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Blackberry

Review: The BlackBerry Classic Is One of the Best Phones of 2009 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-it-aint-broke dept.
Molly McHugh writes When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, and I owned a BlackBerry Curve. To me, my BlackBerry was close to being the absolute perfect smartphone. Today, BlackBerry revealed the Classic, a phone that is designed to make me—and everyone who owned a BlackBerry before the touchscreen revolution—remember how much we loved them.
Windows

Forbes Blasts Latests Windows 7 Patch as Malware 230

Posted by timothy
from the if-the-president-does-it-is-isn't-illegal dept.
Forbes contributor Jason Evangelho has nothing good to say about a recent Windows 7 patch that's causing a range of trouble for some users. He writes: If you have Windows 7 set to automatically update every Tuesday, it may be to permanently disable that feature. Microsoft has just confirmed that a recent update — specifically KB 3004394 — is causing a range of serious problems and recommends removing it. The first issue that caught my attention, via AMD’s Robert Hallock, is that KB 3004394 blocks the installation or update of graphics drivers such as AMD’s new Catalyst Omega. Nvidia users are also reporting difficulty installing GeForce drivers, though I can’t confirm this personally as my machines are all Windows 8.1. Hallock recommended manually uninstalling the update, advice now echoed officially by Microsoft. More troubles are detailed in the article; on the upside, Microsoft has released a fix.
Linux

Linux 3.18 Released, Lockup Bug Still Present 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
jones_supa writes As anticipated, Linus Torvalds officially released Linux 3.18. The new version is now out there, though that nasty lockup issue has still yet to be resolved. Dave Jones is nearing the end of dissecting the issue, but since it also affects Linux 3.17 and not too many people seem to get hit by the lockups, Linus Torvalds decided to go ahead and do the 3.18 release on schedule. Linus was also concerned that dragging out the 3.18 release would then complicate the Linux 3.19 merge window due to the holidays later this month. Now the Linux 3.19 kernel merge window is open for two weeks of exciting changes.
Crime

Uber Banned In Delhi After Taxi Driver Accused of Rape 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the shutting-it-down dept.
RockDoctor writes BBC News is reporting that a 26-year old Indian woman is alleging rape against a driver for the embattled Uber transport-managing company. In a post on the Uber blog, one "Saad Ahmed" implicitly admits that the driver was a Uber driver, that the lift was arranged through Uber's service, and that the full range of Uber's safety mechanisms had been applied to his employment, and by implication, that Uber accepts some culpability for putting this (alleged) rapist into contact with his (alleged) victim. "Our initial investigations have revealed shortcomings of the private cab company which didn't have GPS installed in its cabs and the staff wasn't verified," Delhi Special Commissioner Deepak Mishra said. But Uber says safety was paramount, and added it had GPS traces of all journeys. "We work with licensed driver-partners to provide a safe transportation option, with layers of safeguards such as driver and vehicle information, and ETA-sharing [estimated time of arrival] to ensure there is accountability and traceability of all trips that occur on the Uber platform," its statement added.
Sony

Sony Pictures Computer Sytems Shut Down After Ransomware Hack 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the try-long-enough-and-you-find-a-soft-target dept.
MojoKid writes: It appears that Sony Pictures has become the victim of a massive ransomware hack, which has resulted in the company basically shutting down its IT infrastructure. According to an unnamed source, every computer in Sony's New York Office, and every Sony Pictures office across the nation, bears an image from the hacker with the headline "Hacked By #GOP" which is then followed by a warning. The hacker, or group, claims to have obtained corporate secrets and has threatened to reveal those secrets if Sony doesn't meet their demands.
Cellphones

Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones 203

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-throw-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Corning introduced next-generation Gorilla Glass, which it said is ten times tougher than any competitive cover glass now in the market. The company says that the Gorilla Glass 4 so launched is to address the No.1 problem among the smartphones users- screen breakage due to everyday drops."
Android

Ars Dissects Android's Problems With Big Screens -- Including In Lollipop 103

Posted by timothy
from the point-fifth-world-problems dept.
When it comes to tablets, Google doesn't even follow its own design guidelines." That's the upshot of Ars Technica writer Andew Cunningham's detailed, illustrated look at how Android handles screens much larger than seven inches, going back to the first large Android tablets a few years ago, but including Android 5.0 (Lollipop) on the Nexus 10 and similar sized devices. Cunningham is unimpressed with the use of space for both practical and aesthetic reasons, and says that problems crop up areas that are purely under Google's control, like control panels and default apps, as well as (more understandably) in third party apps. The Nexus 10 took 10-inch tablets back to the "blown-up phone" version of the UI, where buttons and other UI stuff was all put in the center of the screen. This makes using a 10-inch tablet the same as using a 7-inch tablet or a phone, which is good for consistency, but in retrospect it was a big step backward for widescreen tablets. The old interface put everything at the edges of the screen where your thumbs could easily reach them. The new one often requires the pointer finger of one of your hands or some serious thumb-stretching. ... If anything, Lollipop takes another step backward here. You used to be able to swipe down on the left side of the screen to see your notifications and the right side of the screen to see the Quick Settings, and now those two menus have been unified and placed right in the center of the screen. The Nexus 10 is the most comfortable to use if it's lying flat on a table or stand and Lollipop does nothing to help you out there.
Data Storage

Apple Disables Trim Support On 3rd Party SSDs In OS X 327

Posted by timothy
from the paying-more-for-the-exit-row dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes One of the disadvantages to buying an Apple system is that it generally means less upgrade flexibility than a system from a traditional PC OEM. Over the last few years, Apple has introduced features and adopted standards that made using third-party hardware progressively more difficult. Now, with OS X 10.10 Yosemite, the company has taken another step down the path towards total vendor lock-in and effectively disabled support for third-party SSDs. We say "effectively" because while third-party SSDs will still work, they'll no longer perform the TRIM garbage collection command. Being able to perform TRIM and clean the SSD when it's sitting idle is vital to keeping the drive at maximum performance. Without it, an SSD's real world performance will steadily degrade over time. What Apple did with OS X 10.10 is introduce KEXT (Kernel EXTension) driver signing. KEXT signing means that at boot, the OS checks to ensure that all drivers are approved and enabled by Apple. It's conceptually similar to the device driver checks that Windows performs at boot. However, with OS X, if a third-party SSD is detected, the OS will detect that a non-approved SSD is in use, and Yosemite will refuse to load the appropriate TRIM-enabled driver.
Build

Real Steampunk Computer Brought Back To Life 81

Posted by timothy
from the malware-free dept.
New submitter engineerguy writes We discovered a 100 year old 19th century computer that does Fourier analysis with just gears spring and levers. It was locked in a glass case at the University of Illinois Department of Mathematics. We rebuilt a small part of the machine and then for two years thoroughly photographed and filmed every part part of the machine and its operation. The results of this labor of love are in the video series (short documentary), which is 22 minutes long and contains stunning footage of the machine in action — including detailed descriptions of how it operates. The photos are collected in a free book (PDF). The computer was designed by Albert Michelson, who was famous for the Michelson-Morley experiment; he was also the first American to win a Nobel Prize in physics.
Robotics

Window Washing a Skyscraper Is Beyond a Robot's Reach 203

Posted by samzenpus
from the does-not-compute dept.
HughPickens.com writes "Patrick McGeehan writes in the NYT that the image of a pair of window washers clinging to a scaffold dangling outside the 68th floor of 1 World Trade Center have left many wondering why robots can't rub soapy water on glass and wipe it off with a squeegee relieving humans of the risk of injury, or death, from a plunge to the sidewalk? The simple answer, several experts say, is that washing windows is something that machines still cannot do as well as people can. "Building are starting to look like huge sculptures in the sky," says Craig Caulkins. "A robot can't maneuver to get around those curves to get into the facets of the building." According to Caulkins robotic cleaning systems tend to leave dirt in the corners of the glass walls that are designed to provide panoramic views from high floors. "If you are a fastidious owner wanting clean, clean windows so you can take advantage of that very expensive view that you bought, the last thing you want to see is that gray area around the rim of the window."

Another reason for the sparse use of robots is that buildings require a lot more maintenance than just window cleaning. Equipment is needed to lower people to repair facades and broken windows, like the one that rescue workers had to cut through with diamond cutters to rescue the window washers. For many years, being a window cleaner in Manhattan was regarded as one of the most dangerous occupations in the world: by 1932, an average of one in every two hundred window cleaners in New York was killed each year. Now all new union window cleaners now take two hundred and sixteen hours of classroom instruction, three thousand hours of accredited time with an employer and their union makes sure workers follow rigorous safety protocols. In all, there are about 700 scaffolds for window washing on buildings in New York City, says union representative Gerard McEneaney. His members are willing to do the work because it pays well: as much $26.89 an hour plus benefits. Many of the window cleaners are immigrants from South America. "They're fearless guys, fearless workers."
Earth

Earth's Oxygen History Could Explain "Darwin's Dilemma" In Evolution 78

Posted by timothy
from the you-expected-a-straight-line-on-the-graph? dept.
TaleSlinger (3080869) writes Scientists following two different lines of evidence have just published research [Here's the abstract to the paywalled Science paper] that may help resolve "Darwin's dilemma," a mystery that plagued the father of evolution until his death more than a century ago. Life appeared when the earth was tens of millions of years old, but evolution didn't go into high gear until the "Cambrian Explosion", nearly a billion years later. The two papers propose complementary theories that help explain this. The first suggests that scientists have long overestimated the amount of oxygen in the earth's atmosphere in the pre-Cambrian era just before the "explosion." The second suggests suggests that very dramatic changes driven by the tectonic breakup of the so-called "supercontinents" of the pre-Cambrian era could have caused an extraordinary leap in oxygen levels of both the ancient oceans and the earth's atmosphere. These two studies fit neatly together, suggesting that a world deprived of oxygen could have changed relatively quickly into an incubator for new life in shallow ponds spread across the continents and fed by waters rich in nutrients. Perhaps that set the stage for the explosion, which may have been five times the evolutionary rate seen today.
Desktops (Apple)

iFixit Tears Apart Apple's Shiny New Retina iMac 109

Posted by timothy
from the good-work-if-you-can-get-it dept.
iFixit gives the new Retina iMac a score of 5 (out of 10) for repairability, and says that the new all-in-one is very little changed internally from the system (non-Retina) it succeeds. A few discoveries along the way: The new model "retains the familiar, easily accessible RAM upgrade slot from iMacs of yore"; the display panel (the one iin the machine disassmbled by iFixit at least) was manufactured by LG Display; except for that new display, "the hardware inside the iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display looks much the same as last year's 27" iMac." In typical iFixit style, the teardown is documented with high-resolution pictures and more technical details.
Programming

JavaScript and the Netflix User Interface 195

Posted by timothy
from the horses-for-courses dept.
CowboyRobot writes Alex Liu is a senior UI engineer at Netflix and part of the core team leading the migration of Netflix.com to Node.js. He has an article at ACM's Queue in which he describes how JavaScript is used at Netflix. "With increasingly more application logic being shifted to the browser, developers have begun to push the boundaries of what JavaScript was originally intended for. Entire desktop applications are now being rebuilt entirely in JavaScript—the Google Docs office suite is one example. Such large applications require creative solutions to manage the complexity of loading the required JavaScript files and their dependencies. The problem can be compounded when introducing multivariate A/B testing, a concept that is at the core of the Netflix DNA. Multivariate testing introduces a number of problems that JavaScript cannot handle using native constructs, one of which is the focus of this article: managing conditional dependencies."
Communications

How English Beat German As the Language of Science 323

Posted by timothy
from the allgegenwart-und-einfachkeit dept.
HughPickens.com writes German was the dominant scientific language in 1900. Today if a scientist is going to coin a new term, it's most likely in English. And if they are going to publish a new discovery, it is most definitely in English. Look no further than the Nobel Prize awarded for physiology and medicine to Norwegian couple May-Britt and Edvard Moser. Their research was written and published in English. How did English come to dominate German in the realm of science? BBC reports that the major shock to the system was World War One, which had two major impacts. According to Gordin, after World War One, Belgian, French and British scientists organized a boycott of scientists from Germany and Austria. They were blocked from conferences and weren't able to publish in Western European journals. "Increasingly, you have two scientific communities, one German, which functions in the defeated [Central Powers] of Germany and Austria, and another that functions in Western Europe, which is mostly English and French," says Gordin.

The second effect of World War One took place in the US. Starting in 1917 when the US entered the war, there was a wave of anti-German hysteria that swept the country. In Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota there were many, many German speakers. World War One changed all that. "German is criminalized in 23 states. You're not allowed to speak it in public, you're not allowed to use it in the radio, you're not allowed to teach it to a child under the age of 10," says Gordin. The Supreme Court overturned those anti-German laws in 1923, but for years they were the law of the land. What that effectively did, according to Gordin, was decimate foreign language learning in the US resulting in a generation of future scientists who came of age with limited exposure to foreign languages. That was also the moment, according to Gordin, when the American scientific establishment started to take over dominance in the world. "The story of the 20th Century is not so much the rise of English as the serial collapse of German as the up-and-coming language of scientific communication," concludes Gordin.

It isn't easy being the parent of a six-year-old. However, it's a pretty small price to pay for having somebody around the house who understands computers.

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