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NASA Gets 2% Boost To Science Budget
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's more-money-more-programs department:
sciencehabit writes For an agency regularly called 'adrift' without a mission, NASA will at least float through next year with a boatload of money for its science programs. Yesterday Congress reached agreement on a spending deal for fiscal year 2015 that boosts the budget of the agency's science mission by nearly 2% to $5.24 billion. The big winner within the division is planetary sciences, which received $160 million more than the president's 2015 request in March. Legislators also maintained support for an infrared telescope mounted on a Boeing 747, a project that the White House had proposed grounding. NASA's overall budget also rose by 2%, to $18 billion. That's an increase of $364 million over 2014 levels, and half a billion dollars beyond the agency's request.

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Liquid Cooling On the Rise As Data Centers Crunch Bigger Data
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-getting-hot-in-here department:
1sockchuck writes The use of liquid cooling will accelerate in the next five years, according to experts in high performance computing, who cite the data-crunching requirements of scientific research, cloud computing, bitcoin and "big data" analytics. "In the HPC world, everything will move to liquid cooling," said Paul Arts, technical director of Eurotech. But there's still plenty of resistance from data center operators wary of bringing liquid near servers, and cost is also an issue. Liquid cooling can offer significant savings over the life of a project, but the up-front installation cost can be higher than those for air-cooled systems. Immersion cooling has gotten a surprise boost from the rise of bitcoin, including a large bitcoin mine inside a Hong Kong high-rise.

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Dad Makes His Kid Play Through All Video Game History In Chronological Order
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's blowing-on-the-nostalgia-cartridge department:
An anonymous reader writes Andy Baio, aka @waxpancake, indy video game enthusiast and founder of the XOXO conference and other cool stuff, conducted a weird/cool experiment on his four-year-old. Andy taught him about gaming by making him play and master all of the old video games and gaming systems in the exact order they were actually released. In other words, this 21st century kid learned gaming the same way the generation that grew up in the 1970s and 1980s experienced them, but in compressed time. From the article: "This approach to widely surveying classic games clearly had an impact on him, and influenced the games that he likes now. Like seemingly every kid his age, he loves Minecraft. No surprises there. But he also loves brutally difficult games that challenge gamers 2–3 times his age, and he’s frighteningly good at them. His favorites usually borrow characteristics from roguelikes: procedurally-generated levels, permanent death, no save points."

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US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's warning-do-not-look-directly-at-navy-laser department:
mi writes The U.S. Navy has declared an experimental laser weapon on its Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) in the Persian Gulf an operational asset and U.S. Central Command has given permission for the commander of the ship to defend itself with the weapon. The 30 kilowatt Laser Weapon System (LaWS) was installed aboard USS Ponce this summer as part of a $40 million research and development effort from ONR and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to test the viability of directed energy weapons in an operational environment. No word yet on a smaller, shark-mounted version.

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BitTorrent Launches Project Maelstrom, the First Torrent-Based Browser
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 02:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sharing-the-web department:
An anonymous reader writes BitTorrent today announced the first torrent-based browser. Project Maelstorm, as the app is currently called, is being made available as an invite-only alpha to "a small group of testers." Although BitTorrent is in the very early stages of the project (testers are being asked to help assess for usability and reliability), the company strongly believes Maelstrom "is the first step toward a truly distributed web, one that does not rely on centralized servers." This is by no means a new idea from the company: it's the core behind the relatively successful synchronization tool BitTorrent Sync. "Centralized architectures have not scaled well to the volume and size of data moving across the Internet," a BitTorrent spokesperson told VentureBeat. Maybe, but building a file-sharing tool around the idea of decentralization is not the same as building a whole browser.

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Fraud Bots Cost Advertisers $6 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 01:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's wanting-a-human-click department:
Rambo Tribble writes A new report claims that almost a quarter of the "clicks" registered by digital advertisements are, in fact, from robots created by cyber crime networks to siphon off advertising dollars. The scale and sophistication of the attacks which were discovered caught the investigators by surprise. As one said, "What no one was anticipating is that the bots are extremely effective of looking like a high value consumer."

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LA Mayor Proposes Earthquake Retrofits On Thousands of Buildings
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 12:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's whole-lot-of-shaking-going-on department:
HughPickens.com writes The LA Times reports that Ls Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed the most ambitious seismic safety regulations in California history that would require owners to retrofit thousands of buildings most at risk of collapse during a major earthquake. "The time for retrofit is now," says Garcetti, adding that the retrofits target buildings "that are known killers. Complacency risks lives. One thing we can't afford to do is wait." The mayor's plan calls for thousands of wood buildings to be retrofitted within five years, and hundreds of concrete buildings to be strengthened within 30. The retrofitting requirements must be approved by the City Council, and would have to be paid for by the building owners, with the costs presumably passed on to tenants and renters. The costs could be significant: $5,000 per unit in vulnerable wooden buildings and $15 per square foot for office buildings, Business owners, who have expressed concern in the past that these kinds of programs may be unaffordable, said the cost of retrofitting some buildings could easily exceed $1 million each. "This will cost us billions of dollars in the private and public sector," says Garcetti. "But we cannot afford not to do it."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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James Watson's Nobel Prize Medal Will Be Returned To Him
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's return-to-sender department:
First time accepted submitter Dave Knott writes Following the recent auction of James Watson's Nobel Prize medal, the winning bidder will return the medal to Watson. The $4.7 million winning bid was made by Alisher Usmanov, Russia's wealthiest man, a metal and telecommunications tycoon worth $15.8 billion US. In remarks carried by Russian television Tuesday, Usmanov hailed Watson one of the greatest biologists in the history of mankind, and stated that when he learned that Watson was selling the medal for charity, he decided to purchase it and immediately give it back to him.

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A Paper By Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel Was Accepted By Two Journals
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's simpsons-already-did-it department:
An anonymous reader writes "A scientific study by Maggie Simpson, Edna Krabappel, and Kim Jong Fun has been accepted by two journals. Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations." Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose scientific journals — the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology."

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An Algorithm To Prevent Twitter Hashtag Degeneration
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
Bennett Haselton writes The corruption of the #Ferguson and #Gamergate hashtags demonstrates how vulnerable
the hashtag system is to being swamped by an "angry mob".
An alternative algorithm could be created that would allow users to post tweets
and browse the ones that had been rated "thoughtful" by other users participating
in the same discussion. This would still allow anyone to contribute, even average users
lacking a large follower base, while keeping the most stupid and offensive tweets out of most
people's feeds.
Keep reading to see what Bennett has to say.

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AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-the-tee-vee-said department:
An anonymous reader writes: Oren Etzioni has been an artificial intelligence researcher for over 20 years, and he's currently CEO of the Allen Institute for AI. When he heard the dire warnings recently from both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, he decided it's time to have an intelligent discussion about AI. He says, "The popular dystopian vision of AI is wrong for one simple reason: it equates intelligence with autonomy. That is, it assumes a smart computer will create its own goals, and have its own will, and will use its faster processing abilities and deep databases to beat humans at their own game. ... To say that AI will start doing what it wants for its own purposes is like saying a calculator will start making its own calculations." Etzioni adds, "If unjustified fears lead us to constrain AI, we could lose out on advances that could greatly benefit humanity — and even save lives. Allowing fear to guide us is not intelligent."

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Apple DRM Lawsuit Loses Last Plaintiff, but Judge Rules Against Dismissal
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-begins-the-search department:
UnknowingFool writes: In the Apple DRM lawsuit, the last plaintiff in the case has been disqualified. However, due to the number of potential consumers affected, the judge has denied Apple's motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs' lawyers will have to find a qualified plaintiff. To recap, the suit lost both plaintiffs in the last week when Apple reported to the judge that their iPods were not eligible (iPods must be purchased between Sept 2006 and May 2009). The first plaintiff withdrew when all her iPods were found to be outside the time period. The second plaintiff produced one iPod that was not eligible but two others that were eligible; however, Apple challenged the two eligible ones as the plaintiff could not prove she purchased them. They were purchased by her ex-husband's law firm. Since one of the suit's main claims was that the price of the iPod was raised due to Apple's actions, it was important to establish that she purchased them.

At the heart of the case is that Apple's use of DRM harmed customers by raising the price of the iPod and that Apple removed other competitor's music from the iPod — namely RealPlayer's Harmony music files. Apple does not dispute that it removed RealPlayer's files, but contends it was done for security reasons as RealPlayer was able to get the music files onto the iPod by posing as Apple FairPlay files. In testimony, Steve Jobs called RealPlayer's move "a hack" and there was considerable discussion at the time."


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Peter Sunde: the Pirate Bay Should Stay Down
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's overstaying-its-welcome department:
An anonymous reader writes: We are on the second day since The Pirate Bay was raided by Swedish police. While it's still unclear how hard the site was hit, not everyone is mourning its troubles. Peter Sunde, one of the well-known founders of TPB, wrote, "The Pirate Bay has been raided, again. That happened over 8 years ago last time. That time, a lot of people went out to protest and rally in the streets. Today few seem to care. And I'm one of them." He paints a rather crusty picture: "The site was ugly, full of bugs, old code and old designs. It never changed except for one thing – the ads. More and more ads were filling the site, and somehow when it felt unimaginable to make these ads more distasteful, they somehow ended up even worse." Adding to that, the plan had always been to pull the plug after 10 years, so others could take over. However, when that day came last year, the site remained online. The big question that remains right now is whether The Pirate Bay will make another comeback, or if this is indeed the end. Peter seems to believe that the latter may be the case, but that others will fill the gap.

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Photoswitch Therapy Restores Vision To Blind Lab Animals
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-quite-as-easy-as-flipping-a-switch department:
Zothecula writes: A new genetic therapy that helped blind mice and dogs respond to light stimulus could restore sight to people who suffer from diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa (a gradual loss of vision from periphery inwards). The therapy uses chemicals known as photoswitches, which change shape when hit with light, to open the channels that activate retinal cells. Treated mice can distinguish between steady and flashing light (abstract), while dogs with late-stage retinal degeneration also regain some sensitivity to light.

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Robots Modeled On Ancient Fish Help Researchers Study Origins of Extinct Species
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-stop-them-before-they-evolve-death-rays department:
Hallie Siegel writes: Hypotheses about the evolution of traits in ancient species are difficult to test, as the animals have often been extinct for thousands or millions of years. In this article, researchers at Vassar College describe how a population of physical, free-swimming robots modeled after ancient fish evolved vertebrae under selection pressures for predator avoidance and foraging ability, showing how evolutionary robotics can be used to help biologists test hypotheses about extinct animals.

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Geminid Meteor Shower This Weekend
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's be-there-or-be-asleep department:
StartsWithABang writes: Most meteor showers originate from comets well out beyond Neptune, only entering the inner Solar System periodically. In those cases, we have to wait long periods of time for the showers to develop, and suffer many years with paltry displays as we pass through the parts of the comet's orbit thin in particles. But the Geminids are special: they're formed from a short-period asteroid and only began in the mid-19th century. Ever since then they've been intensifying, and conditions are right this year for the most spectacular display of all time. Here's how to catch 2014's greatest meteor shower, including where to look, when, and where to go online in case of clouds.

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$35 Quad-core Hacker SBC Offers Raspberry Pi-like Size and I/O
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's more-competition-more-innovation department:
DeviceGuru writes: Hardkernel has again set its sites on the Raspberry Pi with a new $35 Odroid-C1 hacker board that matches the RPI's board size and offers a mostly similar 40-pin expansion connector. Unlike the previous $30 Odroid-W that used the same Broadcom BCM2835 SoC as the Pi and was soon cancelled due to lack of BCM2835 SoC availability, the Odroid-C1 is based on a quad-core 1.5GHz Cortex-A5 based Amlogic S805 SoC, which integrates the Mali-400 GPU found on Allwinner's popular SoCs. Touted advantages over the similarly priced Raspberry Pi Model B+ include a substantially more powerful processor, double the RAM, an extra USB2.0 port that adds Device/OTG, and GbE rather than 10/100 Ethernet.

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Feds Plan For 35 Agencies To Collect, Share, Use Health Records of Americans
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-a-party-and-everyone's-invited department:
cold fjord writes: The Weekly Standard reports, "This week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the release of the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015-2020, which details the efforts of some 35 departments and agencies of the federal government and their roles in the plan to 'advance the collection, sharing, and use of electronic health information to improve health care, individual and community health, and research.' ... Now that HHS has publicly released the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, the agency is seeking the input from the public before implementation. The plan is subject to two-month period of public comment before finalization. The comment period runs through February 6, 2015." Among the many agencies that will be sharing records besides Health and Human Services are: Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Justice and Bureau of Prison, Department of Labor, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Office of Personnel Management, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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New Destover Malware Signed By Stolen Sony Certificate
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink department:
Trailrunner7 writes: Researchers have discovered a new version of the Destover malware that was used in the recent Sony Pictures Entertainment breaches, and in an ironic twist, the sample is signed by a legitimate certificate stolen from Sony. The new sample is essentially identical to an earlier version of Destover that was not signed. Destover has been used in a variety of attacks in recent years and it's representative of the genre of malware that doesn't just compromise machines and steal data, but can destroy information as well. The attackers who have claimed credit for the attack on Sony have spent the last couple of weeks gradually releasing large amounts of information stolen in the breach, including unreleased movies, personal data of Sony employees and sensitive security information such as digital certificates and passwords. The new, signed version of Destover appears to have been compiled in July and was signed on Dec. 5, the day after Kaspersky Lab published an analysis of the known samples of the malware.

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AMD Offers a Performance Boost, Over 20 New Features With Catalyst Omega Drivers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 10 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
MojoKid writes: AMD just dropped its new Catalyst Omega driver package that is the culmination of six months of development work. AMD Catalyst Omega reportedly brings over 20 new features and a wealth of bug fixes to the table, along with performance increases both on AMD Radeon GPUs and integrated AMD APUs. Some of the new functionality includes Virtual Super Resolution, or VSR. VSR is "game- and engine-agnostic" and renders content at up to 4K resolution, then displays it at a resolution that your monitor actually supports. AMD says VSR allows for increased image quality, similar in concept to Super Sampling Anti-Aliasing (SSAA). Another added perk of VSR is the ability to see more content on the screen at once. To take advantage of VSR, you'll need a Radeon R9 295X2, R9 290X, R9 290, or R9 285 discrete graphics card. Both single- and multi-GPU configurations are currently supported. VSR is essentially AMD's answer to NVIDIA's DSR, or Dynamic Super Resolution. In addition, AMD is claiming performance enhancements in a number of top titles with these these new drivers. Reportedly, as little as 6 percent improvement in performance in FIFA Online to as much as a 29 percent increase in Batman: Arkham Origins can be gained when using an AMD 7000-Series APU, for example. On discrete GPUs, an AMD Radeon R9 290X's performance increases ranged from 8 percent in Grid 2 to roughly 16 percent in Bioshock Infinity.

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