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Updated: 6 min ago

UN Backs Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 9:58pm
mdsolar sends this report from The Guardian: The UN organization in charge of global climate change negotiations is backing the fast-growing campaign persuading investors to sell off their fossil fuel assets. It said it was lending its "moral authority" to the divestment campaign because it shared the ambition to get a strong deal to tackle global warming at a crunch UN summit in Paris in December. The move is likely to be controversial as the economies of many nations at the negotiating table heavily rely on coal, oil and gas. In 2013, coal-reliant Poland hosted the UNFCCC summit and was castigated for arranging a global coal industry summit alongside. Now, the World Coal Association has criticized the UNFCCC's decision to back divestment, saying it threatened investment in cleaner coal technologies.

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Windows 10 Enables Switching Between Desktop and Tablet Modes

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 8:56pm
jones_supa writes: In Windows 8, you were trapped in either the Modern UI or using the desktop, and going back and forth between the two worlds was cumbersome. Windows 10 takes a hybrid approach, allowing the user to choose between a classic desktop and a full-screen mobile experience. The feature, which has been developed under the name "Continuum," is now simply called "Tablet mode". In the build 9926 of Windows 10 Technical Preview, switching between the modes can finally be tried out. The leaked build 10036 shows that eventually you will also have the option to automate the process for dockable devices. Since Windows 10 is being positioned as the one OS for all of Microsoft's devices, being able to control the desktop and tablet experiences like this is critical to appeasing the consumer.

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Scientific Study Finds There Are Too Many Scientific Studies

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 7:42pm
HughPickens.com writes: Chris Matyszczyk reports at Cnet that a new scientific study concludes there are too many scientific studies — scientists simply can't keep track of all the studies in their field. The paper, titled "Attention Decay in Science," looked at all publications (articles and reviews) written in English till the end of 2010 within the database of the Thomson Reuters (TR) Web of Science. For each publication they extracted its year of publication, the subject category of the journal in which it is published and the corresponding citations to that publication. The 'decay' the researchers investigated is how quickly a piece of research is discarded measured by establishing the initial publication, the peak in its popularity and, ultimately, its disappearance from citations in subsequent publications. "Nowadays papers are forgotten more quickly. Attention, measured by the number and lifetime of citations, is the main currency of the scientific community, and along with other forms of recognition forms the basis for promotions and the reputation of scientists," says the study. "Typically, the citation rate of a paper increases up to a few years after its publication, reaches a peak and then decreases rapidly. This decay can be described by an exponential or a power law behavior, as in ultradiffusive processes, with exponential fitting better than power law for the majority of cases (PDF). The decay is also becoming faster over the years, signaling that nowadays papers are forgotten more quickly." Matyszczyk says,"If publication has become too easy, there will be more and more of it."

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NASA Launches Four Spacecraft To Study Earth-Sun Magnetism

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 6:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: Late Thursday NASA used an Atlas rocket to put four new, identical spacecraft into orbit. "The quartet of observatories is being placed into an oblong orbit stretching tens of thousands of miles into the magnetosphere — nearly halfway to the moon at one point. They will fly in pyramid formation, between 6 miles and 250 miles apart, to provide 3-D views of magnetic reconnection on the smallest of scales. Magnetic reconnection is what happens when magnetic fields like those around Earth and the sun come together, break apart, then come together again, releasing vast energy. This repeated process drives the aurora, as well as solar storms that can disrupt communications and power on Earth. Data from this two-year mission should help scientists better understand so-called space weather."

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BlackBerry's Latest Experiment: a $2,300 'Secure' Tablet

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 5:38pm
An anonymous reader writes: After missing the boat on smartphones, BlackBerry has been throwing everything they can at the wall to see what sticks. From making square phones to insisting users want physical keyboards, their only standard is how non-standard they've become. Now they're expanding this strategy to the tablet market with a security-centric tablet that costs $2,300. And they're not doing it alone — the base device is actually a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5. The tablet runs Samsung Knox boot tech, as well as software from IBM and encryption specialist Secusmart (which BlackBerry recently purchased). The device will be targeted at businesses and organizations who have particular need for secure devices. "Organizations deploying the SecuTablet will be able to set policies controlling what apps can run on the devices, and whether those apps must be wrapped, said IBM Germany spokesman Stefan Hefter. The wrapping process—in which an app is downloaded from a public app store, bundled with additional libraries that encrypt its network traffic and intercept Android 'intents' for actions such as cutting or pasting data, then uploaded to a private app store—ensures that corporate data can be protected at rest, in motion and in use, he said. For instance, it can prevent data from a secure email being copied and pasted into the Facebook app running on the same device—yet allow it to be pasted into a secure collaboration environment, or any other app forming part of the same 'federation,' he said."

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Senator: 'Plenty' of Domestic Surveillance We Still Don't Know About

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 4:35pm
An anonymous reader writes: In a recent interview, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has complained about the Obama administration's failure to shut down the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata. This program and most other programs we've heard of were disclosed by Edward Snowden. But Snowden couldn't tell us everything. When asked if there were further domestic surveillance programs about which the public knows nothing, Senator Wyden said, "Yeah, there's plenty of stuff." The ones he knows about are classified, so he couldn't elaborate. "Even in cases where the public has been informed of government practices, Wyden warned the government still collects far too much information on millions of citizens with virtually no accountability."

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Prison Program Aims To Turn Criminals Into Coders

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 3:34pm
Press2ToContinue writes with news that San Quentin, a notorious California prison, has started a program to teach a class of inmates to write code. The first class will last for six months, and the inmates are learning about programming for eight hours a day. The hope is to give them the skills to find a good job after they leave prison, which in turn would reduce their chances of recidivism. Since the state's Dept. of Corrections prohibits internet access, the class only "pretends" to be online — they can't use internet-based resources, and nobody on the outside can see or use the software they create. One of the class's backers said, 'Almost every week there's epiphanies. And most of the guys in here, they've never touched a computer before. They are progressing beyond our expectations."

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Lawsuit Over Quarter Horse's Clone May Redefine Animal Breeding

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 2:29pm
schwit1 sends this report from the LA Times: "Lynx Melody Too, a clone of a renowned quarter horse, is at the center of a lawsuit that could change the world of animal breeding and competition. Texas horse breeder Jason Abraham and veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen sued the American Quarter Horse Assn., claiming that Lynx Melody Too should be allowed to register as an official quarter horse. A Texas jury decided in their favor in 2013, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling in January, saying there was 'insufficient' evidence of wrongdoing by the association. The suit is among the first to deal with the status of clones in breeding and competition, and its outcome could impact a number of fields, including thoroughbred horse racing and dog breeding. The quarter horse association is adamant that clones and their offspring have no place in its registry. "It's what AQHA was founded on — tracking and preserving the pedigrees of these American quarter horses," said Tom Persechino, executive director of marketing for the association. "When a person buys an American quarter horse, they want to know that my quarter horse has the blood of these horses running through it, not copies of it."

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Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 1:26pm
theodp writes: As if people haven't found enough to hate about the new 11+ hour K-12 PARCC standardized testing, the Washington Post reports that Pearson, the world's largest education company, is monitoring social media during the administration of the PARCC Common Core test to detect any security breaches, saying it is "obligated" to alert authorities when any problems are discovered. The monitoring of social media was revealed in a message that a New Jersey School Superintendent sent to colleagues about a "Priority 1 Alert" initiated by Pearson in response to a student who referenced a PARCC test question in an after-school Tweet. The news was broken in a blog entry by former NJ Star-Ledger reporter Bob Braun, who also posted the Superintendent's message and called the monitoring of social media nothing less than "spying." Pearson has a contract of more than $100 million to administer the PARCC in New Jersey.

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Uber Sued Over Driver Data Breach, Adding To Legal Woes

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 12:22pm
wabrandsma writes with news about the latest trouble facing Uber. "Uber Technologies Inc has been hit with a proposed class action lawsuit over a recently disclosed data breach involving the personal information of about 50,000 drivers, the latest in a series of legal woes to hit the Internet car service. The suit, filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco by Sasha Antman, an Uber driver in Portland, Oregon, says the company did not do enough to prevent the 2014 breach and waited too long — about five months — to disclose it. Antman says Uber violated a California law requiring companies to safeguard employee's personal information."

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Intel Will Reportedly Land Apple As a Modem Chip Customer

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 9:05am
itwbennett writes After so many years of spinning its wheels, Intel is reportedly about to make a big step into mobile by providing Apple with LTE modem chips for its hot-selling iPhone. The news comes courtesy of VentureBeat, which cites two separate sources of the plans. The story says Apple will begin using Intel's new 7360 LTE modem processor in place of a Qualcomm chip, which has been there for a few generations.

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Russia Abandons Super-Rocket Designed To Compete With SLS

Sun, 15/03/2015 - 6:07am
schwit1 writes Russia has decided to abandon an expensive attempt to build an SLS-like super-rocket and will instead focus on incremental development of its smaller but less costly Angara rocket. "Facing significant budgetary pressures, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has indefinitely postponed its ambitious effort to develop a super-heavy rocket to rival NASA's next-generation Space Launch System, SLS. Instead, Russia will focus on radical upgrades of its brand-new but smaller Angara-5 rocket which had its inaugural flight in Dec. 2014, the agency's Scientific and Technical Council, NTS, decided on Thursday, March 12." For Russia's space industry, it appears that these budgetary pressures have been a blessing in disguise. Rather than waste billions on an inefficient rocket for which there is no commercial demand — as NASA is doing with SLS (under orders from a wasteful Congress) — they will instead work on further upgrades of Angara, much like SpaceX has done with its Falcon family of rockets. This will cost far less, is very efficient, and provides them a better chance to compete for commercial launches that can help pay for it all. And best of all, it offers them the least costly path to future interplanetary missions, which means they might actually be able to make those missions happen. To quote the article again: "By switching upper stages of the existing Angara from kerosene to the more potent hydrogen fuel, engineers might be able to boost the rocket's payload from current 25 tons to 35 tons for missions to the low Earth orbit. According to Roscosmos, Angara-A5V could be used for piloted missions to the vicinity of the Moon and to its surface." In a sense, the race is now on between Angara-A5V and Falcon Heavy.

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