posted 9 days ago on slashdot
As reported by News.com.au, the city of Paris has implemented a harsh (but temporary) measure for drivers, in response to a surge in pollution: banning cars with even-numbered registration plates from the streets. According to the article, City mayor Anne Hidalgo had asked authorities to prevent one in every two cars from taking to the capital’s streets and make all public transport temporarily free in a bid to drive down pollution. Only vehicles with numberplates ending in an odd number will be allowed to drive, though exceptions exist for vehicles like taxis, electric cars and ambulances. ... Public transportation is to be free until at least Monday in Paris and its surrounding towns in an effort to force pollution down by coaxing drivers to give up their cars for a few days. Similar emergency measures were last implemented almost exactly a year ago — on March 17 — during a particularly bad spike in the pollution levels.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Etherwalk writes Sources conflict, but it looks like as many as 300 people have been arrested for cheating in the Indian state of Bihar after the Hindustan Times published images of dozens of men climbing the walls of a test center to pass answers inside. 500-700+ students were expelled and police had been bribed to look the other way. Xinhau's version of the story omits any reference to police bribery, while The ABC's omits the fact that police fired guns into the air.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
For anyone using Windows 7 by way of Apple's Boot Camp utility, beware: support for Windows via Boot Camp remains, but for the newest Apple laptops, it's only for Windows 8 for now. From Slashgear: This applies to the 2015 MacBook Air, and the 13-inch model of the 2015 MacBook Pro. Windows 8 will remain compatible, as will the forthcoming Windows 10. The 2013 Mac Pro also dropped Boot Camp support for Windows 7, while 2014 iMacs are still compatible, along with 2014 MacBook Airs and 2014 MacBook Pros. For those who still prefer to run Windows 7 on their Macs, there are other options. This change to Boot Camp will not affect using the Microsoft operating system through virtualization software, such as Parallels and VMware Fusion. Also at PC Mag.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Thorfinn.au writes Researchers at the University of Rochester and their collaborators have developed a way to transfer 2.05 bits per photon by using "twisted light." [Abstract here.]This remarkable achievement is possible because the researchers used the orbital angular momentum of the photons to encode information, rather than the more commonly used polarization of light. The new approach doubles the 1 bit per photon that is possible with current systems that rely on light polarization and could help increase the efficiency of quantum cryptography systems.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
MojoKid writes Google has co-developed a tablet device for use by workers battling Ebola in Sierra Leone. The modified Sony Xperia tablet comes with an extra protective shell, and can withstand chlorine dousing as well as exposure to the high humidity and storms that are typical of life in West Africa. It can even be used by workers wearing protective gloves. Since even a single piece of paper leaving a high-risk zone poses a risk of passing on the infection, doctors on site at the height of the current outbreak of the disease were reduced to shouting patient notes to workers on the other side of a protective zone fence. Those workers would then enter the information into patient records. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) technology advisor Ivan Gayton said this practice was "error prone, exhausting, and it wasted five or 10 minutes of the hour medics can spend fully dressed inside the protective zone before they collapse from heat exhaustion." To address the issue, MSF challenged a number of technology volunteers to create an "Ebola-proof tablet" to improve efficiency. This collective, which included Whitespell's Pim de Witte and Hack4Good's Daniel Cunningham, grew to include a member of Google's Crisis Response Team, and it was this group that co-developed the device.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
New submitter PensacolaSlick writes that [Patrick Moore a], co-founder of Greenpeace, and seven-year director of Greenpeace International, with other very pro-environmental credentials, has come out with a brief rationale for why he is "skeptical that humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will be catastrophic in the near future." He argues instead that in a historical context, human activity has saved the planet, declaring that "at 400 parts per million, all our food crops, forests, and natural ecosystems are still on a starvation diet for carbon dioxide." (Consider the source, which according to the New York Times is "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism.") Moore breaks with what might be expected of a Greenpeace founder as well in that he is currently chair of Allow Golden Rice.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
antdude writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRIs) show our brains shutting down when we see security prompts. This is your brain after repeated security warnings. Any questions? Ever feel your eyes glazing over when you see yet another security warning pop up on your monitor? In a first, scientists have used magnetic resonance imaging to measure a human brain's dramatic drop in attention that results when a computer user is subjected to just two security warnings in a short time.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
New submitter wrp103 writes Australian researchers have come up with a non-invasive ultrasound technology [abstract] that clears the brain of neurotoxic amyloid plaques — structures that are responsible for memory loss and a decline in cognitive function in Alzheimer's patients. A slice: Publishing in Science Translational Medicine, the team describes the technique as using a particular type of ultrasound called a focused therapeutic ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves are able to gently open up the blood-brain barrier, which is a layer that protects the brain against bacteria, and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to move in. Microglila cells are basically waste-removal cells, so once they get past the blood-brain barrier, they’re able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps before the blood-brain barrier is restored within a few hours. The team reports fully restoring the memories of 75 percent of the mice they tested it on, with zero damage to the surrounding brain tissue. They found that the treated mice displayed improved performance in three memory tasks - a maze, a test to get them to recognise new objects, and one to get them to remember the places they should avoid.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
abhishekmdb writes No browsers are safe, as proved yesterday at Pwn2Own, but crashing one of them with just one line of special code is slightly different. A developer has discovered a hack in Google Chrome which can crash the Chrome tab on a Mac PC. The code is a 13-character special string which appears to be written in Assyrian script. Matt C has reported the bug to Google, who have marked the report as duplicate. This means that Google are aware of the problem and are reportedly working on it.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
theodp writes Now that we have hard data on everything, observes the NY Times' Virginia Heffernan in A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute, we no longer make decisions from our hearts, guts or principles. "The gut is dead," writes Heffernan. "Long live the data, turned out day and night by our myriad computers and smart devices. Not that we trust the data, as we once trusted our guts. Instead, we 'optimize' it. We optimize for it. We optimize with it." To win Presidential elections. To turn web pages into Googlebait. To sucker people into registering for websites. Of the soon-to-arrive Apple Watch, Heffernan notes: "After time keeping, the watch's chief feature is 'fitness tracking': It clocks and stores physiological data with the aim of getting you to observe and change your habits of sloth and gluttony. Evidently I wasn't the only one whose thoughts turned to 20th-century despotism: The entrepreneur Anil Dash quipped on Twitter, albeit stretching the truth, 'Not since I.B.M. sold mainframes to the Nazis has a high-tech company embraced medical data at this scale.'"

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes The great tradition of designing robots inspired by the many beautiful forms of locomotion seen in the animal kingdom likely predates robotics itself, arguably stretching all the way back to Michelangelo's time. Standing on the shoulders of such giants is ATRIAS, a series of human-sized bipedal robots that remind us of other two-legged creatures like the ostrich or emu. It must be a great tension-reliever in the robotics lab to have a robot you can literally kick without knocking it off balance.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
According to a story at Ars Technica, Virgin empire founder Richard Branson says 'teams of people' are working on electric cars. Says the article: Virgin is working on electric cars and could one day take on Tesla, according to company founder Richard Branson. Speaking at a racing event in Miami, Branson said Virgin had "teams of people" working on electric cars but refused to be drawn on specific details. The company's Virgin Racing team already competes in the all-electric Formula E championship, a high-speed, battery-powered spinoff of Formula 1. Branson has now hinted that Virgin's involvement could lead to the company selling its own electric cars. ... Branson's business has continued to expand in recent years. As well as trains and planes, Virgin now has a fledgling space operation and is soon to launch its own cruise ships.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
SternisheFan writes Arkansas will be implementing a new law that requires public high schools to offer classes in computer science starting in the 2015-16 school year. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed the bill, believes it will provide "a workforce that's sure to attract businesses and jobs" to the state. $5 million of the governor's proposed budget will go towards this new program. For the districts incapable of of administering these classes due to lack of space or qualified teachers, the law has provisions for online courses to be offered through Virtual Arkansas. Although students will not be required to take computer science classes, the governor's goal is to give students the opportunity if they "want to take it." Presently, only one in 10 schools nationwide offer computer science classes. Not only will Arkansas teach these classes in every public high school and charter school serving upper grades, the courses will count towards the state's math graduation requirement as a further incentive for students. Training programs for teacher preparation will be available, but with the majority of the infrastructure already primed, the execution of this new law should hopefully be painless and seamless.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes The reliance on proprietary technologies to deliver web services varies from country to country. South Korea's ActiveX problem has been in the news before. Yonhap brings us a short report that the government plans to finally start cleaning up this troublesome technology from public websites later this month, as Korea gears up to create a more friendly Internet environment. The country's online financial websites and shopping malls often use ActiveX to have their payments and identification programs securely downloaded to users' personal computers.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
HughPickens.com writes Science News reports on the Carolina Butcher, a giant, bipedal reptile that looked a lot like living crocodiles — except it walked on two legs, not four. Carnufex carolinensis is one of the oldest and largest crocodile ancestors identified to date. Its size and stature also suggest that for a time, the Carolina Butcher (named for its menacing features), was one of the top predators in the part of the supercontinent Pangaea that became North America. Past fossil finds show that cousins of ancient crocodiles were vying with the earliest bipedal dinosaurs, called theropods, for the title of top predator in the southern regions of Pangaea but the Carolina Butcher's reign probably ended 201 million years ago when a mass extinction event wiped out most large, land-based predators, clearing the way for dinosaurs to fully dominate during the Jurassic period. Carnufex is one of the most primitive members of the broad category of reptiles called crocodylomorphs, encompassing the various forms of crocs that have appeared on Earth. "As one of the earliest and oldest crocodylomorphs, Carnufex was a far cry from living crocodiles. It was an agile, terrestrial predator that hunted on land," says Lindsay Zanno. "Carnufex predates the group that living crocodiles belong to." Transported back to the Triassic Period, what would a person experience upon encountering this agile, roughly three metre-long, about 1.5 metre-tall beast with a long skull and blade-like teeth? "Abject terror," says Zanno.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
Nature reports that an unexpected factor may be behind a growing epidemic of nearsightedness: time spent indoors. From the article: Because the eye grows throughout childhood, myopia generally develops in school-age children and adolescents. About one-fifth of university-aged people in East Asia now have this extreme form of myopia, and half of them are expected to develop irreversible vision loss. This threat has prompted a rise in research to try to understand the causes of the disorder — and scientists are beginning to find answers. They are challenging old ideas that myopia is the domain of the bookish child and are instead coalescing around a new notion: that spending too long indoors is placing children at risk. “We're really trying to give this message now that children need to spend more time outside,” says Kathryn Rose, head of orthoptics at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Read More...
posted 10 days ago on slashdot
StartsWithABang writes You know the fundamental principle of special relativity: nothing can move faster than the speed of light. But space itself? That's not a "thing" in the conventional sense. Two years after coming up with special relativity, Einstein devised the equivalence principle, and thus began the development of general relativity, where space itself would have properties that changed over time, responding to changes in matter and energy. This includes the ability for it to expand, even faster than the speed of light, if the conditions are right.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
Nicola Hahn writes NSA director Mike Rogers spoke to a Senate Committee [Thursday], admonishing them that the United States should bolster its offensive cyber capabilities to deter attacks. Never mind that deterrence is problematic if you can't identify the people who attacked you. In the past a speech by a spymaster like Rogers would have been laced with hyperbolic intimations of the End Times. Indeed, for almost a decade mainstream news outlets have conveyed a litany of cyber doomsday scenarios on behalf of ostensibly credible public officials. So it's interesting to note a recent statement by the U.S. intelligence community that pours a bucket of cold water over all of this. According to government spies the likelihood of a cyber Armageddon is "remote." And this raises some unsettling questions about our ability to trust government officials and why they might be tempted to fall back on such blatant hyperbole.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
New submitter André Costa writes The companies responsible for taxi apps Easy Taxi and 99Taxis are being accused of making it too easy for taxi drivers to harass female customers (some news reports — in Portuguese — can be found here, here and here).These apps currently disclose informations such as the client's name, cell phone and address to the driver. One customer that started being harassed through offensive text messages after a ride started an online petition demanding that the companies take effective measures to protect female customers. The petition already collected more than 27,000 signatures, and both Easy Taxi and 99Taxis already announced that they will implement features that will protect clients' privacy.At first, users will be allowed to choose if they want their phone numbers to be disclosed. Within a couple of months, both companies said they will provide VOIP calls, which will eliminate the need to exchange phone numbers.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
jfruh (300774) writes "In the wake of the FCC passing net neutrality rules, the federal agency now has the authority to keep an eye on ISPs 'future conduct,' to prevent them from even starting to implement traffic-shaping plans that would violate net neutrality. Naturally, this has a lot of ISPs feeling nervous." From the article: The net neutrality rules, beginning on page 106, outline a process for staff to give advisory opinions to broadband providers who want to run a proposed business model past the agency before rolling it out. But those advisory opinions won’t have the weight of an official commission decision. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau will be able to reconsider, rescind or revoke those advisory opinions, and the commission itself will be able to overrule them, according to the order. “It’s unclear what you’re supposed to do when you have a new innovation or a new service,” the telecom lobbyist said. “There’s just a lot of ambiguity.” Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the most vocal proponents of strong net neutrality rules, urged the commission to jettison its future conduct standard.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
mpicpp writes General Motors wants to help curb teen crashes with a new system that lets parents monitor their kids' driving habits—even when mom and dad aren't actually in the car. Dubbed Teen Drive, the new system will debut in the 2016 Chevy Malibu, offering a bunch of features designed to encourage safe driving. It will, for instance, mute the radio or any device paired with the car when front seat occupants aren't wearing their seatbelts, and give audible and visual warnings when the vehicle is traveling faster than preset speeds. It doesn't end there. Brace yourself, teens, because you might not like this next part too much. The new system also lets parents view a readout of how you drove the car, including how fast you went, how far you drove, and whether any active safety features (like over-speed warnings) were engaged.Parents can also set the radio system's maximum volume to a lower level, and select a maximum speed between 40 and 75 miles per hour, which, if exceeded, will trigger warnings.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Linux Voice magazine has published a long article about how people go about reverse engineering drivers for hardware peripherals. They use Python and a USB radio-controlled car to demonstrate, walking us through the entire process. It's a cool, easy-to-follow insight into what often seems to be a rather opaque process.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Linux Voice magazine has published a long article about how people go about reverse engineering drivers for hardware peripherals. They use Python and a USB radio-controlled car to demonstrate, walking us through the entire process. It's a cool, easy-to-follow insight into what often seems to be a rather opaque process.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
itwbennett writes: On Tuesday, Steve Ragan's GoDaddy account was compromised. He knew it was coming, but considering the layered account protections used by the world's largest domain registrar, he didn't think the attacker would be successful. He was wrong. Within days, the attacker gained control over Steve's account just by speaking to customer support and submitting a Photoshopped ID.

Read More...
posted 11 days ago on slashdot
jones_supa writes: Hardware that sports the "Designed for Windows 8" logo requires machines to support UEFI Secure Boot. When the feature is enabled, the core software components used to boot the machine are verified for correct cryptographic signatures, or the system refuses to boot. This is a desirable security feature, because it protects from malware sneaking into the boot process. However, it has an issue for alternative operating systems, because it's likely they won't have a signature that Secure Boot will authorize. No worries, because Microsoft also mandated that every system must have a UEFI configuration setting to turn the protection off, allowing booting other operating systems. This situation may now change. At its WinHEC hardware conference in Shenzhen, China, Microsoft said the setting to allow Secure Boot to be turned off will become optional when Windows 10 arrives. Hardware can be "Designed for Windows 10," and offer no way to opt out of the Secure Boot lock down. The choice to provide the setting (or not) will be up to the original equipment manufacturer.

Read More...