Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Software

Why PowerPoint Should Be Banned 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the hang-on-my-clicker-isn't-working dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at the Washington Post argues that Microsoft PowerPoint is being relied upon by too many to do too much, and we should start working to get rid of it. "Its slides are oversimplified, and bullet points omit the complexities of nearly any issue. The slides are designed to skip the learning process, which — when it works — involves dialogue, eye-to-eye contact and discussions. Of course PowerPoint has merits — it can help businesses with their sales pitches or let teachers introduce technology into the classroom. But instead of being used as a means for a dynamic engagement, it has become a poor substitute for longer, well-thought-out briefings and technical reports. It has become a crutch."
Firefox

First Smart TVs Powered By Firefox OS On Sale In Europe, Worldwide Soon 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The first smart TVs powered by Firefox OS have gone on sale in Europe. Panasonic's line of Viera smart TVs includes six that are powered by Firefox OS — CR850, CR730, CX800, CX750, CX700 and CX680 — including their first curved LED LCD TV. The full global launch of the TVs is expected “in the coming months.” From the Mozilla blog: "We’re happy to partner with Panasonic to bring the first Smart TVs powered by Firefox OS to the world,” said Andreas Gal, Mozilla CTO. “With Firefox and Firefox OS powered devices, users can enjoy a custom and connected Web experience and take their favorite content (apps, videos, photos, websites) across devices without being locked into one proprietary ecosystem or brand.”
The Internet

Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules 438

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-isps? dept.
SonicSpike writes with news about another bump in the road for net neutrality. U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential hopeful, on Wednesday introduced a resolution to block new regulations on Internet service providers, saying they would 'wrap the Internet in red tape.' The 'net neutrality' rules, which are slated to take effect in June, are backed by the Obama administration and were passed by the Democratic majority of the Federal Communications Commission in February. AT&T Inc and wireless and cable trade associations are challenging them in court. Paul's resolution, if adopted, would allow the Senate to fast-track a vote to establish that Congress disapproves of the FCC's new rules and moves to nullify them.
DRM

Microsoft, Chip Makers Working On Hardware DRM For Windows 10 PCs 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-what-users-wanted dept.
writertype writes: Last month, Microsoft began talking about PlayReady 3.0, which adds hardware DRM to secure 4K movies. Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and Qualcomm are all building it in, according to Microsoft. "Older generations of PCs used software-based DRM technology. The new hardware-based technology will know who you are, what rights your PC has, and won’t ever allow your PC to unlock the content so it can be ripped. ... Unfortunately, it looks like the advent of PlayReady 3.0 could leave older PCs in the lurch. Previous PlayReady technology secured content up to 1080p resolution using software DRM—and that could be the maximum resolution for older PCs without PlayReady 3.0." Years back, a number of people got upset when Hollywood talked about locking down "our content." It looks like we may be facing it again for 4K video.
The Courts

Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet 336

Posted by timothy
from the do-you-have-standing dept.
sciencehabit writes: In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge [Monday] granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals. Update: 04/21 21:39 GMT by S : Science has updated their article with news that the court has released an amended order (PDF) with the words "writ of habeas corpus" removed, no longer implying that chimps have legal personhood. The order still allows the litigation to go forward, but we'll have to wait for resolution.
Transportation

Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars 649

Posted by samzenpus
from the put-down-the-wrench-and-back-away dept.
Mr_Blank writes Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Best Medium For Storing Data To Survive a Fire (or Other Disaster) 446

Posted by samzenpus
from the burning-down-the-house dept.
First time accepted submitter aka_bigred writes Every year as I file my taxes, I replicate my most important financial data (a couple GB of data) to store an offline copy in my fire-rated home safe. This gets me thinking about what the most reliable data media would be to keep in my fire-rated home safe.

CDs/DVDs/tapes could easily melt or warp rendering them useless, so I'm very hesitant to use them. I've seen more exotic solutions that let you print your digital data to paper an optically re-import it later should you ever need it, but it seems overly cumbersome and error prone should it be damaged or fire scorched. That leaves my best options being either a classic magnetic platter drive, or some sort of solid state storage, like SD cards, USB flash drives, or a small SSD. The problem is, I can't decide which would survive better if ever exposed to extreme temperatures, or water damage should my house burn down.

Most people would just suggest to store it in "the cloud", but I'm naturally averse to doing so because that means someone else is responsible for my data and I could lose it to hackers, the entity going out of business, etc. Once it leaves my home, I no longer fully control it, which is unacceptable. My thought being "they can't hack/steal what they can't physically access." What medium do other Slashdot users use to store their most important data (under say 5GB worth) in an at-home safe to protect it from fire?
Space

Supernovae May Not Be Standard Candles; Is Dark Energy All Wrong? 199

Posted by Soulskill
from the either-that-or-it-isn't dept.
StartsWithABang writes: The accelerated expansion of the Universe — and hence, dark energy — was discovered by taking the well-understood phenomenon of type Ia supernovae and measuring them out to great distances. The results indicated that they were fainter than expected, and hence more distant, and hence the Universe's expansion must be accelerating. But new results have just come out, showing that supernovae may not be standard after all. Does this mean dark energy may not be real, or that it may just be slightly weaker than we previously thought?
Education

Cannabis Smoking Makes Students Less Likely To Pass University Courses 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the killing-your-buzz dept.
Bruce66423 writes: A large scale European study shows that students who were unable to buy cannabis legally were 5% more likely to pass their University courses. Below-average students with no legal access to pot were 7.6% more likely to pass their courses, and the effect was five times more pronounced when dealing with courses involving math. One of the study's authors said, "We think this newfound effect on productivity from a change in legal access to cannabis is not negligible and should be, at least in the short run, politically relevant for any societal drug legalization and prohibition decision-making. In the bigger picture, our findings also indicate that soft drug consumption behavior is affected by their legal accessibility, which has not been causally demonstrated before. ... Considering the massive impact on cognitive performance high levels of THC have, I think it is reasonable to at least inform young users much more on consequences of consuming such products as compared with that of having a beer or pure vodka."

Comment: Re:Perfect security (Score 4, Interesting) 460

by GIL_Dude (#49421717) Attached to: Planes Without Pilots
You wouldn't NEED to hack into it (although it is certainly a legitimate vector). Less technical "terrorists" could simply use enough force to take over a tower or control center and send commands from an authorized terminal (likely with an authorized ID gotten by the "rubber hose" method). You would then be able to proceed to down any planes in the control area of that tower. I think I would rather have the smarts controlling the plane (whether it be computer or pilot controlled) on the plane with outside access limited to when it is requested by at least a couple of members of the flight crew.
Transportation

Planes Without Pilots 460

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-now-for-the-overreaction dept.
HughPickens.com writes: John Markoff writes in the NY Times that in the aftermath of the co-pilot crashing a Germanwings plane into a mountain, aviation experts are beginning to wonder if human pilots are really necessary aboard commercial planes. Advances in sensor technology, computing and artificial intelligence are making human pilots less necessary than ever in the cockpit and government agencies are already experimenting with replacing the co-pilot, perhaps even both pilots on cargo planes, with robots or remote operators. NASA is exploring a related possibility: moving the co-pilot out of the cockpit on commercial flights, and instead using a single remote operator to serve as co-pilot for multiple aircraft. In this scenario, a ground controller might operate as a dispatcher, managing a dozen or more flights simultaneously. It would be possible for the ground controller to "beam" into individual planes when needed and to land a plane remotely in the event that the pilot became incapacitated — or worse. "Could we have a single-pilot aircraft with the ability to remotely control the aircraft from the ground that is safer than today's systems?" asks Cummings. "The answer is yes."

Automating that job may save money. But will passengers ever set foot on plane piloted by robots, or humans thousands of miles from the cockpit? In written testimony submitted to the Senate last month, the Air Line Pilots Association warned, "It is vitally important that the pressure to capitalize on the technology not lead to an incomplete safety analysis of the aircraft and operations." The association defended the unique skills of a human pilot: "A pilot on board an aircraft can see, feel, smell or hear many indications of an impending problem (PDF) and begin to formulate a course of action before even sophisticated sensors and indicators provide positive indications of trouble." Not all of the scientists and engineers believe that increasingly sophisticated planes will always be safer planes. "Technology can have costs of its own," says Amy Pritchett. "If you put more technology in the cockpit, you have more technology that can fail.""
HP

Carly Fiorina Calls Apple's Tim Cook a 'Hypocrite' On Gay Rights 653

Posted by timothy
from the fightin'-words dept.
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "David Knowles reports at Bloomberg that former Hewlett-Packard CEO and potential 2016 presidential candidate Carly Fiorina called out Apple CEO Tim Cook as a hypocrite for criticizing Indiana and Arkansas over their Religious Freedom Restoration Acts while at the same time doing business in countries where gay rights are non-existent. "When Tim Cook is upset about all the places that he does business because of the way they treat gays and women, he needs to withdraw from 90% of the markets that he's in, including China and Saudi Arabia," Fiorina said. "But I don't hear him being upset about that."

In similar criticism of Hillary Clinton on the Fox News program Hannity, Fiorina argued that Clinton's advocacy on behalf of women was tarnished by donations made to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments where women's rights are not on par with those in America. ""I must say as a woman, I find it offensive that Hillary Clinton travels the Silicon Valley, a place where I worked for a long time, and lectures Silicon Valley companies on women's rights in technology, and yet sees nothing wrong with taking money from the Algerian government, which really denies women the most basic human rights. This is called, Sean, hypocrisy." While Hillary Clinton hasn't directly addressed Fiorina's criticisms, her husband has. "You've got to decide, when you do this work, whether it will do more good than harm if someone helps you from another country," former president Bill Clinton said in March. "And I believe we have done a lot more good than harm. And I believe this is a good thing.""
Books

Sen. Feinstein Says Anarchist Cookbook Should Be "Removed From the Internet" 538

Posted by timothy
from the applied-civics dept.
schwit1 writes with this snippet from Ars Technica: In the wake of the Thursday arrest of two women accused of attempting to build a bomb, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote on her website that the 1971 book on bomb making, which may have aided the terror suspects in some small way, should be "banned from the Internet."

The senator seems to fail to realize that not only has The Anarchist Cookbook been in print for decades (it's sold on Amazon!), but also has openly circulated online for nearly the same period of time. In short, removing it from the Internet would be impossible.
Botnet

Ask Slashdot: Who's Going To Win the Malware Arms Race? 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-you-and-not-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes: We've been in a malware arms race since the 1990s. Malicious hackers keep building new viruses, worms, and trojan horses, while security vendors keep building better detection and removal algorithms to stop them. Botnets are becoming more powerful, and phishing techniques are always improving — but so are the mitigation strategies. There's been some back and forth, but it seems like the arms race has been pretty balanced, so far. My question: will the balance continue, or is one side likely to take the upper hand over the next decade or two? Which side is going to win? Do you imagine an internet, 20 years from now, where we don't have to worry about what links we click or what attachments we open? Or is it the other way around, with threats so hard to block and DDoS attacks so rampant that the internet of the future is not as useful as it is now?
Space

SpaceX's New Combustion Technologies 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-this-one dept.
An anonymous reader shares this story that takes a look at some of the advances SpaceX is working on. "Getting a small group of human beings to Mars and back is no easy task, we learned at the recent GPU Technology Conference in San Jose hosted graphics chip and accelerator maker Nvidia. One of the problems with such a mission is that you need a very large and efficient rocket engine to get the amount of material into orbit for the mission, explained Adam Lichtl, who is director of research at SpaceX and who with a team of a few dozen programmers is try to crack the particularly difficult task of better simulating the combustion inside of a rocket engine. You need a large engine to shorten the trip to Mars, too....Not only do you need a lot of stuff to get to Mars and sustain a colony there, but you also need a way to generate fuel on Mars to come back to Earth. All of these factors affect the design of the rocket engine....As if these were not problems enough, there is another really big issue. The computational fluid dynamics, or CFD, software that is used to simulate the movement of fluids and gases and their ignition inside of all kinds of engines is particularly bad at assisting in rocket engine design. 'Methane is a fairly simple hydrocarbon that is perfectly good as a fuel,' Lichtl said. 'The challenge here is to design an engine that works efficiently with such a compound. But rocket engine CFD is hard. Really hard.'"

What sin has not been committed in the name of efficiency?

Working...