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Submission + - Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG : Better Portable Graphics (BPG->

An anonymous reader writes: French 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 : compress your images, include bpg.js in your HTML and voilà ! He set up a demo including the famous Lena image.
Who will first want to reduce his bandwidth bill by compressing better the images he serves ? Flickr ? Google ? imgur ? Facebook ? What about hardware vendors ?

Link to Original Source

Submission + - As H-1B Investigative Reports Emerge, Feds Set to Destroy H-1B Records

theodp writes: A year-long investigation by NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit and The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) raises questions about the H-1B visa program. In a five-part story that includes a mini-graphic novel called Techsploitation, CIR describes how the system rewards job brokers who steal wages and entrap Indian tech workers in the US, including the awarding of half a billion dollars in Federal tech contracts to those with labor violations. "Shackling workers to their jobs," CIR found after interviewing workers and reviewing government agency and court documents, "is such an entrenched business practice that it has even spread to U.S. nationals. This bullying persists at the bottom of a complex system that supplies workers to some of America’s richest and most successful companies, such as Cisco Systems Inc., Verizon and Apple Inc." In a presumably unrelated move, the U.S. changed its H-1B record retention policy last week, declaring that records used for labor certification, whether in paper or electronic, "are temporary records and subject to destruction" after five years under the new policy. "There was no explanation for the change, and it is perplexing to researchers," reports Computerworld. "The records under threat are called Labor Condition Applications (LCA), which identify the H-1B employer, worksite, the prevailing wage, and the wage paid to the worker." Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University, added: "It undermines our ability to evaluate what the government does and, in today's world, retaining electronic records like the LCA is next to costless [a full year's LCA data is less than 1 GB]." President Obama, by the way, is expected to use his executive authority to expand the H-1B program after the midterm elections.

Comment Re:Fedora fork too (Score 1) 555

That short init config sure looks nice, but right away I notice something wrong about it. wtf is it doing in /usr/lib? Configurations for system software belong in /etc.

This is the problem with systemd, on the surface it looks great, but underneath its ugly as hell. Not what I am accustomed to when dealing with unix systems. Nor something I can adapt to when I have hundreds to look after.

Submission + - Washington Post Says Marijuana Legalization is Making the World a Better Place 3

HughPickens.com writes: Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post that many countries are taking a close look at what's happening in Colorado and Washington state to learn lessons that can be applied to their own situations and so far, the news coming out of Colorado and Washington is overwhelmingly positive. Dire consequences predicted by reform opponents have failed to materialize. If anything, societal and economic indicators are moving in a positive direction post-legalization. Colorado marijuana tax revenues for fiscal year 2014-2015 are on track to surpass projections.

Lisa Sanchez, a program manager at México Unido Contra la Delincuencia, a Mexican non-profit devoted to promoting "security, legality and justice," underscored how legalization efforts in the U.S. are having powerful ripple effects across the globe: events in Colorado and Washington have "created political space for Latin American countries to have a real debate [about drug policy]." She noted that motivations for reform in Latin America are somewhat different than U.S. motivations — one main driver is a need to address the epidemic of violence on those countries that is fueled directly by prohibitionist drug war policies. Mexico's president has given signs he's open to changes in that country's marijuana laws to help combat cartel violence. Sandeep Chawla, former deputy director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, notes that one of the main obstacles to meaningful reform is layers of entrenched drug control bureaucracies at the international and national levels — just in the U.S., think of the DEA, ONDCP and NIDA, among others — for whom a relaxation of drug control laws represents an undermining of their reason for existence: "if you create a bureaucracy to solve a particular problem, when the problem is solved that bureaucracy is out of a job."

Comment Re:Not good enough (Score 1) 323

So it could have been distributed as a Gift, right?
Is there a gifting option for iTunes?
Can I buy an album for someone else and do they have to opt in on the 'gift' or is it just an automatic purchase for their delivery preference?

Ahh, the mysteries of this mostly unused service I have at my beck and call!

Comment Stand-up workstations are better than caffeine (Score 2) 133

I would argue that employers are definitely interested in increased productivity from employees, but they will certainly settle for the appearance of productivity.

At the risk of going off-topic, a twice-a-day caffeine nap at work is not going to improve productivity nearly as much as a stand-up work station will. Not to mention that staying in a sedentary, sitting position 8+ hours a day is incredibly unhealthy and unnatural. Blast from the past from Mashable: http://mashable.com/2011/05/09...

Submission + - Last universal ancestor (LUA) may have a 'leaky' membrane->

Taco Cowboy writes: Around four billion years ago the Last Universal Ancestor (LUA), most probably a single cell organism, appeared on Planet Earth. In order to be alive that single cell organism must be able to harness energy from its surrounding, and in order to do that, according to researchers at University College London (UCL), that single cell organism had a 'leaky' membrane which allowed protons to enter and exit at the same time

The UCL researchers came to the conclusion using mathematical modeling, in which the findings were published on August 13, 2014, in PLOS Biology

Illustrated picture at http://cdn.phys.org/newman/gfx...

The study claims this membrane may explain why all cells use the same complex mechanism to harvest energy, and it may also explain why two types of fundamental single-celled organisms — bacteria and archaea — have different cell membranes

The leakiness of the membrane allowed LUA to be powered by energy in its surroundings, most likely vents deep on the ocean floor, while holding in all the other components necessary for life. The team modeled how the membrane changed, enabling LUA’s descendants to move to new, more challenging environments and evolve into two distinct types of single-celled organism, bacteria and archaea, creating the deepest branch of the tree of life

Bacteria and archaea share many common features such as genes, proteins and mechanisms of reading DNA, initially leading scientists to believe they were just different types of bacteria. Their classification changed in the 1970s after extreme differences were found in the way they replicate DNA and in the structure of their cell membrane. As they both stemmed from LUA, scientists set out to find answers in the structure and function of LUA’s membrane

Data from the study strongly suggest that LUA lived in the area where ancient seawater, dense with positively charged particles called protons, mixed with warm alkaline vent fluid, which contained few protons. The difference in the concentration of protons across these two environments enabled protons to flow into the cell, driving the production of a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which powered the growth of cells, just as it does today. However, unlike modern cells the scientists believe this could only happen if the membrane was 'leaky', enabling protons to leave the cell spontaneously so more protons could enter to power growth

From a single basic idea, the model can explain the fundamental differences between bacteria and archaea. In these deep sea vents, there is a continuous flow of alkaline fluids, which mix with the ocean waters. When they mix, the fluids neutralize each other, and that stops any build-up of charge which would otherwise prevent protons flowing into the cell

If the first cells had leaky membranes, then protons could enter and then be neutralized, or leave again, almost as if there was no barrier at all

The mathematical modeling shows that the rate at which protons enter and leave was high enough to power the growth of cells via proteins embedded in the membrane. LUA could have been powered by natural proton gradients in vents, but only if it had a really leaky membrane, completely unlike today’s cells

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Designers & Dragons is the complete history of role-playing game publishers

Robotech_Master writes: Evil Hat Productions is Kickstarting a four-volume history of the RPG industry that's already met its funding goal almost seven times over. Comprising half a million words altogether, it tells the story of pencil-and-paper role-playing games from their very beginnings, and you can read the e-book of the first volume for kicking in just one buck. $1 for the first e-book, $15 for all four, print volumes starting at $25 and up.

I've reviewed the first volume of it here. I found it extremely thorough and well-written.

Submission + - Best PDF handling library, for our own definition of "best" ;-)->

Fotis Georgatos writes: I got recently engaged in a conversation about handling PDF texts for a range of needs, such as creation, manipulation, merging, text extraction and searching, digital signing etc etc. A couple of potential picks popped up (PDFBox, itext), given some Java experience of the other fellows. And then comes the reality of choosing software as a long term knowledge investment! ideally, we would like to combine these features:
  • open source, with a community following ; the kind of stuff slashdotters would prefer
  • tidy software architecture; simple things should remain simple
  • allow open API allowing usage across many languages (say: Python & Java)
  • clear licensing status, not estranging future commercial use
  • serious multilingual & font support
  • PDF-handling rich features, not limiting usage for invoicing, e-commerce, reports & data mining
  • digital signing should not go against other features

I'd like to poll the collective slashdot crowd wisdom about if/which PDF related libraries, they have written software with, keeps them happy for *all* the above reasons. And if not happy with that all, what do they thing is the best bet for learning one piece of software in the area, with great reusability across different circumstances and little need for extra hacks?

ROTG is not at all a good answer; I'd really like to hear the smoked out war stories. It is easy to obtain a list of such libraries, yet tricky to understand how many obtained success with them!

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Scotland to get spaceport by 2018->

nk497 writes: The UK will build a spaceport by 2018, with eight locations under consideration — the majority of which are in Scotland. The Department of Transport is evaluating existing airfields for suitability to become a spaceport, examining factors such as the weather — strong winds are a problem — and how it will affect the local environment and economy.In its report, the government noted that commercial sub-orbital spaceflights for paying passengers will kick off by the end of this year in the US via Virgin Galactic. It wants the UK to get in on the space tourist action, becoming the centre for such activity in Europe.

"In the longer term, it is possible that spaceplanes will enable intercontinental travel at very high speeds," the report added. "There have been suggestions that by travelling on a sub-orbital trajectory, journey times from the UK to Australia could be cut from the current duration of around 20 hours to as little as two hours." Aside from space tourism and weekend getaways to Brisbane, the spaceport will also allow satellite launches plus delivery of cargo and scientific payloads into orbit. If all goes well, the government predicted the first sub-orbital flights by 2018, followed by satellite launches in 2020, and orbital flights by 2030.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Lie Like a Lady: The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots of the Turing Test->

malachiorion writes: Alan Turing never wrote about the Turing Test, that legendary measure of machine intelligence that was supposedly passed last weekend. He proposed something much stranger—a contest between men and machines, to see who was better at pretending to be a woman. The details of the Imitation Game aren't secret, or even hard to find, and yet no one seems to reference it. Here's my analysis for Popular Science about why they should, in part because it's so odd, but also because it might be a better test for "machines that think" than the chatbot-infested, seemingly useless Turing Test.
Link to Original Source

Comment The Empire never ended (Score 0, Flamebait) 348

And thusly, as Philip K Dick correctly asserted in 1973: The Empire never ended.

I hope people aren't really surprised by the fact that our history of illustrious leaders never intended for there to be a true democracy anywhere in the world. I mean, that's mob rule after all and we can't have that!

1 Mole = 25 Cagey Bees

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