We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!
An anonymous reader writes: A new study confirms the potential hazard of nearby gamma-ray bursts. It quantifies the probability of an event near Earth, and more generally in the Milky Way and other galaxies over time: "[Evolved] life as it exists on Earth could not take place in almost any galaxy that formed earlier than about five billion years after the Big Bang." This could explain the Fermi's paradox, or why we don't see billion-year-old civilizations all around us.
222 comments | 2 days ago
eldavojohn writes A turnover in the Greek government resulted from recent snap elections placing SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in power — just shy of an outright majority by two seats. Atheist, and youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865, Alexis Tsipras has been appointed the new prime minister and begun taking immediate drastic steps against the recent austerity laws put in place by prior administrations. One such step has been to appoint Valve's economist Yanis Varoufakis to position of Finance Minister of Greece. For the past three years Varoufakis has been working at Steam to analyze and improve the Steam Market but now has the opportunity to improve one of the most troubled economies in the world.
318 comments | 2 days ago
Freshly Exhumed writes: Growing income inequality was one of the top four issues at the 2015 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, ranking alongside European adoption of quantitative easing and geopolitical concerns. Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion, said there was a consensus that global inequality is getting worse, fueling overriding pessimism at the gathering. The result, he said, could be that the next big revolution will be in regulation rather than innovation. With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people's mind, the world's super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. "I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway," he said. Looking at studies like NASA's HANDY and by KPMG, the UK Government Office of Science, and others, Dr Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, warns that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a "perfect storm" within about fifteen years.
333 comments | 2 days ago
WheezyJoe writes Responding to the FCC's proposal to raise the definition of broadband from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up, the lobby group known as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) wrote in an FCC filing Thursday that 25Mbps/3Mbps isn't necessary for ordinary people. The lobby alleges that hypothetical use cases offered for showing the need for 25Mbps/3Mbps "dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user", referring to parties in favor of the increase like Netflix and Public Knowledge. Verizon, for its part, is also lobbying against a faster broadband definition. Much of its territory is still stuck on DSL which is far less capable of 25Mbps/3Mbps speeds than cable technology.
The FCC presently defines broadband as 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up, a definition that hasn't changed since 2010. By comparison, people in Sweden can pay about $40 a month for 100/100 mbps, choosing between more than a dozen competing providers. The FCC is under mandate to determine whether broadband is being deployed to Americans in a reasonable and timely way, and the commission must take action to accelerate deployment if the answer is negative. Raising the definition's speeds provides more impetus to take actions that promote competition and remove barriers to investment, such as a potential move to preempt state laws that restrict municipal broadband projects.
255 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes In the recent Slashdot discussion on the D programming language, I was surprised to see criticisms of Pascal that were based on old information and outdated implementations. While I'm sure that, for example, Brian Kernighan's criticisms of Pascal were valid in 1981, things have moved on since then. Current Object Pascal largely addresses Kernighan's critique and also includes language features such as anonymous methods, reflection and attributes, class helpers, generics and more (see also Marco Cantu's recent Object Pascal presentation). Cross-platform development is fairly straightforward with Pascal. Delphi targets Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Free Pascal targets many operating systems and architectures and Lazarus provides a Delphi-like IDE for Free Pascal. So what do you think? Is Pascal underrated?
484 comments | 3 days ago
New submitter AlCapwn writes [Fark founder] Drew Curtis announced on Friday that he will be running for governor of Kentucky. "We have a theory that we're about to see a huge change in how elections and politics work. Across the country, we have seen regular citizens stepping up and challenging the status quo built by political parties and career politicians. They have been getting closer and closer to victory and, here in Kentucky, we believe we have a chance to win and break the political party stronghold for good."
120 comments | 3 days ago
HughPickens.com writes Jennifer Abel writes at the LA Times that according to a recent survey (PDF), over 80% of Americans says they support "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA," roughly the same number that support the mandatory labeling of GMO foods "produced with genetic engineering." Ilya Somin, writing about the survey at the Washington Post, suggested that a mandatory label for foods containing DNA might sound like this: "WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children."
The report echoes a well-known joke/prank wherein people discuss the dangers of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide" also known as hydrogen oxide and hydrogen hydroxide. Search online for information about dihydrogen monoxide, and you'll find a long list of scary-sounding and absolutely true warnings about it: the nuclear power industry uses enormous quantities of it every year. Dihydrogen monoxide is used in the production of many highly toxic pesticides, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Conventions. Dihydrogen monoxide is found in all tumors removed from cancer patients, and is guaranteed fatal to humans in large quantities and even small quantities can kill you, if it enters your respiratory system. In 2006, in Louisville, Kentucky, David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corporation, a public body that operates Waterfront Park, wished to deter bathers from using a large public fountain. "Counting on a lack of understanding about water's chemical makeup," he arranged for signs reading: "DANGER! – WATER CONTAINS HIGH LEVELS OF HYDROGEN – KEEP OUT" to be posted on the fountain at public expense.
351 comments | 4 days ago
An anonymous reader writes As reported by CNN and Time, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved their famed Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Now at 23:57, this clock attempts to personify humanity's closeness to a global catastrophe (as caused by either climate change or nuclear war). According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this change is due to a lack of action regarding climate issues, the continued existence of nuclear weapon stockpiles, and the increased animosity that now exists between the United States and Russia.
215 comments | 4 days ago
The company is called TrackPIN, as is the product. Its creator, Mark Hall, showed it off at CES. Timothy pointed his camcorder at Mark as he explained how his product would let you get package deliveries safely when you aren't home by giving the UPS or FedEx (or other) delivery person access to your garage, as well as letting in selected people like your maid, your plumber, and possibly an aquarium cleaner. Each one can have a private, one-time PIN number that will actuate your garage door opener through the (~$250) TrackPIN keypad and tell your smartphone or other net-connected device that your garage was just opened, and by whom. You might even call this, "One small step for package delivery; a giant leap forward for the Internet of Things." Except those of us who don't have garages (not to mention electric garage door openers) may want to skip today's video; the TrackPIN isn't meant for the likes of us. (Alternate Video Link)
85 comments | 5 days ago
DW100 writes In a bizarre public blog post the CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, has claimed that net neutrality laws should include forcing app developers to make their services available on all operating systems. Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back. Some excerpts from Chen's plea: Netflix, which has forcefully advocated carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. ... Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system. Since "content providers" are writing code they think makes sense for one reason or another (expected returns financial or psychic), a mandate to write more code seems like a good way to re-learn why contract law frowns on specific performance.
307 comments | about a week ago
jones_supa writes A patch was proposed to the Linux Kernel Mailing List to drop support for the old EISA bus. However a user chimed in: "Well, I'd like to keep my x86 box up and alive, to support EISA FDDI equipment I maintain if nothing else — which in particular means the current head version of Linux, not some ancient branch." Linus Torvalds was friendly about the case: "So if we actually have a user, and it works, then no, we're not removing EISA support. It's not like it hurts us or is in some way fundamentally broken, like the old i386 code was (i386 kernel page fault semantics really were broken, and the lack of some instructions made it more painful to maintain than needed — not like EISA at all, which is just a pure add-on on the side)." In addition to Intel 80386, recent years have also seen MCA bus support being removed from the kernel. Linux generally strives to keep support even for crusty hardware if there provably is still user(s) of the particular gear.
189 comments | about a week ago
383 comments | about a week ago
theodp (442580) writes "For better or worse, YouTube stars are a big deal these days. Last December, Microsoft and Code.org turned to YouTube Stars iJustine and The Fine Brothers to help recruit the nation's K-12 schookids for the Hour of Code. And next week, in what the White House is touting as the State of the YOUnion , President Obama will turn to a trio of YouTube Stars for advice on the issues of day following his State of the Union Address. "We're inviting a handful of YouTube creators to the White House to talk with the President in person," explains the White House Blog, "and you can watch it all live on Thursday, January 22. YouTube creators Bethany Mota, GloZell, and Hank Green will interview President Obama about the issues care they most about and what they're hearing from their audiences." Commenting on the choice of the YouTube interviewers, CNN's David Acosta asked (confused) WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest, "I'm just curious, was 'Charlie Bit My Finger' or 'David After Dentist' not available?" So, how long until the U.S. is redistricted into YouTube Channels?"
105 comments | about two weeks ago
New submitter albert555 writes A new collaborative project emerged lately and its goal is pretty ambitious: solving complex problems. Anyone will look to Google or Quora for the response of a usual question that requires one single answer, but nothing exists online to solve complex problems with multiple solutions. The website uses brainstorming techniques coupled with the Problem Tree Methodology to them. In simple words: decomposing the main issue into subsequent small-ones and providing solutions to the sub-issues, the result taking form of a node tree. Users are free to provide meaningful content to the nodes (and therefore may help understand the causes of the issues) or to provide solutions to the ultimate sub-issues. Contributions are placed under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license. While Wikipedia proved that collective intelligence could provide quality contents able to compete with the major encyclopedias. Eris Solver intends to channel the wisdom of the crowd to find the best solutions to the most complex problems available. The idea is interesting, though so far the project does not have contributions pouring in like Wikipedia does. You can add your own questions or answers; "user contributions to Solver questions and general questions [are] licensed under the CC BY-SA 4.0."
42 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes with word of an adaption of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. Ridley Scott is the executive producer for the adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel that's one of 13 new TV shows from Amazon Studios. There's also a video adaptation of The New Yorker magazine, and all 13 pilots are available free online. Votes of viewers will help decide which ones get picked up for a full season, and Amazon is promising customers that they've assembled "some of the greatest storytellers in the business with works of novelty and passion."
94 comments | about two weeks ago
HughPickens.com writes Cade Metz writes that last week Parisa Tabriz, head of Google's Chrome security team, helped arrange an early screening of Michael Mann's Blackhat in San Francisco for 200-odd security specialists from Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla, Twitter, Square, Cisco, and other parts of Silicon Valley's close-knit security community, and their response to the film was shockingly positive. "Judging from the screening Q&A—and the pointed ways this audience reacted during the screening—you could certainly argue Blackhat is the best hacking movie ever made," writes Metz. "Many info-sec specialists will tell you how much they like Sneakers—the 1992 film with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley, and River Phoenix—but few films have so closely hewed to info-sec reality as Mann's new movie, fashioned in his characteristic pseudo-documentary style." "Unlike others, this is a film about a real person, not a stereotype—a real guy with real problems thrust into a real situation," says Mark Abene. "The technology—and the disasters—in the film were real, or at least plausible.
Director Michael Mann worked closely with Kevin Poulsen in researching, writing, and shooting the film. Like Hemsworth's character, Poulsen spent time in prison for his hacking exploits, and Mann says his input was invaluable. "It's the first crime-thriller to hinge so heavily on hacking without becoming silly." says Poulson. "We put a lot of work into finding plausible ways that malware and hosting arrangements and all these other things could be used to advance the plot and all of that I think turned out pretty nice." I'm a fan of Michael Mann, and the previews I've seen of Blackhat make it look at least like a passable thriller. For anyone who's seen the film already, what did you think?
98 comments | about two weeks ago
New submitter Stolga sends this report from the BBC:
The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact. High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location, and it looks to be in one piece. The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day, 2003, using parachutes and airbags — but no radio contact was ever made with the probe. Many scientists assumed it had been destroyed in a high-velocity impact.
The new pictures, acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, give the lie to that notion, and hint at what really happened to the European mission. Beagle's design incorporated a series of deployable "petals," on which were mounted its solar panels. From the images, it seems that this system did not unfurl fully. "Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels," explained Prof Mark Sims, Beagle's mission manager from Leicester University.
130 comments | about two weeks ago
New submitter brynet tips this news from Theo de Raadt: Over the last two months Mike Larkin (mlarkin@) modified the amd64 kernel to follow the W^X principles. It started as a humble exercise to fix the .rodata segment, and kind of went crazy. As a result, no part of the kernel address space is writeable and executable simultaneously. At least that is the idea, modulo mistakes. Final attention to detail (which some of you experienced in buggy drafts in snapshots) was to make the MP and ACPI trampolines follow W^X, furthermore they are unmapped when not required. Final picture is many architectures were improved, but amd64 and sparc64 look the best due to MMU features available to service the W^X model. The entire safety model is also improved by a limited form of kernel ASLR (the code segment does not move around yet, but data and page table ASLR is fairly good."
84 comments | about two weeks ago
'The Ubi is an always-on voice-activated computer ready to help. Just plug it in, talk to it and it'll help you connect with your world.' That Kickstarter project description back in 2012 helped UBI raise $229,594 even though they only hoped for $36,000. So now they sell Ubis for $299, as you can see for yourself by clicking the "BUY NOW" button in the upper right corner of www.TheUbi.com, their site's main page. A cynic might say that a decent Android phone can perform most Ubi functions, including a growing number of home automation control tasks, and that Android voice recognition gets better with each new release. But Ubi is cute, and round, and "you can talk through it to the ones you love."
That's great, but Android phones can do that, too. What a smartphone can't do is compete with Ubi Interactive, which may finally give us gesture-based computer input that is not only exciting in a Star Trek way, but is also practical for home and business use. This, along with Kinect, looks like a product that has a solid future ahead of it. (Alternate Video Link)
38 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes "Guateng province — which is home to Johannesburg and Pretoria and is the richest state in sub-Saharan Africa — has just kicked off a pilot project to replace textbooks with tablets in seven government schools. If successful, the project will be extended to all 44 000 schools in the area. It's all been put together in a hurry — the local minister for education announced it in a media interview less than a year ago and details have never been made fully public, but he's hoping it will be an end to 'Irish Coffee' education in which rich white students float to the top." From the article: The classroom of the future being piloted is modelled on the system that’s been in use at Sunward Park High School in Boksburg for the two years. That former “model C” was the first state school in South Africa to go textbook free, and has pioneered the use of tablets in public education here. ... As with Sunward Park, the schools in this new pilot will be using a centralised portal developed by Bramley’s MIB Software for managing tablets and aggregating educational content into a single portal. MIB’s backend pulls in CAPS aligned digital textbooks from the likes of Via Afrika as well as extra resources from around the web. Content from Wikipedia, the BBC, the complete works of Shakespeare and Khan Academy is all cached locally for teachers to reference during lessons and pupils to use for self-directed study and research.
66 comments | about two weeks ago