An anonymous reader writes "There's many improvements due in the Linux 3.13 kernel that just entered development. On the matter of new hardware support, there's open-source driver support for Intel Broadwell and AMD Radeon R9 290 'Hawaii' graphics. NFTables will eventually replace IPTables; the multi-queue block layer is supposed to make disk access much faster on Linux; HDMI audio has improved; Stereo/3D HDMI support is found for Intel hardware; file-system improvements are on the way, along with support for limiting the power consumption of individual PC components."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
dcblogs writes "One year ago this month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $120 million plan to develop a technology capable of radically extending battery life. 'We want to change the game, basically,' said George Crabtree, a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and a physics professor who is leading the effort. The goal is to develop a battery that can deliver five times the performance, measured in energy density, that's also five times cheaper, and do it in five years. They are looking at three research areas. Researchers are considering replacing the lithium with magnesium that has two charges, or aluminum, which has three charges. Another approach investigates replacing the intercalation step with a true chemical reaction. A third approach is the use of liquids to replace crystalline anodes and cathodes, which opens up more space for working ions."
An anonymous reader writes "Google is changing the way its browser handles PDF files, starting with the Chrome Canary channel. Citing security concerns, the company wants Chrome to open PDF files by default, bypassing any third-party programs such as Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader."
plover writes "The Seattle Times reports, 'The Smithsonian Institution is launching a new 3D scanning and printing initiative to make more of its massive collection accessible to schools, researchers and the public worldwide. A small team has begun creating 3D models of some key objects representing the breadth of the collection at the world's largest museum complex. Some of the first 3D scans include the Wright brothers' first airplane, Amelia Earhart's flight suit, casts of President Abraham Lincoln's face during the Civil War and a Revolutionary War gunboat. Less familiar objects include a former slave's horn, a missionary's gun from the 1800s and a woolly mammoth fossil from the Ice Age. They are pieces of history some people may hear about but rarely see or touch.' So far they have posted 20 models, with the promise of many more to come." They even have a model supernova remnant.
itwbennett writes "The FCC's new Android app will allow users to measure the speed of their mobile broadband connection, while providing aggregate data to the agency for measuring nationwide mobile broadband network performance. Released as open-source software on Thursday, the free FCC Speed Test App will test network performance for parameters such as upload and download speed, latency and packet loss. An iPhone version of the app is in the works."
jones_supa writes "One of the most important measuring sticks for the success of any software is how long a user keeps it installed after first trying it. Intel has an article about some of the most common reasons users abandon software. Quoting: 'Apps that don’t offer anything helpful or unique tend to be the ones that are uninstalled the most frequently. People cycle through apps incredibly quickly to find the one that best fits their needs. ... A lot of apps have a naturally limited lifecycle; i.e., apps that are centered around a movie release or an app that tracks a pregnancy, or an app that celebrates a holiday. In addition, apps with limited functionality, for example, “lite” games that only go so far, are uninstalled once the user has mastered all the levels.' Some of the common factors they list include: lengthy forms, asking for ratings, collecting unnecessary data, user unfriendliness, unnecessary notifications and, of course, bugs. Additionally, if people have paid even a small price for the app, they are more committed to keep it installed. So, what makes you uninstall a piece of software?"
cold fjord writes "The BBC reports, 'A fragile quantum memory state has been held stable at room temperature for a "world record" 39 minutes — overcoming a key barrier to ultrafast computers. 'Qubits' of information encoded in a silicon system persisted for almost 100 times longer than ever before. ... "This opens the possibility of truly long-term storage of quantum information at room temperature," said Prof Thewalt ... unofficially, the previous best for a solid state system was 25 seconds at room temperature, or three minutes under cryogenic conditions. ... What's more, they found they could manipulate the qubits as the temperature of the system rose and fell back towards absolute zero. At cryogenic temperatures, their quantum memory system remained coherent for three hours. "Having such robust, as well as long-lived, qubits could prove very helpful for anyone trying to build a quantum computer," said co-author Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University's department of materials. ... "We've managed to identify a system that seems to have basically no noise." However she cautions there are still many hurdles to overcome before large-scale quantum computations can be performed. ... "This result represents an important step towards realizing quantum devices," said David Awschalom, professor in Spintronics and Quantum Information, at the University of Chicago. "However, a number of intriguing challenges still remain." — Abstract for the paywalled academic paper."
Rambo Tribble writes "The BBC reports on efforts at Sydney University, where researchers have had excellent success herding dairy cows with robots. By designing the robots to move smoothly, they have kept the cows moving without stressing them. From the video, one can see the animals seem not to interpret the machine as any threat. 'The robot could also cut down the number of accidents involving humans on farms. Most dairy farmers in Australia use quad bikes to round up their cattle and they are one of the leading causes of injury. The team hopes that by using the robot to do the job instead, accident rates could fall.'"
sabri writes "Jen Palmer tried to order something from kleargear.com, some sort of cheap ThinkGeek clone. The merchandise never arrived and she wrote a review on ripoffreport.com. Now, kleargear.com is reporting her to credit agencies and sending collectors to fetch $3,500 as part of a clause which did not exist at the alleged time of purchase. 'By email, a person who did not identify him or herself defended the $3500 charge referring again to Kleargear.com's terms of sale. As for Jen being threatened — remove the post or face a fine — the company said that was not blackmail but rather a, "diligent effort to help them avoid [the fine]."' The terms and conditions shouldn't even apply, since the sales transaction was never completed."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kim Gittleson reports at BBC that car insurance firms like Progressive are trying to convince consumers that letting them monitor their driving behavior is actually a good thing. They say that the future of car insurance is not just being able to monitor individual drivers to give them lower prices, but also to make them better drivers. 'Now that we can observe directly how people drive, we think this will change the way insurance works,' says Dave Pratt, who says that Progressive has more than a trillion seconds of driving data from 1.6 million customers. '18-year-old guys pay a lot for insurance, but some 18-year-olds are really safe drivers and they deserve a better deal.' Better big data technologies, like the telematic driving data collected by car companies (PDF) or even information gathered from social media profiles, can help augment that risk profile. 'If I'm a driver that doesn't drive that frequently, and I have a pattern that would indicate that I drive more carefully than an average person with my profile, then I may be able to save 30-40% on my car insurance, and that's pretty significant,' says Joe Reifel. For now, using big data analytics for insurers is still in the early stages. Only 2% of the U.S. car insurance market offers an insurance product based on monitoring driving, but that proportion is projected to grow to around 10-15% of the market by 2017. And other countries, like Italy and the U.K., are already using the data to analyze not just risk profiles but also to determine who is at fault in car accidents. The future, most analysts agree is create a continuous feedback loop between insurers and consumers, so that consumers will react to the big data analyses that insurers perform and change their behavior accordingly. 'Bad drivers will at some point need to improve their driving or accept [having] to pay for the real risk they represent,' says Jacques Amselem."
In late 2011, defense contractor Stratfor suffered a cybersecurity breach that resulted in a leak of millions of internal emails. A few months later, the FBI arrested hacktivist Jeremy Hammond and several others for actions related to the breach. Hammond pleaded guilty to one count of violating the CFAA, and today his sentence was handed down: 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He said, [The prosecutors] have made it clear they are trying to send a message to others who come after me. A lot of it is because they got slapped around, they were embarrassed by Anonymous and they feel that they need to save face." Reader DavidGilbert99 adds, "Former LulzSec and Anonymous member Jake Davis argues that U.S. lawmakers need to take a leaf out of the U.K.'s legal system and not put Jeremy Hammond behind bars for his part in the hack of Stratfor. 'Jeremy Hammond has a lot to give society too. Prisons are for dangerous people that need to be segmented from the general population. Hackers are not dangerous, they are misunderstood, and while disciplinary action is of course necessary, there is nothing disciplined about locking the door on a young man's life for 10 years.'"
An anonymous reader writes "What happens when the editorial team of the biggest-selling English Linux magazine gets frustrated? They leave their company and start a new one. Most of the writers behind Linux Format have jumped ship and started Linux Voice, a social enterprise magazine which will donate 50% of its profits back to the community, and freely license its content under Creative Commons after 9 months. They're running a fundraiser on Indiegogo with already a quarter of their funding goal reached. Will this shake up the whole publishing industry?"
ananyo writes "Research on Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, shows that the capacity to evolve can itself be the target of natural selection. B. burgdorferi can cause a chronic infection even if its animal host mounts a strong immune response — evading those defenses by tweaking the shape and expression of its main surface antigen, VIsE. A series of unexpressed genetic sequences organized into 'cassettes' recombine with the VIsE gene, changing the resulting protein such that it escapes detection by the host's immune system. The researchers studied the molecular evolution of the cassettes' genetic sequences in 12 strains of B. burgdorferi. They found that natural selection seemed to favor bacteria with more genetic variability within their cassettes, and hence a greater capacity to generate different versions of the antigen. 'Greater diversity among the cassettes in itself shouldn't be a selective advantage considering they aren't expressed and don't do anything else,' says lead author Dustin Brisson. 'But we did find evidence of selection, so the question is: what else could it be for besides evolvability?'"
SonicSpike writes "The founder of Bigelow Aerospace, Robert Bigelow, made a fortune in the hotel and real estate businesses, and he's pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into an enterprise that will create inflatable habitats designed for life beyond Earth. He entered into an agreement with NASA to provide a report on how ventures like his could help NASA get back to the moon, and even Mars, faster and cheaper. Bigelow is applying to the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation to amend a 1967 international agreement on the moon so that a system of private property rights can be established there. 'When there isn't law and order,' he said, 'there's chaos.' Bigelow said he believes the right to own what one discovers on the moon is the incentive needed for private enterprise to commit massive amounts of capital and risk lives. 'It provides a foundational security to investors,' he said. Bigelow does not feel that any one nation should own the moon. 'No one anything should own the moon,' he said. 'But, yes, multiple entities, groups, individuals, yes, they should have the opportunity to own the moon.'"
anagama writes "According to an article at Medium, 'Cisco has seen a huge drop-off in demand for its hardware in emerging markets, which the company blames on fears about the NSA using American hardware to spy on the rest of the world. ... Cisco saw orders in Brazil drop 25% and Russia drop 30%. ... Analysts had expected Cisco's business in emerging markets to increase 6%, but instead it dropped 12%, sending shares of Cisco plunging 10% in after-hours trading.' This is in addition to the harm caused to remote services that may cost $35 billion over the next three years. Then, of course, there are the ways the NSA has made ID theft easier. ID theft cost Americans $1.52 billion in 2011, to say nothing of the time wasted in solving ID theft issues — some of that figure is certainly attributable to holes the NSA helped build. The NSA, its policies, and the politicians who support the same are directly responsible for massive losses of money and jobs."