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Cox Promises National Gigabit Rollout; Starting With Phoenix, Las Vegas, Omaha
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's faster-is-better department:
As reported by the (variably paywalled) Wall Street Journal, Cox Communications is joining AT&T (and, of course, Google) in building out more gigabit connections to U.S. households. The company "became the biggest U.S. cable operator to commit to rolling out a gigabit-speed broadband offering to all its residential customers, starting this year, the latest sign that the push for ultrafast broadband speeds sparked by Google Inc. is gaining traction throughout the industry. ... [Cox president Pat Esser] said Cox's plan isn't contingent on whether towns and cities offer any sweeteners to Cox to make the rollout easier. Two years ago, Google's ability to get discounted and free services from Kansas City as it constructed its fiber service raised the hackles of local incumbent operators, including Time Warner Cable and AT&T. AT&T has indicated it is interested in getting similar concessions from towns as it rolls out its gigabit speeds." After the three Western and Mid-Western initial cities (Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Omaha) next year, other cities served by Cox should start getting the speed upgrades in 2016. (Similar but briefer story at Light Reading.)

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Microsoft Is Paying Brazilian Users In Skype Credit To Switch to Bing
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what's-your-value-proposition department:
New submitter perplexing.reader (2241844) writes "Microsoft is paying Brazilian users US$2 in Skype vouchers to set Bing as their default search engine and MSN as their default home page. Translated from the site: 'Make MSN your homepage and Bing your default search engine and earn up to 60 minutes of calls to mobiles and landlines in Skype.' ... The Rules: 'After receiving the voucher, this should be used until July 31, 2014. Once on Skype, the credits do not expire. The minutes are based on a rate of $ 0.023 per minute, but the number of minutes may vary depending on the destination of the call and the number of calls you make. The current value of the voucher is $2.00. [One claimed], the voucher will appear in your Skype account." (For those outside Brazil, the page brings up a message that translates to "Sorry, this promotion is not
available for your country.")

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Hawaii's Oahu Used To Be a Bigger Island
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's back-in-my-day-we-called-it-Oooooaaahhhuuu department:
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The two volcanoes long thought to have formed the Hawaiian island of Oahu had a head start: They grew on top of an older volcano that's now submerged northwest of the island and partially covered by it, new research suggests. Tests indicate that the long-lost peak—now dubbed Kaena volcano—grew from the sea floor and broke through the ocean's surface about 3.5 million years ago, eventually reaching a height of about 1000 meters above sea level before it began sinking back into the sea. At its largest, ancient Oahu would have measured about 1900 square kilometers (about 20% larger than modern-day Oahu) or larger. Over the course of its lifetime, Kaena volcano spilled between 20,000 and 27,000 cubic kilometers of molten rock, the researchers estimate. When Kaena volcano became largely extinct isn't clear."

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Is LG's New Ultra Widescreen Display Better Than "Normal" 4K?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-for-a-tray-table-it-isn't department:
Iddo Genuth (903542) writes "Forget about 4K displays, are Ultra Widescreen 'cinematic' displays the real deal? Earlier this year LG announced its new 34UM95 – a 34-inch Ultra Widescreen monitor with a cinematic 21:9 aspect ratio and a generous 3440 x1440 resolution — a recent hands-on review suggests that this monitor might be the new productivity king, for those who simply can't stand that annoying bezel between their multiple monitors. Linus Sebastian had a chance to play with the new LG 34UM95, and although he seems to start as a skeptic (after all, how really useful can a 21:9 display be right?) he ended up his review fully converted, with no going back. We still think that pro graphic users will not rush to switch over their EIZOs and NECs for this baby, but video editors, gamers, programmers and basically anybody who loves multitasking, might be very tempted — what do you think?"

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Ask Slashdot: Tech Customers Forced Into Supporting Each Other?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's left-as-an-excercise-for-the-reader department:
An anonymous reader writes "Has anyone else noticed the trend towards 'community forums' where customers are basically being recruited to solve the issues of other customers while the companies selling the products causing the issues sit back and take a passive role in the process? Granted, sometimes the companies' employees play an active part in the forums and provide some value-add by contributing crucial, and often undocumented, knowledge that solves the problem in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case, and this leaves customers with no visibility into whether or not their problems are being addressed, and, if they are, when they might expect to receive assistance. This is bad enough when dealing with consumer electronics that cost up to a couple of hundred of dollars, but it's completely unacceptable when dealing with proprietary design tool vendors that are charging several thousand dollars for software licenses for tools that are the only option if a customer doesn't want to drop an order of magnitude more money to go with 3rd party tools (e.g., Synopsys). Who do you think are the worst offenders of this downloading of support onto the backs of the customers themselves, and what can be done about it?"

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Microsoft Office Mix: No-Teacher-Left-Behind Course Authoring
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-just-respecting-their-character-class-as-gatekeepers department:
theodp (442580) writes "While they aim to democratize learning, the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) movement has, for the most part, oddly left K-12 teachers out of the online content creation business. ZDNet's Simon Bisson reports on Office Mix, Microsoft's new PowerPoint plug-in and associated cloud service, which Bisson says makes it easy to create and distribute compelling educational content (screenshots). GeekWire's Frank Catalano also makes an interesting case for why Office Mix's choice of PowerPoint, "the poster child for delivering boring presentations in non-interactive settings," could still be a disrupter in the online content creation space. By the way, MOOC.org, the collaboration of edX and Google which also aims to help "teachers easily build and host courses for the world to take," is slated to go live in the first half of 2014. It'll be interesting to see how MOOC.org's authoring tools differ from Google Research's Course Builder effort."

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Severe Vulnerability At eBay's Website
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's going-once-going-twice department:
New submitter Golem.de (3664475) writes with another security problem at eBay: "The German security expert Micheal E. discovered the persistent cross-site scripting vulnerability on eBay's website about two months ago and said he reported it to Ebay immediately. Ebay ceased to answer his emails, after writing that they considered it a mostly harmless error. Micheal E. sent Golem.de a PoC demonstrating that the error that has not yet been fixed. An attacker can manipulate an official auctioning web page and insert Javascript code. By visiting the malicious web page the code is executed by the victim and could potentially be used by the attacker to to execute arbitrary actions in the victim's Ebay account and gain full control over it. There is probably no connection to the reported a few days ago. The XSS flaw can only be used to attack one victim at a time."

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Google Rumored To Be Making 3D-Scanning Tablets
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-much-is-that-doggie-in-the-window-volumetrically department:
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google may be planning to commoditze 3-D scanning by building the tech of its Project Tango project (essentially, thus far, a phone-sized handheld with 3-D sensing capabilities) into tablets. The Register speculates: "Given that Google has already announced the Project Tango smartphone, it seems likely that it would extend the technology to tablets, and the seven-inch form factor would tie in nicely with the existing Nexus 7 design. ...Google is hoping that developers can build applications to use the scanning capabilities of the Tango hardware. Suggested topics include providing guides for visually impaired people, building gaming maps based on actual rooms, and possibly augmenting Google Maps with interior details – Street View becoming Home View perhaps?" Setting aside what brand it might bear, how would you employ a portable 3-D scanner?

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New Middleware Promises Dramatically Higher Speeds, Lower Power Draw For SSDs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 03:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-it-sounds-good department:
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes "A breakthrough has been made in SSD technology that could mean drastic performance increases due to the overcoming of one of the major issues in the memory type. Currently, data cannot be directly overwritten onto the NAND chips used in the devices. Files must be written to a clean area of the drive whilst the old area is formatted. This eventually causes fragmented data and lowers the drive's life and performance over time. However, a Japanese team at Chuo University have finally overcome the issue that is as old as the technology itself. Officially unveiled at the 2014 IEEE International Memory Workshop in Taipei, the researchers have written a brand new middleware for the drives that controls how the data is written to and stored on the device. Their new version utilizes what they call a 'logical block address scrambler' which effectively prevents data being written to a new 'page' on the device unless it is absolutely required. Instead, it is placed in a block to be erased and consolidated in the next sweep. This means significantly less behind-the-scenes file copying that results in increased performance from idle."

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DARPA Unveils Hack-Resistant Drone
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '14 at 01:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's nothing's-perfect department:
savuporo (658486) writes with news based on the work of a DARPA project known as High Assurance Cyber Military Systems: "'The Pentagon's research arm unveiled a new drone built with secure software that "prevents the control and navigation of the aircraft from being hacked. ... The software is designed to make sure a hacker cannot take over control of a UAS. The software is mathematically proven to be invulnerable to large classes of attack,' [HACMS program manager Kathleen] Fisher said." This is currently being demoed on a quad-copter platform. It would be interesting to know the CPU architecture, chipset, programming language and the suite of communication protol this thing uses ."

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Gigabyte Brix Projector Combines Mini PC With DLP Projector In a 4.5-Inch Cube
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's project-much? department:
MojoKid (1002251) writes "The PC market is changing rapidly as tablets supplant some laptops, new players such as the Chromebook disrupt the old WIntel model, and innovations in processors and graphics allow for ever-smaller PCs such as Intel's NUC (Next Unit of Computing) PC. Gigabyte recently introduced a rather unique product that combines the tiny 4.5-inch square form factor of Intel's NUC PC platform together with a mini DLP projector. The Gigabyte Brix Projector measures 4.24 x 4.5 x 1.93 inches (WxLxD) but manages to fit in an Intel Core i3-4010U (1.7GHz) processor with built-in Intel HD 4400 graphics and support for up to 16GB of 1600MHz RAM. Finally, an mSATA slot inside the chassis also supports up to a 256GB SSD. The system's DLP (LED backlight) projector itself offers a resolution of 864x480 with an aspect ratio of 16:9 and a purported image size of 7 to 85 inches. It promises 75 ANSI lumen brightness, a contrast ratio of around 900:1, and 3LED (RGB) technology. It's not an HD setup but the potential use cases are interesting. A follow-on version capable of 1080p output would be even more useful for gaming and HD video."

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This Is Your Brain While Videogaming Stoned
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 07:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's for-some-values-of-your department:
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "Pot and video games have long been bound together in hazy, wedded bliss—as well as in compulsion and codependency. Many a World of Warcraft binger has been found in the darkest hours of the night with clouds of sweet, milk-white smoke curling around him, a bong next to the keyboard. But the way these lovers, games and weed, commingle has only rarely been studied, and when done so, usually exclusively in the context of substance abuse and how it relates to what is known as PVP: 'problem video game playing.'" Motherboard takes a different look.

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HP Makes More Money, Cuts 16,000 Jobs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 05:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's leaner-yet department:
jfruh (300774) writes "Good news for HP: Profits are up by 18% over the previous year! Bad news for HP: A lot of those profits are from post-Windows XP PC upgrades, and company revenue actually dipped 1%. The solution, according to CEO Meg Whitman, is "continuous improvement in our cost structure," which means firing thousands of people. At the end of the next round of layoffs, the company will have shed 50,000 employees since 2012."

New submitter Deveauxes (3664417) links to a similar story from CNN's news service, according to which "HP said the latest layoffs would come across all its business units and geographic locations, and would generate $1 billion in annual savings beyond the $3.5 to $4 billion projected from the previously announced cuts. 'No company likes to decrease the work force, and we recognize that this is difficult for employees,' CEO Meg Whitman said in a conference call with analysts. 'I think everyone understands the turnaround we're in.'"

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On MetaFilter Being Penalized By Google
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's filtration-nation department:
Paul Fernhout (109597) writes "MetaFilter recently announced layoffs due to a decline in ad revenue that started with a mysterious 40% drop in traffic from Google on November 17, 2012, and which never recovered. Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand explores in detail how MetaFilter 'serves as a poster child of problems with Google's penalty process, despite all the advances Google has made over the years.' Caitlin Dewey at the Washington Post puts it more bluntly: 'That may be the most striking, prescient takeaway from the whole MetaFilter episode: the extent to which the modern Web does not incentivize quality.'"

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Fiat Chrysler CEO: Please Don't Buy Our Electric Car
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's collector's-item-in-advance department:
schwit1 (797399) writes "The CEO of Fiat Chrysler said he hopes that people don't buy his company's electric car, the Fiat 500e, which he is forced to sell at a loss because of state and federal mandates. 'I hope you don't buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000,' Sergio Marchionne told the audience at the Brookings Institute during a discussion of the auto bailout. 'I'm honest enough to tell you that I will make the car, I'll make it available which is my requirement but I will sell the limit of what I need to sell and not one more,' said Marchionne. Fiat Chrysler produces two Fiat 500s. The gas-powered Fiat 500 has a base price of $17,300. The electric Fiat 500e runs $32,650. In his candid remarks, Marchionne blamed regulations set in place in California and by President Obama." (Also at USA Today.) If they find they're selling too many for comfort, couldn't they raise the price?

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Questionable Patents From MakerBot
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-should-play-nice-with-others department:
An anonymous reader writes "OpenBeam USA is a Kickstarted company that builds open source aluminum construction systems (think high-quality erector sets). One of the main uses for the systems is building 3D printers, and creator Terence Tam is heavily involved in the 3D-printing community. He's now put up a blog post about some disturbing patents filed by MakerBot. In particular, he notes a patent for auto-leveling on a 3D printer. Not only is this an important upcoming technology for 3D printers, the restriction of which would be a huge blow to progress, it seems the patent was filed just a few short weeks after Steve Graber posted a video demonstrating such auto-leveling. There had also been a Kickstarter campaign for similar tech a few months earlier. Tam gives this warning: 'Considering the Stratasys — Afinia lawsuit, and the fact that Makerbot is now a subsidiary of Stratasys, it's not a stretch to imagine Makerbot coming after other open source 3D manufacturers that threaten their sales. After all, nobody acquires a patent warchest just to invite their competitors to sit around the campfire to sing Kumbaya. It is therefore vitally important that community developed improvements do not fall under Makerbot's (or any other company's) patent portfolio to be used at a later date to clobber the little guys.'"

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Microsoft Announces Windows 8.1 With Bing To Sell Cheaper Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's borrowing-from-amazon's-playbook department:
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft today confirmed the rumors of a new edition of its latest operating system by unveiling Windows 8.1 with Bing. The company says the main purpose of the new SKU is to allow its hardware partners to sell lower-cost Windows devices; the first ones with the new edition will be announced next month at Computex in Tapei. Windows 8.1 with Bing is exactly like Windows 8.1 with the recently released Windows 8.1 Update, with one major difference: Bing is set as the default search engine in Internet Explorer. Users can still change that option in IE's search engine settings, but OEMs do not have that luxury."

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Facebook Refuses To Share Employee Race and Gender Data
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's concerned-about-privacy-after-all department:
theodp writes "Back in 2007, Representative Maxine Waters asked Google's HR Chief, "How many [of Google's employees] are African-American?" After 7+ years of stonewalling, Google has pledged to finally divulge diversity data on its workforce for the first time. While the U.S. government requires all major employers to file diversity statistics with the EEOC, Google convinced the Dept. of Labor that the race and gender of its work force is a trade secret that should not have to be released to the public. Google now concedes that it has been 'reluctant to divulge that data' and 'quite frankly, we are wrong about that.' Interestingly, Facebook apparently has no such compunctions about refusing to disclose data on the racial and gender makeup of its employees, even as CEO Mark Zuckerberg lobbies Congress for changes to the makeup of the U.S. workforce. Pressed on the matter by the Rev. Jesse Jackson at Facebook's annual shareholder meeting, the WSJ reports that COO and gender equality advocate Sheryl Sandberg rebuffed Jackson's request, saying, 'It's really important to share [the Facebook diversity numbers] internally, and eventually externally.'"

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New Semiconductor Could Improve Vehicle Fuel Economy By 10 Percent
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's efficiency-plus-plus department:
cartechboy writes: "Automakers are scrambling to increase vehicle fuel economy every year as regulations increase, so when an automaker finds a way to possibly increase fuel economy by 10 percent with one new part, that gets some attention. Today that automaker is Toyota, and the part is a new semiconductor. Toyota's power control units (PCU) in its hybrids use semiconductors to govern the flow of electricity between the battery and the electric motor. Unfortunately, they're also an electrically restrictive component. Toyota says the PCU accounts for a quarter of the total electrical power losses in a hybrid drive system, and semiconductors alone make up a full fifth of the total. Reduce electrical losses through a semiconductor, and you can make your hybrid system (and therefore your car) more efficient. Toyota has done this, in theory at least, using a new silicon carbide material for its semiconductors, rather than a standard silicon unit. The future could be shaped by individual parts, and this new semiconductor tech is one piece of that puzzle."

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Amazon Escalates Its Battle Against Publishers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 23 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's digital-walmart department:
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the NY Times:
"Amazon, under fire in much of the literary community for energetically discouraging customers from buying books from the publisher Hachette, has abruptly escalated the battle. The retailer began refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J.K. Rowling's new novel. The paperback edition of Brad Stone's The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon — a book Amazon disliked so much it denounced it — is suddenly listed as 'unavailable.' In some cases, even the pages promoting the books have disappeared. Anne Rivers Siddons's new novel, The Girls of August, coming in July, no longer has a page for the physical book or even the Kindle edition. Only the audio edition is still being sold (for more than $60). Otherwise it is as if it did not exist. Amazon is also flexing its muscles in Germany, delaying deliveries of books issued by Bonnier, a major publisher."

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