanthropic contributions from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Mark Zuckerberg. On Monday, it was announced that Infosys Foundation USA will be partnering with Code.org to bring CS education to millions of U.S. students. Infosys Foundation USA Chair Vandana Sikk, who joins execs from Microsoft, Google, and Amazon execs on Code.org's Board, is the spouse of Infosys CEO Vishal Sikk. The announcement from the tax-deductible charity comes as India-based Infosys finds itself scrutinized by U.S. Senators over allegations of H-1B visa program abuses.

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Australia To Grade Written Essays In National Exam With Cognitive Computing
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-this-will-work-well department:
New submitter purnima writes: Australia keeps on giving and giving. Each year school kids in Australia sit The National Assessment Program (NAPLAN) which in part tests literacy. The exam includes a written page-long essay aimed at examining both language aptitude and literacy of students. Of course, human-marking of such essays is costly (twenty teacher-minutes per exam). So some bright spark has proposed that the essays be marked by computer. The government is convinced and the program is slated for the 2017 school year. Aside from the moral issues, is AI ready for this major task?

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Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '15 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-isps? department:
SonicSpike writes with news about another bump in the road for net neutrality. U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential hopeful, on Wednesday introduced a resolution to block new regulations on Internet service providers, saying they would 'wrap the Internet in red tape.' The 'net neutrality' rules, which are slated to take effect in June, are backed by the Obama administration and were passed by the Democratic majority of the Federal Communications Commission in February. AT&T Inc and wireless and cable trade associations are challenging them in court. Paul's resolution, if adopted, would allow the Senate to fast-track a vote to establish that Congress disapproves of the FCC's new rules and moves to nullify them.

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