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

+ - 198 Tomb of Maya Holy Snake Lord Found in Guatemala

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Archaeologists have discovered a seventh century tomb of a Maya queen in Guatemala. The tomb belongs to the Maya Holy Snake Lord, Lady K'abel, one of the most powerful queens in her kingdom during the Classic Maya civilization. A team of archaeologists led by David Freidel, co-director of the expedition from the Washington University in St. Louis, found the tomb during an excavation of the royal Maya city of El Perú-Waka' in northwestern Petén, Guatemala, based on artifacts suggesting that a higher-ranked queen is buried there."
AI

+ - 320 Google Puts Souped-up Neural Networks to Work->

Submitted by holy_calamity
holy_calamity (872269) writes "A machine learning breakthrough from Google researchers that grabbed headlines this summer is now being put to work improving the company's products. The company revealed in June that it had built neural networks that run on 16,000 processors simultaneously, enough power that they could learn to recognize cats just by watching YouTube. Those neural nets have now made Google's speech recognition for US English 25 percent better, and are set to be used in other products, such as image search."
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Debian

+ - 97 Steam for Linux to Arrive 'In a Few Days'->

Submitted by
sharksfan98
sharksfan98 writes "Steam’s arrival on Linux isn’t a secret – and even when it was it was a poorly kept one.

The company have been internally testing the Linux client for a while, and recently announced that an ‘external’ beta Linux users would be coming out ‘sometime in October’. No specific date was given.

But, today, a request from Canonical’s Bryce H. to Ubuntu developers has offered up a more definite time-frame – one that seems to be happening this week

He wrote in his request:

“Could an archive or SRU admin accept nvidia-common and jockey from the upload queue?

  These are needed for the Valve Steam release that happens in a few days.”

The bad-ish news is that only 1000 people will have access to the external beta to begin with. So as close as its release is it won’t be landing in the laps of everyone quite yet.

But it’s still exciting, no?"

Link to Original Source

+ - 345 Hiring Smokers – Banned In South Florida City-> 3

Submitted by Penurious Penguin
Penurious Penguin (2687307) writes "On October 2, City Commissioners of Delray Beach finalized a policy which prohibits agencies from hiring employees who use tobacco products. Delray Beach isn't alone though; other Florida cities such as Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, require prospective employees to sign affidavits declaring themselves tobacco-free for 12 months prior to the date of application. Throughout the states, both government and businesses are moving to ban tobacco-use beyond working hours. Many medical facilities, e.g. hospitals, have already, or intend to implement similar policy. In some more-aggressive environments referred to as nicotine-free, employee urine-samples can be taken and tested for any presence of nicotine, not excluding that from gum or patches. Employees testing positive can be terminated.

The primary rationale behind these policies has been frugality, citing greater insurance-costs for smokers, and the savings implied by eliminating them from the workforce. In some less aggressive situations, persistent smokers are imposed a "Tobacco User Surcharge" of $20 per paycheck and offered waived co-payments for smoking-cessation drugs.

Efforts to cut expenses and encourage better health seem perfectly normal. Policy prohibiting activities otherwise legal, but unbefitting a workplace environment also seem normal. However, employers or government defining employee's domestic lifestyles is a relatively new concept, especially when nothing illegal is involved. It would be difficult, if not impossible to argue that smoking is without consequences; but is breeching the boundaries of the household inconsequential?

Times do change, and adaptation is often a necessary burden. But have they changed so much that we'd now postpone the Manhattan project for 12 months because Oppenheimer had toked his pipe? Would we confine our vision to the Milky Way or snub the 1373 Cincinnati because Hubble smoked his? Would we shun relativity, or shelve the works of Tolkien because he and C. S. Lewis had done the same? If so, then where will it stop? Will we soon scan employees for signs of excessive sugar, trans-fats and cholesterol? Will we have authenticated and logged aerobics classes? I, for one, welcome answers from our new salubrious overlords."

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Wireless Networking

+ - 215 Don't sweat 802.11ac Wi-Fi - because 802.11ad will knock your socks off ->

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg (971356) writes "While the Wi-Fi world is rightly abuzz over the rapidly approaching large-scale deployment of the new 802.11ac standard, experts at an Interop NY panel said this week that the 802.11ad standard is likely to be even more transformative. "802.11ac is an extension for pure mainstream Wi-Fi," said Sean Coffey, Realtek's director of standards and business development. "It's evolutionary. ... You're not going to see dramatically new use cases." By contrast, 802.11ad adds 60GHz connectivity to the previously used 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, potentially providing multi-gigabit connection speeds and dramatically broadening the number of applications for which wireless can be used."
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Networking

+ - 165 The Coming Internet Video Crash->

Submitted by
snydeq
snydeq writes "First, it was data caps on cellular, and now caps on wired broadband — welcome to the end of the rich Internet, writes Galen Gruman. 'People are still getting used to the notion that unlimited data plans are dead and gone for their smartphones. The option wasn't even offered for tablets. Now, we're beginning to see the eradication of the unlimited data plan in our broadband lines, such as cable and DSL connections. It's a dangerous trend that will threaten the budding Internet-based video business — whether from Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, Windows Store, or Google Play — then jeopardize Internet services of all sorts. It's a complex issue, and though the villains are obvious — the telecom carriers and cable providers — the solutions are not. The result will be a metered Internet that discourages use of the services so valuable for work and play.'"
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Education

+ - 174 Why is This NYC School Teacher Livestreaming From the Rubber Room? -> 1

Submitted by
pigrabbitbear
pigrabbitbear writes "Francesco Portelos is a NYC teacher who, after having raised questions about budgeting at I.S. 49 Berta A. Dreyfus (a Staten Island school he’s been suspended from), is now taking viewers inside a rubber room he’s been stationed at. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Steven Brill published a lengthy account of NYC’s teacher reassignment centers in The New Yorker a few years ago, but the term refers to offices used by teachers that have been put on administrative leave from the classroom for one reason or another."
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Science

+ - 187 Unusual New Species of Dinosaur Identified->

Submitted by cervesaebraciator
cervesaebraciator (2352888) writes "A new species of heterodontosaur, called Pegomastax, has been identified. Paul Sereno, a University of Chicago paleontologist, published a description of this species in a recent issue of ZooKeys. Although this diminutive (60 cm or less) species was herbivorous, it also possessed a set of sharp, stabbing canines in its parrot-shaped beak. Dr. Sereno holds that these canines where likely "for nipping and defending themselves, not for eating meat.” Perhaps the most imaginatively intriguing aspect of all, the body of the Pegomastix might have been covered in porcupine-like quills, making for perhaps the least attractive dinosaur of all time. You can almost hear Dieter Stark screaming 'Helvetes jävlar!'"
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Science

+ - 209 French Company Hopes to Disrupt Sanitation with Worm-Powered Toilet

Submitted by derekmead
derekmead (2466858) writes "Billions worldwide still don't have access to proper sanitation, and those of that do still require a ton of water and electricity to keep waste flowing. A French company is offering one solution: Use turd-eating worms to compost waste right at the source.

Ecosphere Technologies has developed an outhouse that, rather than relying on chemicals like a port-a-john, relies on about a pound of red wiggler worms. A new installation in Quebec uses imported worms, placed inside of a mixture of dung and straw underneath to toilet, to devour feces delivered to them by a conveyor belt system. (When someone uses the toilet, pee filters through sand to wash away, while a pedal allows the user to transport their poo to the worm space.)

The whole system uses no water or electricity, and a series of passive vents allegedly keeps the toilet smelling great. The company claims it can be used 10,000 times without servicing, which is far better than what a port-a-potty can boast, although with a current price tag of $40k for the worm system, port-a-potties are still a lot cheaper."
Open Source

+ - 144 Open-source Raspberry Pi WebIDE alpha released->

Submitted by
ptorrone
ptorrone writes "Adafruit, the NYC based open-source hardware company led by Ladyada released their Open-source Raspberry Pi WebIDE alpha today. It's goal is to be "The easiest way to develop code on your Raspberry Pi". To get up and running head on over to learn.adafruit.com/webideand follow the installation and setup instructions. It uses Bitbucket, and any code changes you make will be synced to your Bitbucket account. Adafruit chose Bitbucket over Github because they offer free secure accounts, which is very important for a Web-based IDE."
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Data Storage

+ - 96 Most SSDs now under a dollar per gigabyte->

Submitted by
crookedvulture
crookedvulture writes "SSD prices continue plummeting. In just the past quarter, street prices have fallen by double-digit percentages for most models, with some slashed by 30% or more. We've reached the point where the majority of drives cost less than a dollar per gigabyte, and that's without the special coupon codes and mail-in rebates usually attached to weekly deals. Lower-capacity drives seem more resistant to deep price cuts, making 120-256GB offerings the best values right now. It's nice to see a new class of devices go from prohibitively expensive to eminently affordable in such a relatively short amount of time."
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Facebook

+ - 185 The Computer Science Behind Facebook's 1 Billion Users->

Submitted by pacopico
pacopico (802691) writes "Much has been made about Facebook hitting 1 billion users. But Businessweek has the inside story detailing how the site actually copes with this many people and the software Facebook has invented that pushes the limits of computer science. The story quotes database guru Mike Stonebraker saying, "I think Facebook has the hardest information technology problem on the planet." To keep Facebooking moving fast, Mark Zuckerberg apparently institued a program called Boot Camp in which engineers spend six-weeks learning every bit of Facebook's code."
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Android

+ - 118 Samsung Creates New File System F2Fs For Linux & Android->

Submitted by sfcrazy
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Samsung has created a new Linux file system called F2FS. Jaegeuk Kim of Samsung writes on the Linux Kernel Mailing List: F2FS is a new file system carefully designed for the NAND flash memory-based storage devices. We chose a log structure file system approach, but we tried to adapt it to the new form of storage. Also we remedy some known issues of the very old log structured file system, such as snowball effect of wandering tree and high cleaning overhead."
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Security

+ - 152 Cybercrime Gang Recruiting Botmasters for Large-Scale Attacks on American Banks->

Submitted by Trailrunner7
Trailrunner7 (1100399) writes "A slew of major American banks, some already stressed by a stream of DDoS attacks carried out over the past 10 days, may soon have to brace themselves for a large-scale coordinated attack bent on pulling off fraudulent wire transfers.

RSA’s FraudAction research team has been monitoring underground chatter and has put together various clues to deduce that a cybercrime gang is actively recruiting up to 100 botmasters to participate in a complicated man-in-the-middle hijacking scam using a variant of the proprietary Gozi Trojan.

This is the first time a private cybercrime organization has recruited outsiders to participate in a financially motivated attack, said Mor Ahuvia, cybercrime communications specialist for RSA FraudAction. The attackers are promising their recruits a cut of the profits, and are requiring an initial investment in hardware and training in how to deploy the Gozi Prinimalka Trojan, Ahuvia added. Also, the gang will only share executable files with their partners, and will not give up the Trojan’s compilers, keeping the recruits dependent on the gang for updates"

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Security

+ - 157 Boston Airport Replacing X-ray Body Scanners->

Submitted by OverTheGeicoE
OverTheGeicoE (1743174) writes "Boston's Logan International Airport is in the process of replacing its X-ray body scanners with millimeter-wave ones. According to TFA, nine of the new scanners have been installed already, and ultimately 27 of these scanners will replace the 17 X-ray backscatter scanners that were installed in March of 2010. Perhaps this will help TSA workers avoid being part of a cancer cluster. Some speculate that TSA will ultimately eliminate all of its X-ray body scanners."
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Science

+ - 94 Scientists Invent Transparent Soil to Reveal the Secret Life of Plants->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Most people’s image of plants is actually upside down. For most of our photosynthetic friends, the majority of the plant is underground in the form of an intricate system of roots. The bit that sticks up is almost an afterthought. That’s a problem for scientists trying to study plants because growing them in media that allow you to see the roots, such as hydroponics, doesn't mimic real soil very well. Now, a team of researchers at the James Hutton Institute and the University of Abertay Dundee in Scotland has developed an artificial transparent soil that allows scientists to make detailed studies of root structures and subterranean soil ecology on a microscopic level."
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Space

+ - 115 Astronomers Search for Dyson Spheres of Alien Civilizations

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Ross Anderson writes that Freeman Dyson predicted in 1960 that every civilization in the Universe eventually runs out of energy on its home planet, a major hurdle in a civilization's evolution, and that all those who leap over it do so in precisely the same way: they build a massive collector of starlight, a shell of solar panels to surround their home star. Last month astronomers began a two-year search for Dyson Spheres, a search that will span the Milky Way, along with millions of other galaxies funded by a sizable grant from the Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds research on the "big questions" that face humanity, questions relating to "human purpose and ultimate reality." Compared with SETI, a search for Dyson Spheres assumes that the larger the civilization, the more energy it uses and the more heat it reradiates so if Dyson Spheres exist, they promise to give off a very particular kind of heat signature, a signature that we should be able to see through our infrared telescopes. "A Dyson Sphere would appear very bright in the mid-infrared," says project leader Jason Wright. "Just like your body, which is invisible in the dark, but shines brightly in mid-infrared goggles." A civilization that built a Dyson Sphere would have to go to great lengths to avoid detection by building massive radiators that give off heat so cool that it would be undetectable, a solution that would involve building a sphere that was a hundred times larger than necessary. "If a civilization wants to hide, it's certainly possible to hide," says Wright, "but it requires massive amounts of deliberate engineering across an entire civilization.""
Biotech

+ - 152 Lab-made eggs produce healthy mice->

Submitted by
ananyo
ananyo writes "Japanese researchers have coaxed mouse stem cells into becoming viable eggs that produce healthy offspring. Last year, the same team successfully used mouse stem cells to make functional sperm (other groups have produced sperm cells in vitro).
The researchers used a cocktail of growth factors to transform stem cells into egg precursors. When they added these egg precursor cells to embryonic ovary tissue that did not contain sex cells, the mixture spontaneously formed ovary-like structures, which they then grafted onto natural ovaries in female mice. After four weeks, the stem-cell-derived cells had matured into oocytes. The team removed the oocytes from the ovaries, fertilized them and transplanted the embryos into foster mothers. The offspring that were produced grew up to be fertile themselves."

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+ - 110 Too old to retrain? 1

Submitted by Talcyon
Talcyon (150838) writes "I'm a 40 year old dev, and it's become apparent that my .NET skillset is woefully out of date after 5 years of doing various bits of support. I tried the "Management" thing last year but that was a failure as I'm just not a people person, and a full-on development project this year has turned into a disaster area. I'm mainly a VB.NET person with skills from the .NET 2.0 era. Is that it? Do I give up a career in technology now? Or turn around and bury myself in a support role, sorting out issues with other peoples/companies software?
I've been lurking around Slashdot for many years now, and this question occasionally comes up, but it pays to get the opinions of others...
Do I retrain and get back up to speed or am I too old?"

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison

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