New submitter natarnsco writes "The Dallas, Texas police chief has used an unusual weapon in his arsenal to announce firings and other disciplinary measures in the Dallas police force: Twitter. 'Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown has fired or disciplined 27 officers and employees in the last year. And every time he brings down the hammer, he announces it on Facebook and Twitter, specifying exactly who the men and women are and what they did. On Dec. 30, it was five officers and a 911 call operator.' The article goes on to say, 'Chief Brown is, as far as we know, unique among police chiefs in his use of social media. "I'm unaware of anyone else doing this," says Lt. Max Geron, who handles media relations at the Dallas Police Department. "If we weren't the first, we were one of the first." We checked out the Twitter profiles of various departments around the country as well and couldn't find a similar situation. The social media posts aren't an official policy of the DPD, but rather a "push for transparency" initiative, in Lt. Geron's words. "[It comes from] a desire to be more transparent and to get our message out to the greater community," he says.'"
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Ars Technica has posted their impressions from a hands-on session with Valve's new Steam Controller. The controller notably departs from standard practice of relying on two thumbsticks for precise movement, instead replacing them with concave touchpads. From the article: "When used as a kind of virtual trackball, as most games did with the right pad, it was a revelation. When used as a virtual d-pad, as it was on the left pad, it was an exercise in frustration. Let's focus on the right pad first. There's definitely a learning curve to using this side of the pad properly; years of muscle memory had me trying to use it like an analog stick (minus the stick) at first. It only really began to click when I started swiping my thumb over the pad, as I've seen in previous videos (there was no one on hand to really explain the controller to me, so I was left figuring it out on my own, just like a new Steam Machine owner). When I say it "started to click," I mean that literally. The subtle clicking in your hands as you swipe along the pad is an incredible tactile experience, as if there was an actual weighted ball inside the controller that's rolling in the direction you swipe. And like a trackball slowly losing its inertia, the clicking slows its pace after you lift your thumb off the pad, giving important contextual information for the momentum imparted by your swipe." More write-ups are available about the controller from Gamespot, Gizmodo, and Joystiq.
An anonymous reader writes with news that Red Hat and the CentOS project are "joining forces" to develop the next version of CentOS. For years, CentOS has been a popular choice for users who want to use Red Hat Enterprise Linux without having to pay for it. Some of the CentOS developers are moving to Red Hat, but they won't be working on RHEL — they say the "firewall" between the two distros will remain in place. CentOS Project Chair Karanbir Singh said, 'The changes we make are going to be community inclusive, and promoted, proposed, formalised, and actioned in an open community centric manner on the centos-devel mailing list. And I highly encourage everyone to come along and participate.'
You may remember Gaikai, a company built on the idea of cloud-based gaming. The idea was that a remote server would run the game and stream all graphics and sound to a player's device, which would allow underpowered or obsolete machines to run modern, graphically demanding games on high settings. In 2012, Sony purchased Gaikai. Now, they've announced at CES that their cloud gaming tech (dubbed 'PlayStation Now') is just about ready for the public. CES attendees will be able to try it out, and Sony will begin a closed beta test in the U.S. later this month. Full release is planned for summer. It will first support streaming to PS3s, PS4s, and certain Sony TV models. Later, it will expand more broadly to various non-Sony "internet-connected devices." Players will have the option to rent games or to subscribe for continued access. Forbes reports, "According to Sony, gamers who own disc- or digital-based games will not have access to those games via PS Now free of charge."
ananyo writes "From a few fragments out of a collection of 23-century-old Chinese bamboo strips, historians have pieced together what they say is the world's oldest example of a multiplication table in base 10. Each strip is about 7 to 12 millimeters wide and half a meter long, and has a vertical line of ancient Chinese calligraphy painted on it in black ink. The bamboo pieces constitute 65 ancient texts and are thought to be among the most important artifacts from the Warring States period before the unification of China. But 21 bamboo strips contained only numbers and, on closer inspection, turned out to be a multiplication table. As in a modern multiplication table, the entries at the intersection of each row and column in the matrix provide the results of multiplying the corresponding numbers. The table can also help users to multiply any whole or half integer between 0.5 and 99.5. The researchers suspect that officials used the multiplication table to calculate surface area of land, yields of crops and the amounts of taxes owed."
mspohr writes "Since the code for Bitcoin is open source, we have seen the creation of various Bitcoin clones and enhancements (Litecoin, Dogecoin or Coinye West, anyone?... There are about 70 listed on this site.) This article explains the process of making your own. Thanks to Matt Corallo, a veteran Bitcoin developer, you can easily create your own at coingen.io. He has automated the process of modifying the source code to create custom currencies. Just enter in the name for your new currency, a logo image and set a few parameters (or accept the defaults), and you can have your own cryptocurrency. Source code and some customizations cost a bit extra. Once you have your own 'coin,' you just need to convince people that it is worth something."
harrymcc writes "In 2012, TIME wrote about Daniel Omar, a 14-year-old in South Sudan who lost both arms to a bomb dropped by his own government. Mick Ebeling of Not Impossible Labs read the story, was moved — and went to Sudan, where he set up a 3D printing lab which can produce an artificial arm for $100. Omar and others have received them, and Ebeling hopes that other organizations around the world will adopt his open-source design to help amputees, many of whom will never receive more conventional prosthetics."
cold fjord writes "The Detroit News reports, 'A government report finds that major automakers are keeping information about where drivers have been — collected from onboard navigation systems — for varying lengths of time. Owners of those cars can't demand that the information be destroyed. And, says the U.S. senator requesting the investigation, that raises questions about driver privacy. The Government Accountability Office in a report released Monday found major automakers have differing policies about how much data they collect and how long they keep it. Automakers collect location data in order to provide drivers with real-time traffic information, to help find the nearest gas station or restaurant, and to provide emergency roadside assistance and stolen vehicle tracking. But, the report found, "If companies retained data, they did not allow consumers to request that their data be deleted, which is a recommended practice."'"
New submitter mpicpp points out that Intel has unveiled a PC called Edison, which fits into a casing the size of an SD card. "Edison is based on Intel’s Quark chip, which it launched last year as its attempt to muscle in on that other flavour-of-the-month market: the so-called Internet of Things. It also reflects the company’s new-found keenness on the 'maker' community. Quark, a 22nm low-power x86 processor with two cores, sits inside Intel’s Arduino-compatible Raspberry Pi-alike Galileo board computer. Edison takes the same chip, connects it to a wee bit of LPDDR2 memory and Flash storage, and plugs in Bluetooth 4.0 Smart — aka LE — and Wi-Fi for broader connectivity."
Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is the largest electronics show in the U.S. these days. It's so big that small companies easily get lost among the industry giants and their huge, noisy show floor displays. But there is a press-only 'pre-show' called CES Unveiled that gives visibility to companies that don't have 20' tall displays full of celebrity shills and other razzmatazz. So, in hopes of finding some products more interesting than the inevitable CES "Oh, look! Our latest TVs are 2" wider than last year's models!" blather over incremental improvements to existing products, Tim Lord went to CES Unveiled -- and found a few products that were not repeats from previous years. Good products? Useful? Maybe, maybe not. You decide.
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Facebook settled out of court over displaying ads that told you which of your friends had 'liked' a product or service, and another lawsuit is currently pending over the use of minors' pictures specifically in similar ads. (Not to be confused with another recently filed lawsuit alleging that Facebook converts private messages into public 'likes'.) Google+ tried to limit its liability by only showing the faces of users over 18 when showing which friends 'like' a page. I'm all for more privacy for social networking users, and if it's true that Facebook has been silently marking users as publicly 'liking' a page because they mentioned the page in a private message, the plaintiff's lawyers ought to clean them out for that one. But in cases where you willingly and knowingly 'liked' a page, Facebook and Google+ ought to be able to tell that to your friends in advertisements, without being sued for it." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
msm1267 writes "Generic malware warnings that alert computer users to potential trouble are largely ineffective and often ignored. Researchers at Cambridge University, however, have proposed a change to the status quo, believing instead that warnings should be re-architected to include concrete, specific warnings that are not technical and rely less on fear than current alerts."
wooferhound writes with news that a federal judge has overturned part of Chicago's firearm laws. From CNN: "A federal judge ruled Monday that Chicago's ban on virtually all sales and transfers of firearms is unconstitutional. 'The stark reality facing the City each year is thousands of shooting victims and hundreds of murders committed with a gun. But on the other side of this case is another feature of government: certain fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, put outside government's reach, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment,' wrote U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang." The Chicago Tribune notes: "The ruling also would make it legal for individuals to transfer ownership of a firearm as a gift or through a private sale as long as the recipient was at least 18 and had a firearm owner's identification card." The ruling doesn't change anything yet: the ruling's effect was delayed to give the city time to appeal.
An anonymous reader writes that the LLVM compiler framework and Clang C++ compiler hit 3.4 "With C++14 draft fully implemented in Clang and libc++. Read more in LLVM and Clang release notes." Also of note: "This is expected to be the last release of LLVM which compiles using a C++98 toolchain. We expect to start using some C++11 features in LLVM and other sub-projects starting after this release. That said, we are committed to supporting a reasonable set of modern C++ toolchains as the host compiler on all of the platforms. This will at least include Visual Studio 2012 on Windows, and Clang 3.1 or GCC 4.7.x on Mac and Linux. The final set of compilers (and the C++11 features they support) is not set in stone, but we wanted users of LLVM to have a heads up that the next release will involve a substantial change in the host toolchain requirements."
The Bad Astronomer writes with news that the Gemini Planet Imager is officially online "The Gemini Planet Imager is a camera that is designed to take direct photos of exoplanets, alien worlds orbiting other stars. In a test run last November it spotted the exoplanet Beta Pictoris b, a dusty ring around a nearby star, and even snapped a portrait of Jupiter's moon Europa. Up to now, only about a dozen exoplanets have been directly imaged; GPI is expected to find dozens more in the next few years." From the Gemini project: "'Even these early first-light images are almost a factor of 10 better than the previous generation of instruments. In one minute, we are seeing planets that used to take us an hour to detect,' says Bruce Macintosh of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who led the team that built the instrument." The announcement has pictures.
New submitter miguelfreitas writes "I'd like to offer for discussion with Slashdot readers this new proposal: twister is the fully decentralized P2P microblogging platform leveraging from the free software implementations of Bitcoin and BitTorrent protocols. This is not being pushed by any company or organization, it is the work of a single Brazilian researcher (me). The idea is to provide a scalable platform for censor-resistant public posting together with private messaging with end-to-end encryption. The basic concepts are described in FAQ while more in-depth technical details are available from the white paper. The twister network is running already: the client can be compiled for Linux, Mac, and Android. 2500 usernames were registered in the first 6 days."
An anonymous reader writes "At CES 2014 today, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the McAfee brand name will be phased out and replaced by 'Intel Security,' which will identify Intel products and services in the security segment. The rebranding will begin immediately, but the transition will take up to a year before it is complete." The BBC reports that John McAfee is happy with the decision: "'I am now everlastingly grateful to Intel for freeing me from this terrible association with the worst software on the planet. These are not my words, but the words of millions of irate users. ... My elation at Intel's decision is beyond words.'"
New submitter ihtoit writes "Astronomers using the ALMA radio telescope in Chile have released images and data showing the oft-postulated but unobserved (until now) dust shell ejected by the supernova remnant SN1987A. 'We have found a remarkably large dust mass concentrated in the central part of the ejecta from a relatively young and nearby supernova,' astronomer Remy Indebetouw, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the University of Virginia, said in a statement. 'This is the first time we've been able to really image where the dust has formed, which is important in understanding the evolution of galaxies.' SN1987A was the first cataloged supernova event in our Galactic neighborhood in 1987. It lies 168,000 light years (987 quadrillion miles) away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which means that at the time of the explosion, woolly mammoths still roamed Europe and Mitochondrial Eve saw her first sunrise." From the article, the significance: "'Really early galaxies are incredibly dusty and this dust plays a major role in the evolution of galaxies,' Mikako Matsuura, a scientist associated with the study ... said ... 'Today we know dust can be created in several ways, but in the early universe most of it must have come from supernovas. We finally have direct evidence to support that theory.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joe Nocera writes in an op-ed piece in the NYT that the same network efficiencies that have given companies their great advantages are becoming the instrument of our ruin. In the financial services industry, it led to the financial crisis. In the case of a company like Wal-Mart, the adoption of technology to manage its supply chain at first reaped great benefits, but over time it cost competitors and suppliers hundreds of thousands of jobs, thus gradually impoverishing its own customer base. Jaron Lanier says that the digital economy has done as much as any single thing to hollow out the middle class. Take Kodak and Instagram. At its height, 'Kodak employed more than 140,000 people.' Kodak made plenty of mistakes, but look at what is replacing it: 'When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people.' Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value says Lanier but when they have them, only a small number of people get paid. This has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth. It is Lanier's radical idea that people should get paid whenever their information is used. He envisions a different kind of digital economy, in which creators of content — whether a blog post or a Facebook photograph — would receive micropayments whenever that content was used. 'If Google and Facebook were smart,' says Lanier, 'they would want to enrich their own customers.' So far, he adds, Silicon Valley has made 'the stupid choice' — to grow their businesses at the expense of their own customers. Lanier's message is that it can't last. And it won't." The micropayments for content idea sounds familiar.
hypnosec writes "China has lifted the 13-year-old foreign gaming console ban, which it imposed back in 2000 as a way to protect the nation's youth from unhealthy content that may adversely affect their mental health. The temporary lift of the ban, which was announced Monday by the State Council of PCR (Google Translation into English), will make way for international console vendors including Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to setup production facilities in the newly created Shanghai Free Trade Zone and sell their consoles throughout the country. The vendors will still have to go through local checks, including the ones from the Cultural authorities to ensure that they don't violate any of those rules."
sirhan writes with news that AT&T has announced a program that allows companies to pay for their services to bypass mobile data caps. "With the new Sponsored Data service, data charges resulting from eligible uses will be billed directly to the sponsoring company ... Customers will see the service offered as AT&T Sponsored Data, and the usage will appear on their monthly invoice as Sponsored Data. Sponsored Data will be delivered at the same speed and performance as any non-Sponsored Data content." The Verge comments: "If YouTube doesn't hit your data cap but Vimeo does, most people are going to watch YouTube. If Facebook feels threatened by Snapchat and launches Poke with free data, maybe it doesn't get completely ignored and fail. If Apple Maps launched with free data for navigation, maybe we'd all be driving off bridges instead of downloading Google Maps for iOS." Or, think of distributed services: Mediagoblin vs Flickr, pump.io vs twitter, ownCloud vs Google Apps. This is probably a sign that data caps are here to stay, at least for AT&T subscribers (and if it's successful...).
Lasrick writes "This is a great read — from the article: 'Today, emerging military technologies — including unmanned aerial vehicles, directed-energy weapons, lethal autonomous robots, and cyber weapons — raise the prospect of upheavals in military practice so fundamental that they challenge assumptions underlying long-established international laws of war, particularly those relating to the primacy of the state and the geographic bounds of warfare. But the laws of war have been developed over a long period, with commentary and input from many cultures. What would seem appropriate in this age of extraordinary technological change, the author concludes, is a reconsideration of the laws of war in a deliberate and focused international dialogue that includes a range of cultural and institutional perspectives.'"
judgecorp writes "TorrentFreak, a news site covering copyright issues and file sharing news, has been blocked by the porn filter of British ISP Sky. As TorrentFreak points out, the filter is provided by Symantec, and doesn't block Symantec when the company reports malware news: 'Thanks to their very own self-categorization process they wear the "Technology and Telecommunication" label. Is their website blocked by any of their own filters? I won’t even bother answering that.'" From the TorrentFreak article: "Our crimes are the topics we cover. As readers know we write about file-sharing, copyright and closely linked issues including privacy and web censorship. We write about the positives and the negatives of those topics and we solicit comments from not only the swarthiest of pirates, but also the most hated anti-piracy people on the planet."
An anonymous reader writes "The European Commission has finally (as of last month) opened its public consultation on copyright reform. This is the first time the general public can influence EU copyright policy since fifteen years back, and it is likely at least as much time will pass until next time. In order to help you fill out the (English-only, legalese-heavy) questionnaire, some friendly hackers spent some time during the 30c3 to put together a site to help you. Anyone, EU citizen or not, organization or company, is invited to respond (deadline fifth of February). Pirate MEP Amelia Andersdotter has a more in-depth look at the consultation."