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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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+ - Ask Slashdot: Old PC file transfer problem 4

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "I have an old Compaq Contura Aero laptop from the nineties (20 Mhz, 12 Mb RAM, Windows 3.11, 16-bit, PCMCIA, COM, LPT, floppy) with 160 Mb drive that I would want to copy in full to a newer machine. The floppies are so unreliable — between Aero's PCMCIA floppy drive and USB floppy disk drive — that it is a total nightmare to try and do it; it just doesn't work. If that option is excluded, what else can I do? I have another old laptop with Windows XP (32-bit, PCMCIA, COM, LPT) that could be used; all other machines are too new and lack ports. Will be grateful for any ideas."

+ - New Icons of Windows 10 Do Not Please Users Aesthetically-> 2

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) writes "A lot of people got nauseous about the flat looks of Modern UI presented in Windows 8. Recent builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview have now started replacing the shell icons, and to some people they are just too much to bear. Basically, Microsoft opted to change the icons in search of a fresh and modern look, but there are plenty of people out there who claim that all these new icons are actually very ugly and the company would better stick to the previous design. To find out what people think about these icons, Softpedia asked its readers to tell their opinion and the messages received in the last couple of days pretty much speak for themselves. There are only few testers who think that these icons look good, but the majority wants Microsoft to change them before the final version of the operating system comes out."
Link to Original Source

+ - The Believers: Behind the rise of neural nets->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Deep learning is dominating the news these days, but it's quite possible the field could have died if not for a mysterious call that Geoff Hinton, now at Google, got one night in the 1980s: "You don’t know me, but I know you," the mystery man said. "I work for the System Development Corporation. We want to fund long-range speculative research. We’re particularly interested in research that either won’t work or, if it does work, won’t work for a long time. And I’ve been reading some of your papers."

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a short, readable profile of the minds behind neural nets, from Rosenblatt to Hassabis, told primarily through Hinton's career."

Link to Original Source

+ - Ceres' Mystery Bright Dots May Have Volcanic Origin->

Submitted by astroengine
astroengine (1577233) writes "As NASA’s Dawn mission slowly spirals in on its dwarf planet target, Ceres’ alien landscape is becoming sharper by the day. And, at a distance of only 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers), the robotic spacecraft has revealed multiple bright patches on the surface, but one of the brightest spots has revealed a dimmer bright patch right next door. “Ceres’ bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin,” said Chris Russell, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and principal investigator for the Dawn mission. “This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations.”"
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+ - Developers Disclose Schematics for 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver->

Submitted by Bruce Perens
Bruce Perens (3872) writes "Chris Testa KD2BMH and I have been working for years on a software-defined transceiver that would be FCC-legal and could communicate using essentially any mode and protocol up to 1 MHz wide on frequencies between 50 and 1000 MHz. It's been discussed here before, most recently when Chris taught gate-array programming in Python. We are about to submit the third generation of the design for PCB fabrication, and hope that this version will be salable as a "developer board" and later as a packaged walkie-talkie, mobile, and base station. This radio is unique in that it uses your smartphone for the GUI, uses apps to provide communication modes, contains an on-board FLASH-based gate-array and a ucLinux system. We intend to go for FSF "Respects Your Freedom" certification for the device. My slide show contains 20 pages of schematics and is full of ham jargon ("HT" means "handi-talkie", an old Motorola product name and the hams word for "walkie talkie") but many non-hams should be able to parse it with some help from search engines. Bruce Perens K6BP"
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+ - Whiteboard subsitutes for distributed teams?

Submitted by DoofusOfDeath
DoofusOfDeath (636671) writes "I work on a fully distributed software development team with 5-10 people. Normally it's great, but when we're doing heavy design work, we really need to all be standing in front of a whiteboard together. This is expensive and time consuming, because it involves airplanes and hotels. Conference calls, editing shared Google docs, etc. just don't seem to be the same. Have people found any good tools or practices to replace standing in front of a real whiteboard?"

+ - The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder to Adopt->

Submitted by Lucas123
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Distributed rooftop solar is a threat not only to fossil fuel power generation, but also to the profits of monopolistic model of utilities. While the overall amount of electrical capacity represented by distributed solar power remains miniscule for now, it's quickly becoming one of leading sources of new energy deployment. As adoption grows, fossil fuel interests and utilities are succeeding in pushing anti-net metering legislation, which places surcharges on customers who deploy rooftop solar power and sell unused power back to their utility through the power grid. Other state legislation is aimed at reducing tax credits for households or businesses installing solar or allows utilities to buy back unused power at a reduced rate, while reselling it at the full retail price."
Link to Original Source

+ - The weight of a butterfly: A beautiful essay about work on the Bomb->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Emily Strasser with a lovely essay as she grapples with trying to better understand her long deceased grandfather, a chemist who help build the first atomic bomb. Strasser illuminates the lives of the 75k people who came to live in Oak Ridge to work at the Y-12 enrichment facility, most of whom didn't know what they were working on as they went about their lives in a government-built city that wasn't to be plotted on any map. Her description of what they were doing there is both scientific and beautiful: 'The uranium in the Hiroshima bomb was about 80 percent uranium 235. One metric ton of natural uranium typically contains only 7 kilograms of uranium 235. Of the 64 kilograms of uranium in the bomb, less than one kilogram underwent fission, and the entire energy of the explosion came from just over half a gram of matter that was converted to energy. That is about the weight of a butterfly.'"
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+ - EEG-powered drone system is controlled by your thoughts

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes ""A company called Tekever has unveiled a drone system that lets people pilot mini aircrafts with nothing more than a thought. It's called Brainflight... [and it] turns brain activity into electrical signals that can be read and interpreted by a computer, and in this case, software sends these interpretations to an airborne drone to tell it what to do.""

Comment: Re: To answer your question (Score 1) 279

by jdschulteis (#49123963) Attached to: Intel Moving Forward With 10nm, Will Switch Away From Silicon For 7nm

But as we move to smaller processes that require less electricity to function, perhaps heat dissipation will become a none issue.

The reduction of power consumption (and hence heat production, and the need to dissipate the heat) along with feature size is called Dennard scaling. As feature size has fallen it has not been possible to keep lowering the voltage and current proportionally.

But give it a few years, maybe 5, and something in a similar form factor will be much more affordable and will still be able to perform the role of a traditional desktop.

My phone has 3GB of RAM, a quad-core 2GHz CPU, and 96GB of storage, which would have been a pretty sweet desktop once upon a time.

+ - NIST: Crystal Pattern Matching Recovers Obliterated Serial Numbers from Metal->

Submitted by chicksdaddy
chicksdaddy (814965) writes "Criminals beware: researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have figured out how to recover serial numbers obliterated from metal surfaces such as firearms and automobiles — a common problem in forensic examinations.

Law enforcement agencies use serial numbers to track ownership of firearms and build criminal cases. But serial numbers can be removed by scratching, grinding or other methods. Analysts typically try to restore the numbers with acid or electrolytic etching or polishing, because deformed areas behave differently from undamaged material. But these methods don’t always work.

According to this report (http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/tech-beat/tb20150218.cfm#ebsd) NIST researchers used a technique called electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) to read, in the crystal structure pattern, imprints on steel that had been removed by polishing.

In EBSD, a scanning electron microscope scans a beam of electrons over the surface of a crystalline material such as a metal. The electrons strike atoms in the target and bounce back. Because the atoms are arranged in a regular pattern, the scattered electrons interact and form patterns that reveal the crystal’s structure on a scale down to tens of nanometers. The more perfect the crystal structure, the stronger and clearer the pattern. Software can then calculate the pattern quality to reveal crystal damage; areas with more damage produce lower quality patterns.

In the NIST experiments, described in Forensic Science International,* researchers hammered the letter “X” into a polished stainless steel plate. The letter stamps were as deep as 140 micrometers, meeting federal regulations for firearm serial numbers. The researchers then polished the metal again to remove all visible traces of the letters, and collected the EBSD diffraction patterns and pattern quality data and analyzed them for evidence of the imprints."

Link to Original Source

+ - DARPA aims to breach the human-computer natural language barrier->

Submitted by coondoggie
coondoggie (973519) writes "Will it be possible to actually communicate with a computer and have it understand context, gestures and even its human counterparts facial expressions? Such notions are usually reserved for the screenplays of science fiction novels and movies. A new Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program however wants to take such ideas out of the science fiction realm and make them reality in the next few years."
Link to Original Source

+ - Why Hollywood Had To Fudge The Relativity-Based Wormhole Scenes in Interstellar

Submitted by KentuckyFC
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "When Christopher Nolan teamed up with physicist Kip Thorne of Caltech to discuss the science behind his movie Interstellar, the idea was that Thorne would bring some much-needed scientific gravitas to the all-important scenes involving travel through a wormhole. Indeed, Thorne used the equations of general relativity to calculate the various possible shapes of wormhole and how they would distort the view through it. A London-based special effects team then created footage of a far away galaxy as seen through such a wormhole. It showed the galaxy fantastically distorted as a result, just as relativity predicts. But when it came to travelling through a wormhole, Nolan was disappointed with the footage. The problem was that the view of the other side when travelling through a wormhole turns out to be visually indistinguishable from a conventional camera zoom and utterly unlike the impression Nolan wanted to portray, which was the sense of travelling through a shortcut from one part of the universe to another. So for the final cut, special effects artists had to add various animations to convey that impression. "The end result was a sequence of shots that told a story comprehensible by a general audience while resembling the wormhole’s interior," admit Thorne and colleagues in a paper they have published about wormhole science in the film. In other words, they had to fudge it. Nevertheless, Thorne is adamant that the visualisations should help to inspire a new generation of students of film-making and of relativity."

+ - Jellyfish are attacking nuclear power plants->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "The power plant shutdowns (both nuclear and non-nuclear) that jellyfish cause are increasing, possibly due to warming oceans. And it's not just jellyfish: algae and kelp are responsible for wreaking havoc on filtering systems that are proving no match for aquatic life. 'Jellyfish and algae have assaulted nuclear power plants in the United States, Canada, Scotland, Sweden, Japan, and France. In Scotland alone, two reactors at the country’s Torness power station had to shut down in a single week when the seawater they used as a coolant was inundated with jellyfish. (Because of their tremendous need for cool water, nuclear power plants are often located next to oceans and other naturally occurring large bodies of water.)' The IAEA warns that current monitoring and removal systems in place for 'biological fouling' are inadequate and that warming waters are going to cause more and more of these incidents, the costs of which are astronomical."
Link to Original Source

+ - Swiss robot clock writes time on a whiteboard->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The Whiteboard Clock is a little time-keeping device designed by Maurice Bos which actually jots the current time onto a whiteboard with a dry wipe marker pen. The robot clock uses 3D-printed arms to hold the pen in place, while magnets help it keep its place against the whiteboard. The clock mechanism, a tiny PIC16F1454 microcontroller, currently operates the marker to write the time every five minutes. A 433MHz receiver is used to wirelessly transmit information and updates as pulses from Bos’ computer: ones are transmitted as a 0.20ms signal followed by a 0.10ms silence, and zeros as the reverse. The font is also sent in a similarly clever fashion in series of x and y coordinates. When new time information is sent to the device, a C++ program is able to convert the pulses into dots and dashes which are then plotted by the marker pen."
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Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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