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Biotech

The One Thousand Genes You Could Live Without 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the stuff-you-don't-need dept.
sciencehabit writes Today researchers unveiled the largest ever set of full genomes from a single population: Iceland. The massive project, carried out by a private company in the country, deCODE genetics, has yielded new disease risk genes, insights into human evolution, and a list of more than 1000 genes that people can apparently live without. The project also serves as a model for other countries' efforts to sequence their people's DNA for research on personalized medical care, says study leader Kári Stefánsson, deCODE's CEO. For example, the United States is planning to sequence the genomes of 1 million Americans over the next few years and use the data to devise individualized treatments.
Programming

No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory 485

Posted by Soulskill
from the performance-that-fails-to-perform dept.
itwbennett writes: It's a commonly held belief among software developers that avoiding disk access in favor of doing as much work as possible in-memory will results in shorter runtimes. To test this assumption, researchers from the University of Calgary and the University of British Columbia compared the efficiency of alternative ways to create a 1MB string and write it to disk. The results consistently found that doing most of the work in-memory to minimize disk access was significantly slower than just writing out to disk repeatedly (PDF).

+ - New bill would repeal Patriot Act

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Two Congressmen have introduced legislation to repeal the Patriot Act as well as end all unconstitutional domestic spying by government agencies.

The article notes that there is bi-partisan support for “doing something” about the out-of-control surveillance of federal agencies like the National Security Agency. I agree. Expect something like this to get passed. Whether Obama will veto it is another question. Despite what he says (which no one should every believe), he likes the idea of prying into the lives of private citizens."
Technology

Stanford Breakthrough Could Make Better Chips Cheaper 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the encheapificating-the-expensive-part dept.
angry tapir writes: Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a new way to make chips and solar panels using gallium arsenide, a semiconductor that beats silicon in several important areas but is typically too expensive for widespread use. "[I]t can cost about $5,000 to make a wafer of gallium arsenide 8 inches in diameter, versus $5 for a silicon wafer, according to Aneesh Nainani, who teaches semiconductor manufacturing at Stanford. The new Stanford process (abstract) seeks to lessen this thousand-to-one cost differential by reusing that $5,000 wafer. Today the working electronic circuits in a gallium arsenide device are grown on top of this wafer. Manufacturers make this circuitry layer by flowing gaseous gallium arsenide and other materials across the wafer surface. This material condenses into thin layer of circuitry atop the wafer. In this scenario, the wafer is only a backing. The thin layer of circuitry on top of this costly platter contains all of the electronics."

Comment: Good points, bad points (Score 4, Interesting) 282

by Dynamoo (#49331759) Attached to: Ford's New Car Tech Prevents You From Accidentally Speeding
I've driven a car with a manual speed limiter for 10+ years now. I don't understand why all cars don't have one. Entering a 30mph/50kmh zone? Set that as the maximum speed on the limiter and you can drive around normally without having to keep checking your speed. Less time checking your speed equals more time looking where you are going. This is only a good thing.

In Europe, speed limiters seem to be common in Mercedes and Smart cars, Renault, Citroen and Peugeot cars, plus some of the newer Vauxhall/Opel models and Fords. It is built into the cruise control system.

The bad points? Well, reading signs is a so-so thing when it comes to accuracy, and satellite navigation systems sometimes get the speed very badly wrong if they have incorrect data. And just because the speed limit *says* that you can drive at up to whatever-is-on-the-sign, it doesn't mean it is *safe* to do so in the road conditions you actually have.

Comment: Re:so, the key to amnesty... (Score 1) 322

by Wolfrider (#49317235) Attached to: Microsoft Offers Pirates Amnesty and Free Windows 10 Upgrades

--Even a "free" upgrade won't get traction if the user interface is crap. See Win 8.x, Vista, Slashdot Beta. On the plus side, I've been evaluating the Win10 beta and it's *not* crap (so far.)

--I should qualify my next statement by saying that I hate Win 8.x with the fire of a thousand burning suns, and refuse to use it or work on it AT ALL, even if someone wants to pay me for it.

--I still like Win7 the best, especially for business (but my main bare-hardware desktop is still Xubuntu--64-LTS.) As long as they don't take the Win10 GUI changes in a wrong direction, I'm willing to try Win10 at this point; but I'm still keeping full-partition image backups of all my Win7 installs and VMs just in case.

+ - Online 'Swatting' Becomes a Hazard for Gamers Who Play Live on the Internet 1

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that practical jokers who call in bogus reports of violence provoking huge police responses have set their sights on a new set of victims: video gamers who play live on the Internet, often in front of huge online audiences. Last month, several hundred people were watching Joshua Peters as he played RuneScape from his parents’ home as video showed Peters suddenly leaving his computer when police officers appeared at the house and ordered him and his family at gunpoint to lie face down on the ground after some had called 911 claiming Peters had just shot his roommate. “With the live-streaming platforms, it amplifies the entire situation,” says James Clayton Eubanks who says he has been swatted about a half-dozen times while he streamed his Call of Duty sessions. “Not only do they get to do this and cause this misery, they get to watch it unfold in front of thousands of people.”

Game companies like Twitch have publicly said that swatting is dangerous, but that there is little else they can do to prevent the pranks. Tracking the culprits behind the pranks is difficult. While bomb scares and other hoaxes have been around for decades, making threats anonymously has never been so easy. Swatters use text messages and online phone services like Skype to relay their threats, employing techniques to make themselves hard to trace. They obtain personal addresses for their victims through property records and other public databases, or by tricking businesses or customer service representatives at a victim’s Internet provider into revealing the information. Brandon Willson, a gamer known online as “Famed God," made up a murder to get police to go to an unsuspecting west suburban resident’s home last year and ended up behind bars in Nevada awaiting extradition. As part of the investigation, police traveled to Las Vegas to help local police execute a search warrant at Willson’s home. Computers seized there contained evidence of the swatting incident, as well as similar incidents across the country, prosecutors claim. Willson faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted on charges of computer tampering and one count each of intimidation, computer fraud, identity theft and disorderly conduct. His mother, Brenda Willson, says her son is innocent and does not smoke, drink or have tattoos. “He would never swat," she says."
United Kingdom

UK Government Admits Intelligence Services Allowed To Break Into Any System 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the whenever-we-feel-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Recently, Techdirt noted that the FBI may soon have permission to break into computers anywhere on the planet. It will come as no surprise to learn that the U.S.'s partner in crime, the UK, granted similar powers to its own intelligence services some time back. What's more unexpected is that it has now publicly said as much, as Privacy International explains: "The British Government has admitted its intelligence services have the broad power to hack into personal phones, computers, and communications networks, and claims they are legally justified to hack anyone, anywhere in the world, even if the target is not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime." That important admission was made in what the UK government calls its "Open Response" to court cases started last year against GCHQ.
Google

FTC's Internal Memo On Google Teaches Companies a Terrible Lesson 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the I've-learned-nothing dept.
schwit1 writes FTC staffers spent enormous time pouring through Google's business practices and documents as well as interviewing executives and rivals. They came to the conclusion that Google was acting in anti-competitive ways, such as restricting advertisers from working with rival search engines. But commissioners balked at the prospect of a lengthy and protracted legal fight. For a big company, that process may have been enlightening. Agency staffers might find evidence of anti-competitive behavior. But that doesn't mean the firm will face the music in the end. Previous attempts to go after big companies — such as the Justice Department's long-running antitrust case against Microsoft in the 1990s — loomed large in regulators' minds at the time of the Google probe, according to a former official who worked at the agency then. "Even if we were in the right and could win," said the former official, "it could take a lot of resources away from other enforcement."
Earth

How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought 417

Posted by timothy
from the it's-as-if-prices-conveyed-information dept.
HughPickens.com 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."
OS X

For Boot Camp Users, New Macs Require Windows 8 Or Newer 209

Posted by timothy
from the you-can't-quite-you're-fired dept.
For anyone using Windows 7 by way of Apple's Boot Camp utility, beware: support for Windows via Boot Camp remains, but for the newest Apple laptops, it's only for Windows 8 for now. From Slashgear: This applies to the 2015 MacBook Air, and the 13-inch model of the 2015 MacBook Pro. Windows 8 will remain compatible, as will the forthcoming Windows 10. The 2013 Mac Pro also dropped Boot Camp support for Windows 7, while 2014 iMacs are still compatible, along with 2014 MacBook Airs and 2014 MacBook Pros. For those who still prefer to run Windows 7 on their Macs, there are other options. This change to Boot Camp will not affect using the Microsoft operating system through virtualization software, such as Parallels and VMware Fusion. Also at PC Mag.
Bug

OS X Users: 13 Characters of Assyrian Can Crash Your Chrome Tab 119

Posted by timothy
from the cat-like-typing-detected dept.
abhishekmdb writes No browsers are safe, as proved yesterday at Pwn2Own, but crashing one of them with just one line of special code is slightly different. A developer has discovered a hack in Google Chrome which can crash the Chrome tab on a Mac PC. The code is a 13-character special string which appears to be written in Assyrian script. Matt C has reported the bug to Google, who have marked the report as duplicate. This means that Google are aware of the problem and are reportedly working on it.
Japan

No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1 234

Posted by timothy
from the oh-this-old-thing? dept.
An anonymous reader writes To nobody's surprise, the Japanese press reports that a new way to look at the inside of one of the Fukushima 1 damaged reactors has shown the fuel is not in place. Engineers have not been able to develop a machine to directly see the exact location of the molten fuel, hampered by extremely high levels of radiation in and around the reactors, but a new scan technique using muons (details on the method in the media are missing) have shown the fuel is not in its place. While Tepco's speculation is that the fuel may be at the bottom of the reactor, it is a safe bet that at least some of it has burned through and has gone on to create an Uruguay syndrom.
Earth

Some Biodegradable Plastics Don't Live Up To Their Claims 98

Posted by timothy
from the ya-don't-say-or-actually-ya-do dept.
ckwu writes From bread bags to beverage bottles, many plastics now contain additives designed to make the materials biodegradable. But a new study shows that plastics made with such additives do not biodegrade in the environment significantly faster than those without the compounds. Researchers prepared films of commercial plastics with three different types of additives supplied by their manufacturers. The researchers then treated the film samples to mimic disposal of such plastics in a compost pile, a landfill, and soil. After about six months of composting, a year and a half of landfill-like conditions, and three years of soil burial, the plastics with additives did not show any more evidence of biodegradation than plastics without them.
Government

To Avoid NSA Interception, Cisco Will Ship To Decoy Addresses 296

Posted by timothy
from the name-is-smith-john-smith dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news snipped from The Register: Cisco will ship boxes to vacant addresses in a bid to foil the NSA, security chief John Stewart says. The dead drop shipments help to foil a Snowden-revealed operation whereby the NSA would intercept networking kit and install backdoors before boxen reached customers. The interception campaign was revealed last May. Speaking at a Cisco Live press panel in Melbourne today, Stewart says the Borg will ship to fake identities for its most sensitive customers, in the hope that the NSA's interceptions are targeted. 'We ship [boxes] to an address that has nothing to do with the customer, and then you have no idea who, ultimately, it is going to,' Stewart says.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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