news aggregator

Reinventing the Axe

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 3:08pm
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "The axe has been with us for thousands of years, with its design changing very little during that time. After all, how much can you really alter a basic blade-and-handle? Well, Finnish inventor Heikki Karna has tried to change it a whole lot, with a new, oddly-shaped axe that he claims is a whole lot safer because it transfers a percentage of downward force into rotational energy, cutting down on deflections. 'The Vipukirves [as the axe is called] still has a sharpened blade at the end, but it has a projection coming off the side that shifts the center of gravity away from the middle. At the point of impact, the edge is driven into the wood and slows down, but the kinetic energy contained in the 1.9 kilogram axe head continues down and to the side (because of the odd center of gravity),' is how Geek.com describes the design. 'The rotational energy actually pushes the wood apart like a lever.' The question is, will everyone pick up on this new way of doing things?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Drupal.org Downtime: April 22nd 5PM PDT (April 23rd 0:00 UTC)

Drupal - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 2:26pm

Drupal.org will be going down for up to 2 hours starting Tuesday, April 22nd, 17:00 PDT (April 23rd, 0:00 UTC).

This maintenance window will be used for routine Drupal module updates, which need to alter large tables. We expect issue text search performance to improve as a result. Logging into sub-sites (api.drupal.org, groups.drupal.org, etc) will be disabled; they will otherwise remain available.

Please follow the @drupal_infra Twitter account for updates during the downtime.

Thanks for your patience!

Categories: Drupal

NYC's 19th-Century Horse Carriages Spawn Weird, Truck-Size Electric Car

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 2:25pm
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Led by Tesla, electric cars are all the rage now. And the idea of a nine-passenger all-electric vehicle sounds good--until you learn that it maxes out at 30 mph, weighs almost four tons, and costs in the six figures. What is this monstrosity? It's the Frankenstein creation of a group of animal-rights advocates, who are proposing it as the replacement for New York City's fabled horse carriages--and who paid $450,000 to have a prototype built. Who's against it? Would you believe Liam Neeson and one of NYC's daily papers? The huge electric car--modeled after an early 1900s open touring car, complete with brass lanterns--is on display this week at the New York Auto Show, and it's certainly attracting its share of attention."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Administration Ordered To Divulge Legal Basis For Killing Americans With Drones

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 1:39pm
An anonymous reader writes "In a claim brought by The New York Times and the ACLU, the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the administration must disclose the legal basis for targeting Americans with drones. From the article: 'Government officials from Obama on down have publicly commented on the program, but they claimed the Office of Legal Counsel's memo outlining the legal rationale about it was a national security secret. The appeals court, however, said on Monday that officials' comments about overseas drone attacks means the government has waived its secrecy argument. "After senior Government officials have assured the public that targeted killings are 'lawful' and that OLC advice 'establishes the legal boundaries within which we can operate,'" the appeals court said, "waiver of secrecy and privilege as to the legal analysis in the Memorandum has occurred" (PDF).'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

The Limits of Big Data For Social Engineering

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 12:51pm
An anonymous reader writes "In his new book, Social Physics, MIT data scientist Alex 'Sandy' Pentland argues that by analyzing data from smartphones, social media, and credit-card systems, we'll soon be able to have a mathematical understanding of 'the basic mechanisms of social interactions.' Social scientists will be able to understand and predict the interactions of people the way physicists understand and predict the interactions of objects. That will, in turn, enable governments and businesses to create incentive systems to 'tune' people's behavior, making society more productive and creative. In a review of Pentland's book in Technology Review, Nicholas Carr argues that such data-based social engineering 'will tend to perpetuate existing social structures and dynamics' and 'encourage us to optimize the status quo rather than challenge it.' Carr writes, 'Defining social relations as a pattern of stimulus and response makes the math easier, but it ignores the deep, structural sources of social ills. Pentland may be right that our behavior is determined largely by social norms and the influences of our peers, but what he fails to see is that those norms and influences are themselves shaped by history, politics, and economics, not to mention power and prejudice.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Joss Whedon Releases New Film On Demand

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 12:06pm
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Popular director Joss Whedon has taken the film world by surprise by releasing his latest offering, 'In Your Eyes', available for download on the same day it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. The new release comes from Whedon's own "micro studio", Bellwether Pictures, and is featured on Vimeo as a $5 rental, (free trailer). Whedon mused, 'It's exciting for us because we get to explore yet another new form of distribution — and we get $5.' Mr. Whedon has a history of pushing the delivery envelope, as with Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, in 2008."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Women Increasingly Freezing Their Eggs To Pursue Their Careers

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 11:23am
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Really interesting piece by Emma Rosenblum about women freezing their eggs in order to take 'biological clock' pressure off while they pursue careers: 'Not since the birth control pill has a medical technology had such potential to change family and career planning. The average age of women who freeze their eggs is about 37, down from 39 only two years ago... And fertility doctors report that more women in their early 30s are coming in for the procedure. Not only do younger women have healthier eggs, they also have more time before they have to use them.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Venus' Crust Heals Too Fast For Plate Tectonics

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 10:40am
An anonymous reader writes in with an interesting look at how important plate tectonics may be to life and why the crust on Venus works differently than it does on Earth. "Without plate tectonics, carbon would build up in the atmosphere. Venus, which does not have tectonics, shows the results: an atmosphere that is 96 percent carbon dioxide. It's toxic. Yet Venus is about the same size and composition as our planet, so why doesn't it have plate tectonics? Some researchers made a model to explore how Earth initiated plate movements, and these same researchers made one model of its neighbor for comparison. A 1.5-billion-year-old Earth and a similarly aged Venus were modeled as a hot, mushy material made of tiny particles of rock. The model uses physics at the one-millimeter rock grain scale to explain how the whole planet behaves. According to David Bercovici, a geophysicist at Yale who was an author on the paper, the model also shows how plate tectonics emerged on Earth but not on her twin."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Apple, Google Vying For Mobile Game Exclusivity

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 10:18am
An anonymous reader writes "Here's an interesting look at the battle for mobile video game money between Google and Apple. 'Last August, for the launch of "Plants Vs. Zombies 2," a highly anticipated sequel to a popular zombie-survival strategy game, publisher Electronic Arts Inc. struck a deal with Apple, which promoted the game prominently in its App Store, according to people familiar with the matter. In exchange, one of these people said, EA agreed to give Apple about a two-month window of exclusivity for the title, which wasn't released on Google's Android software until October.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Heartbleed Pricetag To Top $500 Million?

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 9:58am
darthcamaro (735685) writes "The Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability has dominated IT security headlines for two weeks now as the true impact the flaw and its reach is being felt. But what will all of this cost? One figure that has been suggested is $500 million, using the 2001 W.32 Nimda worm as a precedent. Is that number too low — or is it too high?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Expert Warns: Civilian World Not Ready For Massive EMP-Caused Blackout

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 9:15am
schwit1 (797399) writes "An electromagnetic pulse is a burst of electromagnetic energy strong enough to disable, and even destroy, nearby electronic devices. In the first few minutes of an EMP, nearly half a million people would die. That's the worst-case scenario that author William R. Forstchen estimated would be the result of an EMP on the electric grid. 'If you do a smart plan — the Congressional EMP Commission estimated that you could protect the whole country for about $2 billion,' Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, told Watchdog.org. 'That's what we give away in foreign aid to Pakistan every year.' He said the more officials plan, the lower the estimated cost gets. 'The problem is not the technology,' Pry said. 'We know how to protect against it. It's not the money, it doesn't cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

AMD Not Trying To Get Its Chips Into Low-Cost Tablets

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 8:32am
jfruh (300774) writes "While Intel is going after low-end Android tablets in a big way chipmaking x86 rival AMD is taking a more judicious approach, looking to focus on the high end. 'This idea of contra revenue is foreign to us,' said AMD's CEO, referring to Intel's strategy of selling chips at a loss to boost market share. But will Intel's vast resources keep AMD in its niche?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Google: Better To Be a 'B' CS Grad Than an 'A+' English Grad

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 7:51am
theodp (442580) writes "In a NY Times interview on How to Get a Job at Google with Laszlo Bock, who is in charge of all hiring at Google, the subject of grit-based hiring came up. Bock explained: 'I was on campus speaking to a student who was a computer science and math double major, who was thinking of shifting to an economics major because the computer science courses were too difficult. I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load. That student will be one of our interns this summer.' Bock also advised, 'You need to be very adaptable, so that you have a baseline skill set that allows you to be a call center operator today and tomorrow be able to interpret MRI scans.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Snowden to Critics: Questioning Putin Has Opened Conversation About Surveillance

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 7:07am
The Guardian carries Edward Snowden's detailed rebuttal to critics who say that his recent live-TV interaction with Vladimir Putin, in which Snowden asked whether the Russian government was engaged in spying on Russian citizens' communications, was a scripted moment intended to curry or maintain favor with Putin. After all, Snowden is currently living in Russia, where he has been granted only temporary harbor, goes this argument, so he is at the mercy of the Russian government, and has just gamely thrown Putin a softball. (Slashdot reader Rambo Tribble said the exchange had a "canned quality," a sentiment widely echoed.) Snowden writes that, far from being a whitewash of actual policies by the Russian government, his question ("Does [your country] intercept, analyse or store millions of individuals' communications?") "was intended to mirror the now infamous exchange in US Senate intelligence committee hearings between senator Ron Wyden and the director of national intelligence, James Clapper, about whether the NSA collected records on millions of Americans, and to invite either an important concession or a clear evasion"; he decribes Putin's answer as a combination of inconsistent denial and evasion. Snowden writes: "I blew the whistle on the NSA's surveillance practices not because I believed that the United States was uniquely at fault, but because I believe that mass surveillance of innocents – the construction of enormous, state-run surveillance time machines that can turn back the clock on the most intimate details of our lives – is a threat to all people, everywhere, no matter who runs them. Last year, I risked family, life, and freedom to help initiate a global debate that even Obama himself conceded 'will make our nation stronger.' I am no more willing to trade my principles for privilege today than I was then. I understand the concerns of critics, but there is a more obvious explanation for my question than a secret desire to defend the kind of policies I sacrificed a comfortable life to challenge: if we are to test the truth of officials' claims, we must first give them an opportunity to make those claims."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

In a Hole, Golf Courses Experiment With 15-inch Holes

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 5:12am
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "According to the National Golf Foundation, golf has lost five million players in the last decade with 20 percent of the existing 25 million golfers apt to quit in the next few years. Now Bill Pennington writes that golf courses across the country are experimenting with 15 inch golf holes the size of pizzas to stop people from quitting the game. "We've got to stop scaring people away from golf by telling them that there is only one way to play the game and it includes these specific guidelines," says Ted Bishop, president of the PGA of America. "We've got to offer more forms of golf for people to try. We have to do something to get them into the fold, and then maybe they'll have this idea it's supposed to be fun." A 15-inch-hole event was held at the Reynolds Plantation resort last week featuring top professional golfers Sergio García and Justin Rose, the defending United States Open champion. "A 15-inch hole could help junior golfers, beginning golfers and older golfers score better, play faster and like golf more," says García, who shot a six-under-par 30 for nine holes in the exhibition. Another alternative is foot golf, in which players kick a soccer ball from the tee to an oversize hole, counting their kicks. Still it is no surprise that not everyone agrees with the burgeoning alternative movement to make golf more user-friendly. "I don't want to rig the game and cheapen it," says Curtis Strange, a two-time United States Open champion and an analyst for ESPN. "I don't like any of that stuff. And it's not going to happen either. It's all talk.""

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

General Mills Retracts "No Right to Sue" EULA Clause

SlashDot - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 1:59am
Just a few days after General Mills changed its policies to declare that people who so much as "liked" their page on Facebook thereby waived their right to sue the company in favor of arbitration, the company has reversed itself: "The announcement resulted in huge backlash on social media, as well as from consumer groups. Legal experts expressed doubts it could ever be enforced. Hamline Law Professor David Schultz appeared on WCCO Sunday Morning. “When I first saw this earlier this week I said this is questionable at best from a legal point of view,” he said. “From a marketing point of view, it’s a dumb idea, too, but legally it didn’t rest on very sound grounds so it’s not a surprise that they are reversing it. The lawyers at General Mills should have known better.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Drones On Demand

SlashDot - Sun, 04/20/2014 - 10:50pm
mikejuk (1801200) writes "Gofor is a new company that is promoting the idea of drones on demand. All you have to do is use the app to request a drone and it shows you were they are and how long before one reaches your location. You want to take the ultimate selfie? Scout ahead to see if the road is clear or just find a parking space? No problem just task a drone to do the job. For the photo you simply flash your phone camera at it and it pinpoints your location for an aerial selfie. If it is scouting ahead then it shows you what awaits you via a video link. See the promo video to see how it might work. Flight of fancy? Possibly but the company claims to be operational in five US cities." I wish my car had a drone for instant scouting of traffic-jam alternates.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

$42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

SlashDot - Sun, 04/20/2014 - 7:18pm
An anonymous reader writes "A man named Jose Delgado was so used to using a $42,000 myoelectric prosthetic hand for the last year that he didn't realize that there were other options out there. Although Delgado, born without a left hand, was able to obtain the hand via his insurance, he found that a 3D printed 'Cyborg Beast,' an open source hand which costs just $50 to print, actually was more comfortable and performed better than the device which costs 840 times as much money."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

Biofuels From Corn Can Create More Greenhouse Gases Than Gasoline

SlashDot - Sun, 04/20/2014 - 6:08pm
New submitter Chipmunk100 (3619141) writes "Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln team of researchers cast doubt on whether corn residue can be used to meet federal mandates to ramp up ethanol production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News

L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects

SlashDot - Sun, 04/20/2014 - 5:11pm
An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High School in Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter — which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun — which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Geek News
Syndicate content