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Google's Mapping Contest Draws Ire From Indian Government
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '14 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-can't-look-there department:
hypnosec writes with news that India's Central Bureau of Investigation has ordered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Google for violating Indian laws by mapping sensitive areas and defence installations in the country. As per the PE, registered on the basis of a complaint made by the Surveyor General of India's office to the Union Home Ministry, Google has been accused of organizing a mapping competition dubbed 'Mapathon' in February-March 2013 without taking prior permission from Survey of India, country's official mapping agency. The mapping competition required citizens to map their neighbourhoods, especially details related to hospitals and restaurants. The Survey of India (SoI), alarmed by the event, asked the company to share its event details. While going through the details the watchdog found that there were several coordinates having details of sensitive defence installations which are out of the public domain."

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Stanford Team Creates Stable Lithium Anode Using Honeycomb Film
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's high-voltage department:
puddingebola (2036796) writes "A team at Stanford has created a stable Lithium anode battery using a carbon honeycomb film. The film is described as a nanosphere layer that allows for the expansion of Lithium during use, and is suitable as a barrier between anode and cathode. Use of a lithium anode improves the coulombic efficiency and could result in longer range batteries for cars." The linked article suggests that the 200-mile-range, $25,000 electric car is a more realistic concept with batteries made with this technology, though some people are more interested in super-capacity phone batteries.

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Build Your Own Gatling Rubber Band Machine Gun
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '14 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's must-prepare-for-the-sesquicentennial department:
New submitter melarky (3767369) writes This is a fun weekend project that most nerds will appreciate. Step by step instructions and also a handy video will make the construction of this project fast and easy. I have seen lots of plans for sale (or actual guns/kits for sale), but couldn't seem to find any plans for free. I played around with a few different designs (even cut my first few on a homemade CNC machine) and finally landed on this design. I made the guide more accessible to the general public (no need for a CNC machine here), so if you've ever dreamed of ending friendships because of hundreds of rubber band welts, now's your chance! We'd like to see your home-made projects, too.

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World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's spruce-goose-has-it-beat-for-size department:
stephendavion (2872091) writes "Chinese aircraft manufacturer China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) has started trial production of its TA600 amphibious aircraft, claimed to be the world's largest of its kind. With an expected maiden flight late next year, the Chinese plane would replace Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft as the largest of its kind globally."

Take a look at a side profile illustration of the CA-600, on this Korean language page. The TA600 has a huge maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons, but looks a bit puny compared to Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules.

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The Oculus Rift DK2: In-Depth Review (and Comparison To DK1)
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '14 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's here-put-this-on-your-face department:
Benz145 (1869518) writes "The hotly anticipated Oculus Rift DK2 has begun arriving at doorsteps. The DK2s enhancements include optical positional tracking and a higher resolution panel, up from 1280×800 to 1920×1080 (1080p) and moved to a pentile-matrix OLED panel for display duties. This means higher levels of resolvable detail and a much reduced screen door effect. The panel features low persistence of vision, a technology pioneered by Valve that aims to cut motion artefacts by only displaying the latest, most correct display information relative to the user's movements – as users of the DK1 will attest, its LCD panel was heavily prone to smearing, things are now much improved with the DK2."

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Suddenly Visible: Illicit Drugs As Part of Silicon Valley Culture
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '14 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's roland-hedley-jr-is-on-the-case department:
The recent death by overdose of Google executive Timothy Hayes has drawn attention to the phenomenon of illegal drug use (including abuse of prescription painkillers) among technology workers and executives in high-pay, high-stress Silicon Valley. The Mercury News takes a look at the phenomenon; do the descriptions of freely passed cocaine, Red Bull as a gateway drug, and complacent managers match your own workplace experiences? From the Mercury News article:

"There's this workaholism in the valley, where the ability to work on crash projects at tremendous rates of speed is almost a badge of honor," says Steve Albrecht, a San Diego consultant who teaches substance abuse awareness for Bay Area employers. "These workers stay up for days and days, and many of them gradually get into meth and coke to keep going. Red Bull and coffee only gets them so far." ...

Drug abuse in the tech industry is growing against the backdrop of a national surge in heroin and prescription pain-pill abuse. Treatment specialists say the over-prescribing of painkillers, like the opioid hydrocodone, has spawned a new crop of addicts -- working professionals with college degrees, a description that fits many of the thousands of workers in corporate Silicon Valley.

Increasingly, experts see painkillers as the gateway drug for addicts, and they are in abundance. "There are 1.4 million prescriptions ... in the Bay Area for hydrocodone," says Alice Gleghorn with the San Francisco Department of Public Health. "That's a lot of pills out there."


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Microsoft's Nokia Plans Come Into Better Focus
Posted by News Fetcher on July 28 '14 at 02:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ringtones-baby-the-future-is-ringtones department:
Forbes has an update on what sort of future Nokia faces, as Microsoft reveals a strategy for making sense of the acquisition:

[Microsoft EVP of devices Stephen] Elop laid out a framework for cost cuts in a memo to employees on July 17. Devices would focus on high and low cost Windows smartphones, suggesting a phasing out of feature phones and Android smartphones. Two business units, smart devices and mobile phones, would become one, thereby cutting overlap and overhead. Microsoft would reduce engineering in Beijing and San Diego and unwind engineering in Oulu, Finland. It would exit manufacturing in Komarom, Hungary; shift to lower cost areas like Manaus, Brazil and Reynosa, Mexico; and reduce manufacturing in Beijing and Dongguan, China. Also, CEO Stya Nadella gave hints about how Microsoft will make money on Nokia during Tuesday' conference call. Devices, he said, "go beyond" hardware and are about productivity. "I can take my Office Lens App, use the camera on the phone, take a picture of anything, and have it automatically OCR recognized and into OneNote in searchable fashion. There is a lot we can do with phones by broadly thinking about productivity."

In other words, the sale of a smartphone is a means to other sales.


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How Bird Flocks Resemble Liquid Helium
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 11:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's beats-speed-of-sound department:
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A flock of starlings flies as one, a spectacular display in which each bird flits about as if in a well-choreographed dance. Everyone seems to know exactly when and where to turn. Now, for the first time, researchers have measured how that knowledge moves through the flock—a behavior that mirrors certain quantum phenomena of liquid helium. Some of the more interesting findings: Tracking data showed that the message for a flock to turn started from a handful of birds and swept through the flock at a constant speed between 20 and 40 meters per second. That means that for a group of 400 birds, it takes just a little more than a half-second for the whole flock to turn."

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Popular Android Apps Full of Bugs: Researchers Blame Recycling of Code
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 08:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's little-of-this-little-of-that department:
New submitter Brett W (3715683) writes The security researchers that first published the 'Heartbleed' vulnerabilities in OpenSSL have spent the last few months auditing the Top 50 downloaded Android apps for vulnerabilities and have found issues with at least half of them. Many send user data to ad networks without consent, potentially without the publisher or even the app developer being aware of it. Quite a few also send private data across the network in plain text. The full study is due out later this week.

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Newly Discovered Virus Widespread in Human Gut
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 05:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's right-under-their-noses-and-stomachs department:
A newly discovered virus has been found by a San Diego State University team to live inside more than half of all sampled human gut cells sampled. Exploring genetic material found in intestinal samples, the international team uncovered the CrAssphage virus. They say the virus could influence the behaviour of some of the most common bacteria in our gut. Researchers say the virus has the genetic fingerprint of a bacteriophage - a type of virus known to infect bacteria. Phages may work to control the behaviour of bacteria they infect - some make it easier for bacteria to inhabit in their environments while others allow bacteria to become more potent. [Study lead Dr. Robert] Edwards said: "In some way phages are like wolves in the wild, surrounded by hares and deer. "They are critical components of our gut ecosystems, helping control the growth of bacterial populations and allowing a diversity of species." According to the team, CrAssphage infects one of the most common types of bacteria in our guts.

National Geographic gives some idea why a virus so common in our gut should have evaded discovery for so long, but at least CrAssphage finally has a Wikipedia page of its own.

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Off the Florida Coast, Astronauts Train For Asteroid Mission
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-space-no-one-can-hear-you-access-facebook department:
Space.com gives an overview of the training that four astronauts are undergoing over 9 days submerged off the coast of Florida near Key Largo. The training mission, dubbed NEEMO 18, is one step toward a proposed (mid-2020s) mission to actually visit a captured asteroid in lunar orbit. In addition to the complications of working outside their school-bus sized habitat while awkwardly suited up in a low-gravity (or at least high buoyancy) environment, their mission also includes a 10-minute communications delay, to simulate the high-latency communications with mission control that would be inevitable for an actual asteroid mission.

The experiments astronauts are doing during the mission, which began Monday (July 21), range from the physical to the behavioral. For example, each of the crew members sports a sensor that records how close the crew members work with each other inside the school-bus-size habitat. ... Communications with NEEMO Mission Control is usually constant, and there is the ability to send items to and from the habitat as needed. Also living inside the habitat are two support staff who are assisting with Aquarius maintenance and systems, as required. The crew members also have Internet and phone service to talk with family and friends.

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Valencia Linux School Distro Saves 36 Million Euro
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-no-big-deal department:
jrepin (667425) writes "The government of the autonomous region of Valencia (Spain) earlier this month made available the next version of Lliurex, a customisation of the Edubuntu Linux distribution. The distro is used on over 110,000 PCs in schools in the Valencia region, saving some 36 million euro over the past nine years, the government says." I'd lke to see more efforts like this in the U.S.; if mega school districts are paying for computers, I'd rather they at least support open source development as a consequence.

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A Router-Based Dev Board That Isn't a Router
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hook-it-to-anything department:
An anonymous reader writes with a link to an intriguing device highlighted at Hackaday (it's an Indiegogo project, too, if it excites you $90 worth, and seems well on its way to meeting its modest goal): The DPT Board is something that may be of interest to anyone looking to hack up a router for their own connected project or IoT implementation: hardware based on a fairly standard router, loaded up with OpenWRT, with a ton of I/O to connect to anything.

It's called the DPT Board, and it's basically an hugely improved version of the off-the-shelf routers you can pick up through the usual channels. On board are 20 GPIOs, USB host, 16MB Flash, 64MB RAM, two Ethernet ports, on-board 802.11n and a USB host port. This small system on board is pre-installed with OpenWRT, making it relatively easy to connect this small router-like device to LED strips, sensors, or whatever other project you have in mind.


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Satellite Images Show Russians Shelling Ukraine
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-for-all-and-what's-the-password? department:
U.S. officials today made public satellite imagery which they say proves that Russian forces have been shelling eastern Ukraine in a campaign to assist rebel groups fighting Ukraine’s government.

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the civilian-taken satellite images Sunday, said they show visual evidence that Russia has been firing shells across the border at Ukrainian military forces. Officials also said the images show that Russia-backed separatists have used heavy artillery, provided by Russia, in attacks on Ukrainian forces from inside Ukraine.

One image dated July 25/26 shows what DNI claims is “ground scarring” on the Russian side of the border from artillery aimed at Ukrainian military units in Ukraine, as well as the resultant ground craters on the Ukrainian side of the border:


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Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's you'll-never-believe-what-he-actually-said department:
hypnosec (2231454) writes to point out a pointed critique from Linus Torvalds of GCC 4.9.0. after a random panic was discovered in a load balance function in Linux 3.16-rc6. in an email to the Linux kernel mailing list outlining two separate but possibly related bugs, Linus describes the compiler as "terminally broken," and worse ("pure and utter sh*t," only with no asterisk). A slice: "Lookie here, your compiler does some absolutely insane things with the
spilling, including spilling a *constant*. For chrissake, that
compiler shouldn't have been allowed to graduate from kindergarten.
We're talking "sloth that was dropped on the head as a baby" level
retardation levels here .... Anyway, this is not a kernel bug. This is your compiler creating
completely broken code. We may need to add a warning to make sure
nobody compiles with gcc-4.9.0, and the Debian people should probably
downgrate their shiny new compiler."


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SpaceX Executive Calls For $22-25 Billion NASA Budget
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's only-tax-dollars-after-all department:
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "While participating in a panel called "The US Space Enterprise Partnership" at the NewSpace Conference that was held by the Space Frontier Foundation on Saturday, SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell opined that NASA's budget should be raised to $22-25 billion, according to a tweet by Space Policy Online's Marcia Smith. The theory is that a lot of political rancor has taken place in the aerospace community because of the space agency's limited budget. If the budget were to be increased to pay for everything on the space wish list, the rancor will cease.

The statement represents something of a departure of the usual mutual antagonism that exists between some in the commercial space community and some at NASA. Indeed Space Politics' Jeff Foust added a tweet, "Thought: a panel at a Space Frontier Foundation conf is talking about how to increase NASA budget. Imagine that in late 90s." The Space Frontier Foundation has been a leading voice for commercializing space, sometimes at the expense of NASA programs."


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Ask Slashdot: What Would You Do With Half a Rack of Server Space?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's give-it-a-piece-of-my-mind department:
New submitter Christian Gainsbrugh (3766717) writes I work at a company that is currently transitioning all our servers into the cloud. In the interim we have half a rack of server space in a great datacenter that will soon be sitting completely idle for the next few months until our lease runs out. Right now the space is occupied by around 8 HP g series servers, a watchguard xtm firewall, Cisco switch and some various other equipment. All in all there are probably around 20 or so physical XEON processors, and probably close to 10 tb of storage among all the machines. We have a dedicated 10 mbs connection that is burstable to 100mbs.

I'm curious what Slashdot readers would do if they were in a similar situation. Is there anything productive that could be done with these resources? Obviously something revenue generating is great, but even if there is something novel that could be done with these servers we would be interested in putting them to good use.


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Amputee Is German Long Jump Champion
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's we-are-all-augmented department:
hweimer (709734) writes "German long jumper Markus Rehm has written sports history yesterday, becoming the first disabled athlete to win a national able-bodied championship. His jump to 8.24 meters put him on the 9th place of the current season rankings and make him egligible to compete in the upcoming European championships, further sparking the debate whether his prosthetic leg provides him with an unfair advantage."

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Nasty Business: How To Drain Competitors' Google AdWords Budgets
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's this-one-weird-trick department:
tsu doh nimh (609154) writes KrebsOnSecurity looks at a popular service that helps crooked online marketers exhaust the Google AdWords budgets of their competitors.The service allows companies to attack competitors by raising their costs or exhausting their ad budgets early in the day. Advertised on YouTube and run by a guy boldly named "GoodGoogle," the service employs a combination of custom software and hands-on customer service, and promises clients the ability to block the appearance of competitors' ads. From the story: "The prices range from $100 to block between three to ten ad units for 24 hours to $80 for 15 to 30 ad units. For a flat fee of $1,000, small businesses can use GoodGoogle's software and service to sideline a handful of competitors' ads indefinitely."

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In France, Most Comments on Gaza Conflict Yanked From Mainstream News Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on July 27 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's national-brotherhood-week department:
An anonymous reader writes with
an unpleasant statistic from France, quoting David Corchia, who heads a service employed by large French news organizations to sift through and moderate comments made on their sites. Quoting YNet News:

Corchia says that as an online moderator, generally 25% to 40% of comments are banned. Moderators are assigned with the task of filtering comments in accordance with France's legal system, including those that are racist, anti-Semitic or discriminatory. Regarding the war between the Israelis and Hamas, however, Corchia notes that some 95% of online comments made by French users are removed. "There are three times as many comments than normal, all linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," added Jeremie Mani, head of another moderation company Netino. "We see racist or anti-Semitic messages, very violent, that also take aim at politicians and the media, sometimes by giving journalists' contact details," he added. "This sickening content is peculiar to this conflict. The war in Syria does not trigger these kinds of comments."

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