An anonymous reader writes in with good news for Windows loving nonprofits and libraries. "Microsoft today announced the availability of Windows 8.1 for nonprofits. The move is an extension of the company's nod to the nonprofit community with the launch Windows 8. The announcement means eligible nonprofit organizations and public libraries can request Windows 8.1 through Microsoft's software donation program."
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Daniel_Stuckey writes "Tucked inside Apple's first-ever transparency report, published yesterday, was a not-so-subtle dig at the tech giant's competitors. 'Our business does not depend on collecting personal data,' Apple wrote. 'We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers.' It's no secret that for social web companies like Google or Facebook, collecting, storing, and analyzing data about every aspect of your life translates into cold, hard cash—the more sensitive and personal, the better. But in the emerging post-NSA new world order, the unwritten privacy-for-cool services agreement that drives the internet ecosystem is making netizens increasingly uneasy."
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have for the first time devised a setup that allows monkeys to control two virtual arms with their thoughts. Two monkeys had electrodes implanted into its right and left brain hemisphere, which recorded the activity of up to 500 neurons acting together—the highest number of neurons yet used in such an experiment. The animal's task was to control the movement of two avatar arms on a computer monitor: To get a fruit juice reward, it had to place both hands over two circles and hold them there for 100 milliseconds. A computer algorithm processed the monkey's brain activity, homing in on patterns of neurons firing as it learned to do the task. Both animals' performances improved over time, and the researchers noticed that their neuronal firing patterns changed as this happened, suggesting that their brains were adapting to the brain-machine interfaces. This could be because the monkeys came to consider the virtual arms as part of their own bodies, the lead researcher suggests. 'The animals literally incorporate the avatar as if the avatar was them.'"
Lucas123 writes "Most drivers would consider buying an autonomous vehicle if it meant their insurance rates would be reduced by 80%, a new survey of 2,000 licensed drivers found. Oddly enough, the survey by the online consumer insurance site Car insurance.com also showed that 75% of respondents think they could drive a car better than a computer. Another 64% said computers were not capable of the same quality of decision-making as human drivers. And 75% would not trust a driverless car to take their children to school. The survey also asked what commuters would be doing if a computer handled the driving: More than one-in-four would text/talk with friends; 21% would read; 10% would sleep; 8% would watch movies; 7% would play games; and 7% would work. The rest of those surveyed said they'd just watch the scenery blow by."
Nerval's Lobster writes "By 2015, Americans' ability to access digital media at home and on mobile devices will raise the average volume of media consumed to the equivalent of nine DVDs worth of data per person, per day – not including whatever media they consume at work. That estimate adds up to 15.5 hours of media use per day per person, which breaks down to 74 gigabytes of data per person and a national, collective total of 8.75 zettabytes, according to a new report. Between 2008 and 2013, Americans grew from watching 11 hours of media per day to 14 hours per day – a growth rate of about 5 percent per year, lead author James E. Short wrote in the report. The increasing number of digital-data consumers and the shift from analog to digital media drove the total volume of data in bytes to grow 18 percent per year. That growth rate 'is less than the capacity to process data, driven by Moore's Law, [of about] 30 percent per year,' he added, 'but is still impressive.' Social media is growing even faster than other options – 28 percent per year, from 6.3 billion hours in 2008 to an estimated 35.2 billion hours in 2015. Companies expecting to catch the attention of either employees or customers will have to do so in the context of an increasingly media-swamped population. Digital data consumption will continue to rise, the SDSC projections estimate, possibly to more than an average of 24 hours per person per day – which is only possible assuming multiple simultaneous data streams running through the minds of Americans watching TV, browsing the Web and texting each other simultaneously, probably to ask why they never have time to just sit and talk any more."
ananyo writes "Key members of the U.S. House of Representatives are seeking to require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to justify every grant it awards as being in the 'national interest.' The proposal, included in a draft bill from the Republican-led House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and obtained by Nature, would force the NSF to document how its basic science grants benefit the country. The requirement is similar to one in a discussion draft circulated in April by committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). At the time, scientists raised concerns that 'national interest' was defined far too narrowly. The current draft bill provides a more expansive definition that includes six goals: economic competitiveness, health and welfare, scientific literacy, partnerships between academia and industry, promotion of scientific progress, and national defense. But many believe that predicting the broader impacts of basic research is tantamount to gazing into a crystal ball. 'All scientists know it's nonsense,' says John Bruer, president of James S. McDonnell Foundation and former co-chair of an NSF task force that examined requiring scientists to state the 'broader impacts' of their work in grant applications."
mrspoonsi sends this report from Business Insider: "Microsoft is generating $2 billion per year in revenue from Android patent royalties, says Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund in a new note on the company. He estimates that the Android revenue has a 95% margin, so it's pretty much all profit. This money, says Sherlund, helps Microsoft hide the fact that its mobile and Xbox groups are burning serious cash."
The Bad Astronomer writes "Using data from the Feb. 15, 2013 asteroid impact over Russia, scientists have determined that we may be hit by objects in this size range (10 — 50 meters across) more often than we previously thought, something like once every 20 years (abstract). They also found the Chelyabinsk asteroid was likely a single rock about 19 meters (60 feet) across, had a mass of 12,000 tons, and was criss-crossed with internal fractures which aided in its breakup as it rammed through the Earth's atmosphere."
UnknowingFool writes "Blockbuster announced that it will close its remaining 300 U.S. locations by January and discontinue the DVD by mail service. Before being bought out by Dish, the chain was slowly closing locations. Dish's CEO said, 'This is not an easy decision, yet consumer demand is clearly moving to digital distribution of video entertainment.' From an all-time high of 9,000 locations in 2004, the chain has fallen on hard times and had emerged from bankruptcy in 2011."
Ender's Game is the quintessential classic military sci-fi book. It ranks near the top of virtually every list of good sci-fi novels. When Hollywood decided to finally go forward with a movie adaptation, the initial reaction from most fans was one of skepticism. (After all, we saw what they did to I, Robot.) But there was reason to hope, as well, because Ender's Game is more action-friendly than many sci-fi stories, and the filmmakers had a big budget with which to make it. The movie was finally released last week; read on for our review. In short: the film tries too hard to straddle the line between assuming viewers are familiar with the details and bringing new viewers up to speed. The cuts to the story were both too much and not enough. It left us with only brief glimpses at too many characters, and introduced themes without fleshing them out enough to be interesting.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Silk Road is rising from the dead. After the FBI seized the deep web's favourite illegal drug market and arrested its alleged founder Ross Ulbricht last month (for, among other things, ordering a hit through his own website), the online-marketplace-cum-libertarian-movement has found a new home and opened for business at 16:20 GMT this afternoon. In the wake of the original Silk Road's closure, everything became a little turbulent for its users. First, they had to get used to not getting high-quality, peer-reviewed drugs delivered direct to their sofas. (Though presumably they didn't stop getting high, instead forced back to the 'mystery mix' street dealers and surly ex-Balkan war criminals who have spent years filling cities with drugs at night.) Some users were pissed off that they'd lost all the Bitcoin wealth they'd amassed, or that paid-for orders would go undelivered, while small-time dealers freaked out about how they suddenly lacked the funds to pay off debts owed to drug sellers higher up the food chain."
Riskable writes "Ever seen a remote desktop tool that's fast/efficient enough to play back video? Gate One will soon have that capability via the forthcoming X11 support (as demonstrated in the video). I am posting this to Slashdot looking for suggestions and feedback as to how I should move forward with it before I solidify the architecture, API, and even the business end of it (making money). I'll be watching the thread and replying to comments (as I have time). Also, if you're interested you can sign up to be notified when it's available." We've posted a few stories about Gate One previously.
nk497 writes with this excerpt from PC Pro "Amazon plans to give independent booksellers 10% of the takings from ebooks bought on Kindles they sell, the online giant has revealed. The new Amazon Source program aims to encourage independent bookstores and small retailers to sell Kindle readers by offering commission for the first two years of the device's life. As an alternative to the 10% kickback from book sales, retailers opting into the Amazon Source program can choose instead to receive a larger discount up front when buying the devices for resale."
Benjamin Heckendorn, better known as Ben Heck, has become famous for modding consoles and game controllers. Over 10 million viewers worldwide have watched The Ben Heck Show to see him create something new out of old gaming systems every week. Been has agreed to leave the Ataris alone for a while and answer your questions about console modding and gaming in general. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
rjmarvin writes "Sources have confirmed that Microsoft has narrowed down its search for its next CEO to five external candidates and at least two internal candidates. Rumored frontrunner Stephen Elop, former Nokia CEO, and Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally are reportedly in contention, along with Microsoft's Skype head Tony Bates and their cloud and enterprise chief Satya Nadella. The other external candidates who've emerged from the approximately 40 rumored names swirling around since August have not yet been revealed."
An anonymous reader writes "Google has announced it is discontinuing support for Internet Explorer 9 in Google Apps, including its Business, Education, and Government editions. Google says it has stopped all testing and engineering work related to IE9, given that IE11 was released on October 17 along with Windows 8.1. This means that IE9 users who access Gmail and other Google Apps services will be notified 'within the next few weeks' that they need to upgrade to a more modern browser. Google says this will either happen through an in-product notification message or an interstitial page."
New submitter hoboroadie writes "Scientific American Magazine says antibiotic-resistance genes have moved from the incubators of our hospitals and factory farms, and are spreading through diverse species in the wild. Resistance genes have been detected in crows, gulls, houseflies, moths, foxes, frogs, sharks and whales, as well as in sand and coastal water samples from California and Washington. This stuff is getting more and more like a Hollywood script everyday, n'est ce pas?"
An anonymous reader writes "HP has been the sole holdout on the Itanium, mostly because so much of the PA-RISC architecture lives on in that chip. However, the company recently began migration of Integrity Superdome servers from Itanium to Xeon, and now it has announced that the top of its server line, the NonStop series, will migrate to x86 as well, presumably the 15-core E7 V2 Intel will release next year. So while no one has said it, this likely seems the end of the Itanium experiment, one that went on a lot longer than it should have, given its failure out of the gate."
An anonymous reader writes "Remember when Mozilla announced that it would soon block third-party cookies by default? Not so fast. According to a new behind-the-scenes report in the San Francisco Chronicle, 'it's not clear when it will happen — or if it will at all.' Mozilla's leadership is apparently no longer committed to the feature, and the related Cookie Clearinghouse collaboration is delayed well into 2014. Who's to blame? According to Dan Auerbach, Staff Technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, 'The ad industry has a ton of people, basically lobbyists, who spent a lot of time trying to convince Mozilla this was bad for the economy... I think they were somewhat successful.' Not a good showing for the purportedly pro-user organization."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mark Thompson writes in Time Magazine that Air Force pilots flying the T-38 Talon can rest easy, knowing that their cockpit canopy can survive hitting a 4-lb. bird at 190 mph. Unfortunately, the Northrop supersonic jet trainer has a top speed of 812 mph. 'To my knowledge, the training planes are the only ones in the Air Force fast enough to make a bird strike lethal, and with a windshield too flimsy to deflect one,' wrote one Air Force pilot. Midair collisions between birds and Air Force aircraft have destroyed 39 planes and killed 33 airmen since 1973. That's why the USAF is seeking comments to 'identify potential sources, materials, timeframe, and approximate costs to redesign, test, and produce 550 T-38 forward canopy transparencies to increase bird strike capability.' The move follows a T-38 crash on July 19 in Texas triggered by a canopy bird strike. 'The current 0.23 inch thick stretched acrylic transparency can resist a 4-pound bird impact at 165 knots which does not offer a capability to resist significant bird impacts, and has resulted in the loss of six (6) aircraft and two pilot fatalities,' the service acknowledged. 'Numerous attempts since 1970 were made to evaluate existing materials and redesign a transparency that could withstand a bird impact of 4 pounds at 400 knots.' Previous efforts have foundered because they'd require expensive cockpit modifications to the twin-engine, two-seat supersonic jet. 'Although it would increase the level of bird impact protection,' the Air Force said, 'the proposal was cancelled due to the high cost of the modification.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Scheduled to coincide with Guy Fawkes Night, a centuries-old day of remembrance typically celebrated in Great Britain, the Nov. 5 protest is something of a tradition for the hacktivist collective. Anonymous, which is often identified by the Fawkes mask used in the Hollywood blockbuster V for Vendetta, hosted a similar rally in 2011, dubbed 'Night of a Thousand Masks.' Protesters in Washington, D.C. clashed with police before noon. By approximately 10am, an arrest was made. The incident was livestreamed, and Anonymous claimed that the individual was grabbed and arrested after stepping off a sidewalk and into the street. A spokesperson for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment."
An anonymous reader writes "An article at Slate makes the case that the time has come to stop crowning World Chess Champions. This week, challenger Magnus Carlsen is trying to take the title from reigning champion Viswanathan Anand. Despite currently holding the title, Anand is very much the underdog, which only serves to illustrate why the current system is broken. The article suggests measuring greatness the same way tennis does. Quoting: 'Here's what Carlsen should do: Beat Anand for the title, and then work with FIDE to institutionalize four big tournaments as chess's Grand Slams, simultaneously eliminating the title of world champion. Corporate funding for even major chess tournaments can come and go with frustrating regularity, meaning FIDE itself has to get involved. Perhaps the grand slam tournaments could be located in three cities permanently—Moscow, Amsterdam, and a Spanish locale such as Linares would be natural picks—with a fourth that would rotate from year to year. This would give chess the same clear and predictable yardstick for greatness that golf and tennis have instead of the extremely crude world champion benchmark.'"
An anonymous reader writes "To boost its Wi-Fi capacity in packed lecture halls, Georgia Institute of Technology gave up trying to cram in more access points with conventional omni-directional antennas, and juggle power settings and channel plans. Instead, it turned to new high-gain directional antennas. They look almost exactly like the bottom half of a small pizza box, and focus the Wi-Fi signal from the ceiling-mounted access point in a precise cone-shaped pattern, covering part of the lecture hall floor. Instead of the flaky, laggy connections, about which professors had been complaining, users now consistently get up to 144Mbps (if they have 802.11n client radios). 'Overall, the system performed much better' with the new antennas, says William Lawrence, IT project manager principal with the university's academic and research technologies group. 'And there was a much more even distribution of clients across the room's access points.'"