Technology

How a Massachusetts Man Invented the Global Ice Market

Slashdot - 4 hours 47 min ago
An anonymous reader writes with the story of Frederic Tudor the man responsible for the modern food industry. "A guy from Boston walks into a bar and offers to sell the owner a chunk of ice. To modern ears, that sounds like the opening line of a joke. But 200 years ago, it would have sounded like science fiction—especially if it was summer, when no one in the bar had seen frozen water in months. In fact, it's history. The ice guy was sent by a 20-something by the name of Frederic Tudor, born in 1783 and known by the mid-19th century as the "Ice King of the World." What he had done was figure out a way to harvest ice from local ponds, and keep it frozen long enough to ship halfway around the world. Today, the New England ice trade, which Tudor started in Boston's backyard in 1806, sounds cartoonishly old-fashioned. The work of ice-harvesting, which involved cutting massive chunks out of frozen bodies of water, packing them in sawdust for storage and transport, and selling them near and far, seems as archaic as the job of town crier. But scholars in recent years have suggested that we're missing something. In fact, they say, the ice trade was a catalyst for a transformation in daily life so powerful that the mark it left can still be seen on our cultural habits even today. Tudor's big idea ended up altering the course of history, making it possible not only to serve barflies cool mint juleps in the dead of summer, but to dramatically extend the shelf life and reach of food. Suddenly people could eat perishable fruits, vegetables, and meat produced far from their homes. Ice built a new kind of infrastructure that would ultimately become the cold, shiny basis for the entire modern food industry."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

I work at Sony Pictures. This is what it was like after we got hacked. (Andrew Nusca/Fortune)

TechMeme - 5 hours 30 sec ago

Andrew Nusca / Fortune:
I work at Sony Pictures.  This is what it was like after we got hacked.  —  An employee* in the Los Angeles office of Sony Pictures Entertainment SNE opened up to Fortune about the personal ordeal they went through following revelations of North Korea's alleged cyber attack on the company.

Categories: Technology

Google still surfaces news in search results in Spain after shutting down its News site (Danny Sullivan/Search Engine Land)

TechMeme - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 11:25pm

Danny Sullivan / Search Engine Land:
Google still surfaces news in search results in Spain after shutting down its News site  —  How Google News Lives On In Spain Despite Being Closed  —  Did Google News really close in Spain?  If you consider Google News to be the ability to browse stories by topic, especially from a dedicated home page, yes.

Categories: Technology

Librarians: The Google Before Google

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 10:57pm
An anonymous reader writes NPR has an article about the questions people ask librarians. Before the internet, the librarian was your best bet for a quick answer to anything on your mind. "We were Google before Google existed," NYPL spokesperson Angela Montefinise explains. "If you wanted to know if a poisonous snake dies if it bites itself, you'd call or visit us." The New York Public Library in Manhattan recently discovered a box of old reference questions asked by patrons and plans to release some in its Instagram account. Here are a few of the best: I just saw a mouse in the kitchen. Is DDT OK to use? (1946) What does it mean when you dream of being chased by an elephant? (1947)Can you tell me the thickness of a U.S. Postage stamp with the glue on it? Answer: We couldn't tell you that answer quickly. Why don't you try the Post Office? Response: This is the Post Office. (1963)Where can I rent a beagle for hunting? (1963)

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Skype Translator hands-on: fairly accurate speech recognition, but translation needs work (Darren Orf/Gizmodo)

TechMeme - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 10:05pm

Darren Orf / Gizmodo:
Skype Translator hands-on: fairly accurate speech recognition, but translation needs work  —  Skype Translator Hands-On: Close But No Babel Fish  —  When Skype announced its real-time translation program back in May, most of us seized on the sci-fi-ness off it all—Star Trek's universal translator, Babel fish, etc.

Categories: Technology

"Infrared Curtain" Brings Touchscreen Technology To Cheap Cars

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 8:51pm
An anonymous reader writes with news about an affordable way to integrate touch screen technology in any car. "Although touchscreen controls are appearing in the dashboards of an increasing number of vehicles, they're still not something that one generally associates with economy cars. That may be about to change, however, as Continental has announced an "infrared curtain" system that could allow for inexpensive multi-touch functionality in any automobile. The infrared curtain consists of a square frame with a series of LEDs along two adjacent sides, and a series of photodiodes along the other two. Each LED emits a beam of infrared light, which is picked up and converted into an electrical signal by the photodiode located in the corresponding spot on the opposite side of the frame."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Microsoft removes unofficial Snapchat apps from the Windows Phone store (Rich McCormick/The Verge)

TechMeme - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 8:45pm

Rich McCormick / The Verge:
Microsoft removes unofficial Snapchat apps from the Windows Phone store  —  Photo messaging service disables unofficial API to increase security  —  Microsoft has removed a host of third-party Snapchat alternatives from its Windows Phone store after the photo messaging service indicated …

Categories: Technology

Viacom's Messy Relationship With YouTube and The Rise of Stephen Colbert

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 7:40pm
Presto Vivace writes with this story about how Stephen Colbert became a YouTube Megastar. "Clips from The Colbert Report soon became a staple at YouTube, a startup that was making it easier for anyone and everyone to upload and watch home movies, video blogs, and technically-illicit-but-increasingly-vanilla clips of TV shows from the day before. And Colbert’s show was about to find itself at the center of a conflict between entertainment media and the web over online video that’s shaped the last decade. In fact, The Colbert Report has been defined as much by this back-and-forth between Hollywood and the web as by the cable news pundits it satirizes....A year after The Colbert Report premiere, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. Five months later, Viacom sued YouTube and Google for copyright infringement, asking for $1 billion in damages. The value of these videos and their audiences were clear. The Colbert Report and “Stephen Colbert” are mentioned three times in Viacom’s complaint against YouTube, as much or more than any other show or artist."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

The Magic of Pallets

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 6:29pm
HughPickens.com writes Jacob Hodes writes in Cabinet Magazine that there are approximately two billion wooden shipping pallets in the holds of tractor-trailers in the United States transporting Honey Nut Cheerios and oysters and penicillin and just about any other product you can think of. According to Hodes the magic of pallets is the magic of abstraction. "Take any object you like, pile it onto a pallet, and it becomes, simply, a "unit load"—standardized, cubical, and ideally suited to being scooped up by the tines of a forklift. This allows your Cheerios and your oysters to be whisked through the supply chain with great efficiency; the gains are so impressive, in fact, that many experts consider the pallet to be the most important materials-handling innovation of the twentieth century." Although the technology was in place by the mid-1920s, pallets didn't see widespread adoption until World War II, when the challenge of keeping eight million G.I.s supplied—"the most enormous single task of distribution ever accomplished anywhere," according to one historian—gave new urgency to the science of materials handling. "The pallet really made it possible for us to fight a war on two fronts the way that we did." It would have been impossible to supply military forces in both the European and Pacific theaters if logistics operations had been limited to manual labor and hand-loading cargo. To get a sense of the productivity gains that were achieved, consider the time it took to unload a boxcar before the advent of pallets. "According to an article in a 1931 railway trade magazine, three days were required to unload a boxcar containing 13,000 cases of unpalletized canned goods. When the same amount of goods was loaded into the boxcar on pallets or skids, the identical task took only four hours." Pallets, of course, are merely one cog in the global machine for moving things and while shipping containers have had their due, the humble pallet is arguably "the single most important object in the global economy."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

NY regulator outlines new, less strict BitLicense draft, final version expected in January (Tanaya Macheel/CoinDesk)

TechMeme - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 5:45pm

Tanaya Macheel / CoinDesk:
NY regulator outlines new, less strict BitLicense draft, final version expected in January  —  Lawsky Outlines Revisions to New York's BitLicense in DC Speech  —  Ben Lawsky announced the latest revisions to the draft BitLicense today in Washington, DC, announcing a host of changes in response …

Categories: Technology

26 Foot Long Boat 3D Printed In 100,000 Different Pieces

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 5:16pm
First time accepted submitter Talk Prizes writes Hung-Chih Peng, a Taiwanese artist, has decided to 3D print a boat measuring 26 feet in length. The piece, called "The Deluge – Noah's Ark" is a twisted wrecked boat which he had to 3D print in 100,000 different pieces and then glue it all together. "...The Deluge is Peng’s way of showing the inability that humans have exhibited in rectifying uncontrollable catastrophic challenges. Climate change, ecological crises, and environmental pollution are all changes that this planet is facing, yet seemingly humans do not have a way to correct these problems. The work is meant as a metaphor for showing the battle being waged by Mother Nature on the accelerated development of industrialized civilization."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Cuba Says the Internet Now a Priority

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 4:10pm
lpress writes Cuba first connected to the Internet in 1996 through a Sprint link funded by the US National Science Foundation. A year later the Cuban government decided to contain and control it. Now they say the Internet is a priority. If so, they need a long term plan, but they can get started with low cost interim measures. There is virtually no modern infrastructure on the island, but they could aggressively deploy satellite technology at little cost and, where phone lines could support it, install DSL equipment.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Seattle Police Department holds hackathon centered on tech for redacting videos recorded by officers from dashcams and body-worn cameras (Bill Schrier/GeekWire)

TechMeme - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 3:30pm

Bill Schrier / GeekWire:
Seattle Police Department holds hackathon centered on tech for redacting videos recorded by officers from dashcams and body-worn cameras  —  Inside the Seattle Police hackathon: A substantial first step  —  The Seattle Police Department (SPD) held its first-ever hackathon on Friday.

Categories: Technology

Finland Announces an Anti-Laser Campaign For Air Traffic

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 3:03pm
jones_supa writes Trafi, the Finnish Pilots' Association, and STUK, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, have launched a joint campaign against air traffic interference with the title "Lasers Are Not Toys." Ilkka Kaakinen from Trafi says that laser pointers interfering with air traffic is a real problem in Finland. "We receive reports of several cases of laser interference every month and every one of them is potentially dangerous," Kaakinen says. Last year, 60 cases of laser pointer interference were reported in Finland, and the figure for this year was at 58 in November. Despite the continuing interference, only one person has been caught misusing a laser pointer in this way in Finland. That single person was not convicted of a crime, as the court was not able to establish intent. Kaakinen says other countries hand down severe punishments for interfering with air traffic, even years-long stretches in prison. He also reminds that it is important for users of laser pointers to understand that the devices are not toys, and that children should be warned of the potential danger in using them irresponsibly – or ideally, not given one at all.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Anonymous Claims They Will Release "The Interview" Themselves

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 2:56pm
An anonymous reader writes In a series of tweets the hacker collective Anonymous says they will release "The Interview" to the masses if Sony won't. A few of the tweets read: "Seriously @Sony we warned you. We infiltrated your systems long before North Korea. We thought you'd take it as a warning and fix your s@#t." and "We're not with either side, we just want to watch the movie too and soon you too will be joining us. Sorry, @SonyPictures."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

After TaskRabbit's abrupt pivot this summer, workers and employers remain angry and frustrated (Caleb Garling/Matter)

TechMeme - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 2:25pm

Caleb Garling / Matter:
After TaskRabbit's abrupt pivot this summer, workers and employers remain angry and frustrated  —  Hunting Task Wabbits  —  Everybody's crazy mad with TaskRabbit—but the startup that launched the sharing economy really doesn't want to talk about its troubles.  —  Animations by Justin Cassano

Categories: Technology

Judge: It's OK For Cops To Create Fake Instagram Accounts

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 1:50pm
An anonymous reader writes with a ruling that seems obvious in a case about police making a fake Instagram account. A federal judge in New Jersey has signed off on the practice of law enforcement using a fake Instagram account in order to become "friends" with a suspect — thus obtaining photos and other information that a person posts to their account. "No search warrant is required for the consensual sharing of this type of information," United States District Judge William Martini wrote in an opinion published last Tuesday. In other news, an undercover officer still doesn't need to tell you that he or she is a member of law enforcement if you ask.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

FV-5 camera app takes advantage of Android Lollipop to allow Nexus 5 and 6 to shoot RAW photos (Stephen Shankland/CNET)

TechMeme - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 1:20pm

Stephen Shankland / CNET:
FV-5 camera app takes advantage of Android Lollipop to allow Nexus 5 and 6 to shoot RAW photos  —  How Android 5.0 lets you get raw for better photos  —  Programmers have begun unlocking a new feature in Google's new Lollipop mobile OS: the ability to shoot photos in raw format, which adds new flexibility in image quality.

Categories: Technology

Bitcoin Exec To Spend Two Years Behind Bars For Silk Road Transactions

Slashdot - Sun, 12/21/2014 - 12:45pm
mrspoonsi writes Charlie Shrem, former Bitcoin Foundation board member and CEO of the now-defunct exchange BitInstant, has been sentenced to two years in prison for helping Silk Road users anonymously swap cash for digital currency. Silk Road, as you know, was the online marketplace infamous for hosting anonymous drug and gun sales that was busted by the FBI back in 2013. A version 2.0 went up shortly after that, but it suffered the same fate as its predecessor this November. Based on evidence gathered during the crackdown, Shrem agreed to partner with Robert M. Faiella to trade over $1 million in cash from buyers. Faiella was the one with direct contact to buyers, hiding behind the name BTCKing to post ads promoting his dollar-to-Bitcoin business on the marketplace.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology