posted 16 days ago on slashdot
Bryan Smith has worked with the organizers of several Linux and Open Source events and has spoken at more than a few, but he has always wanted to see more FOSS events in Florida, the state where he lives. There was a Florida Linux Show back in 2008 and 2009, but all that remains of it today is a "ghost" Web page. But that's the past. This year Bryan has put together FOSSETCON, which debuts this September 11 - 13 in Orlando. It's an ambitious undertaking -- but Bryan has rounded up a lot of solid sponsors, and that's often the key to holding a successful IT event. (Alternate Video Link)

Read More...
posted 16 days ago on slashdot
vinces99 writes: The number of California blue whales has rebounded to near historical levels, according to new research (abstract) by the University of Washington, and while the number of blue whales struck by ships is likely above allowable U.S. limits, such strikes do not immediately threaten that recovery. This is the only population of blue whales known to have recovered from whaling – blue whales as a species having been hunted nearly to extinction. Blue whales – nearly 100 feet in length and weighing 190 tons as adults – are the largest animals on Earth and the heaviest ever, weighing more than twice as much as the largest known dinosaur, the Argentinosaurus. They are an icon of the conservation movement and many people want to minimize harm to them, according to Trevor Branch, UW assistant professor of aquatic and fishery sciences. California blue whales, most visible while feeding 20 to 30 miles off the California coast, range from the equator to the Gulf of Alaska. Today they number about 2,200, according to monitoring by other research groups, which is likely about 97 percent of the historical levels.

Read More...
posted 16 days ago on slashdot
astroengine writes: Last night (Thursday), two more of Planet Lab's shoebox-sized Earth imaging satellites launched themselves from aboard the International Space Station, the latest in a series of technical mysteries involving a commercially owned CubeSat deployer located outside Japan's Kibo laboratory module. Station commander Steve Swanson was storing some blood samples in one of the station's freezers Friday morning when he noticed that the doors on NanoRack's cubesat deployer were open, said NASA mission commentator Pat Ryan. Flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston determined that two CubeSats had been inadvertently released. "No crew members or ground controllers saw the deployment. They reviewed all the camera footage and there was no views of it there either," Ryan said.

Read More...
posted 16 days ago on slashdot
Jason Hibbets writes: "There are many solved problems in open source. Groupware is not one of them," Georg Greve, co-founder and CEO of Kolab System starts off his post highlighting recent features of the latest release of the Kolab groupware project. He calls out a few newly elected politicians that don't like the current set-up, but says that thousands of users don't have the same experience. "Until today, the city of Munich is using the same stand-alone calendaring and email systems it had used when it was still fully operating on Windows. Updating these systems had a lower priority than the migration to LiMux then. But an upgrade is underway now. And, the solution they chose is agnostic to the desktop platform and will service LiMux and Windows alike. The primary difference made by another migration would likely be due to the perils that come with any migration, such as additional costs and delays. In other words: The very problem used to criticize the LiMux desktop is already being solved."

Read More...
posted 16 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Even though 4k displays are just making their way into consumer affordability, manufacturers are already pushing beyond. Dell has previewed a computer monitor it calls a "5k" display. The resolution is 5120x2880, stuffing 14,745,600 pixels on a 27" screen. For comparison, that's more than seven times the amount of pixels in a 1920x1080 display. Pixel density is 218 PPI, roughly the same as a 15" Retina MacBook Pro. ExtremeTech suggests, "As far as we're aware, no one is actually making 5120×2880 panels, especially not at 27 inches diagonal – so what we're probably looking at is two 2560x2880 panels squished together as a 'tiled display.'" Unfortunately, it's pricy, expected to cost around $2,500. But hopefully it will help drive 4k display prices even further toward mainstream availability.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Reviews for the Moto 360 smartwatch have started to roll in. David Pierce at The Verge praises the design: the circular display is framed by an unadorned, stainless steel shell, and fastened to your wrist with a simple leather strap. At the same time, he criticized the battery life, saying the device averaged around 12 hours of use before it needed to be charged. Pierce adds, "The Moto 360's most impressive feature is that I stopped noticing it almost immediately. Whenever I wear the LG G Watch or the Samsung Gear Live, I'm constantly compelled to fidget with it; there's this unexplainable feeling of having something alien on my wrist that is there because I need to use it. The 360, on the other hand, just vanished into the spot left on my wrist by the Seiko watch that conveniently died this week." AnandTech takes a deeper dive into the device's hardware, noting that the TI OMAP 3 processor is built on a somewhat old 45nm process, which necessitates higher power consumption than newer, smaller processes. The Wall Street Journal says it's easy to get used to speaking into your watch for basic functions, but the software — and thus, the Moto 360 as a whole — still isn't quite ready for prime time. However, almost all the reviews agree that the smartwatch's time is coming.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: In the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, calls for continuous recording of all police activity have become loud and strenuous. Now, one of the biggest police forces in the world will begin testing body cameras. The New York Police Department announced a pilot program to test the wearable cameras in high-crime districts. "[T]he participation of the New York department, with its 35,000 uniformed members and vast footprint on the country's policing policy, could permanently shift the balance in favor of the cameras, which both civil libertarians and many police chiefs have cited as a way to improve relations between citizens and law enforcement, particularly in heavily policed minority communities." The NYPD will be testing hardware from two manufacturers: Vievu and Taser International. While the 60-camera pilot program will get running for about $60,000, IT costs are expected to quickly outstrip that amount.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes While their contents might be considered an environmental hazard by many, disposable diapers themselves pose a more significant problem for the environment. According to the EPA, the average baby will work their way through 8,000 of them before they end up in landfill where they'll take centuries to break down. In an effort to reduce the problem, scientists at Mexico's Autonomous Metropolitan University, Azcapotzalco (UAM-A), have turned used diapers to the task of growing mushrooms.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
nerdyalien writes with this story that explores the impact of reduced science funding on innovation in science. "There’s a current problem in biomedical research,” says American biochemist Robert Lefkowitz, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. “The emphasis is on doing things which are not risky. To have a grant proposal funded, you have to propose something and then present what is called preliminary data, which is basically evidence that you’ve already done what you’re proposing to do. If there’s any risk involved, then your proposal won’t be funded. So the entire system tends to encourage not particularly creative research, relatively descriptive and incremental changes which are incremental advances which you are certain to make but not change things very much."...There is no more important time for science to leverage its most creative minds in attempting to solve our global challenges. Although there have been massive increases in funding over the last few decades, the ideas and researchers that have been rewarded by the current peer-review system have tended to be safer, incremental, and established. If we want science to be its most innovative, it's not about finding brilliant, passionate creative scientists; it's about supporting the ones we already have.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter exiguus writes As of September 25th Twitpic will be no more. Twitter, allegedly, has threatened to deny them access to their API. Noah Everett said "Unfortunately we do not have the resources to fend off a large company like Twitter to maintain our mark which we believe whole heartedly is rightfully ours. Therefore, we have decided to shut down Twitpic." Resources will be made available to users to download their videos and photos, but a date when that function will be available has not been made available. "We'll let everyone know when this feature is live in the next few days."

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
sciencehabit writes Researchers working in Argentina have discovered the most complete skeleton of a titanosaur, a group of gigantic plant-eating dinosaurs that dominated the Southern Hemisphere beginning about 90 million years ago. The new dino, named Dreadnoughtus schrani, was 26 meters long and weighed about 59 metric tons—that is, twice as long as Tyrannosaurus rex and as heavy as a herd of elephants. That puts it on a par with other well-known giants such as Argentinosaurus (but it's four times as large as the perhaps better known Diplodocus). The researchers say that the beast was so big it would have had no fear of predators. And it was about to get bigger: A close examination of the fossils, especially its back and shoulder bones, indicates that the animal was still growing when it died.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes "Google has agreed pay $19 million to refund customers unfairly charged for in-app purchases made by children without authorization from their parents. The company has agreed to change its billing practices to ensure that it obtains informed consent from customers before charging them for items sold within mobile apps, according to the FTC. "For millions of American families, smartphones and tablets have become a part of their daily lives," said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. "As more Americans embrace mobile technology, it's vital to remind companies that time-tested consumer protections still apply, including that consumers should not be charged for purchases they did not authorize.""

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
alphadogg writes Big name academic and vendor organizations have unveiled a consortium this week that's pushing Named Data Networking (NDN), an emerging Internet architecture designed to better accommodate data and application access in an increasingly mobile world. The Named Data Networking Consortium http://named-data.net/ members, which include universities such as UCLA and China's Tsinghua University as well as vendors such as Cisco and VeriSign, are meeting this week at a two-day workshop at UCLA to discuss NDN's promise for scientific research. Big data, eHealth and climate research are among the application areas on the table. The NDN effort has been backed in large part by the National Science Foundation, which has put more than $13.5 million into it since 2010.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
mpicpp is one of many to point out that hackers broke into the HealthCare.gov website in July and uploaded malicious software. "Hackers silently infected a Healthcare.gov computer server this summer. But the malware didn't manage to steal anyone's data, federal officials say. On Thursday, the Health and Human Services Department, which manages the Obamacare website, explained what happened. And officials stressed that personal information was never at risk. "Our review indicates that the server did not contain consumer personal information; data was not transmitted outside the agency, and the website was not specifically targeted," HHS spokesman Kevin Griffis said. But it was a close call, showing just how vulnerable computer systems can be. It all happened because of a series of mistakes. A computer server that routinely tests portions of the website wasn't properly set up. It was never supposed to be connected to the Internet — but someone had accidentally connected it anyway. That left it open to attack, and on July 8, malware slipped past the Obamacare security system, officials said.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
itwbennett writes that, as expected, The White House has named long-time Google executive Megan Smith as the government's new CTO, in charge of improving technology and the use of data across agencies. Smith most recently served as vice president at Google's tech lab, Google[x]. She previously served as CEO of PlanetOut, helped design early smartphone technologies at General Magic and worked on multimedia products at Apple Japan in Tokyo. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, and just might be, as noted in a previous Slashdot post, the first US CTO worthy of the title. Also on Thursday, the White House named Alexander Macgillivray, a former general counsel and head of public policy at Twitter, as deputy U.S. CTO.

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
Nerval's Lobster writes Millions of people have shrieked in horror and dismay at Microsoft's infamous 'Blue Screen of Death.' What fewer people know—at least until now—is that the text accompanying the BSoD was originally written by Steve 'Developers! Developers! Developers!' Ballmer, who recently stepped down as Microsoft's CEO. According to Microsoft developer Raymond Chen, Ballmer didn't like the original text that accompanied the BSoD in Windows 3.1, so he wrote up a new version. If you used Windows at any point in the past two decades, you can thank him for that infuriatingly passive 'This Windows application has stopped responding to the system' message, accompanied by the offer to hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete to restart the PC (and lose all your unsaved data). At least Ballmer didn't try to write something like, 'RESTART! RESTART! RESTART!'

Read More...
posted 17 days ago on slashdot
Jason Koebler writes Did you hear about those Comcast service calls from hell that have been cropping up over the last couple months? So did FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who said today that switching internet service providers is too damn hard, in part because ISPs have grown used to having a monopoly on broadband services. "Once consumers choose a broadband provider, they face high switching costs that include early-termination fees and equipment rental fees," Wheeler said in a speech today. Wheeler didn't specifically say what the FCC will do (if anything) to change that, but said the answer is to help facilitate more true competition: "If those disincentives to competition weren't enough, the media is full of stories of consumers' struggles to get ISPs to allow them to drop service."

Read More...
posted 18 days ago on slashdot
cartechboy (2660665) writes [Elon] Musk and Tesla's biggest hurdle in the U.S. has been bypassing conventional dealerships and selling directly to customers. This concept is something that's illegal in many states thanks to a nationwide patchwork of decades-old franchise laws. Tesla's latest battle is taking place in Georgia where dealers allege that the start-up company is in violation of the state's franchise laws. Not surprisingly, Tesla's fighting back. To sell cars in Georgia, Tesla had to agree to sell fewer than 150 vehicles directly to consumers in the state. Last week the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association complained that Tesla sold 173 vehicles. Tesla hasn't publicly commented on how many vehicles it has sold in Georgia. We've seen time and time again how this story ends, and the writing is clearly on the wall for this case. Another bit of writing on the wall, though, as reported by the L.A. Times, is that recent electric car sales in the U.S. have been stagnant.

Read More...
posted 18 days ago on slashdot
davidshenba writes In the wake of leaked private photos of celebrities, 4chan has added Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown policy to its rules and policies. Under this new policy, the site will remove any notified and verified "infringement." It is not clear how effective this could be, or how 4chan is going to handle the inflow of notifications to restrict the content provided by users.

Read More...
posted 18 days ago on slashdot
Rambo Tribble writes A team of British and Finnish scientists have used the common bacteria Escherichia coli to produce the environmentally-friendly fuel propane. By introducing enzymes to modify the bacteria's process for producing cell membranes, they were able directly produce fuel-grade propane. While commercial application is some years off, the process is being hailed as a cheap, sustainable alternative to deriving the gas from fossil fuel production. As researcher Patrik Jones is quoted as saying, "Fossil fuels are a finite resource and...we are going to have to come up with new ways to meet increasing energy demands."

Read More...
posted 18 days ago on slashdot
First time accepted submitter dertynan writes The WRSC people are out to make sailors redundant. The World Robotic Sailing Championships (and International Conference) is in Galway, Ireland next week. Around eleven teams are participating in this autonomous sailing event, across a number of courses, over four days.

Read More...
posted 18 days ago on slashdot
Nerval's Lobster writes As a trend, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge seems a bit played out—who hasn't yet dumped a bucket of icy water over his or her head for charity? But that didn't stop Canadian chemist Muhammad Qureshi from executing his own sublimely scientific, potentially dangerous variation on the theme: After donating to the ALS Association, he proceeded to douse himself with a bucket of liquid nitrogen. Anyone who's taken a chemistry class, or at least watched the end of Terminator 2, knows that liquid nitrogen can rapidly freeze objects, leaving them brittle and prone to shattering. Pouring it on your skin can cause serious frostbite. So what prevented that bucketful of liquid nitrogen from transforming Qureshi into a popsicle? In two words: Leidenfrost effect. Named after 18th century scientist Johann Gottlob Leidenfrost, the effect is when a liquid comes near a mass that's much warmer than the liquid's boiling point, which (in the words of Princeton's helpful physics explainer) results in an insulating vapor layer that "keeps that liquid from boiling rapidly." In other words, the vapor makes the liquid "float" just above the surface of the object, rather than coming into direct contact with it.

Read More...
posted 18 days ago on slashdot
Esther Schindler writes "You're not alone in your struggle against people who think a shell is something you hold to your ear," writes Carol Pinchefsky. "Other techies are out there supporting users in remote offices, fighting the good fight against computer- and user-related mishaps – or at least tolerating user frustration with a modicum of grace." One example she gives is a tech support person whose systems in Brazil went down — during Carnival: "...We had to wait more than a week for the locals to sober up enough to reconnect the line. In the end, I had to walk a tech (who did not know the system) through the process step by step via an interpreter. Of course, the interpreter was not technical. So it was kind of like explaining to your mom to tell your grandfather (who is hard of hearing) how to do something while she is on the phone and he is across the room from her."

Read More...
posted 18 days ago on slashdot
skade88 notes an interesting new piece of tactile feedback technology unveiled in Japan. Officials of Miraisens, a high-tech firm based outside Tokyo, said the technology, which can be used to improve the gaming experience or allow someone to physically shape objects that exist only on a computer, will soon be available for purchase. "Touching is an important part of human communication, but until now virtual reality has lacked it," Chief Executive Natsuo Koda said. "This technology will give you a sense that you can touch objects in the 3-D world," said Koda, a former virtual reality researcher for Sony Corp. It works by fooling the brain, blending what the eye sees with different patterns of vibration created by a small fingertip device, said Norio Nakamura, the inventor of so-called 3D-Haptics Technology and chief technical officer at the firm. In one demonstration of a prototype head-mounted display, the company showed how the wearer can feel resistance by pushing virtual buttons.

Read More...
posted 18 days ago on slashdot
Zothecula writes The problem with nuclear waste is that it needs to be stored for many thousands of years before it's safe, which is a tricky commitment for even the most stable civilization. To make this situation a bit more manageable, Hitachi, in partnership with MIT, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Berkeley, is working on new reactor designs that use transuranic nuclear waste for fuel; leaving behind only short-lived radioactive elements.

Read More...