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Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Most Unusual Hardware Hack? 15 15

An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter recently asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them? Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?
OS X

Square Enix Pulls, Apologizes For Mac Version of Final Fantasy XIV 31 31

_xeno_ writes: Just over a week after Warner Bros. pulled the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight due to bugs, Square Enix is now being forced to do the same thing with the Mac OS X version of Final Fantasy XIV (which was released at the same time as Batman: Arkham Knight). The rather long note explaining the decision apologizes for releasing the port before it was ready and blames OS X and OpenGL for the discrepancy between the game's performance on identical Mac hardware running Windows. It's unclear when (or even if) Square Enix will resume selling an OS X version — the note indicates that the development team is hopeful that "[w]ith the adoption of DirectX 11 for Mac, and the replacement of OpenGL with a new graphics API in Apple's next OS, the fundamental gap in current performance issues may soon be eliminated." (I'm not sure what "the adoption of DirectX 11 for Mac" refers to. OS X gaining DirectX 11 support is news to me — and, I suspect, Microsoft.) Given that the game supports the aging PS3 console, you'd think the developers would be able to find a way to get the same graphics as the PS3 version on more powerful Mac OS X hardware.
The Almighty Buck

Leased LEDs and Energy Service Contracts can Cut Electric Bills (Video) 17 17

I first heard of Consumer Energy Solutions from a non-profit's IT guy who was boasting about how he got them to lease him LED bulbs for their parking lot and the security lights at their equipment lot -- pretty much all their outdoor lighting -- for a lot less than their monthly savings on electricity from replacing most of their Halogen, fluorescent, and other less-efficient lights with LEDs. What made this a big deal to my friend was that no front money was required. It's one thing to tell a town council or non-profit board, "If we spend $180,000 on LEDs we'll save it all back in five years" (or whatever). It's another thing to say, "We can lease LEDs for all our outdoor lighting for $4,000 per month and save $8,000 on electricity right away." That gets officials to prick up their ears in a hurry.Then there are energy service contracts, essentially buying electricity one, two or three years in advance. This business got a bad name from Enron and their energy wholesaling business, but despite that single big blast of negative publicity, it grows a little each year. And the LED lease business? In many areas, governments and utility companies actually subsidize purchases of anything that cuts electricity use. Totally worth checking out.

But why, you might ask, is this on Slashdot? Because some of our readers own stacks of servers (or work for companies that own stacks of servers) and need to know they don't have to pay whatever their local electric utility demands, but can shop for better electricity prices in today's deregulated electricity market. And while this conversation was with one person in this business, we are not pushing his company. As interviewee Patrick Clouden says at the end of the interview, it's a competitive business. So if you want the best deal, you'd better shop around. One more thing: the deregulated utility market, with its multitude of suppliers, peak and off-peak pricing, and (often) minute-by-minute price changes, takes excellent software (possibly written by someone like you) to negotiate, so this business niche might be one an entrepreneurial software developer should explore.
Media

Rumblefish Claims It Owns 'America the Beautiful' By United States Navy Band 40 40

ptorrone writes: Adafruit is now shipping the USA-made open-source Arduinos. In celebration Ladyada the engineer posted an Arduino rotating in front of an American flag with the public domain "America the Beautiful" by the United States Navy Band as background music. Adafruit immediately received notice from from YouTube stating that the song is owned by Rumblefish. Rumblefish previously claimed to own copyright to ambient birdsongs, too.

+ - Clang Plays Tetris - Tetris as a C++ Template Metaprogram->

mjvzb writes: Ever wish compiling was more fun? Well, I recently implemented Tetris as a C++ template metaprogram (Github). The game is played by recompiling its source, taking player input by compiler flag. The runtime program is only needed to print the game screen to the console and save the game state across compiler runs.

Implementing Tetris in templates is not as horrific as you may imagine, and I've put together a post covering the details. Once you get over the syntax, C++ metaprogramming is just like functional programming.

Link to Original Source
Nintendo

A Look At the Rare Hybrid Console Built By Sony and Nintendo 23 23

An anonymous reader writes: Long before Sony and Nintendo were rivals, the two companies were partners for a brief time. In 1988 the duo started work on SNES-CD, a video game media format that was supposed to augment the cartridge-based SNES by adding support for higher-capacity CDs. In 1991 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Sony introduced the "Play Station" (yes, with a space) but it never saw the light of day. Now, more than two decades later, Imgur user DanDiebold has uploaded images of the unreleased console. This particular model (about 200 Play Station prototypes were created) confirms that the system was supposed to be compatible with existing SNES titles as well as titles to be released in the SNES-CD format. In other words, it would have been the world's first hybrid console: game developers and gamers alike would be able to use both SNES cartridges and CDs. If you want to learn more about this particular prototype, check out the following thread on Assembler Games.

+ - Square Enix Pulls, Apologizes For Mac Version of FFXIV

_xeno_ writes: Just over a week after Warner Bros. pulled the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight due to bugs, Square Enix is now being forced to do the same thing with the Mac OS X version of Final Fantasy XIV (which was released at the same time as Batman: Arkham Knight). The rather long note explaining the decision apologizes for releasing the port before it was ready and blames OS X and OpenGL for the performance discrepancy between the game's performance on identical Mac hardware running Windows. It's unclear when (or even if) Square Enix will resume selling an OS X version — the note indicates that the development team is hopeful that "[w]ith the adoption of DirectX11 for Mac, and the replacement of OpenGL with a new graphics API in Apple’s next OS, the fundamental gap in current performance issues may soon be eliminated." (I'm not sure what "the adoption of DirectX11 for Mac" refers to. OS X gaining DirectX 11 support is news to me — and, I suspect, Microsoft.) Given that the game supports the aging PS3 console, you'd think the developers would be able to find a way to get the same graphics as the PS3 version on more powerful Mac OS X hardware.
Medicine

Common Medications Sway Moral Judgment 73 73

sciencehabit sends news that two commonly-prescribed drugs have been shown to influence how the human brain makes moral decisions. Citalopram is an SSRI used to treat depression, and levodopa is often used to combat Parkinson's disease. A new study (abstract) asked subjects to set a monetary value on receiving painful electric shocks — for themselves and for others (e.g. "Would you rather endure seven shocks to earn $10 or 10 shocks to earn $15?"). The study found that subjects on citalopram (which affects serotonin levels) were willing to give up more money to reduce shocks, both for themselves and others. Those on levodopa (which affects dopamine levels) made people just as willing to shock others as they were to shock themselves, when those on a placebo tended to be more reluctant to shock others. [Neuroscientist Molly] Crockett says those effects could suggests multiple underlying mechanisms. For example, excess dopamine might make our brain's reward system more responsive to the prospect of avoiding personal harm. Or it could tamp down our sense of uncertainty about what another person is experiencing, making us less hesitant to dole out pain. Serotonin, meanwhile, appeared to have a more general effect on aversion to harm, not just a heightened concern for another person. Such knowledge could eventually develop drugs that address disorders of social behavior, she says.

+ - This Is The Rare PlayStation Console Built By Sony And Nintendo

An anonymous reader writes: Long before Sony and Nintendo were rivals, the two companies were partners for a brief time. In 1998 the duo started work on SNES-CD, a video game media format that was supposed to augment the cartridge-based SNES by adding support for higher-capacity CDs. In 1991 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Sony introduced the “Play Station” (yes, with a space) but it never saw the light of day. Now, more than two decades later, Imgur user DanDiebold has uploaded images of the unreleased console. This particular model (about 200 Play Station prototypes were created) confirms that the system was supposed to be compatible with existing SNES titles as well as titles to be released in the SNES-CD format. In other words, it would have been the world's first hybrid console: game developers and gamers alike would be able to use both SNES cartridges and CDs. If you want to learn more about this particular prototype, check out the following thread on Assembler Games.
Firefox

Firefox 39 Released, Bringing Security Improvements and Social Sharing 75 75

An anonymous reader writes: Today Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 39.0, which brings an number of minor improvements to the open source browser. (Full release notes.) They've integrated Firefox Share with Firefox Hello, which means that users will be able to open video calls through links sent over social media. Internally, the browser dropped support for the insecure SSLv3 and disabled use of RC4 except where explicitly whitelisted. The SafeBrowsing malware detection now works for downloads on OS X and Linux. (Full list of security changes.) The Mac OS X version of Firefox is now running Project Silk, which makes animations and scrolling noticeably smoother. Developers now have access to the powerful Fetch API, which should provide a better interface for grabbing things over a network.
Software

Samsung Faces Lawsuit In China Over Smartphone Bloatware 56 56

An anonymous reader writes: Samsung is being sued in China for installing too many apps onto its smartphones. The Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission is also suing Chinese vendor Oppo, demanding that the industry do more to rein in bloatware. The group said complaints are on the rise from smartphone users who are frustrated that these apps take up too much storage and download data without the user being aware. Out of a study of 20 smartphones, Samsung and Oppo were found to be the worst culprits. A model of Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 contained 44 pre-installed apps that could not be removed from the device, while Oppo's X9007 phone had 71.

+ - Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Most Odd Hardware Hack?

An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter once asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them? Have you ever done something stupid and damaged your electronics?
ISS

Russian Cargo Ship Successfully Makes Orbit, Will Supply ISS 37 37

An anonymous reader writes: Early this morning, a Russian Soyuz rocket successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket carried a Progress capsule containing 2,700kg of supplies for the International Space Station. It's a much-needed victory after a series of launch failures that saw ISS resupply missions from Orbital ATK, Russia, and SpaceX end in failure. "The station, a joint project involving 15 nations which is staffed by a crew of six astronauts and cosmonauts, currently has a four-month supply of food and water, NASA said. The arrival of the Russian cargo ship, and the planned launch of a Japanese HTV freighter in August, should replenish the station's pantries through the end of the year, NASA said. Friday's successful launch clears the way for three new crew members to fly to the station later this month."

+ - Firefox 39 Released, Bringing Security Improvements and Social Sharing->

An anonymous reader writes: Today Mozilla announced the release of Firefox 39.0, which brings an number of minor improvements to the open source browser. (Full release notes.)They've integrated Firefox Share with Firefox Hello, which means that users will be able to open video calls through links sent over social media. Internally, the browser dropped support for the insecure SSLv3 and disabled use of RC4 except where explicitly whitelisted. The SafeBrowsing malware detection now works for downloads on OS X and Linux(Full list of security changes.) The Mac OS X version of Firefox is now running Project Silk, which makes animations and scrolling noticeably smoother. Developers now have access to the powerful Fetch API, which should provide a better interface for grabbing things over a network.
Link to Original Source

+ - Theresa May named internet villain of the year->

An anonymous reader writes: The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has been named the UK internet industry’s villain of the year for pursuing “snooper’s charter” legislation without fully consulting the sector.

The gong, part of the annual ISPA awards, was given for “forging ahead with communications data legislation that would significantly increase capabilities without adequate consultation with industry and civil society”.

“With an investigatory powers bill due before parliament in the coming months, it is essential that ISPs are consulted,” the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) added.

Link to Original Source

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.

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