Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet

Rand Paul Moves To Block New "Net Neutrality" Rules 430

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-isps? dept.
SonicSpike writes with news about another bump in the road for net neutrality. U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican presidential hopeful, on Wednesday introduced a resolution to block new regulations on Internet service providers, saying they would 'wrap the Internet in red tape.' The 'net neutrality' rules, which are slated to take effect in June, are backed by the Obama administration and were passed by the Democratic majority of the Federal Communications Commission in February. AT&T Inc and wireless and cable trade associations are challenging them in court. Paul's resolution, if adopted, would allow the Senate to fast-track a vote to establish that Congress disapproves of the FCC's new rules and moves to nullify them.
Earth

Ancient Megadrought Entombed Dodos In Poisonous Fecal Cocktail 55

Posted by samzenpus
from the now-that's-a-way-to-go dept.
sciencehabit writes: Nine hundred kilometers off the east coast of Madagascar lies the tiny island paradise of Mauritius. The waters are pristine, the beaches bright white, and the average temperature hovers between 22C and 28C (72F to 82F) year-round. But conditions there may not have always been so idyllic. A new study suggests that about 4000 years ago, a prolonged drought on the island left many of the native species, such as dodo birds and giant tortoises, dead in a soup of poisonous algae and their own feces.
Technology

Breakthough Makes Transparent Aluminum Affordable 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the hello-computer dept.
frank249 writes: In the Star Trek universe, transparent aluminum is used in various fittings in starships, including exterior ship portals and windows. In real life, Aluminium oxynitride is a form of ceramic whose properties are similar to those of the fictional substance seen in Star Trek. It has a hardness of 7.7 Mohs and was patented in 1980. It has military applications as bullet-resistant armor, but is too expensive for widespread use.

Now, there has been a major breakthrough in materials science. After decades of research and development, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has created a transparent, bulletproof material that can be molded into virtually any shape. This material, known as Spinel (magnesium aluminate), is made from a synthetic powdered clay that is heated and pressed under vacuum into transparent sheets. Spinel weighs just a fraction of a modern bulletproof pane.
Businesses

Valve Pulls the Plug On Paid Mods For Skyrim 239

Posted by Soulskill
from the entitled-wheel-gets-the-grease dept.
westlake writes: Valve has abandoned its attempt to introduce paid mods to Skyrim on Steamworks, following furious and unrelenting complaints by the gaming community that did not spare Gabe Newell. Valve said, "[O]ur main goals were to allow mod makers the opportunity to work on their mods full time if they wanted to, and to encourage developers to provide better support to their mod communities. We thought this would result in better mods for everyone, both free & paid." Bethesda had similar goals, saying, "There are certainly other ways of supporting modders, through donations and other options. We are in favor of all of them. One doesn't replace another, and we want the choice to be the community’s. Yet, in just one day, a popular mod developer made more on the Skyrim paid workshop than he made in all the years he asked for donations."
Government

Woman Behind Pakistan's First Hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, Shot Dead 493

Posted by samzenpus
from the trying-to-silence-the-future dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Sabeen Mahmud, a prominent Pakistani social and human rights activist, has been shot dead. The progressive activist and organizer who ran Pakistan's first-ever hackathon and led a human rights and a peace-focused nonprofit known as The Second Floor (T2F) was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Karachi. Sabeen Mahmud was leaving the T2F offices with her mother some time after 9pm on Friday evening, reports the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. She was on her way home when she was shot, the paper reports. Her mother also sustained bullet wounds and is currently being treated at a hospital; she is said to be in critical condition.
Windows

iTunes Stops Working For Windows XP Users 368

Posted by timothy
from the why-it-seems-like-only-yesterday dept.
An anonymous reader writes: iTunes users who still run Windows XP started to experience connectivity issues this week. As documented in an Apple Support Communities thread, they can't log into the iTunes store, meaning functions like buying content, watching already purchased movies and TV shows, playing DRM-protected content, backing up, updating, and syncing all do not work.
United States

House Bill Slashes Research Critical To Cybersecurity 198

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-more-with-less dept.
dcblogs writes: A U.S. House bill that will set the nation's basic research agenda for the next two years increases funding for computer science, but at the expense of other research areas. The funding bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, hikes funding for computer science, but cuts — almost by half — social sciences funding, which includes the study of human behavior. Cybersecurity uses human behavior research because humans are often the weakest security link. Research funding social, behavioral and economic sciences will fall from $272 million to $150 million, a 45% decrease. The bill also takes a big cut out of geosciences research, which includes climate change study, from $1.3 billion to $1.2 billion, an 8% decrease. The insight into human behaviors that comes from the social science research, "is critical to understanding how best to design and implement hardware and software systems that are more secure and easier to use," wrote J. Strother Moore, the Computing Research Association chair and a professor of computer science at the University of Texas.
Security

New Javascript Attack Lets Websites Spy On the CPU's Cache 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Upbin at Forbes reports on a new and insidious way for a malicious website to spy on a computer. Any computer running a late-model Intel microprocessor and a Web browser using HTML5 (i.e., 80% of all PCs in the world) is vulnerable to this attack. The exploit, which the researchers are calling "the spy in the sandbox," is a form of side-channel attack. Side channel attacks were previously used to break into cars, steal encryption keys and ride the subway for free, but this is the first time they're targeted at innocent web users. The attack requires little in the way of cost or time on the part of the attacker; there's nothing to install and no need to break into hardened systems. All a hacker has to do is lure a victim to an untrusted web page with content controlled by the attacker.
Science

Colors Help Set Body's Internal Clock 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the sleepy-blue dept.
First time accepted submitter MakeItGlow writes A new study by researchers from the University of Manchester found that mice use the color of light to set their body clock. The researchers investigated whether color signals from the eyes wound up in the suprachiasmatic nucleus—the part of the brain in vertebrates that keeps time using electrical and chemical signals. From the article: "Scientists have long known about the role light plays in governing circadian rhythms, which synchronize life’s ebb and flow with the 24-hour day. But they weren’t sure how different properties of light, such as color and brightness, contributed to winding up that clock. 'As a sort of common sense notion people have assumed that the clock somehow measures the amount of light in the outside world,' says Tim Brown, a neuroscientist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and an author of the new study. 'Our idea was that it might be doing something more sophisticated than that.'”
Earth

Pull-Top Can Tabs, At 50, Reach Historic Archaeological Status 120

Posted by timothy
from the remember-making-giant-chains-of-these dept.
New submitter kuhnto writes A simple relic of 20th century life has taken on new meaning for archaeologists: The ring-tab beer can — first introduced 50 years ago — is now considered an historic-era artifact, a designation that bestows new significance on the old aluminum cans and their distinctive tabs that are still found across the country.
Crime

Oklahoma Says It Will Now Use Nitrogen Gas As Its Backup Method of Execution 591

Posted by timothy
from the that's-not-the-only-cost dept.
schwit1 writes Yesterday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that approves the use of nitrogen gas for executions in the state. The method, which would effectively asphyxiate death row inmates by forcing them to breathe pure nitrogen through a gas mask, is meant to be the primary alternative to lethal injection, the Washington Post reports.

Fallin and other supporters of the procedure say it's pain-free and effective, noting that the nitrogen would render inmates unconscious within ten seconds and kill them in minutes. It's also cheap: state representatives say the method only requires a nitrogen tank and a gas mask, but financial analysts say its impossible to give precise figures, the Post reports.

Oklahoma's primary execution method is still lethal injection, but the state's procedure is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, Tennessee suspended executions statewide following challenges to its own lethal injection protocol.
Math

Mandelbrot Zooms Now Surpass the Scale of the Observable Universe 157

Posted by timothy
from the from-here-you-can-see-forever dept.
StartsWithABang writes You're used to real numbers: that is, numbers that can be expressed as a decimal, even if it's an arbitrarily long, non-repeating decimal. There are also complex numbers, which are numbers that have a real part and also an imaginary part. The imaginary part is just like the real part, but is also multiplied by i, or the square root of -1. It's a simple definition: the Mandelbrot set consists of every possible complex number, n, where the sequence n, n^2 + n, (n^2 + n)^2 + n, etc.—where each new term is the prior term, squared, plus n—does not go to either positive or negative infinity. The scale of zoom visualizations now goes well past the limits of the observable Universe, with no signs of loss of complexity at all.
Apple

John Gruber On Third-party Apple Watch Apps: They Suck and Are Really Slow 138

Posted by timothy
from the tell-us-how-you-really-feel dept.
An anonymous reader writes During this week's episode of John Gruber's podcast, The Talk Show, Gruber sat down with Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal to talk all things Apple Watch. About two hours and 9 minutes into the podcast, both Gruber and Stern began lamenting the poor performance they saw with third-party Apple Watch apps. 'It makes me question whether there should be third party apps for it at all yet,' Gruber noted. The pair also took umbrage with what they perceived to be a poor design choice for the Apple Watch app screen, with both noting that the app icons were far too small to be practical.
Government

Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C. 271

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-if-air-&-space-gets-the-copter? dept.
mpicpp writes The Florida mail carrier accused of landing a gyrocopter outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was charged in federal court Thursday and has been barred from returning to the District of Columbia or flying any aircraft, officials said. Douglas Hughes, 61, was charged with violating aircraft registration requirements, a felony, and violating national defense airspace, a misdemeanor. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to three years in prison for the felony and one year in prison for the airspace violation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson also barred Hughes from the District of Columbia, except for court appearances, and said he must stay away from the Capitol, White House and nearby areas while he is there. He will also have to hand over his passport.
Microsoft

Microsoft's Role As Accuser In the Antitrust Suit Against Google 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-other-side dept.
HughPickens.com writes Danny Hakim reports at the NYT that as European antitrust regulators formally accuse Google of abusing its dominance, Microsoft is relishing playing a behind-the-scenes role of scold instead of victim. Microsoft has founded or funded a cottage industry of splinter groups to go after Google. The most prominent, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, or Icomp, has waged a relentless public relations campaign promoting grievances against Google. It conducted a study that suggested changes made by Google to appease regulators were largely window dressing. "Microsoft is doing its best to create problems for Google," says Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party, the center-right party that is the largest voting bloc in the European Parliament. "It's interesting. Ten years ago Microsoft was a big and strong company. Now they are the underdog."

According to Hakim, Microsoft and Google are the Cain and Abel of American technology, locked in the kind of struggle that often takes place when a new giant threatens an older one. Microsoft was frustrated after American regulators at the Federal Trade Commission didn't act on a similar antitrust investigation against Google in 2013, calling it a "missed opportunity." It has taken the fight to the state level, along with a number of other opponents of Google. Microsoft alleges that Google's anti-competitive practices include stopping Bing from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube; blocking Microsoft Windows smartphones from "operating properly" with YouTube; blocking access to content owned by book publishers; and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it more expensive to run ads with rivals. "Over the past year, a growing number of advertisers, publishers, and consumers have expressed to us their concerns about the search market in Europe," says Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel. "They've urged us to share our knowledge of the search market with competition officials."

The greatest productive force is human selfishness. -- Robert Heinlein

Working...