Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
New submitter TaleSlinger sends this quote from Nature: "Afshordi's team realized that if the bulk universe contained its own four-dimensional (4D) stars, some of them could collapse, forming 4D black holes in the same way that massive stars in our Universe do: they explode as supernovae, violently ejecting their outer layers, while their inner layers collapse into a black hole. In our Universe, a black hole is bounded by a spherical surface called an event horizon. Whereas in ordinary three-dimensional space it takes a two-dimensional object (a surface) to create a boundary inside a black hole, in the bulk universe the event horizon of a 4D black hole would be a 3D object — a shape called a hypersphere. When Afshordi's team modeled the death of a 4D star, they found that the ejected material would form a 3D brane surrounding that 3D event horizon, and slowly expand. The authors postulate that the 3D universe we live in might be just such a brane — and that we detect the brane's growth as cosmic expansion. 'Astronomers measured that expansion and extrapolated back that the Universe must have begun with a Big Bang — but that is just a mirage,' says Afshordi."
phlawed writes "I've been a Linux user since the previous millennium. I came from OS/2, which I really liked. I quickly felt at home with icewm, using a suitably tweaked config to give me something resembling Presentation Manager. I may have commented on that before. Today, I find myself in a position where my preferred 'environment' is eroding. The only force keeping icewm rolling these days is the distribution package maintainers. I can't code in any meaningful way, nor do I aspire to. I could easily pay for a supported version of icewm, but I can't personally pay someone enough to keep it alive. I'd love it if someone took a personal interest in the code, to ensure that it remains up to date, or to make it run on Wayland or whatever. I want someone to own the code, be proud of it. Is there a general solution for this situation? How do I go about drumming up interest for an old project?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lee Hutchinson writes at Ars Technica that when you're picking out a DVR for your home, there's a pretty short list of candidates — TiVo has its new 6-tuner DVRs, or you can get something from your cable provider, or you can roll your own. But SnapStream makes a line of 30+ channel DVRs that can record dozens of TV shows simultaneously. Its products are the monster trucks of the DVR world, used by popular shows like The Colbert Report, The Daily Show, and The Soup. A SnapStream cluster can repackage, transcode, and distribute content for re-use — functionality you won't find on a consumer-grade DVR. 'Being able to record, say, all of the news channels was something companies were interested in,' says Aaron Thompson, SnapStream's president. 'The Daily Show, Colbert Report, and so on all use it to record a bunch of stuff, find what they want to make fun of, and quickly get it into their editing bays to get it on air.' Prior to SnapStream, the big media companies were using isolated DVRs to record all the different television channels and shows like The Colbert Report had armies of interns to watch and catalog all the recorded TV, but SnapStream can search the entire recorded library for video based on keywords in the closed captions. 'We bring some of the power of 'new media,' the ability to search, copy and paste, and e-mail clips, to the old media of television for organizations,' says Rakesh Agrawal . 'You weren't able to search television before, but now you can. Now you can pinpoint stuff and you can hold people accountable and move at the same speed at which media works in the online world.'"
New submitter Ian Grant writes "This article takes a brief look at open source software in Brazil and how it's transforming tech use in South America: Bringing free software to Brazil, however, is not just a matter of copying North American practices. The idea of free software has also been substantially transformed through contact with Brazilian politics. In the United States, the open source software community has long had libertarian leanings, which have only strengthened over time. The core tenet of free software, after all, is giving the users freedom to do what they want. ... And when free software was finally embraced by business, many members of the movement welcomed it as a validation of their ideas. The business-friendly side of free software is easily visible in Brazil, too. Many Brazilian companies, for example, use Linux. At the forum in Porto Alegre, commercial free software was well represented by large foreign companies, many of which appeared to be there primarily for recruiting. Yet the forum also showcased another side of Brazil’s place in the world of free software — a key meeting place of free software and leftist politics. "
David Gerard writes "Here in the future, musicians and record companies complain they can't make a living any more. The problem isn't piracy — it's competition. There is too much music and too many musicians, and the amateurs are often good enough for the public. This is healthy for culture, not so much for aesthetics, and terrible for musicians. There are bands who would have trouble playing a police siren in tune, who download a cracked copy of Cubase — you know how much musicians pirate their software, VSTs and sample packs, right? — and tap in every note. There are people like me who do this. A two-hundred-quid laptop with LMMS and I suddenly have better studio equipment than I could have hired for $100/hour thirty years ago. You can do better with a proper engineer in a proper studio, but you don’t have to. And whenever quality competes with convenience, convenience wins every time. You can protest that your music is a finely-prepared steak cooked by sheer genius, and be quite correct in this, and you have trouble paying for your kitchen, your restaurant, your cow."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has announced an agreement between the U.S. and Russia on a plan for removing and destroying Syria's chemical weapons. "Damascus will be given one week from now to give an inventory of its chemical arsenal and will have to allow international inspectors into Syria 'no later than November,' Kerry said after a third day of intense negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva." The weapons must all be eliminated by mid-2014. "If Syrian President Bashar Assad fails to meet the demands, then a resolution to enforce compliance would be sought at the U.N. Security Council, Kerry said. The action could include sanctions, and Kerry said that the U.S. would reserve the right to use military force, but Russia remains opposed to any armed intervention." President Obama said, "The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security of people everywhere. We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children."
An anonymous reader writes "A lot of us grew up tinkering with electronics and cherishing the one or two reference books we could find that explained exactly what we wanted to know. Nowadays, with internet access widely available and online educational materials coming into their own, we're going to see a lot more kindred spirits coming out of places all over the globe. The NY Times has a story about one such, a lad from Mongolia who hacked together complex sensors at the age of 16 and was one of the 0.2% of students to get a perfect score on MIT's first Massive Open Online Course. From the article: 'Battushig, playing the role of the car, moved into the sensor's path to show me how it worked, but it was clear he was not entirely satisfied with his design. "The use of the long wires is very inconvenient for my users," he said, almost apologetically, clasping his hands together in emphasis. He realized that contractors would be reluctant to install the siren in other buildings if they had to deal with cumbersome wiring, so he was developing a wireless version. ... Battushig has the round cheeks of a young boy, but he is not your typical teenager. He hasn't read Harry Potter ("What will I learn from that?") and doesn't like listening to music (when a friend saw him wearing headphones, he couldn't believe it; it turned out Battushig was preparing for the SAT). His projects are what make him happy. "In electrical engineering, there is no limit," he said.'"
SpaceGhost writes "Sky News reports that the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has launched an orbital telescope on a new generation rocket from the Uchinoura Space Centre in Kagoshima, in southwestern Japan. The Epsilon rocket uses an onboard AI for autonomous launch checks by the rocket itself (launch video). A product of renewed focus on reducing costs, the new vehicle required two laptops and a launch team of eight, compared to the 150 people needed to launch the previous platform, the M-5. Because of the reduced launch team and ease of construction, production and launch costs of the Epsilon are roughly half that of the M-5. The payload, a SPRINT-A telescope, is designed for planetary observation."
An anonymous reader writes "A new report out of Oxford has found that the next 20 years will see 45% of America's workforce replaced by computerized automation. 'The authors believe this takeover will happen in two stages. First, computers will start replacing people in especially vulnerable fields like transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support. Jobs in services, sales, and construction may also be lost in this first stage. Then, the rate of replacement will slow down due to bottlenecks in harder-to-automate fields such engineering. This "technological plateau" will be followed by a second wave of computerization, dependent upon the development of good artificial intelligence. This could next put jobs in management, science and engineering, and the arts at risk.' 45% is a big number. Politicians have been yelling themselves hoarse over the jobs issue in this country for the past few years, and the current situation isn't anywhere near as bad. At what point will we start seeing legislation forbidding the automation of certain industries?"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Researchers recently spent some time forcing dogs and robots to hang out together, in order to better understand the social qualities of interactive robots. The scientists had two objectives: to find out whether canines would interact with a robot and also to see whether they would ascribe social qualities to a non-living, non-human-like being. Dogs were divided into two groups: one would have a social interaction with the robot while the other would have an asocial interaction. They were allowed to watch their owners interact with the robot before meeting it themselves, which was then followed by a session wherein the canine subjects had to obey gestural cues from either a robot or a human. The robot purposely did not look human, save for its arms and gloved hand, as the researchers wanted to explore sociality apart from anthropoid features. As it turns out, dogs were interested in the robots, especially if the robots themselves were social and they saw owners interact with the robot, but ultimately were not as responsive or successful in following cues as they would otherwise be with humans."
New submitter Lord_Breetai sends word that a Louisiana high school student has been arrested for using a mobile app to simulate shooting his classmates. The app overlays an FPS-style gun and UI over a real background seen through the device's camera. The student tried it out and then unwisely posted a video of it on YouTube. Another student's parent saw the video and reported it to authorities. Major Wolfe of the local police said, "You can't ignore it. We don't know at what time that game becomes reality. He said it was a result of him being frustrated and tired of being bullied. He said that he had no intentions of hurting anybody. We have to take all threats seriously and we have no way of knowing that without investigating and getting to the bottom of it. With all the school shooting we've had in the United States, it's just not a very good game to be playing at this time." The boy is now facing criminal charges for terrorizing and interference of the operation of a school.
cagraham writes "Pandora has been the standard for internet radio since it launched in 2000, and just announced the appointment of new CEO Brian McAndrews. They claim they're not worried about Apple, but iTunes' massive user base (575 million), content deals, and cheaper pricing options should give them legitimate reason for concern. Can Pandora survive iTunes Radio? Do a-la-carte options like Spotify make any internet radio service irrelevant?"
MojoKid writes "Kirk Skaugen, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, while on stage, at IDF this week snuck in some additional information about Broadwell, the 14nm follow up to Haswell that was mentioned during Brian Krzanich's opening day keynote. In a quick demo, Kirk showed a couple of systems running the Cinebench multi-threaded benchmark side-by-side. One of the systems featured a Haswell-Y processor, the other a Broadwell-Y. The benchmark results weren't revealed, but during the Cinebench run, power was being monitored on both systems and it showed the Broadwell-Y rig consuming roughly 30% less power than Haswell-Y and running fully loaded at under 5 watts. Without knowing clocks and performance levels, we can't draw many conclusion from the power numbers shown, but they do hint at Broadwell-Y's relative health, even at this early stage of the game."
judgecorp writes "Twelve men have been arrested over an attempt to take control of computers at a Santander bank branch in London using a stealthily planted KVM (keyboard, video and mouse) switch installed by a bogus maintenance engineer. The men were caught by the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crimes Unit."
puddingebola writes "Perhaps influencing Microsoft's $7.2 billion acquisition, the New York Times is reporting that Nokia had an Android phone in development. From the article, 'A team within Nokia had Android up and running on the company's Lumia handsets well before Microsoft and Nokia began negotiating Microsoft's $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's mobile phone and services business, according to two people briefed on the effort who declined to be identified because the project was confidential. Microsoft executives were aware of the existence of the project, these people said.' Perhaps Nokia feared they had put too many eggs in one basket? Whatever the case, the project is most likely dead at this point."