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Crime

Scientists Create "DNA Barcodes" To Thwart Counterfeiters 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the swab-it dept.
Zothecula writes "Earlier this year, we heard about a gun and a fogging system, both of which tag criminals with synthesized DNA. The idea is that when those people are apprehended later, they can be linked to the crime by analyzing the location- or event-specific DNA still on their skin or clothing. Now, scientists at the Technology Transfer Unit of Portugal's University of Aveiro are developing something similar – 'DNA barcodes' that can be applied to products, then subsequently read as a means of identification."
Earth

What the Insurance Industry Thinks About Climate Change 385

Posted by samzenpus
from the hedge-your-bets dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joseph Stromberg reports at the Smithsonian that if there's one group has an obvious and immediate financial stake in climate change, it's the insurance industry and in recent years, insurance industry researchers who attempt to determine the annual odds of catastrophic weather-related disasters say they're seeing something new. 'Our business depends on us being neutral. We simply try to make the best possible assessment of risk today, with no vested interest,' says Robert Muir-Wood, the chief scientist of Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a company that creates software models to allow insurance companies to calculate risk. Most insurers, including the reinsurance companies that bear much of the ultimate risk in the industry, have little time for the arguments heard in some right-wing circles that climate change isn't happening, and are quite comfortable with the scientific consensus that burning fossil fuels is the main culprit of global warming. 'Insurance is heavily dependent on scientific thought,' says Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America. 'It is not as amenable to politicized scientific thought.' A pronounced shift can be seen in extreme rainfall events, heat waves and wind storms and the underlying reason is climate change, says Muir-Wood, driven by rising greenhouse gas emissions. 'The first model in which we changed our perspective is on U.S. Atlantic hurricanes. Basically, after the 2004 and 2005 seasons, we determined that it was unsafe to simply assume that historical averages still applied,' he says. 'We've since seen that today's activity has changed in other particular areas as well—with extreme rainfall events, such as the recent flooding in Boulder, Colorado, and with heat waves in certain parts of the world.' Muir-Wood puts his money where his mouth is. 'I personally wouldn't invest in beachfront property anymore,' he says, noting the steady increase in sea level we're expecting to see worldwide in the coming century, on top of more extreme storms. 'And if you're thinking about it, I'd calculate quite carefully how far back you'd have to be in the event of a hurricane.'"
Star Wars Prequels

Scientists Create New "Lightsaber-Like" Form of Matter 175

Posted by samzenpus
from the may-the-new-matter-be-with-you dept.
First time accepted submitter loftarasa writes "A group of scientists led by Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin and MIT Professor of Physics Vladan Vuletic have developed a form of matter by binding massless photons together in a special kind of medium to create 'photonic molecules', effectively bringing us a bit closer to a world with lightsabers. 'The discovery, Lukin said, runs contrary to decades of accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as massless particles which don't interact with each other – shine two laser beams at each other, he said, and they simply pass through one another. "Photonic molecules," however, behave less like traditional lasers and more like something you might find in science fiction – the light saber.' The work is described in Nature (paywalled)."
Power

New Solar Cell Sets Record For Energy Efficiency 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-closer dept.
Lucas123 writes "After three years of work, German and French researchers have achieved a new world record on converting sunlight to energy through a photovoltaic cell, achieving a 44.7% rate of efficiency, which was measured at a concentration of 297 suns. The efficiency rating means the solar cell collects 44.7% of the sun's spectrum's energy, from ultraviolet to the infrared spectrum, which is converted into electrical energy. The team of researchers said the technology places them on the path to achieving their roadmap of 50% efficiency in solar energy conversion."
Google

Google Announces Hummingbird Algorithm, Updates To Search, iOS App and Android 46

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can-almost-drive dept.
rjmarvin writes "Google search is turning 15, and on a media field trip to the Menlo Park garage where Sergey Brin and Larry Page began the company, they rolled out a slew of product updates. Chief among them was the announcement of a new search algorithm called Hummingbird along with an updated Knowledge Graph and other search improvements, on top of updated Google Now cards for Android, push notifications for Google's iOS app and more."
Security

Malware Now Hiding In Graphics Cards 125

Posted by timothy
from the batteries-graphics-cards-and-lcd-screens dept.
mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers are closing in on a means to detect previously undetectable stealthy malware that resides in peripherals like graphics and network cards. The malware was developed by the same researchers and targeted host runtime memory using direct memory access provided to hardware devices. They said the malware was a 'highly critical threat to system security and integrity' and could not be detected by any operating system."
Communications

No Upper Bound On Phone Record Collection, Says NSA 238

Posted by timothy
from the don't-write-a-blank-check-to-the-government dept.
PCWorld reports that "[A] U.S. surveillance court has given the National Security Agency no limit on the number of U.S. telephone records it collects in the name of fighting terrorism, the NSA director said Thursday. The NSA intends to collect all U.S. telephone records and put them in a searchable 'lock box' in the interest of national security, General Keith Alexander, the NSA's director, told U.S. senators." But don't worry; it's just metadata, until it isn't. (Your row in the NSA database may already be getting cozy in its nice new home in Utah.)
GNOME

GNOME 3.10 Released 218

Posted by timothy
from the upwards-or-sideways dept.
kthreadd writes "Version 3.10 of the GNOME software collection has been released. New in this release is improved support for Wayland, the upcoming X replacement. The system status menus have been consolidated into one single menu. Many of the applications in GNOME now features header bars instead of title bars, which merges the titlebar and toolbar into a single element and allows applications to offer more dynamic user interfaces. GNOME now also includes an application for searching, browsing and installing applications called Software. Several other new applications have also been added to GNOME including Music, Photos, Notes and Maps."
Mars

Water Discovery Is Good News For Mars Colonists 247

Posted by timothy
from the especially-the-thirstiest-ones dept.
astroengine writes "By now, we probably all know that there was once significant quantities of water on the Martian surface and, although the red planet is bone dry by terrestrial standards, water persists as ice just below the surface to this day. Now, according to a series of new papers published in the journal Science, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity has found that the Mars topsoil is laced with surprisingly high quantities of the wet stuff. And this could be good news for future Mars colonists. 'If you take a cubic foot of that soil you can basically get two pints of water out it — a couple of water bottles like you'd take to the gym, worth of water,' Curiosity scientist Laurie Leshin, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, N.Y., told Discovery News."
Open Source

The MinnowBoard is a Low-Cost, Open Hardware Single-Board Computer (Video) 84

Posted by Roblimo
from the open-source-software-is-followed-by-open-source-hardware-like-summer-follows-spring dept.
Out in the Northeast Texas town of Ft. Worth, a company called CircuitCo started making something they called the BeagleBoard -- an open source hardware single-board computer for educators and experimenters. Now, with help and support from Intel, they're making and supporting the Atom-based MinnowBoard, which is also open source, and comes with Angstrom Linux to help experimenters get started with it. David Anders is the Senior Embedded Systems Engineer at CircuitCo. Slashdot's Timothy Lord met David at LinuxCon North America 2013 in New Orleans and made this video of him talking about the recently-released MinnowBoard and the more mature BeagleBoard.
Patents

Steve Jobs Video Kills Apple Patent In Germany 100

Posted by timothy
from the bit-of-an-oopsie dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Today the Federal Patent Court of Germany shot down an Apple photo gallery bounce-back patent over which Cupertino was/is suing Samsung and Motorola. A panel of five judges found the patent invalid because the relevant patent application was filed only in June 2007 but Steve Jobs already demoed the feature in January 2007 (video). While this wouldn't matter in the U.S., it's a reason for a patent to be invalidated in Europe. For different reasons someone thought the iPhone presentation was a mistake. It now turns out that when Steve Jobs said "Boy have we patented it!" his company forgot that public disclosure, even by an inventor, must not take place before a European patent application is filed. But Apple can still sue companies over the Android photo gallery: in addition to this patent it owns a utility model, a special German intellectual property right that has a shorter term (10 years) and a six-month grace period, which is just enough to make sure that history-making Steve Jobs video won't count as prior art."
Java

Will New Red-Text Warnings Kill Casual Use of Java? 282

Posted by timothy
from the brew-more dept.
New submitter ddyer writes "Java 1.7.0_40 [Note: released earlier this month] introduces a new 'red text' warning when running unsigned Java applets. 'Running unsigned applications like this will be blocked in a future release...' Or, for self-signed applets,'Running applications by UNKNOWN publishers will be blocked in a future release...' I think I see the point — this will give the powers that be the capability to shut off any malware java applet that is discovered by revoking its certificate. The unfortunate cost of this is that any casual use of Java is going to be killed. It currently costs a minimum of $100/year and a lot of hoop-jumping to maintain a trusted certificate.'"
Canada

Clinton Grants $1 Million To Edible Insect Farmers 277

Posted by timothy
from the dub-thee-sir-buzzalot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Former US President Bill Clinton, through the Clinton Global Initiative, has awarded $1 million to a group of Canadian MBA students who are looking to solve urban hunger by feeding people insects. The students will use this as seed money for their start-up, Aspire Food Group, which aims to farm, produce, and sell edible insects as a way of solving world hunger, particularly in slums. Aspire says it will even work toward replacing livestock farms with insect farms in some areas." Insects as food aren't necessarily incompatible with conventional livestock, either.
Transportation

Big Box? Nissan Note the First-Ever Car You Can 'Buy' On Amazon 182

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-put-the-other-packages-in-there-too dept.
cartechboy writes "You knew the day was coming when they started selling diapers. Amazon is now dipping its toe into car sales by selling a single car: the 2014 Nissan Versa Note. Amazon users hit a real live Versa Note product page, but instead of "Add to cart" you provide your ZIP code so Amazon can connect you with a nearby Nissan dealer. The first 100 Versa Note customers whose car purchases are initiated through Amazon receive $1,000 Amazon gift cards. Best part: Customers who end up actually buying the Note *will* receive them via boxed home delivery. Now, that's a big box." (The linked article says that "some" customers will get their Versa boxed; maybe this is only if you specify gift wrapping.)
Networking

Undiscovered Country of HFT: FPGA JIT Ethernet Packet Assembly 452

Posted by timothy
from the fifo-with-a-vengeance dept.
michaelmalak writes "In a technique that reminds me of the just-in-time torpedo engineering of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, a company called Argon Design has "developed a high performance trading system" that puts an FPGA — and FPGA-based trading algorithms — right in the Ethernet switch. And it isn't just to cut down on switch/computer latency — they actually start assembling and sending out the start of an Ethernet packet simultaneously with receiving and decoding incoming price quotation Ethernet packets, and decide on the fly what to put in the outgoing buy/sell Ethernet packet. They call these techniques 'inline parsing' and 'pre-emption.'"
The Almighty Buck

Gaming Legends Discuss Using Kickstarter For Their Next Projects 112

Posted by timothy
from the you're-the-crowd-you're-the-fund dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Just as the Internet fundamentally altered the way games are distributed from publishers to players, crowdfunding has upended the traditional models of raising money for gaming development, and some of the most storied people in the industry are taking notice. Chris Roberts, who created the well-known Wing Commander series in 1990, managed to raise millions of dollars on Kickstarter last fall for his upcoming Star Citizen, eventually collecting so much money from individual backers that he could return the budget he'd taken from "formal" investment firms. "Even nice investors, they want a return at some point. They have a slightly diff agenda than I do," Roberts told Slashdot. "My agenda is to build the coolest game possible." He's not the only famed developer getting into the crowdfunding game: Wasteland director Brian Fargo spent years wanting to make a sequel to his popular role-playing game, eventually accomplishing that goal via Kickstarter. And for every famous game creator who uses the power of crowds to produce a new masterwork, dozens of talented amateurs are also financing their first games via Kickstarter and similar services. But that doesn't mean there are occasional high-profile implosions, like CLANG."
Cellphones

Wealth In Africa Mapped Using Mobile Phone Data 34

Posted by timothy
from the tricorders-can't-even-send-money dept.
KentuckyFC writes "The remarkable growth of mobile phone use is transforming many parts of Africa. In Sudan and Gabon, more than half of all adults use their phones to transfer money, the activist website Ushahidi used text messages to map post-election violence in Kenya in 2008 and in Nigeria, mobile music services are a multi-million dollar industry. Now demographers have used the way people purchase airtime to map wealth in Cote d'Ivoire on Africa's west coast. They analysed a dataset from one of the country's largest mobile operators containing caller IDs, the cell towers used for each call and the time and amount of all airtime purchases. The researchers say an individual's airtime buying habits are a good proxy for his or her income. As a result, they were able to to map wealth across the entire country. Their map clearly shows the wealthy cities such as Abidjan, the largest seaport in West Africa. But it also shows an unexpectedly wealthy region in the conflict-ridden area that borders Liberia. This wealth probably arises from illegal activities on the border, such as drug, arms and human trafficking, they conclude."
Media

VLC Reaches 2.1 127

Posted by timothy
from the amazing-software-to-be-grateful-for dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With a new audio core, hardware decoding and encoding, port to mobile platforms, preparation for Ultra-HD video and a special care to support more formats, 2.1 is a major upgrade for VLC. The popular video player app also features support for 4K video as well as a partial Windows 8 and WinRT port for all those folks out there who don't know what else to do with their Surface RT."
Google

GMail Chat/GTalk Sending Chats To Wrong Recipients 109

Posted by timothy
from the careful-who-sees-you-polishing-the-resume dept.
mystikkman writes "In what is a serious bug, GMail Chat/GTalk/Google Hangouts is sending messages to unintended recipients. ZDNet has confirmed first-hand that the glitch is present within Google Apps for Business accounts, including those that have not yet switched over to Google's new Hangouts platform. Messages appear to be visible on the mobile version of Hangouts. There are multiple reports of this issue."
Input Devices

Bill Gates Acknowledges Ctrl+Alt+Del Was a Mistake 665

Posted by timothy
from the tilde-backspace-left-arrow-was-taken dept.
theodp writes "If he'd had his druthers, Bill Gates told a Harvard audience, Ctrl+Alt+Del would never have seen the light of day. However, an IBM keyboard designer didn't want to give Microsoft a single button to start things up, and thus the iconic three-finger-salute was born."
United Kingdom

UK MPs: Google Blocks Child Abuse Images, It Should Block Piracy Too 348

Posted by timothy
from the blacklist-provided-by-democracy dept.
nk497 writes "If Google can block child abuse images, it can also block piracy sites, according to a report from MPs, who said they were 'unimpressed' by Google's 'derisorily ineffective' efforts to battle online piracy, according to a Commons Select Committee report looking into protecting creative industries. John Whittingdale MP, the chair of the Committee — and also a non-executive director at Audio Network, an online music catalogue — noted that Google manages to remove other illegal content. 'Google and others already work with international law enforcement to block for example child porn from search results and it has provided no coherent, responsible reason why it can't do the same for illegal, pirated content,' he said."
Music

BitTorrent "Bundles" Create Cash Registers Inside Artwork 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-pay-or-not-to-pay dept.
cagraham writes "BitTorrent has released a new file format called Bundle into closed alpha-testing today, according to VentureBeat. The format allows artists to embed a paywall inside of their work, and then distribute the art for free over BitTorrent. When users open the work they can listen or view part it for free, and are then prompted to either pay a fee, turn over their email address, or perhaps share the work over social media, in order to see the rest. The new format may ease artists concerns about releasing work for free and having to hope for compensation in the future. Artists who have already signed on include Madonna, The Pixies, and author Tim Feriss."
Security

NSA Director Wants Threat Data Sharing With Private Sector 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "While Congress and the technology community are still debating and discussing the intelligence gathering capabilities of NSA revealed in recent months, the agency's director, Gen. Keith Alexander, is not just defending the use of these existing tools, but is pitching the idea of sharing some of the vast amounts of threat and vulnerability data the NSA and other agencies possess with organizations in the private sector. Speaking at a time of great scrutiny of the agency and its activities, Alexander said that the NSA, along with other federal agencies such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and CIA, need to find a way to share the attack and vulnerability information they collect in order to help key private organizations react to emerging threats. Though the idea is still in its formative stages, Alexander said that it potentially could include companies in foreign countries, as well. 'We need the authority for us to share with them and them to share with us. But because some of that information is classified, we need a way to protect it,' Alexander said during a keynote speech at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit here Wednesday. 'Right now, we can't see what's happening in real time. We've got to share it with them, and potentially with other countries.'"
Medicine

Existing Drugs Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the choose-wisely dept.
sciencehabit writes "Medical experts have been powerless to stop the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and are increasingly desperate to develop novel drugs. But a new study finds that smarter use of current antibiotics could offer a solution. Researchers were able to keep resistant bacteria from thriving by alternating antibiotics to specifically exploit the vulnerabilities that come along with resistance—a strategy that could extend the lifespan of existing drugs to continue fighting even the most persistent pathogens."
The Internet

Can There Be a Non-US Internet? 406

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-management dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "After discovering that the US government has been invading the privacy of not just Americans, but also Brazilians, Brazil is showing its teeth. The country responded to the spying revelations by declaring it'll just have to create its own internet. In reality, although Brazil President Dilma Rousseff is none too happy with the NSA's sketchy surveillance practices, Brazil and other up-and-coming economies have been pushing to shift the power dynamics of the World Wide Web away from a US-centric model for years."

Work expands to fill the time available. -- Cyril Northcote Parkinson, "The Economist", 1955

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