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Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines In the Limelight On Stage and In Society

Soulskill posted 1 hour ago | from the if-only-asimov-was-around-to-see-it dept.

Robotics 3

aarondubrow writes: We're entering an era where we'll increasingly coexist with robots and other intelligent machines — some of which may look like us. Not only is there a growing number of industrial robots (about 1.5 million today), there are 10 million Roombas in our homes, porter-bots in our hospitals and hotels, social robots in our nursing homes and even robot spectators at baseball games in Japan, tele-operated by remote fans.

Theater is not an arena that we typically associate with robots, however, artists, musicians and producers are often early adopters and innovative users of emerging technologies. In fact, robots got their name from the 1920 play, R.U.R., by the Czech playwright, Karel Capek. An article in the Huffington Post describes a panel discussion at the National Academy of Science in June that featured the producers of three recent plays that starred robots. The plays highlight our robot anxieties, while offering new visions for human-robot interactions in the future.

Changing the Rules of a 15-Year-Old Game: Quake Live Update Causes Controversy

Soulskill posted 3 hours ago | from the sleep-is-for-the-weak dept.

Quake 46

An anonymous reader writes: As id Software aims for a larger, more mainstream audience for its free-to-play shooter Quake Live (based on 1998's Quake III Arena) on Steam, big changes are afoot. A new update was pushed out last week which adds some new, more beginner-friendly features to the game. These include weapon loadouts, which grant players a weapon of their choice when they spawn, timer icons, which indicate when the all-important powerup items will spawn, and an automatic bunny-hop to gain extra speed. The changes have been met with hostility from longtime players who prefer the "purist" rules of old and the duel format. As the writer points out, however, if the update helps attract more elite players to the gamer, it could breathe new life into a very old game.

Mysterious, Phony Cell Towers Found Throughout US

Soulskill posted 5 hours ago | from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.

Cellphones 99

Trachman writes: Popular Science magazine recently published an article about a network of cell towers owned not by telecommunication companies but by unknown third parties. Many of them are built around U.S. military bases. "Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption. ... Some interceptors are limited, only able to passively listen to either outgoing or incoming calls. But full-featured devices like the VME Dominator, available only to government agencies, can not only capture calls and texts, but even actively control the phone, sending out spoof texts, for example."

Google Serves Old Search Page To Old Browsers

Soulskill posted 7 hours ago | from the you-get-what-you-get-and-you-like-it dept.

Google 101

Rambo Tribble writes: In an apparent move to push those using older browsers to update, Google is reported to be serving outdated search pages to said browsers. The older pages lack features available on the newer versions, and this policy compounds with the limits announced in 2011 on Gmail support for older web clients. As a Google engineer put it, "We're continually making improvements to Search, so we can only provide limited support for some outdated browsers." The BBC offers a fairly comprehensive analysis.

You Got Your Windows In My Linux

Soulskill posted 9 hours ago | from the entirely-uncontroversial-opinions dept.

Operating Systems 311

snydeq writes: Ultimately, the schism over systemd could lead to a separation of desktop and server distros, or Linux server admins moving to FreeBSD, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. "Although there are those who think the systemd debate has been decided in favor of systemd, the exceedingly loud protests on message boards, forums, and the posts I wrote over the past two weeks would indicate otherwise. I've seen many declarations of victory for systemd, now that Red Hat has forced it into the enterprise with the release of RHEL 7. I don't think it's that easy. ... Go ahead, kids, spackle over all of that unsightly runlevel stuff. Paint over init and cron, pam and login. Put all of that into PID1 along with dbus. Make it all pretty and whisper sweet nothings about how it's all taken care of and you won't have to read a manual or learn any silly command-line stuff. Tune your distribution for desktop workloads. Go reinvent Windows."

Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

Soulskill posted 9 hours ago | from the in-case-you-were-feeling-optimistic-today dept.

The Military 490

cold fjord writes Russian President has issued a stark indication of Russia's military capabilities: "I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words." According to News.com.au, "It's the first time in more than 25 years that Moscow has raised the spectre of nuclear war. The difference this time is that its tanks are already pouring over its western borders." To put numbers behind that, "Russia has moved 4,000 to 5,000 military personnel — a figure far higher than one U.S. official's earlier claim of 1,000 troops. The soldiers are aligned in 'formed units' and fighting around Luhansk and Donetsk.... And they may soon have company: Some 20,000 troops are on border and 'more may be on the way.'" On top of that, the Ukraine Defence Minister claims Russia has made threats that they're prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons to stop further resistance.

Banks Report Credit Card Breach At Home Depot

Soulskill posted 10 hours ago | from the another-day-another-breach dept.

Security 110

criticalmass24 sends news that multiple banks are indicating Home Depot stores are the source of a new batch of stolen credit cards and debit cards that hit the black market today. "There are signs that the perpetrators of this apparent breach may be the same group of Russian and Ukrainian hackers responsible for the data breaches at Target, Sally Beauty and P.F. Chang’s, among others. The banks contacted by this reporter all purchased their customers’ cards from the same underground store – rescator[dot]cc — which on Sept. 2 moved two massive new batches of stolen cards onto the market." Home Depot is aware of the situation, and says they're investigating. The banks say this breach may have begun as early as April or May of this year and may extend to all 2,200 of Home Depot's U.S. stores.

David Klann Talks About Using Open Source Software in Broadcast Radio (Video)

Roblimo posted 11 hours ago | from the broadcasting-to-everyone-on-land-and-to-all-the-ships-at-sea dept.

Open Source 26

David Klann works with Driftless Radio, call letters WDRT, in Wisconsin. This is community radio, with no huge advertisers or morning shock jocks with names like Bobba the Fet Sponge. They use open source software for just about everything except accounting, and that includes processing their audio for both OTA (Over the Air) and online streaming. Their transmitter runs a "stripped down" version of Debian, and David is proud that they had 3 1/2 years of uptime -- that only ended when David did a kernel upgrade that forced a reboot. (Alternate Video Link)

New HTML Picture Element To Make Future Web Faster

Soulskill posted 11 hours ago | from the until-it's-used-for-ads dept.

The Internet 138

nerdyalien writes: At some point, haven't all web developers spent an unjustifiable number of hours trying to optimize a desktop site for mobile devices? Responsive web design provides a solution: "develop once, works in every device." However, still it downloads multi-MB images and re-sizes them based on device screen resolution. Retrieving optimized images from the server, based on device (desktop, tablet, phone) and the device's internet connection (fiber, broadband, mobile), has always been an open problem. Recently, a number of freelance developers are tackling this with a new HTML element, <picture>, which informs the web browser to download optimized images from the server. The tag will be featured in Chrome and Firefox later this year. Will this finally deliver us faster web browsing on mobile devices and an easier web development experience?

SpaceX Challenges Blue Origin Patents Over Sea-Landing Rocket Tech

Soulskill posted 12 hours ago | from the system-and-method-for-not-quite-slipping-the-surly-bonds-of-earth dept.

Patents 70

speedplane writes: Last week, Elon Musk's SpaceX fired two challenges (PDFs) at Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin over U.S. Patent 8,678,321, entitled "Sea landing of space launch vehicles and associated systems and methods." The patent appears to cover a method of landing a rocket on a floating platform at sea. In their papers, SpaceX says that "by 2009, the earliest possibly priority date listed on the face of the patent, the basic concepts of 'rocket science' were well known and widely understood. The "rocket science" claimed in the '321 patent was, at best, 'old hat[.]'" Blue Origin has approximately three months to file a preliminary response to the challenge. You can review the litigation documents here and here. (Disclosure: I run the website hosting several of the above documents.)

NATO Set To Ratify Joint Defense For Cyberattacks

Soulskill posted 13 hours ago | from the state-sponsored-script-kiddies dept.

The Military 32

An anonymous reader writes: At the upcoming NATO meeting, according to the NY Times, the 28 member states are expected to ratify "a far-reaching change in the organization's mission of collective defense: For the first time, a cyberattack on any of the 28 NATO nations could be declared an attack on all of them, much like a ground invasion or an airborne bombing." A former NATO ambassador describes NATO's technological capability as "pretty basic" and suggests any counter-cyberattacks would likely be lodged by member states (meaning the U.S. and maybe Britain). He opines, "It's a measure of how far we've come on this issue that there's now a consensus that a cyberattack could be as devastating as any other kind of attack, maybe even more so." Helpfully, the agreement avoids defining what sort of "cyberattack" would warrant an armed response. The Times describes the agreement as "deliberately unclear."

Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools?

timothy posted yesterday | from the what-are-you-happy-with? dept.

Graphics 154

New submitter Shadow99_1 writes I used to do a lot of video editing (a few years ago, at an earlier job) and at that time I used Adobe Premiere. Now a few years later I'm looking to start doing some video editing for my own personal use, but I have a limited budget that pretty well excludes even thinking about buying a copy of Adobe Premiere. So I ask slashdot: What is the state of free (as in beer or as in open source) video editing tools? In my case... I support a windows environment at work and so it's primarily what I use at home. I am also using a camcorder that uses flash cards to record onto, so for me I need a platform that supports reading flash cards. So that is my focus but feel free to discuss video editing on all platforms. I've been looking forward to the Kickstarted upgrade to OpenShot; based on the project's latest update, early versions of an installer should start appearing soon. Video editing is a big endeavor, though, and ambitious announcements and slipped schedules both seem to be the norm: an open-source version of Lightworks was announced back in 2010. Some lighter open-source options include Pitivi (raising funds to get to version 1.0) and Kdenlive, also in active development (most recent release was in mid-May). Pitiviti's site links to a sobering illustration about many of the shorter- and longer-lived projects in this area.

Uber Now Blocked All Over Germany

timothy posted yesterday | from the nicht-so-ueber-alles dept.

Transportation 235

An anonymous reader writes Following the blocking of Uber in Berlin, DE, the district court of Frankfurt/Main has issued a restraining order for Uber services all over Germany (German original). The district court is alleging "uncompetitive behavior" (Unlauteres Wettbewerbsverhalten) on Uber's part, and has proclaimed that not following the restraining order will result in a fine of €250.000 or imprisonment. This ruling is related to the German "Personenbeförderungsgesetz" and is outlining that no legal entity (person, enterprise) is allowed to transfer passengers without having passed the relevant tests and having the appropriate insurance coverage.

Interview: Ask Christopher "moot" Poole About 4chan and Social Media

samzenpus posted yesterday | from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.

Social Networks 195

Having started 4chan when he was 15, Christopher Poole, better known as "moot", is indirectly responsible for almost every meme you've ever seen. The group "Anonymous" originated on 4chan and has since engaged in a number of well-publicized publicity stunts and distributed denial-of-service attacks. Thanks to users gaming the system, moot was famously voted the world's most influential person of 2008 in an open internet poll conducted by Time magazine. He is an advocate of online anonymity and speaks on the importance of privacy online to foster creativity and open discussion. moot has agreed to answer your questions about 4chan, social media, and privacy. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

Code.org Discloses Top Donors

timothy posted yesterday | from the friends-but-also-buddies dept.

Education 57

theodp (442580) writes "Under the leadership of Code.org, explained the ACM, it joined CSTA, NCWIT, NSF, Microsoft and Google in an effort "to reshape the U.S. education system," including passing a federal law making Computer Science a "core subject" in schools. If you're curious about whose money helped fuel the effort, Code.org's Donors page now lists those who gave $25,000+ to $3,000,000+ to the K-12 CS cause (the nonprofit plans to raise $20-30 million for 2015-16 operations). Microsoft is at the top of the list as a Platinum Supporter ($3,000,000+), while Bill Gates is Gold ($1,000,000+), and Steve Ballmer is Silver ($500,000+). Interestingly, six of Code.org's ten biggest donors are also Founders of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us tech immigration reform PAC."

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

timothy posted yesterday | from the thought-crime-in-maryland dept.

Censorship 406

An anonymous reader writes A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report — "taken in for an emergency medical evaluation" for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace's Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, according to news reports from Maryland's Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future."

Apple Reveals the Most Common Reasons That It Rejects Apps

timothy posted yesterday | from the too-fat-too-thin-too-talkative dept.

Software 121

mrspoonsi writes One of the great mysteries of the App Store is why certain apps get rejected and why others don't. Apple has let a surprising number of ripoffs and clones through the store's iron gates, yet some developers face rejection for seemingly innocent apps. "Before you develop your app, it's important to become familiar with the technical, content, and design criteria that we use to review all apps," explains Apple on a new webpage called "Common App Rejections." Rejections include: Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected; Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations or use names or icons similar to other Apps will be rejected.

AMD Releases New Tonga GPU, Lowers 8-core CPU To $229

timothy posted yesterday | from the tech-marches-on dept.

Graphics 93

Vigile (99919) writes AMD looks to continue addressing the mainstream PC enthusiast and gamer with a set of releases into two different component categories. First, today marks the launch of the Radeon R9 285 graphics card, a $250 option based on a brand new piece of silicon dubbed Tonga. This GPU has nearly identical performance to the R9 280 that came before it, but includes support for XDMA PCIe CrossFire, TrueAudio DSP technology and is FreeSync capable (AMD's response to NVIDIA G-Sync). On the CPU side AMD has refreshed its FX product line with three new models (FX-8370, FX-8370e and FX-8320e) with lower TDPs and supposedly better efficiency. The problem of course is that while Intel is already sampling 14nm parts these Vishera-based CPUs continue to be manufactured on GlobalFoundries' 32nm process. The result is less than expected performance boosts and efficiency gains. For a similar review of the new card, see Hot Hardware's page-by-page unpacking.

Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

timothy posted yesterday | from the man's-inhumanity-to-man dept.

Censorship 186

sfcrazy (1542989) writes, based on a report from Ted T'so, that Kernel developer Dmitry Monakhov was detained for 15 days for disobeying a police officer. The debacle came about when Monakhov decided to protest the recent invasion into Ukraine by Russian armed forces. Monakhov is using Twitter to keep people informed about his experience with the Russian judicial system; a human translator can probably do a better job than Google in this case.

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