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The Military

New Compound Quickly Disables Chemical Weapons 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the breaking-things-that-break-people dept.
sciencehabit writes: In 2013, the Syrian military allegedly launched sarin gas rockets into a rebel-held town, killing hundreds. After diplomats brokered a deal to eradicate the weapons, international organizations began the dangerous job of destroying them. One roadblock to chemical weapons disposal is that heat and humidity quickly break down enzymes that can disable the deadly chemicals. Now, researchers have developed a highly stable compound that can inactivate nerve agents like sarin in a matter of minutes.

Comment: Re:White balance and contrast in camera. (Score 5, Interesting) 420

by beuges (#49153401) Attached to: Is That Dress White and Gold Or Blue and Black?

This morning, I saw it on my phone in my darkened bedroom, and it was clearly blue and brown. Just now, I opened the Washington Post link on my 24" screen in a sunlit room, and it was clearly white and gold. I then found the link that I had seen on my phone this morning (not Washington Post, so I wanted to confirm that it just wasn't two different pictures that I was looking at), opened it up, and it was white and gold there too. Went back to my bedroom and closed the curtains, and it remained white and gold for a bit, but after I left the room (after my eyes had adjusted a bit to the darkness), it was blue and brown again. The picture on the Washington Post was also now blue and brown. Now that my eyes have adjusted to the sunlit room again (and the white Slashdot background), I switch back to the Washington Post tab, and it's white and gold again. My wife (who's now gotten fed up with following me around to look at this picture under different lighting conditions) has had pretty much the same experience as me.

So it appears to be linked to the lighting conditions that your eyes are adjusted to when seeing the image initially... even after they've adjusted to the ambient light, the brain appears to stick to the image it created initially.

Canada

Canadian Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Warrantless Cellphone Searches 105

Posted by timothy
from the eh?-speak-up-sonny dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a surprising decision, a split Supreme Court of Canada ruled this morning that police can search cellphones without a warrant incident to an arrest. The majority established some conditions, but ultimately ruled that it could navigate the privacy balance by establishing some safeguards with the practice. Michael Geist notes that a strongly worded dissent disagreed, emphasizing the privacy implications of access to cellphones and the need for judicial pre-authorization as the best method of addressing the privacy implications. The U.S. Supreme Court's June 2014 decision in Riley addressed similar issues and ruled that a warrant is needed to search a phone.

Comment: Re:Try living in RSA (Score 1) 516

by beuges (#48465951) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?
I am closely related to someone who works at Eskom. His "insider's view" is that the power cuts and load shedding are not due to pressure on the supply, but just to create the impression that there is pressure on the supply, to justify their price increases to pay for the new power stations (and of course sponsoring The New Age breakfasts). He had a good laugh at the 'wet coal' excuse for the problems earlier in the year (conveniently around the time that NERSA was reviewing their tariff increase application) because all the coal arriving at the power plants gets sprayed down with water as soon as it arrives anyways, because coal dust is extremely flammable. We have two new power stations under construction, both coal-fired... when South African engineers are designing safe nuclear power stations that are being used by other countries but not our own. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...)
Transportation

In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars 454

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-if-they're-like-the-ones-in-maximum-overdrive dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Jerry Hirsch writes in the LA Times that personal transportation is on the cusp of its greatest transformation since the advent of the internal combustion engine. For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status. But according to Hirsch, passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription. Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls. "There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," says futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't." People still will want to own vehicles for various needs, says James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations. They might live in a rural area and travel long distances daily. They might have a big family to haul around. They might own a business that requires transporting supplies. "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," says Lentz. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars."

One vision of the future is already playing out in Grenoble, France, where residents can rent from a fleet of 70 pod-like Toyota i-Road and Coms electric cars for short city trips. "It is a sharing program like what you see in Portland with bicycles," says Lentz. Drivers can check out and return the cars at various charging points. Through a subscription, they pay the equivalent of $3.75 for 30 minutes. Because the vehicles are so small, its easy to build out their parking and charging infrastructure. Skeptics should consider the cynicism that greeted the horseless carriage more than a century ago, says Adam Jonas. He adds that fully autonomous vehicles will be here far sooner than the market thinks (PDF). Then, Jonas says, skeptics asked: "Why would any rational person want to replace the assuredness of that hot horse body trustily pulling your comfortable carriage with an unreliable, oil-spurting heap of gears, belts and chains?"
Power

Facebook Testing Lithium-Ion Batteries For Backup Power 41

Posted by timothy
from the economies-of-web-scale dept.
itwbennett writes Facebook has just started testing lithium-ion batteries as the backup power source for its server racks and plans to roll them out widely next year. Lithium-ion has been too expensive until now, says Matt Corddry, Facebook's director of hardware engineering, but its use in electric cars has changed the economics. It's now more cost effective than the bulky, lead-acid batteries widely used in data centers today.
Transportation

What Will It Take To Make Automated Vehicles Legal In the US? 320

Posted by samzenpus
from the johnny-cab dept.
ashshy writes Tesla, Google, and many other companies are working on self-driving cars. When these autopilot systems become perfected and ubiquitous, the roads should be safer by orders of magnitude. So why doesn't Tesla CEO Elon Musk expect to reach that milestone until 2013 or so? Because the legal framework that supports American road rules is incredibly complex, and actually handled on a state-by-state basis. The Motley Fool explains which authorities Musk and his allies will have to convince before autopilot cars can hit the mainstream, and why the process will take another decade.
Technology

Lenovo Reveals Wearable Smartband To Track Exercise Stats 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-all-in-the-wrist dept.
An anonymous reader writes Lenovo is the latest tech company to enter the fitness tracker market with its Smartband SW-B100 device. "It can record calories burnt, steps taken and a user's heartrate, in addition to syncing with a smartphone through an app to provide more complete health data. Users can also customize notifications and reminders on the smartband, and even use it to unlock a Windows PC without typing in the password, according to the product page."
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Good Hosting Service For a Parody Site? 115

Posted by timothy
from the just-keep-backups dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ok, bear with me now. I know this is not PC Mag 2014 review of hosting services. I am thinking of getting a parody website up. I am mildly concerned about potential reaction of the parodee, who has been known to be a little heavy handed when it comes to things like that. In short, I want to make sure that the hosting company won't flake out just because of potential complaints. I checked some companies and their TOS and AUPs all seem to have weird-ass restrictions (Arvixe, for example, has a list of unacceptable material that happens to list RPGs and MUDS ). I live in U.S.; parodee in Poland. What would you recommend?"
GUI

Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday 370

Posted by timothy
from the new-one-looks-nice-to-me dept.
HughPickens.com writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow.

Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.
Medicine

Researchers Scrambling To Build Ebola-Fighting Robots 87

Posted by timothy
from the at-one-remove dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes U.S. robotics researchers from around the country are collaborating on a project to build autonomous vehicles that could deliver food and medicine, and telepresence robots that could safely decontaminate equipment and help bury the victims of Ebola. Organizers of Safety Robotics for Ebola Workers are planning a workshop on Nov. 7. that will be co-hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Texas A&M, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of California, Berkeley. "We are trying to identify the technologies that can help human workers minimize their contact with Ebola. Whatever technology we deploy, there will be a human in the loop. We are not trying to replace human caregivers. We are trying to minimize contact," said Taskin Padir, an assistant professor of robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Displays

Startup's Open Source Device Promises Gamers "Surround Sound For Your Eyes" 43

Posted by timothy
from the you-are-in-a-warm-green-room dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes A startup called Antumbra run by 5 college students is looking to throw a little soothing light on this situation: People who hunker down in front of their computers until the wee hours, until it feels like their eyes might fall out. Antumbra's open-source-based Glow, which launches in a limited beta of 100 $35 units on Thursday, is a small (1.5" x 1.5"x 0.5") doohickey that attaches to the back of your computer monitor via USB port and is designed to enhance your work or gaming experience — and lessen eye strain — by spreading the colors from your screen onto the wall behind it in real time. The idea is to reduce the contrast in colors between the computer screen and the background area. The the idea might not be new, and people have been home-brewing their own content-driven lighting like this for a while, but this is the first I've seen that looks like a simple add-on.
The Almighty Buck

Kickstarter Lays Down New Rules For When a Project Fails 203

Posted by samzenpus
from the setting-expectations dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a blog post, Kickstarter announced several updates to its terms of use for projects. From the article: "Kickstarter has iterated on its policies several times since it launched in 2009, with the most recent wave of revisions surrounding the site's transition from only posting projects cleared by the staff to clearing all projects that meet a basic set of criteria. Even still, some projects lack clear goals, encounter setbacks, or fail to deliver, like the myIDkey project that has burned through $3.5 million without yet to distributing a finished product. The most recent terms revision is timely: on Thursday, science fiction author Neal Stephenson announced that a game he Kickstarted in 2012 with $526,000 in funding was officially canceled."
Earth

Iceland Raises Volcano Aviation Alert Again 38

Posted by samzenpus
from the every-ash-cloud-has-a-silver-lining dept.
An anonymous reader writes Iceland's authorities have raised an aviation warning for a region close to the Bardarbunga volcano after a small fissure eruption in the area. The eruption began around 0600 GMT prompting the Icelandic Met Office to raise the aviation warning code to red for the Bardarbunga/Holuhraun area, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management said in a statement. The country's meteorological agency described the eruption as a "very calm lava eruption and can hardly be seen on seismometers."

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