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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Are Computers Still Fun?

An anonymous reader writes: When I was a kid in the 1980s, using and moving from one Atari machine to another (my friend had Amigas, OK?), those computers had a magical ability to isolate you from the rest of the world and create their own cocoon of haven (sorta heaven, as well, I guess). You flicked the power switch on, got READY on the monitor, put in a tape or a floppy, or typed some code from
a magazine to see how it run and before you knew hours had passed. The computers were an island, an escape. Now that they are everywhere, they seemed to have lost at least some of that transporting ability. Constantly connected, more capable than ever, running dozens of programs, zillion of browser tabs and taking your peace and focus away. So, are they still fun and how
do we keep some of the magic alive?

Submission + - Third recorded global coral bleaching event is underway (

dywolf writes: NOAA is reporting that, for the third time since records began being kept, a global coral bleaching event is underway. "When coral bleaching spanning 100 kilometers or more is found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian ocean basins, it's designated a global coral bleaching event." Such bleaching is caused by stress from higher ocean temperatures. While so far all three events occurred during El Nino years, at some point the continual warming of the oceans won't require the exceptional warmth of an El Nino to trigger a bleaching.

Submission + - Future Smartphone Ideas and Technology (

Ran Zhou writes: What will smartphones look like in ten years from now? What kind of technology will be implemented in the phone? This article will give you the slight images on what smartphone can do in the future.

Submission + - Tim Cook Is Not a Fan of Microsoft's Windows 10 Strategy (

jones_supa writes: We live in a world where all tech companies out there struggle to innovate and find new ways to interconnect their devices and Microsoft is definitely trying hard. But as far as Apple is concerned, melting together all platforms is not seen as a good idea. Speaking at a conference with Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, Apple's CEO Tim Cook commented on the future of the company's desktop and tablet platforms, explaining that for the moment, there's no intention to merge the two. "We don't believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile. We think it subtracts from both, and you don't get the best experience from either. We're very much focused on two," Cook said.

Submission + - Study Finds Poor People More Likely to Die in Car Crashes writes: Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham report at the Washington Post that new research finds that improvements in road safety since the 1990s haven't been evenly shared with fatality rates actually increasing for people 25 and older with less than a high school diploma. In 1995, death rates — adjusted for age, sex and race — were about 2.5 times higher for people at the bottom of the education spectrum than those at the top. By 2010, death rates for the least educated were about 4.3 times higher than for the most educated. According to Badger and Ingraham, the underlying issue is not that a college degree makes you a better driver. Rather, the least-educated tend to own cars that are older and have lower crash-test ratings and those with less education are likely to earn less and to have the money for fancy safety features such as side airbags, automatic warnings and rear cameras. Poor people are also more likely to live in areas where infrastructure is crumbling and have less political clout to get anything done about dangerous road conditions.

The role of behavioral differences is murkier. Some studies show lower seat-belt use among the less-educated, but seat-belt use has also increased faster among that group over time, meaning socioeconomic differences there are narrowing. Badger and Ingraham conclude that "as we increasingly fantasize about new technologies that will save us from our own driving errors — cars that will brake for us, or spot cyclists we can't see, or even take over all the navigation — we should anticipate that, at first, those benefits may mostly go to the rich."

Submission + - The Decline of 'Big Soda': Is Drinking Soda the New Smoking? writes: Margot Sanger-Katz reports in the NYT that soda consumption is experiencing a serious and sustained decline as sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent over the past twenty years. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are actively trying to avoid the drinks that have been a mainstay of American culture but bottled water is now on track to overtake soda as the largest beverage category in two years. The changing patterns of soda drinking appear to come thanks, in part, to a loud campaign to eradicate sodas. School cafeterias and vending machines no longer contain regular sodas. Many workplaces and government offices have similarly prohibited their sale.

For many public health advocates, soda has become the new tobacco — a toxic product to be banned, taxed and stigmatized. “There will always be soda, but I think the era of it being acceptable for kids to drink soda all day long is passing, slowly,” says Marion Nestle. “In some socioeconomic groups, it’s over.” Soda represents nearly 25% of the U.S. beverage market and its massive scale have guaranteed profit margins for decades. Historically, beverage preferences are set in adolescence, the first time that most people begin choosing and buying a favorite brand. But the declines in soda drinking appear to be sharpest among young Americans. "Kids these days are growing up with all of these other options, and there are some parents who say, ‘I really want my kids to drink juice or a bottled water,’ ” says Gary A. Hemphill. “If kids grow up without carbonated soft drinks, the likelihood that they are going to grow up and, when they are 35, start drinking is very low.”

Submission + - How to explain the KGB's amazing success identifying CIA agents in the field? (

schwit1 writes: As the Cold War drew to a close with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, those at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, finally hoped to resolve many long-standing puzzles.

The most important of which was how officers in the field under diplomatic and deep cover stationed across the globe were readily identified by the KGB. As a consequence, covert operations had to be aborted as local agents were pinpointed and CIA personnel compromised or, indeed, had their lives thrown into jeopardy.

How could these disasters have happened with such regularity if the agency had not been penetrated by Soviet moles? The problem with this line of thought was that it did not so much overestimate CIA security as underestimate the brainpower of their Russian counterparts.

Submission + - Mealworms Eat and Digest Polystyrene Foam (

ckwu writes: Polystyrene foams—including products like Styrofoam—are rarely recycled, and the materials biodegrade so slowly that they can sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. But a pair of new studies shows that mealworms will dine on polystyrene foam when they can’t get a better meal, converting almost half of what they eat into carbon dioxide. In one study, the researchers fed mealworms polystyrene foam and found that the critters converted about 48% of the carbon they ate into carbon dioxide and excreted 49% in their feces. In the second study, the researchers showed that bacteria in the mealworms’ guts were responsible for breaking down the polystyrene--suggesting that engineering bacteria might be a strategy for boosting the reported biodegradation.

Submission + - Should China Build 100 TeV Collider? (

An anonymous reader writes: As things stand, the known elementary particles, codified in a 40-year-old set of equations called the “Standard Model,” lack a sensible pattern and seem astonishingly fine-tuned for life. Arkani-Hamed and other particle physicists, guided by their belief in naturalness, have spent decades devising clever ways to fit the Standard Model into a larger, natural pattern. But time and again, ever-more-powerful particle colliders have failed to turn up proof of their proposals in the form of new particles and phenomena, increasingly pointing toward the bleak and radical prospect that naturalness is dead.

Still, many physicists, Arkani-Hamed chief among them, seek a more definitive answer. And right now, his quest to answer the naturalness question leads through China. Two years ago, he agreed to become the inaugural director of the new Center for Future High Energy Physics in Beijing. He has since visited China 18 times, campaigning for the construction of a machine of unprecedented scale: a circular particle collider up to 60 miles in circumference, or nearly four times as big around as Europe’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Nicknamed the “Great Collider,” and estimated to cost roughly $10 billion over 30 years, it would succeed the LHC as the new center of the physics universe. According to Arkani-Hamed and those who agree with him, this 100-trillion-electron-volt (TeV) collider would slam subatomic particles together hard enough to either find the particles that the LHC could not muster or rule them out, rescuing or killing the naturalness principle and propelling physicists toward one of two radically different pictures: that of a knowable universe, or an unknowable multiverse.

The Chinese collider campaign has the support and involvement of many prominent researchers aside from Arkani-Hamed, including Yifang Wang, the Nobel Prize winner David Gross, and the Fields medalist S.T. Yau, as well as legions of experimentalists and engineers working behind the scenes, yet the project is controversial. Experts disagree about what the machine would achieve. They also wonder if China is ready to take the helm in particle physics, questioning whether its small particle physics community can grow quickly enough over the next two decades to run a project so enormous and complex, even with the help of thousands of physicists in Europe and the United States. As Tao Han, a particle physicist who supports the campaign, expressed the concerns of some of his Chinese colleagues, “Are we going to jump too far and fall hard?”

Now it is decision time. The Chinese government will release its five-year budgetary plan by the end of the year, revealing whether it plans to invest in research and development for the collider project.

Submission + - Advance in super/ultra capacitor tech: high voltage and high capacity (

fyngyrz writes: Ultracaps offer significantly faster charge and discharge rates as well as considerably longer life than batteries. Where they have uniformly fallen short is in the amount of energy they can store as compared to a battery, and WRT the engineering backflips required to get higher voltages (which is the key to higher energy storage because the energy stored in a cap scales with the square of the cap's voltage, whereas doubling the cap's actual capacitance only doubles the energy, or in other words, the energy increase is linear.) This new development addresses these shortcomings all at once: considerably higher voltage, smaller size, higher capacitance, and to top it off, utilizes less corrosive internals. The best news of all: This new technology looks to be easy, even trivial, to manufacture, and uses inexpensive materials — and that is something neither batteries or previous types of ultracaps have been able to claim. After the debacle of EEStor's claims and failure to meet them for so long, and the somewhat related very slow advance of other ultracap technology, it's difficult not to be cynical. But if you read TFA (yes, I know, but perhaps you'll do it anyway) you may decide some optimism might actually be called for.

Submission + - GCHQ tried to track Web visits of "every visible user on Internet" (

An anonymous reader writes: If you used the World Wide Web anytime after 2007, the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has probably spied on you. That's the revelation contained in documents published today by The Intercept, which detail a GCHQ operation called "Karma Police"—a program that tracked Web browsing habits of people around the globe in what the agency itself billed as the "world's biggest" Internet data-mining operation, intended to eventually track "every visible user on the Internet."

Submission + - Mozilla Fixed A 14-Year-Old Bug In Firefox, Now Adblock Plus Uses Less Memory

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla launched Firefox 41 yesterday. Today, Adblock Plus confirmed the update “massively improves” the memory usage of its Firefox add-on. This particular memory issue was brought up in May 2014 by Mozilla and by Adblock Plus. But one of the bugs that contributed to the problem was actually first reported on Bugzilla in April 2001 (bug 77999).

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