posted 2 days ago on slashdot
Molly McHugh writes: What better way to sell telepresence technologies than having the store employees themselves appear via robot? At the Beam store in Palo Alto, Calif., no human salespeople physically appear, only robots. Users appear on the 17-inch display and control the robot via keyboard, mouse, or Xbox controller. Beam can roll as fast as two miles per hour. People behind the screen control the Beam through their computers, and two wide-angle cameras attached to the top of the bot lets them see everything happening around the store. It’s a bit eerie, watching floating heads tool around and talk to people in this video, and the customers’ react to the Beam with confusion and wonder.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: We keep hearing about the revolutionary properties of graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon whose physical characteristics hold a great deal of promise — if we can figure out good ways to produce it and use it. The New Yorker has a lengthy profile of graphene and its discoverer, Andre Geim, as well as one of the physicists leading a big chunk of the bleeding-edge graphene research, James Tour. Quoting: "[S]cientists are still trying to devise a cost-effective way to produce graphene at scale. Companies like Samsung use a method pioneered at the University of Texas, in which they heat copper foil to eighteen hundred degrees Fahrenheit in a low vacuum, and introduce methane gas, which causes graphene to "grow" as an atom-thick sheet on both sides of the copper—much as frost crystals "grow" on a windowpane. They then use acids to etch away the copper. The resulting graphene is invisible to the naked eye and too fragile to touch with anything but instruments designed for microelectronics. The process is slow, exacting, and too expensive for all but the largest companies to afford. ... Nearly every scientist I spoke with suggested that graphene lends itself especially well to hype."

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An anonymous reader writes The Pirate Bay's crew have remained awfully quiet on the recent raid in public, but today Mr 10100100000 breaks the silence in order to get a message out to the world. In a nutshell, he says that they couldn't care less, are going to remain on hiatus, and a comeback is possible. In recent days mirrors of The Pirate Bay appeared online and many of these have now started to add new content as well. According to TPB this is a positive development, but people should be wary of scams. Mr 10100100000 says that they would open source the engine of the site, if the code "wouldn't be so s****y". In any case, they recommend people keeping the Kopimi spirit alive, as TPB is much more than some hardware stored in a dusty datacenter.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
szczys writes Obviously the personal computer revolution was world-wide, but the Eastern Bloc countries had a story of PC evolution all their own. Martin Malý tells first hand of his experiences seeing black market imports, locally built clones of popular western machines, and all kinds of home-built equipment. From the article: "The biggest problem was a lack of modern technologies. There were a lot of skilled and clever people in eastern countries, but they had a lot of problems with the elementary technical things. Manufacturing of electronics parts was divided into diverse countries of Comecon – The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. In reality, it led to an absurd situation: You could buy the eastern copy of Z80 (made in Eastern Germany as U880D), but you couldn’t buy 74LS00 at the same time. Yes, a lot of manufacturers made it, but 'it is out of stock now; try to ask next year.' So 'make a computer' meant 50 percent of electronics skills and 50 percent of unofficial social network and knowledge like 'I know a guy who knows a guy and his neighbor works in a factory, where they maybe have a material for PCBs' at those times."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
Geoffrey.landis writes An article about the current California drought on 538 points out that even though global climate warming may exacerbate droughts, it's nearly impossible to attribute any particular drought to climate warming: "The complex, dynamic nature of our atmosphere and oceans makes it extremely difficult to link any particular weather event to climate change. That's because of the intermingling of natural variations with human-caused ones." They also cite a Nature editorial pointing out the same thing about extreme weather.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
SydShamino writes In an effort that may run afoul of the first amendment, Sony, through their lawyer David Boies (of SCO infamy), has sent a letter to major news organizations demanding that they refrain from downloading any leaked documents, and destroy those already possessed. Sony threatens legal action to news organizations that do not comply, saying that "Sony Pictures Entertainment will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
KindMind writes According to AP, Waze has caused trouble for LA residents by redirecting traffic from Interstate 405 to neighborhood side streets paralleling the interstate. From the article: "When the people whose houses hug the narrow warren of streets paralleling the busiest urban freeway in America began to see bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling by their homes a year or so ago, they were baffled. When word spread that the explosively popular new smartphone app Waze was sending many of those cars through their neighborhood in a quest to shave five minutes off a daily rush-hour commute, they were angry and ready to fight back. They would outsmart the app, some said, by using it to report phony car crashes and traffic jams on their streets that would keep the shortcut-seekers away. Months later, the cars are still there, and the people are still mad."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes For about an hour on Friday a few lucky Amazon UK shoppers were able to take advantage of a price glitch which discounted thousands of marketplace products to the price of 1p. An Amazon spokesman said: "We are aware that a number of Marketplace sellers listed incorrect prices for a short period of time as a result of the third party software they use to price their items on Amazon.co.uk. We responded quickly and were able to cancel the vast majority of orders placed on these affected items immediately and no costs or fees will be incurred by sellers for these cancelled orders. We are now reviewing the small number of orders that were processed and will be reaching out to any affected sellers directly."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
samzenpus (5) writes "Jonty Hurwitz is an artist with a degree in engineering who says each one of his pieces is "a study on the physics of how we perceive space and is the stroke of over 1 billion calculations and algorithms." Recently, his nano sculpture project drew a lot of attention. With help from the Weizmann Institute of Science and using a 3D printing technique by the Institute of Microstructure Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Hurwitz created a number of sculptures that were so small they could fit in the eye of a needle, or on a human hair. Jonty has agreed to answer any questions you have big or very small. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
Jason Baker writes Despite its importance, the GPLv2 has been the subject of very few court decisions, and virtually all of the most important terms of the GPLv2 have not been interpreted by courts. This lack of court decisions is about to change due to the five interrelated cases arising from a dispute between Versata Software, Inc. and Ameriprise Financial, Inc.. These cases are dealing with four important terms in the GPLv2: 1) What are the remedies for breach of the terms of the GPLv2? 2) What is a "distribution" under the GPLv2 that triggers the obligations under the GPLv2? 3) Does the GPLv2 include a patent license? 4) What type of integration between proprietary code and GPLv2 licensed code will result in creating a "derivative work" and subject such proprietary code to the terms of the GPLv2?

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
itwbennett writes According to a report in Korean IT Times, Samsung Electronics has begun production of the A9 processor, the next generation ARM-based CPU for iPhone and iPad. Korea IT Times says Samsung has production lines capable of FinFET process production (a cutting-edge design for semiconductors that many other manufacturers, including AMD, IBM and TSMC, are adopting) in Austin, Texas and Giheung, Korea, but production is only taking place in Austin. Samsung invested $3.9 billion in that plant specifically to make chips for Apple. So now Apple can say its CPU is "Made in America."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes A research team from the University of California, Riverside and Montclair State University, New Jersey, have found that the lack of teeth in all living birds can be traced back to a common ancestor who lived about 116 million years ago. From the article: "To solve this puzzle, the researchers used a recently created genome database that catalogues the genetic history of nearly all living bird orders--48 species in total. They were looking for two specific types of genes: one responsible for dentin, the substance that (mostly) makes up teeth, and another for the enamel that protects them. Upon finding these genes, researchers then located the mutations that deactivate them, and combed the fossil record to figure out when those mutations developed. They concluded that the loss of teeth and the development of the beak was a two-stage process, though the steps basically happened simultaneously. The paper states: 'In the first stage, tooth loss and partial beak development began on the anterior portion of both the upper and lower jaws. The second stage involved concurrent progression of tooth loss and beak development from the anterior portion of both jaws to the back of the rostrum.'"

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
Bennett Haselton writes Sidecar is a little-known alternative to Lyft and Uber, deployed in only ten cities so far, which lets drivers set their own prices to undercut other ride-sharing services. Given that most amateur drivers would be willing to give someone a ride for far less than the rider would be willing to pay, why didn't the flex-pricing option take off? Keep reading to see what Bennet has to say.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
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."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with news that Sir Richard Branson's goal of diving to the deepest part of the ocean has been put on indefinite hold. "Sir Richard Branson has quietly shelved his latest adventure: an ambitious plan to pilot a submarine to the deepest points of the world's five oceans. The entrepreneur had a grand scheme to explore both space and sea. But his plan for the first rocket ship charging passengers for trips to the edge of space is in jeopardy after the craft crashed during a test flight, killing a pilot. Now Sir Richard's dream of exploring the lowest points on Earth is also on hold. Virgin Oceanic's DeepFlight Challenger submarine was unveiled in a blaze of publicity in April 2011, with Sir Richard describing its mission as 'the last great challenge for humans.' He had hoped the 18ft-long submarine, designed to 'fly' along the ocean floor, would make its maiden voyage to the bottom of the Pacific's Mariana Trench – at a depth of 36,000ft, the lowest known point on Earth – by the end of 2011, or failing that, by 2012."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
The Associated Press, as carried by ABC News, reports that "An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena will hear arguments Monday by Google, which owns YouTube, disputing the court's decision to remove Innocence of Muslims from the popular video sharing service." At the heart of the earlier take-down order, which was the result of a 2-1 split from a 3-judge panel, is the assertion of copyright by actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who appeared in the film, but in a role considerably different from the one she thought she was playing. Google is supported in its appeal by an unusual alliance that includes filmmakers, Internet rivals such as Yahoo and prominent news media companies such as The New York Times that don't want the court to infringe on First Amendment rights. Garcia has support from the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Musicians. If the court upholds the smaller panel's ruling, YouTube and other Internet companies could face takedown notices from others in minor video roles.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes How identifiable are you on the web? This updated browser fingerprinting tool implements the current state of the art in browser fingerprinting techniques(including canvas fingerprinting) to show you how unique your browser is on the web. Good food for thought when three-letter agencies talk about "mere metadata."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader send this link to a developing situation in Sydney, Australia, being reported on via live feed at the Guardian, and covered by various other news outlets as well. According to CNN's coverage, "CNN affiliate Seven Network said that at least 13 people are being held at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe. It published a photograph of people inside the cafe holding a black flag with Arabic writing on it. The flag reads: "There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God." From The New York Times' coverage: The police have shut down parts of the city’s transport system, and closed off the mall area. They would not confirm how many people were being held hostage inside the cafe, nor whether those inside are armed. Local media reports said that the airspace over Sydney had been closed and the famed Sydney Opera House evacuated. Television images showed heavily armed officers with their weapons trained on the cafe.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
Wycliffe writes Like many people, I am starting to get a huge collection of digital photos from family vacations, etc. I am looking for some software that allows me to rate/tag my own photos in a quick way. I really don't want to spend the time tagging a bunch of photos and then be locked into a single piece of software, so what is the best software to help organize and tag photos so that I can quickly find highlights without being locked into that software for life? I would prefer open source to prevent lock-in and also prefer Linux but could do Windows if necessary.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
Forbes contributor Jason Evangelho has nothing good to say about a recent Windows 7 patch that's causing a range of trouble for some users. He writes: If you have Windows 7 set to automatically update every Tuesday, it may be to permanently disable that feature. Microsoft has just confirmed that a recent update — specifically KB 3004394 — is causing a range of serious problems and recommends removing it. The first issue that caught my attention, via AMD’s Robert Hallock, is that KB 3004394 blocks the installation or update of graphics drivers such as AMD’s new Catalyst Omega. Nvidia users are also reporting difficulty installing GeForce drivers, though I can’t confirm this personally as my machines are all Windows 8.1. Hallock recommended manually uninstalling the update, advice now echoed officially by Microsoft. More troubles are detailed in the article; on the upside, Microsoft has released a fix.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
mikejuk (1801200) writes "When British astronaut Tim Peake heads off to the International Space Station in November 2015 he will be accompanied on his 6-month mission by two augmented Rapsberry Pis, aka Astro Pis. The Astro Pi board is a Raspberry Pi HAT and provides gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer and sensors for temperature, barometric pressure and humidity. It also has a real time clock, LED display and some push buttons — it sounds like the sort of addon that we could do with down here on earth as well! It will also be equipped with both camera module and an infra-red camera. UK school pupils are being challenged to write Rapberry Pi apps or experiments to run in space. During his mission Tim Peake will deploy the Astro Pis, upload the winning code whilst in orbit, set them running, collect the data generated and then download it to be distributed to the winning teams.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
New submitter Admiral Jimbob McGif writes Even as a massive firestorm burns uncontrollably threatening to scorch the very foundations of the internet with AT&T indefinitely halting future GigaPower FTTH rollouts due to uncertainty over the future of net neutrality and the Obama administration proposing to regulate the internet under Title 2, highly suggestive jobs were recently added to Google Careers. These Google Fiber related positions include: "City Manager", "Community Impact Manager" and "Plant Manager" in all potential Google Fiber cities. Perplexing inconsistences abound, such as Portland, Phoenix, San Jose and Atlanta positions being listed as local. Whereas San Antonio, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Nashville are listed as telecommute positions. One is inclined to speculate as to what these job postings mean despite Google's disclaimer: "Not all cities where we're exploring hiring a team will necessarily become Google Fiber cities." Would Google post jobs as an act of posturing much like AT&T's supposed "Gigabit smoke screen" bluff? Or, should we expect to see these so called Fiber Huts springing up like so many mushrooms after a heavy rain in an additional 9 metro areas? At the rate Google is going, is it too soon to speculate over Fiber Dojos popping up in Japan?

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes The uncertainty of science: 2014 caps the quietest three year period for tornadoes on record, and scientists really don't understand why. "Harold Brooks, a meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., said there's no consistent reason for the three-year lull — the calmest stretch since a similar quiet period in the late 1980s — because weather patterns have varied significantly from year to year. While 2012 tornado activity was likely suppressed by the warm, dry conditions in the spring, 2013 was on the cool side for much of the prime storm season before cranking up briefly in late May, especially in Oklahoma, SPC meteorologist Greg Carbin said. Then, activity quickly quieted for the summer of 2013."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes The WSJ reports that the revival of vinyl records, a several-year trend that many figured was a passing fad, has accelerated during 2014 with an astounding 49 percent sales increase over 2013 (line chart here). Some listeners think that vinyl reproduces sound better than digital, and some youngsters like the social experience of gathering around a turntable. The records are pressed at a handful of decades-old, labor-intensive factories that can't keep up with the demand; but since the increased sales still represent only about 2 percent of US music sales, there hasn't been a rush of capital investment to open new plants. Raw vinyl must now be imported to America from countries such as Thailand, since the last US supplier closed shop years ago. Meanwhile, an industry pro offers his take on the endless debate of audio differences between analog records and digital formats; it turns out there were reasons for limiting playing time on each side back in the day, apart from bands not having enough decent material.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
New submitter mrflash818 writes Facebook has dumped search results from Microsoft's Bing after the social networking giant earlier this week launched its own tool for finding comments and other information. According to Reuters, Facebook confirmed the move Friday. TechCrunch, drawing on the same Reuters story as VentureBeat, says "The report says that Facebook’s new search tool will give users the ability to filter through old comments and other information from friends. Facebook has been building out its search products for a long time, using Bing as an extra layer to provide results beyond the Interest Graph in an effort to avoid letting rival Google into the system."

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