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Transportation

Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States? 119

Posted by timothy
from the did-you-get-a-look-at-the-license-plate? dept.
cartechboy writes The common assumption among Tesla fans seems to be that state auto-dealer lobbyists are working with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers. Is it true? The New York Times published an article with some data points that assesses the supposition. While the article mainly focuses on the conflict between Uber and the Republican party, some quotes could be easily applied to Tesla. For instance, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus said, "It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that deicde what companies get our business." The author of the article, Josh Barro, wrote that 22 states permit direct sales of automobiles by Tesla to retail buyers, and of those the majority--14 of them-- voted for President Obama. He suggested that Democratic California, Illinois, and New York "have freer markets in auto retailing than Texas," which is presently Republican. When looking at a five-year-old article by Nate Silver that looked at political donations by car dealers, fully 88 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates, and just 12 percent to Democrats. That possibly suggests a propensity among Republican state legislators to support the interests for car dealers over those of electric-car buyers. Is the small bit of evidence enough to make a case? Good background on the current system of dealership sinecure can be found in this short 2009 Competition Advocacy Paper from the U.S. Department of Justice, which delves into the history and effects of the dealers-only system which still prevails.
Graphics

Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG 377

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-pictures dept.
An anonymous reader writes Fabrice Bellard (creator of FFMPEG, QEMU, JSLinux...) proposes a new image format that could replace JPEG : BPG. For the same quality, files are about half the size of their JPEG equivalents. He released libbpg (with source) as well as a JS decompressor, and set up a demo including the famous Lena image.
Piracy

Australia Pushes Ahead With Website Blocking In Piracy Fight 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
angry tapir writes As part of its crackdown on unauthorized downloading of copyright material, the Australian government will push ahead with the introduction of a scheme that will allow rights holders to apply for court orders to force ISPs to block websites. (Previously Slashdot noted that the Australian government had raised such a scheme as a possibility).
Science

James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week 355

Posted by Soulskill
from the gift-that-keeps-on-giving dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Nicholas St. Fleur reports at The Atlantic that James Watson, the famed molecular biologist and co-discoverer of DNA, is putting his Nobel Prize up for auction on Thursday. He's the first Nobel laureate in history to do so. In 2007, Watson, best known for his work deciphering the DNA double helix alongside Francis Crick in 1953, made an incendiary remark regarding the intelligence of black people that lost him the admiration of the scientific community. It made him, in his own words, an "unperson." That year, The Sunday Times quoted Watson as saying that he felt "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours—whereas all the testing says not really." Watson has a history of making racist and sexist declarations, according to Time. At a science conference in 2012, Watson said of women in science, "I think having all these women around makes it more fun for the men but they're probably less effective." To many scientists his gravest offense was not crediting Rosalind Franklin with helping him deduce the structure of DNA.

Watson is selling his prized medallion because he has no income outside of academia, even though for years he had served on many corporate boards. The gold medal is expected to bring in between $2.5 million and $3.5 million when it goes to auction. Watson says that he will use the money to purchase art and make donations to institutions that have supported him, such as the University of Chicago. He adds that the auction will also offer him the chance to "re-enter public life." "I've had a unique life that's allowed me to do things. I was set back. It was stupid on my part," says Watson. "All you can do is nothing, except hope that people actually know what you are."
Censorship

Gilbert, AZ Censors Biology Books the Old-Fashioned Way 289

Posted by timothy
from the biology-vs-culture dept.
nbauman writes The Gilbert, AZ school board has voted to tear out a page from Campbell's Biology (a standard highly-recommended textbook that many doctors and scientists fondly remember), because it discusses contraception without also discussing adoption. Julie Smith, a member of the Gilbert Public Schools governing board, said that she was a Catholic and "we do not contracept." Smith convinced the board that Campbell's violates Arizona law to teach "preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption" over abortion. The Arizona Education Department decided that the pages didn't violate Arizona law, but nevermind. Rachel Maddow generously risked hassles for copyright violation and posted the missing pages as a service to Arizona honors biology students.
The Internet

Security Experts Believe the Internet of Things Will Be Used To Kill Someone 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-a-ban-on-assault-internets dept.
dcblogs writes: Imagine a fleet of quad copters or drones equipped with explosives and controlled by terrorists. Or someone who hacks into a connected insulin pump and changes the settings in a lethal way. Or maybe the hacker who accesses a building's furnace and thermostat controls and runs the furnace full bore until a fire is started. Those may all sound like plot material for a James Bond movie, but there are security experts who now believe, as does Jeff Williams, CTO of Contrast Security, that "the Internet of Things will kill someone". Today, there is a new "rush to connect things" and "it is leading to very sloppy engineering from a security perspective," said Williams. Similarly, Rashmi Knowles, chief security architect at RSA, imagines criminals hacking into medical devices, recently blogged about hackers using pacemakers to blackmail users, and asked: "Question is, when is the first murder?"
Math

Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election 413

Posted by samzenpus
from the fix-is-in dept.
HughPickens.com writes Gerrymandering is the practice of establishing a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating district boundaries to concentrate all your opponents' votes in a few districts while keeping your party's supporters as a majority in the remaining districts. For example, in North Carolina in 2012 Republicans ended up winning nine out of 13 congressional seats even though more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans statewide. Now Jessica Jones reports that researchers at Duke are studying the mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. Mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn created a series of district maps using the same vote totals from 2012, but with different borders. Their work was governed by two principles of redistricting: a federal rule requires each district have roughly the same population and a state rule requires congressional districts to be compact. Using those principles as a guide, they created a mathematical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of the state's 13 congressional districts. "We just used the actual vote counts from 2012 and just retabulated them under the different districtings," says Vaughn. "If someone voted for a particular candidate in the 2012 election and one of our redrawn maps assigned where they live to a new congressional district, we assumed that they would still vote for the same political party."

The results were startling. After re-running the election 100 times with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election — four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. "If we really want our elections to reflect the will of the people, then I think we have to put in safeguards to protect our democracy so redistrictings don't end up so biased that they essentially fix the elections before they get started," says Mattingly. But North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho is unimpressed. "I'm saying these maps aren't gerrymandered," says Rucho. "It was a matter of what the candidates actually was able to tell the voters and if the voters agreed with them. Why would you call that uncompetitive?"
Privacy

Uber's Android App Caught Reporting Data Back Without Permission 234

Posted by timothy
from the distinguish-from-government dept.
Zothecula writes Security researcher GironSec has pulled Uber's Android app apart and discovered that it's sending a huge amount of personal data back to base – including your call logs, what apps you've got installed, whether your phone is vulnerable to certain malware, whether your phone is rooted, and your SMS and MMS logs, which it explicitly doesn't have permission to do. It's the latest in a series of big-time missteps for a company whose core business model is, frankly, illegal in most of its markets as well.
Media

Windows 10 To Feature Native Support For MKV and FLAC 313

Posted by timothy
from the upgrades-always-welcome dept.
jones_supa writes Windows Media Player is going to become a more useful media player for those who want to play geeky file formats. Microsoft has earlier confirmed that Windows 10 will come with native support for Matroska Video, but the company now talks about also adding FLAC support. Microsoft's Gabriel Aul posted a teaser screenshot in Twitter showing support for this particular format. It can be expected to arrive in a future update for people running the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Not many GUI changes seem to be happening around Media Player, but work is done under the hood.
Businesses

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Considering US Presidential Run 433

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
McGruber writes: Fired HP CEO and failed Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina is "actively exploring a 2016 presidential run." Fiorina has been "talking privately with potential donors, recruiting campaign staffers, courting grass-roots activists in early caucus and primary states, and planning trips to Iowa and New Hampshire starting next week."
Power

Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places? 516

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not,-the-power-company-just-hates-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: I live in a relatively large college town that's within easy driving distance of several major metropolitan centers. In many ways, the infrastructure around here is top-notch. The major exception is the electrical grid. Lightning storm? Power outage. Heavy winds? Power outage. Lots of rain? Power outage. Some areas around town are immune to this — like around the hospital, for obvious reasons. But others seem to lose power at the drop of hat. Why is this? If it were a tiny village or in the middle of nowhere, it would make sense to me. What problems do the utility companies face that they can't keep service steady? Do you deal with a lot of outages where you live? I'm not sure if it's just an investment issue or a technological one. It hasn't gotten better in the decade I've lived here, and I can imagine it will only get worse as the infrastructure ages.
United Kingdom

Cameron Accuses Internet Companies Of Giving Terrorists Safe Haven 183

Posted by timothy
from the not-quite-on-the-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from The Guardian: "Internet companies are allowing their networks to be used to plot "murder and mayhem", David Cameron has said in response to the official inquiry into the intelligence agencies' actions ahead of the killing of Lee Rigby. He demanded that internet companies live up to their social responsibilities to report potential terror threats and said there was no reason for such firms to be willing to cooperate with state agencies over child abuse but not over combatting terrorism. His comments to the House of Commons came after the parliamentary intelligence and security committee concluded that the brutal murder of Rigby could have been prevented if an internet company had passed on an online exchange in which one of the killers expressed "in the most graphic terms" his intention to carry out an Islamist jihadi attack.
Crime

Cops 101: NYC High School Teaches How To Behave During Stop-and-Frisk 481

Posted by samzenpus
from the hold-perfectly-still-and-live-in-a-good-neighborhood dept.
HughPickens.com writes Kate Briquelet reports in the NY Post that Principal Mark Federman of East Side Community HS has invited the New York Civil Liberties Union to give a two-day training session to 450 students on interacting with police. "We're not going to candy-coat things — we have a problem in our city that's affecting young men of color and all of our students," says Federman. "It's not about the police being bad. This isn't anti-police as much as it's pro-young people ... It's about what to do when kids are put in a position where they feel powerless and uncomfortable." The hourlong workshops — held in small classroom sessions during advisory periods — focused on the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program and how to exercise Fourth Amendment rights when being stopped and questioned in a car or at home.

Some law-enforcement experts say the NYCLU is going beyond civics lessons and doling out criminal-defense advice. "It's unlikely that a high school student would come away with any other conclusion than the police are a fearful group to be avoided at all costs," says Eugene O'Donnell, a former police officer and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. NYCLU representatives told kids to be polite and to keep their hands out of their pockets. But they also told students they don't have to show ID or consent to searches, that it's best to remain silent, and how to file a complaint against an officer. Candis Tolliver, NYCLU's associate director for advocacy, says was the first time she trained an entire high school. "This is not about teaching kids how to get away with a crime or being disrespectful. This is about making sure both sides are walking away from the situation safe and in control."
Programming

2014 Hour of Code: Do Ends Justify Disney Product Placement Means? 125

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-it-go dept.
theodp writes "The purpose of product placement/product integration/branded entertainment," explains Disney in a job posting, "is to give a brand exposure outside of their traditional media buy." So, one imagines the folks in Disney Marketing must be thrilled that Disney Frozen princesses Anna and Elsa will be featured in the 'signature tutorial' for CSEdWeek's 2014 Hour of Code, which aims to introduce CS to 100 million schoolkids — including a sizable captive audience — in the weeks before Christmas. "Thanks to Disney Interactive," announced Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi, "Code.org's signature tutorial for the 2014 Hour of Code features Disney Infinity versions of Disney's 'Frozen' heroines Anna and Elsa!." Partovi adds, "The girl-power theme of the tutorial is a continuation of our efforts to expand diversity in computer science and broaden female participation in the field, starting with younger students." In the tutorial, reports the LA Times, "students will learn to write code to help Anna and Elsa draw snowflakes and snowmen, and perform magical 'ice craft.' Disney is also donating $100,000 to support Code.org's efforts to bring computer science education to after-school programs nationwide."
Security

Highly Advanced Backdoor Trojan Cased High-Profile Targets For Years 143

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader points out this story at Ars about a new trojan on the scene. Researchers have unearthed highly advanced malware they believe was developed by a wealthy nation-state to spy on a wide range of international targets in diverse industries, including hospitality, energy, airline, and research. Backdoor Regin, as researchers at security firm Symantec are referring to the trojan, bears some resemblance to previously discovered state-sponsored malware, including the espionage trojans known as Flame and Duqu, as well as Stuxnet, the computer worm and trojan that was programmed to disrupt Iran's nuclear program. Regin likely required months or years to be completed and contains dozens of individual modules that allowed its operators to tailor the malware to individual targets.

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