Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

+ - Interview with Donal Holland from Soft Robotics Toolkit->

Submitted by pRobotika
pRobotika writes: Soft Robotics is a class of elastically soft, versatile and biologically inspired machines and represents an exciting and highly interdisciplinary paradigm in engineering. It could revolutionize the role of robotics in healthcare, field exploration, and cooperative human assistance. In this podcast, Ron Vanderkley speaks to Donal Holland of Harvard University about his team’s work on the Soft Robotics Toolkit
Link to Original Source

+ - The Hidden FM Radio Inside Your Pocket->

Submitted by mr crypto
mr crypto writes: Data providers would probably prefer you not know that most smart phones contain an FM chip that lets you listen to broadcasts for free: "But the FM chip is not activated on two-thirds of devices. That's because mobile makers have the FM capability switched off." The National Association of Broadcasters, National Public Radio, and American Public Media — have launched a lobbying campaign to get those radios switched on.
Link to Original Source

+ - French Intelligence Bill: 5 Web Hosting Providers Threaten To Leave The Country->

Submitted by albert555
albert555 writes: Five popular French web hosting providers, including Gandi and OVH, said on Thursday that the new French intelligence bill might push them to leave the country in order not to lose their customers. The five companies are protesting against the "real-time capture of data connection" and their analysis by the intelligence services using "+black boxes+ with blurred lines". The web hosting providers believe that this project "will not reach its goal and will potentially put every French citizen under surveillance, that will result in the destruction of a major segment of the economy of our country," by pushing their customers to turn to other less intrusive territories. If the bill is passed as it is, "we have to move our infrastructure, our investments and our employees where our customers want to work with us". The companies have provided a listing of dozen cities where they "will suppress jobs instead of creating new ones."; "These are thousands of jobs (...) that startups and large companies will also create elsewhere," they add. The press release was addressed to the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, and was co-signed by Gandu, OVH, IDS, Ikoula and Lomaco.
Link to Original Source

+ - First alpha of public sector Linux deployment system 1

Submitted by mathiasfriman
mathiasfriman writes: SverigeLinux (SwedenLinux in swedish) is a project financed by the Swedish Internet Fund that develop a Linux deployment system for the public sector. It is based on DebianLAN and has just released its first public early alpha version. This 7 minute video shows how you can deploy up to 100 workstations with minimal Linux knowledge in under an hour, complete with DHCP, DNS and user data in LDAP, logins using Kerberos and centralized storage. The project has a home on Github and is looking for testers and developers, hope you will try it out. Don't worry, no Björgen Kjörgen, it's all in english.

+ - Where is the Linux dev environment in a VR headset?->

Submitted by michaelcole
michaelcole writes: I'm a digital nomad, and I'm tired of carrying 15-20 kilos of screens.

Can I please have a linux distro on a small-form PC or NUC, with a USB keyboard/mouse and a VR headset?
  • Is it Augmented or Virtual Reality? I don't know. I'd prefer to see things (keyboards), and people around me.
  • How is the Reality setup as a dev environment? I don't know.

Is anyone working on this already? How do we get involved? It's not my wheel-house, but I have $100 for a kickstarter.
Link to Original Source

+ - This Is Big: A Robo-Car Just Drove Across the Country->

Submitted by Press2ToContinue
Press2ToContinue writes: AN AUTONOMOUS CAR just drove across the country.

Nine days after leaving San Francisco, a blue car packed with tech from a company you’ve probably never heard of rolled into New York City after crossing 15 states and 3,400 miles to make history. The car did 99 percent of the driving on its own, yielding to the carbon-based life form behind the wheel only when it was time to leave the highway and hit city streets.

This amazing feat, by the automotive supplier Delphi, underscores the great leaps this technology has taken in recent years, and just how close it is to becoming a part of our lives. Yes, many regulatory and legislative questions must be answered, and it remains to be seen whether consumers are ready to cede control of their cars, but the hardware is, without doubt, up to the task.

Link to Original Source

Techdirt: USPTO Demands EFF Censor Its Comments On Patentable Subject Matter->

From feed by feedfeeder
As you know, last year the Supreme Court made a very important ruling in the Alice v. CLS Bank case, in which it basically said that merely doing something on a general purpose computer didn't automatically make it patentable. This has resulted in many courts rejecting patents and the USPTO being less willing to issue patents, based on that guidance. The USPTO sought to push out new "guidance" to its examiners taking the ruling into account. Soon after the Alice ruling, it issued some "Preliminary Examination Instructions." However, it then issued the so-called 2014 Interim Guidance on Subject Matter Eligibility and sought public comment through March 16 of this year.

Plenty of folks did comment, including the EFF. However, the USPTO apparently was offended at parts of the EFF's comment submission, claiming that it was an "improper protest." In response, the EFF refiled the comment, but redacted the part that the USPTO didn't like. Here's what page 5 of the document on the USPTO site looks like: However, EFF also added the following footnote (footnote 8) on page 6:

On April 2, 2015, the PTO contacted EFF to request that we remove a portion of these comments on the basis that they constituted an improper “protest.” We respectfully disagree that our comments were a protest under 35 U.S.C. 122(c). Rather, our comments discussed a specific application to illustrate our broader points about the importance of applying Alice. Nevertheless, to ensure these comments are considered by the Office, we have redacted the relevant discussion in this revised version of our comments. Our original comments remain available to the public at: https://www.eff.org/files/2015/03/18/eff_comments_regarding_ interim_eligibility_guidance.pdf.
And, of course, if you go to that link, you get the full, unredacted version of the EFF's filing.

As you can see by the full filing, the EFF filing isn't some sort of improper protest. Rather it is a clear demonstration of how the USPTO does not appear to be living up to what the courts are saying in the wake of the Alice ruling. It is difficult to see what the USPTO was thinking in trying to silence the EFF's comment. It is beyond ludicrous on multiple levels. First, it suggests a skin so thin at the USPTO that you can see right through it. Second, it suggests that the USPTO doesn't want people to recognize that its guidance is problematic in light of what actual federal courts are saying. And, finally, it suggests (still) a complete lack of understanding of how the internet and freedom of expression works, thereby guaranteeing that the EFF's complete dismantling of the USPTO's guidelines will now get that much more attention...

Has anyone patented a method and system for self-inflicted shaming for being overly sensitive to someone pointing out your flaws?

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story








Link to Original Source

+ - Ask Slashdot: Living Without Social Media in 2015?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: On Slashdot, we frequently write derogatory comments regarding social networking sites. We bash Facebook and the privacy implications associated with having a great deal of your life put out there for corporations to monetize. Others advocate for deleting your Facebook profile. Six months ago, I did exactly that. However, as time went on, I have fully realized social media's tacit importance to function in today's world, especially if you are busy advancing your career and making the proper connections to do so. Employers expect a LinkedIn profile that they can check and people you are meeting expect a Facebook account. I have heard that not having an account on the almighty Facebook could label you as a suspicious person. I have had employers express hesitation in hiring me (they used the term "uncomfortable") and graduate school interviewers have asked prying questions regarding some things that would normally be on a person's social media page. Others have literally recoiled in horror at the idea of someone not being on Facebook. I have found it quite difficult to even maintain a proper social life without a social media account to keep up to date with any sort of social activities (even though most of them are admittedly quite mundane). Is living without social media possible in 2015? Does social media have so much momentum that the only course of action is simply to sign up for such services to maintain normality despite the vast privacy issues associated with such sites? Have we forgotten how to function without Facebook?

+ - We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now

Submitted by DakotaSmith
DakotaSmith writes: "We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now"

If you're a true geek, you already know about Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Phase II .

(If you're a true geek and you don't know, run — do not walk run — to watch "Lolani". Your brain and — and more importantly, your heart — will love you for the rest of your life.)

But there's more to it than that. A lot more.

How about the years'-long wait for Act IV of Starship Exeter : "The Tressaurian Intersection"?

Or Yorktown: "A Time to Heal" — an attempt to resurrect an aborted fan film from 1978 starring George Takei?

For fans of old-school Star Trek (the ones who pre-date "Trekker" and wear "Trekkie" as a badge of honor) only since 1969 has there been a better time to watch Star Trek: The Original Series.

(Oh, and there's plenty content out there for you "Trekkers" and NextGen-era fans. It all varies in quality, but it doesn't take much effort to find them. This is truly a Golden Age. It'll have a place in the history books, alongside the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Golden Age of Television. Recognize it and enjoy it while it lasts.)

+ - Start-ups increasingly target of hacking

Submitted by ubrgeek
ubrgeek writes: Friday's hack of Slack follows last week's compromise of Twitch.tv and is indicative of a growing problem facing start-up tech companies. As the New York Times reports, 'Breaches are becoming a kind of rite of passage for fledgling tech companies. If they gain enough momentum with users, chances are they will also become a target for hackers looking to steal, and monetize, the vast personal information they store on users, like email addresses and passwords.'

+ - Iowa's Governor Terry Brandstad thinks he doesn't use e-mail->

Submitted by Earthquake Retrofit
Earthquake Retrofit writes: The Washington Post reports the governor denying he uses e-mail but court documents expose his confusion.

From the article:
Branstad’s apparent confusion over smartphones, apps and e-mail is ironic because he has tried to portray himself as technologically savvy. His Instagram account has pictures of him taking selfies and using Skype... 2010 campaign ads show him tapping away on an iPad. “Want a brighter future? We’ve got an app for that.” Earlier this month, the governor’s office announced that it had even opened an account on Meerkat, the live video streaming app.

Perhaps he's distancing himself from e-mail because it's a Hillary thing.

Link to Original Source

+ - Could you feel sorry for a simulated robot? ->

Submitted by Hallie Siegel
Hallie Siegel writes: Robots are expensive, and they are also hard to program. As a result, researchers often use software simulations instead of real robots to study human-robot interaction. But do people interact with simulated robots in the same way they would with real robots? A new study by researchers at the University of Manitoba shows that people are more likely to empathize with real robots than with simulations.
Link to Original Source

+ - Newspapers Use Special HTML Tags to Suppress Ads During Tragedies

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Lily Hay Newman reports that when big news stories evolve into tragedies and people are flocking to read the latest bulletins online, many major newspapers have measures in place so there isn't a dancing Geico newt competing with dire news. The NYT confirmed that the site has a manual switch that can put individual articles in "sensitivity" mode. The settings seem to be either standard, "noads," or finally "tragedy," depending on the content of the story. In the case of Germanwings Flight 4U 9525, the Times eventually upgraded to tragedy. "It’s interesting in part because it’s almost an acknowledgement that ads are invasive and uncomfortable," says Parker Higgins referring to the meta tag: meta property="ad_sensitivity" content="noads". "There are no Google results for the tag, so it looks like it hasn’t been documented," says Parker, "but it seems like a pretty low-tech way to keep possibly insensitive ads off a very sensitive story—an admirable effort." After all, the Internet is filled with lists of unfortunate ad placements, and the worst ones are probably upbeat ads intruding on solemn moments. "In these types of tragedy cases, it’s an editorial decision that we make," says a spokeswoman for CNN Digital.

+ - Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices

Submitted by Michael Ross
Michael Ross writes: Robert, here is the book review meta-data: author: Josh Lockhart pages: 268 publisher: O'Reilly Media rating: 8/10 reviewer: Michael Ross ISBN: 978-1491905012 summary: Solid advice on some state-of-the-art PHP tools and techniques.

In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart.

Programmers familiar with the language and its community may recognize the author's name, because he is the creator of PHP The Right Way, a website which he describes as "an easy-to-read, quick reference for PHP popular coding standards, links to authoritative tutorials around the Web and what the contributors consider to be best practices at the present time," in 21 different languages.

Yet rest assured that the book under review is not merely a dead-tree version of the website. Instead, the book covers the more recent advancements within the language, while the website covers best practices and standards. This should be borne in mind, otherwise the reader may be baffled by the absence from the book of certain topics on the website essential to the language, such as SPL, PEAR, and PHPDoc. Moreover, of the topics shared between the book and the website, the information is generally organized quite differently, with more example code in the book.

This title was published on 1 March 2015, under the ISBN 978-1491905012, by O'Reilly Media, who kindly provided me with a review copy. Its material is presented in 268 pages, organized into 13 chapters (The New PHP; Features; Standards; Components; Good Practices; Posting; Provisioning; Tuning; Deployment; Testing; Profiling; HHVM and Hack; Community), which are grouped into three parts (Language Features; Good Practices; Deployment, Testing, and Tuning) — as well as two appendices (Installing PHP; Local Development Environments) and an index. The publisher's page does not offer much of interest. However, all of the example code is available from the book's GitHub repository. There are differences between the GitHub code and what is printed in the book, e.g., a baffling require 'vendor/autoload.php'; in the first example code file. The author claims that the reader does not need to know PHP, but at least "a basic understanding of [] fundamental programming concepts" (page xiv). However, anyone without at least intermediate skills and experience with PHP could conceivably struggle with these more advanced subjects.

The first chapter is only a brief overview of the history of PHP, its current state, and some possible future changes to the language's engine. The real content starts in the second chapter, in which the author gives the reader a fast-paced introduction to his seven favorite major new features in PHP: namespaces, class interfaces, traits, generators, closures, Zend OPcache, and the built-in HTTP server. In some regards, the coverage is a bit too fast-paced, as some topics and questions likely in the reader's mind are not addressed — for instance, namespace case-sensitivity and techniques for ensuring that a chosen namespace is globally unique (page 9). For each topic, its purpose and advantages are explained, and sometimes illustrated with code examples, although none are extensive.

The second part of the book opens with a chapter on some of the new standards in the PHP ecosystem that are intended to move the common development process from a reliance upon one isolated framework, with an idiosyncratic coding style, to distributed components that can interoperate through the use of interfaces, industry-wide coding standards, and the use of autoloaders for finding and loading classes, interfaces, and traits at runtime. Components are covered in more detail in the subsequent chapter, as is Composer, for installing components and managing dependencies. The fifth chapter is a lengthy but information-packed exposition of numerous best practices regarding input data sanitization, password handling, dates and times, and safe database queries, among other topics. Some of the advice can be found in other PHP books and online, but all of this is neatly explained, updated with the newer PHP versions, and worthwhile as a refresher.

Deployment, testing, and tuning are the broad subject areas of the third and final part of the book. The author discusses the options for hosting your PHP applications, as well as provisioning any self-managed web server and tuning a server for optimal performance. All of the instructions assume you are using Linux and nginx, and thus would be of less value to those using Windows or Apache, for instance. The material on application deployment is relatively brief, and focuses on use of the Capistrano tool. Testing is often neglected in real-world projects, but certainly not in this book, as the author explains unit and functional testing, illustrated through the use of PHPUnit. This is followed by information on how to use a development or production profiler to analyze the performance of your application, with detailed coverage of Xdebug and XHProf, among other tools. The next two chapters dive into topics related to the (possible) future of PHP — specifically, Facebook's HHVM PHP interpreter and their Hack derivative language. The final chapter briefly discusses the PHP community. The two appendices explain how to install PHP on Linux or OS X for commandline use, and how to set up a local development environment. The author mentions a free edition of Zend Server, but the vendor page mentions no such pricing.

Despite its technical subject matter, this book is not a difficult read. The author's writing style is usually light and friendly, especially in the preface. In a few places, the phrasing is a bit too terse, which might prove momentarily confusing to some readers, e.g., "Function and constant aliases work the same as [those of] classes" (page 11). The text has some errata (aside from the two, as of this writing, already reported): "curl" (pages 15, 220, and 222; should read "cURL"), "a an argument" (page 33), "Prepared statement [to] fetch" (pages 99 and 100), "with [the] php://filter strategy" (page 110), "2 Gb" (page 129; should read "2 GB"), "the the" (page 154), "path to a the code" (page 176), and "Wordpress" (page 190; should read "WordPress").

One weakness with the book is that for several of the topics — including some critical ones — there is not enough detailed information provided that would allow one to begin immediately applying that technique or resource to one's own coding, but instead just enough information to whet one's appetite to learn more (presumably from another book or a website). Secondly, some of the narrative — particularly near the end of the book, when discussing various tools — would be of less value to anyone not developing analytics environment. Beware that some of the tools require numerous dependencies. For instance, do you have Composer, Git, MongoDB, and its PHP extension installed? If not, then you won't be using XHGUI. Also, some of the installation and configuration steps are quite lengthy, with no details provided for troubleshooting issues that might arise. Lastly, despite the promise that any reader with only basic programming knowledge will be able to fully understand the book, such a reader would likely find much of its contents mystifying without further preparation from other sources.

Nonetheless, the book has much to offer, despite its slender size. Numerous resources are recommended — most if not all apparently vetted by the author, who clearly has considerable experience in this arena. Some valuable techniques are presented, such as those instances in the text where the author shows how to use iteration on large data sets to minimize memory usage. In addition, the example code demonstrates that the author has made the effort to produce quality code that can serve as a model to others. Modern PHP does a fine job overall of explaining and advocating the newer capabilities of PHP that would attract developers to choose the language for building state-of-the-art websites and web applications.

Michael Ross is a freelance web developer and writer.

The world is coming to an end. Please log off.

Working...