posted 6 days ago on slashdot
MojoKid writes Not many would argue that current console and PC graphics technologies still haven't reached a level of "photo-realism." However, a company by the name of Euclideon is claiming to be preparing to deliver that holy grail based on laser scanning and voxel engine-based technologies. The company has put together a six-minute video clip of its new engine, and its genuinely impressive. There's a supposed-to-be-impressive unveil around the two minute mark where the announcer declares he's showing us computer-generated graphics rather than a digital photo — something you'll probably have figured out long before that point. Euclideon's proprietary design purportedly uses a laser scanner to create a point cloud model of a real-world area. That area can then be translated into a voxel renderer and drawn by a standard GPU. Supposedly this can be done so efficiently and with such speed that there's no need for conventional load screens or enormous amounts of texture memory but rather by simply streaming data off conventional hard drives. Previously, critiques have pointed to animation as one area where the company's technique might struggle. Given the ongoing lack of a demonstrated solution for animation, it's fair to assume this would-be game-changer has some challenges still to solve. That said, some of the renderings are impressive.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Bismillah writes AWS is currently emailing EC2 customers that it will need to reboot their instances for maintenance over the next few days. The email doesn't explain why the reboots are being done, but it is most likely to patch for the embargoed XSA-108 bug in Xen. ZDNet takes this as a spur to remind everyone that the cloud is not magical. Also at The Register.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes There was an understandable amount of skepticism when Amazon announced its grand plans for delivery drones last year. But if the last twelve months are any indication, Jeff Bezos and his fellow tech heavyweights are actually kinda serious about the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. Speaking at the Social Good Summit in New York on Monday, engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire, has further detailed the company's vision of internet-carrying drones, with plans to begin testing in 2015.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 (797399) writes "Alan Boyle has some interesting thoughts on why it cost India so little, less than the budget of the movie Gravity, to build and send its probe Mangalyaan to Mars: 'The $74 million Mars Orbiter Mission, also known by the acronym MOM or the Hindi word Mangalyaan ("Mars-Craft"), didn't just cost less than the $100 million Hollywood blockbuster starring Sandra Bullock. The price tag is a mere one-ninth of the cost of NASA's $671 million Maven mission, which also put its spacecraft into Mars orbit this week. The differential definitely hints at a new paradigm for space exploration — one that's taking hold not only in Bangalore, but around the world. At the same time, it hints at the dramatically different objectives for MOM and Maven, and the dramatically different environments in which those missions took shape.' Read it all. It gives us a hint at the future of space exploration.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Jana Kasperkevic writes at The Guardian that it's not every day that you get to buy an iPhone from an ex-NSA officer. Yet Thomas Drake, former senior executive at National Security Agency, is well known in the national security circles for leaking information about the NSA's Trailblazer project to Baltimore Sun. In 2010, the government dropped all 10 felony charges against him and he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for unauthorized use of a computer and lost his livelihood. "You have to mortgage your house, you have to empty your bank account. I went from making well over $150,000 a year to a quarter of that," says Drake. "The cost alone, financially — never mind the personal cost — is approaching million dollars in terms of lost income, expenses and other costs I incurred." John Kiriakou became the first former government official to confirm the use of waterboarding against al-Qaida suspects in 2009. "I have applied for every job I can think of – everything from grocery stores to Toys R Us to Starbucks. You name it, I've applied there. Haven't gotten even an email or a call back," says Kiriakou. According to Kasperkevic, this is what most whistleblowers can expect. The potential threat of prosecution, the mounting legal bills and the lack of future job opportunities all contribute to a hesitation among many to rock the boat. "Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, declared a war on whistleblowers virtually as soon as they assumed office," says Kiriakou. "Washington has always needed an "ism" to fight against, an idea against which it could rally its citizens like lemmings. First, it was anarchism, then socialism, then communism. Now, it's terrorism. Any whistleblower who goes public in the name of protecting human rights or civil liberties is accused of helping the terrorists."

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter bigal123 writes My son's school is moving more and more online and is even assigning Chromebooks or iPads to students (depending on the grade). In some cases they may have books, but the books stay home and they have user names and passwords to the various text book sites. They also have user names/passwords to several other school resources. Most all the sites are 3rd party. So each child may have many user names (various formats) and passwords. They emphasized how these elementary kids needed to keep their passwords safe and not share them with other kids. However when asked about the kids remembering all the user names and passwords the school said they are going to have the kids write them down in a notebook. This seemed like a very bad practice for a classroom and to/from home situation. Do others have good password management suggestions or suggestions for a single sign-on process (no/minimal cost) for kids in school accessing school provisioned resources?

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter bigal123 writes My son's school is moving more and more online and is even assigning Chromebooks or iPads to students (depending on the grade). In some cases they may have books, but the books stay home and they have user names and passwords to the various text book sites. They also have user names/passwords to several other school resources. Most all the sites are 3rd party. So each child may have many user names (various formats) and passwords. They emphasized how these elementary kids needed to keep their passwords safe and not share them with other kids. However when asked about the kids remembering all the user names and passwords the school said they are going to have the kids write them down in a notebook. This seemed like a very bad practice for a classroom and to/from home situation. Do others have good password management suggestions or suggestions for a single sign-on process (no/minimal cost) for kids in school accessing school provisioned resources?

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
PattonPending sends news of the discovery of the smallest exoplanet yet to have water vapor in its atmosphere. Astronomers have detected water vapor in the atmosphere of a planet that orbits a star far beyond our solar system. Observations of the Neptune-sized planet, which lies 120 light years from Earth in the constellation of Cygnus, revealed that its atmosphere was mostly hydrogen with around 25% made up from water va-pour. Until now, researchers have been frustrated in their efforts to study the atmospheres of planets much smaller than Jupiter because their skies were thick with clouds. The problem was so persistent that astronomers had begun to think that all warm, small planets formed with substantial cloud cover. But writing in the journal Nature, scientists in the U.S. describe how they found a Neptune-sized planet with cloud-free skies, enabling them to make detailed measurements of a small planet's atmosphere for the first time.

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posted 6 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "GNOME 3.14 was released today and it includes some interesting changes such as re-worked default theme, multi-touch gestures for both the system and applications, and new animations. Information including details on all the new features, can be found here."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes 'Academic scientists with federal funding who work with any of 15 dangerous microbes or toxins will soon have to flag specific studies that could potentially be used to cause harm and work with their institutions to reduce risks, according to new U.S. government rules released today. The long-awaited final rule is similar to a February 2013 draft and is "about what we expected," says Carrie Wolinetz, a deputy director of federal relations at the Association of American Universities (AAU) in Washington, D.C., which represents more than 60 major research universities. Those schools see the rules as replicating other federal security and safety rules, Wolinetz says, but will adjust to them. But some observers have concerns, such as that the rules do not apply to other risky biological agents. In a conference call with reporters today, a White House official said the government is open to a "broader discussion" about whether it should expand the list of 15 regulated agents.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
alphadogg writes Within hours of releasing an iOS 8 update to address assorted bugs in the new iPhone and iPad operating system Apple has been forced to pull the patch, which itself was causing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users grief. Reports filled Apple support forums that the iOS 8 update was cutting off users' cell service and making Touch ID inoperable. The Wall Street Journal received this statement from Apple: "We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update. We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes The new rules would allow garbage collectors to inspect trash cans and ticket offending parties if food and compostable material makes up 10 percent or more of the trash. The fines will begin at $1 for residents and $50 for businesses and apartment buildings. "SPU doesn’t expect to collect many fines, says Tim Croll, the agency’s solid-waste director. The city outlawed recyclable items from the trash nine years ago, but SPU has collected less than $2,000 in fines since then, Croll says. 'The point isn’t to raise revenue,' he said. 'We care more about reminding people to separate their materials.'"

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes Stanford University has pledged not to use money from Google to fund privacy research at its Center for Internet and Society — a move that critics claim poses a threat to academic freedom. The center has long been generously funded by Google but its privacy research has proved damaging to the search giant as of late. Just two years ago, a researcher at the center helped uncover Google privacy violations that led to the company paying a record $22.5 million fine. In 2011-2012, the center's privacy director helped lead a project to create a "Do Not Track" standard. The effort, not supported by Google, would have made it harder for advertisers to track what people do online, and likely would have cut into Google's ad revenue. Both Stanford and Google say the change in funding was unrelated to the previous research.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
kdryer39 sends this news from CSO: A remotely exploitable vulnerability has been discovered by Stephane Chazelas in bash on Linux, and it is unpleasant. The vulnerability has the CVE identifier CVE-2014-6271. This affects Debian as well as other Linux distributions. The major attack vectors that have been identified in this case are HTTP requests and CGI scripts. Another attack surface is OpenSSH through the use of AcceptEnv variables. Also through TERM and SSH_ORIGINAL_COMMAND. An environmental variable with an arbitrary name can carry a nefarious function which can enable network exploitation.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
New submitter Andrewkov writes: BlackBerry released its new Passport phone today. It has a square 4.5" screen and a physical keyboard, and it's aimed at corporate users. The company hopes the larger size, Siri-like voice recognition, 30-hour battery life, and improved security will buoy its market share. Early reviews are not terribly favorable — the Wall Street Journal says BlackBerry is still behind on the software, and "The bulky, awkward design and the unfamiliar keyboard make it hard to justify finding space for it in a pocket or bag." The Verge said, "[T]he Passport got in the way of getting work done more than it helped." Re/code calls it a phone only a BlackBerry user will love.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Koreantoast writes: Black holes, the stellar phenomena that continue to capture the imagination of scientists and science fiction authors, may not actually exist. According to a paper published by physics professor Laura Mersini-Houghton at the University of North Carolina and Mathematics Professor Harald Pfeiffer of the University of Toronto, as a collapsing star emits Hawking radiation, it also sheds mass at a rate that suggests it no longer has the density necessary to become a black hole — the singularity and event horizon never form. While the arXiv paper with the exact solution has not yet been peer reviewed, the preceding paper by Mersini-Houghton with the approximate solutions was published in Physics Letters B. "I'm still not over the shock," said Mersini-Houghton. "We've been studying this problem for a more than 50 years and this solution gives us a lot to think about... Physicists have been trying to merge these two theories – Einstein's theory of gravity and quantum mechanics – for decades, but this scenario brings these two theories together, into harmony."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
ideonexus writes: After Emma Watson gave a speech on the need for feminism (video) to the United Nations, 4chan users threatened to release nude photos of the Harry Potter star in retaliation, setting up the emmayouarenext.com website with a countdown clock. Now it has been revealed that the site was an elaborate hoax intended publicize a movement to shut down 4chan.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, has announced it intends to bring humans to the Moon by roughly 2030. Russia plans a full-scale exploration of the Moon's surface. Agency head Oleg Ostapenko said that by the end of the next decade, "based on the results of lunar surface exploration by unmanned space probes, we will designate [the] most promising places for lunar expeditions and lunar bases.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
KentuckyFC writes: Underwater vehicles have never matched the extraordinary agility of marine creatures. While many types of fish can travel at speeds of up to 10 body lengths per second, a nuclear sub can manage a less than half a body length per second. Now a team of researchers has copied a trick used by octopuses to build an underwater robot capable of matching the agility of marine creatures. This trick is the way an octopus expands the size of its head as it fills with water and then squirts it out to generate propulsion. The team copied this by building a robot with a flexible membrane that also expands as it fills with water. The fluid then squirts out through a rear-facing nozzle as the membrane contracts. To the team's surprise, the robot reached speeds of 10 body lengths per second with a peak acceleration of 14 body lengths per second squared. That's unprecedented in an underwater vehicle of this kind. What's more, the peak force experienced by the robot was 30 per cent greater than the thrust generated by the jet. The team think they know why and say the new technique could be used to design bigger subs capable of even more impressive octopus-like feats.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
MojoKid writes: Apple's iPhone 6 Plus weighs six ounces, and it's a scant 7.1mm thick. As an added bonus, according to a number of users, it has a hidden feature — it bends! And no, we don't mean it bends in a "Hey, what an awesome feature!" sort of way. More like a "Hey, the entire phone is near to snapping" kind of way. What's even more troubling is that many of the users who are reporting bent devices also claim that they were carrying it in front pockets or in a normal fashion as opposed to sitting on it directly. Either some of the iPhone 6 Plus hardware is defective (the vastly preferable option) or it's because the tests run by other venues are putting different kinds of stress on the chassis. It's not clear what the story is. Hopefully Apple will clarify it soon.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes: The NY Times reports that President Obama spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Summit and challenged China to make the same effort to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions and join a worldwide campaign to curb global warming. Obama's words were directly focused on putting the onus on China, an essential partner of the U.S. if a global climate treaty is to be negotiated by 2015. The U.S. and China bear a "special responsibility to lead," said Obama. "That's what big nations have to do." The U.S., Obama said, would meet a pledge to reduce its carbon emissions by 17 percent, from 2005 levels, by 2020 — a goal that is in large part expected to be met through proposed EPA regulation. There were indications that China might be ready with its own plan, although many experts say they will be skeptical until Chinese officials reveal the details. A senior Chinese official said his country would try to reach a peak level of carbon emissions "as early as possible." This suggests the Chinese government, struggling with air pollution so extreme that it has threatened economic growth, regularly kept millions of children indoors and ignited street protests, was determined to show faster progress in curbing emissions. In recent years, the Chinese government has sent other signals about addressing carbon pollution, some of them encouraging to environmental experts. "Five years ago, it was almost unimaginable to discuss China putting a cap on carbon, but now that is happening," said Lo Sze Ping, chief executive officer of the World Wildlife Fund's office in Beijing. "Chinese leaders have seen that it is imperative to move toward a low-carbon economy."

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
knwny writes: India's Mars satellite Mangalyaan was successfully placed into orbit around Mars early on Wednesday following a 10-month journey from Earth. India thus joins the U.S., the European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union in having successfully completed a Mars mission. It is, however, the only one to have done so on the first attempt. Headed by the Indian space agency ISRO, Mangalyaan was made in 15 months at a cost of just around 74 million USD — the cheapest inter-planetary mission ever to be undertaken.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
Threatpost reports: Heatmiser, a U.K.-based manufacturer of digital thermostats, is contacting its customers today about a series of security issues that could expose a Wi-Fi-connected version of its product to takeover. Andrew Tierney, a "reverse-engineer by night," whose specialty is digging up bugs in embedded systems wrote on his blog, that he initially read about vulnerabilities in another one of the company's products, NetMonitor, and decided to poke around its product line further. This led him to discover a slew of issues in the company's Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats running firmware version 1.2. The issues range from simple security missteps to critical oversights.For example, when users go to connect the thermostat via a Windows utility, it uses default web credentials and PINs. ...Elsewhere, the thermostat leaks Wi-Fi credentials, like its password, username, Service Set Identifier (SSID) and so on, when its logged in. Related: O'Reilly Radar has an interesting conversation about what companies will vie for control of the internet-of-things ecosystem.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes: Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than previously thought — at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time. In other lingering radiation news, reader Rambo Tribble writes: Forest detritus, contaminated in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster (abstract), is decaying at a much slower rate than normal, building up and creating a significant fire risk. This, in turn, is creating a real potential for the residual radioactive material to be distributed, through smoke, over a broad area of Europe and Russia. Looking at different possible fire intensities, researchers speculate, "20 to 240 people would likely develop cancer, of which 10 to 170 cases may be fatal." These figures are similar to those hypothesized for Fukushima.

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posted 7 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Debian will switch back to using GNOME as the default desktop environment for the upcoming Debian 8.0 Jessie release, due out in 2015. The decision is based on accessibility and systemd integration, along with a host of other reasons. Debian switched away from GNOME back in 2012 .

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