posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Guardian about a proposed change in UK law that would greatly increase the penalties for online incivility: Internet trolls who spread "venom" on social media could be jailed for up to two years, the justice secretary Chris Grayling has said as he announced plans to quadruple the maximum prison sentence. Grayling, who spoke of a "baying cybermob", said the changes will allow magistrates to pass on the most serious cases to crown courts. The changes, which will be introduced as amendments to the criminal justice and courts bill, will mean the maximum custodial sentence of six months will be increased to 24 months. Grayling told the Mail on Sunday: "These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life. No one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the six-month sentence.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes A Notice of Inquiry was issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday that focuses research on higher frequencies for sending gigabit streams of mobile data. The inquiry specifically states that its purpose is to determine "what frequency bands above 24 GHz would be most suitable for mobile services, and to begin developing a record on mobile service rules and a licensing framework for mobile services in those bands". Cellular networks currently use frequencies between 600 MHz to 3 GHz with the most desirable frequencies under 1 GHz being owned by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The FCC feels, however, that new technology indicates the potential for utilizing higher frequency ranges not necessarily as a replacement but as the implementation necessary to finally usher in 5G wireless technology. The FCC anticipates the advent of 5G commercial offerings within six years.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
BarbaraHudson writes Those free soft drinks at your last start-up may come with a huge hidden price tag. The Toronto Sun reports that researchers at the University of California — San Francisco found study participants who drank pop daily had shorter telomeres — the protective units of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes in cells — in white blood cells. Short telomeres have been associated with chronic aging diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. The researchers calculated daily consumption of a 20-ounce pop is associated with 4.6 years of additional biological aging. The effect on telomere length is comparable to that of smoking, they said. "This finding held regardless of age, race, income and education level," researcher Elissa Epel said in a press release.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "Space News reports that NASA has cancelled its solar sail demonstration mission (also known as Sunjammer) citing "a lack of confidence in its contractor's ability to deliver." "Company president Nathan] Barnes said that in 2011 he reached out to several NASA centers and companies that he believed could build the spacecraft and leave L'Garde free to focus on the solar sail. None of those he approached — he only identified NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California — took him up on the offer. Rather than give up on the opportunity to land a NASA contract, L'Garde decided to bring the spacecraft development in house. It did not work out, and as of Oct. 17, the company had taken delivery of about $2 million worth of spacecraft hardware including a hydrazine tank from ATK Space Systems of Commerce, California, and four mono-propellant thrusters from Aerojet Rocketdyne of Sacramento, California."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
From the L.A. Times, and with enough time to tune in, comes this tip: Comet Siding Spring's closest approach to the red planet will occur at 11:27 a.m. [Pacific Time] on Sunday. At its closest approach, the comet will come within 87,000 miles of Mars. That's 10 times closer than any comet on record has ever come to Earth. Sadly, this historic flyby is not visible to the naked eye. People who live in the Southern Hemisphere have a shot at seeing the comet if they have access to a good telescope six inches or wider. However, most of us in the Northern Hemisphere will not be able to see the comet at all, experts say, no matter how big a telescope we've got. Here to save the cometary day is astronomy website Slooh.com. Beginning at 11:15 a.m PDT on Sunday, it will host a live broadcast of the comet's closest approach to Mars, as seen by the website's telescopes in South Africa and in the Canary Islands. Later in the day, beginning at 5:30 p.m. PDT, Slooh will broadcast another view of the comet from a telescope in Chile.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "Ok, bear with me now. I know this is not PC Mag 2014 review of hosting services. I am thinking of getting a parody website up. I am mildly concerned about potential reaction of the parodee, who has been known to be a little heavy handed when it comes to things like that. In short, I want to make sure that the hosting company won't flake out just because of potential complaints. I checked some companies and their TOS and AUPs all seem to have weird-ass restrictions (Arvixe, for example, has a list of unacceptable material that happens to list RPGs and MUDS ). I live in U.S.; parodee in Poland. What would you recommend?"

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
ControlsGeek writes The Lee-Enfield .303 rifle is being phased out for use by the Canadian Rangers, a Northern aboriginal branch of the Armed Forces. The rifle has been in service with the Canadian military for 100 years and is still being used by the Rangers for its unfailing reliability in Arctic conditions. If only the hardware that we use in computers could have such a track record. The wheels turn slowly, though, and it's not clear what kind of gun will replace the Enfields.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Erik Karjaluoto writes that he recently installed OS X Yosemite and his initial reaction was "This got hit by the ugly stick." But Karjaluoto says that Apple's decision to make a wholesale shift from Lucida to Helvetica defies his expectations and wondered why Apple would make a change that impedes legibility, requires more screen space, and makes the GUI appear fuzzy? The Answer: Tomorrow. Microsoft's approach with Windows, and backward compatibility in general, is commendable. "Users can install new versions of this OS on old machines, sometimes built on a mishmash of components, and still have it work well. This is a remarkable feat of engineering. It also comes with limitations — as it forces Microsoft to operate in the past." But Apple doesn't share this focus on interoperability or legacy. "They restrict hardware options, so they can build around a smaller number of specs. Old hardware is often left behind (turn on a first-generation iPad, and witness the sluggishness). Meanwhile, dying conventions are proactively euthanized," says Karjaluoto. "When Macs no longer shipped with floppy drives, many felt baffled. This same experience occurred when a disk (CD/DVD) reader no longer came standard." In spite of the grumblings of many, Karjaluoto doesn't recall many such changes that we didn't later look upon as the right choice.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
iFixit gives the new Retina iMac a score of 5 (out of 10) for repairability, and says that the new all-in-one is very little changed internally from the system (non-Retina) it succeeds. A few discoveries along the way: The new model "retains the familiar, easily accessible RAM upgrade slot from iMacs of yore"; the display panel (the one iin the machine disassmbled by iFixit at least) was manufactured by LG Display; except for that new display, "the hardware inside the iMac Intel 27" Retina 5K Display looks much the same as last year's 27" iMac." In typical iFixit style, the teardown is documented with high-resolution pictures and more technical details.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
CowboyRobot writes Alex Liu is a senior UI engineer at Netflix and part of the core team leading the migration of Netflix.com to Node.js. He has an article at ACM's Queue in which he describeshow JavaScript is used at Netflix. 'With increasingly more application logic being shifted to the browser, developers have begun to push the boundaries of what JavaScript was originally intended for. Entire desktop applications are now being rebuilt entirely in JavaScript—the Google Docs office suite is one example. Such large applications require creative solutions to manage the complexity of loading the required JavaScript files and their dependencies. The problem can be compounded when introducing multivariate A/B testing, a concept that is at the core of the Netflix DNA. Multivariate testing introduces a number of problems that JavaScript cannot handle using native constructs, one of which is the focus of this article: managing conditional dependencies.'

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
theodp writes Good artists copy, great artists steal," Steve Jobs used to say. Having launched a perfectly-timed attack against Samsung and phablets with its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Leonid Bershidsky suggests that the next big thing from Apple will be a tablet-laptop a la Microsoft's Surface Pro 3. "Before yesterday's Apple [iPad] event," writes Bershidsky, "rumors were strong of an upcoming giant iPad, to be called iPad Pro or iPad Plus. There were even leaked pictures of a device with a 12.9-inch screen, bigger than the Surface Pro's 12-inch one. It didn't come this time, but it will. I've been expecting a touch-screen Apple laptop for a few years now, and keep being wrong.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
New submitter cgdae writes Does anyone know how to stop PulseAudio/Pavucontrol from changing sound settings whenever there is a hardware change such as headphones being plugged in/out or docking/undocking my laptop ? I recently had to install PulseAudio on my Debian system because the Linux version of Skype started to require it. Ever since, whenever i dock/undock or use/stop using headphones, all sound disappears, and i have to go to Pavucontrol and make random changes to its 'Output Devices' or 'Speakers' or 'Headphones' tab, or mute/unmute things, or drag a volume slider which has inexplicably moved to nearly zero, until sound magically comes back again. I've tried creating empty PulseAudio config files in my home directory, and/or disabling the loading of various PulseAudio modules in /etc/pulse/*.conf, but i cannot stop PulseAudio from messing things up whenever there's a hardware change. It's really frustrating that something like PulseAudio doesn't have an easy-to-find way of preventing it from trying (and failing) to be clever. [In case it's relevant, my system is a Lenovo X220 laptop, with Debian jessie, kernel 3.14-2-amd64. I run fvwm with an ancient config.]

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
Lucas123 (935744) writes U.S. robotics researchers from around the country are collaborating on a project to build autonomous vehicles that could deliver food and medicine, and telepresence robots that could safely decontaminate equipment and help bury the victims of Ebola. Organizers of Safety Robotics for Ebola Workers are planning a workshop on Nov. 7. that will be co-hosted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Texas A&M, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of California, Berkeley. "We are trying to identify the technologies that can help human workers minimize their contact with Ebola. Whatever technology we deploy, there will be a human in the loop. We are not trying to replace human caregivers. We are trying to minimize contact," said Taskin Padir, an assistant professor of robotics engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Twelve years after Microsoft debuted DirectX 9.0, open-source developers are getting ready to possibly land Direct3D 9.0 support within the open-source Linux Mesa/Gallium3D code-base. The "Gallium3D Nine" state tracker allows accelerating D3D9 natively by Gallium3D drivers and there's patches for Wine so that Windows games can utilize this state tracker without having to go through Wine's costly D3D-to-OGL translator. The Gallium3D D3D9 code has been in development since last year and is now reaching a point where it's under review for mainline Mesa. The uses for this Direct3D 9 state tracker will likely be very limited outside of using it for Wine gaming.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter un1nsp1red (2503532) writes Current NSA CTO Patrick Dowd has taken a part-time position with former-NSA director Keith Alexander's security firm IronNet Cybersecurity — while retaining his position as chief technology officer for the NSA. The Guardian states that 'Patrick Dowd continues to work as a senior NSA official while also working part time for Alexander's IronNet Cybersecurity, a firm reported to charge up to $1m a month for advising banks on protecting their data from hackers. It is exceedingly rare for a US official to be allowed to work for a private, for-profit company in a field intimately related to his or her public function.' Some may give Alexander a pass on the possible conflict of interests as he's now retired, but what about a current NSA official moonlighting for a private security firm?

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
alphadogg (971356) writes The engineering reorganization currently underway at network giant Cisco Systems is intended to streamline product development and delivery to customers. That it is prompting some high profile departures is an expected byproduct of any realignment of this size, which affects 25,000 employees, says Cisco Executive Vice President Pankaj Patel, who is conducting the transformation. "People leave for personal business reasons," Patel said in an interview with Network World this week. "Similar transformations" among Cisco peers and customers "see personnel change of 30% to 50%."

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter furrykef . writes Over 33 years have passed since Donkey Kong first hit arcades, but it still has new surprises. I was poking through the game in a debugger when I discovered that the game contains unused music and voice clips. One of the tunes would have been played when you rescued Pauline, and two others are suggestive of deleted cutscenes. In addition, Pauline was originally meant to speak. In one clip she says something unintelligible, but it may be "Hey!", "Nice!", or "Thanks!". The other is clearly a cry for help.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
blottsie (3618811) writes "On Thursday, the Guardian reported that secret-sharing app Whisper was tracking users' locations even when they opt-out of sharing their location. [See also this earlier, related story.] Whisper has denied the accusations—but this may be a matter of semantics. Whisper allegedly uses an outdated version of GeoIP by MaxMind, which uses your IP address to estimate your location on a map. Whisper's Chad DePue said in a comment on Hacker News that the tool is "so inaccurate as to be laughable," suggesting that determining something as broad as your country or state won't bother the basic user (and he could be right, but what is and isn't an upsetting degree of user information is another argument entirely)."

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
StartsWithABang writes If you can reach the fabled "breakeven point" of nuclear fusion, you'll have opened up an entire new source of clean, reliable, safe, renewable and abundant energy. You will change the world. At present, fusion is one of those things we can make happen through a variety of methods, but — unless you're the Sun — we don't have a way to ignite and sustain that reaction without needing to input more energy than we can extract in a usable fashion from the fusion that occurs. One alternative approach to the norm is, rather than try and up the energy released in a sustained, hot fusion reaction, to instead lower the energy inputted, and try to make fusion happen under "cold" conditions. If you listen in the right (wrong?) places, you'll hear periodic reports that cold fusion is happening, even though those reports have always crumbled under scrutiny. Here's why, most likely, they always will.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, the controversy surrounding Anonabox reached its zenith with Kickstarter officially canceling the project's funding campaign. Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims, and that's when the project ran into trouble. From hardware that wasn't actually custom-made to software that didn't actually fulfill promises of privacy-focused routing on the internet, the facts regarding Anonabox proved that it was in blatant violation of Kickstarter's rules against false advertising. This project clearly failed, but if the support it initially garnered is any indication, the public is hungry for easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
jfruh writes: You may have heard that Japan will deal with its aging population by relying more on robots. Osaka startup RT Works is showing what that might mean in practice: not humanoid robotic caregivers, but tech-enhanced versions of traditional tools like walkers. RT Works's walker automatically adjusts to help its user deal with hilly terrain, and can call for help if it moves outside an predefined range.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
TheRealHocusLocus writes: Disaster preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none," which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent "we're still making progress" reminder. I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a groundswell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" However, fusion doesn't need to be the only solution, and it's not entirely without drawbacks. All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were "100% clean." A low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it. Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. LFTR is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. There is plenty of cross-over: LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial-scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
lkcl writes: In an open letter to the core developers behind OpenLDAP (Howard Chu) and Python-LMDB (David Wilson) is a story of a successful creation of a high-performance task scheduling engine written (perplexingly) in Python. With only partial optimization allowing tasks to be executed in parallel at a phenomenal rate of 240,000 per second, the choice to use Python-LMDB for the per-task database store based on its benchmarks, as well as its well-researched design criteria, turned out to be the right decision. Part of the success was also due to earlier architectural advice gratefully received here on Slashdot. What is puzzling, though, is that LMDB on Wikipedia is being constantly deleted, despite its "notability" by way of being used in a seriously-long list of prominent software libre projects, which has been, in part, motivated by the Oracle-driven BerkeleyDB license change. It would appear that the original complaint about notability came from an Oracle employee as well.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: A couple of months ago the technical committee for Debian decided in favor of systemd. This is now a subject for discussion once again, and Ian Jackson says he wants a general resolution, so every developer within the Debian project can decide. After a short time, the required amount of supporters was reached, and the discussion can start once again.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: With the release of OS X 10.10 Yosemite, Ars Technica has posted one of their extremely thorough reviews of the OS's new features and design changes. John Siracusa writes that Yosemite is particularly notable because it's the biggest step yet in Apple's efforts to bring OS X and iOS together — new technologies are now being added to Apple's two operating systems simultaneously. "The political and technical battles inherent in the former two-track development strategy for OS X and iOS left both products with uncomfortable feature disparities. Apple now correctly views this as damage and has set forth to repair it." Yosemite's look and feel has undergone significant changes as well, generally moving toward the flat and compact design present in iOS 7 & 8. Spotlight and the Notifications Center have gotten some needed improvements, as did many tab and toolbar interfaces. Siracusa also takes a look a Swift, Apple's new programming language: "Swift is an attempt to create a low-level language with high-level syntax and semantics. It tackles the myth of the Sufficiently Smart Compiler by signing up to create that compiler as part of the language design process." He concludes: "Viewed in isolation, Yosemite provides a graphical refresh accompanied by a few interesting features and several new technologies whose benefits are mostly speculative, depending heavily on how eagerly they're adopted by third-party developers. But Apple no longer views the Mac in isolation, and neither should you. OS X is finally a full-fledged peer to iOS; all aspects of sibling rivalry have been banished."

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