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United States

New Sanctions To Target Syrian and Iranian Tech Capacity 161

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
vivIsel writes "This morning, President Obama is set to unveil a new executive order that will allow the U.S. to specifically target sanctions against individuals, companies or countries who use technology to enable human rights abuse. Especially as repressive regimes more effectively monitor their dissidents online (rather than simply blocking access), the sanctions focus on companies that help them do that."
United States

In Nothing We Trust 910

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-john-dillinger-and-hope-he-is-still-alive dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton write in the National Journal that seven in 10 Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track; eight in 10 are dissatisfied with the way the nation is being governed, only 23 percent have confidence in banks, and just 19 percent have confidence in big business. Less than half the population expresses "a great deal" of confidence in the public-school system or organized religion. 'We have lost our gods,' says Laura Hansen. 'We've lost it—that basic sense of trust and confidence—in everything.' Humans are coded to create communities, and communities beget institutions. What if, in the future, they don't? People could disconnect, refocus inward, and turn away from their social contract. Already, many are losing trust. If society can't promise benefits for joining it, its members may no longer feel bound to follow its rules. But history reminds us that America's leaders can draw the nation together to solve problems. At a moment of gaping income inequality, when the country was turbulently transitioning from a farm economy to a factory one, President Theodore Roosevelt reminded Americans, 'To us, as a people, it has been granted to lay the foundations of our national life.' At the height of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt chastised the business and political leaders who had led the country into ruin. 'These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men,' said FDR. 'Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.'"
Microsoft

Skype Finally Arrives On Microsoft Phones 151

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-yesterday dept.
judgecorp writes "Skype has finally delivered version 1.0 of Skype for Windows Phone, bringing support for its parent Microsoft's mobile platform up to the level of that enjoyed by rivals Android and iPhone. from the article: 'Skype for Windows Phone is available in 18 different languages and will be available on most local Windows Phone Marketplaces within the next 48 hours. The app features the ability to make free voice and video calls to other Skype users as well as affordable calls to landlines and mobiles using Skype credit over a 4G, 3G or Wi-Fi connection.'"
Education

How Good Are Robo-Graders? 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the reading-robots dept.
stoolpigeon writes "With a large study showing software grades essays as well as humans, but much faster, it might seem that soon humans will be completely out of the loop when it comes to evaluating standardized tests. But Les Perelman, a writing teacher at MIT, has shown the limits of algorithms used for grading with an essay that got a top score from an automated system but contained no relevant information and many inaccuracies. Mr. Perelman outlined his approach for the NY Times after he was given a month to analyze E-Rater, one of the software packages that grades essays."
Education

The Crisis of Government-Funded Science 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-without-a-million-dollars dept.
eldavojohn writes "The New York Review of Books has an article penned by Steven Weinberg lamenting the future of physics, cosmology and this era of 'big science' in which we find ourselves. A quote from Goldhaber sums up the problem nicely, 'The first to disintegrate a nucleus was Rutherford, and there is a picture of him holding the apparatus in his lap. I then always remember the later picture when one of the famous cyclotrons was built at Berkeley, and all of the people were sitting in the lap of the cyclotron.' The article is lengthy with a history of big physics projects (most painfully perhaps the SSC) but Weinberg's message ultimately comes across as pessimism laced with fatalism — easily understandable given his experiences with government funding. Unfortunately he notes, 'Big science has the special problem that it can't easily be scaled down. It does no good to build an accelerator tunnel that only goes halfway around the circle.' Apparently this article mirrors his talk given in January at the American Astronomical Society. If not our government, will anyone fund these immense projects or will physics slowly grind to a halt due to fiscal constraints?"
Technology

Robots Go Wild at the USFIRST.org Robotics Competition (Video) 49

Posted by Roblimo
from the greetings-to-our-new-robotic-basketball-overlords dept.
The Robots Rock. They Sock. They Rebound. And they *SCORE* at the USFIRST.org Robotics Competition, which is open to high school teams all over the U.S. -- including the Michigan competition where Robert 'samzenpus' Rozeboom shot this video. He says, "Pretty neat competition, made me wish we had a team when I was a kid."
Education

University of Florida Eliminates Computer Science Department 628

Posted by timothy
from the gator-fans-on-the-line dept.
DustyShadow writes "The University of Florida announced this past week that it was dropping its computer science department, which will allow it to save about $1.7 million. The school is eliminating all funding for teaching assistants in computer science, cutting the graduate and research programs entirely, and moving the tattered remnants into other departments. Students at UF have already organized protests, and have created a website dedicated to saving the CS department. Several distinguished computer scientists have written to the president of UF to express their concerns, in very blunt terms. Prof. Zvi Galil, Dean of Computing at Georgia Tech, is 'amazed, shocked, and angered.' Prof. S.N. Maheshwari, former Dean of Engineering at IIT Delhi, calls this move 'outrageously wrong.' Computer scientist Carl de Boor, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and winner of the 2003 National Medal of Science, asked the UF president 'What were you thinking?'"
Earth

Geologists Say UK Shale Deposits Hold Vast Energy Reserves 241

Posted by timothy
from the well-we've-got-to-heat-an-awful-lot-of-tea dept.
fishmike writes with this news snipped from a Reuters story: "Britain may have enough offshore shale gas to catapult it into the top ranks of global producers, energy experts now believe, and while production costs are still very high, new U.S. technology should eventually make reserves commercially viable. UK offshore reserves of shale gas could exceed one thousand trillion cubic feet (tcf), compared to current rates of UK gas consumption of 3.5 tcf a year, or five times the latest estimate of onshore shale gas of 200 trillion cubic feet."
Desktops (Apple)

Mac Flashback Attack Began With Wordpress Blogs 103

Posted by timothy
from the slashcode-was-lower-on-their-target-list dept.
With more on the Flashback malware plaguing many Macs, beaverdownunder writes with some explanation of how the infection grew so quickly: "Alexander Gostev, head of the global research and analysis team at Kaspersky, says that 'tens of thousands of sites powered by WordPress were compromised. How this happened is unclear. The main theories are that bloggers were using a vulnerable version of WordPress or they had installed the ToolsPack plug-in.'"
Education

Sinclair ZX Spectrum 30th Anniversary 212

Posted by timothy
from the quick-someone-write-a-treacly-pop-song dept.
It's not just the TRS-80; new submitter sebt writes "ZX Spectrum, the microcomputer launched in 1982 by Sinclair Research (Cambridge, UK) turns 30 today. The launch of the machine is seen by many today as the inspiration for a generation of eager young programmers, software and game designers in the UK. The events surrounding its launch, notably Sinclair's well-known rivalry with Acorn, later helped to inspire the design of the ARM architecture and most recently the Raspberry PI (based on ARM), in an effort to reboot the idea of enthusiastic kid programmers first captured by the Spectrum and Acorn's BBC micro. Happy birthday Spec!"
Movies

Ph.D Webcomic Gets Adapted Into Feature Film 126

Posted by timothy
from the grad-students-get-free-cheese dept.
Technically Inept writes with the lead paragraph from a report at Comics Alliance: "To the best of my knowledge, Jorge Cham's Piled Higher and Deeper (better known as PhD Comics) is the first webcomic to be adapted into a feature-length film. After months spent on a college campus screening tour, Piled Higher and Deeper: The Movie is finally available for purchase and streaming. And, like its comic inspiration, the PhD pokes fun at the frustrations of graduate students, those noble folks who enter academia with dreams of changing the world and inspiring young minds, only to be thwarted by indifferent professors, lazy undergrads and the ever-present fear that they'll never graduate." The short review linked makes this sound like a very watchable movie.
Privacy

TSA Tests Automated ID Authentication 190

Posted by timothy
from the thanks-bruce dept.
CowboyRobot writes "Last year, a Nigerian man boarded a plane from N.Y. to L.A. using an invalid ID and a boarding pass issued to another person. A week later he was caught again with 10 expired boarding passes. In response to this and similar events, the Transportation Security Administration has begun testing a new system at Washington's Dulles International Airport that verifies an air traveler's identity by matching photo IDs to boarding passes and ensures that boarding passes are authentic. The test will soon be expanded to Houston and Puerto Rico."
Space

First Full Observable-Universe Simulation 95

Posted by timothy
from the not-counting-the-big-blue-room dept.
First time accepted submitter slashmatteo writes "The goal of the DEUS project (Dark Energy Universe Simulation) is to investigate the imprints of dark energy on cosmic structure formation through high-performance numerical simulations. In order to do so, the project has conducted a simulation of the structuring of the entire observable universe, from the Big Bang to the present day. Thanks to the Curie super-computer, the simulation has made it possible to follow the evolution of 550 billion particles. Two other complementary runs are scheduled by the end of May. More details in the press release."
Piracy

French Elections Could Affect HADOPI, ACTA 153

Posted by timothy
from the strategic-surrender-in-order-sometimes dept.
bs0d3 writes "From having a position in the development and support of ACTA, to implementation of HADOPI, to imposing an internet tax to pay for music; France has been at the forefront of anti-piracy legislation. This week, it has been announced that current President and anti-piracy advocate Nicolas Sarkozy is unlikely to win the next election. His leading opponent is a man named Francois Hollande. Hollande has in the past opposed both ACTA and HADOPI (France's 3 strikes law). Hollande believes that ACTA, 'originally intended to combat counterfeiting trade[,] was gradually diverted from its objective, in the utmost discretion and without any democratic process.' At the same time, Hollande is also strongly against piracy. 'Piracy has been costly,' Hollande said, 'but I do not think that law enforcement alone is the answer to the problem.' Will internet issues be of concern to the voters in France? It certainly is to the rest of us internet users."
AI

The Artificial Life of the App Store 106

Posted by timothy
from the how-about-global-thermonuclear-war? dept.
mikejuk writes "How does the Apple App Store actually work? What is the best strategy to employ if you want to get some users and make some money? There are some pointers on how it all works from an unusual source — artificial life. A pair of researchers Soo Ling Lim and Peter Bentley from University College London, set up an artificial life simulation of the app store's ecosystem. They created app developers with strategies such as — innovate, copy other apps, create useless variations on a basic app or try and optimize the app you have. What they found, among other things, was that the CopyCat strategy was on average the best. When they allow the strategies to compete and developer agents to swap then the use of the CopyCat fell to only 10%. The reason — more than 10% CopyCats resulted in nothing new to copy!"

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