Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
alphadogg writes "Having lots of Wi-Fi networks packed into a condominium or apartment building can hurt everyone's wireless performance, but Stanford University researchers say they've found a way to turn crowding into an advantage. In a dorm on the Stanford campus, they're building a single, dense Wi-Fi infrastructure that each resident can use and manage like their own private network. That means the shared system, called BeHop, can be centrally managed for maximum performance and efficiency while users still assign their own SSIDs, passwords and other settings. The Stanford project is making this happen with inexpensive, consumer-grade access points and SDN (software-defined networking)."
sciencehabit writes "Scientists have developed an algorithm that converts simple grayscale images into musical soundscapes. Even people blind from birth can use the technology to 'see' their surroundings and navigate around a room. Equally intriguing, the part of the subject's brain responsible for vision was active during these tasks, suggesting our thinking about how the brain works may be wrong. Instead of a 'vision center' of the brain, for example, we may actually have a region that helps us 'see', whether that input comes from sight or sound."
itwbennett writes "A new commercial tool designed to allow cybercriminals to easily transform legitimate Android applications into malicious software has hit the underground market, paving the way for cheap and easy development of sophisticated Android malware. Security researchers from Symantec said Wednesday in a blog post that the tool, called Dendroid, is marketed by its creators as an Android remote administration tool (RAT) and is being sold for $300."
astroengine writes "Hubble has observed some weird things since it was launched in 1990, but this is probably one of the strangest. In September 2013, the Catalina and Pan-STARRS sky surveys spotted a mysterious object in the asteroid belt, a region of rocky debris that occupy the space between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Follow-up observations by the Keck Observatory in Hawaii resolved three separate objects within the fuzzy cloud. It was so strange that Hubble mission managers decided to use the space telescope to get a closer look. And what they saw has baffled and thrilled astronomers in equal measure. 'This is a really bizarre thing to observe — we've never seen anything like it before,' said co-author Jessica Agarwal of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany. 'The break-up could have many different causes, but the Hubble observations are detailed enough that we can actually pinpoint the process responsible.'"
rjmarvin writes "Samsung looks to have found a way around voice commands for smart glasses by projecting an augmented reality keyboard onto users' hands. Galaxy Glass wearers' thumbs are used as input devices, tapping different areas of their fingers where various keys are virtually mapped. According to the August 2013 patent filing with the WIPO and South Korea's Intellectual Property Office, Samsung states that voice controls are too imprecise a technology, which are too heavily impacted by the noise levels of the surrounding environment."
cold fjord writes with this CNN report: "Massachusetts' highest court ruled Wednesday that it is not illegal to secretly photograph underneath a person's clothing — a practice known as "upskirting" — prompting one prosecutor to call for a revision of state law. The high court ruled that the practice did not violate the law because the women who were photographed while riding Boston public transportation were not nude or partially nude."
MojoKid writes "Buzz has been building for the last week that Microsoft would soon unveil the next version of DirectX at the upcoming Games Developer Conference (GDC). Microsoft has now confirmed that its discussion forums at the show won't just be to discuss updates to DX11, but that the company is putting a full court press behind DirectX 12. The company responded sharply over a year ago, when an AMD executive claimed that future versions of the API were essentially dead, but it has been over four years since DX11 debuted. To date, Microsoft has only revealed a few details of the next-generation API. Like AMD's Mantle, it will focus on giving developers "close-to-metal" GPU resource access and reducing CPU overhead. Like Mantle, the goal of DirectX 12 is to give programmers more control over performance tuning, with an eye towards better multi-threading and multi-GPU scaling. Unlike Mantle, DirectX 12 will undoubtedly support a full range of GPUs from AMD, Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm. Qualcomm's presence is interesting. With Windows RT all but moribund, Qualcomm's interest in that market may have seemed incidental. However, the fact that the company is involved with the DX12 standard could mean that the handset and tablet developer is serious about the Windows market in the long term."
cartechboy writes "Math watch time: For many traffic analysts, INRIX is considered the gold-standard. This week the company says traffic congestion surged in 2013 and grew over three times as fast as the American economy. The bad news: If true, this reverses two consecutive years of traffic declines with a six percent increase in 2013. (GDP, by comparison, grew 1.9 percent last year.) The analysts then theorize links between economic growth and traffic congestion, which makes sense on the surface. (As the economy improves, more jobs are created, so more commuters on the roads) But INRIX's theory creates as many questions as it answers. For example, the U.S. GDP has been steadily growing since 2009. So why did congestion decline in 2011 and 2012?"
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have found that between 1 and 3% of people don't like music of any kind. These people aren't tone deaf or incapable of grasping the emotional meaning of a song—their brains simply didn’t find listening to music rewarding. While some psychiatric disorders are associated with the loss of the ability to feel pleasure, called anhedonia, the music-haters represent the first evidence for not feeling pleasure from only one specific pleasing stimulant, a condition that has been dubbed music-specific anhedonia. Curious where you fall on the music reward spectrum? The researchers have an online quiz." I know I actively prefer silence to most music, but what I like, I like intensely. Update: 03/06 21:48 GMT by T : Sorry for the garbled submission; now fixed.
The intro to our first video interview with Pwnie Express 'Founder and CEO and everything else' Dave Porcello back in 2012 started with this sentence: 'Pwnie Express is a cute name for this tiny (and easily hidden) group of Pen Test devices.' They have more tools now, including some they've released since we mentioned them and their (then) new Pwn Pad back in March, 2013. Now they're working with Kali Linux, a distro built especially for penetration testing (and formerly known as BackTrack). In this video we have Tim Lord chatting with Dave Porcello about recent Pwnie Express happenings at RSA 2014. (If you don't see the video below, please use this link.)
Freetronics is Australia's answer to a lot of electronic tinkerers' needs, selling items like Arduino compatible boards, cables, and specialized tools. Founder Jonathan Oxer is a (serious) electronics hobbyist himself; he talked with Slashdot last year about making ArduSats, which were then launched to the International Space Station. Now, Oxer has written an excellent guide for hobbyists who might get the chance to travel to Shenzhen, where so many of the world's electronic bits and bobs are made. As travel writing goes, it's fascinating for the sheer novelty of the place. If you actually have the chance to go, some of the advice here might save you money and time. For those of you who have been to Shenzhen, what else should visitors know?
First time accepted submitter possiblybored writes "I'm 30, and I am a technology teacher and the school's technology coordinator. I like my job, but I have been having thoughts about switching careers and focusing more on technology in the private sector. I like Microsoft products and would head in that direction, probably. Is it too late for me to think about this? What is the best way to get started on this path? I'm not so much interested in programming (though I'd like to learn a language some day) as much as I am intrigued by topics like setting up e-mail servers, reading about cloud stuff like Office 365, and looking at information on collaborative technology. I'm a good teacher and excel at explaining things as well. Any advice the community could offer would be greatly appreciated!"
kc123 writes "In an effort to deal with copyright infringement Getty Images is launching a new embedding feature that will make more than 35 million images freely available to anyone for non-commercial usage. Anyone will be able to visit Getty Images' library of content, select an image and copy an embed HTML code to use that image on their own websites. Getty Images will serve the image in an embedded player – very much like YouTube currently does with its videos – which will include the full copyright information and a link back to the image's dedicated licensing page on the Getty Images website."
An anonymous reader writes "The Fedora Project is now going to enforce a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for contributors. What the project's engineering committee is asking their members to conceal is a contributor's nationality, country of origin, or area of residence. There's growing concern about software development contributions coming from export restricted countries by the US (Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria) with Red Hat being based out of North Carolina, but should these governmental restrictions apply to an open-source software project?"
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt: "The CEO of a virtual-currency exchange was found dead near her home in Singapore. A police spokesman said Thursday that initial investigations indicated there was no suspicion of 'foul play' in the Feb. 26 death, meaning officers do not suspect murder. The spokesman said police found 28-year-old Autumn Radtke, an American, lying motionless near the apartment tower where she lived. Police have so far classified the death as 'unnatural,' which can mean an accident, misadventure, or suicide." Hat tip to Jamie McCarthy for Slate's thoughtful take on Radtke's death, and the way it's been reported (notably, several sources have speculated that her death was a suicide, with little support).
jlp2097 writes "As reported by Heise, Mozilla has introduced a new JPEG encoder (German [Google-translated to English]) called mozjpeg. Mozjpeg promises to be a 'production-quality JPEG encoder that improves compression while maintaining compatibility with the vast majority of deployed decoders.' The Mozilla Research blog states that Mozjpeg is based on libjpeg-turbo with functionality added from jpgcrush. They claim an average of 2-6% of additional compression for files encoded with libjpeg and 10% additional compression for a sample of 1500 jpegs from Wikipedia — while maintaining the same image quality."
DoctorBit writes "According to today's Newsweek article, Satoshi Nakamoto is ... Satoshi Nakamoto — a 64-year-old Japanese-American former defense contractor living with his mother in a modest Temple City, California suburban home. According to the article, 'He is someone with a penchant for collecting model trains and a career shrouded in secrecy, having done classified work for major corporations and the U.S. military.' and 'Nakamoto's family describe him as extremely intelligent, moody and obsessively private, a man of few words who screens his phone calls, anonymizes his emails and, for most of his life, has been preoccupied with the two things for which Bitcoin has now become known: money and secrecy.' The article quotes him as responding when asked about bitcoin, 'I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it, ... It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.' I imagine that he will now have to move and hire round-the-clock security for his own protection."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Help-Net Security (based on the linked Trend Micro report): "Every country's cybercriminal underground market has distinct characteristics, and with 500 million national mobile Internet users and the number continuously rising, the Chinese underground market is awash with cyber crooks buying and selling services and devices aimed at taking advantage of them. Trend Micro's senior threat researchers Lion Gu has been scouring forums, online shops and QQ chats to give us a sense of what is actually going on on this burgeoning mobile underground. Mobile apps that stealthily subscribe users to premium services are, naturally, very popular with cyber crooks in China as in the rest of the world. Premium service numbers can also be bought on underground markets. Network carriers usually assign premium service numbers to qualified service providers, but obviously some of them are not [averse to] selling them on to criminals."
elphie007 writes "An investigation by The Australian Financial Review has discovered how from 2002 to 2013, Apple has shifted approximately $AU8.9 billion of revenue generated in Australia to Ireland, via Singapore. The article states that last year alone, Apple Australia paid only $AU88.5 million in tax, or 0.044% of estimated potential tax liabilities. What's more, the Australian Tax Office has agreed that this arrangement is acceptable under Australian law."
MightyMartian writes "'NASA and the White House are asking Congress to bankroll a new intrastellar road trip to a destination that's sort of like the extraterrestrial Atlantis of our solar system — Jupiter's intriguing moon, Europa.' Since Europa seems one of the most likely worlds in the Solar System other than Earth where we have some hope of finding extant life, let's hope Congress gives the green light to this project."
JDG1980 writes "Krita, an open-source graphics editor, has been around since 2005, but no stable version existed for Windows users — until today. With the release of Krita 2.8, full and stable support for Windows users is finally a reality, thanks to input from KO GmbH and Intel. Krita brings some things to the table that GIMP does not: 16 bit per channel color support, adjustment layers, and a name that won't set off red flags at HR, just to list a few. You can download the Windows version here. Might be worth looking into, if you're tired of the lack of progress on GIMP and don't want to pay monthly "cloud" fees to Adobe."
Alain Williams writes "Religious sponsored ignorance is not just in the USA, a school in Hackney, England is trying to hide the idea of evolution from its pupils. Maybe they fear that their creation story will be seen for what it is if pupils get to learn ideas supported evidence. The girls are also disadvantaged since they can't answer the redacted questions, thus making it harder to get good marks."
mrspoonsi writes "A man whose mother bequeathed her iPad to her family in her will says Apple's security rules are too restrictive. Since her death, they have been unable to unlock the device, despite providing Apple with copies of her will, death certificate and solicitor's letter. After her death, they discovered they did not know her Apple ID and password, but were asked to provide written consent for the device to be unlocked. Mr Grant said: 'We obviously couldn't get written permission because mum had died. So my brother has been back and forth with Apple, they're asking for some kind of proof that he can have the iPad. We've provided the death certificate, will and solicitor's letter but it wasn't enough. They've now asked for a court order to prove that mum was the owner of the iPad and the iTunes account.'"