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Xerox Alto Source Code Released To Public

Soulskill posted 18 minutes ago | from the history-revealed dept.

News 4

zonker writes: In 1970, the Xerox Corporation established the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) with the goal to develop an "architecture of information" and lay the groundwork for future electronic office products. The pioneering Alto project that began in 1972 invented or refined many of the fundamental hardware and software ideas upon which our modern devices are based, including raster displays, mouse pointing devices, direct-manipulation user interfaces, windows and menus, the first WYSIWYG word processor, and Ethernet.

The first Altos were built as research prototypes. By the fall of 1976 PARC's research was far enough along that a Xerox product group started to design products based on their prototypes. Ultimately, ~1,500 were built and deployed throughout the Xerox Corporation, as well as at universities and other sites. The Alto was never sold as a product but its legacy served as inspiration for the future.

With the permission of the Palo Alto Research Center, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use only, snapshots of Alto source code, executables, documentation, font files, and other files from 1975 to 1987. The files are organized by the original server on which they resided at PARC that correspond to files that were restored from archive tapes. An interesting look at retro-future.

Ask Slashdot: Aging and Orphan Open Source Projects?

Soulskill posted 3 hours ago | from the try-craigslist dept.

Open Source 54

osage writes: Several colleagues and I have worked on an open source project for over 20 years under a corporate aegis. Though nothing like Apache, we have a sizable user community and the software is considered one of the de facto standards for what it does. The problem is that we have never been able to attract new, younger programmers, and members of the original set have been forced to find jobs elsewhere or are close to retirement. The corporation has no interest in supporting the software. Thus, in the near future, the project will lose its web site host and be devoid of its developers and maintainers. Our initial attempts to find someone to adopt the software haven't worked. We are looking for suggestions as to what course to pursue. We can't be the only open source project in this position.

First Evidence of Extrasolar Planets Discovered In 1917

Soulskill posted 6 hours ago | from the but-who's-counting dept.

Space 34

KentuckyFC writes: Earth's closest white dwarf is called van Maanen 2 and sits 14 light-years from here. It was discovered by the Dutch astronomer Adriaan van Maanen in 1917, but it was initially hard to classify. That's because its spectra contains lots of heavy elements alongside hydrogen and helium, the usual components of a white dwarf photosphere. In recent years, astronomers have discovered many white dwarfs with similar spectra and shown that the heavy elements come from asteroids raining down onto the surface of the stars. It turns out that all these white dwarfs are orbited by a large planet and an asteroid belt. As the planet orbits, it perturbs the rocky belt, causing asteroids to collide and spiral in toward their parent star. This process is so common that astronomers now use the heavy element spectra as a marker for the presence of extrasolar planets. A re-analysis of van Maanen's work shows that, in hindsight, he was the first to discover the tell-tale signature of extrasolar planets almost a century ago.

Internet Broadband Through High-altitude Drones

Soulskill posted 8 hours ago | from the internet-of-wings dept.

The Internet 63

mwagner writes: Skynet is coming. But not like in the movie: The future of communications is high-altitude solar-powered drones, flying 13 miles above the ground, running microwave wireless equipment, delivering broadband to the whole planet. The articles predicts this technology will replace satellites, fiber, and copper, and fundamentally change the broadband industry. The author predicts a timescale of roughly 20 years — the same amount of time between Arthur C. Clarke predicting geosynchronous satellites and their reality as a commercial business. "Several important technology milestones need to be reached along the way. The drones that will make up Skynet have a lot more in common with satellites than the flippy-flappy helicopter drone thingies that the popular press is fixated on right now. They're really effing BIG, for one thing. And, like satellites, they go up, and stay up, pretty much indefinitely. For that to happen, we need two things: lighter, higher-capacity wireless gear; and reliable, hyper-efficient solar tech."

Isaac Asimov: How Do People Get New Ideas?

Soulskill posted 10 hours ago | from the picked-from-the-new-idea-tree dept.

Editorial 86

HughPickens.com writes: Arthur Obermayer, a friend of the Isaac Asimov, writes that he recently rediscovered an unpublished essay by Asimov written in 1959 while cleaning out some old files. Obermayer says it is "as broadly relevant today as when he wrote it. It describes not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity." Here's an excerpt from Asimov's essay, which is well worth reading in its entirety:

"A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others. Probably more inhibiting than anything else is a feeling of responsibility. The great ideas of the ages have come from people who weren't paid to have great ideas, but were paid to be teachers or patent clerks or petty officials, or were not paid at all. The great ideas came as side issues."

Fiber Optics In Antarctica Will Monitor Ice Sheet Melting

Soulskill posted 12 hours ago | from the won't-somebody-think-of-the-penguins dept.

Science 50

sciencehabit writes: Earth is rapidly being wired with fiber-optic cables — inexpensive, flexible strands of silicon dioxide that have revolutionized telecommunications. They've already crisscrossed the planet's oceans, linking every continent but one: Antarctica. Now, fiber optics has arrived at the continent, but to measure ice sheet temperatures rather than carry telecommunication signals. A team of scientists using an innovative fiber-optic cable–based technology has measured temperature changes within and below the ice over 14 months. This technology, they say, offers a powerful new tool to observe and quantify melting at the base of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Microsoft Introduces Build Cadence Selection With Windows 10

Soulskill posted 13 hours ago | from the putting-a-ring-on-it dept.

Windows 84

jones_supa writes: Microsoft has just released Windows 10 TP build 9860. Along with the new release, Microsoft is introducing an interesting cadence option for how quickly you will receive new builds. The "ring progression" goes from development, to testing, to release. By being in the slow cadence, you will get more stable builds, but they will arrive less often. By choosing the fast option, it allows you to receive the build on the same day that it is released. As a quick stats update, to date Microsoft has received over 250,000 pieces of feedback through the Windows Feedback tool, 25,381 community forum posts, and 641 suggestions in the Windows Suggestion Box.

Ebola Does Not Require an "Ebola Czar," Nor Calling Up the National Guard

Soulskill posted 13 hours ago | from the only-thing-we-have-to-fear-is-fear-itself-and-liquefied-organs dept.

Medicine 244

Lasrick writes: David Ropeik explores risk-perception psychology and Ebola in the U.S. "[O]fficials are up against the inherently emotional and instinctive nature of risk-perception psychology. Pioneering research on this subject by Paul Slovic, Baruch Fischhoff, and others, vast research on human cognition by Daniel Kahneman and colleagues, and research on the brain's fear response by neuroscientists Joseph LeDoux, Elizabeth Phelps, and others, all make abundantly clear that the perception of risk is not simply a matter of the facts, but more a matter of how those facts feel. ... People worry more about risks that are new and unfamiliar. People worry more about risks that cause greater pain and suffering. People worry more about threats against which we feel powerless, like a disease for which there is no vaccine and which has a high fatality rate if you get it. And people worry more about threats the more available they are to their consciousness—that is, the more aware people are of them."

Google Leads $542m Funding Round For Augmented Reality Wearables Company

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

Google 24

An anonymous reader writes: After rumors broke last week, Magic Leap has officially closed the deal on a $542 million Series B investment led by Google. The company has been extremely tight-lipped about what they're working on, but some digging reveals it is most likely an augmented reality wearable that uses a lightfield display. "Using our Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal, imagine being able to generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world," the company teases. Having closed an investment round, Magic Leap is now soliciting developers to create for their platform and hiring a huge swath of positions.

The Future of Stamps

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the post-postal-world dept.

Communications 97

New submitter Kkloe writes: Wired is running a profile of a gadget called Signet, which is trying to bring postage stamps into the age of high technology. Quoting: "At its core, it is a digital stamp and an app. If you want to send a parcel, you'd simply stamp it with a device that uses a laser to etch it with your name and a unique identifying pattern. After that, the USPS would pick up your package; from there, the app would prompt you to provide the name of the person you're trying to reach." I'm curious whether such a finely-detailed etching can even survive a journey. How far can you expect it to travel before all the handling and sorting make the mark unreadable to the sorting machines in the delivery office? Then you'd have to worry the post office would mark it as a fraudulent stamp (as someone has to pay for the shipping in some way) and either return it or throw it away.

The Bogus Batoid Submarine is Wooden, not Yellow (Video)

Roblimo posted yesterday | from the some-people-build-ornithopters-and-some-build-machines-that-flap-their-wings-underwater dept.

40

This is a "wet" submarine. It doesn't try to keep water out. You wear SCUBA gear while pedaling it. And yes, it is powered by a person pushing pedals. That motion, through a drive train, makes manta-style wings flap. This explains the name, since rays are Batoids, and this sub is a fake Batoid, not a real one. It's a beautiful piece of work, and Martin Plazyk is obviously proud to show it off. He and his father, Bruce, operate as Faux Fish Technologies. Follow that link and you'll see many photos, along with a nice selection of videos showing their creations not just in static above-water displays, but in their natural (underwater) element. Meanwhile, here on Slashdot, Martin tells how Faux Fish subs are made. (Alternate Video Link)

Samsung Acknowledges and Fixes Bug On 840 EVO SSDs

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the not-presented-on-a-platter dept.

Data Storage 89

Lucas123 writes: Samsung has issued a firmware fix for a bug on its popular 840 EVO triple-level cell SSD. The bug apparently slows read performance tremendously for any data more than a month old that has not been moved around on the NAND. Samsung said in a statement that the read problems occurred on its 2.5-in 840 EVO SSDs and 840 EVO mSATA drives because of an error in the flash management software algorithm. Some users on technical blog sites, such as Overclock.net, say the problem extends beyond the EVO line. They also questioned whether the firmware upgrade was a true fix or if it just covers up the bug by moving data around the SSD.

NPR: '80s Ads Are Responsible For the Lack of Women Coders

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the advertisers-driving-culture dept.

Advertising 557

gollum123 writes: Back in the day, computer science was as legitimate a career path for women as medicine, law, or science. But in 1984, the number of women majoring in computing-related subjects began to fall, and the percentage of women is now significantly lower in CS than in those other fields. NPR's Planet Money sought to answer a simple question: Why? According to the show's experts, computers were advertised as a "boy's toy." This, combined with early '80s geek culture staples like the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, as well as movies like War Games and Weird Science, conspired to instill the perception that computers were primarily for men.

Cell Transplant Allows Paralyzed Man To Walk

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the saved-by-a-nose dept.

Medicine 147

New submitter tiberus sends word of a breakthrough medical treatment that has restored the ability to walk to a man who was paralyzed from the chest down after his spinal cord was severed in a knife attack. A research team from the UK, led by Professor Geoff Raisman, transplanted cells from the patient's nose, along with strips of nerve tissue from his ankle, to the place where the spine was severed. This allowed the fibers in the spinal cord to gradually reconnect. The treatment used olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) - specialist cells that form part of the sense of smell. ... In the first of two operations, surgeons removed one of the patient's olfactory bulbs and grew the cells in culture. Two weeks later they transplanted the OECs into the spinal cord, which had been cut through in the knife attack apart from a thin strip of scar tissue on the right. They had just a drop of material to work with - about 500,000 cells. About 100 micro-injections of OECs were made above and below the injury. Four thin strips of nerve tissue were taken from the patient's ankle and placed across an 8mm (0.3in) gap on the left side of the cord. ... Two years after the treatment, he can now walk outside the rehabilitation center using a frame.

Ask Slashdot: Event Sign-Up Software Options For a Non-Profit?

timothy posted yesterday | from the which-con-do-you-mean? dept.

Software 99

New submitter don_e_b writes I have been asked by a non-profit to help them gather a team of volunteer developers, who they wish to have write an online volunteer sign-up site. This organization has a one large event per year with roughly 1400 volunteers total.I have advised them to investigate existing online volunteer offerings, and they can afford to pay for most that I've found so far. In the past two years, they have used a site written by a volunteer that has worked fine for them, but that volunteer is unavailable to maintain or enhance his site this year. They believe the existing online volunteer sign-up sites are not quite right — they feel they have very specific sign-up needs, and can not picture using anything other than their own custom software solution. I am convinced it's a mistake for this non-profit to create a software development team from a rotating pool of volunteers to write software upon which it is critically dependent. How would you convince them to abandon their plan to dive into project management and use an existing solution?

Google Adds USB Security Keys To 2-Factor Authentication Options

timothy posted yesterday | from the something-you-have dept.

Security 116

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: Google today announced it is beefing up its two-step verification feature with Security Key, a physical USB second factor that only works after verifying the login site is truly a Google website. The feature is available in Chrome: Instead of typing in a code, you can simply insert Security Key into your computer's USB port and tap it when prompted by Google's browser. "When you sign into your Google Account using Chrome and Security Key, you can be sure that the cryptographic signature cannot be phished," Google promises. While Security Key works with Google Accounts at no charge, you'll need to go out and buy a compatible USB device directly from a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) participating vendor.

Your Online TV Watching Can Now Be Tracked Across Devices

timothy posted yesterday | from the explodes-if-you-watch-minority-report dept.

Stats 117

itwbennett (1594911) writes A partnership between TV measurement company Nielsen and analytics provider Adobe, announced today, will let broadcasters see (in aggregate and anonymized) how people interact with digital video between devices — for example if you begin watching a show on Netflix on your laptop, then switch to a Roku set-top box to finish it. The information learned will help broadcasters decide what to charge advertisers, and deliver targeted ads to viewers. Broadcasters can use the new Nielsen Digital Content Ratings, as they're called, beginning early next year. Early users include ESPN, Sony Pictures Television, Turner Broadcasting and Viacom.

'Microsoft Lumia' Will Replace the Nokia Brand

timothy posted yesterday | from the not-many-years-from-dominance dept.

Cellphones 142

jones_supa writes The last emblems of Nokia are being removed from Microsoft products. "Microsoft Lumia" is the new brand name that takes their place. The name change follows a slow transition from Nokia.com over to Microsoft's new mobile site, and Nokia France will be the first of many countries that adopt "Microsoft Lumia" for its Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Microsoft has confirmed to The Verge that other countries will follow the rebranding steps in the coming weeks. Nokia itself continues as a reborn company focusing on mapping and network infrastructure services.

Safercar.gov Overwhelmed By Recall For Deadly Airbags

timothy posted yesterday | from the give-it-to-the-healthcare.gov-folks dept.

Government 118

darylb writes "The NHTSA's safercar.gov website appears to be suffering under the load of recent vehicle recalls, including the latest recall of some 4.7 million vehicles using airbags made by Takata. Searching recalls by VIN is non-responsive at present. Searching by year, make, and model hangs after selecting the year. What can sites serving an important public function do to ensure they stay running during periods of unexpected load?" More on the airbag recall from The New York Times and the Detroit Free Press.

Delivering Malicious Android Apps Hidden In Image Files

timothy posted yesterday | from the best-case-never-touch-a-phone dept.

Android 109

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have found a way to deliver a malicious app to Android users by hiding it into what seems to be an encrypted image file, which is then delivered via a legitimate, seemingly innocuous wrapper app. Fortinet malware researcher Axelle Apvrille and reverse engineer Ange Albertini created a custom tool they dubbed AngeCryption, which allows them to encrypt the payload Android application package (APK) and make it look like an image (PNG, JPG) file . They also had to create another APK that carries the "booby-trapped" image file and which can decrypt it to unveil the malicious APK file and install it. A malicious app thusly encrypted is nearly invisible to reverse engineers, and possibly even to AV solutions and Google's Android Bouncer." (Here's the original paper, from researchers Axelle Apvrille and Ange Albertini.)

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