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!
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.
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.'"
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.'"
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?
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.'"
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."
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.'"
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."
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."
jfruh writes "For years for cell phone companies, one specific kind of data — voice calls placed by dialing a traditional telephone number — was entirely different from all the other kinds of data a phone used. But in the U.S., that's finally starting to change, as all the major carriers are planning shifts to voice over LTE. The carriers promise sharper call quality and quicker connections."
carmendrahl writes: "Lethal injections are typically regarded as far more humane methods for execution compared to predecessors such as hanging and firing squads. But the truth about the procedure's humane-ness is unclear. Major medical associations have declared involvement of their member physicians in executions to be unethical, so that means that relatively inexperienced people administer the injections. Mounting supply challenges for the lethal drug cocktails involved are forcing execution teams to change procedures on the fly. This and other problems have contributed to recent crises in Oklahoma and Missouri. As a new story and interactive graphic explains, states are turning to a number of compound cocktails to get around the supply problems."
An anonymous reader writes "In a time when the government avows that it cannot carry out justice without issuing secret warrants and National Security Letters to anyone other than the suspect, it is truly noteworthy when news breaks that the FBI, facing push-back from the likes of a company such as Microsoft, finds that it can indeed gather the information it needs for its investigation through a regular search warrant applied directly to its suspect. Such was the case on Thursday. Court documents (PDF) reveal that Microsoft filed a petition against the National Security Letter (NSL) it received involving one of its customers, citing violations to the First Amendment. The FBI later withdrew the NSL and went after their suspect in the old, Constitutionally-sound way. A federal judge ruled last year that the NSLs impinge on free speech' That judgement has been stayed, of course, pending appeal."
An anonymous reader writes "'Save your work!' — This was a rallying cry for an entire generation of workers and students. The frequency and unpredictability of software crashes, power outages, and hardware failures made it imperative to constantly hit that save button. But in 2014? Not so much. My documents are automatically saved (with versioning) every time I make a change. My IDE commits code changes automatically. Many webforms will save drafts of whatever data I'm entering. Heck, even the games I play have an autosave feature. It's an interesting change — the young generation will grow up with an implicit trust that whatever they type into a computer will stay there. Maybe this is my generation's version of: 'In my day, we had to get up and walk across the room to change the channel on the TV!' In any case, it has some subtle but interesting effects on how people write, play, and create. No longer do we have to have constant interruptions to worry about whether our changes are saved — but at the same time, we don't have that pause to take a moment and reflect on what we've written. I'm sure we've all had moments where our hands hover over a save/submit button before changing our minds and hammering the backspace key. Maybe now we'll have to think before we write."
cablepokerface writes "We've had a significant family catastrophe last weekend. My sister-in-law (my wife's sister) is 28 years old and was 30 weeks pregnant till last Saturday. She also had a tumor — it was a benign, slow growing tumor close to her brain-stem. Naturally we were very worried about that condition, but several neurologists assessed the situation earlier and found the tumor to be a problem, but not big enough for her to require immediate surgery, so we decided to give the baby more time. She was symptomatic, but it was primarily pain in her neck area and that was controlled with acceptable levels of morphine.
Then, last Saturday, our lives changed. Probably forever. In the hospital, where she was admitted earlier that week to keep an eye on the baby, the tumor ruptured a small vessel and started leaking blood into the tumor, which swelled up to twice its size. Then she, effectively, had a stroke from the excess blood in the brain stem. In a hurry, the baby was born through C-section (30 weeks and it's a boy — he's doing fine). Saturday night she had complex brain surgery, which lasted nine hours. They removed the blood and tumor that was pressing on the brain.
Last Sunday/Monday they slowly tried to wake her up. The CT scan shows all higher brain functions to work, but a small part of the brain stem shows no activity. She is locked-in, which is a terrible thing to witness since she has virtually no control of any part of her body. She can't breathe on her own, and the only things she can move, ever so slightly, are her lips, eyelids and eyes. And even that's not very steady. Blinking her eyes to answer questions tires her out enormously, as she seems to have to work hard to control those. The crowd on Slashdot is a group of people who have in-depth knowledge of a wide range of topics. I'm certainly not asking for pity here, but maybe you can help me with the following questions: Does anyone have any ideas on how to communicate better with her? Is there technology that could help? Like brain-wave readers or something? Does anyone have any ideas I haven't thought of regarding communication with her, or maybe even experience with it?"
An anonymous reader writes "Engadget reports that Samsung is working on virtual reality technology to compete with the Oculus Rift. Their work is fairly far along, and it's expected to be announced this year. It's being built to function in tandem with Samsung's flagship mobile devices, most likely their upcoming Galaxy phones and tablets. From the article: 'We're told it has an OLED screen, as good or better than in the second Rift dev kit; it's not clear how the headset connects to your phone/tablet, but we're guessing it's a wired connection rather than wireless. ...This is a device meant for use with games. What type of games? Android games! Sure, but which ones? That's certainly the question. Great games make the platform, and VR games are especially tough to crack given the newness of the medium. One thing's for sure: most major games won't work on VR as direct ports.' The report also suggests Samsung is targeting a lower price point than its competitors. True or not, it will hopefully help drive down prices for all upcoming VR tech." Meanwhile, DARPA is experimenting with the Oculus Rift for cyberwar visualization.
mdsolar writes: "[Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke said] Australia bore a responsibility to assist with the safe disposal of radioactive waste, given the ample space the country possesses. 'If Australia has – as we do – the safest remote locations for storing the world's nuclear waste, we have a responsibility to make those sites available for this purpose,' he said. Hawke based this conclusion on a 25-year-old report made by Ralph Slayter, whom the former prime minister appointed as Australia's first chief scientist back in 1989. According to Slayter's report, some of the remote reaches of the Northern Territory and Western Australia could provide apt dumping grounds for radioactive waste."
An anonymous reader writes "A biotech start-up from Massachusetts has an unusual product: a bottle full of bacteria you're supposed to spray onto your face. The bacteria is Nitrosomonas eutropha, and it's generally harmless. Its main use is that it oxidizes ammonia, and the start-up's researchers suspect it used to commonly live on human skin before we began washing it away with soaps and other cleaners. Such bacteria are an area of heavy research in biology right now. Scientists know that the gut microbiome is important to proper digestion, and they're trying to figure out if an external microbiome can be similarly beneficial to skin. A journalist for the NY Times volunteered to test the product, which involved four straight weeks of no showers, no soap, no shampoo, and no deodorant. The sprayed-on bacteria quickly colonized her skin, along with other known types of bacteria — and hundreds of unknown (but apparently harmless) strains. She reported improvements to her skin and complexion, and described how the bacteria worked to curtail (but not eliminate) the body odor caused by not washing. At the end of the experiment, all of the N. eutropha vanished within three showers."
On Monday, The Intercept reported that the NSA is recording the content of every cell phone call in the Bahamas. At the time of publication, The Intercept said there was another country in which the NSA was doing this, but declined to name it because of "specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence." Now, reader Advocatus Diaboli points out that WikiLeaks has spilled the beans: the country being fully monitored by the NSA is Afghanistan. Julian Assange wrote, "Such censorship strips a nation of its right to self-determination on a matter which affects its whole population. An ongoing crime of mass espionage is being committed against the victim state and its population. By denying an entire population the knowledge of its own victimization, this act of censorship denies each individual in that country the opportunity to seek an effective remedy, whether in international courts, or elsewhere. Pre-notification to the perpetrating authorities also permits the erasure of evidence which could be used in a successful criminal prosecution, civil claim, or other investigations. ... We do not believe it is the place of media to 'aid and abet' a state in escaping detection and prosecution for a serious crime against a population. Consequently WikiLeaks cannot be complicit in the censorship of victim state X. The country in question is Afghanistan."
An anonymous reader writes with news about a study that investigated the effectiveness of Yelp reviews in pinpointing the source of foodborne illnesses. "In 2012, New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) found that residents weren't turning to the city's free 311 service to make such complaints, but rather they were reporting their experiences in Yelp reviews. So the CDC, in collaboration with the New York City DOHMH, Yelp, and Columbia University, conducted a nine-month long research into the effectiveness of using online reviews to identify sources of foodborne illnesses. The study discovered 468 actionable complaints, 97% of which hadn't been officially reported to the city, and analyzed roughly 294,000 Yelp restaurant reviews. Subsequent investigations on suspected restaurants turned up evidence of bare-handed food handling, cross-contamination, or even the presence of mice and cockroaches. The study concluded that providing the public with more options for reporting complaints about restaurants, particularly in the social media sphere, would help in the identification and possible closure of sources of foodborne illnesses."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Humans produced nearly 300 million tons of plastic in 2012, but where does it end up? A new study has found plastic debris in a surprising location: trapped in Arctic sea ice. As the ice melts, it could release a flood of floating plastic onto the world. From the article: 'Scientists already knew that microplastics—polymer beads, fibers, or fragments less than 5 millimeters long—can wind up in the ocean, near coastlines, or in swirling eddies such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But Rachel Obbard, a materials scientist at Dartmouth College, was shocked to find that currents had carried the stuff to the Arctic.'"
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Even with the add-ons of dark matter, dark energy and inflation, the Big Bang still thrives as the most successful scientific model of the Universe ever constructed. It not only accounting for phenomena like the abundance of the light elements, the cosmic microwave background, and the Universe's large-scale structure, but it's led to observable predictions about their details that have since been verified. But there's one thing the Big Bang has generically predicted that we haven't been able to test: a cosmic background of low-energy, relic neutrinos."