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Elite Violinists Can't Distinguish Between a Stradivarius and a Modern Violin

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 4:28pm
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If you know only one thing about violins, it is probably this: A 300-year-old Stradivarius supposedly possesses mysterious tonal qualities unmatched by modern instruments. However, even elite violinists cannot tell a Stradivarius from a top-quality modern violin, a new double-blind study suggests. Like the sound of coughing during the delicate second movement of Beethoven's violin concerto, the finding seems sure to annoy some people, especially dealers who broker the million-dollar sales of rare old Italian fiddles. But it may come as a relief to the many violinists who cannot afford such prices."

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SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 3:45pm
JoeyRox (2711699) writes "The city of San Francisco is aggressively enforcing its ban on short-term rentals. SF resident Jeffrey Katz recently came home to an eviction notice posted on his door that read 'You are illegally using the premises as a tourist or transient unit.' According to Edward Singer, an attorney with Zacks & Freedman who filed the notice against Katz, 'Using an apartment for short-term rentals is a crime in San Francisco.' Apparently Airbnb isn't being very helpful to residents facing eviction. 'Unfortunately, we can't provide individual legal assistance or review lease agreements for our 500,000 hosts, but we do try to help inform people about these issues,' according to David Hantman, Airbnb head of global public policy. SF and Airbnb are working on a framework which might make Airbnb rentals legal, an effort helped by Airbnb's decision last week to start collecting the city's 14% hotel tax by summer."

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Tesla: A Carmaker Or Grid-Storage Company?

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 3:02pm
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Let's be real, the three Detroit automakers were skeptical of Tesla Motors, and rightfully so. But at this point, it's pretty hard to deny the impact this Silicon Valley automaker is having on the industry. Now there's a new question buzzing around: Is Tesla Motors actually a carmaker, or is it really just a grid-storage company? If you think about it, the company's stock price is too high for Toyota or Daimler to just buy it outright. So maybe Tesla's gigafactory will not only make batteries for its own electric cars, but it could also sell battery packs to electric utilities and others. In reality, the gigafactory could become its own separate company and just sell the battery packs to Tesla, and others."

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A Bid To Take 3D Printing Mainstream

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 2:18pm
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "Can 3D printing go truly mainstream? Startup M3D is betting on it, having launched a Kickstarter campaign to create what it terms the first truly consumer 3D printer, built around proprietary auto-leveling and auto-calibration technology that (it claims) will allow the device to run in an efficient, easy-to-use way for quite some time. According to The Verge, the device is space-efficient, quiet, and sips power: 'One of the main obstacles between 3D printers and consumers has been clunky, unintuitive software. Here too, M3D promises improvements, having designed an app that's 'as interactive and enjoyable as a game' with a minimalist and touch-friendly interface.' Do you think 3D printing can capture a massive audience, or will it remain niche for the foreseeable future?"

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Book Review: Mobile HTML5

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 1:34pm
Michael Ross (599789) writes "Web designers and developers nowadays are familiar with the critical decision they face each time before building an application intended for mobile devices: whether to target a particular device operating system (e.g., iOS) and create the app using the language dictated by the OS (e.g., Objective-C), or try to build an operating system-agnostic app that runs on any device equipped with a modern web browser (primarily using HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript), or try to do a combination of both (using a library such as PhoneGap). The second option offers many advantages, and is the approach explored in the book Mobile HTML5, authored by Estelle Weyl, an experienced front-end developer." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.

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New Service Lets You Hitch a Ride With Private Planes For Cost of Tank of Gas

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:50pm
v3rgEz (125380) writes "A new service, Airpooler, matches pilots with passengers looking to head the same way. Since it's not an officially licensed charter service, prices are limited to roughly the passengers' share of the gas, giving pilots a way to share the expense of enjoying the open blue and flyers a taste of their personal pilot."

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Raspberry Pi Compute Module Release

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:30pm
First time accepted submitter ControlsGeek (156589) writes "The Raspberry Pi Foundation has developed a new product. It is basically a Raspberry Pi model A processor memory and flash memory on a DDR2 style SODIMM connector. Also available will be a development board that breaks out all the internal connections. The board design will be open sourced so you can develop your own devices using the BCM2835 processor. No network, but support for 2 HDMI displays and 2 cameras, so 3D TV is a possibility.

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NASA Laying Foundation For Jupiter Moon Space Mission

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:07pm
coondoggie (973519) writes "NASA recently began laying out the groundwork for the technology it will need to fly an unmanned mission to Jupiter's intriguing moon Europa. Scientists say Europa — which orbits the planet Jupiter about 778 million km (484 million miles) from the Sun — could support life because it might have an ocean of liquid water under its miles-thick frozen crust. NASA said in December the Hubble Space Telescope observed water vapor above the frigid south polar region of Jupiter's moon Europa, providing the first strong evidence of water plumes erupting off the moon's surface."

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Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 11:24am
A while ago you had a chance to ask John McAfee about his past, politics, and what he has planned for the future. As usual, John answered with extreme frankness, with some interesting advice for anyone stuck at a checkpoint in the third world. Below you can read all his answers to your questions.

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Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:41am
Zothecula (1870348) writes "At Microsoft's Think Next symposium in Tel Aviv, Israeli startup StoreDot has demonstrated the prototype of a nanodot-based smartphone battery it claims can fully charge in just under 30 seconds. With the company having plans for mass production, this technology could change the way we interact with portable electronics, and perhaps even help realize the dream of a fast-charging electric car."

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Dyn.com Ends Free Dynamic DNS

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 10:17am
First time accepted submitter mkitchin (1285710) writes in with news about Dyn ending its free DNS service. "For the last 15 years, all of us at Dyn have taken pride in offering a free version of our Dynamic DNS Pro product. What was originally a product built for a small group of users has blossomed into an exciting technology used around the world. That is why with mixed emotions we announced the end of that free hostname program today, officially turning down on May 7th."

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Judge (Tech) Advice By Results

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 9:56am
Bennett Haselton writes "What advice would you give someone who just bought a new laptop? What would you tell someone about how to secure their webserver against attacks? For that matter, how would you tell someone to prepare for their first year at Burning Man? I submit that the metric by which we usually judge tech advice, and advice in general, is fundamentally flawed, and has bred much of the unhelpful tech advice out there." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

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Should Microsoft Give Kids Programmable Versions of Office?

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 9:15am
theodp (442580) writes "Over at Microsoft on the Issues, Microsoft continues to lament the computer programming skills gap of American kids, while simultaneously lobbying for more H-1B visas to fill that gap. Saying that states must do more to 'help students gain critical 21st century skills,' Microsoft credits itself and partner Code.org for getting 30,606,732 students to experience coding through the Hour of Code, claiming that K-12 kids have 'written 1,332,784,839 lines of code' (i.e., dragged-and-dropped puzzle pieces), So, if it's concerned about helping students gain programming skills, shouldn't Microsoft be donating fully-functional desktop versions of MS-Office to schools, which would allow kids to use Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)? While Microsoft's pledge to give 12 million copies of its Office software to schools was heralded by the White House and the press, a review of the 'fine print' at Microsoft suggests it's actually the online VBA-free version of Office 365 Education that the kids will be getting, unless their schools qualify for the Student Advantage program by purchasing Office for the faculty and staff. Since Microsoft supported President Obama's call for kids to 'Don't Just Play on Your Phone, Program It', shouldn't it give kids the chance to program MS-Office, too?"

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Australia May 'Pause' Trades To Tackle High-Frequency Trading

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 8:28am
angry tapir (1463043) writes "The Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), a government financial watchdog, is reportedly contemplating the idea of implementing a 500 millisecond delay on trades in an effort to put the brakes on high-frequency trading. ASIC last year knocked back the idea and stated that fears about HFT were overblown. However, in a government inquiry today representatives of the organization said the idea of a 'pause' is still on the table."

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How To Build a Quantum Telescope

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 7:44am
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The resolving power of telescopes is limited by the diffraction limit, a natural bound on resolution caused by the way light diffracts as it passes through a lens. But in recent years, physicists have worked out how to use quantum techniques to beat the diffraction limit. The trick is to create a pair of entangled photons, use one to illuminate the target and the other to increase the information you have about the first. All this is possible in the lab because physicists can use their own sources of light. Indeed, last month, physicists unveiled the first entanglement-enhanced microscope that beats the diffraction limit. But what about astronomy where the light comes from distant astrophysical sources? Now one physicist has worked out how to use quantum techniques to beat the diffraction limit in telescopes too. Her idea is to insert a crystalline sheet of excited atoms into the aperture of the telescope. When astrophysical photons hit this sheet, they generate an entangled pair of photons. One of these photons then passes through the telescope to create an image while the other is used to improve the information known about the first and so beat the diffraction limit. Of course, all this depends on improved techniques for increasing the efficiency of the process and removing noise that might otherwise swamp the astrophysical signal. But it's still the early days in the world of quantum imaging, and at least astronomers now know they're not going to be excluded from the fun."

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Fifty Years Ago IBM 'Bet the Company' On the 360 Series Mainframe

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 7:02am
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Those of us of a certain age remember well the breakthrough that the IBM 360 series mainframes represented when it was unveiled fifty years ago on 7 April 1964. Now Mark Ward reports at BBC that the first System 360 mainframe marked a break with all general purpose computers that came before because it was possible to upgrade the processors but still keep using the same code and peripherals from earlier models. "Before System 360 arrived, businesses bought a computer, wrote programs for it and then when it got too old or slow they threw it away and started again from scratch," says Barry Heptonstall. IBM bet the company when they developed the 360 series. At the time IBM had a huge array of conflicting and incompatible lines of computers, and this was the case with the computer industry in general at the time, it was largely a custom or small scale design and production industry, but IBM was such a large company and the problems of this was getting obvious: When upgrading from one of the smaller series of IBM computers to a larger one, the effort in doing that transition was so big so you might as well go for a competing product from the "BUNCH" (Burroughs, Univac, NCR, CDC and Honeywell). Fred Brooks managed the development of IBM's System/360 family of computers and the OS/360 software support package and based his software classic "The Mythical Man-Month" on his observation that "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." The S/360 was also the first computer to use microcode to implement many of its machine instructions, as opposed to having all of its machine instructions hard-wired into its circuitry. Despite their age, mainframes are still in wide use today and are behind many of the big information systems that keep the modern world humming handling such things as airline reservations, cash machine withdrawals and credit card payments. "We don't see mainframes as legacy technology," says Charlie Ewen. "They are resilient, robust and are very cost-effective for some of the work we do.""

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Why There Are So Few ISP Start-Ups In the U.S.

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 4:18am
An anonymous reader writes "Despite whispers of growing dissatisfaction among consumers, there are still very few ISP start-ups popping up in communities all over the U.S. There are two main reasons for this: up-front costs and legal obstacles. The first reason discourages anyone who doesn't have Google's investors or the local government financially supporting them from even getting a toe in the business. 'Financial analysts last year estimated that Google had to spend $84 million to build a fiber network that passed 149,000 homes in Kansas City, with the cost per home at $500 to $674.' The second reason will keep any new start-up defending itself in court against frivolous lawsuits incumbent ISP providers have been known to file to bleed the newcomers dry in legal fees. There are also ISP lobbyists working to pass laws that prevent local governments from either entering the ISP market themselves or partnering with private companies to provide ISP alternatives. Given these set-backs and growing dissatisfaction with the status quo, one has to wonder how long before the U.S. recognizes the internet as a utility and passes laws and regulations accordingly."

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Should Microsoft Be Required To Extend Support For Windows XP?

SlashDot - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 1:27am
An anonymous reader writes "If Windows XP were a photocopier, Microsoft would have a duty to deal with competitors who sought to provide aftermarket support. A new article in the Michigan Law Review argues that Microsoft should be held to the same duty, and should be legally obligated to help competitors who wish to continue to provide security updates for the aging operating system, even if that means allowing them to access and use Windows XP's sourcecode."

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UAV Operator Blames Hacking For Malfunction That Injured Triathlete

SlashDot - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 10:40pm
jaa101 (627731) writes "The owner of a drone which fell and reportedly hit an athlete competing in a triathlon in Western Australia's Mid West has said he believes the device was 'hacked' into." From the article: "Mr Abrams said an initial investigation had indicted that someone nearby "channel hopped" the device, taking control away from the operator. ... Mr Abrams said it was a deliberate act and it would be difficult to determine who was responsible as something as common as a mobile phone could be used to perform a channel hop. The videographer added that there had been a similar incident when the drone was flown earlier in the day."

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3D-Printed UAV Can Go From Atoms to Airborne in 24 Hours

SlashDot - Sun, 04/06/2014 - 7:47pm
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Because 3D printing allows one-off items to be created quickly and cheaply, it should come as no surprise that the technology has already been used to produce unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Engineers at the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC), however, have taken things a step farther. They've made a 3D-printed UAV airframe that's designed to minimize the amount of material needed in its construction, and that can be printed and in the air within a single day."

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