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OSGeo Foundation Up In Arms Over ESRI LAS Lock-In Plans

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 11:24am
Bismillah writes: The Open Source Geospatial Foundation is outraged over mapping giant ESRI's latest move which entails vendor lock-in for light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data through its proprietary Optimised LAS format. ESRI is the dominant company in the geospatial data arena, with its ArcGIS mapping platform boasting with over a million users and 350,000 customers.

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Copyright For Sale: What the Sony Docs Say About MPAA Buying Political Influence

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 10:35am
An anonymous reader writes: The linkage between political funding and the major copyright lobby groups is not a new issue as for years there have been stories about how groups like the MPAA and RIAA fund politicians that advance their interests. Michael Geist digs into the Sony document leak to see how the MPAA coordinates widespread buying of politicians with political funding campaigns led by former Senator Christopher Dodd to federal and state politicians. The campaigns include efforts to circumvent donation limits by encouraging executives to spend thousands on influential politicians, leading to meetings with Barack Obama, the head of the USTR and world leaders.

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The Logistics of an eSports Tournament

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 9:48am
An anonymous reader writes: Wargaming's hugely popular World of Tanks game sees its biggest tournament of the year, The Grand Finals, taking place this weekend. In an interview published today, the developer's eSports director, Mohamed Fadl, reveals just what goes into preparing a tournament for both thousands of spectators at the venue, and millions more streaming online. "The infrastructure behind such an event is the most challenging task," he reveals. "Ten highly qualified IT managers, 28 on-air casters and around 50 additional TV staff will be doing their best...A TV level production setup, 170 computers, a total of 1.3GB/s bandwidth and 16 cameras plus 14 player cameras." And all for just 12 teams playing one strategy game.

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'Mobilegeddon': Google To Punish Mobile-Hostile Sites Starting Today

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 9:07am
jfruh writes: Google has announced that it will be adding mobile-friendliness to the list of factors that will get a site bumped up in search rankings. Sites that have no mobile versions — which includes sites owned by Wikipedia, the BBC and the European Union — will find themselves with lower Google search placement, starting today.

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USPS Shortlists 'HorseFly' Octocopter Drone Delivery Service

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 8:33am
An anonymous reader writes: The likes of GM and Nissan are keeping unusual company in the bidding war to build and deliver the next generation of delivery vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service. Workhorse Group Inc. have made it to the 16-company shortlist with their octocopter drone delivery system, developed by the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering and Applied Science. The self-guiding UAV 'HorseFly' has multiple hardware and software redundancy systems and launches from its special host van 'WorkHorse' to get the parcel the final hurdle to the door. The drone can recharge itself wirelessly in two minutes at base, and calculates its own routes from the van to the destination door.

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Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 7:51am
sciencehabit writes: In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge [Monday] granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals. Update: 04/21 21:39 GMT by S : Science has updated their article with news that the court has released an amended order (PDF) with the words "writ of habeas corpus" removed, no longer implying that chimps have legal personhood. The order still allows the litigation to go forward, but we'll have to wait for resolution.

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Judge Recognizes Research Chimps As "Legal Persons"

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 7:51am
sciencehabit writes: In a decision that effectively recognizes chimpanzees as legal persons for the first time, a New York judge [Monday] granted a pair of Stony Brook University lab animals the right to have their day in court. The ruling marks the first time in U.S. history that an animal has been covered by a writ of habeus corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The judicial action could force the university, which is believed to be holding the chimps, to release the primates, and could sway additional judges to do the same with other research animals.

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Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 7:10am
HughPickens.com writes: Zeynep Tufekci writes in an op-ed at the NY Times that machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who's in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge them toward a sale. It turns out most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data. "Machines aren't used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a "good enough" job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control than quirky, pesky humans," writes Tufekci. "Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency." According to Tufekci technology is being used in many workplaces: to reduce the power of humans, and employers' dependency on them, whether by replacing, displacing or surveilling them. Optimists insist that we've been here before, during the Industrial Revolution, when machinery replaced manual labor, and all we need is a little more education and better skills. Tufekci points out that one historical example is no guarantee of future events. "Confronting the threat posed by machines, and the way in which the great data harvest has made them ever more able to compete with human workers, must be about our priorities," concludes Tufekci. "This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another."

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Tor Is Building the Next Generation Dark Net With Funding From DARPA

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 4:10am
Patrick O'Neill writes: After years of relative neglect, Tor has been able to dedicate increasing time and resources to its hidden services thanks to funding in part by DARPA, as well as an upcoming crowdfunding campaign. DARPA's funding lasts 1-3 years and covers several projects including security and usability upgrades that close the gap between hidden services and the everyday Internet. "Next-generation hidden services may be run from multiple hosts to better deal with denial of service attacks and high traffic in general, a potentially big power boost that further closes the gap between the Dark Net and normal websites. ... Hidden services, which make up about 4 percent of the entire Tor network, have until recently been relatively neglected when it comes to funding and developing."

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AMD Publishes New 'AMDGPU' Linux Graphics Driver

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 1:13am
An anonymous reader writes: AMD has made available its new AMDGPU Linux graphics driver comprised of a brand new DRM/KMS kernel driver, a new xf86-video-amdgpu X11 driver, and modifications to libdrm and Gallium3D. This new AMDGPU driver is designed for supporting AMD's next-generation hardware with no support differences for currently supported Radeon GPUs. While yet to be released, this new AMDGPU driver is the critical piece to the new unified driver strategy with Catalyst where their high performance proprietary driver will now become limited to being a user-space binary component that uses this open-source kernel driver.

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AMD Publishes New 'AMDGPU' Linux Graphics Driver

SlashDot - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 1:13am
An anonymous reader writes: AMD has made available its new AMDGPU Linux graphics driver comprised of a brand new DRM/KMS kernel driver, a new xf86-video-amdgpu X11 driver, and modifications to libdrm and Gallium3D. This new AMDGPU driver is designed for supporting AMD's next-generation hardware with no support differences for currently supported Radeon GPUs. While yet to be released, this new AMDGPU driver is the critical piece to the new unified driver strategy with Catalyst where their high performance proprietary driver will now become limited to being a user-space binary component that uses this open-source kernel driver.

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Baltimore Police Used Stingrays For Phone Tracking Over 25,000 Times

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 11:11pm
An anonymous reader writes The Baltimore Police Department is starting to come clean about its use of cell-phone signal interceptors — commonly known as Stingrays — and the numbers are alarming. According to recent court testimony reported by The Baltimore Sun, the city's police have used Stingray devices with a court order more than 25,000 times. It's a massive number, representing an average of nearly nine uses a day for eight years (the BPD acquired the technology in 2007), and it doesn't include any emergency uses of the device, which would have proceeded without a court order.

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For High-End CPUs, Qualcomm Ditches TSMC For Samsung

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 9:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: A report at Re/code says Qualcomm will have its next-gen Snapdragon 820 CPU made at Samsung's foundries, instead of TSMC's. The report points out a couple of good reasons for the switch: first of all, Samsung's plants run on a 14nm process, while TSMC still uses a 20nm process. Second — and more telling — Samsung recently ditched Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors for their new Galaxy S6 smartphone, opting to use their own Exynos chips instead. With the phone expected to sell upwards of 70 million units, that's a huge missed opportunity for Qualcomm. It's feasible Qualcomm could get Samsung to drop its own chips, because the Snapdragon 820 will have an onboard LTE modem. That would reduce the cost of assembling a phone, and also free up some space to make it smaller.

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3.46-Billion-Year-Old 'Fossils' Were Not Created By Life Forms

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 8:16pm
sciencehabit writes: What are the oldest fossils on Earth? For a long time, a 3.46-billion-year-old rock from Western Australia seemed to hold the record. A 1993 Science paper (abstract) suggested that the Apex chert contained tiny, wormy structures that could have been fossilized cell walls of some of the world's first cyanobacteria. But now there is more evidence that these structures have nothing to do with life. The elongated filaments were instead created by minerals forming in hydrothermal systems, researchers report (abstract). After the minerals were formed, carbon glommed on to the edges, leaving behind an organic signature that looked suspiciously like cell walls.

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Netflix Is Betting On Exclusive Programming

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 7:23pm
An anonymous reader writes: You may have heard of the recent launch of the new Daredevil TV show, and possibly the hit shows House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. They're all original programming from Netflix — the company that used to just mail DVDs to your door. But Netflix is now running a lot more than just those three shows — it has 320 hours of original programming planned for this year. This article discusses how Netflix is betting big on original, exclusive content, and what that means for the future of television. "Traditionally, television networks needed to stand for something to carve out an audience, he said, whereas the Internet allows brands to mean different things to different people because the service can be personalized for individual viewers. That means that for a conservative Christian family, Netflix should stand for wholesome entertainment, and, for a 20-year-old New York college student, it should be much more on the edge, he said.... 'We've had 80 years of linear TV, and it's been amazing, and in its day the fax machine was amazing,' he said. "The next 20 years will be this transformation from linear TV to Internet TV.'"

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How Security Companies Peddle Snake Oil

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 6:40pm
penciling_in writes: There are no silver bullets in Internet security, warns Paul Vixie in a co-authored piece along with Cyber Security Specialist Frode Hommedal: "Just as 'data' is being sold as 'intelligence', a lot of security technologies are being sold as 'security solutions' rather than what they really are: very narrow-focused appliances that, as a best case, can be part of your broader security effort." We have to stop playing "cops and robbers" and pretending that all of us are potential targets of nation-states, or pretending that any of our security vendors are like NORAD, warn the authors. Vixie adds, "We in the Internet security business look for current attacks and learn from those how to detect and prevent those attacks and maybe how to predict, detect, and prevent what's coming next. But rest assured that there is no end game — we put one bad guy in prison for every hundred or so new bad guys who come into the field each month. There is no device or method, however powerful, which will offer a salient defense for more than a short time. The bad guys endlessly adapt; so must we. Importantly, the bad guys understand how our systems work; so must we."

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NASA's Rocket Maker To Begin 3D Printing Flight-Ready Components

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 5:59pm
Lucas123 writes: United Launch Alliance (ULA), the company that makes rockets for NASA and the U.S. Air Force, plans to 3D print more than 100 flight-ready components for its next-gen Vulcan rocket. The company also just printed its first flight-ready component, a new Environmental Control System for its current Atlas V rocket. The ECS assembly had previously contained 140 parts that were made by third party suppliers, but ULA was able to reduce the parts to just 16, resulting in a 57% part-cost reduction. Along with cost reduction, ULA said 3D printing frees it from contracts with parts providers who may or may not deliver on time depending on whether the deem the rocket maker a priority at any given time. The company, which launches 12 rockets each year, is also hoping to use 3D printing for a more traditional role — rapid prototyping of parts. "We have a long list of [parts] candidates to evaluate — over 100 polymer parts we're considering and another 50 or so metal parts we're considering," said Greg Arend, program manager for additive manufacturing at ULA.

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Why the Journey To IPv6 Is Still the Road Less Traveled

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 5:17pm
alphadogg writes The writing's on the wall about the short supply of IPv4 addresses, and IPv6 has been around since 1999. Then why does the new protocol still make up just a fraction of the Internet? Though IPv6 is finished technology that works, rolling it out may be either a simple process or a complicated and risky one, depending on what role you play on the Internet. And the rewards for doing so aren't always obvious. For one thing, making your site or service available via IPv6 only helps the relatively small number of users who are already set up with the protocol, creating a nagging chicken-and-egg problem.

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New PCIe SSDs Load Games, Apps As Fast As Old SATA Drives

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 4:33pm
crookedvulture writes Slashdot has covered a bunch of new PCI Express SSDs over the past month, and for good reason. The latest crop offers much higher sequential and random I/O rates than predecessors based on old-school Serial ATA interfaces. They're also compatible with new protocols, like NVM Express, which reduce overhead and improve scaling under demanding loads. As one might expect, these new PCIe drives destroy the competition in targeted benchmarks, hitting top speeds several times faster than even the best SATA SSDs can muster. The thing is, PCIe SSDs don't load games or common application data any faster than current incumbents—or even consumer-grade SSDs from five years ago. That's very different from the initial transition from mechanical to solid-state storage, where load times improved noticeably for just about everything. Servers and workstations can no doubt take advantage of the extra oomph that PCIe SSDs provide, but desktop users may struggle to find scenarios where PCIe SSDs offer palpable performance improvements over even budget-oriented SATA drives.

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Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

SlashDot - Mon, 04/20/2015 - 3:49pm
Mr_Blank writes Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles. In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle. The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.

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