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Your Entire PC In a Mouse
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-click-to-hard department:
slash-sa writes: A Polish software and hardware developer has created a prototype computer which is entirely housed within a mouse. Dubbed the Mouse-Box, it works like a conventional mouse, but contains a processor, flash storage, an HDMI connection, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It is connected to a monitor via the HDMI interface and connects to an Internet connection through standard Wi-Fi.

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Jim Blasko Explains BitCoin Spinoff 'Unbreakable Coin' (Video 1 of 2)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's yet-another-cryptocurrency department:
Las Vegas seems an appropriate place for cryptocurrency businesses to emerge, both because the coins themselves are so volatile that some gambling instinct may be required, and because Vegas is a high-tech outpost with lower taxes and lower rents than many other West Coast hot-spots, well-suited to risky startups with ambition but without huge venture backing.Jim Blasko moved there to work on low-voltage engineering for Penn & Teller, and is a qualified Crestron programmer, too (useful in a town that looks from the air like one giant light-show), but has shifted to a quite different endeavor, or rather a complex of them — all related to cryptocurrency. I ran into Blasko during this month's CES, at a forum with several other cryptocoin startups, and the next day we met to talk about just how hard (or easy) it is to get into this world as an entrepreneur.

Blasko has some advice for anyone who'd like to try minting a new cryptocurrency. Making your own coin, he says, is the easy part: anyone can clone code from an existing entrant, like Bitcoin, and rename the result — and that's exactly what he did. The hard work is what comes after: making worthwhile changes, building trust, and making it tradeable. Blasko's done the legwork to get his own currency, which he's bravely called "Unbreakable Coin," listed on exchanges like Cryptsy, and is working on his own auction site as well. He's also got an interesting idea for cryptocoin trading cards, and had a few prototypes on hand. (Part 1 is below; Part 2 to follow.) Alternate Video Link

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Is D an Underrated Programming Language?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's single-letter-names department:
Nerval's Lobster writes: While some programming languages achieved early success only to fall by the wayside (e.g., Delphi), one language that has quietly gained popularity is D, which now ranks 35 in the most recent Tiobe Index. Inspired by C++, D is a general-purpose systems and applications language that's similar to C and C++ in its syntax; it supports procedural, object-oriented, metaprogramming, concurrent and functional programming. D's syntax is simpler and more readable than C++, mainly because D creator Walter Bright developed several C and C++ compilers and is familiar with the subtleties of both languages. D's advocates argue that the language is well thought-out, avoiding many of the complexities encountered with modern C++ programming. So shouldn't it be more popular?
The languages with the biggest gains this time around include JavaScript, PL/SQL, Perl, VB, and COBOL. (Yes, COBOL.) The biggest drops belonged to the six most popular languages: Objective-C, C, Java, C++, PHP, and C#.

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Steam Broadcasting Now Open To Everyone
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-when-you're-too-lazy-to-play-a-video-game department:
jones_supa writes: The beta test phase of Steam Broadcasting feature has been completed. It is now available to everyone by updating the client to the newest version. The feature allows users to watch and stream games to and from users on your friends list. Right-clicking the name of a friend who is in-game offers the option to "Watch Game." This will send a request which needs to be accepted by the player so that the spectator can hop in. A chat is also included. Steam Broadcasting was first announced late last year as an alternative to third-party streaming services like Twitch, Ustream and Hitbox.

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The Most Popular Passwords Are Still "123456" and "password"
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-have-the-same-password-on-my-luggage department:
BarbaraHudson writes: The Independent lists the most popular passwords for 2014, and once again, "123456" tops the list, followed by "password" and "12345" at #3 (lots of Spaceballs fans out there?) . "qwerty" still makes the list, but there are some new entries in the top 25, including "superman", "batman", and "696969". The passwords used were mostly from North American and Western European leaks.

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Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's think-twice-about-googling-your-symptoms department:
HughPickens.com writes: The insurance industry is a fat target — there's were about $481 billion in premiums in 2013, and agents' commissions of about $50 billion. Now Conor Dougherty writes in the NYT that the boring but lucrative trade has been attracting big names like Google, which has formed a partnership with Comparenow, an American auto insurance comparison site that will give Google access to insurers in Comparenow's network. "A lot of people are waking up to the fact that it's a massive industry, it's old-fashioned, they still use human agents and the commissions are pretty big," says Jennifer Fitzgerald. It may seem like an odd match for Google, whose projects include driverless cars, delivery drones and a pill to detect cancer, but the key to insurance is having lots of data about people's backgrounds and habits, which is perhaps the company's greatest strength. "They have a ton of data on where people drive, how people drive," says Jon McNeill. "It's the holy grail of being able to price auto insurance correctly."

People in the industry and Silicon Valley say it is only a matter of time before online agencies attack the armies of intermediaries that are the backbone of the trade, and Google could present formidable competition for other insurance sellers. As many as two-thirds of insurance customers say they would consider purchasing insurance products from organizations other than insurers, including 23 percent who would consider buying from online service providers such as Google and Amazon. Google Compare auto insurance site has already been operating in Britain for two years as a search engine for auto insurance prices.


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Police Nation-Wide Use Wall-Penetrating Radars To Peer Into Homes
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's shoot-anything-that-looks-like-a-blob department:
mi writes At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside. The device the Marshals Service and others are using, known as the Range-R, looks like a sophisticated stud-finder. Its display shows whether it has detected movement on the other side of a wall and, if so, how far away it is — but it does not show a picture of what's happening inside. The Range-R's maker, L-3 Communications, estimates it has sold about 200 devices to 50 law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $6,000 each. Other radar devices have far more advanced capabilities, including three-dimensional displays of where people are located inside a building, according to marketing materials from their manufacturers. One is capable of being mounted on a drone. And the Justice Department has funded research to develop systems that can map the interiors of buildings and locate the people within them.

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Librem: a Laptop Custom-Made For Free/Libre Software
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's asymptotic-development department:
Bunnie Huang's Novena laptop re-invents the laptop with open source (and Free software) in mind, but the hackability that it's built for requires a fair amount of tolerance on a user's part for funky design and visible guts. New submitter dopeghost writes with word of the nearly-funded (via Crowd Supply) Librem laptop, a different kind of Free-software machine using components "specifically selected so that no binary blobs are needed in the Linux kernel that ships with the laptop." Made from high quality components and featuring a MacBook-like design including a choice of HiDPI screen, the Librem might just be the first laptop to ship with a modern Intel CPU that is not locked down to require proprietary firmware.

Richard M. Stallman, president of the FSF, said, "Getting rid of the signature checking is an important step. While it doesn't give us free code for the firmware, it means that users will really have control of the firmware once we get free code for it."


Unlike some crowdfunding projects, this one is far from pie-in-the-sky, relying mostly on off-the-shelf components, with a planned shipping date in Spring of this year: "Purism is manufacturing the motherboard, and screen printing the keyboard. Purism is sourcing the case, daughter cards, memory, drives, battery, camera, and screen."

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FBI Seeks To Legally Hack You If You're Connected To TOR Or a VPN
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-you-look-guilty-from-here department:
SonicSpike writes The investigative arm of the Department of Justice is attempting to short-circuit the legal checks of the Fourth Amendment by requesting a change in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. These procedural rules dictate how law enforcement agencies must conduct criminal prosecutions, from investigation to trial. Any deviations from the rules can have serious consequences, including dismissal of a case. The specific rule the FBI is targeting outlines the terms for obtaining a search warrant. It's called Federal Rule 41(b), and the requested change would allow law enforcement to obtain a warrant to search electronic data without providing any specific details as long as the target computer location has been hidden through a technical tool like Tor or a virtual private network. It would also allow nonspecific search warrants where computers have been intentionally damaged (such as through botnets, but also through common malware and viruses) and are in five or more separate federal judicial districts. Furthermore, the provision would allow investigators to seize electronically stored information regardless of whether that information is stored inside or outside the court's jurisdiction.

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Justified: Visual Basic Over Python For an Intro To Programming
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's I-know-let's-centralize-such-decisions department:
theodp writes ICT/Computing teacher Ben Gristwood justifies his choice of Visual Basic as a programming language (as a gateway to other languages), sharing an email he sent to a parent who suggested VB was not as 'useful' as Python. "I understand the popularity at the moment of the Python," Gristwood wrote, "however this language is also based on the C language. When it comes to more complex constructs Python cannot do them and I would be forced to rely on C (which is incredibly complex for a junior developer) VB acts as the transition between the two and introduces the concepts without the difficult conventions required. Students in Python are not required to do things such as declare variables, which is something that is required for GCSE and A-Level exams." Since AP Computer Science debuted in 1984, it has transitioned from Pascal to C++ to Java. For the new AP Computer Science Principles course, which will debut in 2016, the College Board is leaving the choice of programming language(s) up to the teachers. So, if it was your call, what would be your choice for the Best Programming Language for High School?

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Moscow To Track Cell-phone Users In 2015 For Traffic Analysis
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-do-you-hate-freedom? department:
An anonymous reader links to this story at The Stack (based on this translated report) that "The Moscow authorities will begin using the signal from Muscovites' cell-phones in 2015 to research patterns of traffic and points of congestion, with a view to changes in travel infrastructure including roads, the Moscow metro and bus services. The tracking, which appears to opt all users in unilaterally, promises not to identify individual cell-phone numbers, and will use GSM in most cases, but also GPS in more densely-constructed areas of the old city. The system is already in limited use on the roads, but will be extended to pedestrians and subway users in 2015. The city of 11.5 million people has three main cell providers, all of whom cooperate fully with authorities' request for information. A representative of one, Beeline, said: "We prepare reports that detail where our subscribers work, live, move, and other aspects."

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NJ Museum Revives TIROS Satellite Dish After 40 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's zip-zooming-along department:
evanak writes TIROS was NASA's Television Infrared Observation Satellite. It launched in April 1960. One of the ground tracking stations was located at the U.S. Army's secret "Camps Evans" Signals Corps electronics R&D laboratory. That laboratory (originally a Marconi wireless telegraph lab) became the InfoAge Science Center in the 2000s. [Monday], after many years of restoration, InfoAge volunteers (led by Princeton U. professor Dan Marlowe) successfully received data from space. The dish is now operating for the first time in 40 years! The received data are in very raw form, but there is a clear peak riding on top of the noise background at 0.4 MHz (actually 1420.4 MHz), which is the well-known 21 cm radiation from the Milky Way. The dish was pointing south at an elevation of 45 degrees above the horizon.

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The Fixes Sony's DualShock 4 Controller Still Needs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's desperate-measures department:
An anonymous reader writes Sony's PS4 has been on sale for more than a year now, and while its revamped DualShock 4 controller has been critically lauded, it's not without its faults. A new article flags up the issues — both hardware and software — that Sony could look to improve. Almost all of the points — a bigger battery, more options for the lightbar, repositions Option button — could be fixed with a bit of elbow grease. After all, as the author points out, Sony has already quietly changed the model it ships with each console once already.

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UK ISPs EE, Virgin and Vodafone Back Net Neutrality
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-favor-of-babies-and-pie department:
Amanda Parker (3946253) writes EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone have thrown their support behind net neutrality by signing up to the Open Internet Code. Launched in 2012 by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the UK code commits the three internet service providers (ISPs) to provide full internet access with no data blocked "on the basis of commercial rivalry." Content providers can now lodge a complaint with the BSG if they feel their services are being discriminated against. This latest development means that all major ISPs providing fixed and mobile networks are signed up to the code. BSG CEO Matthew Evans said: "Unlike some countries, where net neutrality has become a controversial topic for discussion, the UK benefits from a fiercely competitive market and high levels of transparency — which together offer the best assurance of an open internet."

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Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-you-tell-me department:
An anonymous reader writes: Toronto researchers have found the amount of time a person sits during the day is associated with a higher risk of disease and death, regardless of regular exercise. The paper, published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine (abstract), found that prolonged sedentary behavior was associated with a 15 to 20 per cent higher risk of death from any cause; a 15 to 20 per cent higher risk of heart disease, death from heart disease, cancer, death from cancer; and as much as a 90 per cent increased risk of developing diabetes, said Alter. And that was after adjusting for the effects of regular exercise. ... Engaging in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily exercise does not mean it's OK to then "sit on your rear" for the rest of the day.

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Could Tizen Be the Next Android?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's yes-no-maybe department:
MollsEisley writes: Right now, Tizen is still somewhat half-baked, which is why you shouldn't expect to see a high-end Tizen smartphone hit your local carrier for a while yet, but Samsung's priorities could change rapidly. If Tizen development speeds up a bit, the OS could become a stand-in for Android on entry-level and mid-range Samsung phones and eventually take over Samsung's entire smartphone (and tablet) lineup.

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Japanese Nobel Laureate Blasts His Country's Treatment of Inventors
Posted by News Fetcher on January 20 '15 at 01:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let-the-makers-make department:
schwit1 writes: Shuji Nakamura won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with two other scientists) for his work inventing blue LEDs. But long ago he abandoned Japan for the U.S. because his country's culture and patent law did not favor him as an inventor. Nakamura has now blasted Japan for considering further legislation that would do more harm to inventors.

"In the early 2000s, Nakamura had a falling out with his employer and, it seemed, all of Japan. Relying on a clause in Japan's patent law, article 35, that assigns patents to individual inventors, he took the unprecedented step of suing his former employer for a share of the profits his invention was generating. He eventually agreed to a court-mediated $8 million settlement, moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and became an American citizen. During this period he bitterly complained about Japan's treatment of inventors, the country's educational system and its legal procedures. 'The problem is now the Japanese government wants to eliminate patent law article 35 and give all patent rights to the company. If the Japanese government changes the patent law it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors].'"

There is a similar problem with copyright law in the U.S., where changes to the law in the 1970s and 1990s have made it almost impossible for copyrights to ever expire. The changes favor the corporations rather than the individuals who might actually create the work.


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Serious Fraud Office Drop Investigation Into Autonomy Accounting
Posted by News Fetcher on January 19 '15 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's government-agencies-with-funny-names department:
mrspoonsi sends up an update on the investigation into Autonomy, a software company acquired by HP in 2011. HP paid a staggering $11.7 billion in the deal, then later wrote off $8.8 billion and claimed Autonomy's management intentionally defrauded them. The UK Serious Fraud Office opened a case on the matter in 2013, but that investigation has now been dropped. According to the Office's press release, they felt there was "insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction," given the information they had to work with. Autonomy is not off the hook, however — the case has now been entirely ceded to U.S. authorities.

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Samsung's Advanced Chips Give Its Cameras a Big Boost
Posted by News Fetcher on January 19 '15 at 05:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's welcome-to-the-bigs department:
GhostX9 writes: SLR Lounge just posted a first look at the Samsung NX1 28.1 MP interchangeable lens camera. They compare it to Canon and Sony full-frame sensors. Spoiler: The Samsung sensor seems to beat the Sony A7R sensor up to ISO 3200. They attribute this to Samsung's chip foundry. While Sony is using 180nm manufacturing (Intel Pentium III era) and Canon is still using 500nm process (AMD DX4 era), Samsung has gone with 65nm with copper interconnects (Intel Core 2 Duo — Conroe era). Furthermore, Samsung's premium lenses appear to be as sharp or sharper than Canon's L line and Sony's Zeiss line in the center, although the Canon 24-70/2.8L II is sharper at the edge of the frame.

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Google Pondering $1 Billion Investment In SpaceX's Satellite Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on January 19 '15 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
mpicpp writes with a report that Google is close to finalizing an investment in SpaceX to fund the rocket company's vision for satellite-based, low-cost internet access. According to The Information (paywalled), Google is one of many investors for this round of fundraising. The Wall Street Journal (also paywalled) reports Google's investment at $1 billion. They add, "It is likely to take years to establish designs and potentially set up a specialized satellite-making facility. But SpaceX already has some important building blocks. Industry officials said the company builds its own navigation and flight-control systems for spacecraft, which could provide some elements for satellites. There also are synergies between parts SpaceX makes today for solar arrays on spacecraft and such devices intended for satellites."

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