An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft appears to be sticking a finger in Google's eye with the launch of its new YouTube app for Windows Phone. The app, ReadWrite has confirmed, strips out YouTube ads when it plays back videos and allows users to easily download video by way of a prominent 'download' button."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
New submitter Noitatsidem writes "Good news for Cyanogenmod users, according to their blog it looks like 10.1 is nearing its stable release. 'We haven't used the "Release Candidate" nomenclature since the ICS days, but we feel the 10.1 branch is quickly approaching the point where a "final" build is due. To prepare for that eventuality, RC1 builds for CyanogenMod 10.1.0 are now landing on our servers! This will be one of (if not the last) milestone releases before a 10.1.0 is pushed out. These builds will appear as they complete the build process and, as always, you can download the builds via get.cm!' Android Police speculates that this is due in part to the rumored release announcement of Android 4.3 given at Google I/O 2013 which is taking place in (now) less than one week. Looks like the Android community will have a lot to talk about in coming days!"
An anonymous reader writes "A recurring theme in comments on Slashdot since the 9/11 attacks has been concern about the use of government power to monitor or suppress political activity unassociated with terrorism but rather based on ideology. It has just been revealed that the IRS has in fact done that. From the story: "The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election . . . Organizations were singled out because they included the words 'tea party' or 'patriot' in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said. 'That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review,' Lerner said . . . 'The IRS would like to apologize for that,' she added. . . . Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. . . . she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice. Tea Party groups were livid on Friday. ... In all, about 300 groups were singled out for additional review. . . Tea Party groups weren't buying the idea that the decision to target them was solely the responsibility of low-level IRS workers. ... During the conference call it was stated that no disciplinary action had been taken by those who engaged in this activity. President Obama has previously joked about using the IRS to target people." So it's not how they choose cases for review (except when it is), and was not motivated by political bias (except that it was). Also at National Review, with more bite.
An anonymous reader writes "With the personal robotics revolution imminent, a law professor and a roboticist (called Professor Smart!) argue that the law needs to think about robots properly. In particular, they say we should avoid 'the Android Fallacy' — the idea that robots are just like us, only synthetic. 'Even in research labs, cameras are described as "eyes," robots are "scared" of obstacles, and they need to "think" about what to do next. This projection of human attributes is dangerous when trying to design legislation for robots. Robots are, and for many years will remain, tools. ... As the autonomy of the system increases, it becomes harder and harder to form the connection between the inputs (your commands) and the outputs (the robot's behavior), but it exists, and is deterministic. The same set of inputs will generate the same set of outputs every time. The problem, however, is that the robot will never see exactly the same input twice. ... The problem is that this different behavior in apparently similar situations can be interpreted as "free will" or agency on the part of the robot. While this mental agency is part of our definition of a robot, it is vital for us to remember what is causing this agency. Members of the general public might not know, or even care, but we must always keep it in mind when designing legislation. Failure to do so might lead us to design legislation based on the form of a robot, and not the function. This would be a grave mistake."
Titus Andronicus writes "Today, NOAA reported, 'On May 9, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time since measurements began in 1958.' For comparison, over the last 800,000 years, CO2 has ranged from roughly 180 ppm to 280 ppm. 'For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.' The last time Earth had 400 ppm was probably more than 3 megayears ago."
An anonymous reader writes "The Priceonomics blog has a post that looks into how so much of our scientific knowledge came to be gated by current publishing models. 'The most famous of these providers is Elsevier. It is a behemoth. Every year it publishes 250,000 articles in 2,000 journals. Its 2012 revenues reached $2.7 billion. Its profits of over $1 billion account for 45% of the Reed Elsevier Group — its parent company which is the 495th largest company in the world in terms of market capitalization. Companies like Elsevier developed in the 1960s and 1970s. They bought academic journals from the non-profits and academic societies that ran them, successfully betting that they could raise prices without losing customers. Today just three publishers, Elsevier, Springer and Wiley, account for roughly 42% of all articles published in the $19 billion plus academic publishing market for science, technology, engineering, and medical topics. University libraries account for 80% of their customers.' The article also explain how moving to open access journals would help, but says it's just one step in a more significant transformation scientific research needs to undergo. It points to the open source software community as a place from which researchers should take their cues."
netbuzz writes "The city of Boston, which employs 20,000 people, has become the latest large organization to switch from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps. The city estimates that the move will save it $280,000 a year. Microsoft's reaction? 'We believe the citizens of Boston deserve cloud productivity tools that protect their security and privacy. Google's investments in these areas are inadequate, and they lack the proper protections most organizations require.' More and more customers aren't buying that FUD." Hopefully they'll be more satisfied than Los Angeles was (PDF).
CowboyRobot writes "Two researchers at San Francisco State University has successfully implemented hardware acceleration for realtime audio using graphics processing units (GPUs). 'Suppose you are simulating a metallic plate to generate gong or cymbal-like sounds. By changing the surface area for the same object, you can generate sound corresponding to cymbals or gongs of different sizes. Using the same model, you may also vary the way in which you excite the metallic plate — to generate sounds that result from hitting the plate with a soft mallet, a hard drumstick, or from bowing. By changing these parameters, you may even simulate nonexistent materials or physically impossible geometries or excitation methods. There are various approaches to physical modeling sound synthesis. One such approach, studied extensively by Stefan Bilbao, uses the finite difference approximation to simulate the vibrations of plates and membranes. The finite difference simulation produces realistic and dynamic sounds (examples can be found here). Realtime finite difference-based simulations of large models are typically too computationally-intensive to run on CPUs. In our work, we have implemented finite difference simulations in realtime on GPUs.'"
Attila Dimedici writes "I am in the process of implementing an Email Encryption Gateway for my company. I checked with my various contacts in the industry and came away with Voltage as the best solution. However, as I have been working with them to implement a solution, I have been sadly disappointed by their lack of professionalism. Every time I think I am one question away from being ready to pull the trigger, I discover something that my contact with them had not mentioned before that has to be ironed out by the various stakeholders on my end. So, my question for Slashdot readers is this: what is your experience with implementing an Email Encryption Gateway for your company and what solution would you recommend?"
itwbennett writes "Researchers from the University of Edinburgh set out to test the long-held assumption that kids who performed well in school at a young age carried that early success through to adulthood. And prove it they did! Specifically, 'Math and reading ability at age 7 may be linked with socioeconomic status several decades later.' Early success even correlates 'over and above associations with intelligence, education, and socioeconomic status in childhood.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Japan has thrown its hat into the ring for exascale computing, reported the country's newspapers. The goal: achieve one exaFLOPS of performance by 2020. Japan's finance ministry has agreed to begin work next fiscal year on a supercomputer with a performance capability 100 times that of the K computer, a 10-petaFLOPS computer that debuted as the most powerful supercomputer in the world in 2011. The midterm report for the new supercomputer was concluded Thursday, the Asahi Shimbun business daily reported. The Japan Times was slightly more conservative, reporting that the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will seek funding to design the new machine in its fiscal 2014 budget request — implying that the project has not necessarily been approved. The science ministry is hoping to keep the cost of the new supercomputer below the ¥110 billion mark ($1.08 billion) that was required to develop the K computer, the paper reported. (Slashdot couldn't find any evidence that the project had been approved on the ministry Webpage, although the K computer was mentioned several times in a discussion of public-private partnerships.)"
Lucas123 writes "Researchers are developing machine-to-machine (M2M) communication technology that allows cars to exchange data with each other, enabling vehicles to know what the cars all around them are doing, and perhaps, where they're going. Intel is working with National Taiwan University on M2M connectivity, an idea came from caravanning — an available, but-not-yet-deployed technology that uses direct line of site infrared (IR) and a range finder in order to automatically adjust the speed of cars so they can travel at a measured distance from each other. In other words, they're electronically tethered to one another. Now, imagine a group of cars traveling down the road together as an ad hoc network, each one aware of the location, any sudden actions or even the travel route of other vehicles as uploaded to the cloud from a GPS device. 'We're even imagining in the future cars would be able to ask other cars, "Hey, can I cut into your lane?" Then the other car would let you in,' said Jennifer Healey, a research scientist with Intel."
astroengine writes "After the discovery of an ammonia coolant leak supplying one of the solar arrays on Thursday (video), International Space Station managers have decided to plan for an unscheduled spacewalk on Saturday to repair the problem. The final decision about whether to go ahead with the extravehicular activity will be made late on Friday. 'Good Morning, Earth! Big change in plans, spacewalk tomorrow, Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn are getting suits and airlock ready. Cool!', tweeted the Space Station's Expedition 35 Commander, Chris Hadfield, on hearing the news an emergency EVA may be required of his crew. 'The whole team is ticking like clockwork, readying for tomorrow. I am so proud to be Commander of this crew. Such great, capable, fun people.'"
symbolset writes "Research published yesterday in the journal Cell (abstract) by Richard Lee and Amy Wagers of Harvard has isolated GDF-11 as a negative regulator of age-associated cardiac hypertrophy. 'When the protein ... was injected into old mice, which develop thickened heart walls in a manner similar to aging humans, the hearts were reduced in size and thickness, resembling the healthy hearts of younger mice.' Through a type of transfusion called parabiotic or 'shared circulation' in mice — one old and sick, the other young and well — they managed to reverse this age-associated heart disease. From there, they isolated an active agent, GDF-11, present in the younger mouse but absent in the older, which reverses the condition when administered directly. They are also using the agent to restore other aged/diseased tissues and organs. Human applications are expected within six years. Since the basis for the treatment is ordinary sharing of blood between an older ill, and younger healthy patient, we can probably expect someone to start offering the transfusion treatment somewhere in the world, soon, to those with the means to find a young and healthy volunteer."
An anonymous reader writes "John McCain, Republican Senator for Arizona and former U.S. presidential candidate, is drafting a new bill that would pressure TV providers to allow customers to select and pay for only the channels they want to watch. The bill will also 'bar TV networks from bundling their broadcast stations with cable channels they own during negotiations with the cable companies, according to industry sources. So for example, the Disney Company, which owns both ABC and ESPN, could not force a cable provider to pay for ESPN in order to carry ABC.' Perhaps most importantly, the bill could 'end the sports blackout rule, which prohibits cable companies from carrying a sports event if the game is blacked out on local broadcast television stations.' This would hamstring the ludicrous practice of blacking out TV broadcasts in order to drive fans to buy actual tickets to a game. The cable and satellite TV industry is expected to push back very strongly against the bill."
Ars reports on an international treaty being negotiated that would relax restrictions on versions of books made to be more accessible to blind people. Unfortunately, the MPAA and similar organizations have been lobbying aggressively to have the treaty strengthen copyright protections as well, and could derail the entire process. Quoting: "In principle, the digital revolution should have dramatically improved blind peoples' access to the world's information. ... Unfortunately, copyright law often stands in the way. Legal restrictions on circumventing digital rights management (DRM) technologies can limit the accessibility of e-books. And in some countries, libraries and other non-profits must seek permission from the creator of each work before producing accessible versions of books in other formats. Getting permission is a laborious process that, in practice, means that only a small fraction of available works is ever converted into accessible formats. ... The pending WIPO treaty would change that. It has two core goals that everyone we talked to supports in principle: requiring countries to enact an exception for blind people similar to America's Chaffee Amendment and allowing nonprofit organizations that help blind people to share accessible works across international borders. ... Negotiators had already excluded audiovisual works from the treaty in order to placate the movie studios. But to the frustration of treaty advocates, Hollywood has gotten involved in the negotiations anyway."
Doug Otto writes "Buried deep in the bowels of a bi-partisan immigration reform bill is a 'photo tool.' The goal is to create a photo database consisting of every citizen. Wired calls it 'a massive federal database administered by the Department of Homeland Security and containing names, ages, Social Security numbers and photographs of everyone in the country with a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.' Of course the database would be used only for good, and never evil. 'This piece of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act is aimed at curbing employment of undocumented immigrants. But privacy advocates fear the inevitable mission creep, ending with the proof of self being required at polling places, to rent a house, buy a gun, open a bank account, acquire credit, board a plane or even attend a sporting event or log on the internet.'"
cylonlover writes "Millions of years have evolution has resulted in plants being the most efficient harvesters of solar energy on the planet. Much research is underway into ways to artificially mimic photosynthesis in devices like artificial leaves, but researchers at the University of Georgia are working on a different approach that gives new meaning to the term 'power plant.' Their technology harvests energy generated through photosynthesis before the plants can make use of it (abstract), allowing the energy to instead be used to run low-powered electrical devices."
An anonymous reader sends this news from the Associated Press: "A worldwide gang of criminals stole a total of $45 million in a matter of hours by hacking their way into a database of prepaid debit cards and then draining cash machines around the globe, federal prosecutors said Thursday. ... Here’s how it worked: Hackers got into bank databases, eliminated withdrawal limits on prepaid-debit cards and created access codes. Others loaded that data onto any plastic card with a magnetic stripe — an old hotel key card or an expired credit card worked fine as long as it carried the account data and correct access codes."
New submitter tomservo84 writes "It seems some people in the House of Reps have their heads screwed on straight. A bill would 'make it permanently legal for consumers to unlock their mobile devices, and consumers would not be required to obtain permission from their carrier before switching to a new carrier.' 'This bill reflects the way we use this technology in our everyday lives,' Rep. Lofgren said. 'Americans should not be subject to fines and criminal liability for merely unlocking devices and media they legally purchased. If consumers are not violating copyright or some other law, there's little reason to hold back the benefits of unlocking so people can continue using their devices.' Now, what chance does this have of actually passing?"
Noryungi writes "Scientific American reports, in a chilling story, that the Hanford, Washington nuclear waste vitrification treatment plant is off to a bad start. Bad planning, multiple sources of radioactive waste, and leaking containment pools are just the beginning. It's never a good sign when that type of article includes the word 'spontaneous criticality,' if you follow my drift..." It seems the main problem is that the waste has settled in distinct layers, and has to be piped through corroded old tubes, leading to all sorts of exciting problems (e.g. enough plutonium aggregating to start a reaction).
An anonymous reader writes "While liquid hydrogen may not be a mainstream fuel for drones, the aerospace industry has said it holds the promise of flight endurance on the order of days, seemingly just another far-fetched aerospace industry pitch ... until now. The Naval Research Laboratory just announced that the Ion Tiger, a diminutive 37-pound airplane with a 17 foot wingspan, flew for 48 hours and 1 minute on liquid hydrogen and a fuel cell (anyone else notice the oddly specific duration? Guess it's better than 47 hours 59 minutes). This is a dramatically different scale than the liquid hydrogen powered 150 foot wingspan Boeing Phantom Eye and 175 foot wingspan AeroVironment Global Observer, which have yet to live up to their multi-day endurance projections. Interestingly enough, the well-known Global Hawk only has an endurance of 33.1 hours, which barely cracks Wikipedia's list of notable UAV endurance flights. Of course, solar-electric airplanes have flown for two weeks continuously, but that sure seems like refueling!"
hypnosec writes "World of Warcarft, the gaming industry's most popular franchise and one of Blizzard's cash cows, is bleeding subscribers with 1.3 million defecting from the game in the first quarter of 2013 alone. Blizzard revealed a subscriber decline of over 14%, the total now standing at 8.3 million in their earnings call press release (PDF)."