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Supercomputing

Obama's New Executive Order Says the US Must Build an Exascale Supercomputer 223

Jason Koebler writes: President Obama has signed an executive order authorizing a new supercomputing research initiative with the goal of creating the fastest supercomputers ever devised. The National Strategic Computing Initiative, or NSCI, will attempt to build the first ever exascale computer, 30 times faster than today's fastest supercomputer. Motherboard reports: "The initiative will primarily be a partnership between the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation, which will be designing supercomputers primarily for use by NASA, the FBI, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Homeland Security, and NOAA. Each of those agencies will be allowed to provide input during the early stages of the development of these new computers."
Microsoft

Microsoft Edge On Windows 10: the Browser That Will Finally Kill IE 255

An anonymous reader writes: Windows 10 launches today and with it comes a whole new browser, Microsoft Edge. You can still use Internet Explorer if you want, but it's not the default. IE turns 20 in less than a month, which is ancient in internet years, so it's not surprising that Microsoft is shoving it aside. Still, leaving behind IE and launching a new browser built from the ground up marks the end of an era for Microsoft. “Knowing that browsing is still one of the very top activities that people do on a PC, we knew there was an opportunity, and really an obligation, to push the web browsing experience and so that’s what we’ve done with Microsoft Edge," Drew DeBruyne, director of program management at Microsoft told VentureBeat.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Caps Lock Key Still So Prominent On Keyboards? 698

Esther Schindler writes: The developers at .io are into tracking things, I guess. In any case, a few weeks back they decided to track team performance in terms of keyboard and mouse activity during the working day. They installed a simple Chrome plugin on every Macbook and collected some statistics. For instance, developers have fewer keypresses than editors and managers—around 4k every day. Managers type more than 23k characters per day. And so on. Some pretty neat statistics.

But the piece that jumped out at me was this: "What's curious—the least popular keys are Capslock and Right Mouse Button. Somewhere around 0.1% of all keypresses together. It's time to make some changes to keyboards." I've been whining about this for years. Why is it that the least-used key on my keyboard is not just in a prominent position, but also bigger than most other keys? I can I invest in a real alternate keyboard with a different layout (my husband's a big fan of the Kinesis keyboards, initially to cope with carpal tunnel). But surely it's time to re-visit the standard key layout? What keys would you eliminate or re-arrange?
Patents

MPEG LA Announces Call For DASH Patents 66

An anonymous reader writes: The MPEG LA has announced a call for patents essential to the Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (or DASH) standard. According to the MPEG LA's press release, "Market adoption of DASH technology standards has increased to the point where the market would benefit from the availability of a convenient nondiscriminatory, nonexclusive worldwide one-stop patent pool license." The newly formed MPEG-DASH patent pool's licensing program will allegedly offer the market "efficient access to this important technology."
Businesses

DHI Group Inc. Announces Plans to Sell Slashdot Media 552

An anonymous reader writes: DHI Group Inc. (formerly known as Dice Holdings Inc.) announced plans to sell Slashdot Media (slashdot.org & sourceforge.net) in their Q2 financial report. This is being reported by multiple sources. Editor's note: Yep, looks like we're being sold again. We'll keep you folks updated, but for now I don't have any more information than is contained in the press release. Business as usual until we find a buyer (and hopefully after). The company prepared a statement for our blog as well — feel free to discuss the news here, there, or in both places.
Firefox

Firefox Will Soon Show You Which Tabs Are Making Noise, and Let You Mute Them 151

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla is working on identifying Firefox tabs that are currently playing audio. The feature will show an icon if a tab is making sounds and let the user mute the playback. It's worth noting that while Chrome has had audio indicators for more than a year now, it still doesn't let you easily mute tabs. The option is available in Google's browser, but it's not enabled by default (you have to turn on the #enable-tab-audio-muting flag in chrome://flags/).
News

California Legislation May Allow First Responders To Take Out Drones 368

Required Snark writes: During the recent North Fire that burned vehicles on I-15 in California, firefighters had to suspend aerial operations because of the presence of drone aircraft, according to CNN. Quoting: "Five such 'unmanned aircraft systems' prevented California firefighters from dispatching helicopters with water buckets for up to 20 minutes over a wildfire that roared Friday onto a Los Angeles area freeway that leads to Las Vegas. Helicopters couldn't drop water because five drones hovered over the blaze, creating hazards in smoky winds for a deadly midair disaster, officials said."

In response, state officials have introduced legislation that would allow first responders to disable drones in emergency situations. A second bill would allow jail time and fines for drone users that interfere with firefighting efforts. "Senate Bill 168, introduced by Gatto and Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado, would grant 'immunity to any emergency responder who damages an unmanned aircraft in the course of firefighting, air ambulance, or search-and-rescue operations.' Los Angeles County fire Inspector David Dantic declined to comment on the specific legislation, but said his agency's aircraft cannot operate safely if a drone is in the same airspace."

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 84

Because it's expensive to run fiber lines, and not very cost effective to provide free installation and service to a single house. Plus, if they run fiber to a low-income family, and that family moves, then someone else gets it, and they'd have to spend a bunch more money installing fiber at the low-income family's new house.

Far more cost effective in general to run fiber to a place with good housing density, such as an apartment complex.

Communications

Senate Advances Plan To Make Email and Social Sites Report Terror Activity 139

Advocatus Diaboli sends news that the Senate Intelligence Committee has unanimously approved draft legislation that would requires email providers and social media sites to report any suspected terrorist activities to the government. While the legislation itself is classified until it reaches the Senate floor, Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) said, "America’s security depends on our intelligence community’s ability to detect and thwart attacks on the homeland, our personnel and interests overseas, and our allies. This year’s legislation arms the intelligence community with the resources they need, and reinforces congressional oversight of intelligence activities." The legislation is based on 2008's Protect Our Children Act, which required companies to report information about child porn to an agency that would act on it. One industry official told the Washington Post, "Considering the vast majority of people on these sites are not doing anything wrong, this type of monitoring would be considered by many to be an invasion of privacy. It would also be technically difficult."
Technology

Brain-Inspired 'Memcomputer' Constructed 53

New submitter DorkFest writes: "Inspired by the human brain, UC San Diego scientists have constructed a new kind of computer that stores information and processes it in the same place. This prototype 'memcomputer' solves a problem involving a large dataset more quickly than conventional computers, while using far less energy. ... Such memcomputers could equal or surpass the potential of quantum computers, they say, but because they don't rely on exotic quantum effects are far more easily constructed." The team, led by UC San Diego physicist Massimiliano Di Ventra published their results in the journal Science Advances.
Encryption

Cameron Asserts UK Gov't Will Leave No "Safe Space" For Private Communications 260

An anonymous reader writes with the story from Ars Technica that UK prime minister David Cameron "has re-iterated that the UK government does not intend to 'leave a safe space — a new means of communication — for terrorists to communicate with each other.'" That statement came Monday, as a response to Conservative MP David Bellingham, "who asked [Cameron, on the floor of the House of Commons] whether he agreed that the 'time has come for companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to accept and understand that their current privacy policies are completely unsustainable?' To which Cameron replied: 'we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on.'" This sounds like the UK government is declaring a blustery war on encryption, and it might not need too much war: some companies can be persuaded (or would be eager) to cooperate with the government in handing over all kinds of information. However, the bluster part may leave even the fiercest surveillance mostly show: as Ars writer Glyn Moody asks, what about circumstances "where companies can't hand over keys, or where there is no company involved, as with GnuPG, the open source implementation of the OpenPGP encryption system?" Or Tor?
Robotics

Volkswagen Factory Worker Killed By a Robot 342

m.alessandrini writes: A worker at a Volkswagen factory in Germany has died, after a robot grabbed him and crushed him against a metal plate. This is perhaps the first severe accident of this kind in a western factory, and is sparking debate about who is responsible for the accident, the man who was servicing the robot beyond its protection cage, or the robot's hardware/software developers who didn't put enough safety checks. Will this distinction be more and more important in the future, when robots will be more widespread?

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller

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