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Updated: 15 min 36 sec ago

Australian Physicists Build Reversible Tractor Beam

1 hour 43 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Physicists at Australian National University have developed a tiny tractor beam that improves in several ways upon previous attempts. First, it operates on scales which, while still tiny, are higher than in earlier experiments. The beam can move particles up to 200 microns in diameter, and it can do so over a distance of 20 cm. "Unlike previous techniques, which used photon momentum to impart motion, the ANU tractor beam relies on the energy of the laser heating up the particles and the air around them (abstract). The ANU team demonstrated the effect on gold-coated hollow glass particles. The particles are trapped in the dark center of the beam. Energy from the laser hits the particle and travels across its surface, where it is absorbed creating hotspots on the surface. Air particles colliding with the hotspots heat up and shoot away from the surface, which causes the particle to recoil, in the opposite direction. To manipulate the particle, the team move the position of the hotspot by carefully controlling the polarization of the laser beam."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Doctor Who To Teach Kids To Code

2 hours 58 min ago
DCFC writes: The BBC is releasing a game to help 8- to 11-year-old kids get into coding. Based on Doctor Who, it alternates between a standard platform game and programming puzzles that introduce the ideas of sequence, loops, if..then, variables and a touch of event-driven programming. Kids will get to program a Dalek to make him more powerful. (Apparently the BBC thinks upgrading psychopathic, racist death machines is a good idea!)

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Security Company Tries To Hide Flaws By Threatening Infringement Suit

4 hours 56 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: An RFID-based access control system called IClass is used across the globe to provide physical access controls. This system relies on cryptography to secure communications between a tag and a reader. Since 2010, several academic papers have been released which expose the cryptographic insecurity of the IClass system. Based on these papers, Martin Holst Swende implemented the IClass ciphers in a software library, which he released under the GNU General Public License. The library is useful to experiment with and determine the security level of an access control system (that you own or have explicit consent to study). However, last Friday, Swende received an email from INSIDE Secure, which notified him of (potential) intellectual property infringement, warning him off distributing the library under threat of "infringement action." Interestingly, it seems this is not the first time HID Global has exerted legal pressure to suppress information.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

A Look At Orion's Launch Abort System

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: With the construction of Orion, NASA's new manned spacecraft, comes the creation of a new Launch Abort System — the part of the vehicle that will get future astronauts back to Earth safely if there's a problem at launch. The Planetary Society's Jason Davis describes it: "When Orion reaches the apex of its abort flight, it is allowed to make its 180-degree flip. The capsule of astronauts, who have already realized they will not go to space today, experience a brief moment of weightlessness before the capsule starts falling back to Earth, heat shield down. The jettison motor fires, pulling the LAS away from Orion. ... Orion, meanwhile, sheds its Forward Bay Cover, a ring at the top of the capsule protecting the parachutes. Two drogue chutes deploy, stabilizing the wobbling capsule. The drogues pull out Orion's three main chutes, no doubt eliciting a sigh of relief from the spacecraft's occupants."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

32 Cities Want To Challenge Big Telecom, Build Their Own Gigabit Networks

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:26pm
Jason Koebler writes: More than two dozen cities in 19 states announced today that they're sick of big telecom skipping them over for internet infrastructure upgrades and would like to build gigabit fiber networks themselves and help other cities follow their lead. The Next Century Cities coalition, which includes a couple cities that already have gigabit fiber internet for their residents, was devised to help communities who want to build their own broadband networks navigate logistical and legal challenges to doing so.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Rumor: Lenovo In Talks To Buy BlackBerry

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 8:31pm
BarbaraHudson writes: The CBC, the Financial Post, and The Toronto Sun are all reporting a possible sale of BlackBerry to Lenovo. From the Sun: "BlackBerry shares rose more than 3% on Monday after a news website said Chinese computer maker Lenovo Group might offer to buy the Canadian technology company. Rumors of a Lenovo bid for BlackBerry have swirled many times over the last two years. Senior Lenovo executives at different times have indicated an interest in BlackBerry as a means to strengthen their own handset business. The speculation reached a crescendo in the fall of 2013, when BlackBerry was exploring strategic alternatives. Sources familiar with the situation however, told Reuters last year that the Canadian government had strongly hinted to BlackBerry that any sale to Lenovo would not win the necessary regulatory approvals due to security concerns. Analysts also have said any sale to Lenovo would face regulatory obstacles, but they have suggested that a sale of just BlackBerry's handset business and not its core network infrastructure might just pass muster with regulators."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Which Android Devices Sacrifice Battery-Life For Performance?

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 7:50pm
MojoKid writes: A couple of weeks ago, Futuremark began handing out copies of PCMark for Android to members of the press, in an effort to get its leaderboards filled while the finishing touches were being put on the app. That might give you pause in that the results, generated today, are not going to be entirely accurate when the final version comes out, but that's not the case. Futuremark has encouraged publication of results generated with the benchmark. What makes PCMark for Android useful benchmark is that it not only tests for performance, but also for battery-life and performance combined. As such, you can easily figure out which devices sacrifice battery-life for performance and which ones have a good blend of both. The HTC One M8 really stands out, thanks to its nearly balanced performance/battery-life ratio. A result like that might make you think that neither value could be that great, but that's not the case at all. In fact, the battery-life rating on that phone places far beyond some of the other models, only falling short to the OnePlus One. And speaking of that phone, it becomes obvious with PCMark why it's so hyped-up of late; it not only delivers solid performance, it boasts great battery-life as well.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

China Staging a Nationwide Attack On iCloud and Microsoft Accounts

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 7:08pm
New submitter DemonOnIce writes: According to The Verge and an original report from the site that monitor's China's Great Firewall activity, China is conducting a large-scale attack on iCloud and Microsoft accounts using its government firewall software. Chinese users may be facing an unpleasant surprise as they are directed to a dummy site designed to look like an Apple login page (or a Microsoft one, as appropriate).

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

GNU Emacs 24.4 Released Today

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 6:26pm
New submitter Shade writes Well over one and a half years in the works, the latest and greatest release of GNU Emacs was made officially available today. Highlights of this release include a built-in web browser, improved multi-monitor and fullscreen support, "electric" indentation enabled by default, support for saving and restoring the state of frames and windows, pixel-based resizing for frames and windows, support for digitally signed ELisp packages, support for menus in text terminals, and much more. Read the official announcement and the full list of changes for more information.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

More Eye Candy Coming To Windows 10

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:47pm
jones_supa writes Microsoft is expected to release a new build of the Windows 10 Technical Preview in the very near future, according to their own words. The only build so far to be released to the public is 9841 but the next iteration will likely be in the 9860 class of releases. With this new build, Microsoft has polished up the animations that give the OS a more comprehensive feel. When you open a new window, it flies out on to the screen from the icon and when you minimize it, it collapses back in to the icon on the taskbar. It is a slick animation and if you have used OS X, it is similar to the one used to collapse windows back in to the dock. Bah.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Help ESR Stamp Out CVS and SVN In Our Lifetime

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 5:07pm
mtaht writes ESR is collecting specifications and donations towards getting a new high end machine to be used for massive CVS and SVN repository conversions, after encountering problems with converting the whole of netbsd over to git. What he's doing now sort of reminds me of holding a bake sale to build a bomber, but he's well on his way towards Xeon class or higher for the work. What else can be done to speed up adoption of git and preserve all the computer history kept in source code repositories? ESR says he'll match funds toward the purchase of the needed hardware, so if you want to help drive him into bankruptcy, now's your chance.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 4:25pm
globaljustin writes "Alan Drysdale, a systems analyst in advanced life support and a contractor with NASA concluded, "Small women haven't been demonstrated to be appreciably dumber than big women or big men, so there's no reason to choose larger people for a flight crew when it's brain power you want," says Drysdale. "The logical thing to do is to fly small women." Kate Greene, who wrote the linked article, took part in the first HI-SEAS experiment in Martian-style living, and has some compelling reasons for an all-women crew, energy efficiency chief among them: Week in and week out, the three female crew members expended less than half the calories of the three male crew members. Less than half! We were all exercising roughly the same amount—at least 45 minutes a day for five consecutive days a week—but our metabolic furnaces were calibrated in radically different ways. During one week, the most metabolically active male burned an average of 3,450 calories per day, while the least metabolically active female expended 1,475 calories per day. It was rare for a woman on crew to burn 2,000 calories in a day and common for male crew members to exceed 3,000. ... The calorie requirements of an astronaut matter significantly when planning a mission. The more food a person needs to maintain her weight on a long space journey, the more food should launch with her. The more food launched, the heavier the payload. The heavier the payload, the more fuel required to blast it into orbit and beyond. The more fuel required, the heavier the rocket becomes, which it in turn requires more fuel to launch.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Debian's Systemd Adoption Inspires Threat of Fork

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:43pm
New submitter Tsolias writes It appears that systemd is still a hot topic in the Debian community. As seen earlier today, there is a new movement shaping up against the adoption of systemd for the upcoming stable release [of Debian], Jessie. They claim that "systemd betrays the UNIX philosophy"; it makes things more complex, thus breaking the "do one thing and do it well" principle. Note that the linked Debian Fork page specifically says that the anonymous developers behind it support a proposal to preserve options in init systems, rather than demanding the removal of systemd, and are not opposed to change per se. They just don't want other parts of the system to be wholly dependent on systemd. "We contemplate adopting more recent alternatives to sysvinit, but not those undermining the basic design principles of "do one thing and do it well" with a complex collection of dozens of tightly coupled binaries and opaque logs."

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Manga Images Depicting Children Lead to Conviction in UK

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 3:02pm
An anonymous reader writes with this news from the UK, as reported by Ars Technica: A 39-year-old UK man has been convicted of possessing illegal cartoon drawings of young girls exposing themselves in school uniforms and engaging in sex acts. The case is believed to be the UK's first prosecution of illegal manga and anime images. Local media said that Robul Hoque was sentenced last week to nine months' imprisonment, though the sentence is suspended so long as the defendant does not break the law again. Police seized Hoque's computer in 2012 and said they found nearly 400 such images on it, none of which depicted real people but were illegal nonetheless because of their similarity to child pornography. Hoque was initially charged with 20 counts of illegal possession but eventually pled guilty to just 10 counts.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

'Endrun' Networks: Help In Danger Zones

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 2:21pm
kierny writes Drawing on networking protocols designed to support NASA's interplanetary missions, two information security researchers have created a networking system that's designed to transmit information securely and reliably in even the worst conditions. Dubbed Endrun, and debuted at Black Hat Europe, its creators hope the delay-tolerant and disruption-tolerant system — which runs on Raspberry Pi — could be deployed everywhere from Ebola hot zones in Liberia, to war zones in Syria, to demonstrations in Ferguson.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Barometers In iPhones Mean More Crowdsourcing In Weather Forecasts

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 1:38pm
cryptoz (878581) writes Apple is now adding barometers to its mobile devices: both new iPhones have valuable atmospheric pressure sensors being used for HealthKit (step counting). Since many Android devices have been carrying barometers for years, scientists like Cliff Mass have been using the sensor data to improve weather forecasts. Open source data collection projects like PressureNet on Android automatically collect and send the atmospheric sensor data to researchers.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:56pm
Any gathering of 65,000 people in the desert is going to require some major infrastructure to maintain health and sanity. At Burning Man, some of that infrastructure is devoted to a supply chain for ice. Writes Bennett Haselton, The lines for ice bags at Burning Man could be cut from an hour long at peak times, to about five minutes, by making one small... Well, read the description below of how they do things now, and see if the same suggested change occurs to you. I'm curious whether it's the kind of idea that is more obvious to students of computer science who think algorithmically, or if it's something that could occur to anyone. Read on for the rest; Bennett's idea for better triage may bring to mind a lot of other queuing situations and ways that time spent waiting in line could be more efficiently employed.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 12:15pm
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Software development and IT remain common jobs among those in the higher brackets, although not the topmost one, according to a new study (with graph) commissioned by NPR. Among those earning between $58,000 and $72,000, IT was the sixth-most-popular job, while software developers came in tenth place. In the next bracket up (earning between $72,000 and $103,000), IT rose to third, with software development just behind in fourth place. As incomes increased another level ($103,000 to $207,000), software developers did even better, coming in second behind managers, although IT dropped off the list entirely. In the top percentile ($207,000 and above), neither software developers nor IT staff managed to place; this is a segment chiefly occupied by physicians (in first place), managers, chief executives, lawyers, and salespeople who are really good at their jobs. In other words, it seems like a good time to be in IT, provided you have a particular skillset. If those high salaries are in Silicon Valley or New York, though, they might not seem as high as half the same rate would in Omaha, or Houston, or Raleigh.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

Google Changes 'To Fight Piracy' By Highlighting Legal Sites

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:34am
mrspoonsi writes Google has announced changes to its search engine in an attempt to curb online piracy. The company has long been criticised for enabling people to find sites to download entertainment illegally. The entertainment industry has argued that illegal sites should be "demoted" in search results. The new measures, mostly welcomed by music trade group the BPI, will instead point users towards legal alternatives such as Spotify and Google Play. Google will now list these legal services in a box at the top of the search results, as well as in a box on the right-hand side of the page. Crucially, however, these will be adverts — meaning if legal sites want to appear there, they will need to pay Google for the placement.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology

How Lobby Groups Rejected the Canadian Government's Plan To Combat Patent Trolls

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:51am
An anonymous reader writes Michael Geist reports that according to documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act, the Canadian government quietly proposed a series of reforms to combat patent trolls including new prohibitions on demand letters, powers to the courts to stop patent forum shopping, and giving competition authorities the ability to deal with patent troll anti-competitive activity. The problem? Business lobby groups warned against the "unintended consequences" of patent reforms.

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Categories: Open Source, Technology