April 9, 2014
First time accepted submitter Maddie Kahn (3542515) writes "Deaf culture has its own language, its own social norms, its own art forms, its own theater. But it's under threat. Why? Because most parents of deaf children now choose to use technology to help their kids hear. This piece explores why a revolutionary technology stands accused of killing a culture." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
An anonymous reader writes "This article makes the case that most gamers treat 'free-to-play' games with derision and scorn when they really shouldn't. The author refers to it as 'snobbery.' We've all either encountered or heard about a game company using shady business practices to squeeze every cent from their users through in-app purchases (a.k.a. microtransations, a.k.a. cash shops), or a simple pay-to-win format. But these stories don't represent all games — by a long shot. It's something endemic to shady developers and publishers, not the business model. Think about traditionally-sold games, and how often you've seen a trailer that horribly misrepresents gameplay. Or a $60 game that was an unfinished, buggy mess. Or a Kickstarted project that didn't deliver on its promises. The author says, 'When something is new, when it isn't aimed at you, when it is created by strange people in strange places, when it breaks established norms and when it is becoming hugely popular... it's scary for the establishment. The ethical critique is an easy way to fight these changes, a call to protect the children or protect the irrational people who obviously can't like these games on their own merits. We begin to sound as reactionary as the ban on pinball or the fears over jazz music corrupting the minds of our youth.'" Read more of this story at Slashdot.
RichDiesal writes: "In an upcoming special issue of Social Science Computer Review, researchers set out to understand how people actually use social media while at work and how it affects their job performance. By polling workers across 17 industries, they identified 8 broad ways that people use social media that they believe help their work, and 9 broad ways that people use social media that they believe harm their work. Although the harmful social media behaviors were related to decreased job performance, the beneficial social media behaviors were unrelated to job performance. In short, wasting time on social media hurts you, but trying to use social media to improve your work probably doesn't actually help." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
An anonymous reader sends in a report from Wired that GoGo, a company the provides in-flight Wi-Fi access to airline passengers, seems to be making every effort to assist law enforcement agencies with wiretaps. From the article: "Gogo and others that provide Wi-Fi aboard aircraft must follow the same wiretap provisions that require telecoms and terrestrial ISPs to assist U.S. law enforcement and the NSA in tracking users when so ordered. But they may be doing more than the law requires. According to a letter (PDF) Gogo submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, the company voluntarily exceeded the requirements of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, by adding capabilities to its service at the request of law enforcement. The revelation alarms civil liberties groups, which say companies should not be cutting deals with the government that may enhance the ability to monitor or track users." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
pdclarry writes: "On April 8, Yahoo implemented a new DMARC policy that essentially bars any Yahoo user from accessing mailing lists hosted anywhere except on Yahoo and Google. While Yahoo is the initiator, it also affects Comcast, AT&T, Rogers, SBCGlobal, and several other ISPs. Internet Engineering Council expert John R. Levine, a specialist in email infrastructure and spam filtering, said, 'Yahoo breaks every mailing list in the world including the IETF's' on the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) list. DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) is a two-year-old proposed standard previously discussed on Slashdot that is intended to curb email abuse, including spoofing and phishing. Unfortunately, as implemented by Yahoo, it claims most mailing list users as collateral damage. Messages posted to mailing lists (including listserv, mailman, majordomo, etc) by Yahoo subscribers are blocked when the list forwards them to other Yahoo (and other participating ISPs) subscribers. List members not using Yahoo or its partners are not affected and will receive posts from Yahoo users. Posts from non-Yahoo users are delivered to Yahoo members. So essentially those suffering the most are Yahoo's (and Comcast's, and AT&T's, etc) own customers. The Hacker News has details about why DMARC has this effect on mailing lists. Their best proposed solution is to ban Yahoo email users from mailing lists and encourage them to switch to other ISPs. Unfortunately, it isn't just Yahoo, although they are getting the most attention." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
An anonymous reader writes "There's an interesting interview up today with Jeffrey Lin, lead designer of social systems for Riot, the game studio behind League of Legends. Lin has a PhD in cognitive neuroscience. His recognition that most trolls are only trolls because they're having an off day has changed the way that Riot punishes players. 'In other words, you need a carrot and not a stick. Where a punishment would come across as harsh and out-of context, pointing out to players that they're letting their usually-high standards of conduct slide usually results in a change of attitude. Incentivising the good behaviour with an Honour stat which could be affected by conduct in any match also serves to reinforce that good behaviour.' As a result, Lin's seen a noticeable spike in the number of people saying 'GG' (good game) at the end of a match. It leaves you wondering: what if Activision approached Call of Duty griefers on Xbox Live the same way?" Read more of this story at Slashdot.
redletterdave writes "Eben Upton is the CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation's trading company, where he oversees production and sales of the Raspberry Pi. In a lengthy interview with ReadWrite, Upton shares how he invented Raspberry Pi, and what's coming next for the $35 microcomputer. Quoting: 'There's a big difference between [just] making a platform like Raspberry Pi available and offering support for it. I think if you just make it available, you'll find one percent of eight-year-olds will be the one percent who love that sort of thing and will get into it, regardless of how much or how little support you give them. ... [S]ince we can afford to pay for the development of educational material, we can afford to advocate for good training for teachers throughout this. There's an opportunity to get more than one percent. There's an opportunity to reach the bright kids who don't quite have the natural inclination to personally tackle complicated technical tasks. If you give them good teaching and compelling material that's relevant and interesting to them, you can reach ten percent, twenty percent, fifty percent, many more. We look back to the 1980s as this golden era [of learning to program], and in practice, only a very few percent of people were learning to program to any great degree. ... I think the real opportunity for us now, because we can intervene on the material and teacher training levels, we can potentially blow past where we were in the 1980s.'" Read more of this story at Slashdot.
An anonymous reader sends this news from CERN: "The Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) collaboration today announced results that confirm the existence of exotic hadrons – a type of matter that cannot be classified within the traditional quark model. Hadrons are subatomic particles that can take part in the strong interaction – the force that binds protons inside the nuclei of atoms. Physicists have theorized since the 1960s, and ample experimental evidence since has confirmed, that hadrons are made up of quarks and antiquarks that determine their properties. A subset of hadrons, called mesons, is formed from quark-antiquark pairs, while the rest – baryons – are made up of three quarks. ... The Belle Collaboration reported the first evidence for the Z(4430) in 2008. They found a tantalizing peak in the mass distribution of particles that result from the decays of B mesons. Belle later confirmed the existence of the Z(4430) with a significance of 5.2 sigma on the scale that particle physicists use to describe the certainty of a result. LHCb reports a more detailed measurement of the Z(4430) that confirms that it is unambiguously a particle, and a long-sought exotic hadron at that. They analyzed more than 25,000 decays of B mesons selected from data from 180 trillion (180x10^12) proton-proton collisions in the Large Hadron Collider." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Jeremiah Cornelius writes: "The U.S. Navy's new railgun technology, developed by General Atomics, uses the Lorentz force in a type of linear, electric motor to hurl a 23-pound projectile at speeds exceeding Mach 7 — in excess of 5,000 mph. The weapon has a range of 100 miles and doesn't require explosive warheads. 'The electromagnetic railgun represents an incredible new offensive capability for the U.S. Navy,' says Rear Adm. Bryant Fuller, the Navy's chief engineer. 'This capability will allow us to effectively counter a wide range of threats at a relatively low cost, while keeping our ships and sailors safer by removing the need to carry as many high-explosive weapons.' Sea trials begin aboard an experimental Navy catamaran, the USNS Millinocket, in 2016." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
We recently had the chance to talk with internet rock star and former code monkey Jonathan Coulton. We asked him a number of your questions and a few of our own about music, technology, and copyright issues. Read below to see what he had to say. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
jones_supa (887896) writes "The British scientist Stuart Parkin, whose work made it possible for hard disks to radically expand in size, has been awarded the Millennium Technology Prize (Millennium-teknologiapalkinto). Professor Parkin's discoveries rely on magneto-resistive thin-film structures and the development of the giant magnetoresistance (GMR) spin-valve read head. These advances allow more information to be stored on each disk platter. Technology Academy Finland — the foundation behind the award — justifies the prize by saying that Parkin's innovations allow us to store large volumes of data in cloud services." He is currently working on Racetrack memory, which would obsolete flash and hard disks (and probably even RAM). Read more of this story at Slashdot.
An anonymous reader writes "An internal audit conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in March revealed that 'dozens of the [voice] transmitters worn by officers in Southeast Division were missing or damaged.' In the summer of 2013, this same division was found to have mysteriously lost 45% of the antennae placed on their cars to pick up the signals sent by their voice transmitters. The Southeast Division of the LAPD covers an area that has 'historically been marred by mistrust and claims of officer abuse.' For decades, the LAPD had been closely monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice, but a federal judge in 2013 decided to end that practice after being assured by the LAPD and city officials that the LAPD sufficiently monitors itself via dash-cams and voice transmitters. A formal investigation is currently being conducted to determine whether or not police officers intentionally subverted mandatory efforts to monitor and record their patrols." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "When we were kids, we were promised flying cars in the future, like The Jetsons. Well, now it's the future, and we don't have any flying cars. But Land Rover just unveiled some crazy new technology called the Transparent Hood system. It's brilliant in its simplicity, and yet quite complex in its implementation. Using a web of camera images and projectors, the Transparent Hood system projects the area just in front of and underneath the nose of the vehicle onto a head-up display along the lower portion of the windshield. Not only is this obviously breathtaking, but when it comes to off-roading—or parking in tight urban spaces—this could change the game. It will allow drivers to see precisely what's below them and immediately in front of them allowing precise placement of the vehicle's front wheels. The system also displays key vehicle data including speed, incline, roll angle, steering position, and drive mode. People, this is the future, and the future is now." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
rjmarvin (3001897) writes "Two Princeton computer science students have created an open source platform for developing voice-controlled applications that are always on. Created by Shubhro Saha and Charlie Marsh, Jasper runs on the Raspberry Pi under Raspbian, using a collection of open source libraries to make up a development platform for building voice-controlled applications. Marsh and Saha demonstrate Jasper's capability to perform Internet searches, update social media, and control music players such as Spotify. You need a few easily obtainable bits of hardware (a USB microphone, wifi dongle or ethernet, and speakers). The whole thing is powered by CMU Sphinx (which /. covered the open sourcing of back in 2000). Jasper provides Python modules (under the MIT license) for recognizing phrases and taking action, or speaking when events occur. There doesn't seem to be anything tying it to the Raspberry Pi either, so you could likely run it on an HTPC for always-on voice control of your media center. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Martin S. (98249) writes "The Register reports on a paper at the arXiv (abstract below) by Christian Decker and Roger Wattenhofer analyzing a year's worth of Bitcoin activity to reach the conclusion that MtGox's claims of losing their bitcoins because of the transaction malleability bug are untrue. The Abstract claims: 'In Bitcoin, transaction malleability describes the fact that the signatures that prove the ownership of bitcoins being transferred in a transaction do not provide any integrity guarantee for the signatures themselves. ... In this work we use traces of the Bitcoin network for over a year preceding the filing to show that, while the problem is real, there was no widespread use of malleability attacks before the closure of MtGox.'" Quoting El Reg: "By extracting transaction keys from the transaction set, the researchers say, they were able to identify more than 35,000 transaction conflicts and more than 29,000 “confirmed attacks” covering more than 300,000 Bitcoins." And less than 6000 were actually successful. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
jones_supa (887896) writes "Homeopathy is a 200-year-old form of alternative medicine based on the principle that substances that produce symptoms in a healthy person can be used to treat similar symptoms in a sick person. The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia has officially declared that homeopathic remedies are useless for human health. The body today released a guide for doctors (PDF) on how to talk to their patients about the lack of evidence for many such therapies. Doctors will also be told to warn patients of possible interactions between alternative and conventional medicines. On top of that, the council has produced a 300-page draft report that reviews the evidence for homoeopathy in treating 68 clinical conditions. It concludes 'there is no reliable evidence that homoeopathy is effective for treating health conditions'. Representing the opposite viewpoint, Australian Homeopathic Association spokesman Greg Cope said he was disappointed at the narrow evidence relied on by the NHMRC in its report. 'What they have looked at is systematic trials for named conditions when that is not how homeopathy works,' he said. Homeopathy worked on the principle of improving a person's overall health and wellness, and research such as a seven-year study conducted in Switzerland was a better measure of its usefulness, he added. There are about 10,000 complementary medicine products sold in Australia but most consumers are unaware they are not evaluated by the domestic medicines safety watchdog before they are allowed on the market." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Last month, astronomers announced the discovery of the most distant body in the Solar System, a dwarf planet called 2012VP113. They also said this body's orbit was strangely aligned with several other dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt and that this could be the result of these bodies being herded by a much larger Planet X even further from the Sun. They calculated that this hidden planet could be between 2 and 15 times the mass of the Earth and orbiting at a distance of between 200 AU and 300 AU, an announcement that triggered excited headlines around the world. Now it looks as though these predictions were wildly optimistic. It turns out that the position of Planet X can be constrained more tightly using orbital measurements of other planets. And when this data is added into the mix, Planet X can only only orbit at much greater distances, if it exists at all. The new calculations suggest that a planet twice the mass of Earth cannot orbit any closer than about 500 AU. And a planet 15 times the mass of Earth must be at least 1000 AU distant. What's more, the New Horizons mission currently on its way to Pluto, should constrain the distance to beyond 4700 AU. So any Planet X hunters out there are likely to be disappointed." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
theodp writes: "Still hanging on to a dog-eared copy of BASIC Computer Games? Back issues of Creative Computing? Well then, Bunky, mark your calendar for April 30th, because Dartmouth College is throwing BASIC a 50th birthday party that you won't want to miss! From the 'invite' to BASIC at 50: 'At 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, in the basement of College Hall, Professor John Kemeny and a student programmer simultaneously typed RUN on neighboring terminals. When they both got back correct answers to their simple programs, time-sharing and BASIC were born. Kemeny, who later became Dartmouth's 13th president, Professor Tom Kurtz, and a number of undergraduate students worked together to revolutionize computing with the introduction of time-sharing and the BASIC programming language. Their innovations made computing accessible to all Dartmouth students and faculty, and soon after, to people across the nation and the world [video — young Bill Gates cameo @2:18]. This year, Dartmouth is celebrating 50 years of BASIC with a day of events on Wednesday, April 30. Please join us as we recognize the enduring impact of BASIC, showcase innovation in computing at Dartmouth today, and imagine what the next 50 years may hold.' Be sure to check out the vintage photos on Flickr to see what real cloud computing looks like, kids!" Read more of this story at Slashdot.
DorianGre writes: "I'm working on a new independent project. It involves iPhones and Android phones talking to PHP (Symfony) or Ruby/Rails. Each incoming call will be a data element POST, and I would like to simply write that into the database for later use. I'll need to be able to pull by date or by a number of key fields, as well as do trend reporting over time on the totals of a few fields. I would like to start with a NoSQL solution for scaling, and ideally it would be dead simple if possible. I've been looking at MongoDB, Couchbase, Cassandra/Hadoop and others. What do you recommend? What problems have you run into with the ones you've tried?" Read more of this story at Slashdot.
New submitter lashicd sends news that the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has announced a successful proof-of-concept demonstration of converting seawater to liquid hydrocarbon fuel. They used seawater to provide fuel for a small replica plan running a two-stroke internal combustion engine. "Using an innovative and proprietary NRL electrolytic cation exchange module (E-CEM), both dissolved and bound CO2 are removed from seawater at 92 percent efficiency by re-equilibrating carbonate and bicarbonate to CO2 and simultaneously producing H2. The gases are then converted to liquid hydrocarbons by a metal catalyst in a reactor system. ... NRL has made significant advances in the development of a gas-to-liquids (GTL) synthesis process to convert CO2 and H2 from seawater to a fuel-like fraction of C9-C16 molecules. In the first patented step, an iron-based catalyst has been developed that can achieve CO2 conversion levels up to 60 percent and decrease unwanted methane production in favor of longer-chain unsaturated hydrocarbons (olefins). These value-added hydrocarbons from this process serve as building blocks for the production of industrial chemicals and designer fuels." Read more of this story at Slashdot.