Businesses

Calif. DMV Back-Pedals On Commercial-Plate Mandate For Ride-Share Drivers 8

Posted by timothy
from the can-your-neighbor-lend-you-a-cup-of-transportation dept.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that In an abrupt U-turn, the California Department of Motor Vehicles late Friday retracted its finding that drivers for ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft and Sidecar must obtain commercial license plates. That determination — based on a 1935 state law — ignited a firestorm of criticism from the San Francisco startups and their supporters as stifling innovation. Commercial licenses are cumbersome to obtain, meaning they could impede the companies’ growth, which relies on getting new drivers, many of whom work just part time, into service quickly. And commercial registration probably would have necessitated that drivers get commercial insurance, which is significantly more expensive than personal auto insurance. Republican Assembly members threatened legislation over the “nonsensical” interpretation if the DMV didn’t reconsider its stance before Feb. 17. Now the department says it will do just that. That doesn't mean drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft can expect to be left alone by the DMV, though, which according to the article "will meet with regulators and the industry to work through the issue."
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: GPU of Choice For OpenCL On Linux? 21

Posted by timothy
from the discriminating-tastes dept.
Bram Stolk writes So, I am running GNU/Linux on a modern Haswell CPU, with an old Radeon HD5xxx from 2009. I'm pretty happy with the open source Gallium driver for 3D acceleration. But now I want to do some GPGPU development using OpenCL on this box, and the old GPU will no longer cut it. What do my fellow technophiles from Slashdot recommend as a replacement GPU? Go NVIDIA, go AMD, or just use the integrated Intel GPU instead? Bonus points for open sourced solutions. Performance not really important, but OpenCL driver maturity is.
Mars

NASA Considers Autonomous Martian Helicopter To Augment Future Rovers 11

Posted by timothy
from the imperial-probe-droid dept.
SternisheFan (2529412) writes with this story at the Verge about an approach being considered by NASA to overcome some of the difficulties in moving a wheeled or multi-legged ground vehicle around the surface of Mars, which has proven to be a difficult task. Rover teams still have a tough time with the Martian surface even though they're flush with terrestrial data. The alien surface is uneven, and ridges and valleys make navigating the terrain difficult. The newest solution proposed by JPL is the Mars Helicopter, an autonomous drone that could 'triple the distances that Mars rovers can drive in a Martian day,' according to NASA. The helicopter would fly ahead of a rover when its view is blocked and send Earth-bound engineers the right data to plan the rover's route.
Education

Brought To You By the Letter R: Microsoft Acquiring Revolution Analytics 31

Posted by timothy
from the interesting-choice-of-letter dept.
theodp writes Maybe Bill Gates' Summer Reading this year will include The Art of R Programming. Pushing further into Big Data, Microsoft on Friday announced it's buying Revolution Analytics, the top commercial provider of software and services for the open-source R programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. "By leveraging Revolution Analytics technology and services," blogged Microsoft's Joseph Sirosh, "we will empower enterprises, R developers and data scientists to more easily and cost effectively build applications and analytics solutions at scale." Revolution Analytics' David Smith added, "Now, Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company [RedHat:Linux as Revolution Analytics:R], but the company continues to make great strides in the open-source arena recently." Now that it has Microsoft's blessing, is it finally time for AP Statistics to switch its computational vehicle to R?
It's funny.  Laugh.

Americans Support Mandatory Labeling of Food That Contains DNA 115

Posted by timothy
from the pure-sugar-all-the-time dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jennifer Abel writes at the LA Times that according to a recent survey (PDF), over 80% of Americans says they support "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA," roughly the same number that support the mandatory labeling of GMO foods "produced with genetic engineering." Ilya Somin, writing about the survey at the Washington Post, suggested that a mandatory label for foods containing DNA might sound like this: "WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children."

The report echoes a well-known joke/prank wherein people discuss the dangers of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide" also known as hydrogen oxide and hydrogen hydroxide. Search online for information about dihydrogen monoxide, and you'll find a long list of scary-sounding and absolutely true warnings about it: the nuclear power industry uses enormous quantities of it every year. Dihydrogen monoxide is used in the production of many highly toxic pesticides, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Conventions. Dihydrogen monoxide is found in all tumors removed from cancer patients, and is guaranteed fatal to humans in large quantities and even small quantities can kill you, if it enters your respiratory system. In 2006, in Louisville, Kentucky, David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corporation, a public body that operates Waterfront Park, wished to deter bathers from using a large public fountain. "Counting on a lack of understanding about water's chemical makeup," he arranged for signs reading: "DANGER! – WATER CONTAINS HIGH LEVELS OF HYDROGEN – KEEP OUT" to be posted on the fountain at public expense.
Space

Europe and China Will Team Up For a Robotic Space Mission 28

Posted by timothy
from the actually-the-robots-are-pulling-the-strings dept.
Taco Cowboy writes with this excerpt from Space.com: On Monday (Jan. 19), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a call for proposals for a robotic space mission that the two organizations will develop jointly. "The goal of the present Call is to define a scientific space mission to be implemented by ESA and CAS as a cooperative endeavor between the European and Chinese scientific communities," ESA officials wrote in a statement Monday. "The mission selected as an outcome of the present Joint Call will follow a collaborative approach through all the phases: study, definition, implementation, operations and scientific exploitation." The call envisions a low-budget mission, saying that ESA and CAS are each prepared to contribute about 53 million euros (U.S. $61.5 million at current exchange rates). The spacecraft must weigh less than 661 lbs. (300 kilograms) at launch and be designed to operate for at least two to three years, ESA officials wrote in the call for proposals. All proposals are due by March 16, and the peer-review process will start in April. Mission selection is expected to occur in late 2015, followed by six years of development, with a launch in 2021.
Earth

Doomsday Clock Moved Two Minutes Forward, To 23:57 134

Posted by timothy
from the but-who's-counting dept.
An anonymous reader writes As reported by CNN and Time, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved their famed Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight. Now at 23:57, this clock attempts to personify humanity's closeness to a global catastrophe (as caused by either climate change or nuclear war). According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this change is due to a lack of action regarding climate issues, the continued existence of nuclear weapon stockpiles, and the increased animosity that now exists between the United States and Russia.
Social Networks

Twitter Moves To Curb Instagram Links 77

Posted by timothy
from the breaking-the-habit dept.
Hammeh writes According to a report on Mashable, Twitter have sent out messages to some of their high profile users prompting them to share images using Twitter's own service rather than Instagram links. The news comes 2 years since Instagram pulled support for Twitter cards and has been part of the continuing battle between the two social networks. With Instagram now having overtaken Twitter in terms of users, this may be a move to try and use high profile users to show off Twitter's own image and content tools.
Internet Explorer

In Addition To Project Spartan, Windows 10 Will Include Internet Explorer 91

Posted by timothy
from the ultra-backwards-compatible dept.
An anonymous reader writes After unveiling its new Project Spartan browser for Windows 10, Microsoft is now offering more details. The company confirmed that Windows 10 will also include Internet Explorer for enterprise sites, though it didn't say how exactly this will work. Spartan comes with a new rendering engine, which doesn't rely on the versioned document modes the company has historically used. It also provides compatibility with the millions of existing enterprise websites specifically designed for Internet Explorer by loading the IE11 engine when needed. In this way, the browser uses the new rendering engine for modern websites and the old one for legacy purposes.
Encryption

OpenSSL 1.0.2 Released 69

Posted by timothy
from the early-days dept.
kthreadd writes The OpenSSL project has released its second feature release of the OpenSSL 1.0 series, version 1.0.2 which is ABI compatible with the 1.0.0 and 1.0.1 series. Major new features in this release include Suite B support for TLS 1.2 and DTLS 1.2 and support for DTLS 1.2. selection. Other major changes include TLS automatic EC curve selection, an API to set TLS supported signature algorithms and curves, the SSL_CONF configuration API, support for TLS Brainpool, support for ALPN and support for CMS support for RSA-PSS, RSA-OAEP, ECDH and X9.42 DH.
United States

Bomb Threats Via Twitter Partly Shut Down Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport 97

Posted by timothy
from the don't-expect-luggage-to-arrive dept.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that "Credible" bomb threats were made Saturday against two flights bound for Atlanta, an airport spokesman said. The flights landed safely after being escorted into Atlanta by military fighter jets. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport spokesman Reese McCrainie told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at 3 p.m. that both flights — Delta 1156 and Southwest 2492 — had landed and were sitting on a taxiway waiting to be swept by the Atlanta police Bomb Squad. ... Witnesses reported seeing multiple emergency vehicles on the tarmac, and the Federal Aviation Administration said just before 3 p.m. that departing flights were experiencing gate holds and delays of up to 30 minutes due to a bomb threat. USA Today says that the flights were on their way to Atlanta from, respectively, Portland, Oregon and Milwaukee, and adds that "NORAD Media Relations Specialist Preston Schlachter confirmed that two F-16 jets launched from McIntire Air Force Base in South Carolina as a precautionary measure."
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today? 337

Posted by timothy
from the hiding-with-the-egg-cream dept.
guises writes Ever since mouse wheels were introduced the middle mouse button has been sidelined to an inadequate click-wheel function, or in some cases ditched altogether. This has never sat well with me, a proper middle button is invaluable for pasting, games, and navigation. More than that, my hand categorically rejects two button mice — the dangling ring finger causes me genuine physical discomfort. I have begged Logitech on multiple occasions to make just one, among their many screwy specialty mice, to replace the Mouseman which I loved so dearly. I thought for a moment that I had been answered with the g600, only to find that they had put the right mouse button in the middle.

So my question to Slashdot is: where does a person turn for a three button mouse these days? I've only found two, both ergonomic and priced accordingly. I use the Contour and like the shape and wheel position, but would love to find something wireless and with a higher DPI sensor.
Bug

NVIDIA Responds To GTX 970 Memory Bug 125

Posted by timothy
from the can't-remeber-why-you'upset dept.
Vigile writes Over the past week or so, owners of the GeForce GTX 970 have found several instances where the GPU was unable or unwilling to address memory capacities over 3.5GB despite having 4GB of on-board frame buffer. Specific benchmarks were written to demonstrate the issue and users even found ways to configure games to utilize more than 3.5GB of memory using DSR and high levels of MSAA. While the GTX 980 can access 4GB of its memory, the GTX 970 appeared to be less likely to do so and would see a dramatic performance hit when it did. NVIDIA responded today saying that the GTX 970 has "fewer crossbar resources to the memory system" as a result of disabled groups of cores called SMMs. NVIDIA states that "to optimally manage memory traffic in this configuration, we segment graphics memory into a 3.5GB section and a 0.5GB section" and that the GPU has "higher priority" to the larger pool. The question that remains is should this affect gamers' view of the GTX 970? If performance metrics already take the different memory configuration into account, then I don't see the GTX 970 declining in popularity.
Programming

Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize 135

Posted by timothy
from the took-a-while-to-get-the-spelling dept.
mikejuk writes Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of C++, is the 2015 recipient of the Senior Dahl-Nygaard Prize, considered the most prestigious prize in object-oriented computer science. Established in 2005 it honors the pioneering work on object-orientation of Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard, who designed Simula, the original object-oriented language and are remembered as "colorful characters." To be eligible for the senior prize an individual must have made a "significant long-term contribution to the field of Object-Orientation," and this year it goes to Bjarne Stoustrup for the design, implementation and evolution of the C++ programming language. You can't argue with that.
Media

UHD Spec Stomps on Current Blu-ray Spec, But Will Consumers Notice? 265

Posted by timothy
from the is-your-nose-on-the-glass? dept.
An anonymous reader writes Details have emerged on the new UHD Blu-ray spec and players set to start shipping this summer. UHD promises resolutions 4X greater than Blu-ray 1080p as well as much higher data rates, enhanced color space and more audio options. But, will consumers care, and will they be willing to upgrade their HDTV's, AV Receivers, and Blu-ray players to adopt a new format whose benefits may only be realized on ultra large displays or close viewing distances? The article makes the interesting point that UHD isn't synonymous with 4K, even if both handily beat the resolution of most household displays.
Bitcoin

Winklevoss Twins Plan Regulated Bitcoin Exchange 70

Posted by timothy
from the trust-us-there-are-two-of-us dept.
itwbennett writes They of the square jaws and famous dispute with Mark Zuckerberg over the origins of Facebook, are also believed to be among the largest holders of Bitcoin in the world. Now they want to launch a regulated Bitcoin exchange—named Gemini, of course. To bolster confidence, they said they have formed a relationship with a chartered bank in the state of New York. "This means that your money will never leave the country," the twins wrote in a blog post. "It also means that U.S. dollars on Gemini will be eligible for FDIC insurance and held by a U.S.-regulated bank.
Communications

WhatsApp vs. WhatsApp Plus Fight Gets Ugly For Users 163

Posted by timothy
from the for-your-convenience-we-have-disabled-convenience dept.
BarbaraHudson writes WhatsApp is locking out users for 24 hours who use WhatsApp Plus to access the service. The company claims they brought in the temporary ban to make users aware that they are not using the correct version and their privacy could be comprised using the unofficial WhatsApp Plus. "Starting today, we are taking aggressive action against unauthorized apps and alerting the people who use them." Is this a more aggressive rerun of "This site best viewed with Internet Explorer"?
Bug

Linus Fixes Kernel Regression Breaking Witcher 2 118

Posted by timothy
from the where-is-your-itch? dept.
jones_supa writes There has been quite a debate around the Linux version of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and the fact that it wasn't really a port. A special kind of wrapper was used to make the Windows version of the game run on Linux systems, similar to Wine. The performance on Linux systems took a hit and users felt betrayed because they thought that they would get a native port. However, after the game stopped launching properly at some point, the reason was actually found to be a Linux regression. Linus quickly took care of the issue on an unofficial Witcher 2 issue tracker on GitHub: "It looks like LDT_empty is buggy on 64-bit kernels. I suspect that the behavior was inconsistent before the tightening change and that it's now broken as a result. I'll write a patch. Serves me right for not digging all the way down the mess of macros." This one goes to the bin "don't break userspace". Linus also reminds of QA: "And maybe this is an excuse for somebody in the x86 maintainer team to try a few games on steam. They *are* likely good tests of odd behavior.."
Transportation

Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes 266

Posted by timothy
from the here's-your-spec-sheet dept.
mrspoonsi writes The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adding crash imminent braking and dynamic braking support to its list of recommended advanced safety features for new cars. The former uses sensors to activate the brakes if a crash is imminent and the driver already hasn't. Dynamic braking support, on the other hand, increases stopping power if you haven't put enough pressure on the brake pedal. Like lane-departure and front collision warning systems, these features are available on some models already — this move gives them high-profile attention, though. And for good reason: As the NHSTA tells it, a third of 2013's police-reported car accidents were the rear-end crashes and a "large number" of the drivers either didn't apply the brakes at all (what?!) or fully before impact.
Businesses

Smartphones, Tablets and EBay Send SkyMall To Chapter 11 63

Posted by timothy
from the not-to-mention-deal-extreme-and-amazon dept.
alphadogg writes SkyMall, the quirky airline catalog, looks as though it may be grounded before long. Parent company Xhibit has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and seeks to sell its assets. In an SEC filing, Xhibit explains that it has fallen victim to an "intensely competitive" direct marketing retail industry that now includes the likes of eBay and Amazon.com. Smartphones and tablets are largely to blame for SkyMall's downfall, according to the SEC filing. "Historically, the SkyMall catalog was the sole in-flight option for potential purchasers of products to review while traveling. With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog."