Slashdot.org

Syndicate content Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 32 min 42 sec ago

Aiming To Beat Tesla's "3", Chevy Tests and Teases a Cheaper 200-Mile Electric Car

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 18:35
PC Magazine is one of many to note Chevrolet's upcoming effort to beat Tesla's Model 3 to market with a car that is "affordable" (a lot more affordable than the Model S) but which tops the 200-mile range that right now only Tesla beats in a widely available pure electric car. The Model 3 is expected to feature many of the features of the currently Tesla S variants, but in a smaller package and with a much lower price tag. The linked article features GM-supplied video of Chevy's all-elecric bolt, about which it says The car maker doesn't reveal much beyond what we already know: 200-plus-mile range and a starting price tag of $30,000. The video shows various Chevy engineers putting the camouflage-wrapped Bolt EV through its paces—climbing hills, accelerating, and coming to a stop, as well as enduring extreme heat and charging.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

AMD's Project Quantum Gaming PC Contains Intel CPU

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 16:43
nateman1352 links to an article at Tom's Hardware which makes the interesting point that chip-maker AMD will offer Intel -- rather than AMD -- CPUs in their upcoming high-end gaming PC. (High-end for being based on integrated components, at least.) From the article: Recently, AMD showed off its plans for its Fiji based graphics products, among which was Project Quantum – a small form factor PC that packs not one, but two Fiji graphics processors. Since the announcement, KitGuru picked up on something, noticing that the system packs an Intel Core i7-4790K "Devil's Canyon" CPU. We hardly need to point out that it is rather intriguing to see AMD use its largest competitor's CPU in its own product, when AMD is a CPU maker itself.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why Didn't Voyager Visit Pluto?

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 15:01
Flash Modin writes: NASA built the twin Voyager spacecraft for a rare planetary alignment that put Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune within reach at once. Originally, Voyager 1 was programmed to see Pluto in 1986, but managers targeted Saturn's planet-like moon Titan instead. That choice made Pluto impossible by vaulting Voyager 1 from the orbital plane. Interestingly, Voyager 2, which couldn't reach Pluto, made the case for New Horizons by revealing Neptune's moon Triton as a kidnapped Pluto. "I'm very glad that they chose not to go to Pluto in 1986," says New Horizons head Alan Stern. "We'll do a better job at Pluto with modern instruments than they would have, and they did a much better job at Saturn..."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

GA Tech Researchers Train Computer To Create New "Mario Brothers" Levels

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 13:45
An anonymous reader writes with a Georgia Institute of Technology report that researchers there have created a computing system that views gameplay video from streaming services like YouTube or Twitch, analyzes the footage and then is able to create original new sections of a game. The team tested their discovery, the first of its kind, with the original Super Mario Brothers, a well-known two-dimensional platformer game that will allow the new automatic-level designer to replicate results across similar games. Rather than the playable character himself, the Georgia Tech system focuses instead on the in-game terrain. "For example, pipes in the Mario games tend to stick out of the ground, so the system learns this and prevents any pipes from being flush with grassy surfaces. It also prevents "breaks" by using spatial analysis – e.g. no impossibly long jumps for the hero."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Are Post-Install Windows Slowdowns Inevitable?

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 12:22
blackest_k writes: I recently reinstalled Windows 7 Home on a laptop. A factory restore (minus the shovelware), all the Windows updates, and it was reasonably snappy. Four weeks later it's running like a slug, and now 34 more updates to install. The system is clear of malware (there are very few additional programs other than chrome browser). It appears that Windows slows down Windows! Has anyone benchmarked Windows 7 as installed and then again as updated? Even better has anybody identified any Windows update that put the slug into sluggish? Related: an anonymous reader asks: Our organization's PCs are growing ever slower, with direct hard-drive encryption in place, and with anti-malware scans running ever more frequently. The security team says that SSDs are the only solution, but the org won't approve SSD purchases. It seems most disk scanning could take place after hours and/or under a lower CPU priority, but the security team doesn't care about optimization, summarily blaming sluggishness on lack of SSDs. Are they blowing smoke?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

79% of Airbnb Listings In Barcelona Are Illegal

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 11:24
dkatana writes: Barcelona has more than 16,000 Airbnb listings and, according to reports on Cities of the Future, 79% could be illegal. "In April, Airbnb's European General Manager Jeroen Merchiers confirmed, during the Student Tourism Congress in Barcelona, that the platform has more than 85,000 listings in Spain alone." But most Airbnb hosts do not apply for a permit, fail to pay insurance and tourist tax, and ignore Catalonian law that forbids short-term rentals of rooms in private homes. "Residents," says the article, "had been complaining about the rising number of tourist apartments and the conduct of the mostly student-age renters. The majority from Italy, Germany and the UK were partying all night, some running around naked, and generally trashing their neighborhoods."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Are We Too Quick To Act On Social Media Outrage?

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 10:26
RedK writes: Connie St-Louis, on June 8th, reported on apparently sexist remarks made by Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel prize winning scientist, during an event organised for women in sciences. This led to the man's dismissal from his stations, all in such urgency that he did not even have time to present his side, nor was his side ever offered any weight. A leaked report a few days later suggests that the remarks were taken out of context. Further digging shows that the accuser has distorted the truth in many cases it seems. This is not the first time that people may have jumped the gun too soon on petty issues and ruined great events or careers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Samsung To Stop Blocking Automatic Windows Updates

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 09:25
A few days ago, we mentioned that a piece of (nominally) utility software from Samsung was blocking critical security updates. Understandably, this isn't what users typically want. The Register reports that Samsung has now back-pedaled, though, and will be issuing a patch in the next few days to fix the glitch. (Users were able to manually install the updates anyhow, but the expected, automatic updates were blocked.) However, as the Register notes: The thought of a computer manufacturer disabling Windows Update will have had the Microsoft security team on edge. But there's also Windows 10 to consider. When the new operating system comes out, Windows Update will feed in fixes continuously, and if you're not a business customer those updates are going to be coming over the wires constantly. Enterprise users get Windows Update for Business, which allows them to choose when to patch, presumably after the plebs have beta-tested them.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

AppleCare+ Now Covers Batteries That Drop To 80%

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 08:22
Mark Wilson writes with news that Apple's AppleCare+ plan has been updated to address one of the biggest worries that people have about products with non-removeable batteries, and that become very expensive paperweights when the juice runs out. From BetaNews: "Previously, the extended warranty only covered batteries that would hold 50 percent charge or less. Now this has been updated so that you can request a free replacement within the coverage period if your device's battery is only able to hold 80 percent of full charge. The new terms to no apply to everyone — it all depends on when you bought your Apple device. If you bought your iPhone, iPad, iPod or Apple Watch before April 10, 2015, you're stuck with the old terms. I wish this change applied to my MacBook Air, with which I'm lucky to get 90 minutes of battery power.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Drone Diverts Firefighting Planes, Incurring $10,000 Cost

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 07:25
An anonymous reader writes: Fire is raging through thousands of acres of forest in California. A few days ago we discussed how a man's personal drone was shooed away from a fire site. Now, the drone situation has gotten worse. The U.S. Forest Service is helping to fight the fire by sending planes full of fire retardant to drop on the surrounding area. Unfortunately, one of the missions had to be diverted because a private drone had encroached upon the planes's airspace. The mission involved three planes, all loaded with retardant. One was large enough to find another target on which to drop its payload, but the other two simply had to jettison and return to base. Officials say the failed mission wasted at least $10,000. They're now having to spend extra time keeping an eye out for these drones and trying to educate operators on the temporary restrictions in place around forest fires.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Philanthropy For Hackers

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 06:27
An anonymous reader writes: Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and the first president of Facebook, was part of a generation of geeks who rode the dot-com boom to financial success. Over the past two decades, that population has dramatically increased, and former hackers are carving out spots as leaders of industry. In the Wall Street Journal, Parker has posted advice for how the hacker elite can approach philanthropy. He points out that they're already bringing a level of strategy and efficacy to charity work that hasn't been seen before. "These budding philanthropists want metrics and analytic tools comparable to the dashboards, like Mixpanel, that power their software products. They want to interact directly with the scientists, field workers and academics whose ideas power the philanthropic world but who have traditionally been hidden away in a backroom somewhere, shielded from their beneficiaries by so-called development officers." One thing he advises is keeping away from large charity organizations, which largely exist to keep themselves going. He also suggests getting actively involved with the political process, even if such organizations are often distasteful.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Physics of Lexus's Hoverboard

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 05:07
benonemusic writes: Lexus' hoverboard may never become commercially available, but is it scientifically feasible? You'd need to place a superconducting material in a magnetic field powerful enough to support the board and the rider. Steve Gourlay of Lawrence Berkeley Lab's Superconductor Magnet Group provides insights, including the possibility that Lexus put some very strong rare-earth magnets underneath the sidewalk in the video.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why Is Google Opening a New Data Center In a Former Coal-Fired Power Plant?

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 02:35
HughPickens.com writes: Quentin Hardy reports at the NY Times that Google has announced it is opening its 14th data center inside a former coal-fired power plant in Stevenson, Alabama. While there is considerable irony in taking over a coal-burning plant and promoting alternative power, there are pragmatic reasons Google would want to put a $600 million data center in such a facility. These power facilities are typically large and solid structures with good power lines. The Alabama plant is next to a reservoir on the Tennessee River with access to lots of water, which Google uses for cooling its computers. There are also rail lines into the facility, which makes it likely Google can access buried conduits along the tracks to run fiber-optic cable. In Finland, Google rehabilitated a paper mill, and uses seawater for cooling. Salt water is corrosive for standard metal pipes, of course, so Google created a singular cooling system using plastic pipes.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NIST Updates Random Number Generation Guidelines

Sat, 06/27/2015 - 00:34
An anonymous reader writes: Encryption weighs heavily on the public consciousness these days, as we've learned that government agencies are keeping an eye on us and a lot of our security tools aren't as foolproof as we've thought. In response to this, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a formal update to its document on how to properly generate a random number — crucial in many types of encryption. The update (as expected) removes a recommendation for the Dual_EC_DRBG algorithm. It also adds extra options for CTR_DRBG and points out examples for implementing SP 800-90A generators. The full document (PDF) is available online.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Protesters Block Effort To Restart Work On Controversial Hawaii Telescope

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 21:04
sciencehabit writes: An attempt to restart construction on what would be one of the world's largest telescopes was blocked yesterday, after state authorities escorting construction vehicles clashed with protesters blockading the road to the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano. Officers from Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), and construction workers for the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT), turned back from the summit shortly after noon Wednesday, citing concerns for public safety after finding the road blocked by boulders. The withdrawal followed several hours of clashes with Native Hawaiian protesters blockading the road, culminating in the arrests of 11 men and women, including several protest organizers. The protesters have said the $1.4 billion TMT would desecrate sacred land.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Charter Hires Net Neutrality Activist To Make Policy

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 19:02
An anonymous reader writes: The Federal Communications Commission has been at loggerheads with many ISPs lately, after the agency pushed through net neutrality rules that have now gone into effect. The defeat of Comcast's attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable was hailed by many net neutrality activists as a victory, but then came the news that Charter was looking to buy TWC instead — which brought the worries back. But now Charter has taken the unusual step of hiring one of those activists to help develop its policy: Marvin Ammori. He says, "Charter hired me—which, to be honest, took some humility on its part since I have helped lead public campaigns against cable companies like Charter—to advise it in crafting its commitment to network neutrality. After our negotiation, I can say Charter is offering the strongest network neutrality commitments ever offered—in any merger or, to my knowledge, in any nation. In fact, in the end, I personally wrote the commitments." Put briefly, Charter agreed to abide by the interconnection mandates and prohibition of paid prioritization — regardless of the outcome of pending litigation from the ISPs fighting it — for a minimum of three years. The company has also promised no data caps and no usage-based billing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Touring NASA's Space Shuttle Cockpit Trainer

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 18:17
An anonymous reader writes: Now that the space shuttles have been retired, NASA has been shutting down and cleaning out all of the equipment dedicated to keeping them in service. One such tool was the Crew Compartment Trainer II, a full-size replica of a space shuttle cockpit. Astronauts trained on it to become familiar with the operation of many onboard systems. Just before it was removed, Ars got a chance to tour it, and took a ton of pictures in the process. Quoting: "The forward windows are surprisingly small, and visibility dead ahead is limited to a very narrow section of the window. Both the pilot and commander have fighter-style HUDs (heads-up displays), which are used mainly during landing to keep them lined up and on target with the runway. ... Bloomfield walked me through a few procedures, and it was fascinating how complex the shuttles were in some areas and how primitive they were in others. The on-board computers of course received numerous updates throughout the vehicles' lives, but even in their final iteration they wouldn't have won any speed awards."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Mob Programming: When Is 5 Heads Really Better Than 1 (or 2)?

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 17:34
itwbennett writes: Proponents of Mob programming, an offshoot of Pair programming in which the whole team works together on the same computer, say that it increases both quality and productivity, but also acknowledge that the productivity gains might not be readily apparent. "If you measure by features or other classic development productivity metrics, Mobbing looks like it's achieving only 75 to 85 percent of individual or Pair output for, say, a team of six or seven working for a week," says Paul Massey, whose company Bluefruit Software is a heavy user of the Mob approach. So, where does the productivity come from? Matthew Dodkins, a software architect at Bluefruit says the biggest gains are in code merges. "In a day spent using traditional collaboration, you would have to first spend time agreeing on tasks, common goals, deciding who's doing what... and then going away to do that, write code, and come back and merge it, resolve problems," says Dodkins. By bringing everyone into the same room, "we try to merge frequently, and try to do almost continuous integration." Matt Schartman, whose company Appfolio also uses Mobbing and wrote about his experience, gave Mobbing high marks for producing a quality product, but didn't find that it improved productivity in any measurable way.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

World's First Commercial Jetpack Arrives Next Year

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 16:50
An anonymous reader writes: The good news is that soon, you'll finally be able to buy that jetpack you've always wanted. The bad news is that it'll run you about $150,000. The Martin Jetpack will use fans, rather than rockets, to lift humans weighing up to 120kg (~256 lbs). Its makers say it can reach altitudes of up to 1 kilometer, and fly for up to 30 minutes at a time. The jetpack will be sold commercially to emergency services next year, and then a smaller, personal version will hit the market in 2017.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

After Protest, France Cracks Down On Uber

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 16:07
An anonymous reader writes: Just a day after taxi drivers began a high-profile protest of Uber in France, the nation's interior minister has issued a ban on the car-sharing service UberPop. The minister stated that the service was illegal, and ordered police to begin seizing vehicles defying the order. French president Francois Hollande agrees that UberPOP "should be dismantled," but says the state isn't legally permitted to seize cars itself without court authorization. "UberPOP is a car-sharing service offered by Uber, which brings together customers and private drivers at prices lower than those charged by both traditional taxi firms and even other Uber services. UberPOP differs because it allows non-professional drivers to register their car and transport other passengers. It has been illegal in France since January, but the law has proved difficult to enforce and the service continues to operate, AFP news agency reports."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Comment