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Data Center With a Brain: Google Using Machine Learning In Server Farms
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 09:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's skynet-online department:
1sockchuck (826398) writes "Google has begun using machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the oceans of data it collects about its server farms and recommend ways to improve them. Google data center executive Joe Kava said the use of neural networks will allow Google to reach new frontiers in efficiency in its server farms, moving beyond what its engineers can see and analyze. Google's data centers aren't yet ready to drive themselves. But the new tools have been able to predict Google's data center performance with 99.96 percent accuracy."

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Firefox OS Powered Flame Available For Pre-order; Ships Globally
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 08:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's everyone-has-a-phone department:
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Developers need access to device running the platform for which they develop. Nexus was Google's reference device and now Mozilla is coming out with its own device. Mozilla has opened pre-order for Flame, its Firefox OS reference devices for $170 including free shipping."

Specs are, of course, modest: a dual core 1.2GHz snapdragon, 1G of RAM, 8G of flash, an 854×480 4.5" screen, and a 5MP camera. Now, if only they would release a device with a keyboard.

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German Authorities Lack Evidence To Prosecute Anyone For NSA Spying
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's leave-no-trace department:
jfruh (300774) writes "The revelations about the NSA's surveillance program caused particular outrage in Germany, a country that is closely allied with the United States but nevertheless found that its leader's cell phone was being snooped on. Nevertheless, the German federal prosecutor's office will not be bringing any charges against anyone, mostly because they lack enough evidence (Google translation). The decision is sparking anger among German privacy advocates."

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I Want a Kindle Killer
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's newton-rises-from-the-grave department:
lpress (707742) writes "Amazon's Kindle is a good e-reader and they've sold around 40 million units, but it is far from perfect. It could be significantly improved with speech recognition for commands and text entry, a well-designed database for marginal notes and annotations, and integration with laptop and desktop computers. Google, Apple and Microsoft all have device design and manufacturing experience as well as stores that sell books and other written material. A Kindle-killing e-reader would be low-hanging fruit for Apple, Google or Microsoft — think of the competition if they each built one!"

Handwriting as an input method would be nice too; a friend in college had one of the experimental Windows XP tablet PCs, and it was great for note taking and document annotation.

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The Earliest Bird To Sip a Flower
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's not-just-for-bees department:
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have unearthed the earliest evidence of a bird sipping nectar from a flower. The stomach contents of the 47-million-year-old fossil flyer — a long-extinct species of perching bird — include hundreds of grains of pollen. The ancient pollen grains are large and apparently clumped together readily, a clue that the plant that bore the flowers was pollinated by creatures and not by the wind."

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Temporary Classrooms Are Bad For the Environment, and Worse For Kids
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's false-economy department:
tcd004 (134130) writes "You've always suspected those trailer-type portable classrooms are no good, right? It turns out you're right. Analysis of prefabricated classrooms in Washington shows the structures often don't allow for proper ventilation, leading to terrible air quality for kids. Students in temporary classrooms have higher rates of absenteeism than those in standard classrooms. And the energy-inefficient structures often become permanent, sucking on school energy bills for decades, and requiring more upkeep than permanent classrooms. What's needed are new designs for healthy, sustainable temporary classrooms."

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The Andromeda Galaxy Just Had a Bright Gamma Ray Event
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's alien-super-weapon department:
First time accepted submitter SpaceMika (867804) writes "We just saw something bright in the Andromeda Galaxy, and we don't know what it was. A Gamma Ray Burst or an Ultraluminous X-Ray Object, either way it will be the closest of its type we've ever observed at just over 2 million light years away. It's the perfect distance: close enough to observe in unprecedented detail, and far enough to not kill us all."

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Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-doesn't-measure-temperature-or-blood-pressure department:
cold fjord writes: "Dan Kahan at the Yale Law School Cultural Cognition Project says, 'Because imparting basic comprehension of science in citizens is so critical to enlightened democracy, it is essential that we develop valid measures of it, so that we can assess and improve the profession of teaching science to people. ... The National Science Foundation has been engaged in the project of trying to formulate and promote such a measure for quite some time. A few years ago it came to the conclusion that the item "human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals," shouldn't be included when computing "science literacy." The reason was simple: the answer people give to this question doesn't measure their comprehension of science. People who score at or near the top on the remaining portions of the test aren't any more likely to get this item "correct" than those who do poorly on the remaining portions. What the NSF's evolution item does measure, researchers have concluded, is test takers' cultural identities, and in particular the centrality of religion in their lives.' Kahan also had a previous, related post on the interaction between religiosity and scientific literacy"

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PHP Next Generation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's looking-forward-to-php-deep-space-nine department:
An anonymous reader writes "The PHP Group has put up a post about the future of PHP. They say, 'Over the last year, some research into the possibility of introducing JIT compilation capabilities to PHP has been conducted. During this research, the realization was made that in order to achieve optimal performance from PHP, some internal API's should be changed. This necessitated the birth of the phpng branch, initially authored by Dmitry Stogov, Xinchen Hui, and Nikita Popov. This branch does not include JIT capabilities, but rather seeks to solve those problems that prohibit the current, and any future implementation of a JIT capable executor achieving optimal performance by improving memory usage and cleaning up some core API's. By making these improvements, the phpng branch gives us a considerable performance gain in real world applications, for example a 20% increase in throughput for Wordpress. The door may well now be open for a JIT capable compiler that can perform as we expect, but it's necessary to say that these changes stand strong on their own, without requiring a JIT capable compiler in the future to validate them.'"

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The Rule of Three Proved By Physicists
Posted by News Fetcher on May 28 '14 at 12:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's omne-trium-perfectum department:
An anonymous reader writes "In 1970, Russian physicist Vitaly Efimov developed mathematical proof (PDF) that any three-particle substance, referred to as a trimer, will scale up or down in size by a factor of 22.7 and that if the particles are not all of the same type, 'the scaling factor of 22.7 decreases according to the particles' relative masses.' In 2006, physicists in Austria proved that Efimov's trimers can be created in laser-cooled environments. And now, in 2014, physicists in Austria, Germany, and the U.S. have physical proof that Efimov's trimers do indeed scale by a factor of 22.7 if they are comprised of the same particles or a lower ratio relative to their particles' masses if they are comprised of a mixture of different particles (abstract 1, abstract 2, abstract 3). 22.7 — a.k.a., the rule of three — now appears to be as significant as pi."

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Google Unveils Self-Driving Car With No Steering Wheel
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's in-soviet-google,-car-drives-you department:
cartechboy writes: "We've already discussed and maybe even come to terms with the fact that autonomous cars are coming. In fact, many automakers including Mercedes-Benz and Tesla have committed to self-driving cars by 2017. Apparently that's not ambitious enough. Google has just unveiled an in-house-designed, self-driving car prototype with no steering wheel or pedals. In fact, it doesn't have any traditional controls, not even a stereo. The as-yet-nameless car is a testbed for Google's vision of the computerized future of transportation. Currently the prototype does little more than programmed parking lot rides at a maximum of 25 mph, but Google plans to build about 100 prototypes, with the first examples receiving manual controls (human-operated). Google then plans to roll out the pilot program in California in the next several years. So the technology is now there, but is there really a market for a car that drives you without your input other than the destination?"

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Parenting Rewires the Male Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 08:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's swearing-circuits-rerouted-and-patience-circuits-bolstered department:
sciencehabit writes: "Cultures around the world have long assumed that women are hardwired to be mothers. But a new study (abstract) suggests that caring for children awakens a parenting network in the brain—even turning on some of the same circuits in men as it does in women. The research implies that the neural underpinnings of the so-called maternal instinct aren't unique to women, or activated solely by hormones, but can be developed by anyone who chooses to be a parent."

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Nintendo To Split Ad Revenue With Streaming Gamers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's lowering-the-tax-rate-from-100% department:
An anonymous reader writes "Over the past several years, as computers and networks have improved to handle heavier loads, it's become popular for people to stream video game footage over sites like YouTube and Twitch. Last year, Nintendo aggressively went after the players doing this for their games, hijacking the ad revenue generated through YouTube. It angered the gaming community, and was actively hostile to the people who were Nintendo's biggest fans. Now, Nintendo has partly walked back their position: they've agreed to share some of the advertising profits with the streamer. It's still hostile to the people actively putting Nintendo game playthroughs out there for others to watch, but it's a step in the right direction."

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Google Starts Blocking Extensions Not In the Chrome Web Store
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 06:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's protecting-you-from-yourself department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google has begun blocking local Chrome extensions to protect Windows users. This means that as of today, extensions can be installed in Chrome for Windows only if they're hosted on the Chrome Web Store. Furthermore, Google says extensions that were previously installed 'may be automatically disabled and cannot be re-enabled or re-installed until they're hosted in the Chrome Web Store.' The company didn't specify what exactly qualifies the "may" clause, though we expect it may make exceptions for certain popular extensions for a limited time. Google is asking developers to reach out to it if they run into problems or if they 'think an extension was disabled incorrectly.'"

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NVIDIA Adds Open-Source Gallium3D Support For the Tegra K1
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's being-a-better-citizen department:
An anonymous reader writes "NVIDIA's latest rare open-source contribution is adding Gallium3D support for the Tegra K1 SoC to the Nouveau Mesa driver. After they added support for the Tegra K1's 'GK20A' Kepler GPU to the Nouveau DRM kernel driver, it was just a small step to get it working with the Gallium3D user-space code as it builds upon work done by the Nouveau developers earlier with reverse-engineering the existing Kepler GeForce graphics cards. When it comes to desktop graphics, NVIDIA is still predominantly pushing their proprietary Linux driver but they have begun contributing hardware and information to Nouveau developers."

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Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they'll-throw-you-in-a-cell department:
An anonymous reader writes "Computer science professor Daniel Lemire explains why spreadsheets shouldn't be used for important work, especially where dedicated software could do a better job. His post comes in response to evaluations of a new economics tome by Thomas Piketty, a book that is likely to be influential for years to come. Lemire writes, 'Unfortunately, like too many people, Piketty used speadsheets instead of writing sane software. On the plus side, he published his code on the negative side, it appears that Piketty's code contains mistakes, fudging and other problems. ... Simply put, spreadsheets are good for quick and dirty work, but they are not designed for serious and reliable work. ... Spreadsheets make code review difficult. The code is hidden away in dozens if not hundreds of little cells If you are not reviewing your code carefully and if you make it difficult for others to review it, how do expect it to be reliable?'"

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Watch Dogs Released, DRM Troubles
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's barking-up-the-wrong-tree department:
Today marked the launch of Watch Dogs, a highly-anticipated action-adventure game from Ubisoft. Early reviews for the game are fairly good, but not without complaints. Eurogamer said, 'Combat encounters also draw inspiration from existing games, with slightly stiff but workable sneaking and cover mechanics and decent if unremarkable gunplay. ... There's a sense of sterility beneath the surface, though. As dazzling as the game can look, this Chicago feels like a place you travel through rather than a world you inhabit. Pedestrians gasp and gawp at car crashes, but exhibit no real life.' Polygon's review complimented the bits of structure within the open-world game: "More than any stealth game I can think of, Watch Dogs does a remarkable job in allowing for proper preparation. It creates a universal environment of constant puzzle solving, which sits cozily next to all the action on display." Rock, Paper, Shotgun added, "It feels churlish to complain about something which is only magical 90% of the time, but in some things, ten percent can seep out and render the rest infuriating and useless." It's worth noting that some users are running into problems even playing game, thanks to authentication issues with Ubisoft's UPlay digital distribution service.

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Federal Court Pulls Plug On Porn Copyright Shakedown
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's millions-of-people-unwilling-to-admit-to-being-relieved department:
netbuzz writes: "The Electronic Frontier Foundation is calling it a 'crushing blow for copyright trolls.' A federal appeals court today has for the first time ruled against what critics call a shakedown scheme aimed at pornography downloaders and practiced by the likes of AF Holdings, an arm of notorious copyright troll Prenda Law. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit called the lawsuit 'a quintessential example of Prenda Law's modus operandi' in reversing a lower court ruling that would have forced a half-dozen ISPs to identify account holders associated with 1,058 IP addresses."

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Google Glass and the Future of Wearable Gaming
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's check-out-my-tetris-watch department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google Glass is now becoming more widely available, but developers are only just starting to tap into the augmented reality specs' potential for gaming. A new report looks at some of the early experiments with the tech — leading the charge is indie developer Mind Pirate, the first studio to release a mobile game simultaneously on iPhone and Google Glass. But will others get on board? Will the explosion in popularity of virtual reality headsets help or hinder it? It's still a wild wild west.

'The potential of wearables will only be realized through thoughtful integration of hardware and software,' says Mind Pirate CEO Shawn Hardin. Right now, 'much of the mature infrastructure of the mobile arena' is missing in the world of wearables. The 'myriad of unique sensor and hardware configurations atop increasingly diverse operating systems' makes it particularly difficult for developers to get started."


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Printed Circuits as Part of a 3-D Printed Object (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on May 27 '14 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's next-thing-you-know-we'll-be-printing-electronic-ray-guns department:
Affordable 3-D printing is still young; just a few years ago, it would have been nearly impossible to have an arbitrary three-dimensional piece of plastic (or resin, or sometimes metal) created from a software description in a box that fits on your desk. But in the several years the printing of *things* has moved fromquaint, quixotic, futzing-about hobby into something that works (fairly) reliably in ever more garages, schools, and hackerspaces, it's gotten good enough that you can now download and print quite a few objects that are available for download, or scan small items to replicate, or scan your friends to print out as statuettes. However, for the most part, these printed pieces are static, and finished. With care, you can print things like a chain, or even a ball joint, but you're still limited mostly to one basic material at a time. (Printing with multiple colors is getting easier, though.) If you want to print a flashlight or a robot, you'll need to add wires and other circuitry as a separate step. That's what the folks at Rabbit Proto (get it?) are trying to change. With the system they're working on, a filament printer is used to fabricate the object itself, but at the same time, both capacitive and conductive features can be baked -- or rather printed -- right in, with a separate print head. We talked with Alexandre Jais and Manal Dia of Rabbit Proto about how the system works, and why you might want to use it. (Alternate video link.)

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