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Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Best Data Provider When Traveling In the US? 142

An anonymous reader writes: I am visiting USA 3-4 times a year and I need a data service. I also need to keep my cell phone number, so swapping the SIM card in my phone is not an option. I have bought those 19.95$ phones in Best-Buy to get a local number, but those were voice only. So I have been thinking about getting a MiFi hotspot.

I have been looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon(only 700 LTE band for their pre-paid hotspot), AT&T, T-Mobile etc. perhaps to put in a MiFi hotspot or buy a hotspot from a provider, but have no idea which one to use, their reputation, real life coverage etc. It is clear that all data plans in the USA are really expensive, I get 100GB monthly traffic with my Scandinavian provider for the same price as 6-8 GB monthly in the US, which I guess could be a problem with our Apple phones as they do not recognize a metered WiFi hotspot. But that is another issue. I travel all over but most of the time outside the big cities -- and my experience from roaming with my own phone and the cheap local phone so far tells me that coverage fluctuates wildly depending on the operator.
Microsoft

Windows 10 RTM In 6 Weeks 290

Billly Gates writes: Ars Technica has the scoop on a new build with less flat icons and a confirmation of a mid July release date. While Microsoft is in a hurry to fix the damage done by the Windows 8 versions of its operating system, the next question is, is ready for prime time? On Neowin there's a list of problems already mentioned by MS and its users with this latest release, including Wi-Fi and sound not working without a reboot, and users complaining about tiles and apps not working in the new start menu.
AMD

AMD Details High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) DRAM, Pushes Over 100GB/s Per Stack 98

MojoKid writes: Recently, a few details of AMD's next-generation Radeon 300-series graphics cards have trickled out. Today, AMD has publicly disclosed new info regarding their High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) technology that will be used on some Radeon 300-series and APU products. Currently, a relatively large number of GDDR5 chips are necessary to offer sufficient capacity and bandwidth for modern GPUs, which means significant PCB real estate is consumed. On-chip integration is not ideal for DRAM because it is not size or cost effective with a logic-optimized GPU or CPU manufacturing process. HBM, however, brings the DRAM as close to possible to the logic die (GPU) as possible. AMD partnered with Hynix and a number of companies to help define the HBM specification and design a new type of memory chip with low power consumption and an ultra-wide bus width, which was eventually adopted by JEDEC 2013. They also develop a DRAM interconnect called an "interposer," along with ASE, Amkor, and UMC. The interposer allows DRAM to be brought into close proximity with the GPU and simplifies communication and clocking. HBM DRAM chips are stacked vertically, and "through-silicon vias" (TSVs) and "bumps" are used to connect one DRAM chip to the next, and then to a logic interface die, and ultimately the interposer. The end result is a single package on which the GPU/SoC and High Bandwidth Memory both reside. 1GB of GDDR5 memory (four 256MB chips), requires roughly 672mm2. Because HBM is vertically stacked, that same 1GB requires only about 35mm2. The bus width on an HBM chip is 1024-bits wide, versus 32-bits on a GDDR5 chip. As a result, the High Bandwidth Memory interface can be clocked much lower but still offer more than 100GB/s for HBM versus 25GB/s with GDDR5. HBM also requires significantly less voltage, which equates to lower power consumption.
Censorship

Two Gunman Killed Outside "Draw the Prophet" Event In Texas 1097

cosm writes: ABC news reports that two armed gunman were shot and killed outside a "Draw the Prophet" event hosted in Garland Texas. From the article: "The event, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, featured cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and scheduled speakers included Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who has campaigned to have the Quran banned in the Netherlands. The winner of the contest was to receive $10,000." In light of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks, the Lars Vilks Muhammad drawing controversies, and the American show South Park's satirical depiction of the state of Muhammad phobia in the US and elsewhere, is there an end in sight to the madness associated with the representation of this religious figure?
Twitter

SeaWorld and Others Discover That a Hashtag Can Become a Bashtag 124

HughPickens.com writes Alison Griswold writes that in an effort to improve its tanking image, SeaWorld launched a new advertising campaign this week to educate the public about its "leadership in the care of killer whales" and other work to protect whales in captivity and in the wild. As part of that head-on initiative, someone at SeaWorld decided to invite Twitter users to pose their questions to the company directly using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. That was not a good idea as twitter users bashed Sea World relentlessly.. "As easy as it is to make fun of SeaWorld here, the real question is why any company still thinks hosting an open Twitter forum could be good for public relations," writes Griswold. "So maybe SeaWorld's social and PR folks just really have no idea what they're doing. Even so, you'd think they'd have learned from the corporate failures before them."

Let's review some of the times this has backfired, starting with the infamous McDonald's #McDStories Twitter campaign of January 2012. Rather than prompting customers to share their heart-warming McDonald's anecdotes, the hashtag gave critics a highly visible forum to share their top McDonald's horror stories. MacDonalds pulled the campaign within two hours but they discovered that crowd-sourced campaigns are hard to control. Three years later the #McDStories hashtag is still gathering comments. "Twitter Q&As are a terrible idea.," concludes Griswold. "A well-meaning hashtag gives critics an easy way to assemble and voice their complaints in a public forum. Why companies still try them is a great mystery. Maybe they'll all finally learn from SeaWorld and give this one horrible PR trick up for good."
Programming

No, It's Not Always Quicker To Do Things In Memory 486

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).
Displays

Valve's SteamVR: Solves Big Problems, Raises Bigger Questions 124

An anonymous reader writes: When Valve debuted its SteamVR headset recently, it came as somewhat of a surprise — it certainly hasn't gotten the same level of hype as the Oculus Rift. But people who got to try out the new headset almost universally impressed with the quality of the hardware and software. Eurogamer has an article about the device expressing both astonishment at how far the technology has come in three short years, as well as skepticism that we'll find anything revolutionary to do with it. Quoting: "R demands a paradigm shift in the thinking of game designers and artists about how they build virtual space and how players should interact with it. We're only at the very beginning of this journey now. ... but this process will likely take years, and at the end of it the games won't resemble those we're currently used to. In short, they won't be Half-Life 3."

The author thinks simulation games — driving, piloting, and space combat — will be the core of the first wave, and other genres will probably have to wait for the lessons learned making sims good. He adds, "...the practical challenges are great, too — not least in persuading players to clear enough space in their homes to use this device properly, and the potential for social stigma to attach to the goofy-looking headsets and the players' withdrawal into entirely private experiences. I still think that these present major obstacles to the widespread adoption of VR, which even more practical and commercially realistic offerings like Morpheus will struggle against."
Youtube

YouTube Video of Racist Chant Results In Fraternity Closure 606

HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports that after a video was posted on YouTube that appeared to show members of the members Sigma Alpha Epsilon at University of Oklahoma singing a racist chant, the organization's board decided "with no mental reservation whatsoever that this chapter needed to be closed immediately." The video shows a group of young white people in formal wear riding a bus and singing a chant laden with antiblack slurs and at least one reference to lynching. A grinning young man wearing a tuxedo and standing in the aisle of the bus pumps his fist in the air as he chants, while a young woman seated nearby claps. The chant vows that African-Americans will "never" be allowed to join the campus chapter.

The nine-second video was uploaded to YouTube on Sunday by a student group, the Unheard Movement, that first identified the people in it as members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, although the group did not indicate how it obtained the video or when it was filmed. University president, David Boren, said in an emailed statement that the administration was also investigating the video. "I have just been informed of the video, which purports to show students to show students engaging in a racist chant. We are investigating to determine if the video involved OU students. If O.U. students are involved, this behavior will not be tolerated and will be addressed very quickly," said Boren. "This behavior is reprehensible and contrary to all of our values." Students marched on the campus of the University of Oklahoma on Monday to protest the video.
Censorship

Indian Gov't Wants Worldwide Ban On Rape Documentary, Including Online 356

An anonymous reader writes India's far-right Hindu Nationalist government headed by Narendra Modi has banned telecasting and viewing online of a BBC documentary on the 2012 Delhi rape which shocked the nation. The documentary consists interviews of the rapist Mukesh Singh, his lawyers and the victim's parents seems to expose the male dominant nature of Indian society. Indian government is now attempting to ban the documentary worldwide. Critics of the Indian government's action has accused it of not addressing issues women face and instead trying to hide the dirty secrets of its culture from the world. Some Indian websites have also reported that the views expressed by the rapist are echoed by policemen, lawyers and politicians of the nation. So far the government's attempt to ban the video online is with mixed success.
Cellphones

Samsung Officially Unpacks Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge At MWC 235

MojoKid writes Today, at Mobile World Congress, Samsung took the veil off of its much-anticipated Galaxy S6, and also the Galaxy S6 edge. As has been heavily rumored, the S6 foregoes the plastic shell of its predecessor and integrates metal and glass instead, resulting in a far more premium feel, a thickness of 6.8mm, and a weight of 138g on the normal S6 and 132g on the edge. Samsung made it a point to mention that the metal it uses in the S6 is 50% stronger than other smartphones- a Apple bendgate jab, perhaps? Both the S6 and S6 edge share the same hardware, which includes a 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display. That gives us a resolution of 2560x1440, and a high pixel density of 577 ppi. The new phones also include an octa-core processor (2.1GHz quad + 1.5GHz quad), 3GB of DDR4 memory, and LTE cat 6 (300/50Mbps) support. Also of note is the phone's rear 16 megapixel f/1.9 camera, which Samsung says will launch in less than a second (0.6 seconds, to be exact). The front camera is no slouch either, also boasting an aperture of f/1.9, and coming in at 5 megapixels. The company says that the phone can add 4 hours of battery-life after a mere 10 minutes of charging, and when compared to the iPhone, it charges up to full in half the time. The S6 also has built-in wireless charging as well.

Comment UHD/4K is useless. (Score 1) 330

http://isthisretina.com/ will or should prove to you that there is no such thing as affordable UHD/4K. You need a screen way too big, and/or you have to sit way too close, to make anything over standard HD worthwhile. $85,000 for a 120" TV that you have to sit 8' from does not make much sense to me. If it makes sense to you, good for you. ;)

Google

Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption 238

HughPickens.com writes: The insurance industry is a fat target — there's were about $481 billion in premiums in 2013, and agents' commissions of about $50 billion. Now Conor Dougherty writes in the NYT that the boring but lucrative trade has been attracting big names like Google, which has formed a partnership with Comparenow, an American auto insurance comparison site that will give Google access to insurers in Comparenow's network. "A lot of people are waking up to the fact that it's a massive industry, it's old-fashioned, they still use human agents and the commissions are pretty big," says Jennifer Fitzgerald. It may seem like an odd match for Google, whose projects include driverless cars, delivery drones and a pill to detect cancer, but the key to insurance is having lots of data about people's backgrounds and habits, which is perhaps the company's greatest strength. "They have a ton of data on where people drive, how people drive," says Jon McNeill. "It's the holy grail of being able to price auto insurance correctly."

People in the industry and Silicon Valley say it is only a matter of time before online agencies attack the armies of intermediaries that are the backbone of the trade, and Google could present formidable competition for other insurance sellers. As many as two-thirds of insurance customers say they would consider purchasing insurance products from organizations other than insurers, including 23 percent who would consider buying from online service providers such as Google and Amazon. Google Compare auto insurance site has already been operating in Britain for two years as a search engine for auto insurance prices.

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