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Movies

Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same 338

Posted by timothy
from the rising-overhead dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes: After seeing a drop in my DVD service from Netflix I got a customer service representative tonight to confirm that Netflix has ceased processing DVD returns on Saturdays nationwide. And that they did this without notifying their customers, or reducing prices to compensate for the reduced service. Given that the DVD selection still far outstrips their streaming selection, this may be news to others like myself who don't find streaming an adequate replacement for plastic discs. My experience up until recently, unlike Netflix's promise of a 1-3 day turnaround at their end which gives them lots of wiggle room to degrade service even further, had been of mailing in a DVD on day one, having them receive it and mail out my next selection on day two, and receiving it on day three. Now with them only working 5 days and many U.S. Post Office holidays, they're still getting the same money for significantly less. The Netflix shipping FAQ confirms the change, and a spokesperson said, "Saturdays have been low volume ship days for us."
Technology

MIT' Combines Carbon Foam and Graphite Flakes For Efficient Solar Steam Generati 110

Posted by timothy
from the science-fiction-future-awaits dept.
rtoz (2530056) writes Researchers at MIT have developed a new spongelike material structure which can use 85% of incoming solar energy for converting water into steam. This spongelike structure has a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam. This structure has many small pores. It can float on the water, and it will act as an insulator for preventing heat from escaping to the underlying liquid. As sunlight hits the structure, it creates a hotspot in the graphite layer, generating a pressure gradient that draws water up through the carbon foam. As water seeps into the graphite layer, the heat concentrated in the graphite turns the water into steam. This structure works much like a sponge. It is a significant improvement over recent approaches to solar-powered steam generation. And, this setup loses very little heat in the process, and can produce steam at relatively low solar intensity. If scaled up, this setup will not require complex, costly systems to highly concentrate sunlight.
Verizon

Verizon Boosts FiOS Uploads To Match Downloads 230

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
An anonymous reader writes Verizon is boosting the upload speeds of nearly all its FiOS connections to match the download speeds, greatly shortening the time it takes to send videos and back up files online. All new subscribers will get "symmetrical" connections. If you previously were getting 15 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up, you'll be automatically upgraded for no extra cost to 15/15. Same goes if you were on their 50/25 plan: You'll now be upgraded to 50/50. And if you had 75/35? You guessed it: Now it'll be 75 down, and 75 up.

Comment: Data sent to airlines (Score 5, Interesting) 210

The Travelocity guy avoided telling the whole story. They do provide relevant information, but if the government has the PNR with all the remarks in it, then it likely came from Travelocity or Sabre.

Travel agencies and 3rd-party web sites, such as Travelocity. put all this encoded stuff into the remarks section of the PNR, it's all that "H-" stuff. When the PNR is sent to the airline, NONE of the remarks are transmitted. The airline doesn't receive your IP address, for example. Seat numbers, phone and contact information are transmitted in Special Service Request (SSR) and/or Other Service Information (OSI) fields. One major exception is that Travelocity and AA share the same PNR when booking AA.

Now, the airlines have to send a whole bunch of data about you to the TSA to get clearance for you to board. Look up Secure Flight / APIS / AQQ and you can learn a little bit about it.

A.

Science

A Brain Implant For Synthetic Memory 87

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the paging-dr-soong dept.
the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "People who have experienced traumatic brain injuries sometimes lose the ability to form new memories or recall old ones. Since many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffered TBIs, the U.S. military is funding research on an implantable device that could do the job of damaged brain cells." Lofty goals: "To start, DARPA will support the development of multi-scale computational models with high spatial and temporal resolution that describe how neurons code declarative memories — those well-defined parcels of knowledge that can be consciously recalled and described in words, such as events, times, and places. Researchers will also explore new methods for analysis and decoding of neural signals to understand how targeted stimulation might be applied to help the brain reestablish an ability to encode new memories following brain injury. ... Building on this foundational work, researchers will attempt to integrate the computational models ... into new, implantable, closed-loop systems able to deliver targeted neural stimulation that may ultimately help restore memory function."

Comment: Re:Not for deaf/hard of hearing... (Score 4, Insightful) 579

by macklin01 (#47369535) Attached to: Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

I've encountered these, and I'm told they're pretty loud.

I'm a fairly young guy (37 yo) with perfect hearing below about 1500 Hz, and almost zero hearing above 2000 Hz. To me, these loud clicks are tough to hear unless close up.

I run into the same problem with high-pitched fire alarms (most of them), the "you left your headlights on" beep, seat belt beeps, kitchen timers, the little beep on my FasTrak transponder, etc.

This is probably a widespread problem--we tend to lose hearing in the higher frequencies first. The solution isn't to use annoying high pitches and make them louder; the solution is to use broader frequencies or use lower pitches that more people can hear.

Please keep this in mind when you're considering using a little chirpy piezoelectric in your next circuit project ...

Perl

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Web Language That's Long-Lived, and Not Too Buzzy? 536

Posted by timothy
from the perl-6-will-blow-them-all-away dept.
adelayde (185757) writes "In my day job, I work on a web based service with a lot of legacy code written in that older (and some may say venerable) web-scripting language, Perl. Although we use Modern Perl extensions such as Moose, the language just seems to be ossifying and we're wanting to move to a more up-to-date and used language for web applications, or even an entire framework, to do new development. We're still planning to support the legacy code for a number of years to come; that's unavoidable. This is a fairly big project and it's mission critical to the business. The thing we're afraid of is jumping onto something that is too new and too buzzy as we'd like to make a technology decision that would be good at least for the next five years, if not more, and today's rising star could quite easily be in tomorrow's dustbin. What language and/or framework would you recommend we adopt?"
United Kingdom

Julian Assange Plans Modeling Debut At London Fashion Show 173

Posted by samzenpus
from the photo-leaks dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about a possible new direction for Julian Assange. Julian Assange is expected to make his London Fashion Week debut this September. The Australian WikiLeaks founder will reportedly model for Vivienne Westwood’s son, Ben Westwood, at a fashion show staged at the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been seeking refuge for the past two years. He is avoiding extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over claims of sex offences. “Julian’s been in the embassy for two years and it’s important that he doesn’t slip into obscurity,” said Ben Westwood. “I want to highlight Julian Assange’s plight. What happened to him is totally unfair.”
Technology

Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch? 427

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-third-wrist-to-carry-in-my-pocket dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I don't wear a watch. I never have. So, to me, the push for smart watches has always been a non-starter. But I was discussing with friends some of the features of Android Wear that Google demonstrated at the I/O conference today, and it got me wondering: what set of features would be required for a smartwatch to become viable? Obviously, this is different for everybody — millions of people wear regular watches even though they could easily pull out their phone and check the time there. Any smartwatch can also tell time, but it has advantages (apps that do other things), and disadvantages (needs charging). Clearly, there are some functions for which it's useful to have an object strapped to your wrist, even if that function could be served by the device in your pocket. Telling time is one, and lots of people use sundry fitness doo-dads to measure exercise. It makes sense to me that checking the weather forecast would fall into this category, and perhaps checking notifications. (Conversely, other functions do not translate at all, like taking photos or playing games.) Thus, two questions: if you already wear a watch, what would it take for a smartwatch to replace it? If you don't wear a watch, what features would motivate you to get one?

Comment: Some Public Records ... You Know ... Just in Case (Score 5, Informative) 448

by eldavojohn (#47304885) Attached to: $500k "Energy-Harvesting" Kickstarter Scam Unfolding Right Now
So a whois.net domain name lookup on their site yielded nothing. And there are suspiciously no patents mentioning "wetag" or "ifind" and the names they listed (Dr. Paul McArthur) are in patents but for cold fusion BS in California.

Surely, though, they must have registered the "iFind" trademark? And if you search on TESS we find:

Owner (APPLICANT) WeTag, Inc. CORPORATION TEXAS 3309 San Mateo Drive Plano TEXAS 75023

With an attorney listed as "Richard G. Eldredge" which corresponds to a local attorney. Before you deploy the door kickers to lynch somebody, that address is just somebody's $200,000 house and could possibly be a random address used by a jerk. Remember that it's entirely possible that this is all a front by some other actor and someone was paid western union/bitcoin to register this trademark through this attorney without realizing they were just being used by literally anyone in the world ... of course, kickstarter should have even better transaction details (hopefully).

EU

Satellite Swarm Spots North Pole Drift 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-it-move dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A report from the European Space Agency shows the first collection of high-resolution results from the agency's three-satellite Swarm. The report illustrates the latest changes in the Earth's magnetic field and shows the movement of the magnetic North Pole. "Launched in November 2013, ESA's Swarm mission consists of three 9-meter satellites orbiting the planet at altitudes of 300-530 km (186-330 miles). Their goal is to monitor Earth's dynamic magnetic field, observing its changes over a period of four years. The data gathered by the Swarm satellites will help scientists better understand how our magnetic field works, how it's influenced by solar activity, and why large parts of it are found to be weakening.""

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