Submission + - Victims of Mystery Attacks In Cuba Left With Anomalies In Brain Tissue (

An anonymous reader writes: American victims of mysterious attacks in Cuba have abnormalities in their brains’ white matter, according to new medical testing reported by the Associated Press. But, so far, it’s unclear how or if the white-matter anomalies seen in the victims relate to their symptoms. White matter is made up of dense nerve fibers that connect neurons in different areas of the brain, forming networks. It gets its name from the light-colored electrical insulation, myelin, that coats the fibers. Overall, the tissue is essential for rapidly transmitting brain signals critical for learning and cognitive function.

In August, U.S. authorities first acknowledged that American diplomats and their spouses stationed in Havana, Cuba, had been the targets of puzzling attacks for months. The attacks were carried out by unknown agents and for unknown reasons, using a completely baffling weaponry. The attacks were sometimes marked by bizarrely targeted and piercing noises or vibrations, but other times they were completely imperceptible. Victims complained of a range of symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, balance problems, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nosebleeds, difficulty concentrating and recalling words, permanent hearing loss, and speech and vision problems. Doctors have also identified mild brain injuries, including swelling and concussion.

Submission + - ReactOS 0.4.7 Released (

jeditobe writes: OS News reports that the latest version of ReactOS has been released:
"ReactOS 0.4.7 has been released, and it contains a ton of fixes, improvements, and new features. Judging by the screenshots, ReactOS 0.4.7 can run Opera, Firefox, and Mozilla all at once, which is good news for those among us who want to use ReactOS on a more daily basis. There's also a new application manager which, as the name implies, makes it easier to install and uninstall applications, similar to how package managers on Linux work. On a lower level, ReactOS can now deal with Ext2, Ext3, Ext4, BtrFS, ReiserFS, FFS, and NFS partitions."
General notes, tests, and changelog for the release can be found at their respective links. A less technical community changelog for ReactOS 0.4.7 is also available. ISO images are ready at the ReactOS Download page.

Submission + - China Hit by Gas Shortages as It Fights Pollution (

hackingbear writes: Gas-supply shortages are hitting north and central China as Beijing tries to accelerate a shift away from coal rather than miss environmental targets this year. The situation has left some residents — mainly urban migrants on neighborhoods ringing the cities — without heat as temperatures drop below zero, as liquefied natural gas price pushed up over 40%. The government had dealt with the “low hanging fruit” of managing large pollution sources such as power plants, but was having a more difficult time addressing diffuse coal use by smaller businesses and residential neighbourhoods, said Zhou Xizhou, managing director for Asia gas and power at IHS Markit. “This winter will be interesting for how severe the impact [of the coal control measures] will be. It will set the course for how they deal with it in the future.” Following angry [online] protests several years ago, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared "war" on pollution, fearing worsening air could spark wider community unrest, while New Delhi, capital of China's neighbor India, surpassed in pollution. "China's systematic efforts to combat air pollution have achieved an impressive improvement in average air quality. From 2011 to 2015, China has made big strides while in India, pollution levels have kept rising," a Greenpeace report noted, blaming on the indifference attitudes of democratically-elected politicians in India.

Submission + - Shaw Joins Bell in Calls to Censor the Internet In Canada (

Dangerous_Minds writes: Freezenet is reporting that Shaw, one of Canada's three largest ISPs, is joining calls to censor the Internet in the name of combating copyright infringement. The move comes just days after Bell was caught drafting a similar call. The call was made public in a submission to Canada's telecommunications regulator, the CRTC. Michael Geist notes that there is already growing political backlash to these suggestions, though the government is re-iterating comments that they support network neutrality.

Submission + - If citizens have no say on net neutrality, do shareholders? 1

Apu writes: The big telecoms might not care about me, a mere customer. And the FCC might not care about my opinion as a lone citizen. (Non-citizens will be affected too.) But, many of us are also shareholders. And shareholders can set policy for the companies they own. What's your thought on shareholder proposals to have companies enforce net neutrality through the contracts they sign?

Submission + - Google's DeepMind AI Becomes a Superhuman Chess Player In a Few Hours (

An anonymous reader writes: In a new paper published this week, DeepMind describes how a descendant of the AI program that first conquered the board game Go has taught itself to play a number of other games at a superhuman level. After eight hours of self-play, the program bested the AI that first beat the human world Go champion; and after four hours of training, it beat the current world champion chess-playing program, Stockfish. Then for a victory lap, it trained for just two hours and polished off one of the world’s best shogi-playing programs named Elmo (shogi being a Japanese version of chess that’s played on a bigger board). One of the key advances here is that the new AI program, named AlphaZero, wasn’t specifically designed to play any of these games. In each case, it was given some basic rules (like how knights move in chess, and so on) but was programmed with no other strategies or tactics. It simply got better by playing itself over and over again at an accelerated pace — a method of training AI known as “reinforcement learning.”

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How do I Explain Copyright to my Kids? 4

orgelspieler writes: My son paid for a copy of a novel on his iPad. When his school made it against the rules to bring iPads, he wanted to get the same book on his Kindle. I tried to explain that the format of his eBook was not readily convertible to the Kindle. So he tried to go on his schools online library app. He checked it out just fine, but ironically, the offline reading function only works on the now-disallowed iPads.

Rather than paying Amazon $7 for a book I already own, and he has already checked out from the library, I found a bootleg PDF online. I tried to explain that he could just read that, but he freaked out. "That's illegal, Dad!" I tried to explain format shifting, and the injustice of the current copyright framework in America. Even when he did his own research, stumbling across EFF's website on fair use, he still would not believe me.

Have any of you fellow Slashdotters figured out a good way to navigate the moral, legal, and technological issues of copyright law, as it relates to the next generation of nerds? Interestingly, my boy seems OK with playing old video games on the Wayback Machine, so I don't think it's a lost cause.

Submission + - In the Amazon vs. YouTube War, Google is Right — and Wrong (

Lauren Weinstein writes: Google has a number of completely legitimate grievances with Amazon. The latter has refused to carry key Google products that compete with Amazon products, while still designing those Amazon devices to access Google services like YouTube. Amazon has also played fast and loose with the YouTube Terms of Service in a number of ways.

I can understand Google finally getting fed up with this kind of Amazon behavior. Google is absolutely right to be upset.

However, Google is wrong in the approach that they’ve taken to deal with these issues, and this may do them considerable ongoing damage, even long after the current dispute is settled.

Submission + - China Has Launched the World's First All-Electric Cargo Ship! (

slash.jit writes: China Has Launched the World’s First All-Electric Cargo Ship. It can travel 80 kilometers (approximately 50 miles) after being charged for 2 hours. As noted by Clean Technica, 2 hours is roughly the amount of time it would take to unload the ship’s cargo while docked.
Oh.. and Ironically, the world’s first all-electric cargo ship is being used to move coal.

Submission + - A new test of the Equivalence Principle

orsayman writes: Most stories around space today seem to revolve around SpaceX but let's not forget that space is also a place for cool physics experiments. One such experiment currently running into low orbit is the MICROSCOPE satellite launched in 2016 to test the (weak) Equivalence Principle (also knows as the universality of free fall) a central hypothesis in General Relativity.

The first results confirm the principle with a precision ten times better than previous experiments. And it's just the beginning since they hope to increase the precision by another factor of 10. If the Equivalence Principle is still verified at this precision, this could constrain or invalidate some quantum gravity theories.

For those of you who are more satellite-science oriented, the satellite also features an innovative "self destruct" mechanism (meant to limit orbit pollution) based on inflatable structures described in this paper (paywalled).

Submission + - The Navy's Much-Hyped Electromagnetic Railgun May End Up Dead In The Water (

schwit1 writes: After spending more than $500 million, the Department of Defense is moving away from its railgun project and instead leaning towards a mixture of new and existing technologies.

Although the railgun works, it is behind on the number of shots per minute it can fire, firing only 4.8 rounds in one minute instead of the required 10 rounds. The Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, designed to fast track new technologies critical to keeping America’s technological edge on the battlefield, has also began favoring the hypervelocity projectile, or HVP.

HVP takes the projectile technology from the railgun program and adapts it to fire from existing U.S. navy 5-inch guns. HVP doesn’t get the same speed and distance railguns do—at Mach 3 they travel at about half the speed and at about 30 miles they only travel a third of the range, but they’re still a considerable improvement over existing 5-inch shells. But U.S. Navy cruisers and destroyers each have at least one 5-inch Mark 45 gun, meaning the firing platform for the HVP is already in widespread service across the Navy’s surface force.

Submission + - Yahoo sues Mozilla for breach of contract -- so Mozilla counter sues Yahoo (

Mark Wilson writes: Mozilla and Yahoo have started a legal spat about the deal that existed between the two companies regarding the use of the Yahoo search engine in the Firefox browser.

On December 1, Yahoo fired the first shot filing a complaint that alleges Mozilla breached a contract that existed between the two companies by terminating the arrangement early. In a counter complaint, Mozilla says that it was not only justified in terminating the contract early, but that Yahoo Holdings and Oath still have a bill that needs to be settled.

Submission + - Google Wants Progressive Web Apps To Replace Chrome Apps (

An anonymous reader writes: The Chrome Web Store originally launched in 2010, and serves a hub for installing apps, extensions, and themes packaged for Chrome. Over a year ago, Google announced that it would phase out Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux in 2018. Today, the company sent out an email to developers with additional information, as well as news about future Progressive Web App support. The existing schedule is mostly still in place — Chrome apps on the Web Store will no longer be discoverable for Mac, Windows, and Linux users. In fact, if you visit the store right now on anything but a Chromebook, the Apps page is gone. Google originally planned to remove app support on all platforms (except Chrome OS) entirely by Q1 2018, but Google has decided to transition to Progressive Web Apps:

"The Chrome team is now working to enable Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) to be installed on the desktop. Once this functionality ships (roughly targeting mid-2018), users will be able to install web apps to the desktop and launch them via icons and shortcuts; similar to the way that Chrome Apps can be installed today. In order to enable a more seamless transition from Chrome Apps to the web, Chrome will not fully remove support for Chrome Apps on Windows, Mac or Linux until after Desktop PWA installability becomes available in 2018. Timelines are still rough, but this will be a number of months later than the originally planned deprecation timeline of 'early 2018.' We also recognize that Desktop PWAs will not replace all Chrome App capabilities. We have been investigating ways to simplify the transition for developers that depend on exclusive Chrome App APIs, and will continue to focus on this — in particular the Sockets, HID and Serial APIs."

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