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Most Comprehensive Study Yet On Environmental Impact of Electric Vehicles

7/18/2015 8:24am
An anonymous reader writes: A few articles came out Thursday talking about the recently released report from the National Bureau of Economic Research on the environmental benefits of electric cars. The general consensus is kind of obvious -- that it depends on the ratio of coal vs. clean electrical generation that is used to charge your car. What is interesting is the extent to which it makes a difference, and that when viewed on a regional basis, there are cases where the EV doesn't do so well. And when it comes to policy decisions, it seems the central focus needs to be on the replacement of large-scale coal generation, and the rest will fall in to place. Here is one cover story from Ars Technica. Google others for varying perspectives.

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New Unicode Bug Discovered For Common Japanese Character "No"

7/18/2015 7:32am
AmiMoJo writes: Some users have noticed that the Japanese character "no", which is extremely common in the Japanese language (forming parts of many words, or meaning something similar to the English word "of" on its own). The Unicode standard has apparently marked the character as sometimes being used in mathematical formulae, causing it to be rendering in a different font to the surrounding text in certain applications. Similar but more widespread issues have plagued Unicode for decades due to the decision to unify dissimilar characters in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

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Meet "London," Marshall's First Android Smartphone

7/18/2015 4:39am
MojoKid writes: Marshall may be better known for its music equipment, but that isn't stopping the company from bringing a better audio experience to the smartphone market with its London handset. Given its highly customizable nature, it should come as no surprise that London runs Google's Android operating system (Lollipop 5.0.2). The London features dual front-facing speakers, a Wolfson WM8281 sound processor, Bluetooth atpX support, and a gold-tinged scroll wheel on the right side of the device that handle volume control, which Marshall says offers "tactile precision [that] allows you to find that sweet spot of sonic goodness." Once you get past the audio-centric functionality, there's a lot of lower-end hardware under the hood of the London. You'll find a 4.7-inch 720p display, a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, a microSD slot, LTE connectivity, 8MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and a removable 2500 mAh battery. In other words, those specs make the London more in line with the Moto G.

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A Welcome Shift: Spam Now Constitutes Less Than Half of All Email

7/18/2015 1:55am
An anonymous reader writes: According to Symantec's latest Intelligence Report, spam has fallen to less than 50% of all email in June – a number we haven't seen in over a decade. Of all emails received by Symantec clients in June, junk emails only accounts for 49.7% down from 52.1% in April which shows a huge drop. Year over year, spam has decreased as well due to internet providers doing a better job at filtering and shutting down spam bots.

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Renderman Gets Blender Integration

7/17/2015 11:01pm
jones_supa writes: Now that Renderman has been available for free for non-commercial use for a while, there has been many requests for integration with Blender. An initiative spearheaded by Pixar now presents the first Blender to Renderman plugin. With the release of PRMan 20, a small group of developers headed by Brian Savery of Pixar have been working on support for using Renderman and Blender together. The plugin is still in early alpha but has had many great developments in the last few weeks. The source code is available in GitHub.

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A Quick Leak, As Microsoft Tests the Waters For Cortana On Android

7/17/2015 8:12pm
An anonymous reader writes with the news from Venture Beat that a beta of Cortana for Android (long promised) has leaked into the wild via Finnish upload site SuomiMobiili, and from there to others, like APKMirror. From the article: We asked Microsoft where this leak may have come from. "In the spirit of the Windows Insider Program, we're testing the Cortana for Android beta with a limited number of users in the U.S. and China before releasing the beta publicly in the next few weeks," a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat.

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Famed Aircraft Designer James Bede Dies

7/17/2015 7:40pm
linuxwrangler writes with a bit of news overlooked from last week, but worth noting: Prolific aircraft designer James "Jim" Bede has died at age 82. Although Bede designed numerous aircraft he is most commonly associated with the BD-5J, the "world's smallest jet", that was famously used to help James Bond escape in the movie "Octopussy." Bede's company currently has that aircraft for sale.

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"Ludicrous Speed" For Tesla's Model S Means 0-60 MPH In 2.8 Seconds

7/17/2015 7:08pm
Automobile Magazine, writes reader Eloking, reports that the highest-end of the Tesla line has just gotten a boost upward, thanks to a new "Ludicrous Speed" mode: In combination with a newly optional 90-kWh battery pack, this new mode brings 0-60 mph acceleration down to 2.8 seconds (from a quoted 3.2 seconds for the P85D model). This larger battery pack is offered as an upgrade from the existing 85-kWh model, creating new 90, 90D, and P90D models. It doesn't come cheap, though: this isn't just a firmware update to download. For P90D owners, the upgrade costs $10,000 (including the larger battery); P85Ds can be upgraded for half that price.

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Marvel Tweaks Their Superhero Film Formula With Ant-Man

7/17/2015 6:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: Over the past decade, Marvel has been rolling out superhero film after superhero film. They've found a successful formula, and each of the last half-dozen films has brought in over a half-billion dollars in ticket revenue. Today they added to the franchise with Ant-Man, based on a superhero who can shrink himself to the size of an ant (while maintaining normal strength), and control insects. But where the spate of Avengers-related movies only occasionally interjected humor into their world-preserving plots, Ant-Man focuses more on being funny and simply entertaining. Reviews are generally positive, but not overwhelmingly so — Rotten Tomatoes has it at 79%, with a 91% audience score while Metacritic has it at 64/100, with an 8.4/10 user score. The LA Times calls it "playful." Vox has good and bad to say about Ant-Man, but notes that its failings are very common to Marvel's other films. Salon says, "...in its medium-stupid and mismanaged fashion it's not so awful." Wired posted the obligatory physics of Ant-Man article, as did FiveThirtyEight.

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Reddit Will 'Hide' Vile Content After Policy Change

7/17/2015 5:27pm
AmiMoJo writes: It will be more difficult to find "abhorrent" content posted to community news site Reddit, the site has announced. It stopped short of banning the material outright and instead will require users to log-in to access it. The company reiterated its existing complete bans of illegal content, including child abuse images and so-called "revenge porn." Chief executive and co-founder Steve Huffman told users: "We've spent the last few days here discussing, and agree that an approach like this allows us as a company to repudiate content we don't want to associate with the business, but gives individuals freedom to consume it if they choose."

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The Frozen Plains of Pluto's 'Heart'

7/17/2015 4:45pm
New Horizons has sent back new images of Pluto, including a close-up view of the "Tombaugh Regio," which resembles a giant, pale heart stretching 1,600 km across the dwarf planet's surface. The new images show a broad plain free of any craters, broken into irregular segments by shallow troughs. Scientists don't know how they formed, but here are two leading theories: "The irregular shapes may be the result of the contraction of surface materials, similar to what happens when mud dries. Alternatively, they may be a product of convection, similar to wax rising in a lava lamp." This image comes alongside new data on Pluto's extended atmosphere. NASA has released other new findings from the Pluto region, as well. Pluto is trailed by a region of cold, ionized gas ripped away from its atmosphere by the solar wind. We've also gotten a close look at Charon, Pluto's biggest moon. One unusual feature is a sizable mountain rising from an even larger depression in the moon's surface. On top of that, NASA has released the first look at Nix, a tiny satellite of Pluto roughly 40 km in diameter. The image is highly pixelated, but we should get a better image tomorrow, during New Horizon's Saturday downlink. The NY Times has a gallery of images, which also includes pictures of Hydra (another small moon) and a different shot of the Pluto's plains area.

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Ask Slashdot: Opinions on the State Breaking Its Own Law Against Employee Misclassification?

7/17/2015 4:02pm
An anonymous reader writes: I've had the privilege of developing software as an independent contractor for various agencies of a particular state for many years. These past few, however, have seen changes: now I, and almost every other contractor I know, are being managed very differently. This state is now making a widespread practice of using the businesses it awards contracts to as staffing agencies, knowing full well that the people coming in are 1099s and receive none of the benefits or protections of regular employees. These contractors are expected to be on site full-time, are not allowed to use their own hardware or software, and are managed alongside, and perform substantially the same work as other, regular employees. This is apparently done to cut costs. The State has no legal risk here — that rests solely on the businesses it awards contracts to. But given that this particular state takes a hard line against misclassifying employees, this strikes me as profoundly hypocritical. I am not here to ask for legal advice. Indeed, I have already retained counsel in this matter. Considering additional detail that I won't get into here, Federal law is likely being broken. Since this is also one of the states that have the strict 'three prong' test for classifying employees, the State's own law is definitely being broken. I thought, maybe somebody should say something. But my lawyer's reaction surprised me. He said — this isn't a big deal, you could just go find another client. And you know what? He's right. I could totally do that. Maybe since we in the IT industry tend to be well paid, nobody should care, and there's no reason complain. I'm not asking for legal advice or a recommendation as to what I should do personally; I'm still forming an opinion on the larger issue here, and I'd like you to share yours.

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2014 Was Earth's Warmest Year On Record

7/17/2015 3:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: A lengthy report compiled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration using work from hundreds of scientists across 58 countries has found that 2014 was the hottest year on record. "The warmth was widespread across land areas. Europe experienced its warmest year on record, with more than 20 countries exceeding their previous records. Africa had above-average temperatures across most of the continent throughout 2014, Australia saw its third warmest year on record, Mexico had its warmest year on record, and Argentina and Uruguay each had their second warmest year on record. Eastern North America was the only major region to experience below-average annual temperatures." They've also published a page showing highlights of the major findings. Greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise, the global sea level reached a record high, and average sea surface temperatures reached a record high.

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How Will IT Workers' Roles Change in the Next Five Years? (Video)

7/17/2015 2:36pm
We asked Sarah Lahav this question. She's founder and CEO of service management and help desk software company SysAid, and a staunch supporter of Sysadmin Appreciation Day, so keeping an eye on the future of IT is essential for her company, her clients, and the friends she's made in her years as an IT person and -- later -- IT service company executive. As she says in the interview, "[Some] people say that the IT person will not exist because everything will go to the cloud. And the other half claims that people from the IT [department] will have new skills. It wouldn’t be the same IT person as we know him now, there will be focus more on firewalls than on fixing computers and stuff like that." Is she right? Is she wrong? Or will changes in IT people's roles be so different from company to company that there is no one right answer?

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Which Movies Get Artificial Intelligence Right?

7/17/2015 1:54pm
sciencehabit writes: Hollywood has been tackling Artificial Intelligence for decades, from Blade Runner to Ex Machina. But how realistic are these depictions? Science asked a panel of AI experts to weigh in on 10 major AI movies — what they get right, and what they get horribly wrong. It also ranks the movies from least to most realistic. Films getting low marks include Chappie, Blade Runner, and A.I.. High marks: Bicentennial Man, Her, and 2001: a Space Odyssey.

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Interviews: Ask Dr. Temple Grandin About Animals and Autism

7/17/2015 1:11pm
Being listed in the "Time 100" of the most influential people in the world in the "Heroes" category, is just one of the many awards received by Temple Grandin. Diagnosed with autism at the age of two, Temple overcame many obstacles and earned a doctoral degree in animal science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a professor at Colorado State University. Dr, Grandin is recognized as an expert in animal behavior and one of the leading advocates for the rights of autistic persons. She lectures, and has written numerous books on animals and autism, and was the subject of the award-winning, biographical film, Temple Grandin . Dr. Grandin has agreed to take some time out of her schedule to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.

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ProxyGambit Replaces Defunct ProxyHam

7/17/2015 12:28pm
msm1267 writes: Hardware hacker Samy Kamkar has picked up where anonymity device ProxyHam left off. After a DEF CON talk on ProxyHam was mysteriously called off, Kamkar went to work on developing ProxyGambit, a similar device that allows a user to access the Internet without revealing their physical location. A description on Kamkar's site says ProxyGambit fractures traffic from the Internet through long distance radio links or reverse-tunneled GSM bridges that connect and exit the Internet through wireless networks far from the user's physical location. ProxyHam did not put as much distance between the user and device as ProxyGambit, and routed its signal over Wi-Fi and radio connections. Kamkar said his approach makes it several times more difficult to determine where the original traffic is coming from.

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Intel's Tick-Tock Cycle Skips a Beat

7/17/2015 11:46am
New submitter Ramze writes: Several outlets are reporting on Intel's confirmation that it will make three generations of 14nm processors, delaying the switch to 10nm. The planned 14nm Kaby Lake processor marks the first time Intel has skipped the "tick" of a die shrink on its regular "tick/tock" cycle. Production of Cannonlake processors on 10nm has been pushed back to the second half of 2017 — likely due to manufacturing difficulties. Intel reported earlier this year that it may have to switch away from silicon to exotic materials such as indium gallium arsenide to make the next shrink to 7nm.

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Cashless Adoption Growing In Europe

7/17/2015 11:03am
dkatana writes: Many European cities are moving toward a cashless economy. Some public services are not accepting cash anymore, such as parking meters, buses and transit, and city offices. (If you plan to visit Europe make sure your credit card has a chip, or you won't be able to use self-service machines.) Contactless cards, which allow people to pay easily for small transactions, are also gaining popularity. According to Finextra, a leading financial news service, "contactless is the new normal in Europe, with more than a billion tap-and-go purchases worth €12.6 billion on Visa cards in the last 12 months." In some places, cashless options are being pushed by mistrust of the banking system. At the same time, places like Germany are dead set on keeping cash as the preferred method of payment.

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Scientists Develop Nutritious Seaweed That Tastes Like Bacon

7/17/2015 10:21am
cold fjord writes: According to a New Zealand Herald report, "Researchers at Oregon State University have patented a new strain of succulent red marine algae that tastes like bacon when it's cooked. The protein-packed algae sea vegetable called dulse grows extraordinarily fast and is wild along the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines. It has been sold for centuries in a dried form around northern Europe, used in cooking and as a nutritional supplement. ... Chris Langdon has created a new strain of the weed which looks like a translucent red lettuce. An excellent source of minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, the "superfood" contains up to 16 per cent protein in dry weight. ... It has twice the nutritional value of kale." Langdon says, "When you fry it, which I have done, it tastes like bacon, not seaweed. And it's a pretty strong bacon flavor."

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