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Graphics

Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG 377

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-pictures dept.
An anonymous reader writes Fabrice Bellard (creator of FFMPEG, QEMU, JSLinux...) proposes a new image format that could replace JPEG : BPG. For the same quality, files are about half the size of their JPEG equivalents. He released libbpg (with source) as well as a JS decompressor, and set up a demo including the famous Lena image.
Piracy

Australia Pushes Ahead With Website Blocking In Piracy Fight 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
angry tapir writes As part of its crackdown on unauthorized downloading of copyright material, the Australian government will push ahead with the introduction of a scheme that will allow rights holders to apply for court orders to force ISPs to block websites. (Previously Slashdot noted that the Australian government had raised such a scheme as a possibility).

Comment: Re:Pare down (Score 1) 312

by dcollins (#48538931) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness?

I might argue that a student texting is pretty low-impact on other students in the room; say, equivalent to doodling on notebook paper. Compared to the possibility of disruption by striking up social conversations, perhaps texting is actually an improvement.

Do your classes have mandatory/scored attendance? I don't, and so that opens the pipe to truly-disinclined students to simply not be there at all, and fail on the tests like they were going to anyway. I've found in the last year that I've had much higher levels of discussion, and very enjoyable interactions, even in my remedial classes with the half of the students that are actually motivated to come to class and get engaged with the subject (irrespective of having cell phones accessible).

Comment: Re:Pare down (Score 4, Insightful) 312

by dcollins (#48534345) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness?

You need to come visit Earth in the 21st Century sometime. At least among the college students I teach:

- College is the time to practice, exercise, and test out being an adult. Yes it's fundamentally a safer and lower-impact space than elsewhere. If there are some failures along they way then they can recover and be used as learning experiences.

- Students are not having educations paid for by mommy and daddy; mommy and daddy are probably dirt poor or not in the picture. Student's education are being paid for by financial aid from the state (I think 80%) at my school and egregious loans.

- Phones are part of their lives even if they're not physically on the at all times. Most of my students have jobs, children, other family members they take care of, and expect to be available in case of an issue or emergency. Yes, this makes it much harder for them.

Frankly I say this as an lecturer who fought bitterly against having any phones out in the classroom for several years (points off, attendance penalties, etc.) Within the last year I finally surrendered on the issue because it was simply unwinnable and caused escalations up to and including physical threats against myself. Having relaxed that requirement, I've found that counter-intuitively it seems like less of a problem; students do seem to keep them available in a mature fashion, and actually fewer of them are challenging the rule by fiddling continuously with them. So that's just anecdotal, but it's been my pleasantly surprising experience in all my classes this year.

Science

James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week 355

Posted by Soulskill
from the gift-that-keeps-on-giving dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Nicholas St. Fleur reports at The Atlantic that James Watson, the famed molecular biologist and co-discoverer of DNA, is putting his Nobel Prize up for auction on Thursday. He's the first Nobel laureate in history to do so. In 2007, Watson, best known for his work deciphering the DNA double helix alongside Francis Crick in 1953, made an incendiary remark regarding the intelligence of black people that lost him the admiration of the scientific community. It made him, in his own words, an "unperson." That year, The Sunday Times quoted Watson as saying that he felt "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really." Watson has a history of making racist and sexist declarations, according to Time. At a science conference in 2012, Watson said of women in science, "I think having all these women around makes it more fun for the men but they're probably less effective." To many scientists his gravest offense was not crediting Rosalind Franklin with helping him deduce the structure of DNA.

Watson is selling his prized medallion because he has no income outside of academia, even though for years he had served on many corporate boards. The gold medal is expected to bring in between $2.5 million and $3.5 million when it goes to auction. Watson says that he will use the money to purchase art and make donations to institutions that have supported him, such as the University of Chicago. He adds that the auction will also offer him the chance to "re-enter public life." "I've had a unique life that's allowed me to do things. I was set back. It was stupid on my part," says Watson. "All you can do is nothing, except hope that people actually know what you are."
Censorship

Gilbert, AZ Censors Biology Books the Old-Fashioned Way 289

Posted by timothy
from the biology-vs-culture dept.
nbauman writes The Gilbert, AZ school board has voted to tear out a page from Campbell's Biology (a standard highly-recommended textbook that many doctors and scientists fondly remember), because it discusses contraception without also discussing adoption. Julie Smith, a member of the Gilbert Public Schools governing board, said that she was a Catholic and "we do not contracept." Smith convinced the board that Campbell's violates Arizona law to teach "preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption" over abortion. The Arizona Education Department decided that the pages didn't violate Arizona law, but nevermind. Rachel Maddow generously risked hassles for copyright violation and posted the missing pages as a service to Arizona honors biology students.
The Internet

Security Experts Believe the Internet of Things Will Be Used To Kill Someone 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-a-ban-on-assault-internets dept.
dcblogs writes: Imagine a fleet of quad copters or drones equipped with explosives and controlled by terrorists. Or someone who hacks into a connected insulin pump and changes the settings in a lethal way. Or maybe the hacker who accesses a building's furnace and thermostat controls and runs the furnace full bore until a fire is started. Those may all sound like plot material for a James Bond movie, but there are security experts who now believe, as does Jeff Williams, CTO of Contrast Security, that "the Internet of Things will kill someone". Today, there is a new "rush to connect things" and "it is leading to very sloppy engineering from a security perspective," said Williams. Similarly, Rashmi Knowles, chief security architect at RSA, imagines criminals hacking into medical devices, recently blogged about hackers using pacemakers to blackmail users, and asked: "Question is, when is the first murder?"
Math

Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election 413

Posted by samzenpus
from the fix-is-in dept.
HughPickens.com writes Gerrymandering is the practice of establishing a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating district boundaries to concentrate all your opponents' votes in a few districts while keeping your party's supporters as a majority in the remaining districts. For example, in North Carolina in 2012 Republicans ended up winning nine out of 13 congressional seats even though more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans statewide. Now Jessica Jones reports that researchers at Duke are studying the mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. Mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn created a series of district maps using the same vote totals from 2012, but with different borders. Their work was governed by two principles of redistricting: a federal rule requires each district have roughly the same population and a state rule requires congressional districts to be compact. Using those principles as a guide, they created a mathematical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of the state's 13 congressional districts. "We just used the actual vote counts from 2012 and just retabulated them under the different districtings," says Vaughn. "If someone voted for a particular candidate in the 2012 election and one of our redrawn maps assigned where they live to a new congressional district, we assumed that they would still vote for the same political party."

The results were startling. After re-running the election 100 times with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election — four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. "If we really want our elections to reflect the will of the people, then I think we have to put in safeguards to protect our democracy so redistrictings don't end up so biased that they essentially fix the elections before they get started," says Mattingly. But North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho is unimpressed. "I'm saying these maps aren't gerrymandered," says Rucho. "It was a matter of what the candidates actually was able to tell the voters and if the voters agreed with them. Why would you call that uncompetitive?"
Privacy

Uber's Android App Caught Reporting Data Back Without Permission 234

Posted by timothy
from the distinguish-from-government dept.
Zothecula writes Security researcher GironSec has pulled Uber's Android app apart and discovered that it's sending a huge amount of personal data back to base – including your call logs, what apps you've got installed, whether your phone is vulnerable to certain malware, whether your phone is rooted, and your SMS and MMS logs, which it explicitly doesn't have permission to do. It's the latest in a series of big-time missteps for a company whose core business model is, frankly, illegal in most of its markets as well.
Media

Windows 10 To Feature Native Support For MKV and FLAC 313

Posted by timothy
from the upgrades-always-welcome dept.
jones_supa writes Windows Media Player is going to become a more useful media player for those who want to play geeky file formats. Microsoft has earlier confirmed that Windows 10 will come with native support for Matroska Video, but the company now talks about also adding FLAC support. Microsoft's Gabriel Aul posted a teaser screenshot in Twitter showing support for this particular format. It can be expected to arrive in a future update for people running the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Not many GUI changes seem to be happening around Media Player, but work is done under the hood.

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