Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Military

Researchers To Build Underwater Airplane 263

coondoggie writes to tell us that DARPA seems to still be having fun with their funding and continues to aim for the "far out." The latest program, a submersible airplane, seems to have been pulled directly from science fiction. Hopefully this voyage to the bottom of the sea is of the non-permanent variety. "According to DARPA: 'The difficulty with developing such a craft come from the diametrically opposed requirements that exist for an airplane and a submarine. While the primary goal for airplane designers is to try and minimize weight, a submarine must be extremely heavy in order to submerge underwater. In addition, the flow conditions and the systems designed to control a submarine and an airplane are radically different, due to the order of magnitude difference in the densities of air and water.'"
Programming

Clean Code 214

Cory Foy writes "As developers, system admins, and a variety of other roles in IT, we have to deal with code on a daily basis. Sometimes it's just one-off scripts we never have to see again. Sometimes we stare at something that, for the life of us, we can't understand how it came out of a human mind (or, as the book puts it, has a high WTF/minute count). But there is a time when you find code that is a joy to use, to read and to understand. Clean Code sets out to help developers write that third kind of code through a series of essay-type chapters on a variety of topics. But does it really help?" Read below to find out.
Privacy

National Car Tracking System Proposed For US 563

bl968 writes "The Newspaper is reporting that the leading private traffic enforcement camera vendors are seeking to establish a national vehicle tracking system in the United States using existing red-light and speed enforcement cameras. The system would utilize Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to track vehicles passing surveillance cameras operated by these companies. If there are cameras positioned correctly the company will enable images and video to be taken of the driver and passengers. The nice thing in their view is that absolutely no warrants are needed. To gain public acceptance, the surveillance program is being initially sold as an aid for police looking to solve Amber Alert cases and locate stolen cars."
GUI

Ubuntu To Pay for Upgrades To the Free Software User Experience 546

jcatcw writes "Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols reports that Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, is using his millions to improve the Linux user experience, hiring people to work on X, OpenGL, Gtk, Qt, GNOME and KDE. He had doubted that desktop Linux could ever equal the smooth, graceful integration of the Mac OS. Now, between the driving pace of open-source development, and Shuttleworth's millions, it might be happening. Why not? After all, Mac OS itself is based on FreeBSD. Desktop Linux's future is starting to look brighter."
Encryption

PGP Leads Corporate Efforts To Save Bletchley Park 83

blake182 writes "CNET reports that PGP, together with IBM and other technology firms, is mounting a fundraising effort to benefit the ailing Bletchley Park, home of the Station X codebreaking efforts in World War II. 'We're calling attention (to the fact that) Bletchley is falling into disrepair, and that, probably, the world owes a debt of gratitude to that place,' said Phil Dunkelberger, chief executive of PGP."
Space

The Sun Has First Spotless Month Since 1913 571

radioweather writes "August 2008 has made solar history. As of 00 UTC September 1st 2008 (5PM PST) we just witnessed the first spotless calendar month since June 1913.This was determined according to sunspot data from NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center, which goes back to 1749. In the 95 years since 1913, we've had quite an active sun, but activity has been declining in the last few years. The sun today is a nearly featureless sphere and has been spotless for 42 days total, but this is the first full calendar month since 1913 for a spotless sun. And there are other indicators of the sun being in a funk. Australia's space weather agency recently revised their solar cycle 24 forecast, pushing the expected date for a ramping up of cycle 24 sunspots into the future by six months." As one of the links above indicate, there was a "sunspeck" reported August 21/22, though. Reader MikeyTheK adds a link to a story at Daily Tech on the spotless record.
Graphics

Leaping the Uncanny Valley 421

reachums submits this glance at "the newest level of computer animation," intended to get past the paradoxical "uncanny valley" — that is, the way animated humans actually can appear jarring as the animation gets hyper-realistic. "This short video gives us a glimpse of what we can hope to see in the future of computer games and movies. Emily is not a real actress, but she looks like a real person, something we haven't truly seen before in computer animation."
Space

Scotty's Final Mission 221

Jane Q. Public writes "According to Ars Technica, the ashes of James Doohan, who played "Scotty" in the original 'Star Trek' series and several movies, were aboard the SpaceX III launch and were lost when the launch vehicle failed." Which totally wouldn't have happened if Scotty was the engineer.

Update: 08/05 00:09 GMT by KD : BoingBoing has a tribute to Doohan from his son.
Upgrades

Tin Whiskers — Fact Or Fiction? 459

bLanark writes "Some time ago, most electronics were soldered with old-fashioned lead solder, which has been tried and tested for decades. In 2006, the EU banned lead in solder, and so most manufacturers switched to a lead-free solder. Most made the switch in advance, I guess due to shelf-life of products and ironing out problems working with the new material. Lead is added to solder as it melts at low temperature, but also, it prevents the solder from growing 'whiskers' — crystalline limbs of metal. The effect of whiskers on soldered equipment would include random short-circuits and strange RF-effects. Whiskers can grow fairly quickly and become quite long. Robert Cringley wrote this up this some time ago, but it seems that the world has not been taking notice. I guess cars (probably around 30 processors in a modern car) and almost every appliance would be liable to fail sooner than expected due to tin whiskers. Note that accelerated life-expectancy tests can't simulate the passing of time for whiskers to grow. I've googled, and there is plenty of research into the effects of tin whiskers. I should point out that the Wikipedia page linked to above states that tin whisker problems 'are negligible in modern alloys,' but can we trust Wikipedia? So: was the tin whisker problem overhyped, was it an initial problem that has been solved in the few years since lead-free solder came into use, or is it affecting anyone already?"
Games

Are We Headed for a Virtual Winter? 84

Elixir creator and digital avatar evangelist, Bruce Damer, believes that a downturn in Virtual Worlds may be leading to a "winter" in the near future. "Is the coming of several new VW platforms going to balkanize a limited usership or grow the user base? In looking at broader scope of user interactivity demographics, will the move of more people to do their primary computing on mobile platforms reduce the number of people using VWs on big screens or put a cap on the growth of the VW market? Is the fact that there are now so many options for real-time representation of people online (Skype, Twitter, etc) means that VWs are always going to struggle for visibility? Is interaction in a VW that much more enriching and valuable than the simpler modalities available in other platforms? Will VWs ever really go mainstream? I continuously hear complaints about VWs not being worth the trouble, especially from people much younger and hipper than me (I am 46) who prefer much lighter weight forms of interaction. What does this portend?"

Eee Is 1st Windows Laptop To Support Multi-Touch 237

An anonymous reader writes "CNET UK has just put up its review of the Asus Eee PC 900 Win running Windows XP and discovered that it's the first Windows machine to support multi-touch, 'Better still, the mouse trackpad supports multi-touch gesture inputs — even in Windows XP. A pinching motion lets you zoom in on images, stretching lets you zoom out, and a two-finger vertical stroking motion allows you to scroll up and down through documents. MacBook Air and iPod touch users have enjoyed this feature for some time, but it's the first we've ever seen it implemented on a Windows laptop.'"
Java

NULL Pointer Exploit Excites Researchers 327

Da Massive writes "Mark Dowd's paper "Application-Specific Attacks: Leveraging the ActionScript Virtual Machine" has alarmed researchers. It points out techniques that promise to open up a class of exploits and vulnerability research previously thought to be prohibitively difficult. Already, the small but growing group of Information Security experts who have had the chance to read and digest the contents of the paper are expressing an excited concern depending on how they are interpreting it. While the Flash vulnerability described in the paper[PDF] has been patched by Adobe, the presentation of a reliable exploit for NULL pointer dereferencing has the researchers who have read the paper fascinated. Thomas Ptacek has an explanation of Dowd's work, and Nathan McFeters at ZDNet is 'stunned by the technical details.'"
Portables

Laptops Screens, Glare or Matte? 663

An anonymous reader writes "This weekend I spent half a day surfing the web looking for a new laptop. I just want (to be able to switch to) 1650x1280, or at least ...x1024, and a *non*-Glossy Display . To my surprise I found out that many vendors leave me not that much choice: ...x800, and glossy, i.e., higher-reflective type screens seem to have become the promoted defaults. Should I give up on my non-glossy wishes, or should I start flaming vendors?" I still can't understand the glossy screens. They make my eyes hurt almost immediately in any sort of ambient light, and do nothing in low light. Glossy laptop screens are like TVs on the shelf in the store with their colors all whacked out to look brighter. Once you get them into the real world, you realize that the colors are just wrong.
Music

Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison 314

Tree131 writes "The New York Times is reporting that sound recordings pre-dating Edison's made by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, a Parisian typesetter and tinkerer, were discovered by American audio historians at the French Academy of Sciences in Paris. The archives are on paper and were meant for recording but not playback. Researchers used a high quality scan of the recording and an electronic needle to play back the sounds recorded 150 years ago. 'For more than a century, since he captured the spoken words "Mary had a little lamb" on a sheet of tinfoil, Thomas Edison has been considered the father of recorded sound. But researchers say they have unearthed a recording of the human voice, made by a little-known Frenchman, that predates Edison's invention of the phonograph by nearly two decades.'"
Microsoft

Aging Security Vulnerability Still Allows PC Takeover 282

Jackson writes "Adam Boileau, a security consultant based in New Zealand has released a tool that can unlock Windows computers in seconds without the need for a password. By connecting a Linux machine to a Firewire port on the target machine, the tool can then modify Windows' password protection code and render it ineffective. Boileau said he did not release the tool publicly in 2006 because 'Microsoft was a little cagey about exactly whether Firewire memory access was a real security issue or not and we didn't want to cause any real trouble'. But now that a couple of years have passed and the issue has not resolved, Boileau decided to release the tool on his website."

Slashdot Top Deals

Progress means replacing a theory that is wrong with one more subtly wrong.

Working...