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Medicine

Researchers Claim a Few Cat Videos Per Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away 59 59

bigwophh writes: A study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior suggests that watching videos of cats may be good for your health. The study pinged nearly 7,000 people and asked them how viewing cat videos affected their moods. Of those surveyed, over a third (36 percent) described themselves as a "cat person" and nearly two-thirds (60 percent) said they have an affinity for both dogs and cats. Survey subjects noted less tendencies towards feeling anxious, sad, or annoyed after watching cat videos, including times when they viewed the videos while at work or trying to study. They also reported feeling more energetic and more positive afterwards. There may have been some guilt from putting off work or studying to watch Internet videos, but the amusement they got from seeing the antics of cats more than made up for it.
Businesses

More Warehouse Robots Coming To Market As Softbank Invests $20M In Fetch 38 38

Hallie Siegel writes: Japanese Softbank just injected $20M in funding to Fetch Robotics, a Silicon Valley company that is developing robotic solutions for warehouse and logistics. This is one of the first warehouse systems that is coming to market since Kiva. Softbank is also invested in Aldebaran Robotics, producing the Pepper robot — a social humanoid robot that is scheduled to make its debut in Nestle stores later this year as a sales and marketing assistant.
Facebook

Facebook Wants to Skip the Off-Site Links, Host News Content Directly 51 51

The Wall Street Journal, in a report also cited by The Next Web and others, reports that Facebook is to soon begin acting not just as a conduit for news links pasted onto users' timelines (and leading to articles hosted elsewhere) but also as a host for the articles themselves. From the WSJ article: To woo publishers, Facebook is offering to change its traditional revenue-sharing model. In one of the models under consideration, publishers would keep all of the revenue from ads they sell on Facebook-hosted news sites, the people familiar with the matter said. If Facebook sells the advertisement, it would keep roughly 30% of the revenue, as it does in many other cases. Another motivation for Facebook to give up some revenue: It hopes the faster-loading content will encourage users to spend more time on its network. It is unclear what format the ads might take, or if publishers will be able to place or measure the ads they sell within Facebook. It seems likely Facebook would want publishers to use its own advertising-technology products, such as Atlas and LiveRail, as opposed to those offered by rivals such as Google Inc.
The Courts

Judge Tosses United Airlines Lawsuit Over 'Hidden City' Tickets 126 126

An anonymous reader writes: United Airlines lost a legal round in its effort to stop a website that helps people find 'hidden city' ticket pairs. The airline, along with online travel site Orbitz, sued New York-based Skiplagged.com and its founder, Aktarer Zaman, in November seeking an injunction to stop the site from sending users to Orbitz to purchase United tickets. A federal judge ruled Thursday that Illinois isn't the proper venue for the carrier's claims.
Google

Median Age At Google Is 29, Says Age Discrimination Lawsuit 349 349

dcblogs writes: The typical employee at Google is relatively young, according to a lawsuit brought by an older programmer who is alleging age discrimination. Between 2007 and 2013, Google's workforce grew from 9,500 to more than 28,000 employees, "yet as of 2013, its employees' median age was 29 years old," the lawsuit claims. That's in contrast to the median age of nearly 43 for all U.S. workers who are computer programmers, according to the lawsuit.
Businesses

New Jersey Removes Legal Impediment To Direct Tesla Sales 85 85

As reported by The Verge, the rule-makers of New Jersey have relented, and will now allow a slightly freer market for cars. Almost exactly one year after it was banned from selling its cars directly in New Jersey, Tesla will be back in business in the Garden State. Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill this afternoon that reversed last year's ban. The new legislation comes with some limits. Tesla can only open a total of four direct sale dealerships and has to operate at least one service center. But it's a major win following a heated war of words that saw Tesla CEO Elon Musk compare local dealers to a mafia protection racket subverting the democratic process.
United States

Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens? 734 734

An anonymous reader writes "Can you help me decide whether to allow my small daughter and son to become American citizens? I am American and my partner is Swedish. We have both lived in Belgium for many years and have no plans to leave. I became a Belgian citizen some years ago and kept my American citizenship. My partner has both her original Swedish and now Belgian citizenship. We are not married. Instead we have a registered partnership, which is common in northern Europe, confers most of the benefits of marriage, and raises no eyebrows. However, the American government does not recognize such partnerships, so in their eyes I am still single. Generally, children of American citizens abroad automatically become American citizens themselves at birth. But our kids fall under an exception. Male American citizens who live abroad and have children out of wedlock with a non-citizen mother do not automatically transmit citizenship to their children unless they sign an "affidavit of support" promising to support their children until the age of 18. If you don't sign before the child reaches 18, the child is not considered an American citizen. This has been upheld by two Supreme Court rulings (Nguyen v. INS and Flores-Villar v. United States). For legal beagles, the relevant statutes are 8 U.S.C. 1401 and 1409. (Read on below for the rest.)
Businesses

Demand For Linux Skills Rising This Year 94 94

Nerval's Lobster writes This year is shaping up as a really good one for Linux, at least on the jobs front. According to a new report (PDF) from The Linux Foundation and Dice, nearly all surveyed hiring managers want to recruit Linux professionals within the next six months, with 44 percent of them indicating they're more likely to hire a candidate with Linux certification over one who does not. Forty-two percent of hiring managers say that experience in OpenStack and CloudStack will have a major impact on their hiring decisions, while 23 percent report security is a sought-after area of expertise and 19 percent are looking for Linux-skilled people with Software-Defined Networking skills. Ninety-seven percent of hiring managers report they will bring on Linux talent relative to other skills areas in the next six months.
Bitcoin

One Year Later, We're No Closer To Finding MtGox's Missing Millions 178 178

itwbennett writes: When Mt. Gox collapsed on Feb. 28, 2014, with liabilities of some ¥6.5 billion ($63.6 million), it said it was unable to account for some 850,000 bitcoins. Some 200,000 of them turned up in an old-format bitcoin wallet last March, bringing the tally of missing bitcoins to 650,000 (now worth about $180 million). In January, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing sources close to a Tokyo police probe of the MtGox collapse, reported that only 7,000 of the coins appear to have been taken by hackers, with the remainder stolen through a series of fraudulent transactions. But there's still no explanation of what happened to them, and no clear record of what happened on the exchange.
Programming

GitLab Acquires Gitorious 48 48

New submitter sckirklan writes with news that code repository GitLab has purchased rival service Gitorious. Gitorious users are now able to import their projects into GitLab. They must do so by the end of May, because Gitorious will shut down on June 1st. Rolf Bjaanes, Gitorious CEO, gives some background on the reasons for the acquisition: “At Gitorious we saw more and more organizations adopting GitLab. Due to decreased income from on-premises customers, running the free Gitorious.org was no longer sustainable. GitLab was solving the same problem that we were, but was solving it better.” “This acquisition will accelerate the growth of GitLab. With more than 100,000 organizations using it, it is already the most used on-premise solution for Git repository management, and bringing Gitorious into the fold will significantly increase that footprint.” says Sytse Sijbrandij, GitLab CEO.
Graphics

Unreal Engine 4 Is Now Free 143 143

jones_supa writes In 2014, Epic Games took the step of making Unreal Engine 4 available to everyone by subscription for $19 per month. Today, this general-purpose game engine is available to everyone for free. This includes future updates, the full C++ source code of the engine, documentation, and all sorts of bonus material. You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. The business scheme that Epic set in the beginning, remains the same: when you ship a commercial game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. Epic strived to create a simple and fair arrangement in which they succeed only when your product succeeds.
AI

42 Artificial Intelligences Are Going Head To Head In "Civilization V" 52 52

rossgneumann writes The r/Civ subreddit is currently hosting a fascinating "Battle Royale" in the strategy game Civilization V, pitting 42 of the game's built-in, computer-controlled players against each other for world domination. The match is being played on the largest Earth-shaped map the game is capable of, with both civilizations that were included in the retail version of the game and custom, player-created civilizations that were modded into it after release.
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware? 324 324

An anonymous reader writes: In light of recent revelations from Kaspersky Labs about the Equation Group and persistent hard drive malware, I was curious about how easy it might be to verify my own system's drives to see if they were infected. I have no real reason to think they would be, but I was dismayed by the total lack of tools to independently verify such a thing. For instance, Seagate's firmware download pages provide files with no external hash, something Linux distributions do for all of their packages. Neither do they seem to provide a utility to read off the current firmware from a drive and verify its integrity.

Are there any utilities to do such a thing? Why don't these companies provide verification software to users? Has anyone compiled and posted a public list of known-good firmware hashes for the major hard drive vendors and models? This seems to be a critical hole in PC security. I did contact Seagate support asking for hashes of their latest firmware; I got a response stating, "...If you download the firmware directly from our website there is no risk on the file be tampered with." (Their phrasing, not mine.) Methinks somebody hasn't been keeping up with world events lately.
Medicine

Surgeon: First Human Head Transplant May Be Just Two Years Away 210 210

HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Michelle Star writes at C/net that Surgeon Sergio Canavero, director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group in Italy, believes he has developed a technique to remove the head from a non-functioning body and transplant it onto the healthy body. According to Canavero's paper published in Surgical Neurology International, first, both the transplant head and the donor body need to be cooled in order to slow cell death. Then, the neck of both would be cut and the major blood vessels linked with tubes. Finally, the spinal cords would be severed, with as clean a cut as possible. Joining the spinal cords, with the tightly packed nerves inside, is key. The plan involves flushing the area with polyethylene glycol, followed by several hours of injections of the same, a chemical that encourages the fat in cell membranes to mesh. The blood vessels, muscles and skin would then be sutured and the patient would be induced into a coma for several weeks to keep them from moving around; meanwhile, electrodes would stimulate the spine with electricity in an attempt to strengthen the new nerve connections.

Head transplants has been tried before. In 1970, Robert White led a team at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, US, that tried to transplant the head of one monkey on to the body of another. The surgeons stopped short of a full spinal cord transfer, so the monkey could not move its body. Despite Canavero's enthusiasm, many surgeons and neuroscientists believe massive technical hurdles push full body transplants into the distant future. The starkest problem is that no one knows how to reconnect spinal nerves and make them work again. "This is such an overwhelming project, the possibility of it happening is very unlikely," says Harry Goldsmith."
Security

Fighting Scams Targeting the Elderly With Old-School Tech 98 98

itwbennett writes Sharp is launching a pair of landline phones designed to counter a growing form of fraud in Japan that preys upon the elderly. The 'ore ore' ('it's me, it's me') fraudsters pretend to be grandchildren in an emergency and convince their victims to send money, generally via ATM. Sharp's new phones are designed to alert seniors to the dangers of unknown callers. When potential victims receive that are not registered in the internal memory of Sharp's new phones, their LED bars glow red and the phones go into anti-scam mode. An automated message then tells the caller that the call is being recorded and asks for the caller to state his or her name before the call is answered.

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