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Programming

Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-figure-out-an-alter-ego-quick dept.
theodp writes: The idea of programming as a superpower was touched upon by CS teacher Alfred Thompson back in 2010, but it became a rallying call of sorts for the Hour of Code after Dropbox CEO Drew Houston described coding as "the closest thing we have to a superpower" in a Code.org video that went viral. And if the kids who learned to code with the President last week were dubious about the power of coding, this week's decision by Sony to scrap the release of the satirical film The Interview after a massive hack attack should put aside any doubts, especially after new revelations that Sony had reached out to the White House for help and screened the film for administration officials back in June. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that the Obama Administration is viewing the Sony attack as a "serious national security matter" and is considering a range of possible options as a response, which could turn things into a contest of U.S. Superpower vs. Coding Superpower. In case it wasn't mentioned last week, remember to always use your coding superpower for good, kids!
Science

A New Law For Superconductors 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the radar-enforced dept.
TaleSlinger sends word of a newly-discovered "mathematical relationship — between material thickness, temperature, and electrical resistance — that appears to hold in all superconductors." The work (abstract), led by Yachin Irvy, comes out of MIT's Research Laboratory of Electronics. Researchers found that a particular superconductor (niobium nitride) didn't fit earlier models estimating the temperature at which it changes from normal conductivity to superconductivity. So the researchers conducted a series of experiments in which they held constant either thickness or “sheet resistance,” the material’s resistance per unit area, while varying the other parameter; they then measured the ensuing changes in critical temperature. A clear pattern emerged: Thickness times critical temperature equaled a constant — call it A — divided by sheet resistance raised to a particular power — call it B. ... The other niobium nitride papers Ivry consulted bore out his predictions, so he began to expand to other superconductors. Each new material he investigated required him to adjust the formula’s constants — A and B. But the general form of the equation held across results reported for roughly three dozen different superconductors.
Privacy

Uber Limits 'God View' To Improve Rider Privacy 76

Posted by Soulskill
from the enabled-by-typing-iddqd dept.
mpicpp sends this report from CNN: Uber has rolled back employee access to its "God view" mode, which allows the company to track riders' locations and other data. The ride service company was faced with questions about its privacy policies from U.S. Senator Al Franken, following a series of recent privacy debacles. Uber's updated policy is detailed in its response to the senator's questions. Franken sent Uber a letter (PDF, Uber's response) in November after news reports made two things clear: The ride service company collects lots of data on customers — and some executives don't exercise that power responsibly. In one case, an Uber employee using "God View" easily tracked a reporter's movements on her way to a meeting.
Education

Touring a Carnival Cruise Simulator: 210 Degrees of GeForce-Powered Projection 42

Posted by timothy
from the bring-it-to-the-lan-party dept.
MojoKid writes Recently, Carnival cruise lines gave tours of their CSMART facility in Almere, the Netherlands. This facility is one of a handful in the world that can provide both extensive training and certification on cruise ships as well as a comprehensive simulation of what it's like to command one. Simulating the operation of a Carnival cruise ship is anything but simple. Let's start with a ship that's at least passingly familiar to most people — the RMS Titanic. At roughly 46,000 tons and 882 feet long, she was, briefly, the largest vessel afloat. Compared to a modern cruise ship, however, Titanic was a pipsqueak. As the size and complexity of the ships has grown, the need for complete simulators has grown as well. The C-SMART facility currently sports two full bridge simulators, several partial bridges, and multiple engineering rooms. When the Costa Concordia wrecked off the coast of Italy several years ago, the C-SMART facility was used to simulate the wreck based on the black boxes from the ship itself. When C-SMART moves to its new facilities, it'll pick up an enormous improvement in processing power. The next-gen visual system is going to be powered by104 GeForce Grid systems running banks of GTX 980 GPUs. C-SMART executives claim it will actually substantially reduce their total power consumption thanks to the improved Maxwell GPU. Which solution is currently in place was unclear, but the total number of installed systems is dropping from just over 500 to 100 rackmounted units.
The Almighty Buck

Small Bank In Kansas Creates the Bank Account of the Future 156

Posted by samzenpus
from the tomorrow's-deposits dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nathaniel Popper writes at the NYT that the Citizens Bank of Weir, Kansas, or CBW, has been taken apart and rebuilt, from its fiber optic cables up, so it can offer services not available at even the nation's largest bank. In the United States the primary option that consumers have to transfer money is still the ACH payment. Requests for ACH transfers are collected by banks and submitted in batches, once a day, and the banks receiving the transfers also process the payments once a day, leading to long waits. ACH technology was created in the 1970s and has not changed significantly since. The clunky system, which takes at least a day to deliver money, has become so deeply embedded in the banking industry that it has been hard to replace. CBW went to work on the problem by using the debit card networks that power ATM cash dispensers. Ramamurthi's team engineered a system so that a business could collect a customer's debit card number and use it to make an instant payment directly into the customer's account — or into the account of a customer of almost any other bank in the country. The key to CBW's system is real-time, payment transaction risk-scoring — software that can judge the risk involved in any transaction in real time by looking at 20 to 40 factors, including a customers' transaction history and I.P., address where the transaction originated. It was this system that Elizabeth McQuerry, the former Fed official, praised as the "biggest idea" at a recent bank conference. "Today's banks offer the equivalent of 300-year-old paper ledgers converted to an electronic form — a digital skin on an antiquated transaction process," says Suresh Ramamurthi. "We'll now be one of the first banks in the world to offer customers a reliable, compliant, safe and secure way to instantly send and receive money internationally."
Open Source

OpenMotics Offers Open Source (and Open Hardware) Home Automation 36

Posted by timothy
from the here-are-your-diagrams dept.
Home automation is a recurring topic around here; we've had stories about X-10-based home-brewed systems, a protocol designed for automation, and more than a few Ask Slashdots. Now, an anonymous reader writes OpenMotics is an open source home automation hardware and software system that offers features like switching lights and outputs, multi-zone heating and cooling, power measurements, and automated actions. The system encompasses both open source software and hardware. For interoperability with other systems, the OpenMotics Gateway provides an API through which various actions can be executed. The project was open sourced 2 years ago and was started about 10 years. The choice to open source the project was very conscious: we want to offer a system where users are in full control over their home automation system.
Handhelds

Ask Slashdot: Best Software To Revive PocketPCs With Windows Mobile 5-6? 110

Posted by timothy
from the don't-knock-interesting-hobbies dept.
An anonymous reader writes I recently got my hands on some amazing (at their time) pieces of technology, PocketPCs from the 2005-2007 era. All run with Windows Mobile 5 or 6, have storage SD cards (up to 4GB), 300 to 600 MHz ARM CPUs and 64-124MB of RAM/ROM. GPS chip is Sirf STAR III. I want to know what software you would install on them. Maybe a good Linux with GUI - if anyone can point on how to make it work. Creating some apps myself would be nice, but dunno where to start for WM5. One of my ideas was to use them as daily organizer / shopping list / memory games for people that don't own smartphones. So if anyone remembers such apps, I'd appreciate a reference. Tips or ideas for memory training or smart games are also highly welcomed. The power within these toys is simply unused and it's a shame!
Education

2014 Geek Gift Guide 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the watch-out-for-robot-santa dept.
With the holidays coming up, Bennett Haselton has updated his geek-oriented gift guide for 2014. He says: Some of my favorite gifts to give are still the ones that were listed in several different previously written posts, while a few new cool gift ideas emerged in 2014. Here are all my current best recommendations, listed in one place. Read on for the list, or to share any suggestions of your own.
Businesses

Lenovo Recalls LS-15 Power Cords 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-it-back dept.
jones_supa writes US Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that Lenovo is recalling a batch of laptop AC power cords due to fire hazard. The power cords have been bundled with IdeaPad brand B-, G-, S-, U-, V- and Z-series laptop computers and Lenovo brand B-, G- and V-series laptop computers. The recalled power cords are black in color and have the "LS-15" molded mark on the base of the IEC 60320 connector. The company seems to have been bitten by the exact same problem that HP faced this summer. Lenovo has set up an info page for affected customers.
United States

Are the TSA's New Electronic Device Screenings Necessary? 184

Posted by samzenpus
from the obvious-answer-is-obvious dept.
First time accepted submitter Amanda Parker writes In July the US warned of a terrorism risk which led countries, such as France and the UK, to step up their security screening for flights to the US. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson directed the TSA to implement enhanced security measures. In his statement on 6 July, Johnson warned that passengers could also be asked to "power up some devices, including cell phones" and stated that "powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft". In light of the US Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) recent tightening of airport security to include stricter screening of electronic devices, is the TSA right to be cautious or have its actions caused unnecessary hassle for passengers?
Communications

Why Open Source Matters For Sensitive Email 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-mail dept.
Jason Baker writes Can you really trust your email provider? And even if you self-host your email server, can you really trust its security if you can't see the code? Over on Opensource.com, Olivier Thierry makes three cases for using open source to power your email solution: The power of numbers, the value of trust, and the importance of leverage.
Power

Utilities Face Billions In Losses From Distributed Renewables 280

Posted by Soulskill
from the reacting-slowly-to-new-technology-is-not-a-business-plan dept.
Lucas123 writes: Over the next 10 years, adoption of distributed power in the form of renewables such as solar power has the potential to reduce revenues to grid utilities by as much as $48 billion in the U.S. and by $75 billion in Europe, according to a new study. The study, by Accenture, revealed that utility executives are more nervous (PDF) about the impact of distributed — or locally generated renewable power — than ever before. 61% of those surveyed this year indicated they expect significant or moderate revenue reductions compared to only 43% last year. The cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity will be on par with prices for common coal or oil-powered generation in two years, and the technology to produce it will only get cheaper, according to a recent report from Deutsche Bank. New technologies, such as more efficient solar cells, are also threatening to increase efficiencies and drive adoption.
Communications

Twitter Use By Romney and Obama In 2012 Highlight the Speed of Social Media 47

Posted by samzenpus
from the speed-is-power dept.
HughPickens.com writes On 30 August 2012, Hollywood star Clint Eastwood took the stage to lambast President Obama. What ensued was an odd, 11-minute monologue where Eastwood conversed with an empty chair upon which an imaginary Barack Obama sat. The evening of Eastwood's speech the official campaign Twitter account @MittRomney did not mention the actor, while the Obama campaign deftly tweeted out from @BarackObama a picture of the president sitting in his chair with the words "This Seat's Taken". The picture was retweeted 59,663 times, favorited 23,887 times, and, as importantly, was featured in news articles across the country. According to Daniel Kress both campaigns sought to influence journalists in direct and indirect ways, and planned their strategic communication efforts around political events such as debates well in advance. Despite these similarities, staffers say that Obama's campaign had much greater ability to respond in real time to unfolding commentary around political events (PDF) given an organizational structure that provided digital staffers with a high degree of autonomy.

Romney's social media team did well when it practiced its strategy carefully before big events like the debates. But Obama's social media team was often quicker to respond to things and more creative. According to Kress, at extraordinary moments campaigns can exercise what Isaac Reed calls "performative power," influence over other actors' definitions of the situation and their consequent actions through well-timed, resonant, and rhetorically effective communicative action and interaction. During the Romney campaign as many as 22 staffers screened posts for Romney's social media accounts before they could go out. As Romney's digital director Zac Moffatt told Kreiss, the campaign had "the best tweets ever written by 17 people. ... It was the best they all could agree on every single time."
Power

Using Discarded Laptop Batteries To Power Lights 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-bet-fresh-laptop-batteries-would-work-even-better dept.
mrspoonsi sends news of an IBM study (PDF) which found that discarded laptop batteries could be used to power lights in areas where there's little or no electrical grid. Of the sample IBM tested, 70% of the used batteries were able to power an LED light for more than four hours every day throughout an entire year. The concept was trialed in the Indian city of Bangalore this year. The adapted power packs are expected to prove popular with street vendors, who are not on the electric grid, as well as poor families living in slums. The IBM team created what they called an UrJar — a device that uses lithium-ion cells from the old batteries to power low-energy DC devices, such as a light. The researchers are aiming to help the approximately 400 million people in India who are off grid.
Mars

Orion Capsule Safely Recovered, Complete With 12-Year-Old Computer Guts 197

Posted by timothy
from the why-that's-barely-a-dozen dept.
Lucas123 writes While NASA's Orion spacecraft, which blasted off on a successful test flight today, may be preparing for a first-of-its-kind mission to carry astronauts to Mars and other deep-space missions, the technology inside of it is no where near leading edge. In fact, its computers and its processors are 12 years old — making them ancient in tech years. The spacecraft, according to one NASA engineer, is built to be rugged and reliable in the face of G forces, massive amounts of radiation and the other rigors of space."Compared to the [Intel] Core i5 in your laptop, it's much slower — much less powerful. It's probably not any faster than your smartphone," Matt Lemke, NASA's deputy manager for Orion's avionics, power and software team, told Computerworld. Lemke said the spacecraft was built to be rugged and reliable — not necessarily smart. That's why there are two flight computers. Orion's main computer was built by Honeywell as a flight computer originally for Boeing's 787 jet airliner. Not only was the launch itself successful, but the sensor-laden craft's splashdown was smooth ("bulls-eye," as NASA puts it), and NASA has now recovered the capsule. ABC News has some good photos, too.
Transportation

Make a Kids' Power Wheel Toy Awesome for $500 (Video) 39

Posted by Roblimo
from the faster-than-a-speeding-toddler! dept.
You can spend less than $500 if you like. That's the maximum amount allowed if you're competing in the Power Racing Series. Interviewee Josh Lee is a member of the Southern Polytechnic State University Electric Vehicle Team. The modified electric 'ride on' toy they showed off and raced at Maker Faire Atlanta (where this video was made) is just one of their many projects. And, obviously, they're just one of many 'slightly deranged' teams involved in learning about and building electric vehicles. (Alternate Video Link)
Biotech

Nanotube Film Could Replace Defective Retinas 24

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-what-if-I-like-the-idea-of-lasers-in-my-eyes dept.
Zothecula writes: A promising new study (abstract) suggests that a wireless, light-sensitive, and flexible film could potentially form part of a prosthetic device to replace damaged or defective retinas. The film both absorbs light and stimulates neurons without being connected to any wires or external power sources, setting it apart from silicon-based devices used for the same purpose. It has so far been tested only on light-insensitive retinas from embryonic chicks, but the researchers hope to see the pioneering work soon reach real-world human application.
Power

Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies 461

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-some-infrastructure-reliability-investments dept.
JoeyRox writes: The publicized goal of Tesla's "gigafactory" is to make electric cars more affordable. However, that benefit may soon be eclipsed by the gigafactory's impact on roof-top solar power storage costs, putting the business model of utilities in peril. "The mortal threat that ever cheaper on-site renewables pose" comes from systems that include storage, said physicist Amory Lovins. "That is an unregulated product you can buy at Home Depot that leaves the old business model with no place to hide."
Windows

Windows 10 Adds Battery Saver Feature 96

Posted by timothy
from the perpetual-frontier dept.
jones_supa writes In past builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview there has been an interesting feature called Battery Saver, but for the time being it has been just a mockup. In a leaked build 9888, the code is now in place. Battery Saver, as the name implies, will help your mobile device make the most out of your battery. This feature works by limiting the background activity on your device when the mode is activated. You can turn the feature on any time but there is also a setting to have it automatically turn on when the battery capacity goes below a user-defined percentage. Considering that this build was not supposed to make its way out of Redmond and that the company is not releasing any new builds this year, this may be the best look we get until the Consumer Preview arrives.
Google

Google Hopes To One Day Replace Gmail With Inbox 239

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-fine-day dept.
An anonymous reader writes Three Inbox by Gmail engineers today answered questions as part of a Reddit AMA session. Most of the answers were tidbits we've heard of before, but one stood out to us: Google plans to eventually replace Gmail with Inbox. In response to the question "Do you think Inbox will replace Gmail on the long road?," lead designer Jason Cornwell gave the following answer: "In the short term, no. In the very long term, we hope so. Inbox is something new — that's why we're launching it as a separate product. We care deeply about Gmail and Gmail users, but in the long run as we add more features to Inbox and respond to user feedback we hope that everyone will want to use Inbox instead of Gmail. Ultimately, our users will decide." The followup question asks how Google believed one email product possibly target both casual (Gmail) and power (Inbox) users, to which Cornwell replied: "They are not aimed at fundamentally different audiences. Both Gmail and Inbox are designed to scale from low volume to high volume users."

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