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The Joker Behind the Signetics 25120 Write-Only Memory Chip Hoax

slashdot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 10:11
New submitter st1lett0 writes: Now and in years past, electronic engineers and hobbyists alike have enjoyed the classic 1972 April Fool's joke by Signetics of the Signetics 25120 Write-Only Memory chip. Now it seems that the previously anonymous practical joker has identified himself and stepped forward with new information to correct and complete the story.

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Webcast Funerals Growing More Popular

slashdot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 07:08
HughPickens.com writes: Lex Berko reports in The Atlantic that although webcasting has been around since the mid-1990s, livestreamed funerals have only begun to go mainstream in the last few years. The National Funeral Directors Association has only this year introduced a new funeral webcasting license that permits funeral homes to legally webcast funerals that include copyrighted music. The webcast service's growing appeal is, by all accounts, a result of the increasing mobility of modern society. Remote participation is often the only option for those who live far away or have other barriers — financial, temporal, health-related — barring them from attending a funeral. "It's not designed to replace folks attending funerals," says Walker Posey. "A lot of folks just don't live where their family grew up and it's difficult to get back and forth." But some funeral directors question if online funerals are helpful to the grieving process and eschew streaming funerals live because they do not want to replace a communal human experience with a solitary digital one. What happens if there's a technical problem with the webcast — will we grieve even more knowing we missed the service in person and online? Does webcasting bode well for the future of death acceptance, or does it only promote of our further alienation from that inevitable moment? "The physical dead body is proof of death, tangible evidence that the person we love is gone, and that we will someday be gone as well," says Caitlin Doughty, a death theorist and mortician. "To have death and mourning transferred online takes away that tangible proof. What is there to show us that death is real?"

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BT To Buy UK 4G Leader EE For £12.5 Billion

slashdot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 05:00
DW100 writes: The UK mobile market looks set for a radical shake-up after BT confirmed it is now in final stage discussions to buy EE for £12.5bn. The move will see the telecom giant return to the mobile market for the first time in over a decade and make the company the leader in both fixed and mobile markets. Whether or not telecom regulator Ofcom will agree to such a deal, though, remains to be seen.

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Mysterious Martian Gouges Carved By Sand-surfing Dry Ice

slashdot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 04:01
sciencehabit writes: After the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began beaming back close-up images of the Red Planet, researchers spotted peculiar features along the slopes of dunes: long, sharply defined grooves that seem to appear and disappear seasonally. They look like trails left behind by tumbling boulders, but rocks never appear in the sunken pits at the trail ends. Researchers initially took these gullies as signs of flowing liquid water, but a new model suggests they're the result of sand-surfing dry ice that breaks off from the crests of dunes and skids down slopes. This is no ordinary tumble — according to the model, the bases of the chunks are continually sublimating, resulting in a hovercraftlike motion that gouges the dune while propelling the ice down slopes.

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Telepresence Store Staffed Remotely Using Robots

slashdot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 03:04
Molly McHugh writes: What better way to sell telepresence technologies than having the store employees themselves appear via robot? At the Beam store in Palo Alto, Calif., no human salespeople physically appear, only robots. Users appear on the 17-inch display and control the robot via keyboard, mouse, or Xbox controller. Beam can roll as fast as two miles per hour. People behind the screen control the Beam through their computers, and two wide-angle cameras attached to the top of the bot lets them see everything happening around the store. It’s a bit eerie, watching floating heads tool around and talk to people in this video, and the customers’ react to the Beam with confusion and wonder.

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Graphene: Fast, Strong, Cheap, and Impossible To Use

slashdot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 01:10
An anonymous reader writes: We keep hearing about the revolutionary properties of graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon whose physical characteristics hold a great deal of promise — if we can figure out good ways to produce it and use it. The New Yorker has a lengthy profile of graphene and its discoverer, Andre Geim, as well as one of the physicists leading a big chunk of the bleeding-edge graphene research, James Tour. Quoting: "[S]cientists are still trying to devise a cost-effective way to produce graphene at scale. Companies like Samsung use a method pioneered at the University of Texas, in which they heat copper foil to eighteen hundred degrees Fahrenheit in a low vacuum, and introduce methane gas, which causes graphene to "grow" as an atom-thick sheet on both sides of the copper—much as frost crystals "grow" on a windowpane. They then use acids to etch away the copper. The resulting graphene is invisible to the naked eye and too fragile to touch with anything but instruments designed for microelectronics. The process is slow, exacting, and too expensive for all but the largest companies to afford. ... Nearly every scientist I spoke with suggested that graphene lends itself especially well to hype."

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Snowden Leaks Prompt Internet Users Worldwide To Protect Their Data

slashdot - Tue, 12/16/2014 - 00:28
Lucas123 writes: A new international survey of internet users from 24 countries has found that more than 39% of them have taken steps to protect their data since Edward Snowden leaked the NSA's spying practices. The survey, conducted by the Center for International Governance Innovation, found that 43% of Internet users now avoid certain websites and applications and 39% change their passwords regularly. Security expert Bruce Schneier chastised the media for trying to downplay the numbers by saying "only" 39%" have taken action and "only 60%" have heard of Snowden. The news articles, "are completely misunderstanding the data," Schneier said, pointing out that by combining data on Internet penetration with data from the international survey, it works out to 706 million people who are now taking steps to protect their online data. Additionally, two-thirds (64%) of users indicated they are more concerned today about online privacy than they were a year ago. Another notable finding: 83% of users believe that affordable access to the Internet should be a basic human right.

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Want To Influence the World? Map Reveals the Best Languages To Speak

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 23:47
sciencehabit writes: Speak or write in English, and the world will hear you. Speak or write in Tamil or Portuguese, and you may have a harder time getting your message out. Now, a new method for mapping how information flows around the globe (abstract) identifies the best languages to spread your ideas far and wide. One hint: If you're considering a second language, try Spanish instead of Chinese.

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Jaguar and Land Rover Just Created Transparent Pillars For Cars

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 23:05
cartechboy writes We've all been there, driving down a city street and we miss that pedestrian or bicycle because they are in our blind spot. Not the blind spot behind us, but covered up by the A-pillar on your vehicle. This is a growing concern as pillars and cars in general bulk up to meet new, ever stricter safety standards. Now Jaguar and Land Rover might have come up with a solution that eliminates the risk: transparent pillars. Imagine having zero blinds spots as you pull up to that intersection. No concerns about not seeing something or someone that's hidden by that large A-pillar. The technology is called 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen and it provides a 360-degree view out of the vehicle. How does it work? Essentially, a screen embedded in the surface of each pillar inside the car relays a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car. To avoid overloading the driver the screens are off in default mode, and are only activated automatically when the driver uses a turn signal or checks over their head to switch lanes. While there's zero mention of when this tech will go into production, it's clear, this is the future and it's crazy.

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The Pirate Bay Responds To Raid

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 22:18
An anonymous reader writes The Pirate Bay's crew have remained awfully quiet on the recent raid in public, but today Mr 10100100000 breaks the silence in order to get a message out to the world. In a nutshell, he says that they couldn't care less, are going to remain on hiatus, and a comeback is possible. In recent days mirrors of The Pirate Bay appeared online and many of these have now started to add new content as well. According to TPB this is a positive development, but people should be wary of scams. Mr 10100100000 says that they would open source the engine of the site, if the code "wouldn't be so s****y". In any case, they recommend people keeping the Kopimi spirit alive, as TPB is much more than some hardware stored in a dusty datacenter.

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The Personal Computer Revolution Behind the Iron Curtain

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 21:34
szczys writes Obviously the personal computer revolution was world-wide, but the Eastern Bloc countries had a story of PC evolution all their own. Martin Malý tells first hand of his experiences seeing black market imports, locally built clones of popular western machines, and all kinds of home-built equipment. From the article: "The biggest problem was a lack of modern technologies. There were a lot of skilled and clever people in eastern countries, but they had a lot of problems with the elementary technical things. Manufacturing of electronics parts was divided into diverse countries of Comecon – The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. In reality, it led to an absurd situation: You could buy the eastern copy of Z80 (made in Eastern Germany as U880D), but you couldn’t buy 74LS00 at the same time. Yes, a lot of manufacturers made it, but 'it is out of stock now; try to ask next year.' So 'make a computer' meant 50 percent of electronics skills and 50 percent of unofficial social network and knowledge like 'I know a guy who knows a guy and his neighbor works in a factory, where they maybe have a material for PCBs' at those times."

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Linking Drought and Climate Change: Difficult To Do

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 20:49
Geoffrey.landis writes An article about the current California drought on 538 points out that even though global climate warming may exacerbate droughts, it's nearly impossible to attribute any particular drought to climate warming: "The complex, dynamic nature of our atmosphere and oceans makes it extremely difficult to link any particular weather event to climate change. That's because of the intermingling of natural variations with human-caused ones." They also cite a Nature editorial pointing out the same thing about extreme weather.

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Sony Demands Press Destroy Leaked Documents

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 20:07
SydShamino writes In an effort that may run afoul of the first amendment, Sony, through their lawyer David Boies (of SCO infamy), has sent a letter to major news organizations demanding that they refrain from downloading any leaked documents, and destroy those already possessed. Sony threatens legal action to news organizations that do not comply, saying that "Sony Pictures Entertainment will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you."

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Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 19:22
KindMind writes According to AP, Waze has caused trouble for LA residents by redirecting traffic from Interstate 405 to neighborhood side streets paralleling the interstate. From the article: "When the people whose houses hug the narrow warren of streets paralleling the busiest urban freeway in America began to see bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling by their homes a year or so ago, they were baffled. When word spread that the explosively popular new smartphone app Waze was sending many of those cars through their neighborhood in a quest to shave five minutes off a daily rush-hour commute, they were angry and ready to fight back. They would outsmart the app, some said, by using it to report phony car crashes and traffic jams on their streets that would keep the shortcut-seekers away. Months later, the cars are still there, and the people are still mad."

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Amazon UK Glitch Sells Thousands of Products For a Penny

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 18:59
An anonymous reader writes For about an hour on Friday a few lucky Amazon UK shoppers were able to take advantage of a price glitch which discounted thousands of marketplace products to the price of 1p. An Amazon spokesman said: "We are aware that a number of Marketplace sellers listed incorrect prices for a short period of time as a result of the third party software they use to price their items on Amazon.co.uk. We responded quickly and were able to cancel the vast majority of orders placed on these affected items immediately and no costs or fees will be incurred by sellers for these cancelled orders. We are now reviewing the small number of orders that were processed and will be reaching out to any affected sellers directly."

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Interviews: Ask Jonty Hurwitz About Art and Engineering

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 18:39
samzenpus (5) writes "Jonty Hurwitz is an artist with a degree in engineering who says each one of his pieces is "a study on the physics of how we perceive space and is the stroke of over 1 billion calculations and algorithms." Recently, his nano sculpture project drew a lot of attention. With help from the Weizmann Institute of Science and using a 3D printing technique by the Institute of Microstructure Technology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Hurwitz created a number of sculptures that were so small they could fit in the eye of a needle, or on a human hair. Jonty has agreed to answer any questions you have big or very small. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post."

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The GPLv2 Goes To Court

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 17:56
Jason Baker writes Despite its importance, the GPLv2 has been the subject of very few court decisions, and virtually all of the most important terms of the GPLv2 have not been interpreted by courts. This lack of court decisions is about to change due to the five interrelated cases arising from a dispute between Versata Software, Inc. and Ameriprise Financial, Inc.. These cases are dealing with four important terms in the GPLv2: 1) What are the remedies for breach of the terms of the GPLv2? 2) What is a "distribution" under the GPLv2 that triggers the obligations under the GPLv2? 3) Does the GPLv2 include a patent license? 4) What type of integration between proprietary code and GPLv2 licensed code will result in creating a "derivative work" and subject such proprietary code to the terms of the GPLv2?

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Apple and Samsung Already Working On A9 Processor

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 17:13
itwbennett writes According to a report in Korean IT Times, Samsung Electronics has begun production of the A9 processor, the next generation ARM-based CPU for iPhone and iPad. Korea IT Times says Samsung has production lines capable of FinFET process production (a cutting-edge design for semiconductors that many other manufacturers, including AMD, IBM and TSMC, are adopting) in Austin, Texas and Giheung, Korea, but production is only taking place in Austin. Samsung invested $3.9 billion in that plant specifically to make chips for Apple. So now Apple can say its CPU is "Made in America."

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Govt Docs Reveal Canadian Telcos Promise Surveillance Ready Networks

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 16:30
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Geist reports that Canadian telecom and Internet providers have tried to convince the government that they will voluntarily build surveillance capabilities into their networks. Hoping to avoid legislative requirements, the providers argue that "the telecommunications market will soon shift to a point where interception capability will simply become a standard component of available equipment, and that technical changes in the way communications actually travel on communications networks will make it even easier to intercept communications."

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How Birds Lost Their Teeth

slashdot - Mon, 12/15/2014 - 16:08
An anonymous reader writes A research team from the University of California, Riverside and Montclair State University, New Jersey, have found that the lack of teeth in all living birds can be traced back to a common ancestor who lived about 116 million years ago. From the article: "To solve this puzzle, the researchers used a recently created genome database that catalogues the genetic history of nearly all living bird orders--48 species in total. They were looking for two specific types of genes: one responsible for dentin, the substance that (mostly) makes up teeth, and another for the enamel that protects them. Upon finding these genes, researchers then located the mutations that deactivate them, and combed the fossil record to figure out when those mutations developed. They concluded that the loss of teeth and the development of the beak was a two-stage process, though the steps basically happened simultaneously. The paper states: 'In the first stage, tooth loss and partial beak development began on the anterior portion of both the upper and lower jaws. The second stage involved concurrent progression of tooth loss and beak development from the anterior portion of both jaws to the back of the rostrum.'"

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