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  • Firefox 31 Released

    An anonymous reader writes Mozilla has released version 31 of its Firefox web browser for desktops and Android devices. According to the release notes, major new features include malware blocking for file downloads, automatic handling of PDF and OGG files if no other software is available to do so, and a new certificate verification library. Smaller features include a search field on the new tab page, better support for parental controls, and partial implementation of the OpenType MATH table. Firefox 31 is also loaded with new features for developers. Mozilla also took the opportunity to note the launch of a new game, Dungeon Defenders Eternity, which will run at near-native speeds on the web using asm.js, WebGL, and Web Audio. "We're pleased to see more developers using asm.js to distribute and now monetize their plug-in free games on the Web as it strengthens support for Mozilla's vision of a high performance, plugin-free Web."

    172 comments | about a month ago

  • "Intelligent" Avatars Poised To Manage Airline Check-In

    An anonymous reader writes One of the developers behind special effects used in the film Avatar has inked a deal with airline check-in kiosk manufacturer BCS to implement avatars for personalized and interactive customer service. Dr Mark Sagar's Limbic IO is applying 'neurobehavioral animation' combining biologically based models of faces and neural systems to create live, naturally intelligent, and expressive interactive systems. "One of the comments levelled at self-service check in is that it has lost the human touch that people had when checking in at a traditional manned counter," Patrick Teo, BCS CEO says. "Travelling can be stressful and our aim is to make the interaction between human (passenger) and computer (check-in) as natural and helpful as possible."

    102 comments | about a month ago

  • In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions

    The Atlantic reports that two years ago, Facebook briefly conducted an experiment on a subset of its users, altering the mix of content shown to them to emphasize content sorted by tone, negative or positive, and observe the results. From the Atlantic article: For one week in January 2012, data scientists skewed what almost 700,000 Facebook users saw when they logged into its service. Some people were shown content with a preponderance of happy and positive words; some were shown content analyzed as sadder than average. And when the week was over, these manipulated users were more likely to post either especially positive or negative words themselves. This tinkering was just revealed as part of a new study, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many previous studies have used Facebook data to examine “emotional contagion,” as this one did. This study is different because, while other studies have observed Facebook user data, this one set out to manipulate it. At least they showed their work.

    130 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Hospitals Begin Data-Mining Patients

    schwit1 (797399) sends word of a new and exciting use for all of the data various entities are collecting about you. From the article: You may soon get a call from your doctor if you've let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of ordering out for pizza or begin shopping at plus-sized stores. That's because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do. Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) and LexisNexis are two of the largest data brokers who collect such information on individuals. They say their data are supposed to be used only for marketing, not for medical purposes or to be included in medical records. While both sell to health insurers, they said it's to help those companies offer better services to members.

    162 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Microsoft's Cloud Storage Service OneDrive Now Offers 15GB For Free

    DroidJason1 writes Microsoft revealed today that they will be offering 15GB of free OneDrive storage, up from 7GB. Office 365 users will now get 1TB of storage, up from 20GB. This announcement comes after Amazon revealed unlimited photo storage for those who buy the new Fire phone. Dropbox, a competitor to OneDrive, currently has 2GB for free but offers more space if you refer people to the service. Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage, while Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5GB.

    99 comments | about 2 months ago

  • NADA Is Terrified of Tesla

    cartechboy writes It's no secret that the National Automobile Dealers Association has been trying to block Tesla from selling cars directly from consumers, but to date, it has been defeated countless times in many states. Now NADA put out a release and promotional video touting the benefits of dealer franchises, something Tesla has shunned. NADA mentions price competition, consumer safety, local economic benefits, and added value.

    455 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Google Unveils Self-Driving Car With No Steering Wheel

    cartechboy writes: "We've already discussed and maybe even come to terms with the fact that autonomous cars are coming. In fact, many automakers including Mercedes-Benz and Tesla have committed to self-driving cars by 2017. Apparently that's not ambitious enough. Google has just unveiled an in-house-designed, self-driving car prototype with no steering wheel or pedals. In fact, it doesn't have any traditional controls, not even a stereo. The as-yet-nameless car is a testbed for Google's vision of the computerized future of transportation. Currently the prototype does little more than programmed parking lot rides at a maximum of 25 mph, but Google plans to build about 100 prototypes, with the first examples receiving manual controls (human-operated). Google then plans to roll out the pilot program in California in the next several years. So the technology is now there, but is there really a market for a car that drives you without your input other than the destination?"

    583 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Google Foresees Ads On Your Refrigerator, Thermostat, and Glasses

    New submitter waspleg sends news of a letter Google sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission in which the tech giant laid out its vision of an ad-filled future. They wrote, "We expect the definition of “mobile” to continue to evolve as more and more “smart” devices gain traction in the market. For example, a few years from now, we and other companies could be serving ads and other content on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities. Our expectation is that users will be using our services and viewing our ads on an increasingly wide diversity of devices in the future, and thus our advertising systems are becoming increasingly device-agnostic."

    355 comments | about 3 months ago

  • New Tech Super PACs Could Tap Into Google Riches

    An anonymous reader writes "A for-profit university bankrolled by prominent tech firms and co-founded by futurist Ray Kurzweil is behind four separate super PACs formed this week, according to interviews and documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Randi Willis, an official at Singularity University, confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that leaders at her institution will later this year begin determining how to best use these new political committees, which could tap into the wealth of tech industry titans."

    52 comments | about 3 months ago

  • How Firefox Will Handle DRM In HTML

    An anonymous reader writes "Last year the W3C approved the inclusion of DRM in future HTML revisions. It's called Encrypted Media Extensions, and it was not well received by the web community. Nevertheless, it had the support of several major browser makers, and now Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal has a post explaining how Firefox will be implementing EME. He says, 'This is a difficult and uncomfortable step for us given our vision of a completely open Web, but it also gives us the opportunity to actually shape the DRM space and be an advocate for our users and their rights in this debate. ... From the security perspective, for Mozilla it is essential that all code in the browser is open so that users and security researchers can see and audit the code. DRM systems explicitly rely on the source code not being available. In addition, DRM systems also often have unfavorable privacy properties. ... Firefox does not load this module directly. Instead, we wrap it into an open-source sandbox. In our implementation, the CDM will have no access to the user's hard drive or the network. Instead, the sandbox will provide the CDM only with communication mechanism with Firefox for receiving encrypted data and for displaying the results.'"

    361 comments | about 3 months ago

  • A Look at Smart Gun Technology

    An anonymous reader writes "Engadget takes a look at smart gun technology currently available and what the future might hold. From the article: 'While the idea of a gun that couldn't be turned on its owner seems like an obvious win for everyone involved, there are a number of problems with the concept. Chief among those worries: the safety mechanism will fail when it's needed most. If you're relying on a weapon for defense, the last thing you want is another avenue for failure. Electronics aren't perfect. Sometimes cameras can't autofocus. Cable boxes freeze up when browsing the channel guide. The equivalent, seemingly small glitch in a smart gun could be the difference between life and death.'"

    765 comments | about 4 months ago

  • Report: Comcast and EA To Stream Games To TVs

    An anonymous reader writes "Reuters is reporting that Electronic Arts and Comcast are working on a partnership that would stream video games to consumer televisions through Comcast's cable boxes. It will start with the FIFA and Madden sports game franchises. 'Comcast and EA's aim is to make buying games as easy as ordering a pay-per-view movie, sources said. This could create a new distribution model that circumvents console and video-streaming device makers.' The report says consumers will also be able to use tablets as controllers for the games."

    52 comments | about 4 months ago

  • Volvo Testing Autonomous Cars On Public Roads

    cartechboy writes: "Multiple automakers have already committed to selling autonomous vehicles by 2020, but only a handful of them have actually started testing and developing them. Now Volvo is putting self-driving test cars on real public roads in Sweden among other, non-autonomous traffic. 'The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves, Volvo engineer Erik Coelingh said in a statement. 'This is an important step towards our aim that the final Drive Me cars will be able to drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode.' The goal for the Drive Me project is to deliver 100 autonomous cars to customers in Gothenburg by 2017."

    98 comments | about 4 months ago

  • Yahoo Stops Honoring 'Do-Not-Track' Settings

    An anonymous reader writes "When web browsers started implementing 'do-not-track' settings, Yahoo got some respect for being the first of the huge tech companies to honor those settings. Unfortunately, that respect has now gone out the door. As of this week, Yahoo will no longer alter their data collection if a user doesn't want to be tracked. They say there are two reasons for this. First, they want to provide a personalized web-browsing experience, which isn't possible using do-not-track. Second, they don't think do-not-track is viable. They say, '[W]e've been at the heart of conversations surrounding how to develop the most user-friendly standard. However, we have yet to see a single standard emerge that is effective, easy to use and has been adopted by the broader tech industry.' It looks like this is another blow to privacy on the web."

    300 comments | about 4 months ago

  • Rand Paul Suggests Backing Bitcoin With Stocks

    SonicSpike writes: "In a recent interview, Senator Rand Paul said there's one thing he would change about Bitcoin: it should be backed by something with intrinsic value, like stocks. He said, 'I was looking more at it until that recent thing [sic]. And actually my theory, if I were setting it up, I'd make it exchangeable for stock. And then it'd have real value. And I'd have it pegged, and I'd have a basket of 10 big retailers I think it would work, but I think, because I'm sort of a believer in currency having value, if you're going to create a currency, have it backed up by — you know, Hayek used to talk about a basket of commodities? You could have a basket of stocks, and have some exchangeability, because it's hard for people like me who are a bit tangible. But you could have an average of stocks, I'm wondering if that's the next permutation.'"

    404 comments | about 4 months ago

  • DreamWorks Animation CEO: Movie Downloads Will Move To Pay-By-Screen-Size

    Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation, speaking at the Milken Global Conference in California, opined that the future pricing model for movie downloads will revolve around screen size. In his view, larger screens will incur larger download prices. As he says, 'It will reinvent the enterprise of movies.' Unclear is how physical dimensions, rather than just resolution matrix, will be determined. Will we soon be saying 'hello' to screen spoofing?" Can you fake the physical dimensions reported in the EDID block when the connection is using HDCP? Aside from the implication that this would mean more DRM (and seems pretty unworkable, but with the rise of locked bootloaders on even x86 hardware...), the prices he predicts seem alright: "A movie screen will be $15. A 75-inch TV will be $4. A smartphone will be $1.99."

    347 comments | about 3 months ago

  • Firefox 29: Redesign

    An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today officially launched Firefox 29 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. This is a massive release: Firefox Sync has been revamped and is now powered by Firefox Accounts, there's a new customization mode, and the company's major user interface overhaul Australis has finally arrived. 'The tabs are sleek and smooth to help you navigate the Web faster. It’s easy to see what tab you’re currently visiting and the other tabs fade into the background to be less of a distraction when you’re not using them. The Firefox menu has moved to the right corner of the toolbar and puts all your browser controls in one place. The menu includes a “Customize” tool that transforms Firefox into a powerful customization mode where you can add or move any feature, service or add-on.' Here are the full release notes and a demo video."

    688 comments | about 4 months ago

  • Finding the Next Generation of Teachers With "Innovative Microsoft Ads"

    theodp (442580) writes "Back in 2011, the U.S. Dept. of Education delegated teacher recruitment to Microsoft (RFP, pdf). 'The decision to turn over TEACH to [Microsoft] Partners in Learning serves to expand the already outsized influence Gates and his fortune have on public education,' wrote the Washington Post at the time. So, 'what happens when a public institution in a democracy — the US Department of Education — outsources its goal of recruiting good teachers to a private industry?' Well, in addition to Teach.org and redundant social media efforts on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Linkedin, and YouTube, the U.S. is now relying on 'Innovative Microsoft Advertising to Recruit the next Generation of Teachers'. From the press release, 'The Ad Council and TEACH have formed a unique outreach campaign with Microsoft's Advertising team in an effort to recruit the next generation of teachers who will drive innovation and redefine teaching in K-12 classrooms. Microsoft donated over 125 million impressions across Xbox 360, Windows 8, and MSN in order to encourage consumers to rediscover teaching through interactive ad units. This media effort is an extension of the Ad Council and TEACH's public service advertising (PSA) campaign, Make More...Throughout March, consumers were able to engage with TEACH "NUads on Xbox", via gesture, voice or controller on their Xbox 360 consoles...Most recently, Microsoft leveraged their Windows 8 platform to provide a unique experience to consumers, enabling them to navigate through a series of questions to help "discover their true passion," along with the opportunity to play challenging mind and word games, such as a word scramble and tangrams.' Check out the demo of the Windows 8 platform experience [YouTube], in which a person is advised 'You'd Make a Great Science & Tech Teacher,' on the basis of a 'Personality Quiz' consisting of five dragged-and-dropped photos."

    122 comments | about 4 months ago

  • How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash

    Nerval's Lobster writes: "Forbes offers up a comforting little story about how Nest and FitBit are planning on turning user data in a multi-billion-dollar business. 'Smart-thermostat maker Nest Labs (which is being acquired by Google for $3.2 billion) has quietly built a side business managing the energy consumption of a slice of its customers on behalf of electric companies,' reads the article. 'In wearables, health tracker Fitbit is selling companies the tracking bracelets and analytics services to better manage their health care budgets, and its rival Jawbone may be preparing to do the same.' As many a wit has said over the years: If you're not paying, you're the product. But if Forbes is right, wearable-electronics companies may have discovered a sweeter deal: paying customers on one side, and companies paying for those customers' data on the other. Will most consumers actually care, though?"

    93 comments | about 4 months ago

  • Industry-Wide Smartphone "Kill Switch" Closer To Reality

    mpicpp (3454017) writes "The 'kill switch,' a system for remotely disabling smartphones and wiping their data, will become standard in 2015, according to a pledge backed by most of the mobile world's major players. Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft, along with the five biggest cellular carriers in the United States, are among those that have signed on to a voluntary program announced Tuesday by the industry's largest trade group. All smartphones manufactured for sale in the United States after July 2015 must have the technology, according to the program from CTIA. Advocates say the feature would deter thieves from taking mobile devices by rendering phones useless while allowing people to protect personal information if their phone is lost or stolen. Its proponents include law enforcement officials concerned about the rising problem of smartphone theft."

    139 comments | about 4 months ago

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