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Updated: 8 min 18 sec ago

More Cities Use DNA To Catch Dog Owners Who Don't Pick Up Waste

8/27/2015 12:28am
dkatana writes: For many cities one of the biggest cleaning expenses is dealing with dog poop. While it is impossible to ask the birds to refrain from splattering the city, dogs have owners and those owners are responsible for disposing of their companion's waste. The few who shirk their duty create serious problems for the rest. Poop is not just a smelly inconvenience. It's unsanitary, extra work for cleaning crews, and in the words of one Spanish mayor, on a par with vandalism. Cities have tried everything from awareness campaigns with motorized poo videos, to publishing offenders names to mailing the waste back to the dog owner. In one case, after a 147 deliveries, dog waste incidents in the town dropped 70 percent. Those campaigns have had limited effect and after an initial decline in incidents, people go back to their old ways. Which has left many cities resorting to science and DNA identification of waste. Several European cities, including Naples and one borough in London, are building DNA registries of pets. Offending waste will then be tested and the cost of the analysis charged to the dog owner, along with a fine.

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Will a Tighter Economy Rein In Startups?

8/26/2015 9:55pm
Nerval's Lobster writes: It's been quite a ride for the stock market this week. In China, markets cratered; in the U.S., stocks dove for two days, only to rebound on Wednesday. That made many tech firms nervous, both about the Chinese economy (which some of them depend upon) and the continuing flow of money from VCs and investors. While the economic jitters don't seem to be affecting some tech firms' ability to implode themselves, more than one pundit is wondering whether the tech industry will shift into 'fear mode,' which could be bad for the so-called 'unicorns' that need funders to keep partying like it's 1999. Are we going to see money start drying up for startups?

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How To Keep Microsoft's Nose Out of Your Personal Data In Windows 10

8/26/2015 7:50pm
MojoKid writes: Amid the privacy concerns and arguably invasive nature of Microsoft's Windows 10 regarding user information, it's no surprise that details on how to minimize leaks as much as possible are often requested by users who have recently made the jump to the new operating system. If you are using Windows 10, or plan to upgrade soon, it's worth bearing in mind a number of privacy-related options that are available, even during the installation/upgrade. If you are already running the OS and forgot to turn them off during installation (or didn't even see them), they can be accessed via the Settings menu on the start menu, and then selecting Privacy from the pop-up menu. Among these menus are a plethora of options regarding what data can be gathered about you. It's worth noting, however, that changing any of these options may disable various OS related services, namely Cortana, as Microsoft's digital assistant has it tendrils buried deep.

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Facebook Is Now Working On Its Own Digital Assistant Called M

8/26/2015 7:05pm
Mark Wilson writes: Sounding like a character from a James Bond movie, M is Facebook's personal digital assistant. Ready to compete with the likes of Cortana, M will live inside Facebook Messenger and take artificial intelligence a step further. Rather than just helping you to find information or create calendar entries, M will actually perform tasks on your behalf. Once up and running, M will be able to book restaurants for you, purchase shopping, and more. It will also be possible to use the service to ask for advice — such as looking for somewhere to visit nearby, or gift suggestions — and Facebook says the AI behind M is "trained and supervised by people".

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"Sensationalized Cruelty": FCC Complaints Regarding Game of Thrones

8/26/2015 6:22pm
v3rgEz writes: As a cable channel, the FCC has little to no jurisdiction over HBO's content. That doesn't stop people from complaining to them about them, however, and after a FOIA request, the FCC released numerous complaints regarding the network's Game of Thrones. While there were the usual and expected lamentations about 'open homosexual sex acts,' other users saw Game of Thrones as a flashpoint in the war of Net Neutrality.

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Why Modular Smartphones Are Such a Nightmare To Develop

8/26/2015 5:40pm
itwbennett writes: Last week Google postponed tests of its Project Ara until next year. Mikael Ricknäs has written about why developing such devices is particularly difficult. The biggest challenge, writes Ricknäs, 'is the underlying architecture, the structural frame and data backbone of the device, which makes it possible for all the modules to communicate with each other. It has to be so efficient that the overall performance doesn't take a hit and still be cheap and frugal with power consumption.' For more on Project Ara and its challenges, watch this Slashdot interview with the project's firmware lead Marti Bolivar.

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Verizon Retrofits Vintage Legacy Vehicles With Smart Features

8/26/2015 4:58pm
An anonymous reader writes: Verizon have released an after-market system called Hum that can bring 'smart' features to 150 million existing cars of various vintages going as far back as 1999. The system consists of an on-board diagnostic (OBD) reader plugged into the vehicle's OBD port and a Bluetooth-enabled device clipped to the visor. It's the presence of the ODB port that limits the maximum age of the car to 1996. Hum comes with an app, and enables features such as automatic accident reporting, roadside assistance services and the tracking of stolen cars. The service will cost $14.99 per month via subscription.

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More From Tim O'Reilly about the 'WTF?!' Economy (Videos)

8/26/2015 4:16pm
More From Tim O'Reilly about the 'WTF?!' Economy (Video) On August 12 we ran two videos of Tim O'Reilly talking with Slashdot's Tim Lord about changes in how we work, what jobs we do, and who profits from advances in labor-saving technology. Tim (O'Reilly, that is) had written an article titled, The WTF Economy, which contained this paragraph: "What do on-demand services, AI, and the $15 minimum wage movement have in common? They are telling us, loud and clear, that we’re in for massive changes in work, business, and the economy." We're seeing a shift from cabs to Uber, but what about the big shift when human drivers get replaced by artificial intelligence? Ditto airplane pilots, burger flippers, and some physicians. WTF? Exactly. Once again we have a main video and a second one available only in Flash (sorry about that), along with a text transcript that covers both videos. Good thought-provoking material, even if you think you're so special that no machine could possibly replace you.

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IBM Tells Administrators To Block Tor On Security Grounds

8/26/2015 3:30pm
Mickeycaskill writes: IBM says Tor is increasingly being used to scan organizations for flaws and launch DDoS, ransomware and other attacks. Tor, which provides anonymity by obscuring the real point of origin of Internet communications, was in part created by the US government, which helps fund its ongoing development, due to the fact that some of its operations rely on the network. However, the network is also widely used for criminal purposes. A report by the IBM says administrators should block access to Tor , noting a "steady increase" an attacks originating from Tor exit nodes, with attackers increasingly using Tor to disguise botnet traffic. "Spikes in Tor traffic can be directly tied to the activities of malicious botnets that either reside within the Tor network or use the Tor network as transport for their traffic," said IBM. "Allowing access between corporate networks and stealth networks can open the corporation to the risk of theft or compromise, and to legal liability in some cases and jurisdictions."

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Interviews: L5 Society Cofounder Keith Henson Answers Your Questions

8/26/2015 2:45pm
Last week you had the chance to ask electrical engineer and L5 society co-founder Keith Henson about space colonization, his solar power satellite project, and his run-ins with Scientology. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.

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Meet YouTube Gaming, Twitch's Archenemy

8/26/2015 2:02pm
An anonymous reader writes: As expected Google has launched its answer to Twitch, YouTube Gaming available on the web, Android and iOS. Techcrunch reports: "We played with the Android app before the launch, and here's how it works. When you open the app, you are presented with a search bar at the top, a few featured channels at the top and then a feed of the most popular channels. The current featured channels don't focus on esports like most Twitch channels. Right now, you can find a 12-hour stream of NBA 2K15, and official stream of Metal Gear Solid V, a speed run of Until Dawn and an Eve Online live show."

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Most People Use Their Phones During Social Events, Despite Thinking It Harms Conversation

8/26/2015 1:19pm
Mark Wilson points out that the Pew Research Center has released a new report on mobile etiquette in the age of smartphones. 90% of U.S. adults now have cellphones and carry them around frequently. Pew's survey looked into how this is changing social norms with regard to shifting attention away from physical-world interactions. Most people think it's fine to use a cellphone while walking the streets or waiting in line, but 62% think it's not OK at a restaurant, an 88% disapprove of using one at a family dinner. Disapproval of using a cellphone in a meeting, movie theater, or church is almost universal. 89% of people say they used their cellphone during their most recent social activity, whether it was texting, checking the web, or snapping a picture. Despite this, 82% say cellphone use generally hurts the conversation. 79% of adults say they occasionally encounter loud or annoying cellphone behavior from others in public, and more than half say they often overhear intimate details of other people's lives because of it.

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Countries Gaming Carbon Offsets May Have Dramatically Increased Emissions

8/26/2015 12:35pm
schwit1 writes: Abuse of the carbon offset system may have caused emissions to increase by as much as 600 million tons. That's the finding of a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, which investigated carbon credits used to offset greenhouse gas emissions under a UN scheme. As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits "was like printing money." From the article: "In some projects, chemicals known to warm the climate were created and then destroyed to claim cash. As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union's carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts. But [the studey] says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, "hot air" — no actual emissions were reduced.

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Buzzwords Are Stifling Innovation In College Teaching

8/26/2015 11:53am
jyosim writes: Tech marketers brag about the world-changing impact of 'adaptive learning' and other products, but they all mean something different by the buzzword. On the other side of it, professors are notoriously skeptical of companies, and crave precise language. Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education, says the buzzwords have thus become a major obstacle to improving teaching on campuses, since these tribes (professor and ed-tech vendors) must work together.

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Why In-Flight Wi-Fi Is Still Slow and Expensive

8/26/2015 11:12am
An anonymous reader writes: Let's grant that having access to the internet while on an airplane is pretty amazing. When airlines first began offering it several years ago, it was agonizingly slow and somewhat pricey as well. Unfortunately, it's only gotten more expensive over the years, and the speeds are still frustrating. This is in part because the main provider of in-flight internet, Gogo, knows most of its regular customers will pay for it, regardless of cost. Business travelers with expense accounts don't care if it's $1 or $10 or $50 — they need to stay connected. Data speeds haven't improved because Gogo says the scale isn't big enough to do much infrastructure investment, and most of the hardware is custom-made. A third of Gogo-equipped planes can manage 10 Mbps, while the rest top out at 3 Mbps. There's hope on the horizon — the company says a new satellite service should enable 70 Mbps per plane by the end of the year — but who knows how much they'll charge for an actual useful connection.

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Modular Touchpad Aims To Replace Most Input Devices

8/26/2015 10:30am
An anonymous reader writes: Wired reports on the 'Sensel Morph' input device, which launched on Kickstarter yesterday and blew past its funding goal almost immediately. It's a tablet-sized touchpad, but the key feature is the ability to place custom overlays on it. For example, you can snap on a flexible keyboard and the device starts behaving like a normal keyboard. Other overlays can imitate a game controller or a musical instrument. It's sensitive enough to detect paintbrushes, or you can put a simple overlay on it and use pencil or pen. The magnetic connectors in these overlays tell the device how to process the input, and they're making an open source API so developers can create their own. The touchpad has 20,000 individual sensors, with pressure sensitivity ranging from 5g to 5kg.

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NASA Mulls Missions To Neptune and Uranus, Using the Space Launch System

8/26/2015 9:47am
MarkWhittington writes: According to a story in Astronomy Magazine, NASA is contemplating sending flagship sized space probes to the so-called "ice giants" of Uranus and Neptune. These probes would orbit the two outer planets, similar to how Galileo orbited Jupiter and how Cassini currently orbits Saturn. The only time NASA has previously had a close encounter with either of these worlds was when Voyager 2 flew by Uranus in 1986 and then Neptune in 1989. Each of these missions would happen after the Europa Clipper, a flagship-class mission scheduled for the mid-2020s.

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Oakland Changes License Plate Reader Policy After Filling 80GB Hard Drive

8/26/2015 9:05am
An anonymous reader writes: License plate scanners are a contentious subject, generating lots of debate over what information the government should have, how long they should have it, and what they should do with it. However, it seems policy changes are driven more by practical matters than privacy concerns. Earlier this year, Ars Technica reported that the Oakland Police Department retained millions of records going back to 2010. Now, the department has implemented a six-month retention window, with older data being thrown out. Why the change? They filled up the 80GB hard drive on the Windows XP desktop that hosted the data, and it kept crashing. Why not just buy a cheap drive with an order of magnitude more storage space? Sgt. Dave Burke said, "We don't just buy stuff from Amazon as you suggested. You have to go to a source, i.e., HP or any reputable source where the city has a contract. And there's a purchase order that has to be submitted, and there has to be money in the budget. Whatever we put on the system, has to be certified. You don't just put anything. I think in the beginning of the program, a desktop was appropriate, but now you start increasing the volume of the camera and vehicles, you have to change, otherwise you're going to drown in the amount of data that's being stored."

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When Should Cops Be Allowed To Take Control of Self-Driving Cars?

8/26/2015 8:23am
HughPickens.com writes: A police officer is directing traffic in the intersection when he sees a self-driving car barreling toward him and the occupant looking down at his smartphone. The officer gestures for the car to stop, and the self-driving vehicle rolls to a halt behind the crosswalk. This seems like a pretty plausible interaction. Human drivers are required to pull over when a police officer gestures for them to do so. It's reasonable to expect that self-driving cars would do the same. But Will Oremus writes that while it's clear that police officers should have some power over the movements of self-driving cars, what's less clear is where to draw the line. Should an officer be able to do the same if he suspects the passenger of a crime? And what if the passenger doesn't want the car to stop—can she override the command, or does the police officer have ultimate control? According to a RAND Corp. report on the future of technology and law enforcement "the dark side to all of the emerging access and interconnectivity (PDF) is the risk to the public's civil rights, privacy rights, and security." It added, "One can readily imagine abuses that might occur if, for example, capabilities to control automated vehicles and the disclosure of detailed personal information about their occupants were not tightly controlled and secured."

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US Scientists Successfully 'Switch Off' Cancer Cells

8/26/2015 7:41am
iONiUM sends news that Mayo Clinic cancer researchers have developed a technique to reprogram cancer cells in a lab, essentially "turning off" their excessive cell growth. That code was unraveled by the discovery that adhesion proteins — the glue that keeps cells together — interact with the microprocessor, a key player in the production of molecules called microRNAs (miRNAs). The miRNAs orchestrate whole cellular programs by simultaneously regulating expression of a group of genes (abstract). The investigators found that when normal cells come in contact with each other, a specific subset of miRNAs suppresses genes that promote cell growth. However, when adhesion is disrupted in cancer cells, these miRNAs are misregulated and cells grow out of control. The investigators showed, in laboratory experiments, that restoring the normal miRNA levels in cancer cells can reverse that aberrant cell growth.

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