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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Graphics

Mesa 10.2 Improves Linux's Open-Source Graphics Drivers 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mesa 10.2 was introduced this week as the new shining example of what open source graphics (and open source projects in general) are capable of achieving. The latest release of this often underrepresented open source graphics driver project has many new OpenGL and driver features including a number of new OpenGL 4 extensions. The reverse-engineered Freedreno driver now poses serious competition to Qualcomm's Adreno driver, an OpenMAX implementation was added for Radeon video encoding support, Intel Broadwell support now works better, the software rasterizer supports OpenGL 3.3, and many other changes are present."
Security

Report: Watch Dogs Game May Have Influenced Highway Sign Hacking 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the video-games-caused-the-holocaust dept.
An anonymous reader writes 'Earlier this month, at least three U.S. states reported that a hacker had broken into electronic road signs above major highways, with the hacker leaving messages for people to follow him on Twitter. The Multi-State Information Sharing an Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) produced an intelligence report blaming a Saudi Arabian hacker that the organization says likely got the idea from Watch Dogs, a new video in which game play revolves around "hacking," with a focus on hacking critical infrastructure-based electronic devices in particular. "Watch Dogs allows players to hack electronic road signs, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs), street lights, cell phones and other systems. On May 27, 2014, the malicious actor posted an image of the game on his Twitter feed, demonstrating his interest in the game, and the compromise of road signs occurs during game play. CIS believes it is likely that a small percentage of Watch Dogs players will experiment with compromising computers and electronic systems outside of game play, and that this activity will likely affect SSLT [state, local, tribal and territorial] government systems and Department of Transportation (DOT) systems in particular." The signs allowed telnet and were secured with weak or default passwords. The report came out on the same day that The Homeland Security Department cautioned transportation operators about a security hole in some electronic freeway billboards that could let hackers display bogus warnings to drivers.'
Entertainment

Bill Watterson (briefly) Returns To Comics 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the bats-aren't-bugs dept.
New submitter amosh writes: 'Bill Watterson was the author of the immensely popular "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip in the 80s and 90s, until he retired and removed himself entirely from the public eye. Since his retirement in 1995, he has become a recluse, and has not drawn a published daily comic strip — until now. This week, Watterson came out of exile to draw the 2nd panel of three of Stephan Pastis' "Pearls Before Swine" strips. Watterson has lost none of his style or talent, and a fourth strip — drawn by Pastis alone and published today, June 7 — is a lovely homage to Watterson's ending of Calvin and Hobbes. The Washington Post has the story of how it all happened.'
Robotics

Robotics Engineers: "We Don't Want To Replace Humans. We Want To Enhance Humans. 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the resistance-is-futile dept.
Lucas123 writes: 'Scientists developing smart robotic prosthetics say the lines between robots and humans is beginning to blur and that someday soon people will be able to improve their body. For example, robotic prosthetics, using a built-in computer, 100 sensors, and 17 motors, can take natural cues from a user's residual limb, giving him or her the dexterity and grace to play a piano. Robotic exoskeletons have helped people suffering from paralysis walk again and the U.S. military is just weeks away from testing a new exoskeleton. And, more than six years ago, a University of Arizona researcher who had successfully connected a moth's brain to a robot predicted that by 2022 we'll be using "hybrid" computers that run a combination of technology and living organic tissue. "By utilizing technology, you're able to improve your body beyond anything you could do in the past," said Daniel Wilson, an engineer with degrees in machine learning and robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.'
Space

Updating the Integrated Space Plan 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-vote-for-warp-drive dept.
garyebickford writes 'Space Finance Group (in which I'm a partner) has launched a Kickstarter to fund updating the "famous Integrated Space Plan", created by Ron Jones at Rockwell International in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and can be found on walls in the industry even today. The new Plan will be a poster, but also will provide the initial core data for a new website. The permanent link will be thespaceplan.com. As additional resources become available the website will be able to contain much more information, with (eventually) advanced data management (possibly including sources like Linked Data) and visualization tools to become a resource for education, research, entertainment, and business analytics. The group also hopes to support curated crowdsourcing of some data, and is talking to Space Development companies about providing data about themselves. They hope to be able to construct new timelines and show the relations between events and entities — companies, agencies, people, etc.'
Wikipedia

Wikipedia Mining Algorithm Reveals the Most Influential People In History 231

Posted by Soulskill
from the jesus-loses-to-a-botanist dept.
KentuckyFC writes: 'In 1978, the American researcher Michael Hart published The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, a book that became an international best seller. Since then, various others have published similar lists. But all suffer the same drawback: they are subjective list ultimately influenced by numerous cultural factors. Now data scientists have come up with a way to extract an objective list of the 100 most influential people in history using the network of links between biographical articles on Wikipedia and how they vary between 24 different language editions, including English, Chinese, Russian Arabic and so on. The researchers assume that people who are highly ranked in different language editions are influential across both language cultures and that the more appearances they make in different language editions, the more influential they are. But the actual ranking is done by PageRank-like algorithms that consider a biographical article important if it is pointed to by other important articles.

The resulting lists of the most influential men and women might surprise. The top PageRanked individual is Carl Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who developed the modern naming scheme for plants and animals, followed by Jesus. The top PageRanked women are: Elizabeth II followed by Mary (mother of Jesus). For comparison, just under half of the top 100 most influential also appear in Hart's 1978 book. But this is just the beginning. By counting the individuals from one culture that influence other cultures, the team is able to work out which cultures have dominated others. And by looking only at people born before certain dates, they can see how the influence of different cultures has waxed and waned throughout 35 centuries of recorded history.'
Medicine

Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration of Damaged, Old Immune System 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the fasting-counters-slowing dept.
schwit1 sends word of research showing that cycles of prolonged fasting can both protect the immune system from harm and also induce regeneration by causing stem cells to start renewing themselves. 'In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial (abstract), long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then "flipped a regenerative switch," changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed. "PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into regenerative mode. It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system," explained [study author Valter Longo], noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune system. "And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system."'
Windows

Microsoft Fixing Windows 8 Flaws, But Leaving Them In Windows 7 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the probably-not-fixing-them-in-win-95-either dept.
mask.of.sanity sends this news from El Reg: "Microsoft has left Windows 7 exposed by only applying security upgrades to its newest operating systems. Researchers found the gaps after they scanned 900 Windows libraries using a custom diffing tool and uncovered a variety of security functions that were updated in Windows 8 but not in 7. They said the shortcoming could lead to the discovery of zero day vulnerabilities. The missing safe functions were part of Microsoft's dedicated libraries intsafe.h and strsafe.h that help developers combat various attacks. [Video, slides.]"
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: A 'Mavis Beacon' For Teaching Smartphone and Tablet Typing? 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the start-texting-conversations-with-a-teenager dept.
theodp writes: "Where have you gone, Mavis Beacon? A nation of smartphone and tablet typists could use your help. You've seen people type fast-and-furiously on smartphones and tablets, so you know it can be done, but how exactly do these one- and two-fingered wonders (YouTube video) manage to do so? Is it their reaction time? Technique? Both? Back in the day, touch-typing teachers showed kids the secrets to higher word-per-minute scores on their Smith Coronas. Later, typing tutor software got kids up-to-speed on PCs. So, with over 1 billion smartphones and 200 million or so tablets shipped in 2013, what are the best software and tutorials that teach mobile typing techniques? And what platform specific features — iOS, Android, WP8/Win8, BB — do you find make your mobile typing life a whole lot easier?"
Classic Games (Games)

id Software's Original 'Softdisk' Games Open Sourced 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the free-as-in-antique-fun dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The original games developed by John Carmack, John Romero, and Adrian Carmack at Softdisk, where the legendary programmers originally met and went on to start id Software, have been open-sourced under the GPLv2. The games are now owned by Flat Rock Software and the open-source titles available are Catacomb, The Catacomb, Catacomb 3D, Catacomb Abyss, and Hovertank3D. The oldest of these games are written in Borland Turbo Pascal while the others are in Borland C++. The source-code can be downloaded from GitHub."
Supercomputing

Electrical Control of Nuclear Spin Qubits: Important Step For Quantum Computing 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-you're-cooking-with-electricity dept.
Taco Cowboy writes: "Using a spin cascade in a single-molecule magnet, scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and their French partners have demonstrated that a single nuclear spin can be realized in a purely electric manner, rather than through the use of magnetic fields (abstract). For their experiments, the researchers used a nuclear spin-qubit transistor that consists of a single-molecule magnet connected to three electrodes (source, drain, and gate). The single-molecule magnet is a TbPc2 molecule — a single metal ion of terbium that is enclosed by organic phthalocyanine molecules of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen atoms. The gap between the electric field and the spin is bridged by the so-called hyperfine-Stark effect that transforms the electric field into a local magnetic field. This quantum mechanical process can be transferred to all nuclear spin systems and, hence, opens up entirely novel perspectives for integrating quantum effects in nuclear spins into electronic circuits"
The Courts

$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops 216

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-me-tell-you-what-a-wire-is dept.
mpicpp sends this news from Ars: 'A local New Hampshire police department agreed Thursday to pay a woman who was arrested and charged with wiretapping $57,000 to settle her civil rights lawsuit. The deal comes a week after a federal appeals court ruled that the public has a "First Amendment" right to film cops. The plaintiff in the case, Carla Gericke, was arrested on wiretapping allegations in 2010 for filming her friend being pulled over by the Weare Police Department during a late-night traffic stop. Although Gericke was never brought to trial, she sued, alleging that her arrest constituted retaliatory prosecution in breach of her constitutional rights. The department, without admitting wrongdoing, settled Thursday in a move that the woman's attorney speculated would deter future police "retaliation." ... The First US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF) in Gericke's case last week that she was "exercising a clearly established First Amendment right when she attempted to film the traffic stop in the absence of a police order to stop filming or leave the area."
Censorship

Thai Police: We'll Get You For Online Social Media Criticism 86

Posted by timothy
from the yes-your-preeminence dept.
wired_parrot (768394) writes 'After a leading protester of the recent military coup in Thailand made several critical posts in Facebook criticizing the military takeover, Thailand's Technology Crime Suppression Division tracked his location through his IP address and promptly arrested him.. The arrested was meant to send a message to Thailand's online community. Said the police: "I want to tell any offenders on social media that police will come get you."'
Intel

Intel Core i7-4790K Devil's Canyon Increases Clocks By 500 MHz, Lowers Temps 57

Posted by timothy
from the free-lunch dept.
Vigile (99919) writes "Since the introduction of Intel's Ivy Bridge processors there was a subset of users that complained about the company's change of thermal interface material between the die and the heat spreader. With the release of the Core i7-4790K, Intel is moving to a polymer thermal interface material that claims to improve cooling on the Haswell architecture, along with the help of some added capacitors on the back of the CPU. Code named Devil's Canyon, this processor boosts stock clocks by 500 MHz over the i7-4770K all for the same price ($339) and lowers load temperatures as well. Unfortunately, in this first review at PC Perspective, overclocking doesn't appear to be improved much."
Operating Systems

Open Source Robot OS Finds Niches From Farms To Space 36

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-linux-oh-wait dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "Blue River Technology built a robot named LettuceBot that uses computer vision to kill unwanted lettuce plants in a field. Rather than build their creation from scratch, they built off of the Robot Operating System, an open source OS that, in the words of one engineer, 'allowed only a few engineers to write an entire system and receive our first check for service in only a few months.' With ROS robots starting to appear everywhere, including the International Space Station, it looks like open source may be making huge strides in this area."
Space

Astronomers Solve Puzzle of Mysterious Streaks In Radio Images of the Sky 66

Posted by timothy
from the smudges-on-the-lens dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes 'Back in 2012, astronomers constructed an array of 256 radio antennas in the high deserts of New Mexico designed to listen for radio waves produced by gamma ray bursts, one of the most energetic phenomena in universe and thought to be associated with the collapse of a rapidly rotating stars to form neutron stars and black holes. The array generates all sky images of signals produced in the 25 MHz to 75 MHz region of the spectrum. But when researchers switched it on, they began to observe puzzling streaks across the sky that couldn't possibly be generated by gamma ray bursts. One source left a trail covering more than 90 degrees of the sky in less than 10 seconds. This trail then slowly receded to an endpoint which glowed for around 90 seconds. Now the first study of these transient radio signals has discovered that they are almost certainly produced by fireballs as they burn up after entering the Earth's atmosphere. The conclusion comes after the researchers were able to match several of the radio images with visible light images of fireballs gathered by NASA's All Sky Fireball Network. That solves the mystery but not without introducing another to keep astrophysicists busy in future. The question they're scratching their heads over now is how the plasma trails left by meteors can emit radio waves at this frequency.'

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