Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
Hardware Hacking

9th-Grader May Face Charges After Homemade Clock Mistaken For Bomb 956

New submitter bengoerz writes: 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed was led away from MacArthur High School in handcuffs and faces possible charges after teachers, school administrators, and police in Irving, Texas mistook his homemade clock for a bomb. The device — a circuit board, power supply, and digital display wired together inside a pencil box — was confiscated by a teacher after the alarm sounded in class. Despite telling everyone who would listen that his device was just a clock, Ahmed was confronted by four police officers, suspended for three days, and threatened with expulsion unless he made a written statement, before eventually being transported to a juvenile detention center to meet his parents.

New Tech Puts the Brakes On Bullets Fired From Police Sidearms 369

Zothecula writes: Police officers are trained to shoot for the center of mass, not necessarily to kill, but to stop – although the end result can often be one and the same. "The Alternative" is designed to give officers a less lethal option in the form of a clip-on "air bag" for semiautomatic pistols that reduces the velocity of a standard round to make it less lethal. At the front of the bright orange carrier is a hollow sphere made of a proprietary alloy that catches the bullet and firmly embeds it as it leaves the barrel. The ball and bullet fuse, slowing the round by 80 percent. At this speed, the ball-encased round is less likely to penetrate flesh, but it will transfer enough kinetic energy across a wide surface to knock a suspect down with less chance of a lethal outcome.
Wireless Networking

French Woman Gets €800/month For Electromagnetic-Field 'Disability' 456

An anonymous reader writes: If you were dismayed to hear Tuesday's news that a school is being sued over Wi-Fi sickness, you might be even more disappointed in a recent verdict by the French judicial system. A court based in Toulouse has awarded a disability claim of €800 (~$898) per month for three years over a 39-year-old woman's "hypersensitivity to electromagnetic waves." Robin Des Toits, an organization that campaigns for "sufferers" of this malady, was pleased: "We can no longer say that it is a psychiatric illness." (Actually, we can and will.) The woman has been living in a remote part of France's south-west mountains with no electricity around. She claims to be affected by common gadgets like cellphones.

FCC Votes To Subsidize Broadband Connections For Low-Income Households 283

Mark Wilson writes: Today the FCC voted in favor of updating its Lifeline program to include broadband. This would mean that households surviving on low incomes would be able to receive help paying for a broadband connection. It might not be as important as electricity or water, but having a broadband connection is seen as being all but essential these days. From helping with education and job hunting, to allowing for home working, the ability to get online is seen as so vital by some that there have been calls for it to be classed as a utility. The Lifeline program has been running since the 80s, and originally provided financial help to those struggling to pay for a phone line. It was expanded in 2008 to include wireless providers, and it is hoped that this third expansion will help more people to get online.

Why Our Brains Can't Process the Gravest Threats To Humanity 637

merbs writes: Our brains are unfathomably complex, powerful organs that grant us motor skills, logic, and abstract thought. Brains have bequeathed unto we humans just about every cognitive advantage, it seems, except for one little omission: the ability to adequately process the need for the whole species' long-term survival. They're miracle workers for the short-term survival of individuals, but the scientific evidence suggests that the human brain flails when it comes to navigating wide-lens, slowly-unfurling crises like climate change.
Linux Business

Mandriva CEO: Employee Lawsuits Put Us Out of Business 422

Julie188 writes: As you probably heard by now, Linux company Mandriva has finally, officially gone out of business. The CEO has opened up, telling his side of the story. He blames employee lawsuits after a layoff in 2013, the French labor laws and the courts. "Those court decisions forced the company to announce bankruptcy," he said.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Urges America To Challenge China To a Space Race 275

An anonymous reader writes: According to a Tuesday story in the UK edition of the International Business Times, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, advocates a space race between the United States and China. The idea is that such a race would spur innovation and cause industry to grow. The Apollo race to the moon caused a similar explosive period of scientific research and engineering development. You might prefer the Sydney Morning Herald piece on which the IB Times article is based.

California Is Giving Away Free Solar Panels To Its Poorest Residents 272

MikeChino writes: Oakland-based non-profit GRID Alternatives is giving away 1,600 free solar panels to California's poorest residents by the year 2016. The initiative was introduced by Senator Kevin de León and launched with funds gathered under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GCRF), the state's cap-and-trade program. SFGate reports: "Kianté London used the program to put panels on his three-bedroom North Richmond home, which he shares with two sons and a daughter. 'It helps me and my family a great deal to have low-cost energy, because these energy prices are really expensive,' said London, 46, whose solar array was installed this week. 'And I wanted to do my part. It’s clean, green energy.' London had wanted a solar array for years, but couldn’t afford it on his income as a merchant seaman — roughly $70,000 per year. Even leasing programs offered by such companies as SolarCity and Sunrun were too expensive, he said. The new program, in contrast, paid the entire up-front cost of his array."

Third Bangladeshi Blogger Murdered In As Many Months 284

An anonymous reader writes: Ananta Bijoy Das blogged about science in Bangladesh, also sometimes tackling difficult issues about religion. He won an award in 2006 for "deep and courageous interest in spreading secular and humanist ideals and messages." He's now been murdered for his writings, the third Bangladeshi blogger to die in the past few months. Four masked assailants chased him down in broad daylight and attacked him with cleavers and machetes. The Committee to Protect Journalists says Das is the 20th writer to be murdered globally so far this year. Arrests have been made in Bangladesh for the murders of the previous two bloggers this year, but no convictions have yet been made. Das's murderers remain at large.
United States

Hillary Clinton Declares 2016 Democratic Presidential Bid 676

An anonymous reader writes In a move that surprised no one, Hillary Clinton has officially announced she is entering the 2016 race for the White House. According to the Times: "Ending two years of speculation and coy denials, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Sunday that she would seek the presidency for a second time, immediately establishing herself as the likely 2016 Democratic nominee. 'I'm running for president,' she said with a smile near the end of a two-minute video released just after 3 p.m. 'Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion,' Mrs. Clinton said. 'So I'm hitting the road to earn your vote — because it's your time. And I hope you'll join me on this journey.'"

How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought 417 writes Bill Davidow And Michael S. Malone write in the WSJ that recent rains have barely made a dent in California's enduring drought, now in its fourth year. Thus, it's time to solve the state's water problem with radical solutions, and they can begin with "virtual water." This concept describes water that is used to produce food or other commodities, such as cotton. According to Davidow and Malone, when those commodities are shipped out of state, virtual water is exported. Today California exports about six trillion gallons of virtual water, or about 500 gallons per resident a day. How can this happen amid drought? The problem is mispricing. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that farmers would waste far less of it, and the effects of California's drought—its worst in recorded history—would not be so severe. "A free market would raise the price of water, reflecting its scarcity, and lead to a reduction in the export of virtual water," say Davidow and Malone. "A long history of local politics, complicated regulation and seemingly arbitrary controls on distribution have led to gross inefficiency."

For example, producing almonds is highly profitable when water is cheap but almond trees are thirsty, and almond production uses about 10% of California's total water supply. The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. "Suppose an almond farmer could sell real water to any buyer, regardless of county boundaries, at market prices—many hundreds of dollars per acre-foot—if he agreed to cut his usage in half, say, by drawing only two acre-feet, instead of four, from his wells," say the authors. "He might have to curtail all or part of his almond orchard and grow more water-efficient crops. But he also might make enough money selling his water to make that decision worthwhile." Using a similar strategy across its agricultural industry, California might be able to reverse the economic logic that has driven farmers to plant more water-intensive crops. "This would take creative thinking, something California is known for, and trust in the power of free markets," conclude the authors adding that "almost anything would be better, and fairer, than the current contradictory and self-defeating regulations."

How Activists Tried To Destroy GPS With Axes 247 writes Ingrid Burrington writes in The Atlantic about a little-remembered incident that occurred in 1992 when activists Keith Kjoller and Peter Lumsdaine snuck into a Rockwell International facility in Seal Beach, California and in what they called an "act of conscience" used wood-splitting axes to break into two clean rooms containing nine satellites being built for the US government. Lumsdaine took his axe to one of the satellites, hitting it over 60 times. The Brigade's target was the Navigation Satellite Timing And Ranging (NAVSTAR) Program and the Global Positioning System (GPS). Both men belonged to the Lockheed Action Collective, a protest group that staged demonstrations and blockaded the entrance at the Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. test base in Santa Cruz in 1990. They said they intentionally took axes to the $50-million Navstar Global Position System satellite to bring the public's attention to what they termed the government's attempt to control the world through modern technology. "I had to slow the deployment of this system (which) makes conventional warfare much more lethal and nuclear war winnable in the eyes of some," an emotional Kjoller told the judge before receiving an 18-month sentence. "It's something that I couldn't let go by. I tried to do what was right rather than what was convenient."

Burrington recently contacted Lumsdaine to learn more about the Brigade and Lumsdaine expresses no regrets for his actions. Even if the technology has more and more civilian uses, Lumsdaine says, GPS remains "military in its origins, military in its goals, military in its development and [is still] controlled by the military." Today, Lumsdaine views the thread connecting GPS and drones as part of a longer-term movement by military powers toward automated systems and compared today's conditions to the opening sequence of Terminator 2, where Sarah Connor laments that the survivors of Skynet's nuclear apocalypse "lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines." "I think in a general way people need to look for those psychological, spiritual, cultural, logistical, technological weak points and leverage points and push hard there," says Lumsdaine. "It is so easy for all of us as human beings to take a deep breath and step aside and not face how very serious the situation is, because it's very unpleasant to look at the effort and potential consequences of challenging the powers that be. But the only thing higher than the cost of resistance is the cost of not resisting."
United States

Bill Would Ban Paid Prioritization By ISPs 216

jfruh writes In the opening days of the new U.S. Congress, a bill has been introduced in both the House and Senate enforcing Net neutrality, making it illegal for ISPs to accept payment to prioritize some traffic packets over others. But the sponsors are all Democrats, and with Republicans now in charge of both house of Congress, the chances of it passing seem slim.
The Media

Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ 1350

An anonymous reader writes: A pair of gunmen have stormed the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and wounding seven more. The magazine had recently published a cartoon of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and witnesses say the gunmen shouted, "we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad," before leaving. "Four of the magazine's well-known cartoonists, including its editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier were reported among those killed, as well as at least two police officers. Mr Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection." The attackers engaged police in a gunfire outside the building, then fled in a car. At the time of this writing, they are still at large. Currently, the BBC has the most information out of English news outlets. French speakers can consult the headline at Le Monde for more current news.

We can found no scientific discipline, nor a healthy profession on the technical mistakes of the Department of Defense and IBM. -- Edsger Dijkstra