posted 8 days ago on slashdot
MarkWhittington writes: The Associated Press noted the passing of former Rep. Louis Stokes at the age of 90. Since Stokes was an African American Democrat first elected in 1968, most of the accolades touch on his effect on the civil rights struggle and his lifelong fight against racism. However, as George Abbey, former NASA Director of the Johnson Spaceflight Center and current Fellow in Space Policy at the Baker Institute of Rice University pointed out on his Facebook Page, Stokes can be rightly be said to be the man who saved the International Space Station and perhaps human space flight in America.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
darthcamaro writes: At the Linuxcon conference in Seattle today, Linus Torvalds responded to questions about Linux security and about the next 10 years of Linux. For security, Torvalds isn't too worried as he sees it just being about dealing with bugs. When it comes to having a roadmap he's not worried either as he just leaves that to others. "I'm a very plodding, pedestrian person and look only about six months ahead," Torvalds said. "I look at the current release and the next one, as I don't think planning 10 years ahead is sane."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
dkatana writes: Now that Windows 10 is finally out there many people are looking for the best laptop with the power to make the new OS shine. The sweet spot appears to be in $900-$1500 machines from Dell, Asus and HP. But Apple, the company that has been fighting Windows for ever, has other options for Windows 10: the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. According to InformationWeek there are many reasons to consider purchasing a MacBook as the next Windows machine, including design, reliability, performance, battery life, display quality and better keyboard. Also MacBooks have a higher resell value, retaining up to 50% of their price after five years.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes: Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Samsung have developed a new approach to one of the three basic components of batteries, the electrolyte. The new findings are based on the idea that a solid electrolyte, rather than liquid, could greatly improve both device lifetime and safety, while also providing a significant boost in power density. The new type of electrolyte would also cope better in cold temperatures. The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials in a paper by MIT postdoc Yan Wang, visiting professor of materials science and engineering Gerbrand Ceder, and five others.

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: You may recall Popcorn Time, the software that integrated torrents with a streaming media player. It fell afoul of the law quite quickly, but survived and stabilized. Now, out of Denmark comes news that two men operating websites related to Popcorn Time have been arrested, and their sites have been shut down. It's notable because the sites were informational resources, explaining how to use the software. They did not link to any copyright-infringing material, they were not involved with development of Popcorn Time or any of its forks, and they didn't host the software. "Both men stand accused of distributing knowledge and guides on how to obtain illegal content online and are reported to have confessed."

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posted 8 days ago on slashdot
Tarek Loubani is an emergency medicine physician who works as a consultant doctor in the emergency departments in London, Canada and Shifa Hospital in Gaza. He is also an assistant professor at the Department of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario. Tarek has been working in Gaza for the past 5 years, where he made news recently by creating a 3D-printable, 30-cent stethoscope that is better than the world's best $200 equivalent. The need to develop free and open medical devices due to the lack of medical supplies resulting from the blockade, inspired Loubani who hopes the stethoscope is just the beginning of replacing expensive proprietary medical tools. Tarek has agreed to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: FiveThirtyEight has an article about the surging popularity of new board games, which is being boosted by campaigns on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Since Kickstarter came online in 2009, board games and card games have accrued $196 million in pledges, 93% of which went to successful projects. That's even better than video games have done, at $179 million and 85%. For an industry whose yearly sales don't tend to break $1 billion, those are impressive numbers. The article attempts to explain their success: "Designers show up, explain their game idea on a Web page, often with photos and a video, and ask for pledges. That lets a designer learn, in real time, what the demand for his game is. ... Second, they are democratizing tools. Internet crowdfunding has done the same thing for game designers that blogging platforms did for writers: turned them into publishers."

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
MojoKid writes: Intel is still keeping a number of details regarding its complete Skylake microarchitecture and product line-up under wraps for a few more weeks, but at a public session at IDF, some of the design updates introduced with Skylake were detailed. Virtually every aspect of Skylake has been improved versus the previous-gen Haswell microarchitecture. I/O, Ring Bus, and LLC throughput has been increased, the graphics architecture has been updated to support DX12 and new eDRAM configurations, it has an integrated camera ISP, support for faster DDR4 memory, and more flexible overclocking features. All of these things culminate in a processor that offers higher IPC performance and improved power efficiency. There are also new security technologies dubbed Intel Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) onboard Skylake, which support new instructions to create and isolate enclaves from malware and privileged software attack, along with Memory Protection Extensions (Intel MPX) to help protect stack and heap buffer boundaries as well. A new technology, dubbed Intel Speed Shift, also allows Skylake to switch power states faster than previous-gen products, controlling P states fully in hardware, whereas previous-gen products required OS control. The end result is that Skylake can switch P states in 1ms, whereas it takes roughly 30ms with older processors.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Junk DNA (or noncoding DNA) is a term for section of a DNA strand that doesn't actually do much. Huge tracts of the human genome consist of junk DNA, and researchers are now finding that it may be more useful than previously thought. "For most of the last 40 years, scientists thought that [gene duplication] was the primary way new genes were born — they simply arose from copies of existing genes. The old version went on doing its job, and the new copy became free to evolve novel functions. Certain genes, however, seem to defy that origin story. They have no known relatives, and they bear no resemblance to any other gene. ... But in the past few years, a once-heretical explanation has quickly gained momentum — that many of these orphans arose out of so-called junk DNA."

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
minstrelmike writes: Over the weekend, hundreds of flights were delayed or canceled in the Washington, D.C. area after air traffic systems malfunctioned. Now, the FAA says the problem was related to a recent software upgrade at a local radar facility. The software had been upgraded to display customized windows of reference data that were supposed to disappear once deleted. Unfortunately, the systems ended up running out of memory. The FAA's report is vague about whether it was operator error or software error: "... as controllers adjusted their unique settings, those changes remained in memory until the storage limit was filled." Wonder what programming language they used?

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Between 2011 and 2014, the municipality of Pesaro, Italy, trained up its 500 employees to use OpenOffice. However, last year the organization decided to switch back to Microsoft and use its cloud productivity suite Office 365. According to a report from Netics Observatory (Google translation of Italian original), the city administration will be able to save up to 80% of the software's total cost of ownership by going back. The savings are largely due to the significant and unexpected deployment costs. In particular, having to repaginate and tweak a number of documents due to a lack of compatibility between the proprietary and the open source systems translated into a considerable waste of time and productivity. The management estimates that every day roughly 300 employees had to spend up to 15 minutes each sorting out such issues.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
AmiMoJo writes: The debate about comment sections on news sites is often as divisive as the comments themselves. Recently outlets such as The Verge and The Daily Dot have closed their comments sections because they've become too hard to manage. And they're far from alone. Moderating comments is a full-time job (or several full-time jobs) at many news organisations. Nicholas White, editor at The Daily Dot, noted that "in our experience, our community hasn't evolved in our comments. It's evolved in our social media accounts. To have comments, you have to be very active, and if you're not incredibly active, what ends up happening is a mob can shout down all the other people on your site. In an environment that isn't heavily curated it becomes about silencing voices and not about opening up voices." Riese, co-founder and editor-in-chief of LGBT site Autostraddle, adds, "I completely understand why The Daily Dot wouldn't want to have comments — or in fact why most websites wouldn't want to have comments. I think 75% of the time they're more trouble than they're worth, and for us it's still a lot of work to keep up on. Not all of our users are necessarily on Facebook or are out as gay on Facebook, or are comfortable talking about queer stuff on Facebook. We keep comments on the site which is a safe space for people to exchange ideas — and that's a big factor for us."

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes: A team of researchers from Ohio State University claim to have grown a human brain in their lab that approximates the brain of a five-week-old fetus. They say the tiny brain is not conscious, but it could be used to test drugs and study diseases, but scientific peers urge caution. "The brain, which is about the size of a pencil eraser, is engineered from adult human skin cells and is the most complete human brain model yet developed, [the researchers say]. ... Anand and his colleagues claim to have reproduced 99% of the brain’s diverse cell types and genes. They say their brain also contains a spinal cord, signalling circuitry and even a retina." The team's data has not yet been peer reviewed.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Ian Murdock has pretty solid open source cred: in 1993 he founded Debian, he was the CTO of Progeny and the Linux Foundation, and he helped pave the way for OpenSolaris. He has published a post about how he initially joined the Linux ecosystem. Quoting: "[In 1992], I spent most evenings in the basement of the MATH building basking in the green phosphorescent glow of the Z-29 terminals, exploring every nook and cranny of the UNIX system upstairs. ... I was also accessing UNIX from home via my Intel 80286-based PC and a 2400-baud modem, which saved me the trek across campus to the computer lab on particularly cold days. Being able to get to the Sequent from home was great, but I wanted to replicate the experience of the ENAD building's X terminals, so one day, in January 1993, I set out to find an X server that would run on my PC. As I searched for such a thing on Usenet, I stumbled across something called 'Linux.'" How did you come to find Linux?

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
Layzej writes: Have you ever been skeptical of a climate change story presented by a major media outlet? A new tool holds journalists to account for the veracity of their stories. "Using the Climate Feedback tool, scientists have started to diligently add detailed annotations to online content and have those notes appear alongside the story as it originally appeared. If you're the writer, then it's a bit like getting your homework handed back to you with the margins littered with corrections and red pen. Or smiley faces and gold stars if you've been good." The project has already prompted The Telegraph to publish major corrections to their story that suggested the Earth is headed for a "'mini ice age' within 15 years." The article has been modified in such a way that there is no more statement supporting the original message of an "imminent mini ice age."

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Following the recent news that Verizon has ended smartphone subsidies, now Sprint has announced it is ending two-year contracts as well. This leaves AT&T as the last of the major carriers to offer such a plan. Most consumers will now have to get used to paying full price for their phones, though Sprint is also running a phone-leasing plan that lets people pay an additional $22/month for an 16GB iPhone, with yearly upgrades.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
pdclarry notes that many news outlets are reporting that 9.7 GB of data stolen from cheating website AshleyMadison.com has been published online. "The dump contains files with titles including 'aminno_member_dump.gz,' 'aminno_member_email.dump.gz,' 'CreditCardTransactions7z,' and 'member_details.dump.gz,' an indication that the download could contain highly personal details." Brian Krebs questioned the way this has been reported without confirmation, but added that he's been contacted by several people who found their own accurate details within the data dump. Many of the reports note this detail: "Assuming the download turns out to be authentic, people should remember that it was possible for anyone to create an account using the name and e-mail address of other individuals."

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
mask.of.sanity writes: Microsoft has released an out-of-band patch for Internet Explorer versions seven to 11 that closes a dangerous remote code execution flaw allowing attackers to commandeer machines. From their advisory: "An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of an affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Systems where Internet Explorer is used frequently, such as workstations or terminal servers, are at the most risk from this vulnerability." The attack could assist in watering hole and malvertising campaigns. The Windows 10 Edge browser is not impacted.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
JakartaDean writes: Each of IBM's "TrueNorth" chips contains 5.4 billion transistors and runs on 70 milliwatts. The chips are designed to behave like neurons—the basic building blocks of biological brains. Dharmenda Modha, the head of IBM's cognitive computing group, says a system of 24 connected chips simulates 48 million neurons, roughly the same number rodents have. Whereas conventional chips are wired to execute particular "instructions," the TrueNorth juggles "spikes," much simpler pieces of information analogous to the pulses of electricity in the brain. Spikes, for instance, can show the changes in someone's voice as they speak—or changes in color from pixel to pixel in a photo. "You can think of it as a one-bit message sent from one neuron to another." says one of the chip's chief designers. The chips are designed well not for training neural networks, but for executing them. This has significant implications for consumer AI: big companies with lots of resources could focus on the training, which individual TrueNorth chips in people's gadgets could handle the execution.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes: The Bitcoin community is facing one of the most momentous decisions in its six-year history. The Bitcoin network is running out of spare capacity, and two increasingly divided camps disagree about what, if anything, to do about the problem. The technical issue is that a block, containing a record of recent transactions, currently has a 1MB limit. Increasing the block size would allow more transactions on the network at once, helping it to scale up to meet growing demand. But it would also make it more difficult for ordinary users to host full network "nodes" that validate new transactions on the network, potentially making the digital currency more centralized as a result. Now Rob Price writes that two high-profile developers have released a competing version of the codebase that risks splitting the digital currency in two. Gavin Andresen and Mike Hearn have released Bitcoin XT, an alternative version of the core software that supports increasing the block size when required. Bitcoin users will now be forced to decide between "Bitcoin Core" and Bitcoin XT, raising the prospect of a "fork," where the digital currency divides into two competing versions. According to Price, Core and XT are compatible right now. However, if XT is adopted by 75% of users by January 2016, it will upgrade to a larger block size that will be incompatible with Core — meaning that if the other 25% don't then choose to convert, it will effectively split the currency into two. So far, 7.7% of the network has adopted XT, according to website XTnodes.com. "Ultimately, how the dispute is resolved may matter more than the specific decision that's reached," says Timothy B. Lee. "If the community is ultimately able to reach a consensus, the process could become a template for resolving future disagreements. On the other hand, if disagreements fester for months — or, worse, if a controversial software change splits the Bitcoin network into two warring camps — it could do real damage to Bitcoin's reputation."

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
holy_calamity writes: Intel today announced that it will introduce SSDs based on a new non-volatile memory that is significantly faster than flash in 2016. A prototype was shown operating at around seven times as fast as a high-end SSD available today. Intel's new 3D Xpoint memory technology was developed in collaboration with Micron and is said to be capable of operating as much as 1000 times faster than flash. Scant details have been released, but the technology has similarities with the RRAM and memristor technologies being persued by other companies.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
astroengine writes: A gorgeous photo, captured from the International Space Station on the night of Aug. 10, 2015, shows an orbital view of thunderstorms over the city lights of southern Mexico as a recumbent Orion rises over Earth's limb. But wait, there's more: along the right edge of the picture a cluster of bright red and purple streamers can be seen rising above a blue-white flash of lightning: it's an enormous red sprite caught on camera! First photographed in 1989, red sprites are very brief flashes of optical activity that are associated with powerful lightning. So-called because of their elusive nature, sprites typically appear as branching red tendrils reaching up above the region of an exceptionally strong lightning flash. These electrical discharges can extend as high as 55 miles (90 kilometers) into the atmosphere, with the brightest region usually around altitudes of 40–45 miles (65–75 km). Sprites don't last very long — 3–10 milliseconds at most — and so to catch one (technically here it's a cluster of them) on camera is a real feat... or, in this case, a great surprise!

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes: By altering a single gene to inhibit the activity of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase (PDE4B), researchers have given mice the opportunity to see what an increase in intelligence is like. "They tended to learn faster, remember events longer and solve complex exercises better than ordinary mice. For example, the “brainy mice” showed a better ability than ordinary mice to recognize another mouse that they had been introduced to the day before (abstract). They were also quicker at learning the location of a hidden escape platform in a test called the Morris water maze. However, the PDE4B-inhibited mice also showed less recall of a fearful event after several days than ordinary mice." While many people would welcome such a treatment, the scientists say their research could lead to new treatments for those with cognitive disorders and age-related cognitive decline.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes: Even though the RTM version of Windows 10 is already out of the door, Microsoft will keep releasing beta builds of the operating system to Windows Insiders. The first one will be build 10525, which introduces some color personalization options, but also interesting improvements to memory management. A new concept is called a compression store, which is an in-memory collection of compressed pages. When memory pressure gets high enough, stale pages will be compressed instead of swapping them out. The compression store will live in the System process's working set. As usual, Microsoft will be receiving comments on the new features via the Feedback app.

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posted 9 days ago on slashdot
schwit1 writes: FCC's Enforcement Bureau today announced a $750,000 settlement with Smart City Holdings, LLC for blocking consumers' Wi-Fi at various convention centers around the United States. Smart City, an Internet and telecommunications provider for conventions, meeting centers, and hotels, had been blocking personal mobile 'hotspots' that were being used by convention visitors and exhibitors who used their own data plans rather than paying Smart City substantial fees to use the company's Wi-Fi service.

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