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Censorship

Assange Says Harrods Assisting Metro Police in 'Round-the-Clock Vigil' 76

The Daily Mail reports that Julian Assange seems to have yet another foe (or at least friend of a foe) watching persistently while he stays put in the Ecuadorean embassy in London: Harrod's Department Store. The Metro Police, according to Assange, have developed a relationship with the store, and are using that relationship to facilitate their full-time observation of his roosting place in the embassy. When the founder of Wikileaks says, "We have obtained documents from Harrods [saying that] police have people stationed 24 hours a day in some of the opposing buildings Harrods controls," it seems likely that those documents actually exist.
Microsoft

A Courtroom Victory For Microsoft In Cellphone-Related Patent Suit 14

Mark Wilson writes: Microsoft has been cleared of patent infringement by the US International Trade Commission. The case dates back to 2007 when InterDigital Inc claimed Microsoft infringed its patents, and there were calls for a ban on the import of handsets. InterDigital Inc has been battling in court for eight years, initially trying to claim royalties on phones made by Nokia, now transferred to Microsoft. As well as blocking the call for an import ban, the ITC stated that Microsoft did not infringe patents relating to the way mobiles make calls. In short Microsoft is in the clear and InterDigital's rights have not been violated.
NASA

NASA Scientists Paint Stark Picture of Accelerating Sea Level Rise 375

A NASA panel yesterday announced widely reported finding that global sea levels have risen about three inches since 1992, and that these levels are expected to keep rising as much as several more feet over the next century -- on the upper end of model-based predictions that have been made so far. From the Sydney Morning Herald piece linked above: NASA says Greenland has lost an average of 303 gigatons [of ice] yearly for the past decade. Since it takes 360 gigatons to raise sea level by a millimetre, that would suggest Greenland has done this about eight times over just in the last 10 years or so. "People need to be prepared for sea level rise," said Joshua Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. "It's not going to stop."
Earth

The Nations That Will Be Hardest Hit By Water Shortages By 2040 202

merbs writes: Water access is going to be one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century. As climate change dries out the already dry areas and makes the wet ones wetter, we're poised to see some radical civilizational shifts. For one, a number of densely populated areas will come under serious water stress—which analysts fear will lead to strife, thirst, and even violent conflict. With that in mind, the World Resource Institute has assembled a new report projecting which nations are most likely to be hardest hit by water stress in coming decades—nations like Bahrain, Israel, Palestine, and Spain lead the pack.
Earth

Countries Gaming Carbon Offsets May Have Dramatically Increased Emissions 145

schwit1 writes: Abuse of the carbon offset system may have caused emissions to increase by as much as 600 million tons. That's the finding of a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, which investigated carbon credits used to offset greenhouse gas emissions under a UN scheme. As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits "was like printing money." From the article: "In some projects, chemicals known to warm the climate were created and then destroyed to claim cash. As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union's carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts. But [the studey] says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, "hot air" — no actual emissions were reduced.
Education

Wired: IBM's School Could Fix Education and Tech's Diversity Gap 173

theodp writes: Wired positively gushes over IBM's Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), saying it could fix education and tech's diversity gap. Backed by IBM, the P-TECH program aims to prepare mainly minority kids from low-income backgrounds for careers in technology, allowing them to earn a high school diploma and a free associate degree in six years or less. That P-TECH's six inaugural graduates completed the program in four years and were offered jobs with IBM, Wired reports, is "irrefutable proof that this solution might actually work" (others aren't as impressed, although the President is drinking the Kool-Aid). While the program has only actually graduated six students since it was announced in 2010, Wired notes that by fall, 40 schools across the country will be designed in P-TECH's image. IBM backs four of them, but they'll also be run by tech giants like Microsoft and SAP, major energy companies like ConEdison, along with hospital systems, manufacturing associations, and civil engineering trade groups. They go by different names and are geared toward different career paths, but they all follow the IBM playbook.
Wireless Networking

Massachusetts Boarding School Sued Over Wi-Fi Sickness 586

alphadogg writes: The parents of an anonymous student at the Fay School in Southborough, Mass., allege that the Wi-Fi at the institution is making their child sick, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court earlier this month (PDF). The child, identified only as "G" in court documents, is said to suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome. The radio waves emitted by the school's Wi-Fi routers cause G serious discomfort and physical harm, according to the suit. "After being continually denied access to the school in order to test their student's classroom, and having their request that all classrooms in which their child is present have the WiFi network replaced with a hard-wired Ethernet denied, the parents sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act."
The Internet

The Muddy Truth About Kickstarter 'Staff Picks' 50

szczys writes: Crowd Funding is the wild-wild west of business financing, and it's not just the people starting campaigns that are playing without many rules. One of Kickstarter's sort algorithm triggers is the "Staff Pick." Research indicates being featured by Kickstarter staff is a huge predictor for success. But there is no published benchmark for how these are chosen. Oddly, Kickstarter only discourages users from falsely labeling their campaign as a Staff Pick. To protect backers and ensure the crowdfunding ecosystem isn't sullied by scammers, Kickstarter needs to boost their transparency starting with this Staff Pick conundrum.
Sci-Fi

Hugos Refuse To Award Anyone Rather Than Submit To Fans' Votes 1033

An anonymous reader writes: You may remember way back in April there was a bit of a kerfuffle over the nominees for the Hugo Awards being "too conservative" based on a voting campaign organized by a group of science fiction fans who wanted to promote hard science fiction over more recent nominees. This was spun as conservatives "ruining" a "progressive" award. The question was left: would the final voters of the Hugo awards accept these nominees, or just take their ball home and refuse to give out anyway awards at all? The votes are in and we know the answer now: they'd rather just not give out any awards. (Wired has a slightly different slant on the process as well as the outcome of this year's awards.)
Space

JAXA Prepares To Try Making Whiskey In Space 67

schwit1 writes: An experiment to test how whiskey ages in weightlessness is about to begin on ISS: "H-II Transfer Vehicle No. 5, commonly known as "Kounotori5" or HTV5, was launched on Wednesday from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center carrying alcohol beverages produced by Suntory to the Japanese Experiment Module aboard the International Space Station, where experiments on the "development of mellowness" will be conducted for a period of about one year in Group 1 and for two or more years (undecided) in Group 2." Don't worry, the astronauts on ISS won't be getting drunk. After the test period is complete the samples will then returned to Earth, untasted, where they will then be compared with control samples.
Government

City of Munich Struggling With Basic Linux Functionality 392

jones_supa writes: Just like the city planned a year ago, Munich is still calling for a switch back to Windows from LiMux, their Ubuntu derivative. The councilors from Munich's conservative CSU party have called the operating system installed on their laptops "cumbersome to use" and "of very limited use." The letter from the two senior members of the city's IT committee (PDF in German) asks the mayor to consider removing the Linux-based OS and to install Windows and Office. "There are no programs for text editing, Skype, Office etc. installed and that prevents normal use," the letter argues. Another complaint from councilors is that "the lack of user permissions makes them of limited use." These kind of arguments raise eyebrows, as all that functionality is certainly found on Linux.
The Almighty Buck

Finland Considers Minimum Income To Reform Welfare System 751

jones_supa writes: The Finnish government is considering a pilot project that would see the state pay people a basic income regardless of whether they are employed or not. The details of how much the basic income might be and who would be eligible for it are yet to be announced, but already there is widespread interest in how it might work. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has praised the idea, and he sees it as a way to simplify the social security system. With unemployment being an increasing concern, four out of five Finns are now in favour of a basic income. Sipilä has expressed support for a limited, geographical experiment, just like Dutch city of Utrecht is executing this autumn.
Twitter

Lawsuit Over Two-Word Tweet Moves Forward 220

An anonymous reader writes: A defamation suit filed by a former Minnesota high school student has gotten approval from a federal judge to proceed. The suit was filed in response to a suspension issued by the school after Reid Sagehorn published a two-word comment on Twitter. In 2014, there existed a Twitter ostensibly about confessions from students at Sagehorn's high school. That account asked if Sagehorn had made out with a particular female teacher, and Sagehorn jokingly replied, "Actually yes." Not long after, he was suspended for five days, and that suspension was later extended to the rest of the month. The school administration convinced his parents to withdraw him from the school and send him to a different one. The town's police chief even spoke about it to the media, saying the comment was likely a felony. Sagehorn filed the lawsuit seeking damages and an expungement of the disciplinary actions.
Earth

Climatologists: By 2100, the Earth Will Have an Entirely Different Ocean 417

merbs writes: The ocean is in the midst of radical, manmade change. It can seem kind of crazy that one of the most immense properties on Earth—the ocean washes over 71 percent of the planet—could be completely transformed by a swarm of comparatively tiny, fleshy mammals. But humans are indeed remaking the ocean, in almost every conceivable way. The ocean we know today—that billions swim, fish, float, and surf in—that vast planetary body of water will be of an entirely different character by the end of the century: hotter, higher, trashier, and more acidic.
Security

Facebook Intern Gets Preemptive Ax For Exposing Security Flaw 103

Engadget reports that Harvard student Aran Khanna, who was about to begin an internship at Facebook, had that internship yanked after he created (and took down, but evidently too slowly for the company's taste) a browser plug-in that exposed a security flaw in Facebook, by allowing users to discover the location of other users when they use the Messenger app. Surely Khanna won't be jobless or internship-less for long. (Don't expect the app to work now; it's still in the Chrome store as a historical artifact, though, and at GitHub.)

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