Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What Is Missing In Tech Today?

dryriver writes: There is so much tech and gadget news pouring out of the internet every day that one might think "everything tech that is needed already exists". But of course people thought precisely this at various points in human history, and then completely new tools, technologies, processes, designs, devices and innovations came along soon after and changed everything. Sometimes the opposite also happens — tech that was really good for its day and used to exist is suddenly no longer available. Many people miss the very usable Psion palmtop computers with their foldout QWERTY keyboards, touch screen and styluses for example, or would have liked the Commodore Amiga with its innovative custom chips and OS to continue existing and evolving, or would have liked to be able to keep using software like Softimage XSI or Adobe Director that were suddenly discontinued. So here is the question: What tech, in your particular profession, industry, personal area of interest or scientific or academic field is currently "missing"? This can be tech that is needed but does not exist yet, whether hardware or software or some kind of mechanical device or some kind of process. Or tech that was available in the past, but was EOL'd or "End Of Lifed" and never came back in an updated or evolved form. Bonus question: If what you feel is "missing" could quite feasibly be engineered, produced and sold today at a profit, what do you think is the reason it isn't available?

Submission + - First Human Eggs Grown In Laboratory (

An anonymous reader writes: Human eggs have been grown in the laboratory for the first time, say researchers at the University of Edinburgh. The team say the technique could lead to new ways of preserving the fertility of children having cancer treatment. It is also an opportunity to explore how human eggs develop, much of which remains a mystery to science. Experts said it was an exciting breakthrough, but more work was needed before it could be used clinically. Women are born with immature eggs in their ovaries that can develop fully only after puberty. It has taken decades of work, but scientists can now grow eggs to maturity outside of the ovary. It requires carefully controlling laboratory conditions including oxygen levels, hormones, proteins that simulate growth and the medium in which the eggs are cultured. But while the scientists have shown it is possible, the approach published in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction still needs refinement.

Submission + - Mayfair Games shuts down after 36 years of board games

damnbunni writes: Long time board game publisher Mayfair Games (English-language publisher for Settlers of Catan, Agricola, and many more) has shut down.

All of their games have been sold to Asmodee, who also own Fantasy Flight Games, Z-Man Games, Rebel, Edge Entertainment, and a host of other board game companies they've picked up over the years.


Submission + - Equifax Breach Exposed More Personal Information Than Previously Thought (

An anonymous reader writes: Equifax said, in a document submitted to the Senate Banking Committee and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, that cyberthieves accessed records across numerous tables in its systems that included such data as tax identification numbers, email addresses and drivers’ license information beyond the license numbers it originally disclosed. The revelations come some five months after Equifax announced it had been breached and personal information belonging to 145.5 million consumers had been compromised, including names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and addresses. It’s unclear how many of the 145.5 million people are affected by the additional data including tax ID numbers, which are often assigned to people who don’t have Social Security numbers. Hackers also accessed email addresses for some consumers, according to the document and an Equifax spokeswoman, who said “an insignificant number” of email addresses were affected. She added that email addresses aren’t considered sensitive personal information because they are commonly searchable in public domains.

As for tax ID numbers, the Equifax spokeswoman said they "were generally housed in the same field” as Social Security numbers. She added that individuals without a Social Security number could use their tax ID number to see if they were affected by the hack. Equifax also said, in response to questions from The Wall Street Journal, that some additional drivers’ license information had been accessed. The company publicly disclosed in its Sept. 7 breach announcement that drivers’ license numbers were accessed; the document submitted to the banking committee also includes drivers’ license issue dates and states.

Submission + - Major Websites Are Planning a 'Day of Action' To Block Repeal of Net Neutrality (

An anonymous reader writes: Fight for the Future, a nonprofit advocacy group concerned with digital rights, has posted to medium today, revealing that many major websites, online communities, and internet users are planning a "day of action" focused on finding the final vote needed to pass the Congressional Review Act (CRA). "50 Senators have already come out in support of the CRA, which would completely overturn the FCC’s December 14 decision and restore net neutrality protections," the post reads. "Several Senators have indicated that they are considering becoming the 51st vote we need to win, but they're under huge pressure from telecom lobbyists. Only a massive burst of energy from the internet will get them to move."

The day of action is scheduled for February 27, and participants include Tumblr, Etsy, Vimeo, Medium, Namecheap, Imgur, Sonos, and DuckDuckGo. "Internet users will be encouraged to sound the alarm on social media and sign up to receive alerts with their lawmaker’s position on net neutrality and prompts to take action on the big day, while websites, subreddits, and online communities will display prominent alerts driving phone calls, emails, and tweets to Senators and Representatives calling on them to pass the CRA." The post notes that we're faced with an uphill battle as the fight will elevate to the House of Representatives if the CRA can pass the Senate. From there it will go to the President's desk.

Submission + - 'Sinking' Pacific nation is getting bigger (

mi writes: The Pacific nation of Tuvalu — long seen as a prime candidate to disappear as climate change forces up sea levels — is actually growing in size, new research by University of Auckland shows.

Submission + - Tweak to Chrome Performance Will Indirectly Stifle Cryptojacking Scripts (

An anonymous reader writes: A change meant to improve Google Chrome performance will also indirectly impact cryptojacking scripts (in-browser cryptocurrency miners) and will severely reduce their efficiency. According to a design document seen by Bleeping Computer, Google engineers plan to limit the CPU power some types of JS scripts running in the browser's background will be able to use. A throttling system for JavaScript background code is already included in Chrome since version 57, released in March 2017. Back then, Google decided to limit a background tab's JavaScript "timer" operations to no more than 1% of a CPU core.

Google made the move to prevent background tabs from running JavaScript code that was not needed or did not produce visible results for the end user. Now, Google is expanding this throttling mechanism to service workers (JavaScript code that a browser runs in the background). JavaScript-based cryptocurrency miners —such as the ones provided by Coinhive, Crypto-Loot, and all similar services— rely on service workers. The same limitation applies, and JavaScript service workers running in background tabs will not be able to access more than 1% of the entire CPU processing power. This means cryptojacking scripts won't be able to run rampant and drive CPU usage to 100% if the user changes to another tab.

Submission + - Should the 'Sandberg Rule' Apply to Computer Camps and Summer Coding Programs?

theodp writes: "Since the #MeToo movement began, now almost half of male managers in the US say they're uncomfortable doing basic activities with women in the office, including working together alone," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tells his 102 million followers. "In my life, the people I've learned from most are the people I do my work with every day. It's a real issue and it will hold back progress if women don't have the same opportunities to learn from the people around them. That's why the work Sheryl and Lean In are doing to connect women with mentors matters. The rule she's proposing — let's call it the Sandberg Rule — is clear. We should commit to doing the same activities with all colleagues whether they're men or women," argues former fraternity officer Zuckerberg. In her full post, Sandberg explains, "The last thing women need right now is even more isolation...Men who want to be on the right side of this issue shouldn’t avoid women." Which is all well and good, but in the spirit of gender inclusiveness, is it perhaps time for Sandberg to rethink her support for girls-only computer camps and Facebook-hosted no-boys-allowed coding programs?

Submission + - Elon Musk Explains Why SpaceX Prefers Clusters of Small Engines (

An anonymous reader writes: The company's development of the Falcon 9 rocket, with nine engines, had given Musk confidence that SpaceX could scale up to 27 engines in flight, and he believed this was a better overall solution for the thrust needed to escape Earth's gravity. To explain why, the former computer scientist used a computer metaphor. "It’s sort of like the way modern computer systems are set up," Musk said. "With Google or Amazon they have large numbers of small computers, such that if one of the computers goes down it doesn’t really affect your use of Google or Amazon. That’s different from the old model of the mainframe approach, when you have one big mainframe and if it goes down, the whole system goes down."

For computers, Musk said, using large numbers of small computers ends up being a more efficient, smarter, and faster approach than using a few larger, more powerful computers. So it was with rocket engines. "It’s better to use a large number of small engines," Musk said. With the Falcon Heavy rocket, he added, up to half a dozen engines could fail and the rocket would still make it to orbit. The flight of the Falcon Heavy likely bodes well for SpaceX's next rocket, the much larger Big Falcon Rocket (or BFR), now being designed at the company's Hawthorne, California-based headquarters. This booster will use 31 engines, four more than the Falcon Heavy. But it will also use larger, more powerful engines. The proposed Raptor engine has 380,000 pounds of thrust at sea level, compared to 190,000 pounds of thrust for the Merlin 1-D engine.

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