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Biotech

Creating Bacterial "Fight Clubs" To Discover New Drugs 30 30

Science_afficionado writes: Vanderbilt chemists have shown that creating bacterial 'fight clubs' is an effective way to discover natural biomolecules with the properties required for new drugs. They have demonstrated the method by using it to discover a new class of antibiotic with anti-cancer properties. From the Vanderbilt website: "That is the conclusion of a team of Vanderbilt chemists who have been exploring ways to get bacteria to produce biologically active chemicals which they normally hold in reserve. These compounds are called secondary metabolites. They are designed to protect their bacterial host and attack its enemies, so they often have the right kind of activity to serve as the basis for effective new drugs. In fact, many antibiotics and anticancer compounds in clinical use are either secondary metabolites or their derivatives."
Windows

Ask Slashdot: Are Post-Install Windows Slowdowns Inevitable? 512 512

blackest_k writes: I recently reinstalled Windows 7 Home on a laptop. A factory restore (minus the shovelware), all the Windows updates, and it was reasonably snappy. Four weeks later it's running like a slug, and now 34 more updates to install. The system is clear of malware (there are very few additional programs other than chrome browser). It appears that Windows slows down Windows! Has anyone benchmarked Windows 7 as installed and then again as updated? Even better has anybody identified any Windows update that put the slug into sluggish? Related: an anonymous reader asks: Our organization's PCs are growing ever slower, with direct hard-drive encryption in place, and with anti-malware scans running ever more frequently. The security team says that SSDs are the only solution, but the org won't approve SSD purchases. It seems most disk scanning could take place after hours and/or under a lower CPU priority, but the security team doesn't care about optimization, summarily blaming sluggishness on lack of SSDs. Are they blowing smoke?
The Almighty Buck

Philanthropy For Hackers 27 27

An anonymous reader writes: Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and the first president of Facebook, was part of a generation of geeks who rode the dot-com boom to financial success. Over the past two decades, that population has dramatically increased, and former hackers are carving out spots as leaders of industry. In the Wall Street Journal, Parker has posted advice for how the hacker elite can approach philanthropy. He points out that they're already bringing a level of strategy and efficacy to charity work that hasn't been seen before. "These budding philanthropists want metrics and analytic tools comparable to the dashboards, like Mixpanel, that power their software products. They want to interact directly with the scientists, field workers and academics whose ideas power the philanthropic world but who have traditionally been hidden away in a backroom somewhere, shielded from their beneficiaries by so-called development officers." One thing he advises is keeping away from large charity organizations, which largely exist to keep themselves going. He also suggests getting actively involved with the political process, even if such organizations are often distasteful.
Science

The Physics of Lexus's Hoverboard 36 36

benonemusic writes: Lexus' hoverboard may never become commercially available, but is it scientifically feasible? You'd need to place a superconducting material in a magnetic field powerful enough to support the board and the rider. Steve Gourlay of Lawrence Berkeley Lab's Superconductor Magnet Group provides insights, including the possibility that Lexus put some very strong rare-earth magnets underneath the sidewalk in the video.
Yahoo!

The Next Java Update Could Make Yahoo Your Default Search Provider 328 328

itwbennett writes: At the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced a partnership with Oracle that could result in Yahoo becoming your default search provider in your browser. Starting this month, when users are prompted to update to the next version of Java, they'll be asked to make Yahoo their default search engine on Chrome (and Internet Explorer, for what it's worth). And, according to a Wall Street Journal report, the button will be checked by default, so if you aren't looking out for it, you might unwittingly find yourself a Yahoo user.
Transportation

Lexus Creates a Hoverboard 102 102

walterbyrd writes: Lexus has built a functional prototype of a hoverboard that hovers several centimeters off the ground. The "Slide" is for demonstration purposes only and works through magnetic levitation created by superconductors, a spokesperson says. USA Today reports: "As cool as that sounds, there are some major limitations. Since it operates magnetically, it only can hover over a steel surface. And it also only works as long as the liquid nitrogen holds out."
Businesses

Amazon Overhauling Customer Reviews 116 116

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon says it's making some big changes to its product review system, one of the most heavily used on the internet and a vital part of Amazon's business. A machine-learning platform will endeavor to select helpful reviews with an emphasis on more recent ones. The average score will change as well: new reviews will be weighted higher than old reviews. Reviews from verified purchasers will have more influence as well, and also reviews voted up by other customers. "For example, sometimes a company will make small tweaks to a product or address some customer complaints, though this product isn't officially updated or renamed. With the new system, [Amazon] said, these small modifications should become more noticeable when shoppers are buying products." Because the review system is so important to customers, Amazon will be rolling out changes slowly, and watching for anything that breaks or gets skewed in unexpected ways.
Censorship

IMAX Tries To Censor Ars Technica Over SteamVR Comparison 190 190

Cutting_Crew writes: An article published last week at Ars Technica looked at the SteamVR virtual reality headset created by Valve. Contained in the article is a quote from game designer Alex Schwartz, who said in reference to the device, "The jump between a regular game and playing a room scale VR experience is X times 100. It’s like saying, 'I have an IMAX theater in my house.' It’s so much better that we can get away with a cumbersome setup." Now, for that single quoted reference, IMAX has sent a trademark complaint to Ars and demanded that they take the story down. "The company said our story required a retraction because it included a brief reference to IMAX—included without IMAX's permission. 'Any unauthorized use of our trademark is expressly forbidden.'"

If you look at the letter from IMAX (PDF), you'll see they think the reference to IMAX is "misleading to readers." They further request that "all future articles regarding this "room-scale" virtual reality system make no reference to our registered trademark." Apparently, IMAX has never heard of the Streisand Effect.
Update: 06/19 19:26 GMT by S : IMAX has apologized.
Crime

FBI Investigating Series of Fiber Cuts In San Francisco Bay Area 168 168

jfruh writes: Ten times over four separate nights in the past year, telecom cables have been mysteriously cut in various locations around the San Francisco Bay Area. Now the FBI is investigating the incidents as potential sabotage. ITWorld reports: "In the past year, there were 10 instances on four separate nights when telecom cables were intentionally cut in Fremont, Walnut Creek, Alamo, Berkeley and San Jose, the agency said Monday. FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich said it's unclear if the incidents are unrelated or the work of a single person or group, but the FBI is keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed anything suspicious."
Apple

Woz To Be Immortalized In Wax 72 72

mikejuk writes: Having already made wax figures of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, the Madame Tussauds museum recently put out a call for nominations for who should be next, with the stipulation that the nominees have a connection with the Bay Area. The shortlist was then whittled down to ten, including Google co-founder Larry Page, Tesla's Elon Musk, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo. Any of them would look great as wax figures, but outcome of the public vote was a clear winner — Steve Wozniak. Once his statue is complete Woz will be on display next to Steve Jobs in San Francisco and an ideal setting for a selfie.
Censorship

France Claims Right To Censor Search Results Globally 337 337

Lauren Weinstein writes: I've been waiting for this, much the way one waits for a violent case of food poisoning. France is now officially demanding that Google expand the hideous EU 'Right To Be Forgotten' (RTBF) to Google.com worldwide, instead of just applying it to the appropriate localized (e.g. France) version of Google. And here's my official response as a concerned individual:

To hell with this ...
Weinstein's page links to the paywalled WSJ coverage; you might prefer The New York Times or Politico. Related: a court in Canada, according to TechDirt, would like to do something similar, when it comes to expanding its effect on Google results for everyone, not just those who happen to live within its jurisdiction.
Australia

Drone Racing Poised To Go Mainstream 98 98

New submitter Strepto writes: Using video cameras and special goggles or screens, First Person View has been a thing in the RC world for a while. In the last couple of years though, mini quadcopters have taken things to a whole new level, and the inevitable racing has begun to happen with these incredibly quick and agile little machines.

A recent event in Melbourne, Australia, was covered by various media including the ABC, Gizmag and Mashable. Our little media race (first and last place videos here) went down well, but there are still a number of regulatory barriers to jump in Australia and overseas. It's hard to judge public perception though. I was just wondering what the Slashdot crew thinks about this; does it look dangerous, irresponsible or just plain cool? What do you think the future holds?
Robotics

Soft Robot Tentacle Can Lasso an Ant Without Harming It 49 49

jan_jes writes: A soft robot tentacle, developed by a team from Iowa State University, can curl itself into a circle with a radius of just 200 micrometers. It was capable of capturing an ant without harming it, and the tentacle was also able to grasp the egg of a fish. Such miniature soft robots could be useful for microsurgery. The lassoing motion and low force exerted by the tentacle could be an advantage in endovascular operations, for example, where the target for surgery is reached through blood vessels. They describe their findings in Scientific Reports.
Technology

A Computer That Operates On Water Droplets 67 67

Okian Warrior notes a Stanford project to build a basic computer that operates on water droplets. One of its creators, Manu Prakash, says the goal is not to compete with digital computers for manipulating data (though they can theoretically perform all of the same computations). Instead, "Our goal is to build a completely new class of computers that can precisely control and manipulate physical matter. Imagine if when you run a set of computations that not only information is processed but physical matter is algorithmically manipulated as well." The biggest obstacle in creating the water computer was figuring out a way to develop a clock mechanism. The team decided to use a rotating magnetic field, which is both precise and easy to control. To get it to interact with the water, they put arrays of tiny iron bars on glass slides, and then added a layer of oil, and finally another glass slide. Magnetized water droplets are injected into this scaffolding, and the magnetic field can then easily push them along paths created by the iron. "It's about manipulating matter faster," Prakash said.
Government

Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The Trans-Pacific Partnership 226 226

An anonymous reader writes: This Techdirt story shows how industry lobbyists influenced the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, to the point that one even openly celebrates that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) version copied his own text word for word. The email exchange between Jim DeLisi, from Fanwood Chemical, to Barbara Weisel, a USTR official reads: "Hi Barbara – John sent through a link to the P4 agreement. I have taken a quick look at the rules of origin. Someone owes USTR a royalty payment – these are our rules. They will need some tweaking but will likely not need major surgery. This is a very pleasant surprise. I will study more closely over the weekend."

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