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The Internet

EU Commission Divided Over Nation-Specific Content Blocking 14

Posted by timothy
from the for-me-and-not-for-thee dept.
jfruh writes In theory, the European Union is supposed to act as a single national market. But one area in which practice doesn't live up to theory is geoblocking: Europeans may find that a website they can reach or content they have a legal right to stream in one EU country is blocked in another. Now two members of the EU Commission (the equivalent of a nation's cabinet) are feuding as to whether geoblocks should be eliminated: Commission Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip said that "deep in my heart ... I hate geoblocking," while Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther Oettinger, worrying about protecting the European film industry, said "We must not throw the baby out with the bathwater."
Microsoft

License Details Hint MS Undecided On Suing Users of Its Open Source Net Runtime 58

Posted by timothy
from the full-of-shift dept.
ciaran2014 writes With Microsoft proudly declaring its .NET runtime open source, a colleague and I decided to look at the licensing aspects. One part, the MIT licence, is straightforward, but there's also a patent promise. The first two-thirds of the first sentence seems to announce good news about Microsoft not suing people. Then the conditions begin. It seems Microsoft can't yet bring itself to release something as free software without retaining a patent threat to limit how those freedoms can be exercised. Overall, we found 4 Shifty Details About Microsoft's "Open Source" .NET.
NASA

X-37B To Fly Again 13

Posted by timothy
from the gets-high-with-a-little-help-from-its-friends dept.
schwit1 writes The May 6 Atlas 5 launch will carry one of the Air Force's two X-37B mini-shuttles on a new mission in space. "The Air Force won't yet confirm which of the Boeing-built spaceplanes will be making the voyage. The first craft returned in October from a 675-day mission in space following a 224 day trek in 2010. OTV No. 2 spent 469 days in space in 2011-2012 on its only mission so far. "The program selects the Orbital Test Vehicle for each activity based upon the experiment objectives," said Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesperson. "Each OTV mission builds upon previous on-orbit demonstrations and expands the test envelope of the vehicle. The test mission furthers the development of the concept of operations for reusable space vehicles." There are indications that the Air Force wants to attempt landing the shuttle at Kennedy this time.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Questions US Government's Software Flaw Disclosure Policy 13

Posted by Soulskill
from the we'll-do-that-at-least-once-in-the-past-decade dept.
angry tapir writes: It's not clear if the U.S. government is living up to its promise to disclose serious software flaws to technology companies, a policy it put in place five years ago, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They write, "ODNI has now finished releasing documents in response to our suit, and the results are surprisingly meager. Among the handful of heavily redacted documents is a one-page list of VEP 'Highlights' from 2010. It briefly describes the history of the interagency working group that led to the development of the VEP and notes that the VEP established an office called the 'Executive Secretariat' within the NSA. The only other highlight left unredacted explains that the VEP 'creates a process for notification, decision-making, and appeals.' And that's it. This document, which is almost five years old, is the most recent one released. So where are the documents supporting the 'reinvigorated' VEP 2.0 described by the White House in 2014?"
Microsoft

Microsoft Rolls Out Project Spartan With New Windows 10 Build 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the this!-is!-spar!-tan! dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft released a new Technical Preview build for Windows 10. Its most notable addition is Microsoft's new browser: Project Spartan. In a brief post explaining the basics of the browser, the company says it includes their personal assistant software, Cortana, as well as "inking" support, which lets you write or type on the webpage you're viewing. But the biggest change, of course is the new rendering engine. The "suggestion box" page for Project Spartan is already filling up with idea from users, including one for Trident/EdgeHTML to be released as open source.
Businesses

Why You Should Choose Boring Technology 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the predictable-headaches dept.
An anonymous reader writes Dan McKinley, a long-time Etsy engineer who now works at online payment processor Stripe, argues that the boring technology option is usually your best choice for a new project. He says, "Let's say every company gets about three innovation tokens. You can spend these however you want, but the supply is fixed for a long while. You might get a few more after you achieve a certain level of stability and maturity, but the general tendency is to overestimate the contents of your wallet. Clearly this model is approximate, but I think it helps. If you choose to write your website in NodeJS, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use MongoDB, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to use service discovery tech that's existed for a year or less, you just spent one of your innovation tokens. If you choose to write your own database, oh god, you're in trouble. ... The nice thing about boringness (so constrained) is that the capabilities of these things are well understood. But more importantly, their failure modes are well understood."
Businesses

IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the becoming-borg-is-at-both-the-top-and-the-bottom dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Dice, there's a breakdown of which tech jobs have the greatest return on investment, with regard to high starting salaries and growth potential relative to how much you need to spend on degrees and certifications. Which jobs top this particular calculation? No shockers here: DBAs, software engineers, programmers, and Web developers all head up the list, with salaries that tick into six-figure territory. How about those with the worst ROI? Graphic designers, sysadmins, tech support, and software QA testers often present a less-than-great combination of relatively little money and room for advancement, even if you possess a four-year degree or higher, unless you're one of the lucky few.
Businesses

Amazon Launches 'Home Services' For Repair, Installation, and Other Work 108

Posted by Soulskill
from the remember-when-they-sold-books dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has quietly rolled out a new business called "Home Services," which aims to be a middleman between customers and all sorts of contracted services. It includes things like appliance repair, home cleaning, installation/assembly of products in your car or home, tutoring (academic and musical), and even performance art. Amazon makes money on this by taking a cut of the total price — between 10 and 20 percent. Since everything is geolocated, they have many more options available in big cities than in small rural communities. One of Amazon's goals is to help standardize the price for various services, so there aren't any surprises when the bill comes due.
Bitcoin

Silk Road Investigators Charged With Stealing Bitcoin 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
itwbennett writes Two former U.S. government agents face charges related to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin while assisting with an investigation of the Silk Road underground online marketplace, with one accused of using a fake online persona to extort money from operators of the site. Facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering are Carl Force, 46, of Baltimore, a former special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and Shaun Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service. Both served on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity on the Silk Road website, the Department of Justice said Monday in a press release.
Books

Book Review: Future Crimes 26

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes Technology is neutral and amoral. It's the implementers and users who define its use. In Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, author Marc Goodman spends nearly 400 pages describing the dark side of technology, and those who use it for nefarious purposes. He provides a fascinating overview of how every major technology can be used to benefit society, and how it can also be exploited by those on the other side. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Crime

Attempted Breach of NSA HQ Checkpoint; One Shot Dead 286

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-news dept.
seven of five writes One man is dead and another severely injured after a shootout at one of the main gates of the National Security Agency located at Fort Meade, Maryland. Two men dressed as women attempted to 'penetrate' the entry point with their vehicle when a shootout occurred, officials said. The FBI said they do not believe the incident is related to terrorism.
Government

India Mandates Use of Open Source Software In Government 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-at-last dept.
jrepin writes The Indian government announced a policy yesterday that makes it mandatory to use open-source software in building apps and services, in an effort to "ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs." The new policy (PDF) states that all government organizations must include a requirement for their software suppliers to consider open-source options when implementing e-governance applications and systems. The move will bring the Indian government in line with other countries including the US, UK and Germany that opt for open-source software over proprietary tools.
China

Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the or-you-know-stop-polluting-so-much dept.
knwny points out this lofty proposed power plan in China. "The battle to dispel smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve the energy crisis is moving to space. If news reports are to be believed, Chinese scientists are mulling the construction of a solar power station in a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometres above ground. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth. If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station and be the largest-ever space project."
Transportation

At the Track With Formula E, the First e-Racing Series 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the fast-and-quiet dept.
An anonymous reader writes Ars is running a story about the new all-electric racing car series and its first visit to the U.S.. "The pit lane we're standing in is unusual, and not only because it's a temporary setup placed in the shadow of American Airlines Arena (home of the NBA's Miami Heat). Garages are set up on both sides rather than being limited to one. A few things also appear to be missing. To start, a familiar smell from the usual mix of burning hydrocarbons is absent. And it's remarkably quiet. The occasional impact wrench bursts out in a mechanical staccato, generators drone here and there, but there are no V8s burbling, no V6s screaming....Welcome to Formula E, the world's first fully electric racing series. Miami is playing host to the first of two US rounds—the next being held in Long Beach, CA, on April 4—and it's the fifth race in this ePrix's inaugural season. Given we've got a bit of a thing about racing at Cars Technica, as well as an obvious interest in electric vehicles, we had to be on the ground in Miami to experience this for ourselves."
United Kingdom

Europol Chief Warns About Computer Encryption 156

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-can't-read-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes The law enforcement lobbying campaign against encryption continues. Today it's Europol director Rob Wainwright, who is trying to make a case against encryption. "It's become perhaps the biggest problem for the police and the security service authorities in dealing with the threats from terrorism," he explained. "It's changed the very nature of counter-terrorist work from one that has been traditionally reliant on having good monitoring capability of communications to one that essentially doesn't provide that anymore." This is the same man who told the European Parliament that Europol is not going to investigate the alleged NSA hacking of the SWIFT (international bank transfer) system. The excuse he gave was not that Europol didn't know about it, because it did. Very much so. It was that there had been no formal complaint from any member state.
Government

FCC Chairman: Net Rules Will Withstand Court Challenge 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-to-stay dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's confidence that the net neutrality rules the agency passed last month will stand up to upcoming challenges in court."Now that the FCC is the subject of several lawsuits, and its leader, Chairman Tom Wheeler, was dragged in front of Congress repeatedly to answer the same battery of inanity, it's worth checking in to see how the agency is feeling. Is it confident that its recent vote to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act will hold? Yes, unsurprisingly. Recently, Wheeler gave a speech at Ohio State University, laying out his larger philosophy regarding the open Internet. His second to last paragraph is worth reading: "One final prediction: the FCC's new rules will be upheld by the courts. The DC Circuit sent the previous Open Internet Order back to us and basically said, 'You're trying to impose common carrier-like regulation without stepping up and saying, "these are common carriers.'" We have addressed that issue, which is the underlying issue in all of the debates we've had so far. That gives me great confidence going forward that we will prevail.""
Chrome

Chrome OS Receives Extreme Makeover With Material Design and Google Now 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the latest-and-greatest dept.
MojoKid writes Late last week, Google quietly began inviting people to opt into the beta channel for ChromeOS to help the company "shape the future" of the OS. Some betas can be riskier than others, but Google says that opting into this one is just a "little risk", one that will pay off handsomely for those who crave new features. New in this version is Chrome Launcher 2.0, which gives you quick access to a number of common features, including the apps you use most often (examples are Hangouts, Calculator, and Files). Some apps have also received a fresh coat of paint, such as the file manager. Google notes that this is just the start, so there will be more updates rolling out to the beta OS as time goes on. Other key features available in this beta include the ability to extract pass protected Zip archives, as well as a perk for travelers. ChromeOS will now automatically detect your new timezone, and then update the time and date accordingly.
Classic Games (Games)

SuperMario 64 Coming To a Browser Near You! 95

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-time dept.
Billly Gates writes Since Unity has been given a liberal license and free for non commercial developers it has become popular. A computer science student Erik Roystan Ross used the tool to remake SuperMario 64 with a modern Unity 5 engine. There is a video here and if you want to play the link is here. You will need Firefox or Chrome which has HTML 5 for gamepad support if you do not want to use the keyboard. "I currently do not have any plans to develop this any further or to resolve any bugs, unless they're horrendously game-breaking and horrendously simple to fix," says Ross.
Twitter

SeaWorld and Others Discover That a Hashtag Can Become a Bashtag 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-hit-with-your-own-stick dept.
HughPickens.com writes Alison Griswold writes that in an effort to improve its tanking image, SeaWorld launched a new advertising campaign this week to educate the public about its "leadership in the care of killer whales" and other work to protect whales in captivity and in the wild. As part of that head-on initiative, someone at SeaWorld decided to invite Twitter users to pose their questions to the company directly using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. That was not a good idea as twitter users bashed Sea World relentlessly.. "As easy as it is to make fun of SeaWorld here, the real question is why any company still thinks hosting an open Twitter forum could be good for public relations," writes Griswold. "So maybe SeaWorld's social and PR folks just really have no idea what they're doing. Even so, you'd think they'd have learned from the corporate failures before them."

Let's review some of the times this has backfired, starting with the infamous McDonald's #McDStories Twitter campaign of January 2012. Rather than prompting customers to share their heart-warming McDonald's anecdotes, the hashtag gave critics a highly visible forum to share their top McDonald's horror stories. MacDonalds pulled the campaign within two hours but they discovered that crowd-sourced campaigns are hard to control. Three years later the #McDStories hashtag is still gathering comments. "Twitter Q&As are a terrible idea.," concludes Griswold. "A well-meaning hashtag gives critics an easy way to assemble and voice their complaints in a public forum. Why companies still try them is a great mystery. Maybe they'll all finally learn from SeaWorld and give this one horrible PR trick up for good."
Robotics

Festo Reveals New Robotic Ants and Butterflies 19

Posted by samzenpus
from the metal-swarm dept.
mikejuk writes "Every year around this time of year Festo builds some amazing robot or other — last year it was a kangaroo. What could it possibly do to top previous amazing devices? What about some even more amazing robotic insects. BionicANT is designed not only look good but to demonstrate swarm intelligence. The robot not only looks like an ant, but it works like one. The design makes use of piezo bending transducers rather than servos to move. As well as being able to move its six legs, it also has a piezo-activated pair of pincers. The second insect robot is a butterfly — eMotion. For flying machines these are incredibly lightweight at 32 grams. The bodies are laser sintered and the wings use carbon fiber rods. Two miniature servo motors are attached to the body and each wing. The electronics has a microcontroller, an inertial sensor consisting of gyro, accelerometer and compass and two radio modules. Flying time is around 3 or 4 minutes."