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YouTube Is Adding VR Video Support To Streaming Videos

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 5:51pm
An anonymous reader writes: While YouTube's streaming platform currently supports 3D videos OR 360 degree videos, the combination of the two is essential for properly immersive virtual reality video. Fortunately, the company has announced that they'll soon enable support for 3D + 360 degree videos, bringing more immersive VR video capability to the platform. Currently, 360 degree YouTube videos can be viewed through desktop web browsers and on the YouTube Android and iOS apps, with the Android app being the only one of the bunch currently providing a side-by-side view for VR viewers like Google's Cardboard.

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When Do Robocars Become Cheaper Than Standard Cars?

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 5:07pm
Hallie Siegel writes: With all the extra sensors and technology that have to go into autonomous cars, you might expect them to cost more. After all, autonomous features like park assist and auto lane changing are added-value components that you pay extra for on current vehicles. But autonomous car expert Brad Templeton thinks it could be that the overall cost of autonomous vehicles per mile driven will lower than traditional cars. Not only because features of traditional cars, like dashboards and steering columns, will not be necessary in robocars, but also because autonomous cars are more likely to be shared and constantly in use, rather than sitting in your driveway 90% of the time.

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Pluto's Haze

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 4:25pm
Today brings another release of images from NASA's New Horizons probe. This time, it includes an image taken seven hours after closest approach, when the probe was looking back at Pluto. It captured the dwarf planet in silhouette: the body of the planet is in darkness, but the atmosphere is luminous with deflected sunlight. "A preliminary analysis of the image shows two distinct layers of haze -- one about 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the surface and the other at an altitude of about 30 miles (50 kilometers)." Before this picture, scientists didn't expect to see such haze more than 30 kilometers above the surface. Other findings released today include preliminary indications that Pluto's atmospheric pressure has dropped sharply from early observations. This may indicate that the atmosphere is in the process of freezing and falling to Pluto's surface. Finally, new close-up pictures of the surface transmitted back to Earth show direct evidence of nitrogen ice floes reminiscent of glacier movement on Earth. The dwarf planet also seems to be rich in methane ice and carbon dioxide ice.

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Ask Slashdot: Building an Open Source Community For a Proprietary Software Product?

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 3:43pm
An anonymous reader writes: I run a company that develops scientific computing software. Our core product is a traditional proprietary application — we develop the software and deliver the "binaries" to our customers. We're considering changing our deployment to include all of the source code and giving our customers some additional rights to explore and extend it. The codebase is HTML/JavaScript/Python/SQL, so a lot of the code is available in some form already, albeit minified or byte compiled. Because we are in a scientific domain, most of our customers use Open Source software alongside our product. We also maintain Open Source projects and directly support others. We're strong supporters of Open Source and understand the value of having access to the source code. We also support a free (as in beer) version of the software with a smaller feature set (production and enterprise elements that individual users don't need are removed). We'd like that version to use the same model as well to give users that don't need the full commercial version the ability to extend the software and submit patches back to us for inclusion in future releases. Overall, we'd really like to find a model that allows our core product to work more like an Open Source product while maintaining control over the distribution rights. We'd like to foster a community around the product but still generate revenue to fund it. In our space, the "give the product away but pay for support" model has never really worked. The market is too small and, importantly, most customers understand our value proposition and have no problem with our annual license model. We've looked at traditional dual licensing approaches, but don't think they're really right fit, either. A single license that gives users access to the code but limits the ability to redistribute the code and distribute patches to the "core" is what we'd prefer. My questions for the Slashdot community: Does anyone have direct experience with models like this? Are there existing licenses that we should look at? What companies have succeeded doing this? Who has failed?

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FCC Approves AT&T's DirecTV Purchase

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 3:01pm
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has granted approval to AT&T to purchase DirecTV for $48.5 billion. AT&T will become the largest provider of cable or satellite TV in the U.S., with 26.4 million subscribers. "Adding TV customers gives AT&T more power to negotiate with big media companies over prices for those channels. The deal also combines a nationwide satellite TV service, the country's largest, with the No. 2 nationwide wireless network as time spent on mobile devices increases." The FCC did put conditions on the deal: AT&T must make fiber internet service available to 12.5 million people, offer cheaper internet plans to low-income customers, and not mess with the internet traffic of online video competitors.

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Firefox Will Soon Show You Which Tabs Are Making Noise, and Let You Mute Them

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 2:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla is working on identifying Firefox tabs that are currently playing audio. The feature will show an icon if a tab is making sounds and let the user mute the playback. It's worth noting that while Chrome has had audio indicators for more than a year now, it still doesn't let you easily mute tabs. The option is available in Google's browser, but it's not enabled by default (you have to turn on the #enable-tab-audio-muting flag in chrome://flags/).

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Researchers: Mobile Users Will Trade Data For Fun and Profit

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 1:38pm
itwbennett writes: Even as mobile users become more security and privacy conscious, researchers and other mobile data collectors still to collect user data in order to build products and services. The question: How to get users to give up that data? Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology tested two incentives: gamification and micropayments. The test involved building a campus Wi-Fi coverage map using user data collected from student participants who either played a first-person shooter game or who were paid to complete certain tasks (e.g., taking photos). The game turned out to be a quick and efficient way to build the Wi-Fi coverage map. But data from the micropayments group was found to be "sometimes unreliable, and individuals were trying to trick the system into thinking they had accomplished tasks."

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Secret Service Agents Stake Out the Ugliest Corners of the Internet

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 12:55pm
HughPickens.com writes: Josephine Wolff reports at The Atlantic that Secret Service Internet Threat Desk is a group of agents tasked with identifying and assessing online threats to the president and his family. The first part of this mission — finding threats — is in many ways made easier by the Internet: all you have to do is search! Pulling up every tweet which uses the words "Obama" and "assassinate" takes mere seconds, and the Secret Service has tried to make it easier for people to draw threats to its attention by setting up its own Twitter handle, @secretservice, for users to report threatening messages to. The difficulty is trying to figure out which ones should be taken seriously. The Secret Service categorizes all threats, online and offline alike, into one of three categories. Class 3 threats are considered the most serious, and require agents to interview the individual who issued the threat and any acquaintances to determine whether that person really has the capability to carry out the threat. Class 2 threats are considered to be serious but issued by people incapable of actually follow up on their intentions, either because they are in jail or located at a great distance from the president. And Class 1 threats are those that may seem serious at first, but are determined not to be. The overall number of threats directed at the first family that require investigation has stayed relatively steady at about 10 per day — except for the period when Obama was first elected, when the Secret Service had to follow up on roughly 50 threats per day. "That includes threats on Twitter," says Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Secret Service. "It makes no difference to [the Secret Service] how a threat is communicated. They can't take that chance of assuming that because it's on Twitter it's less serious."

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Scientists Identify Sixth Taste: Fat

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 12:12pm
New submitter shuheng writes with news that a study out of Purdue claims to have identified the sixth distinct taste known to humans: fat. The scientists say it should be called oleogustus which means "fatty taste" in Latin (abstract). Professor Richard Mattes said, Most of the fat we eat is in the form of triglycerides, which are molecules comprised of three fatty acids. Triglycerides often impart appealing textures to foods like creaminess. However, triglycerides are not a taste stimulus. Fatty acids that are cleaved off the triglyceride in the food or during chewing in the mouth stimulate the sensation of fat. The taste component of fat is often described as bitter or sour because it is unpleasant, but new evidence reveals fatty acids evoke a unique sensation satisfying another element of the criteria for what constitutes a basic taste, just like sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.

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Don't Bring Your Drone To New Zealand

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 11:30am
NewtonsLaw writes: Personal drones are changing the way some people experience vacations. Instead of toting along a camcorder or a 35mm DSLR, people are starting pack a GoPro and, increasingly, a drone on which to mount it. This is fine if you're going to a drone-friendly country, but be warned that your drone will get you into big trouble in Thailand (where all use of drones by the public is banned outright) and now in New Zealand, where strict new laws regarding the operation of drones (and even tiny toys like the 20g Cheerson CX10) come into effect on August 1. Under these new rules, nobody can operate a drone or model aircraft without getting the prior consent of the owner over which property it is intended to fly — and (this is the kicker) also the permission of the occupiers of that property. So you can effectively forget about flying down at the local park, at scenic locations or just about any public place. Even if you could manage to get the prior permission of the land-owner, because we're talking "public place," you'd also have to get the permission of anyone and everyone who was also in the area where you intended to fly. Other countries have produced far more sane regulations — such as limiting drone and RC model operators to flying no closer than 30m from people or buildings — but New Zealand's CAA have gone right over the top and imposed what amounts to a virtual death-sentence on a hobby that has provided endless, safe fun for people of all ages for more than 50 years. Of course if you are prepared to pay a $600 fee to become "Certified" by CAA then the restrictions on where you can fly are lifted and you don't need those permissions.

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Fiat Chrysler Recalls 1.4 Million Autos To Fix Remote Hack

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 10:48am
swinferno writes: Fiat Chrysler announced today that it's recalling 1.4 million automobiles just days after researchers demonstrated a terrifying hack of a Jeep that was driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour. They are offering a software patch for some of their internet-connected vehicles. Cybersecurity experts Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller have publicly exposed a serious vulnerability that would allow hackers to take remote control of Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) cars that run its Uconnect internet-accessing software for connected car features. Despite this, the researchers say automakers are being slow to address security concerns, and are often approaching security in the wrong way.

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Malaria Vaccine Passes Key Regulatory Hurdle

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 10:05am
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC reports that the European Medicines Agency has approved the world's first malaria vaccine for real-world use. The vaccine is far from perfect, and the World Health Organization still has to make a final decision on it, but it's a key victory for GlaxoSmithKline, who have been developing the vaccine for three decades. "The best protection was among children aged five to 17 months who received three doses of the vaccine a month apart, plus a booster dose at 20 months. In this group, cases of severe malaria were cut by a third over four years." Unfortunately, the boosters are quite necessary for protection, and it doesn't protect young babies from malaria. The disease "kills around 584,000 people a year worldwide, most of them children under five in sub-Saharan Africa."

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Criminal Inquiry Sought Over Hillary Clinton's Personal Email Server

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 9:23am
cold fjord writes: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Inspectors General from the State Department and intelligence agencies have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email server while she was U.S. Secretary of State. At issue is the possible mishandling of sensitive government information. Dozens of the emails provided by Hillary Clinton have been retroactively classified as part of the review of her emails as they are screened for public release. So far 3,000 of 55,000 emails have been released. The inspectors general found hundreds of potentially classified emails. "The Justice Department has not decided if it will open an investigation, senior officials said. ... The inspectors general also criticized the State Department for its handling of sensitive information, particularly its reliance on retired senior Foreign Service officers to decide if information should be classified, and for not consulting with the intelligence agencies about its determinations."

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Four-legged Snake Fossil Stuns Scientists, Ignites Controversy

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 8:40am
sciencehabit writes: Scientists have described what they say is the first known fossil of a four-legged snake. The limbs of the 120-or-so-million-year-old, 20-centimeter-long creature are remarkably well preserved and end with five slender digits that appear to have been functional (abstract). Thought to have come from Brazil, the fossil would be one of the earliest snakes found, suggesting that the group evolved from terrestrial precursors in Gondwana, the southern remnant of the supercontinent Pangaea. But although the creature's overall body plan—and indeed, many of its individual anatomical features—is snakelike, some researchers aren't so sure that it is a part of the snake family tree.

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Pro Gamers To Be Tested For Doping

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 7:58am
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Sports League is the biggest organization for running video game competitions. The league has now announced that they will begin testing professional video gamers for performance-enhancing drugs. The league is getting help in making policies from anti-doping agencies that help regulate athletes in traditional sports. They say, "[W]e will be administering the first PED skin tests at ESL One Cologne this August, with a view to performing these tests at every Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and ESL ESEA Pro League event thereafter as soon as the official PED policy is established and tournament rules updated accordingly." This announcement comes after a high-profile Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player admitted last week that he and many other players used Adderall to gain an advantage in tournaments.

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Study: Push Notifications As Distracting As Taking a Call

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 7:15am
itwbennett writes: Researchers at Florida State University have found that simply being aware of a missed call or text can have the same damaging effect on task performance as actually using a mobile phone. 'Although these notifications are short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind-wandering,' the researchers wrote in their paper. In further bad news for chronic multitaskers, a new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut finds that 'students who multitasked while doing homework had to study longer, and those who frequently multitasked in class had lower grades on average than their peers who multitasked less often.'

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The French Scrabble Champ Does Not Speak French

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 6:32am
HughPickens.com writes: On July 20, Nigel Richards won the French-language world Scrabble championship. Richards does not speak a word of French. "He doesn't speak French at all, he just learnt the words," says Liz Fagerlund. "He won't know what they mean, wouldn't be able to carry out a conversation in French I wouldn't think." Richards reportedly memorized an entire French dictionary in the two months leading up to the competition. For living-room players, Scrabble is a test of vocabularies but for world-class players, it's about cold memorization and mathematical probabilities which is why top player are often computer programmers or mathematicians, not poets or novelists. Think of the dictionary as a giant rulebook of valid text strings not as a compendium of the beauty and complexity of the English language. A good competitive player will have memorized a sizeable chunk of the 83,667 words that are two letters to eight letters long. Great players will know a lot of the 29,150 nine-letter words as well. To the uninitiated, a scrabble game played by top players looks like they had played in Martian. Here's a taste: In a single game in last year's Nationals, Richards played the following words: zarf (a metal holder for a coffee cup), waddy (to strike with a thick club), hulloed (to hallo, to shout), sajous (a capuchin, a monkey), qi (the vital force in Chinese thought), flyboats (a small, fast boat), trigo (wheat) and threaper (one that threaps, disputes). Richards has a photographic memory and is known for his uncanny gift for constructing impossible words by stringing his letters through tiles already on the board. "He is probably the best Scrabble player in the world at this point," says John D. Williams, Jr.. "He's got the entire dictionary memorized. He's pretty much a Scrabble machine, if such a thing exists." So, really, how does he do it? As Richards said in an interview posted on YouTube, "I'm not sure there is a secret. It's just a matter of learning the words." All 178,691 of them.

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Remote Control of a Car, With No Phone Or Network Connection Required

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 4:30am
Albanach writes: Following on from this week's Wired report showing the remote control of a Jeep using a cell phone, security researchers claim to have achieved a similar result using just the car radio. Using off the shelf components to create a fake radio station, the researchers sent signals using the DAB digital radio standard used in Europe and the Asia Pacific region. After taking control of the car's entertainment system it was possible to gain control of vital car systems such as the brakes. In the wild, such an exploit could allow widespread simultaneous deployment of a hack affecting huge numbers of vehicles.

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Cell Service At US Airports Varies From 1st Class To Middle-seat Coach

SlashDot - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 2:04am
alphadogg writes with this NetworkWorld story about the wide disparity in wireless coverage available at airports across the U.S.. Atlanta scores very high while Los Angeles International is less than mediocre. According to the story: You can download an episode of your favorite show in less than a minute and a half on Verizon Wireless at Atlanta's airport—or spend 13 hours doing the same over T-Mobile USA at Los Angeles International. The comparison of 45-minute HD video downloads illustrates the wide variation in cellular service at U.S. airports, which RootMetrics laid out in a report for the first half of 2015 that's being issued Thursday. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson is the best place to go mobile and Verizon covers airports best overall, but just like security lines and de-icing delays, it all depends.

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The Science and Politics Behind Colony Collapse Disorder; Is the Crisis Over?

SlashDot - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 11:33pm
iONiUM writes: An article at the Globe and Mail claims that there is no longer any Honeybee crises, and that the deaths of the Honeybees previously was a one-off, or possibly non-cyclical occurrence (caused by neonics or nature — the debate is still out). The data used is that from Stats Canada which claims "the number of honeybee colonies is at a record high [in Canada]." Globally, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization says that "worldwide bee populations have rebounded to a record high." The story reports: "I have great news for honey lovers everywhere. The Canadian honeybee industry is thriving. Despite those headlines about mass die-offs and and killer pesticides, the number of honeybee colonies is at a record high. Last year, according to Statistics Canada, nearly 700,000 honeybee colonies produced $200-million worth of honey. Bee survival rates have rebounded even in Ontario, which was hard hit by unusually high winter die-offs."

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