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Submission + - Ten steps to the Universe we know today

An anonymous reader writes: Considering what we know about our Universe today, it’s hard to believe that just a century ago, Einstein’s General Relativity was very much untested and uncertain, and we hadn’t even realized that anything at all lie outside our own Milky Way. But over the past ten decades, ten great discoveries have taken place to give us the Universe we understand today. Complete with the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy, cosmic inflation and so much more, one can’t help but wonder what the current decade — or even the coming decades — might hold to open up our understanding of the Universe even further.

Submission + - Kodi developer apologizes, indicates future of Kodi project is uncertain (reddit.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Over on Reddit a former "member of Team Kodi, the group behind Kodi/XBMC" has issued an apology, saying, "To all the Kodi users and members of the community out there: I'm sorry if I was (or ever will be) ever a dick to you." However the ensuing discussion makes it clear that he is not the only Kodi developer that should probably be apologizing, and that the atmosphere among the Kodi development team can be pretty toxic at times. It appears that some of the developers hate other developers, and hate users even more. Further down in the discussion, the OP says,

"Internally, it has gotten so toxic on Team Kodi that I would be surprised if the project lasts another year. Not without something changing. The abuse is to the point that it's not fun for anyone to work on things anymore, let alone attract new developers and team members."

The entire discussion reminds us of how some of the most talented software designers can have serious problems with social skills, to the point that they probably don't even realize how what they say and how they act affects others. But beyond that, it may be the first indication that a much-used piece of software is on its way downhill. Before anyone says it, I will also mention is that Kodi is NOT piracy software as some erroneously believe; there have been a number of unofficial addons written for Kodi that may facilitate piracy in some way but they are neither endorsed by the Kodi developers nor allowed in the official Kodi addon repository. To blame Kodi for these addons would be like blaming Firefox or Chrome for an unofficial addon or extension that may facilitate piracy in some manner.

Submission + - Majority of Americans OK With Warrantless Internet Surveillance (ap.org)

An anonymous reader writes: A new poll conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research gathered opinions on the U.S. government's surveillance of internet communications. The poll found that a majority of Americans, 56%, were in favor of warrantless surveillance. 28% explicitly opposed it. 67% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats supported the warrantless surveillance, while only 40% of Independents supported it. Americans under 30 supported warrantless surveillance much less than older Americans. Further, "The poll finds that for most Americans, safety concerns trump civil liberties at least some of the time. More than half — 54 percent — say it's sometimes necessary for the government to sacrifice freedoms to fight terrorism, while 45 percent think that's not necessary. On a more general level, 42 percent say it's more important for the government to ensure Americans' safety than to protect citizens' rights, while 27 percent think rights are more important and 31 percent rate both equally."

Submission + - Khan Academy Seeks Patent on Education A/B Testing

theodp writes: The Education Revolution will be patented. USPTO records show that Khan Academy is seeking a patent for Systems and Methods for Split Testing Educational Videos. From the patent application: "Systems and methods are provided for comparing different videos pertaining to a topic. Two different versions of an educational video may be compared using split comparison testing. A set of questions may be provided along with each video about the topic taught in the video. Users may view one of the videos and answer the questions. Data about the user responses may be aggregated and used to determine which video more effectively conveys information to the viewer based on the question responses." Now it's up to the USPTO to decide if something like the test and control studies conducted 40+ years ago (pdf) by the PLATO system to measure the effectiveness of different teaching methods would count as prior art. In response to an earlier post on Khan Academy's pending patents on learning computer programming and 'social programming,' Slashdot user Khan Academy said that the nonprofit is using patents for good, so not to worry.

Submission + - Tesla catches fire during quickcharging (www.vg.no)

Flu writes: The owner had parked the car at a quickcharging station in Brokelandsheia, Norway. Shortly after leaving, the car caught fire, and became totally destroyed. Luckily, noone got hurt. The cause of the fire is under investigation by the local police and the charging station is temporarily closed.

Submission + - Copyright Expires on Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf

An anonymous reader writes: HughPickens.com writes

Adolf Hitler's Nazi manifesto Mein Kampf was originally printed in 1925 — eight years before Hitler came to power. After Nazi Germany was defeated in 1945, the Allied forces handed the copyright to the book to the state of Bavaria who refused to allow the book to be reprinted to prevent incitement of hatred. Now BBC reports that under European copyright law, the rights of an author of a literary or artistic work runs for the life of the author and for 70 years after his death — in Hitler's case on 30 April 1945, when he shot himself in his bunker in Berlin, so for the first time in 70 years, Mein Kampf will be available to buy in Germany.

Authorizing the book’s release into the public domain has been a tortuous process. In 2012 it was agreed, after much consultation between Bavarian authorities and representatives of Jewish and Roma communities, that a scholarly edition should be planned in an attempt to demystify the book. Munich's Institute of Contemporary History willpublish the new edition with thousands of academic notes, will aim to show that Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is incoherent and badly written, rather than powerful or seductive. From the original book’s 1,000 pages, the publisher has produced a two-volume book that is twice as long as the original, with 3,700 annotations. Christian Hartmann, one of the team of five historians who spent several years working on the academic edition, described his relief at being able to analyse the text, even if he felt in need of regularly airing his tiny Munich office in order to cope with the task. “It is a real feeling of triumph, to be able to pick over this rubbish and then to debunk it bit by bit."

Submission + - State Dept releases 5500 Hillary Clinton emails, "classified" count up to 1,274 (cbsnews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The State Department on Thursday released 5,500 more pages of Hillary Clinton's emails, but fell short of meeting a court-ordered target of making 82 percent of the former secretary of state's messages public by the end of 2015.

The email dump is the latest release from the private server Clinton used during her time as America's top diplomat. The State Department said it failed to meet the court's goal because of "the large number of documents involved and the holiday schedule."

Portions of 275 documents in the batch were upgraded to classified, though they were not classified at the time they were sent to Clinton's personal email, according to the State Department. In total, 1,274 of her emails were retroactively classified by the government before their release.

Submission + - A brief history of the ESA (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica takes a look at the history and development of the European Space agency. Getting things done at the ESA has an extra layer of difficulty compared to most other space programs because they rely on cooperation between many governments with different goals and budgets. "The first talks regarding the ESA took place against the backdrop of the growing space rivalry between the United States and Soviet Union, which had burst onto the world's stage with the successful Sputnik mission in October 1957. ... By 1959, the effort took on a sense of urgency. Auger and Amaldi were concerned that the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Science Committee was thinking of developing a satellite to put Europe in space. Krige's book states that both scientists '[balked] at the prospect of having European space research located in an [organization] essentially dedicated to military goals, an [organization] which would impose layers of bureaucracy and secrecy on any space science effort.'" This led to the formation of the European Space Research Organization and the European launcher Development Organization, which became precursors to the ESA. Today, the ESA's mission pipeline packed with interesting probes set to do fascinating science.

Submission + - Epoch Time Bug Causes Facebook To Congratulate Users on 46 Years of Friendship (gizmodo.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A bunch of Facebook users received mysterious messages yesterday congratulating them on 46 years of being friends on Facebook. An astute observer may note that Facebook hasn't been around for 46 years. An even more astute observer might note that 46 years ago yesterday would be 12/31/1969 — easily recognizable as value '0' in the Unix Epoch with a time zone adjustment. A Microsoft engineer posits that the message was sent because of how Facebook implemented its congratulatory messages. Many people were Facebook friends when the feature was rolled out, and instead of finding or estimating the date they became friends, Facebook simply set that database value to '0'. When the script fires to send those messages, it grabbed that value expecting a time, and interpreted the 0 accordingly. "The developer who wrote the “friends with since” memories algorithm should have added a case WHERE friendsWithSinceDate != ‘0' or something along those lines."

Submission + - The Swift Programming Language's Most Commonly Rejected Changes (github.com)

An anonymous reader writes: When Apple made its Swift programming language open source in early December, it opened the floodgates for suggestions and requests from developers. But the project's maintainers have their own ideas about how the language should evolve, so some suggestions are rejected. Now a list has been compiled of some commonly rejected proposals — it's an interesting window into the development of a language. Swift's developers don't want to replace Brace Syntax with Python-style indentation. They don't want to change boolean operators from && and || to 'and' and 'or'. They don't want to rewrite the Swift compiler in Swift. They don't want to change certain keywords like 'continue' from their C precedents. And they have no interest in removing semicolons.

Submission + - Hackers get Linux running on a PlayStation 4 (engadget.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Two years after the PlayStation 4 was released, and two weeks after it was jailbroken, a group of hackers has now successfully installed Linux on it. "...it appears that the fail0verflow team utilized a WebKit bug similar to the one recently documented by GitHub user CTurt and then took things up a notch. CTurt's workaround focuses on the PlayStation 4's Webkit browser, which is tricked into freeing processes from the core of the console's operating system by an improvised webpage. The PS4 is powered by Sony's Orbis OS, which is based on a Unix-like software called FreeBSD. With a route into the console's system, fail0verflow then identified weaknesses in the PlayStation 4's GPU. It specifically called out engineers from semiconductor company Marvell, accusing them of "smoking some real good stuff" when they designed the PlayStation 4's southbridge chip."

Submission + - Carrier iQ Goes Under, AT&T Buys Assets and Staff (techcrunch.com)

An anonymous reader writes: You may recall the name CarrierIQ from when it angered tech-savvy internet users four years ago. They developed software that allowed explicit monitoring of anything happening on a cell phone, down to individual keystrokes. It was pre-installed on millions of phones at the time, and Carrier iQ unsuccessfully tried to silence the researchers working to uncover it. As the article notes, the company and its software "became synonymous with creepy, unseen monitoring of everything that you do on a smartphone on behalf of carriers and phone makers." Well, it seems they never really recovered. The good news is that Carrier iQ seems to have evaporated. The bad news is that they sold most of their assets to AT&T, and handed off some employees as well. AT&T says they've continued to use Carrier iQ's software over the past few years to "improve the customer’s network and wireless service experience."

Submission + - Scott Meyers Retires From Involvement With C++ (blogspot.com)

An anonymous reader writes: If you've studied C++ any time in the past 25 years, you've probably read something by Scott Meyers. He wrote Effective C++, regarded by many one of the top two books for learning to work with the language. He also wrote similar books about changes in C++11 and C++14, as well as making good use of the Standard Template Library. He's also been a seemingly endless source of instructional videos, articles, and helpful answers on Usenet and StackOverflow. Unfortunately for us, he has now decided to move on. "25 years after publication of my first academic papers involving C++, I'm retiring from active involvement with the language. It's a good time for it. My job is explaining C++ and how to use it, but the C++ explanation biz is bustling. ... My voice is dropping out, but a great chorus will continue." Thanks for all the help, Scott.

Submission + - Activision Buys e-Sports League's Assets (esportsobserver.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Major League Gaming (MLG) is one of the biggest e-sports operations out there. Or it was, until Activision Blizzard purchased most of its assets for $46 million. MLG's CEO has been removed, and nobody's quite sure what will become of the league once Activision is done with it. MLG has been struggling for some time, and it's expected that most of the sale's proceeds will go toward paying off debts. Shareholders are not pleased.

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