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Robotics

Not Quite a T-1000, But On the Right Track 159

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the dancing-robot-death-machines dept.
New submitter misanthropic.mofo writes with a look at the the emerging field of robtic warfare. Adding, "Leaping from drones, to recon 'turtlebots', humanity is making its way toward robo-combat. I for one think it would make it interesting to pit legions of robot warriors against each other and let people purchase time on them. Of course there are people that are for and against such technology. Development of ethical robotic systems seems like it would take some of the fun out of things, there's also the question of who gets to decide on the ethics."
Education

'Bandwidth Divide' Could Bar Some From Free Online Courses 222

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the no-learning-for-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Bandwidth Divide is a form of what economists call the Red Queen effect referring to a scene in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass when Alice races the Red Queen. As the Red Queen tells Alice: 'It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!' Keeping up with digital technology is like that race — it takes a continual investment of money and time just to keep up with the latest, and an exceptional amount of work to get ahead of the pack. 'The question is, What is the new basic?' said one researcher. 'There will always be inequality. But 100 years after the introduction of the car, not everybody has a Ferrari, but everyone has access to some form of motorized transportation through buses.' Well, not everyone, but even fewer people have the online equivalent. Colleges considering MOOCs should remember that."
Java

Oracle Rushes Emergency Java Update To Patch McRAT Vulnerabilities 165

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the brought-to-you-by-c-sharp dept.
msm1267 writes "Oracle has once again released an emergency Java update to patch zero-day vulnerabilities in the browser plug-in, the fifth time it has updated the platform this year. Today's update patches CVE-2013-1493 and CVE-2013-0809, the former was discovered last week being exploited in the wild for Java 6 update 41 through Java 7 update 15. The vulnerability allows for arbitrary memory execution in the Java virtual machine process; attackers exploiting the flaw were able to download the McRAT remote access Trojan."
Japan

Japan Plans to Restart Most of Their Nuclear Reactors 255

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the thank-you-for-saving-the-biosphere dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "Areva, the French nuclear fuel company, helps supply Japan with a lot of its juice. And Areva's chief executive says that Japan is going to restart up to six reactors by the end of the year. Eventually, it's going to power up at least two thirds of them. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe has been a little cagey, but he recently told the press that yes, despite the upcoming March 11th anniversary of the Fukushima crisis, the nuke plants are coming back online." Supposedly, they are overhauling their nuclear regulatory agencies to fix the massive failure and regulatory capture that led to Fukushima being run unsafely. They are also not going to restart reactors that are on active fault lines; this includes the largest reactor complex in the world. Vaguely related, the Vogtle plant expansion in the U.S. is running a bit over budget, with folks like the Sierra Club seizing the chance to call for an end to construction (unlikely, since Georgia Power says it'd cost customers more, even pretending natural gas is infinite and will always be cheap, to halt construction in favor of any other kind of power plant), and legislators aiming to 'protect' customers from cost overruns. However, it looks like unless action is taken the nuclear renaissance is already dead due to the inherent short-sightedness of the "free market."
NASA

NASA's 'Inspirational' Mars Flyby 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the trip-that-almost-was dept.
astroengine writes "The idea of slingshotting a manned spacecraft around Mars isn't a new one. In the 1960's, NASA carried out a feasibility study into an 800-day flyby mission to the Red Planet. And it would have been awesome. AT&T/Bellcomm mathematician A. A. VanderVeen was working for NASA in 1967 and came up with 5 possible launch opportunities between 1978 and 1986 — two windows in 1979 and 1983 provided the shortest transit time between the planets. But launch mass and fuel requirements were a constant issue. So VanderVeen turned to physics to find an elegant, and scientifically exciting, solution: add a Venus flyby to the Mars trip. Mars, Earth, and Venus align with the sun five times every 32 years, but Venus and Mars alignments happen more frequently making double (Earth-Venus-Mars-Earth) or even triple (Earth-Venus-Mars-Venus-Earth) flybys a viable mission. Unfortunately, the flyby never happened."
The Internet

The Pirate Bay Claims It Is Now Hosting From North Korea 309

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-practices dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news that The Pirate Bay claims North Korea has offered the site virtual asylum. A press release reads: "The Pirate Bay has been hunted in many countries around the world. Not for illegal activities but being persecuted for beliefs of freedom of information. Today, a new chapter is written in the history of the movement, as well as the history of the internets. A week ago we could reveal that The Pirate Bay was accessed via Norway and Catalonya. The move was to ensure that these countries and regions will get attention to the issues at hand. Today we can reveal that we have been invited by the leader of the republic of Korea, to fight our battles from their network."
Graphics

Canonical Announces Mir: A New Display Server Not On X11 Or Wayland 354

Posted by samzenpus
from the rolling-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On the Ubuntu Wiki is now the Mir specification, which is a next-generation display server not based on X11/X.Org or Wayland. Canonical is rolling their own display server for future releases of Ubuntu for form factors from mobile phones to the desktop. Mir is still in development but is said to support Android graphics drivers, open-source Linux graphics drivers, and they're pressuring hardware vendors with commercial closed-source drivers to support it too. They also said X11 apps will be compatible along with GTK3 and Qt/QML programs. Canonical isn't using X11 or Wayland with their future Unity desktop as they see many shortcomings from these existing and commonly used components."
Cellphones

White House Urges Reversal of Ban On Cell-Phone Unlocking 256

Posted by samzenpus
from the set-my-phone-free dept.
netbuzz writes "In a dramatic call for action directly prompted by 114,000 signatures on a 'We the People' petition, the Obama Administration moments ago urged the reversal of a federal regulatory decision that had rendered the act of unlocking a cell phone illegal. From the reply: 'The White House agrees with the 114,000+ of you who believe that consumers should be able to unlock their cell phones without risking criminal or other penalties. In fact, we believe the same principle should also apply to tablets, which are increasingly similar to smart phones. And if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren't bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network. It's common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers' needs.' Statements from the FCC and Library of Congress indicate that they back the administration's position."
Google

Apple's iWatch Could Come With IOS, Earn $6 Billion a Year 327

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-than-a-swatch dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Apple's long-rumored "iWatch" could earn the company $6 billion a year, if an analyst quoted by Bloomberg proves correct. Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen estimated the global watch industry's annual revenue at $60 billion a year, with gross margins of roughly 60 percent. "This can be a $6 billion opportunity for Apple, with plenty of opportunity for upside if they create something totally new like they did with the iPod," he told the newswire, "something consumers didn't even know they needed." Meanwhile, The Verge reports that Apple has " chosen to rework the full iOS to run on the watch instead of building up the iPod nano's proprietary touch operating system," which has led to battery issues: while Apple would like the device to last "at least 4-5 days" between charges, the current prototypes give somewhat less. While an "Apple TV" long dominated the rumor mill as Apple's next big product, the frequency and detail of "iWatch" rumors over the past few weeks suggests that a timepiece could be the company's next big project."
Security

RSA: From Apple Keys to Biometric Security Devices (Video) 21

Posted by Roblimo
from the plastics-is-the-future-young-man dept.
30 years ago there was a company that made molded plastic push buttons and keyboard keys, including those used on early Apples, Ataris, and Texas Instrument computers. Said company, Key Source International, has morphed over the years into a supplier of secure keyboards and other biometric security devices. Some of what they make is trivial, and some is interesting. In this video (and the accompanying transcript), made by Tim Lord at the 2013 RSA conference, Key Source International marketing VP Philip Bruno tells us about the company and its products.
Businesses

Swiss Referendum Backs Executive Pay Curbs 284

Posted by samzenpus
from the torn-golden-parachute dept.
gollum123 writes in with news that Switzerland may soon have the world's strictest corporate rules. "Swiss voters have overwhelmingly backed proposals to impose some of the world's strictest controls on executive pay, final referendum results show. Nearly 68% of the voters supported plans to give shareholders a veto on compensation and ban big payouts for new and departing managers. The new measures will give Switzerland some of the world's strictest corporate rules. Shareholders will have a veto over salaries, golden handshakes will be forbidden, and managers of companies who flout the rules could face prison.The 'fat cat initiative', as it has been called, will be written into the Swiss constitution and apply to all Swiss companies listed on Switzerland's stock exchange. Support for the plans — brain child of Swiss businessman turned politician Thomas Minder — has been fueled by a series of perceived disasters for major Swiss companies, coupled with salaries and bonuses staying high."
Debian

Gamer Rewrites Valve's Steam Installer For Debian 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gaming on Linux is growing fast right now, and most of that is thanks to Steam. Initially, Steam committed only to the most popular desktop distribution, Ubuntu, but more recently has opened the door to others. So what do you do when you want to game in Linux and you're using something a little less popular — at least, on the desktop? If you're a programmer called GhostSquad57, you rewrite the installer for Debian. GhostSquad57 uploaded his efforts to Github yesterday, and has since reached out to the Linux community."
Technology

AirBurr UAV Navigates By Crashing Into Things 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
Zothecula writes "If you've ever watched a fly trying to find its way around a house, you might have noticed that it didn't take a particularly graceful approach – it probably bounced off a lot of windows and walls, until by process of elimination, it found a route that was clear. Well, researchers at Switzerland's EPFL Laboratory of Intelligent Systems are taking that same approach with the latest version of their autonomous AirBurr UAV – it's built to run into things, in order to map and navigate its environment."
NASA

Swimming With Spacemen In NASA's Giant NBL Pool 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the deep-space-end dept.
willith writes "I spent two days at NASA's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory in Houston, watching astronauts dive and getting a thorough tour of the facility. The largest indoor pool in the world contains 6.2M gallons of water and is filled with life-size replicas of International Space Station modules (though at 202'x101' and 40' deep, it isn't nearly enough to hold the entire station). Every spacewalk requires a huge amount of rehearsal, and that rehearsal is done right here in this pool. I talk at length with divers, astronauts, test coordinators, and test directors about how the facility works and what it takes to train folks to work in spacesuits. I also get to talk about the NBL's commercial future, and what's next for the big pool. Plus, lots and lots of pictures!"
The Courts

Copyright Trolls Sue Bloggers, Defense Lawyers 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-don't-have-anything-nice-to-say dept.
davecb writes "Prenda Law has commenced three defamation, libel and conspiracy suits against: defense lawyers, defendants and all the blogger and commentators at 'Die Troll Die' and 'Fight Copyright Trolls'. The suits, in different state courts, each attempt to identify anyone who has criticized Prenda, fine them $200,000 each for stating their opinions, and prohibit them from ever criticizing Prenda again."
Science

Physicists Discover a Way Around Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle 153

Posted by samzenpus
from the known-unknowns dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Science Daily Headlines reports that researchers have applied a recently developed technique to directly measure the polarization states of light overcoming some important challenges of Heisenberg's famous Uncertainty Principle and demonstrating that it is possible to measure key related variables, known as 'conjugate' variables, of a quantum particle or state directly. Such direct measurements of the wave-function had long seemed impossible because of a key tenet of the uncertainty principle — the idea that certain properties of a quantum system could be known only poorly if certain other related properties were known with precision. 'The reason it wasn't thought possible to measure two conjugate variables directly was because measuring one would destroy the wave-function before the other one could be measured,' says co-author Jonathan Leach. The direct measurement technique employs a 'trick' to measure the first property in such a way that the system is not disturbed significantly and information about the second property can still be obtained. This careful measurement relies on the 'weak measurement' of the first property followed by a 'strong measurement' of the second property. First described 25 years ago, weak measurement requires that the coupling between the system and what is used to measure it be, as its name suggests, 'weak,' which means that the system is barely disturbed in the measurement process. The downside of this type of measurement is that a single measurement only provides a small amount of information, and to get an accurate readout, the process has to be repeated multiple times and the average taken. Researchers passed polarized light through two crystals of differing thicknesses: the first, a very thin crystal that 'weakly' measures the horizontal and vertical polarization state; the second, a much thicker crystal that 'strongly' measures the diagonal and anti-diagonal polarization state. As the first measurement was performed weakly, the system is not significantly disturbed, and therefore, information gained from the second measurement was still valid. This process is repeated several times to build up accurate statistics. Putting all of this together gives a full, direct characterization of the polarization states of the light."
DRM

DRM Chair Self-Destructs After 8 Uses 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the collapsing-comfort dept.
unts writes "Taking DRM further than it's gone before, a group of designers have built a DRM'd chair that will melt its own joints and destroy itself after 8 uses. The chair uses an Arduino and sensors to monitor the number of uses, then triggers the melting of a set of joints that hold it together, making the product unusable without some carpentry skills. The video of device at work is both amusing and a little disconcerting."
The Almighty Buck

83-Year-Old Inventor Wins $40,000 3D Printing Competition 146

Posted by samzenpus
from the old-school dept.
harrymcc writes "The Desktop Factory Competition was a contest to create an open-source design for a low-cost machine capable of turning cheap plastic pellets into the filament used by 3D printers, with a prize of $40,000. The winner is being announced today — and he was born during the Hoover administration. I interviewed 83-year-old retiree Hugh Lyman — a proud member of the maker movement — for a story over at TIME.com. From the article: 'Lyman describes himself as an “undergraduate engineer” — he studied engineering from 1948-1953 at the University of Utah, but didn’t earn a degree. Though he holds eight patents, he says he’s “not educated enough to be able to do calculations of torque and so forth.” So implementing his contest entry “was trial and error. I tinkered with it and used common sense.”'"
Databases

$100 Million Student Database Worries Parents 250

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-erasers-in-one-basket dept.
asjk writes "The controversial database includes millions of children and documents their names, addresses, disabilities other statistics and demographics. Federal law allows for the files to be shared with private companies. From the article: 'In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school - even homework completion. Local education officials retain legal control over their students' information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services."
Government

State Rep. Says Biking Is Not Earth Friendly Because Breathing Produces CO2 976

Posted by samzenpus
from the pedal-price dept.
terbeaux writes "The fact that Rep Ed Orcutt (R — WA) wants to tax bicycle use is not extraordinary. The representative's irrational conviction is. SeattleBikeBlog has confirmed reports that Orcutt does not feel bicycling is environmentally friendly because the activity causes cyclists to have 'an increased heart rate and respiration.' When they contacted him he clarified that 'You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car...' Cascade blog has posted the full exchange between Rep Ed Orcutt and a citizen concerned about the new tax."
Medicine

Researchers Describe First 'Functional HIV Cure' In an Infant 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-step-closer dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news of a breakthrough in the treatment of HIV. "A baby born with the AIDS virus two years ago in Mississippi who was put on antiretroviral therapy within hours of birth appears to have been cured of the infection, researchers said Sunday at a scientific conference in Atlanta. Whether the cure is complete and permanent, or only partial and long-lasting, is not certain. Either way, the highly unusual case raises hope for the more than 300,000 babies born with the infection around the world each year."
Science

New Research Sheds Light On the Evolution of Dogs 374

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-caveboy-and-his-dog dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The first dogs descended from wolves about 14,000 years ago but according to Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods humans didn't domesticate dogs — dogs sought out humans and domesticated us. Humans have a long history of eradicating wolves, rather than trying to adopt them which raises the question: How was the wolf tolerated by humans long enough to evolve into the domestic dog? 'The short version is that we often think of evolution as being the survival of the fittest, where the strong and the dominant survive and the soft and weak perish. But essentially, far from the survival of the leanest and meanest, the success of dogs comes down to survival of the friendliest.' Most likely, it was wolves that approached us, not the other way around, probably while they were scavenging around garbage dumps on the edge of human settlements. The wolves that were bold but aggressive would have been killed by humans, and so only the ones that were bold and friendly would have been tolerated. In a few generations, these friendly wolves became distinctive from their more aggressive relatives with splotchy coats, floppy ears, wagging tails. But the changes did not just affect their looks but their psychology. Protodogs evolved the ability to read human gestures. 'As dog owners, we take for granted that we can point to a ball or toy and our dog will bound off to get it,' write Hare and Woods. 'But the ability of dogs to read human gestures is remarkable. Even our closest relatives — chimpanzees and bonobos — can't read our gestures as readily as dogs can. 'With this new ability, these protodogs were worth knowing. People who had dogs during a hunt would likely have had an advantage over those who didn't. Finally when times were tough, dogs could have served as an emergency food supply and once humans realized the usefulness of keeping dogs as emergency food, it was not a huge jump to realize plants could be used in a similar way.' This is the secret to the genius of dogs: It's when dogs join forces with us that they become special," conclude Hare and Woods. 'Dogs may even have been the catalyst for our civilization.'"
Piracy

UK Court Orders Block of Three Torrent Sites 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the bad-list dept.
angry tapir writes "A court in the U.K. has ordered key Internet service providers in the country to block three torrent sites on a complaint from music labels including EMI Records and Sony Music. The High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, ordered six ISPs including Virgin Media, British Telecommunications and British Sky Broadcasting to block H33t, Kickass Torrents and Fenopy."

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