We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!
Zothecula (1870348) writes "From robotics to optics and forgery prevention to solar cells, biomimicry has proven fertile ground for researchers. Recognizing nature's potential in the development of new technologies, DARPA has announced the establishment of the Biological Technologies Office (BTO), a new division that aims to 'merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security.'"
chicksdaddy (814965) writes "The Internet of Things has tremendous potential but also poses a tremendous risk if the underlying security of Internet of Things devices is not taken into account, according to Vint Cerf, Google's Internet Evangelist. Cerf, speaking in a public Google Hangout (video) on Wednesday, said that he's tremendously excited about the possibilities of an Internet of billions of connected objects. But Cerf warned that it necessitates big changes in the way that software is written. Securing the data stored on those devices and exchanged between them represents a challenge to the field of computer science – one that the nation's universities need to start addressing. Internet of Things products need to do a better job managing access control and use strong authentication to secure communications between devices."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Just the other day we read about how the Department of Transportation will require all manufacturers to include rearview cameras on all new cars produced after May 1, 2018. But there's something else auto manufacturers are pushing for, the ability to replace sideview mirrors with cameras in 2018. Tesla in particular is pushing for this to happen as traditional mirrors are bulky, and not very aerodynamic. That lump of plastic can cause surprising amounts of drag on an otherwise smooth car body. Camera units are much smaller and can be made streamlined, or even mounted nearly flush with the body, thus reducing aerodynamic drag. The idea has been around since the 1990s, and many concept cars have used cameras instead of sideview mirrors for years. But how will NHTSA respond? Is it finally time to ditch the sideview mirror?"
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "If NASA is serious about deep space missions, it's going to have to change its safety guidelines, because there's no conceivable way that, within the next few years, our engineering capabilities or understanding of things like radiation exposure in space are going to advance far enough for a mission to Mars to be acceptably "safe" for NASA. So, instead, the agency commissioned the National Academies Institute of Medicine to take a look at how it can ethically go about changing those standards. The answer? It likely can't.
In a report released today, the National Academies said that there are essentially three ways NASA can go about doing this, besides completely abandoning deep space forever: It can completely liberalize its health standards, it can establish more permissive "long duration and exploration health standards," or it can create a process by which certain missions are exempt from its safety standards. The team, led by Johns Hopkins University professor Jeffrey Kahn, concluded that only the third option is remotely acceptable."
First time accepted submitter ogcricket (3557713) writes with news about a new laptop designed by Andrew Huang and Sean Cross. "Earlier this year, the two Singapore-based engineers fashioned a laptop made almost entirely from open source hardware, hardware whose designs are freely available to the world at large. They called it Project Novena. Anyone could review the designs, looking for bugs and security flaws, and at least in theory, that meant you could be confident the machine was secure from top to bottom, something that’s more desirable than ever in the post-Edward Snowden age....The original idea was simply to encourage others to build their own open source laptops at home. But now the pair are taking the project a step further. Starting today, you can order your own pre-built Novena laptop through the crowd-funding site Crowd Supply, and it will ship out in the coming weeks. Much like Kickstarter, Crowd Supply is place where you can put up money to help fund a company and then get a product in exchange."
girlmad writes: "Google has scored a major win on the back of Microsoft's Windows XP support cut-off. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham has begun moving all its employees over to Samsung Chromebooks and Chromeboxes ahead of the 8 April deadline. The council was previously running 3,500 Windows XP desktops and 800 XP laptops, and is currently in the process of retiring these in favour of around 2,000 Chromebooks and 300 Chromeboxes. It estimates the savings at around £400,000 compared to upgrading to newer Windows machines — no small change."
Nerval's Lobster writes: "An article in the Harvard Business Review does its best to punch a small hole in the startup-hype balloon. 'Encouraging kids to blow off schoolwork to write apps, or skip college to become entrepreneurs, is like advising them to take their college money and invest it in PowerBall,' Jerry Davis, Wilbur K. Pierpont professor of management at the Ross School of Business and the editor of Administrative Science Quarterly, wrote in that column. 'A few may win big; many or most will end up living with their moms.' Whether or not the unfortunate developer ends up back in the childhood bedroom, it's true that, with millions of apps available across all mobile platforms, it's increasingly difficult for independent developers to stand out. Compounding the problem, some of the hottest companies out there for developers and programmers don't have nearly enough job openings to absorb the flood of graduates from the world's universities. So what's a developer to do? Continue to plow forward, with adjusted expectations: the prospect of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg is just too tantalizing for many people to pass up, even if the chances of wild success are smaller than anyone rational would like to admit."
Lucas123 writes: "A presentation released today by Intel revealed images of the USB 3.1 Type-C cable and connectors, which is symmetrical and will no longer require a user to correctly orient the plug. Initially, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification will support up to 10Gbps data transfer speeds. The Type-C connectors resemble those of Apple's Thunderbolt cabling in that they are much smaller than today's USB SuperSpeed connectors. The receptacle opening is 8.3mm x 2.5mm.The first iteration will have a 5 volt power transfer rate, but it is expected to deliver up to 100 watts for higher power applications in the future."
An anonymous reader writes "Wil Wheaton just announced a new TV show he's hosting and producing. It'll air on SyFy this summer, starting May 27th. Here's how he describes it: 'The Wil Wheaton Project is a weekly roundup of the things I love on television and on the Internet, with commentary and jokes, and the occasional visit from interesting people who make those things happen. It's sort of like Talk Soup for geeks, with a heavy focus on those hilariously bad paranormal reality shows (in fact, that's where the whole thing started a year ago, but as we worked on the show more and more, we discovered that there were lots of scripted paranormal shows that provided a ton of comedic material. When we expanded to cover the scripted shows, we discovered that nobody was doing a show like this that was just focused on the genre shows that nerds like us love, and we decided that we'd make that show because of reasons.)' He adds, '... if I read correctly between the lines during our meetings with the Syfy executives, this is just the beginning of the network formerly known as Sci-Fi returning to its science fiction roots, which is awesome.'"
At Microsoft's BUILD conference today, the company announced that the Start Menu will officially be returning to Windows 8.1. It will combine the Windows 7 Start Menu with a handful of Metro-style tiles. They're also making it so Windows 8 apps can run in windows using the normal desktop environment. In addition to the desktop announcements, Microsoft also talked about big changes for Windows on mobile devices and Internet-of-Things devices. The company will be giving Windows away for free to OEMs making phones and tablets (9" screens and smaller), and for IoT devices that can run it. Microsoft also finally unveiled Cortana, their digital assistant software that's similar to Siri.
An anonymous reader writes "The Verge reports on an internal memo from NASA indicating that they've suspended all contracts and activities with Russia that aren't involved with operating the International Space Station. Quoting: 'Given Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, until further notice, the U.S. Government has determined that all NASA contacts with Russian Government representatives are suspended, unless the activity has been specifically excepted. This suspension includes NASA travel to Russia and visits by Russian Government representatives to NASA facilities, bilateral meetings, email, and teleconferences or videoconferences. At the present time, only operational International Space Station activities have been excepted.' NASA Administrator Charles Bolden argued recently that our dependence on Russia for putting astronauts into space needs to end."
benrothke (2577567) writes "When it comes to documenting the history of cryptography, David Kahn is singularly one of the finest, if not the finest writers in that domain. For anyone with an interest in the topic, Kahn's works are read in detail and anticipated. His first book was written almost 50 years ago: The Codebreakers – The Story of Secret Writing; which was a comprehensive overview on the history of cryptography. Other titles of his include Seizing the Enigma: The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943. The Codebreakers was so good and so groundbreaking, that some in the US intelligence community wanted the book banned. They did not bear a grudge, as Kahn became an NSA scholar-in-residence in the mid 1990's. With such a pedigree, many were looking forward, including myself, to his latest book How I Discovered World War IIs Greatest Spy and Other Stories of Intelligence and Code. While the entire book is fascinating, it is somewhat disingenuous, in that there is no new material in it. Many of the articles are decades old, and some go back to the late 1970's. From the book description and cover, one would get the impression that this is an all new work. But it is not until ones reads the preface, that it is detailed that the book is simple an assemblage of collected articles." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Today Amazon launched 'Fire TV,' a new video streaming box designed to compete with devices like the Roku and Apple TV. The Fire TV runs Android on a quad-core Qualcomm 1.7 GHz processor with 8GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. It supports 1080p video output at 60fps and measures 4.5" x 4.5" x 0.7". The Fire TV is also explicitly designed to support gaming, and Amazon has concurrently launched their own game controller. The Fire TV's remote control includes a microphone and a button that lets you search TV show and movies by voice.
bellwould (11363) writes "Our CTO has asked us to move our entire dev/test platform off of shared, off-site, hardware onto Amazon, Savvis or the like. Because we don't know enough about this, we're nervous about the costs like CPU: Jenkins tasks checks-out 1M lines of source, then builds, tests and test-deploys 23 product modules 24/7; as well, several Glassfish and Tomcat instances run integration and UI tests 24/7. Disk: large databases instances packed with test and simulation data. Of course, it's all backed up too. So before we start an in-depth review of what's available, what experiences are dev shops having doing stuff like this in the cloud?"
Zecheus (1072058) writes "This community is extraordinarily rural. It is considered among the northernmost in the world. In the summer, temperature rises as high as 40F. There are more polar bears than humans. Even the usual ubiquitous and generous Norwegian health care is out of reach: inhabitants leave for the south to give birth or to die. On the other hand, it enjoys the highest quality Internet experience in the world due to recently installed fiber. Care to give it a try? By the way, the area has a turnover rate of over 25% every year."
Recently you had a chance to ask the writer and creator of Babylon 5, J. Michael Straczynski, about the state of sci-fi, his body of work, and collaborating with Netflix. Below you'll find his answers to those questions.
Sockatume (732728) writes "Would you like to see a half-million-dollar TV show in which four teams of indie developers and Youtube personalities compete to create amazing videogames? Tough luck, because GAME_JAM from Maker Studios has spectacularly imploded. Although a lot could go wrong with this kind of show, the blame isn't being levelled at game developer egos or project mismanagement but the heroic efforts of one Matti Leshem, a branding consultant brought in for Pepsi. After imposing Mountain Dew branding rules that even banned coffee from the set, his efforts to build a gender divide amongst the teams culminated in the competitors downing their tools and the production collapsing. Accounts from Adriel Wallick, Zoe Quinn, and Robin Arnott are also available."
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The question of what makes puzzles hard for humans is deceptively tricky. One possibility is that puzzles that are hard for computers must also be hard for people. That's undoubtedly true and in recent years computational complexity theorists have spent some time trying to classify the games people play in this way (Pac Man is NP hard, by the way). But humans don't always solve problems in the same way as computers because they don't necessarily pick the best method or even a good way to do it. And that makes it hard to predict the difficulty of a puzzle in advance. Cognitive psychologists have attempted to tease this apart by measuring how long it takes people to solve puzzles and then creating a model of the problem solving process that explains the data.
But the datasets gathered in this way have been tiny — typically 20 people playing a handful of puzzles. Now one researcher has taken a different approach by mining the data from websites in which people can play games such as Sudoku. That's given him data on the way hundreds of players solve over 2000 puzzles, a vast increase over previous datasets and this has allowed him to plot the average time it takes to finish different puzzles. One way to assess the difficulty of Sudoku puzzle is in the complexity of each step required to solve it. But the new work suggests that another factor is important too — whether the steps are independent and so can be attempted in parallel or whether the steps are dependent and so must be tried in sequence, one after the other. A new model of this puzzle-solving process accurately reproduces the time it takes real humans to finish the problems and that makes it possible to accurately predict the difficulty of a puzzle in advance for the first time. It also opens the way for other studies of human problem solving using the vast datasets that have been collected over the web. Indeed work has already begun on the Sudoku-like puzzle game, Nurikabe."
jones_supa (887896) writes "Wanting to focus their efforts on their most important strategic initiatives and ensuring that the company is not spread too thin, Canonical is shutting down Ubuntu One file services. With other services now regularly offering from 25 GB to 50 GB of free storage, the personal cloud storage space wasn't a sustainable place for Canonical. As of today, it will no longer be possible to purchase storage or music from the Ubuntu One store. The Ubuntu One software will not be included in the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release, and the Ubuntu One apps in older versions of Ubuntu and in the Ubuntu, Google, and Apple stores will be updated appropriately.
The current services will be unavailable from 1 June 2014; user content will remain available for download until 31 July, at which time it will be deleted. For a spark of solace, the company promises to open source the backend code."
mdsolar (1045926) writes with this bit of news about the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant shutdown. From the article: "On Friday, the Vermont Public Service Board voted to authorize Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., the operators of the Vermont Yankee electricity generating station ..., to close down their nuclear power plant by the end of this year. Because Entergy planned to shut the Vermont nuclear plant down prior to its licensed end-term, the board was required to approve the shutdown....
Entergy has reserved just over $600 million to date for decommissioning the Vermont nuclear plant, according to the Department of Public Service. This amount will not be adequate to meet the costs of full deconstruction, estimated at more than $1 billion according to the company's 2012 Decommissioning Cost Analysis report."
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Hitting that red light sucks. We've all been there, and you know what I'm talking about. But what if your car could tell you the ideal speed to maintain to hit the next green light? That's exactly what's going to happen in the near future thanks to car-to-car technology. Many automakers are already working on this new tech, and Honda's the latest to trial such systems. This is all part of what's known as Universal Traffic Management System which will eventually provide feedback on car-to-car and infrastructure systems before they go into practical use. The system will also be able to tell the driver if a red light is likely to show before reaching an intersection so the driver can slow down, or notify the driver when that red light will turn green. All of this may seem like something that's supposed to benefit the driver's temper, but in reality it's to help save fuel and lower emissions without any physical changes to the car. This is the future, and your vehicle will talk to other vehicles whether you like it or not."
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports on research (PDF) into the (alleged) wearable device trend: fully one third of customers who bought one stopped using it within six months. Activity trackers fared even worse: half of them are collecting dust. 'For comparison, you wouldn't find people from the early days of the smartphone saying that they'd abandoned their BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile or Symbian phone. They were the early adopters, and they found utility in having email and (sometimes) web pages on the move. The idea of giving them up just wouldn't occur to them. ... So far, there aren't clear signs of quite what it is that smartwatches and fitness trackers are replacing, in the way that [early] music players did. Useful new technology has to replace or simplify some function, ideally; otherwise it has the challenge of persuading us that we need this entirely new thing. Smartphones are simpler ways to collect your email – and also make phone calls and surf the web (and so on). Fitness trackers... let you track your fitness. But given that 41% of people run with their smartphones, you might get by with a movement tracking app instead. The trouble with devices that claim to track your steps is they're so easily hoaxed by waving your arms around.'"
theodp writes: "On the day the U.S. began accepting H-1B visa applications for FY2015, Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC stepped up its lobbying efforts for more tech visas even as ComputerWorld reported that the major share of H-1B visas go to offshore outsourcing firms that use visa holders to displace U.S. workers. 'The two largest H-1B users,' notes ComputerWorld, 'are Indian-based, Infosys, with 6,298 visas, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), with 6,258.' ComputerWorld adds that food and agricultural company Cargill is outsourcing IT jobs to TCS, including 300 in Minnesota, the home of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, sponsor of the I-Squared Act of 2013, which would allow H-1B visa caps to rise to 300,000 annually."
An anonymous reader writes "The drug cartels operating in Mexico have often been compared to large corporations, with their own codified leadership hierarchy, recruitment methods, and accounting practices. But part of any big corporation's playbook is a marketing/PR plan. The cartels have long operated a version of those, too, by threatening journalists and killing civilians who speak up. Like any corporation these days, the drug cartels have recognized the power of social media, and they're using it more and more to propagate their messages of intimidation and violence. Quoting: 'Six days after Beltran Leyva's death, gunmen murdered family members of the only Mexican marine killed in the apartment complex siege — including the marine's mother. That same day, a fire was set at a nearby school where a banner was flown, warning that more killings would follow if the federal government made any further attempts to interfere in cartel actions. Photos of the school were then tweeted and shared in status updates — a reply to images of Beltran Leyva's corpse being shared on social media.'"