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Software

Ask Slashdot: What Smartwatch Apps Could You See Yourself Using? 471

Posted by Soulskill
from the an-app-that-gives-it-infinite-battery-life dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's official: the smartwatch wars have begun. Apple's announcement of the Apple Watch added a contender to the race already shaping up between the Pebble watch, the Moto 360, and others. Personally, my doubts about wanting one were put to rest when I learned of the health-related features. Smartwatches will be able to track your movements and pulse rate, calculate how many calories you burn, and coach you continuously to improve your fitness.

If you have one or plan on buying one, what apps or functions do you see yourself getting the most use from? If you're still skeptical, what would it take? (If an app developer sees your requirements here on Slashdot, your wish might come true.)
Businesses

Report: Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Studio For $2bn+ 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-what-now dept.
dotarray (1747900) writes "A surprising story has emerged today that suggests Microsoft is looking to buy Minecraft developer Mojang. The reported price tag is "more than US$2 billion." The original report is at the WSJ (possibly behind a paywall). Quoting: "For Microsoft, "Minecraft" could reinvigorate the company's 13-year-old Xbox videogame business by giving it a cult hit with a legion of young fans. Mojang has sold more than 50 million copies of "Minecraft" since it was initially released in 2009 and earned more than $100 million in profits last year from the game and merchandise. "Minecraft" is already available on the Xbox, as well as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation, PCs and smartphones."
Stats

Among Gamers, Adult Women Vastly Outnumber Teenage Boys 276

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-in-a-fight-who-would-win dept.
MojoKid writes: The Entertainment Software Association has just released its 2014 report on the state of the video game industry (PDF), and as the title of this post suggests, there have been some significant shifts since the last report. Let's tackle the most interesting one first: Females have become the dominant gamer, claiming 52% of the pie. That's impressive, but perhaps more so is the fact that women over the age of 18 represent 36% of the game-playing population, whereas boys aged 18 and under claim a mere 17%. Statistics like these challenge the definition of "gamer." Some might say that it's a stretch to call someone who only plays mobile games a "gamer" (Candy Crush anyone?). Mental hurdle aside, the reality is that anyone who plays games, regardless of the platform, is a gamer.
Businesses

Companies That Don't Understand Engineers Don't Respect Engineers 371

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-aren't-part-of-the-solution,-you're-part-of-the-preciptate dept.
An anonymous reader writes Following up on a recent experiment into the status of software engineers versus managers, Jon Evans writes that the easiest way to find out which companies don't respect their engineers is to learn which companies simply don't understand them. "Engineers are treated as less-than-equal because we are often viewed as idiot savants. We may speak the magic language of machines, the thinking goes, but we aren't business people, so we aren't qualified to make the most important decisions. ... Whereas in fact any engineer worth her salt will tell you that she makes business decisions daily–albeit on the micro not macro level–because she has to in order to get the job done. Exactly how long should this database field be? And of what datatype? How and where should it be validated? How do we handle all of the edge cases? These are in fact business decisions, and we make them, because we're at the proverbial coal face, and it would take forever to run every single one of them by the product people and sometimes they wouldn't even understand the technical factors involved. ... It might have made some sense to treat them as separate-but-slightly-inferior when technology was not at the heart of almost every business, but not any more."
Science

New Process Promises Ammonia From Air, Water, and Sunlight 117

Posted by timothy
from the kid-tested-mother-shocked dept.
The synthesis of ammonia is one of the globe's most significant industrial applications of chemistry. PhysOrg reports the publication in the August issue of Science (sadly, article is paywalled) the description of a low-energy process to syntheize ammonia for fertilizer using just air, water, and sunlight, by zapping with electricity water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide, and sodium and potassium hyroxide. Electricity isn't free, though — "Low energy" in this case means two-thirds the energy cost of the long-in-use Haber-Bosch process. Researcher Stuart Licht is getting some of the energy to run this reaction from a high-efficiency solar cell he's created, which creates hydrogen as a byproduct. Along with the elimination of the need to produce hydrogen from natural gas, the overall emissions are reduced quite significantly. The whole process also takes place at milder conditions, not requiring 450C and 200 times atmospheric pressure as the Haber-Bosch process does. ... But even with Licht's method, [University of Bristol electrochemistry professor David] Fermin points out that we are far away from being able to replicate nature's efficiency at converting nitrogen from the air to useful chemicals, which is done by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. "What is truly remarkable is that nature does it incredibly efficiently at low-temperature," Fermin added. And yet, if something more efficient can replace the Haber-Bosch process, it would lower the energy input of the production of one of the worlds most important chemicals and lead to a notable reduction in global CO2 emissions.
The Military

Long-Wave Radar Can Take the Stealth From Stealth Technology 275

Posted by timothy
from the f35s-cost-more-than-$300-million-each dept.
AbrasiveCat (999190) writes "In the continuing game of cat and mouse between offensive and defensive technologies of war, the technology of radar stealth may have been matched by new multiple frequency radar systems. U.S Naval Institute News reports the Chinese and Russians may be developing such systems. The present radar systems use high frequency waves for accurately locating an incoming target. Stealth aircraft are designed to adsorb or reflect these waves away from the receiver. It turns out longer wave radars can see the stealth aircraft. The longer wave radar lacks the precision of the high frequency radar, but when the two are combined, as the Russians, Chinese (and U.S.) are doing, you can produce accurate targeting radar. The F117 may have been in a golden age for stealth technology, it will be interesting to see if the F35 arrives too late to be effective against other countries with advanced radar systems."
Privacy

UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity 282

Posted by timothy
from the but-you-have-a-right-to-be-forgotten dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a bit of pith from TechDirt: Every so often, people who don't really understand the importance of anonymity or how it enables free speech (especially among marginalized people), think they have a brilliant idea: "just end real anonymity online." They don't seem to understand just how shortsighted such an idea is. It's one that stems from the privilege of being in power. And who knows that particular privilege better than members of the House of Lords in the UK — a group that is more or less defined by excess privilege? The Communications Committee of the House of Lords has now issued a report concerning "social media and criminal offenses" in which they basically recommend scrapping anonymity online.
The Internet

Which Is Better, Adblock Or Adblock Plus? 436

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-blacklists-the-blacklisters dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Wladimir Palant is the creator of the Adblock Plus browser extension, but he often gets asked how it compares to a similar extension for Chrome called Adblock. In the past, he's told people the two extensions achieve largely the same end, but in slightly different ways. However, recent changes to the Adblock project have him worried. "AdBlock covertly moved from an open development model towards hiding changes from its users. Users were neither informed about that decision nor the reasons behind it." He goes through the changelog and highlights some updates that call into question the integrity of Adblock. For example, from an update on June 6th: "Calling home functionality has been extended. It now sends user's locale in addition to the unique user ID, AdBlock version, operating system and whether Google Search ads are being allowed. Also, AdBlock will tell getadblock.com (or any other website if asked nicely) whether AdBlock has just been installed or has been used for a while — again, in addition to the unique user ID." Of course, Palant has skin in this game, and Adblock Plus has dealt with fallout from their "acceptable ads policy," but at least it's still developed in the open.

Comment: Re:This is just a repeat (Score 1) 282

[...] I don't want to see Google with a monopoly either. MS kind of keeps them in check.

I was going to reply 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss'
but in fact, you can be sure the two are allies in screwing-over their employees, so I'll quote Orwell, instead:

"Between pigs and human beings there was not, and there need not be, any clash of interests whatever. Their struggles and their difficulties were one. Was not the labour problem the same everywhere?"

Hardware

Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch? 381

Posted by timothy
from the does-it-shoot-deadly-darts? dept.
Watches that do more than tell the time have been around for a long time. (And in fiction, James Bond, Dick Tracey, and Michael Knight all had notably high-tech watches.) The new smart watches from Samsung and LG, without a phone connected via Bluetooth as backhaul, can still serve to show the time and to serve as alarms (and Samsung's can measure your pulse, too), but all the magic features (like searching by voice via the watch) do require a connection. They can't play MP3s or take pictures on their own, and they don't have built-in GPS. Even so, compared to the polarizing Google Glass, the new breed of smart watches are wearables that probably are an easier sell, even if this far the trend has been to replace watches with smart phones. (Android Wear has gotten a lot of attention, but Microsoft has their own upcoming, and Apple almost certainly does, too.) Are you interested in a smart watch, and if so, what uses do you want it for? If they have no appeal to you now, are there functions that would make you change your mind on that front?
Space

Red Dwarfs Could Sterilize Alien Worlds of Life 76

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-very-habitable-zone dept.
astroengine (1577233) writes "Red dwarf stars — the most common stars in the galaxy — bathe planets in their habitable zones with potentially deadly stellar winds, a finding that could have significant impacts on the prevalence of life beyond Earth, new research shows. About 70 percent of stars are red dwarfs, or M-type stars, which are cooler and smaller than the sun. Any red dwarf planets suitable for liquid water, therefore, would have to orbit much closer to their parent star than Earth circles the sun. That presents a problem for life — at least life as we know it on Earth, says physicist Ofer Cohen, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Cohen and colleagues used a computer model based on data from the sun's solar wind — a continuous stream of charged particles that permeates and defines the solar system –- to estimate the space environment around red dwarf stars. 'We find that the conditions are very extreme. If you move planets very close to the star, the force of this flow is very, very strong. Essentially it can strip the atmosphere of the planet unless the planet has a strong magnetic field or a thick atmosphere to start with,' Cohen told Discovery News."
Australia

Australian iPhone and iPad Users Waylaid By Ransomware 52

Posted by timothy
from the beware-the-jabberwock-my-son dept.
DavidGilbert99 (2607235) writes "Multiple iPhone/iPad/Mac users in Australia are reporting their devices being remotely locked and a ransom demand being made to get them unlocked again. However, unlike PC ransomware, the vector of attack here seems to be Apple's iCloud service with the attacker getting to a database of username/password credentials associated with the accounts. It is unclear if the database was one of Apple's or the hacker is simply using the fact that people reuse the same password for multiple accounts and is using data stolen from another source. Apple is yet to respond, but there has already been one report of the issue affecting a user in the UK."

Comment: Another theory (Score 1) 608

by Progman3K (#46836721) Attached to: Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?

What if by the time a race has evolved sufficiently that they have mastered all technology, they simply enter another dimension to escape being destroyed by their star's death?

Physics seems to be saying there could be as many as 11 dimensions, possibly more.

Maybe you only need to exist at right-angles to this one to escape any devastation coming and maybe then energy/resource needs become a non-issue.

No need to exit the solar system then and you're effectively undetectable...

"Be *excellent* to each other." -- Bill, or Ted, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

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