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Comment This is a real problem - seen it repeatedly. (Score 1) 361

Someday, we may all be used to silent cars, but currently a person's brain processes a silent car as turned off and no danger. I had my first electric car in the mid '70's - one my dad and I built. After several incidents of pedestrians stepping in front of the car - just as I was about to start accelerating, we added a small buzzer to act as "engine noise" whenever the car was armed and dangerous. It was a simple fix and it worked. There may be other solutions, but this one does not require reprogramming people.

Submission + - SPAM: The government vs the people of Louisiana

schwit1 writes: During the recent flooding in Louisiana, it was repeatedly the government vs ordinary citizens as people scrambled to deal with the disaster.

The government was repeatedly in the way and working to prevent people from helping themselves. In fact, it often seemed more interested in collecting fees and paperwork than allowing people to be rescued or homes to be rebuilt.

Submission + - Passenger Carrying Drone to be Tested in Nevada (

boley1 writes: Story

EHang Inc. of China is working with Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems to set up a flight range. The EHANG184 is claimed to be the worlds first autonomous aerial vehicle for carrying passengers. EHang has raised about $52 million in venture capital.

Submission + - Quaker Oats threatens to sue actual Quakers for trademark infringement (

Miche67 writes: A lawyer for Quaker Oats was too quick to threaten a lawsuit against actual Quakers.

"Quaker Oats objects to the business name 'Quaker Oats Christmas Tree Farm' and demanded the Quakers immediately stop all use of the 'Quaker Oats name' because it says using the trademark is misleading."

The problem is that isn't the name of the farm. The Quaker's response is brilliant.

Submission + - SPAM: Updated Skimer Malware Infects ATMs Worldwide

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Kaspersky have discovered an improved version of Backdoor.Win32.Skimer infecting ATM machines worldwide. The new Skimer allows criminal access to card data, including PIN numbers, as well as to the actual cash located in the machine. The malicious installers use the packer Thermida to disguise the Skimer malware which is then installed on the ATM. If the ATM file system is FAT32, the malware drops the file netmgr.dll in the folder C:\Windows\System32. If the ATM has an NTFS file system, netmgr.dll is placed in the executable file of the NTFS data stream, which makes detection and analysis of the malware more difficult.

Submission + - A critic of H-1B visas offshores 200 IT jobs (

dcblogs writes: Tribune Publishing Co., a major newspaper chain, is laying off as many as 200 IT employees as it shifts work overseas. The firm, which owns the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant and many other media properties, told IT employees in early April that it's moving work to India-based Tata Consultancy Services. The LA Times has been critical of the use of H-1B visas in offshore outsourcing, in particular the decision by Southern California Edison. The utility hired India-based vendors, including Tata and then cut some 500 IT jobs. "Information technology workers at Southern California Edison have found themselves in the unhappy position of training their own replacements, thanks to a plan by the utility to outsource their jobs to two India-based staffing companies," the Times wrote in an editorial last year; the editorial focused on the use of H-1B visa workers in offshore outsourcing. IT workers at the Tribune are now training their replacements

Submission + - Home Depot Rejects Review Containing Safety Information 1

Bruce Perens writes: The "AFCI" breaker is a relatively new kind which detects hidden electrical sparks from poor series electrical connections, by receiving high electrical frequencies that electrical arcing emits. Such sparks can eventually cause a fire. In looking for one on the Home Depot site, I came upon this device, with a review from a customer who returned the breaker because it trips every week or two on their lighting circuit. This indicates exactly the problem the device is meant to catch.

Because there was no way to feed back to the reviewer, I wrote a second review with some safety advice, hoping to inform the next person to come by. But Home Depot rejected it, because it did not specifically discuss the product.

Of course we can't cure all of the world's fire hazards. But it's nice to point out a problem when you see one, lest some poor sap's home burn down. But this is difficult to do when staff at the vendor and its web site don't have a clue. Maybe some publicity on Slashdot will help.

Submission + - Boy, 15, discovers long-lost ancient Mayan city using constellations and Google (

Master Moose writes: Deep within a dense Central American forest sit the ruins of an ancient city the world forgot.

And it has just been discovered by a precocious 15-year-old boy.

Quebec teenager William Gadoury claims he has discovered a long-lost ancient Mayan city using a clever combination of old-world astronomy and ultra-modern technology.

Submission + - Google Books Can Continue to Operate As Supreme Court Rejects Authors Guild Appe

An anonymous reader writes: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to Google's online book library from authors who complained that the project makes it harder for them to market their work. The Authors Guild and other writers had claimed that Google's scanning of their books should be deemed as copyright infringement and not fair use. The Supreme Court let stand the lower court opinion that rejected the writers' claims. That decision today means Google Books won't have to close up shop or ask book publishers for permission to scan. In the long run, the ruling could inspire other large-scale digitization projects.

Submission + - Patchwork Legacy IT Infrastructure Is 'Overwhelming' For U.S. Coast Guard (

An anonymous reader writes: After recently being awarded nearly a billion dollars of funding that it did not request, the U.S. Coast Guard is appealing to vendors to propose solutions to its ageing IT infrastructure. A new request for information admits that USCG needs to now consider a new start, claiming that it is 'overwhelmed by the challenges associated with operating and maintaining an IT infrastructure that evolved over time in a patchwork fashion while attempting to design, engineer, and deploy future infrastructure and systems that support the rapidly growing demand for secure information availability anytime, anywhere, and anyplace.'

Submission + - Mars gears up for its closest approach to Earth in over a decade

StartsWithABang writes: Every two years, Earth passes Mars in orbit, as the inner, faster world overtakes the outer one. This year, it happens when Earth approaches aphelion, its farthest point from the Sun, while Mars approaches perihelion, or its closest approach. On May 30th, the two worlds pass within just 0.51 A.U. (76 million km) of one another, their closest encounter since 2005. While Mars will still appear as no more than a point to unaided human vision, telescopes will provide absolutely spectacular views during the next three months. Even better views are on their way in July of 2018; then you'll have to wait until 2035 to see Mars that close again.

Submission + - Big Science is broken ( 1

schwit1 writes: Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has "self-correcting mechanisms" that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken.

For starters, there's a "replication crisis" in science. This is particularly true in the field of experimental psychology, where far too many prestigious psychology studies simply can't be reliably replicated. But it's not just psychology. In 2011, the pharmaceutical company Bayer looked at 67 blockbuster drug discovery research findings published in prestigious journals, and found that three-fourths of them weren't right. Another study of cancer research found that only 11 percent of preclinical cancer research could be reproduced. Even in physics, supposedly the hardest and most reliable of all sciences, Wilson points out that "two of the most vaunted physics results of the past few years — the announced discovery of both cosmic inflation and gravitational waves at the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica, and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border — have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published."

What explains this? In some cases, human error. Much of the research world exploded in rage and mockery when it was found out that a highly popularized finding by the economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt linking higher public debt to lower growth was due to an Excel error. Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics fame, largely built his career on a paper arguing that abortion led to lower crime rates 20 years later because the aborted babies were disproportionately future criminals. Two economists went through the painstaking work of recoding Levitt's statistical analysis — and found a basic arithmetic error. This is serious. In the preclinical cancer study mentioned above, the authors note that "some non-reproducible preclinical papers had spawned an entire field, with hundreds of secondary publications that expanded on elements of the original observation, but did not actually seek to confirm or falsify its fundamental basis."

This gets into the question of the sociology of science. It's a familiar bromide that "science advances one funeral at a time." The greatest scientific pioneers were mavericks and weirdos. Most valuable scientific work is done by youngsters. Older scientists are more likely to be invested, both emotionally and from a career and prestige perspective, in the regnant paradigm, even though the spirit of science is the challenge of regnant paradigms.

Why, then, is our scientific process so structured as to reward the old and the prestigious? Government funding bodies and peer review bodies are inevitably staffed by the most hallowed (read: out of touch) practitioners in the field. The tenure process ensures that in order to further their careers, the youngest scientists in a given department must kowtow to their elders' theories or run a significant professional risk. Peer review isn't any good at keeping flawed studies out of major papers, but it can be deadly efficient at silencing heretical views.

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