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Who's Afraid of Android Fragmentation?

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 19:55
Nerval's Lobster writes: The dreaded term "fragmentation" has been applied to Android more times than anyone can count over the past half-decade. That's part of the reason why game developers often build for iOS before Android, even though Android offers a bigger potential customer base worldwide, and more types of gaming experiences. Fortunately, new sets of tools allow game developers to build for one platform and port their work (fairly) easily to another. "We've done simultaneously because it is such a simple case of swapping out the textures and also hooking up different APIs for scores and achievements," London-based indie developer Tom Vian told Dice. "I've heard that iOS is a better platform to launch on first, but there's no sense for us in waiting when we can spend half a day and get it up and running." So is fragmentation an overhyped roadblock, or is it a genuine problem for developers who work in mobile?

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FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 19:12
muggs sends word that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted 3-2 to approve an expansion of their ability to regulate ISPs by treating them as a public utility. Under the rules, it will be illegal for companies such as Verizon or Cox Communications to slow down streaming videos, games and other online content traveling over their networks. They also will be prohibited from establishing "fast lanes" that speed up access to Web sites that pay an extra fee. And in an unprecedented move, the FCC could apply the rules to wireless carriers such as T-Mobile and Sprint -- a nod to the rapid rise of smartphones and the mobile Internet. ... The FCC opted to regulate the industry with the most aggressive rules possible: Title II of the Communications Act, which was written to regulate phone companies. The rules waive a number of provisions in the act, including parts of the law that empower the FCC to set retail prices — something Internet providers feared above all. However, the rules gives the FCC a variety of new powers, including the ability to: enforce consumer privacy rules; extract money from Internet providers to help subsidize services for rural Americans, educators and the poor; and make sure services such as Google Fiber can build new broadband pipes more easily.

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Schneier: Everyone Wants You To Have Security, But Not From Them

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 18:30
An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Schneier has written another insightful piece about the how modern tech companies treat security. He points out that most organizations will tell you to secure your data while at the same time asking to be exempt from that security. Google and Facebook want your data to be safe — on their servers so they can analyze it. The government wants you to encrypt your communications — as long as they have the keys. Schneier says, "... we give lots of companies access to our data because it makes our lives easier. ... The reason the Internet is a worldwide mass-market phenomenon is that all the technological details are hidden from view. Someone else is taking care of it. We want strong security, but we also want companies to have access to our computers, smart devices, and data. We want someone else to manage our computers and smart phones, organize our e-mail and photos, and help us move data between our various devices. ... We want our data to be secure, but we want someone to be able to recover it all when we forget our password. We'll never solve these security problems as long as we're our own worst enemy.

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Machine Intelligence and Religion

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 17:48
itwbennett writes: Earlier this month Reverend Dr. Christopher J. Benek raised eyebrows on the Internet by stating his belief that Christians should seek to convert Artificial Intelligences to Christianity if and when they become autonomous. Of course that's assuming that robots are born atheists, not to mention that there's still a vast difference between what it means to be autonomous and what it means to be human. On the other hand, suppose someone did endow a strong AI with emotion – encoded, say, as a strong preference for one type of experience over another, coupled with the option to subordinate reasoning to that preference upon occasion or according to pattern. what ramifications could that have for algorithmic decision making?

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The State of Linux Gaming In the SteamOS Era

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 17:06
An anonymous reader writes: It's been over a year since Valve announced its Linux-based SteamOS, the biggest push yet from a huge company to bring mainstream gaming to Linux. In this article, Ars Technica takes a look at how their efforts are panning out. Game developers say making Linux ports has gotten dramatically easier: "There are great games shipping for Linux from development teams with no Linux expertise. They hit the 'export to Linux' button in the Unity editor and shipped it and it worked out alright. We didn't get flying cars, but the future is turning out OK so far." Hardware drivers are still a problem, getting in the way of potential performance gains due to Linux's overall smaller resource footprint than Windows. And while the platform is growing, it's doing so slowly. Major publishers are still hesitant to devote time to Linux, and Valve is taking their time building for it. Their Steam Machine hardware is still in development, and some of their key features are being adopted by other gaming giants, like Microsoft. Still, Valve is sticking with it, and that's huge. It gives developers faith that they can work on supporting Linux without fear that the industry will re-fragment before their game is done.

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Lizard Squad Claims Attack On Lenovo Days After Superfish

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:23
Amanda Parker writes with news that hacker group Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for a defacement of Lenovo's website. This follows last week's revelations that Lenovo installed Superfish adware on consumer laptops, which included a self-signed certificate authority that could have allowed man-in-the-middle attacks. The hackers seemingly replaced the manufacturer's website with images of an unidentified youth, displayed with a song from the Disney film High School Musical playing in the background. Taking to a new Twitter account that has only been active a matter of days, the Lizards also posted emails alleged to be from Lenovo, leading some to speculate that the mail system had been compromised. While some have seen the attack as retaliation for the Superfish bug, it is also possible that Lizard Squad are jumping on the event merely to promote their own hacking services.

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Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 15:40
HughPickens.com writes: John Schwartz reports at the NY Times that prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are demanding information from universities, companies and trade groups about funding for scientists who publicly dispute widely held views on the causes and risks of climate change. In letters sent to seven universities, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who is the ranking member of the House committee on natural resources, sent detailed requests to the academic employers of scientists who had testified before Congress about climate change. "My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships." Grijalva asked for each university's policies on financial disclosure and the amount and sources of outside funding for each scholar, "communications regarding the funding" and "all drafts" of testimony. Meanwhile Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Barbara Boxer of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. sent 100 letters to fossil fuel companies, trade groups and other organizations asking about their funding of climate research and advocacy asking for responses by April 3. "Corporate special interests shouldn't be able to secretly peddle the best junk science money can buy," said Senator Markey, denouncing what he called "denial-for-hire operations." The letters come after evidence emerged over the weekend that Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, had failed to disclose the industry funding for his academic work. The documents also included correspondence between Dr. Soon and the companies who funded his work in which he referred to his papers and testimony as "deliverables." Soon accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work. "What it shows is the continuation of a long-term campaign by specific fossil-fuel companies and interests to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change," says Kert Davies.

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12-Billion-Solar-Mass Black Hole Discovered

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 14:58
sciencehabit writes: A team of astronomers has discovered what is, in galactic terms, a monstrous baby: a gigantic black hole of 12 billion solar masses in a barely newborn galaxy, just 875 million years after the big bang. It's roughly 3000 times the size of our Milky Way's central black hole. To have grown to such a size in so short a time, it must have been munching matter at close to the maximum physically possible rate for most of its existence. Its large size and rate of consumption also makes it the brightest object in that distant era, and astronomers can use its bright light to study the composition of the early universe: how much of the original hydrogen and helium from the big bang had been forged into heavier elements in the furnaces of stars.

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Drones Cost $28,000 Per Arrest, On Average

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 14:16
mpicpp sends this report from CNN: They are sleek, mostly silent converted weapons of war: Drones used by the Border Patrol to scan the skies in the empty deserts of the Southwest to spot illegal immigrants and then, if things work out, have agents arrest them. That's the idea, and the agents who use them say the drones give them a vantage point they never had before. Flying at 18,000 feet, the drones view the landscape below, lock onto potential suspects crossing the Arizona desert, and agents on the ground move into make the arrests. But it's outrageously expensive: $28,000 for a single arrest.

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Users Decry New Icon Look In Windows 10

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 10:29
jones_supa writes A lot of people got upset about the flat looks of Modern UI presented in Windows 8. Recent builds of Windows 10 Technical Preview have now started replacing the shell icons, and to some people they are just too much to bear. Basically, Microsoft opted to change the icons in search of a fresh and modern look, but there are plenty of people out there who claim that all these new icons are actually very ugly and the company would better stick to the previous design. To find out what people think about these icons, Softpedia asked its readers to tell their opinion and the messages received in the last couple of days pretty much speak for themselves. There are only few testers who think that these icons look good, but the majority wants Microsoft to change them before the final version of the operating system comes out.

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The Believers: Behind the Rise of Neural Nets

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 08:59
An anonymous reader writes Deep learning is dominating the news these days, but it's quite possible the field could have died if not for a mysterious call that Geoff Hinton, now at Google, got one night in the 1980s: "You don't know me, but I know you," the mystery man said. "I work for the System Development Corporation. We want to fund long-range speculative research. We're particularly interested in research that either won't work or, if it does work, won't work for a long time. And I've been reading some of your papers." The Chronicle of Higher Ed has a readable profile of the minds behind neural nets, from Rosenblatt to Hassabis, told primarily through Hinton's career.

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Uber Offers Free Rides To Koreans, Hopes They Won't Report Illegal Drivers

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 07:59
itwbennett writes Uber Technologies is offering free rides on its uberX ride-sharing service in the South Korean capital of Seoul, after city authorities intensified their crackdown on illegal drivers by offering a reward to residents who report Uber drivers to police. South Korean law prohibits unregistered drivers from soliciting passengers using private or rented vehicles and carries a penalty of up to two years in prison or fines of up to 20 million won.

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5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 05:26
bizwriter writes University of Oxford researchers Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne estimated in 2013 that 47 percent of total U.S. jobs could be automated and taken over by computers by 2033. That now includes occupations once thought safe from automation, AI, and robotics. Such positions as journalists, lawyers, doctors, marketers, and financial analysts are already being invaded by our robot overlords. From the article: "Some experts say not to worry because technology has always created new jobs while eliminating old ones ones, displacing but not replacing workers. But lately, as technology has become more sophisticated, the drumbeat of worry has intensified. 'What’s different now?' asked Leigh Watson Healy, chief analyst at market research firm Outsell. 'The pace of technology advancements plus the big data phenomenon lead to a whole new level of machines to perform higher level cognitive tasks.' Translated: the old formula of creating more demanding jobs that need advanced training may no longer hold true. The number of people needed to oversee the machines, and to create them, is limited. Where do the many whose occupations have become obsolete go?"

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Reddit Imposes Ban On Sexual Content Posted Without Permission

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 03:03
Mark Wilson writes If you want to post naked pictures or videos of people on Reddit without their consent, you only have a couple of weeks to do so. As of March, the site is imposing a ban on content of an explicit nature that the subject has not given permission to be posted. The cleanup of the site comes hot on the heels of news from Google that explicit content will be banned from Blogger. It also comes in the wake of last year's Fappening which saw a glut of naked celebrity photos leaked online.

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Argonne National Laboratory Shuts Down Online Ask a Scientist Program

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 01:10
itamblyn writes In a surprising decision, Argonne National Laboratory has decided to pull the plug on its long-standing NEWTON Ask A Scientist Program. NEWTON is (soon to be was) an on online repository of science questions submitted by school children from around the world. A volunteer group of scientists contributed grade-level appropriate answers to these questions. For the past 25 years, a wide range of topics ranging have been covered, including the classic "why is the sky blue" to "is there way to break down the components of plastics completely into their original form". Over the years, over 20,000 questions have been answered. According to ANL, the website will be shut down permanently on 1 March. There is no plan to make the content available in an alternate form or to hand over stewardship to another organization. When contacted about transferring the repository to another institution or moving to a donation model, the response from ANL was simply: "Thank you again for all your support for Newton. Unfortunately, moving Newton to another organization is not a possibility at this time. Thank you again for your energy and support."

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Ceres' Mystery Bright Dots May Have Volcanic Origin

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 00:28
astroengine writes As NASA's Dawn mission slowly spirals in on its dwarf planet target, Ceres' alien landscape is becoming sharper by the day. And, at a distance of only 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers), the robotic spacecraft has revealed multiple bright patches on the surface, but one of the brightest spots has revealed a dimmer bright patch right next door. "Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin," said Chris Russell, of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and principal investigator for the Dawn mission. "This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations."

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Developers Disclose Schematics For 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver

slashdot - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 00:06
Bruce Perens writes Chris Testa KD2BMH and I have been working for years on a software-defined transceiver that would be FCC-legal and could communicate using essentially any mode and protocol up to 1 MHz wide on frequencies between 50 and 1000 MHz. It's been discussed here before, most recently when Chris taught gate-array programming in Python. We are about to submit the third generation of the design for PCB fabrication, and hope that this version will be salable as a "developer board" and later as a packaged walkie-talkie, mobile, and base station. This radio is unique in that it uses your smartphone for the GUI, uses apps to provide communication modes, contains an on-board FLASH-based gate-array and a ucLinux system. We intend to go for FSF "Respects Your Freedom" certification for the device. My slide show contains 20 pages of schematics and is full of ham jargon ("HT" means "handi-talkie", an old Motorola product name and the hams word for "walkie talkie") but many non-hams should be able to parse it with some help from search engines. Bruce Perens K6BP

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3 Million Strong RAMNIT Botnet Taken Down

slashdot - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 23:45
An anonymous reader writes The National Crime Agency's National Cyber Crime Unit worked with law enforcement colleagues in the Netherlands, Italy and Germany, co-ordinated through Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, to shut down command and control servers used by the RAMNIT botnet. Investigators believe that RAMNIT may have infected over three million computers worldwide, with around 33,000 of those being in the UK. It has so far largely been used to attempt to take money from bank accounts.

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US Govt and Private Sector Developing "Precrime" System Against Cyber-Attacks

slashdot - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 23:05
An anonymous reader writes A division of the U.S. government's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) unit, is inviting proposals from cybersecurity professionals and academics with a five-year view to creating a computer system capable of anticipating cyber-terrorist acts, based on publicly-available Big Data analysis. IBM is tentatively involved in the project, named CAUSE (Cyber-attack Automated Unconventional Sensor Environment), but many of its technologies are already part of the offerings from other interested organizations. Participants will not have access to NSA-intercepted data, but most of the bidding companies are already involved in analyses of public sources such as data on social networks. One company, Battelle, has included the offer to develop a technique for de-anonymizing BItcoin transactions (pdf) as part of CAUSE's security-gathering activities.

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Artificial Intelligence Bests Humans At Classic Arcade Games

slashdot - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 22:23
sciencehabit writes The dream of an artificially intelligent computer that can study a problem and gain expertise all on its own is now reality. A system debuted today by a team of Google researchers is not clever enough to perform surgery or drive a car safely, but it did master several dozen classic arcade games, including Space Invaders and Breakout. In many cases, it surpassed the best human players without ever observing how they play.

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