posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Now that I've spent close to a month digitizing a desk drawer's worth of VHS tapes, deinterlacing and postprocessing the originals to minimize years of tape decay, and compressing everything down to H.264, I've found myself with a hard drive full of loosely organized videos. They'll get picked up by my existing monthly backup, but I feel like I haven't gained much in the way of redundancy, as I thought I would. Instead of having tapes slowly degrade, I'm now open to losing entire movies at once, should both of my drives go bad. Does anyone maintain a library, and if so, what would they recommend? Is having them duplicated on two drives (one of which is spun down for all but one day of the month) a good-enough long term strategy? Should I look into additionally backing up to optical discs or flash drives, building out a better (RAIDed) backup machine, or even keeping the original tapes around despite them having been digitized?

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes The Chinese city of Chongqing has created a smartphone sidewalk lane, offering a path for those too caught up in messaging and tweeting to watch where they're going. "There are lots of elderly people and children in our street, and walking with your cell phone may cause unnecessary collisions here," said Nong Cheng, a spokeswoman for the district's property management company. However, she clarified that the initiative was meant to be a satirical way to highlight the dangers of texting and walking.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes Scientists have declared a new record has been set for the extent of Antarctic sea ice since records began. Satellite imagery reveals an area of about 20 million square kilometers covered by sea ice around the Antarctic continent. Jan Lieser from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) said the discovery was made two days ago. "Thirty-five years ago the first satellites went up which were reliably telling us what area, two dimensional area, of sea ice was covered and we've never seen that before, that much area."

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
jawtheshark writes The rumors were true. Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, is being sold to Microsoft. Of course, the promise is to keep all products supported as they are. From the article: "Microsoft said it has agreed to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish video game company behind the hit Minecraft game, boosting its mobile efforts and cementing control of another hit title for its Xbox console. Minecraft, which has notched about 50 million copies sold, will be purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion, the company said in a statement. The move marks the tech giant's most ambitious video game purchase and the largest acquisition for Satya Nadella, its new chief executive. Minecraft is more than a great game franchise - it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft,' Nadella said in a statement."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Comcast agents have reportedly contacted customers who use Tor and said their service can get terminated if they don't stop using Tor. According to Deep.Dot.Web, one of those calls included a Comcast customer service agent who allegedly called Tor an “illegal service.” The Comcast agent told the customer that such activity is against usage policies. The Comcast agent then allegedly told the customer: "Users who try to use anonymity, or cover themselves up on the internet, are usually doing things that aren’t so-to-speak legal. We have the right to terminate, fine, or suspend your account at anytime due to you violating the rules. Do you have any other questions? Thank you for contacting Comcast, have a great day."

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes Google has revealed that it's launching the finished 64-bit version of Chrome 39 for OS X this November, which already brought benefits in speed, security and stability on Windows. However at this point the 32-bit build for Mac will cease to exist. Just to make it clear, this decision does not apply to Windows and Linux builds, at least for now. As a side effect, 32-bit NPAPI plugins will not work on Chrome on Mac version 39 onwards. The affected hardware are only the very first x86-based Macs with Intel Core Duo processors. An interesting question remains, whether the open source version of Chrome, which is of course Chromium, could still be compiled for x86-32 on OS X.

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posted 2 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader points out this advancement in 3D printing. This week, at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, Arizona-based automobile manufacturer Local Motors stole the show. Over the six day span of the IMTS, the company managed to 3D print, and assemble an entire automobile, called the "Strati", live in front of spectators. Although the Strati is not the first ever car to be 3D printed, the advancements made by Local Motor with help from Cincinnati Inc, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, have produced a vehicle in days rather than months.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
mdsolar writes with this story of a company that uses solar energy to recover crude oil. Royal Dutch Shell has teamed with a sovereign investment fund from Oman to invest $53 million in a company that manufactures solar power equipment designed for increasing oil production. Glasspoint Solar Inc. installs aluminum mirrors near oil fields that concentrate solar radiation on insulated tubes containing water. The steam generated from heating the water is injected into oil fields to recover heavy crude oil. This concept of enhanced oil recovery. involves high pressure injection of hot fluids to recover heavy crude oil. The use of renewable energy like solar power makes great economic sense, as the fuel cost associated with this enhanced oil recovery technology is practically zero. Shell hopes to employ this technology in its oil fields in Oman. The company hopes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with enhanced oil recovery operations. A large-scale successful implementation of this technology could be a game changer for major consumers like India and the U.S.. Both have substantial oil reserves, but are unable to tap them due to high costs involved in heavy oil recovery.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
KDE Community (3396057) writes "KDevelop team is proud to announce the final release of KDevelop 4.7.0. This release is special, as it marks the end of the KDE4 era for us. As such, KDevelop 4.7.0 comes with a long-term stability guarantee. The CMake support was improved and extended to ensure that all idioms needed for KF5 development are available. The unit test support UI was polished and several bugs fixed. In the same direction, some noteworthy issues with the QtHelp integration were addressed. KDevelop's PHP language support now handles namespaces better and can understand traits aliases. Furthermore, some first fruits of the Google summer of code projects are included in this release. These changes pave the path toward better support for cross compile toolchains. Feature-wise, KDevelop now officially supports the Bazaar (bzr) version control system. On the performance front, it was possible to greatly reduce the memory footprint when loading large projects with several thousand files in KDevelop. Additionally, the startup should now be much faster."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes with news about a school in England that has introduced a cashless cafeteria system that is raising some privacy concerns among some. Stourbridge students will soon be able to pay for their lunch without searching their pockets for change. Redhill School has spent £20,000 updating its dining facilities and introducing a cashless catering system. The system will allow parents to deposit funds into students catering accounts, to be debited by the pupil's biometric fingerprint scan at the point of sale. Headteacher Stephen Dunster said: "The benefits are that pupils are less likely to lose cash, parents know their children are using their dinner money to buy nutritious food and there will also be a system to alert staff if students are purchasing food that they may be allergic to."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The New Yorker: In April, [Dr. Eytan Stein] presented his findings to a packed auditorium at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, in San Diego. It was the first public airing of the results of AG-221; patients with progressive [acute myelogenous leukemia] had never improved so quickly and definitively. ... The breakthrough is notable in part for the unconventional manner in which the drug attacks its target. There are many kinds of cancer, but treatments have typically combated them in one way only: by attempting to destroy the cancerous cells. Surgery aims to remove the entire growth from the body; chemotherapy drugs are toxic to the cancer cells; radiation generates toxic molecules that break up the cancer cells' DNA and proteins, causing their demise. A more recent approach, immunotherapy, co-opts the body's immune system into attacking and eradicating the tumor. The Agios drug, instead of killing the leukemic cells — immature blood cells gone haywire — coaxes them into maturing into functioning blood cells. Cancerous cells traditionally have been viewed as a lost cause, fit only for destruction. The emerging research on A.M.L. suggests that at least some cancer cells might be redeemable: they still carry their original programming and can be pressed back onto a pathway to health.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 sends word that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has authorized a 90-day extension to the NSA's ability to collect bulk metadata about U.S. citizens' phone calls. In April, the House of Representatives passed a bill to limit the NSA's collection of metadata, but the Senate has been working on their version of the bill since then without yet voting on it. Because of this, and the alleged importance of continuing intelligence operations, the government sought a 90-day reauthorization of the current program. The court agreed. Senator Patrick Leahy said this clearly demonstrates the need to get this legislation passed. "We cannot wait any longer, and we cannot defer action on this important issue until the next Congress. This announcement underscores, once again, that it is time for Congress to enact meaningful reforms to protect individual privacy.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
New submitter anlashok writes: Atheism and science face a real challenge: To frame an account of science, or nature, that leaves room for meaning. According to this article, atheists have pinned their flag to Mr. Spock's mast. But they need Captain Kirk. Quoting: "I'm pro-science, but I'm against what I'll call "Spock-ism," after the character from the TV show Star Trek. I reject the idea that science is logical, purely rational, that it is detached and value-free, and that it is, for all these reasons, morally superior. Spock-ism gives us a false picture of science. It gives us a false picture of humankind's situation. We are not disinterested knowers. The natural world is not a puzzle. ... The big challenge for atheism is not God; it is that of providing an alternative to Spock-ism. We need an account of our place in the world that leaves room for value."

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Despite recent advances in medicine to treat Ebola, epidemiologists are not hopeful that the outbreak in west Africa will be contained any time soon. Revised models for the disease's spread expect the outbreak to last 12 to 18 months longer, likely infecting hundreds of thousands of people. "While previous outbreaks have been largely confined to rural areas, the current epidemic, the largest ever, has reached densely populated, impoverished cities — including Monrovia, the capital of Liberia — gravely complicating efforts to control the spread of the disease. ... What worries public health officials most is that the epidemic has begun to grow exponentially in Liberia. In the most recent week reported, Liberia had nearly 400 new cases, almost double the number reported the week before. Another grave concern, the W.H.O. said, is 'evidence of substantial underreporting of cases and deaths.' The organization reported on Friday that the number of Ebola cases as of Sept. 7 was 4,366, including 2,218 deaths." Scientists are urging greater public health efforts to slow the exponential trajectory of the disease and bring it back under control.

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posted 3 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "The Paris Review has an article about SF author Stanislaw Lem, explaining Lem's outlook on the future and his expectations for technological advancement. Lem tended toward a view that technology would infect and eventually supplant biological evolution. But he also suggested an interesting explanation for why we haven't detected alien civilizations: "Perhaps ... they are so taken up with perfecting their own organisms that they've abandoned space exploration entirely. According to a similar hypothesis, such beings are invisible because technological ease has resulted in a 'Second Stone Age' of 'universal illiteracy and idleness.' When everyone's needs are perfectly met, it 'would be hard, indeed, to find one individual who would choose as his life's work the signaling, on a cosmic scale, of how he was getting along.' Rather than constructing Dyson Spheres, Lem suggests, advanced civilizations are more likely to spend their time getting high.""

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke on Thursday to faculty and students at the University of Oklahoma City about the privacy perils brought on by modern technology. She warned that the march of technological progress comes with a need to enact privacy protections if we want to avoid living in an "Orwellian world" of constant surveillance. She said, "There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that's happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom. Because people think that it should be protected just against government intrusion, but I don't like the fact that someone I don't know can pick up, if they're a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property."

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: The military and private contractors have been toying with exoskeletal combat suits for a while, but Harvard's Wyss Institute has a new take on the concept. Rather than using a hard metal frame and the massively overpowered mechanical servos necessary to move it, the Soft Exosuit is a lightweight mesh of webbing combined with a series of strain sensors and basic microprocessors. "The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons when a person walks, and provides small but carefully timed assistance at the leg joints without restricting the wearer's movement." The suit continually monitors its wearer's body position, movement, and muscular strain, providing small amounts of targeted support. The team has now received $2.9 million in funding from DARPA to refine the suit's design. They say they'll be working on medical applications for the suit as well as military ones.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
DeviceGuru writes: The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), which maintains the open source Robot Operating System (ROS), has announced its first formal support for an ARM target. The organization will add support for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, a smartphone-oriented, quad-core, Cortex-A15-like system-on-chip running up to 1.7GHz. The Linux version of ROS for Snapdragon 600 will be available in Q4 of this year, with the Android version due in the first half of 2015. The OSRF will test, refine, and fully integrate support for the ARM instruction set architecture into ROS development efforts. OSRF will also perform ongoing maintenance to support ROS on the Snapdragon 600.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Speech recognition has gotten pretty good over the past several years. it's reliable enough to be ubiquitous in our mobile devices. But now we have an interesting, related dilemma: should we develop algorithms that can lip read? It's a more challenging problem, to be sure. Sounds can be translated directly into words, but deriving meaning out of the movement of a person's face is much more complex. "During speech, the mouth forms between 10 and 14 different shapes, known as visemes. By contrast, speech contains around 50 individual sounds known as phonemes. So a single viseme can represent several different phonemes. And therein lies the problem. A sequence of visemes cannot usually be associated with a unique word or sequence of words. Instead, a sequence of visemes can have several different solutions." Beyond the computational aspect, we also need to decide, as a society, if this is a technology that should exist. The privacy implications extend beyond that of simple voice recognition.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Dan Friedman at TechCrunch is ready to call Massive Open Online Courses a failure. Originally hailed as a revolution in learning, MOOCs have seen disappointing course completion numbers. Coursera and Udacity, two of the most prominent online learning hubs, have seen about 8 million enrollments in the past few years. Unfortunately, half of those students didn't even watch a single lecture, and only a few hundred thousand completed the course they signed up for. Friedman says, "[N]ew technologies enable methods of "learn by doing" that just weren't possible before we could deliver immersive experiences to people's laptops and phones. In the 1960's, Jerome Bruner expanded an educational theory known as constructivism with the idea that students should learn through inquiry under the guidance of a teacher to grasp complex ideas intuitively. That process of trial, failure, and then being shown the correct path has been proven to drive student motivation and retention of learning. What we don't yet know is if that process of trial and failure can become 10x more engaging when delivered through a new medium such as Minecraft or Oculus. ... These new immersive worlds promise to hold the attention of students in ways textbooks never could."

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: As small drones become affordable, and as clever people come up with ideas on how to use them, we've been hearing about more and more plans for drone-based business. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration was quick to shut down such ideas in order to give themselves time to regulate the nascent industry. Not so, in Canada. Thanks to a simple permit system, anyone wanting to use a drone for commercial purposes can do so in Canada by simply applying and waiting a few weeks. Around 1,500 of these permits have been granted already, and Canada's private drone industry is flourishing as a result. Drones have been used for agriculture analysis, TV production, real estate photography, law enforcement, and many other tasks.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
Destiny is a first-person shooter set in a persistent, online world. It was released on Tuesday by Bungie, the development studio behind Halo, and billed as a blending of console shooters and progression-based MMOs. Reviews for the game are finally trickling out, and most publications say it's merely average. (Though it's worth noting that the social and multiplayer portions of the game are difficult to evaluate in such a short timeframe, and like many MMOs, Destiny will continue to see active development.) Polygon's Arthur Gies reports, "Destiny doesn't look real, but rather, it looks like painted concept art, meticulously assembled and presented to you at all times. Instead, it's the suggestion, through Destiny's concept, its soundtrack and its visual presentation, that Destiny is big. That there's a whole universe out there to explore, a reality worth discovering. There isn't, though." Jeff Gerstmann at Giant Bomb had a similar reaction: "There are cool little flashes of brilliance in Destiny, but a lot of it feels like a game designed by people who weren't sure what sort of game they were designing. Is it a loot shooter? Sort of, but the loot isn't very good. Is it an MMO? No, but you'll occasionally encounter other players out in the field. A story-driven shooter like the Halo franchise? Sure, if you don't mind digging through the developer's website to find those little bits of lore." The Escapist's Jim Sterling concludes, "Destiny exists in the shadow of multiple games, taking a little from each, and doing nothing truly remarkable with any of it. It's a prime example of how the nebulous concept of 'content' can be used to puff up a game without adding anything to it."

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
SternisheFan sends news that researchers from the University of Cambridge have made a breakthrough in the production of human pluripotent stem cells. The goal when developing this kind of stem cell is to have them as early in the cell's lifecycle as possible, so that they're more like true embryonic stem cells and can fulfill whatever role is needed. But all of them made so far are advanced slightly down their developmental pathway. The new work, published in the journal Cell (abstract), has found a way to "reset" the cells by introducing two genes that induce a developmental "ground state."

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Ride-share companies like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar got letters from the California Public Utilities Commission this week telling them that carpool features for their services are illegal. "Basically, the CPUC says that under California law it's illegal for these ride-sharing services to charge passengers an individual fare when carrying multiple people in one vehicle. If the companies would like to add a carpool feature, they first have to request an adjustment to their existing permits with the CPUC or petition the state legislature to modify the law. Uber, Lyft and Sidecar all unveiled carpool features last month. The three companies say the feature lets strangers in multiple locations, but heading the same direction, share rides and split fares — saving passengers up to 50 percent per ride." This news arrives just as Uber gave in to the demands of striking drivers who claim the company is undermining their ability to earn a livable wage.

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posted 4 days ago on slashdot
When NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars, the mission team had a particular destination in mind: Mount Sharp. Just over two years and about nine kilometers of driving later, Curiosity has arrived at Mount Sharp. It will now begin its ascent of the mountain (PDF), first analyzing basal rocks with a "paintbrush" texture, then moving further to observe hematite-bearing rocks further up the slope. It will then proceed into an area laden with clay-bearing rocks, and finally to the upper reaches of the foothills, which contain rocks with magnesium sulfate in them. The team has selected routes and driving modes that they hope will slow the steadily accumulating damage to the rover's wheels.

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