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  • Kepler Makes First Exoplanet Discovery After Mission Reboot

    astroengine writes NASA's Kepler space telescope has detected its first new extrasolar planet after mission engineers were able to save the mission from a premature death after two of the exoplanet hunter's four stabilizing reaction wheels failed last year. Called "K2," the extended mission arose from an "innovative idea" that appears to have given the prolific telescope a new lease on life. "Last summer, the possibility of a scientifically productive mission for Kepler after its reaction wheel failure in its extended mission was not part of the conversation," said Paul Hertz, NASA's astrophysics division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington D.C. "Today, thanks to an innovative idea and lots of hard work by the NASA and Ball Aerospace team, Kepler may well deliver the first candidates for follow-up study by the James Webb Space Telescope to characterize the atmospheres of distant worlds and search for signatures of life."

    27 comments | yesterday

  • Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots

    HughPickens.com writes: Benny Evangelista reports at the San Francisco Chronicle that a class-action suit has been filed in District Court in San Francisco on behalf of Toyer Grear and daughter Joycelyn Harris, claiming that Comcast is "exploiting them for profit" by using their home router as part of a nationwide network of public hotspots. Comcast is trying to compete with major cell phone carriers by creating a public Xfinity WiFi Hotspot network in 19 of the country's largest cities by activating a second high-speed Internet channel broadcast from newer-model wireless gateway modems that residential customers lease from the company.

    Although Comcast has said its subscribers have the right to disable the secondary signal, the suit claims the company turns the service on without permission. It also places "the costs of its national Wi-Fi network onto its customers" and quotes a test conducted by Philadelphia networking technology company Speedify that concluded the secondary Internet channel will eventually push "tens of millions of dollars per month of the electricity bills needed to run their nationwide public Wi-Fi network onto consumers." The suit also says "the data and information on a Comcast customer's network is at greater risk" because the hotspot network "allows strangers to connect to the Internet through the same wireless router used by Comcast customers."

    291 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Just-Announced X.Org Security Flaws Affect Code Dating Back To 1987

    An anonymous reader writes Some of the worst X.Org security issues were just publicized in an X.Org security advisory. The vulnerabilities deal with protocol handling issues and led to 12 CVEs published and code dating back to 1987 is affected within X11. Fixes for the X Server are temporarily available via this Git repository.

    172 comments | about two weeks ago

  • How Relevant is C in 2014?

    Nerval's Lobster writes: Many programming languages have come and gone since Dennis Ritchie devised C in 1972, and yet C has not only survived three major revisions, but continues to thrive. But aside from this incredible legacy, what keeps C atop the Tiobe Index? The number of jobs available for C programmers is not huge, and many of those also include C++ and Objective-C. On Reddit, the C community, while one of the ten most popular programming communities, is half the size of the C++ group. In a new column, David Bolton argues that C remains extremely relevant due to a number of factors including newer C compiler support, the Internet ("basically driven by C applications"), an immense amount of active software written in C that's still used, and its ease in learning. "Knowing C provides a handy insight into higher-level languages — C++, Objective-C, Perl, Python, Java, PHP, C#, D and Go all have block syntax that's derived from C." Do you agree?

    641 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Linux 3.18 Released, Lockup Bug Still Present

    jones_supa writes As anticipated, Linus Torvalds officially released Linux 3.18. The new version is now out there, though that nasty lockup issue has still yet to be resolved. Dave Jones is nearing the end of dissecting the issue, but since it also affects Linux 3.17 and not too many people seem to get hit by the lockups, Linus Torvalds decided to go ahead and do the 3.18 release on schedule. Linus was also concerned that dragging out the 3.18 release would then complicate the Linux 3.19 merge window due to the holidays later this month. Now the Linux 3.19 kernel merge window is open for two weeks of exciting changes.

    106 comments | about two weeks ago

  • French Publishers Prepare Lawsuit Against Adblock Plus

    HughPickens.com writes Frédéric Filloux reports at Monday Note that two groups of French publishers, the GESTE and the French Internet Advertising Bureau, are considering a lawsuit against AdBlockPlus creator Eyeo GmbH on grounds that it represents a major economic threat to their business. According to LesEchos.fr, EYEO, which publishes Adblock Plus, has developed a business model where they offer not to block publishers' advertisements for remuneration as long as the ads are judged non-intrusive (Google Translate, Original here). "Several criteria must be met as well: advertisements must be identified as such, be static and therefore not contain animation, no sound, and should not interfere with the content. A position that some media have likened to extortion."

    According to Filloux the legal action misses the point. By downloading AdBlock Plus (ABP) on a massive scale, users are voting with their mice against the growing invasiveness of digital advertising. Therefore, suing Eyeo, the company that maintains ABP, is like using Aspirin to fight cancer. A different approach is required but very few seem ready to face that fact. "We must admit that Eyeo GmbH is filling a vacuum created by the incompetence and sloppiness of the advertising community's, namely creative agencies, media buyers and organizations that are supposed to coordinate the whole ecosystem," says Filloux. Even Google has begun to realize that the explosion of questionable advertising formats has become a problem and the proof is Google's recent Contributor program that proposes ad-free navigation in exchange for a fee ranging from $1 to $3 per month. "The growing rejection of advertising AdBlock Plus is built upon is indeed a threat to the ecosystem and it needs to be addressed decisively. For example, by bringing at the same table publishers and advertisers to meet and design ways to clean up the ad mess. But the entity and leaders who can do the job have yet to be found."

    698 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Negative Online Reviews Are Not Defamation (At Least In Canada)

    An anonymous reader writes A client who was dissatisfied with the service of an immigration company in Canada took her grievances online, upon which she was sued for defamation and libel by the owner of the company. A Canadian superior court has tossed out the lawsuit with the note: "One may be dissatisfied with the quality or efficiency of services but expressing one's dissatisfaction is not equivalent to defamation." The court noted: "This demand is grossly exaggerated. It flirts with frivolity and abuse within the meaning given to these words in Article 54.1 C.C.P."

    62 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Which Programming Language Pays the Best? Probably Python

    Nerval's Lobster writes: What programming language will earn you the biggest salary over the long run? According to Quartz, which relied partially on data compiled by employment-analytics firm Burning Glass and a Brookings Institution economist, Ruby on Rails, Objective-C, and Python are all programming skills that will earn you more than $100,000 per year. But salary doesn't necessarily correlate with popularity. Earlier this year, for example, tech-industry analyst firm RedMonk produced its latest ranking of the most-used languages, and Java/JavaScript topped the list, followed by PHP, Python, C#, and C++/Ruby. Meanwhile, Python was the one programming language to appear on Dice's recent list of the fastest-growing tech skills, which is assembled from mentions in Dice job postings. Python is a staple language in college-level computer-science courses, and has repeatedly topped the lists of popular programming languages as compiled by TIOBE Software and others. Should someone learn a language just because it could come with a six-figure salary, or are there better reasons to learn a particular language and not others?

    277 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Valve Rolls Out Game Broadcasting Service For Steam

    An anonymous reader writes: Streaming live video game footage has become increasingly popular over the past several years — popular enough that Amazon was willing to shell out $970 million for Twitch.tv. Now, Valve has announced a rival: Steam Broadcasting. Users signing up for the beta test have the option to broadcast the game they're playing. They have several options about who can see their stream: invite-only, friends only, and publicly visible. Viewing a stream is currently supported by the Steam client itself, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari. It only works on Windows 7 and 8 at this point, but Valve promises support on Linux, OS X, and Windows Vista in the future.

    92 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Ben Harris Shows off the Electric Vehicle Challenge Simulator (Video)

    EVChallenge is a high school student project that converts gas cars to electric. This isn't a "someday" thing. It's already happening, and Ben has worked hard to make it so in N. Carolina. There are other people around the world doing EVChallenge, and Ben does a number of things besides EVChallenge. His Kickstarter project, for instance, was called Help Bring Back Quality Science Kits (STEM Education). It closed on October 17 after 119 backers came through with $6523, which was a lot more than Ben's modest $3500 goal. This takes us to Ben's EVChallenge simulator itself, which is a simple "breadboard" simulation of the circuitry that drives an electric car so students can learn EV (electric vehicle) principles before they work on the real thing.

    This is all part of the Harris Educational effort to make science teaching fun and interesting, not just with electric cars and simulations of their circuitry, but with other kits and even training services. As Ben's Training Services page says, "Harris Educational can provide face-to-face or online training for individuals, small groups, or companies. We can also help you design and implement your own training programs." So besides the video interview here, please look at Ben's pages, this article about his work, and check some of the videos on his assorted pages. It's good stuff, especially if you have (or plan to have) kids in high school. (Alternate Video Link)

    37 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Bad Lockup Bug Plagues Linux

    jones_supa (887896) writes "A hard to track system lockup bug seems to have appeared in the span of couple of most recent Linux kernel releases. Dave Jones of Red Hat was the one to first report his experience of frequent lockups with 3.18. Later he found out that the issue is present in 3.17 too. The problem was first suspected to be related to Xen. A patch dating back to 2005 was pushed for Xen to fix a vmalloc_fault() path that was similar to what was reported by Dave. The patch had a comment that read "the line below does not always work. Needs investigating!" But it looks like this issue was never properly investigated. Due to the nature of the bug and its difficulty in tracking down, testers might be finding multiple but similar bugs within the kernel. Linus even suggested taking a look in the watchdog code. He also concluded the Xen bug to be a different issue. The bug hunt continues in the Linux Kernel Mailing List."

    257 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Sony To Offer Partial Refunds For PS Vita

    mpicpp sends this report from the Houston Chronicle: "Hundreds of thousands of people who bought the handheld gaming console PlayStation Vita are in line for a partial refund from Sony because of questionable claims in its advertising. The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday it had reached a settlement with Sony Computer Entertainment America, the U.S.-based arm of the PlayStation business, over advertising claims that the government contended were misleading.

    As part of the proposed settlement, Sony will provide refunds to those who bought the PS Vita console before June 1, 2012. They'll be eligible for either a $25 cash or credit refund — or a $50 merchandise voucher from Sony. ... Among the claims challenged by the FTC: That the pocket-sized console would revolutionize gaming mobility by allowing consumers to play their PlayStation 3 games via "remote play" on the console anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection, [and] that people could engage in "cross-platform" play by starting a game on a PlayStation 3, pausing it, and continuing the game with the PS Vita from where they left off. Not really true, the FTC said.

    60 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Extreme Shrimp May Hold Clues To Alien Life On Europa

    HughPickens.com writes: Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are studying a mysterious ecosystem at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents to get clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean. At the vents, tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. "You go along the ocean bottom and there's nothing, effectively," says Max Coleman. "And then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It's just literally teeming with life." Bacteria, inside the shrimps' mouths and in specially evolved gill covers, produce organic matter that feed the crustaceans. The particular bacteria in the vents are able to survive in extreme environments because of chemosynthesis, a process that works in the absence of sunlight and involves organisms getting energy from chemical reactions. In this case, the bacteria use hydrogen sulfide, a chemical abundant at the vents, to make organic matter. The temperatures at the vents can climb up to a scorching 842 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but waters just an inch away are cool enough to support the shrimp. The shrimp are blind, but have thermal receptors in the backs of their heads.

    According to the exobiologists, these mysterious shrimps and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues "about what life could be like on other planetary bodies." It's life that may be similar—at the basic level—to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon. According to Emma Versteegh "whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that's released there, through hydrothermal vents." Nobody is seriously planning a landing mission on Europa yet. But the European Space Agency aims to launch its JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission (JUICE) to make the first thickness measurements of Europa's icy crust starting in 2030 and NASA also has begun planning a Europa Clipper mission that would study the icy moon while doing flybys in a Jupiter orbit.

    75 comments | about a month ago

  • Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

    SmartAboutThings writes: Jolla is another rising star in the tech world, having recently expanded its smartphone sales into more countries across the globe. Jolla's Sailfish OS is based on the Linux kernel, and considered by many to be a direct successor to Nokia and Intel's MeeGo and the N9 mobile phone. Its software is based on the open-sourced components of MeeGo. Now, the company is ready to start production of its first tablet. They're crowdfunding it, and they blew past their $380,000 goal in about two hours.

    The tablet has a 7.9-inch screen with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. It's powered by a 1.8GHz 64-bit quad-core Intel processor, comes with a 32GB of storage, an SD card slot, 2GB of RAM and a 5MP rear camera. Judging by its size, we can see this will rival the iPad Mini the new Nokia N1. While there aren't too many Sailfish-specific apps available, as with the phone, Jolla's tablet will be compatible with Android apps.

    56 comments | about a month ago

  • Collin Graver and his Wooden Bicycle (Video)

    This is not a practical bike. "Even on smooth pavement, your vision goes blurry because you're vibrating so hard," Collin said to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter back in 2012 when he was only 15 -- and already building wooden bicycles. Collin's wooden bikes are far from the first ones. Wikipedia says, "The first bicycles recorded, known variously as velocipedes, dandy horses, or hobby horses, were constructed from wood, starting in 1817." And not all wooden bicycles made today are as crude as Collin's. A Portland (OR) company called Renovo makes competition-quality hardwood bicycle frames -- for as little as $2200, and a bunch more for a complete bike with all its hardware fitted and ready to roll.

    Of course, while it might be sensible to buy a Renovo product if you want a wood-framed bike to Race Across America, you won't improve your woodworking skills the way Collin's projects have improved his to the point where he's made a nice-looking pair of wood-framed sunglasses described in his WOOD YOU? SHOULD YOU? blog. (Alternate Video Link)

    71 comments | about a month ago

  • Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

    Robotron23 writes: The developers behind the sequel to legendary video game Elite have, to the anger and dismay of fans, dropped the offline single-player mode originally promised. The game is due for full release in under a month. With the title having raised about $1.5 million from Kickstarter, and millions more in subsequent campaigns that advertised the feature, gamers are livid. A complaints thread on the official Elite forums has swelled to 450+ pages in only three days, while refunds are being lodged in the thousands. It is down to the discretion of Frontier, the game's developer, whether to process refund requests of original backers.

    473 comments | about a month ago

  • After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

    The Associated Press reports on one happy consequence of the inevitable shutdown of the Philae lander, after its incredible landing on Rosetta: the team that was in control of the lander here on earth finally gets to take a well-deserved break, after four nearly sleepless days and nights. It seems unlikely -- though it's not impossible -- that Philae will get enough solar energy to briefly wake up again; its bouncy landing and harpoon malfunction mean that the craft is in shadow rather than the sunlight that it was hoped to bask in. From CNN: Originally, it was supposed to have seven hours of light per comet day -- which lasts just 12.4 hours. Now it is exposed only 1.5 hours a day. That's likely not enough to juice up Philae's rechargeable secondary battery, ESA said. There is one last hope. "Mission controllers sent commands to rotate the lander's main body, to which the solar panels are fixed," ESA says in on its blog. "This may have exposed more panel area to sunlight."

    88 comments | about a month ago

  • GTK+ Developers Call For Help To Finish Cross-Platform OpenGL Support

    jones_supa writes OpenGL support under GTK is getting into good shape for providing a nice, out-of-the-box experience by default on key platforms for the GTK+ 3.16 / GNOME 3.16 release in March. For a few weeks now within mainline GTK+ has been native OpenGL support and as part of that a new GtkGLArea widget for allowing OpenGL drawing within GTK applications. Since that initial work landed, there's been more GTK+ OpenGL code progressing that right now primarily benefits Linux X11 and Wayland users. While good progress is being made and improvements still ongoing to the GNOME toolkit, GNOME developers are requesting help in ensuring other GTK+ backends can benefit from this OpenGL support. If you are using or planning to use GTK+ 3 on Windows or OS X, and you know how to use OpenGL on those two platforms, please consider helping out the GTK+ developers by implementing the GdkGLContext API using WGL and AppleGL.

    89 comments | about a month ago

  • First Victims of the Stuxnet Worm Revealed

    An anonymous reader writes: Analyzing more than 2,000 Stuxnet files collected over a two-year period, Kaspersky Lab can identify the first victims of the Stuxnet worm. Initially security researchers had no doubt that the whole attack had a targeted nature. The code of the Stuxnet worm looked professional and exclusive; there was evidence that extremely expensive zero-day vulnerabilities were used. However, it wasn't yet known what kind of organizations were attacked first and how the malware ultimately made it right through to the uranium enrichment centrifuges in the particular top secret facilities. Kaspersky Lab analysis sheds light on these questions.

    39 comments | about a month ago

  • Espionage Campaign Targets Corporate Executives Traveling Abroad

    An anonymous reader writes Kaspersky Lab researched the Darkhotel espionage campaign, which has lurked in the shadows for at least four years while stealing sensitive data from selected corporate executives traveling abroad. Darkhotel hits its targets while they are staying in luxury hotels. The crew never goes after the same target twice; they operate with surgical precision, obtaining all the valuable data they can from the first contact, deleting traces of their work and fading into the background to await the next high profile target. The most recent traveling targets include top executives from the USA and Asia doing business and investing in the APAC region: CEOs, senior vice presidents, sales and marketing directors and top R&D staff. This threat actor is still active.

    101 comments | about a month ago

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