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Slashdot  
Sun, 01 Feb 2015 17:45:28 GMT
News for nerds, stuff that matters

Slashdot


Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 17:40:00 GMT2015-02-01T17:40:00Z
DillyTonto writes The "state of the art" in big-data (text) analysis turns out to use a method of categorizing words and documents that, when tested, offered different results for the same data 20% of the time and was flat wrong another 10%, according to researchers at Northwestern. The Researchers offered a more accurate method, but only as an example of how to use community detection algorithms to improve on the leading method (LDA). Meanwhile, a certain percentage of answers from all those big data installations will continue to be flat wrong until they're re-run, which will make them wrong in a different way.

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Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 16:36:00 GMT2015-02-01T16:36:00Z
mrspoonsi writes with news about a new proposed tax on overseas profits to help pay for a $478 billion public works program of highway, bridge and transit upgrades. President Barack Obama's fiscal 2016 budget would impose a one-time 14 percent tax on some $2 trillion of untaxed foreign earnings accumulated by U.S. companies abroad and use that to fund infrastructure projects, a White House official said. The money also would be used to fill a projected shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund. "This transition tax would mean that companies have to pay U.S. tax right now on the $2 trillion they already have overseas, rather than being able to delay paying any U.S. tax indefinitely," the official said. "Unlike a voluntary repatriation holiday, which the president opposes and which would lose revenue, the president's proposed transition tax is a one-time, mandatory tax on previously untaxed foreign earnings, regardless of whether the earnings are repatriated." In the future, the budget proposes that U.S. companies pay a 19 percent tax on all of their foreign earnings as they are earned, while a tax credit would be issued for foreign taxes paid, the official said.

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Ask Slashdot: Is There a Modern IP Webcam That Lets the User Control the Output? - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 15:32:00 GMT2015-02-01T15:32:00Z
First time accepted submitter Tronster writes Owners of a local shop have a menu that changes daily and wanted an IP webcam to update an image on their web-site. After a frustrating 2 hours of a "Hikvision" refusing to behave, I threw in the towel and looked for a better camera to recommend. The biggest issue today is that the new webcams that come out don't support FTP, they all support sending images/video direct to a "private cloud" (e.g., Simplicam, Dropcam, etc...). Google has been no help; all the sites are either outdated in terms of ranking or the most recent ones recommend a Foscam. They previously tried one of these and it's image quality was too poor. While security systems and home automation has been discussed recently, I haven't found any recent discussions on webcams that give a user control of where the content is sent. Does anyone in the Slashdot community have recommendations, reputable sites that are up-to-date in rankings, and/or hacks to have control over some of these newer cameras?

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Lab Samples Database "JuliaBase" Published As Open Source - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 14:50:00 GMT2015-02-01T14:50:00Z
First time accepted submitter bronger writes After six years of closed-source development, the Research Centre Jülich published its database solution for laboratory samples and processes as open source, while continuing maintaining it. JuliaBase is a framework written in Python/Django that enables research institution or research group to set up browser-based samples tracking and measurement management easily. Next to Bika and LabLey, this is one of the very few open source LIMS systems, and in contrast to the others, not specialized in biomedicine or service labs.

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NASA Launches Satellite To Observe Soil Moisture - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 14:27:00 GMT2015-02-01T14:27:00Z
An anonymous reader sends word that NASA has launched an Earth-observing satellite, which will measure the amount of moisture in soil. "In one of the space agency's bolder projects, a newly launched NASA satellite will monitor western drought and study the moisture, frozen and liquid in Earth's soil. It's true that a satellite can't possibly fix the devastating drought that has been plaguing the American West for the last years. It is also true that it can't possibly change the fact that California has just gone through the driest month in recorded history. But what NASA plans to do is to provide the possibility of understanding the patterns of this extreme weather and, perhaps, foresee how much worse it could actually become. Called the SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive Satellite), this new, unmanned project was successfully launched on Saturday atop the United Launch Alliance Delta II Rocket. The launch took place at the California Vandenberg Air Force base at exactly 9:22 AM EST. With the successful launch, NASA just kick started a three year, $916 million mission focused on measuring and forecasting droughts, floods and other possible natural disasters that might come our way in the future."

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The NFL Wants You To Think These Things Are Illegal - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:25:00 GMT2015-02-01T13:25:00Z
An anonymous reader writes: Professional sports have become a minefield of copyright and trademark issues, and no event moreso than the Super Bowl. Sherwin Siy of Public Knowledge has an article debunking some of the things the NFL has convinced people they can't do, even through they're perfectly legal. For example, you've probably heard the warning about how "descriptions" and "accounts" of the game are prohibited without the NFL's consent. That's all hogwash: "The NFL would be laughed out of court for trying to prevent them from doing so—just because you have a copyright in a work doesn't mean you can prevent people from talking about it. Copyright simply doesn't extend that far." Recording the game and watching it later is just fine, too. So, will you be paying attention to the game today? Ignoring it? Practicing your cultivated disinterest?

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Police Stations Increasingly Offer Safe Haven For Craigslist Transactions - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 10:14:00 GMT2015-02-01T10:14:00Z
HughPickens.com writes: Lily Hay Newman reports at Future Tense that the police department in Columbia, Missouri recently announced its lobby will be open 24/7 for people making Craigslist transactions or any type of exchange facilitated by Internet services. This follows a trend begun by police stations in Virginia Beach, East Chicago and Boca Raton. Internet listings like Craigslist are, of course, a quick and convenient way to buy, sell, barter, and generally deal with junk. But tales of Craigslist-related assaults, robberies, and murders where victims are lured to locations with the promise of a sale, aren't uncommon. Also, an item being sold could be broken or fake, and the money being used to buy it could be counterfeit. "Transactions should not be conducted in secluded parking lots, behind a building, in a dark location especially when you're dealing with strangers. Someone you've never met before – you have no idea what their intentions are – whether they have evil intent or the best of intentions," says Officer James Cason Jr. With surveillance cameras running 24 hours a day, plus the obvious bonus of a constant police presence, meeting in the lobby of the police department can help weed out people trying to rip others off. "People with stolen items may not want to meet at the police department," says Bryana Maupin.

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OpenSSH Will Feature Key Discovery and Rotation For Easier Switching To Ed25519 - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 07:10:00 GMT2015-02-01T07:10:00Z
ConstantineM writes: OpenSSH developer Damien Miller has posted about a new feature he implemented and committed for the next upcoming 6.8 release of OpenSSH — hostkeys@openssh.com — an OpenSSH extension to the SSH protocol for sshd to automatically send all of its public keys to the client, and for the client to automatically replace all keys of such server within ~/.ssh/known_hosts with the fresh copies as supplied (provided the server is trusted in the first place, of course). The protocol extension is simple enough, and is aimed to make it easier to switch over from DSA to the OpenSSL-free Ed25519 public keys. It is also designed in such a way as to support the concept of spare host keys being stored offline, which could then seamlessly replace main active keys should they ever become compromised.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.










Physicists Make a Mobius Strip From Beams of Light - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 04:03:00 GMT2015-02-01T04:03:00Z
rossgneumann writes: A group of physicists has successfully manipulated beams of laser light into an optical mobius strip (abstract). The shape, a classic mindbender all but nonexistent in nature, has never before been seen in such an immaterial form.

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The Pirate Bay Is Back Online, Properly - Sun, 01 Feb 2015 01:01:00 GMT2015-02-01T01:01:00Z
New submitter cbiltcliffe writes: About a month ago, we discussed news that the Pirate Bay domain name was back online. This story mentioned a timer, which supposedly showed the time since the police raid. I didn't notice at the time, but a more recent check showed this counter was counting down, not up, with a time set to reach zero at the end of January. Sometime around a week ago, the waving pirate flag video changed to a graphic of an orange phoenix, and a disabled search box showed up. I've been watching the site since, and now, about 12 hours before the timer was to reach zero, the site is back up, complete with searches.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.










NASA Looking At Nuclear Thermal Rockets To Explore the Solar System - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 23:59:00 GMT2015-01-31T23:59:00Z
MarkWhittington writes: Officially, NASA has been charged with sending astronauts to Mars sometime in the 2030s. Toward that end, according to a story in Universe Today, space agency engineers at the Marshall Space Flight Center are looking at an old concept for interplanetary travel, nuclear thermal engines. "...according to the report (cached), an NTP rocket could generate 200 kWt of power using a single kilogram of uranium for a period of 13 years – which works out of to a fuel efficiency rating of about 45 grams per 1000 MW-hr. In addition, a nuclear-powered engine could also provide superior thrust relative to the amount of propellant used." However, some doubts have been expressed whether NASA will be granted the budget to develop such engines.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.










Inkscape Version 0.91 Released - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 22:55:00 GMT2015-01-31T22:55:00Z
Bryce writes: Four years since the last major Inkscape release, now news is out about version 0.91 of this powerful vector drawing and painting tool. The main reason for the multi-year delay is that they've switched from their old custom rendering engine to using Cairo now, improving their support for open source standards. This release also adds symbol libraries and support for Visio stencils, cross platform WMF and EMF import and export, a native Windows 64-bit build, scads of bug fixes, and much more. Check out the full release notes for more information about what has changed, or just jump right to downloading your package for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.










Can Students Have Too Much Tech? - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 21:51:00 GMT2015-01-31T21:51:00Z
theodp writes: In a NY Times Op Ed, developmental psychologist Susan Pinker goes against the conventional White House wisdom about the importance of Internet connectivity for schoolchildren and instead argues that students can have too much tech. "More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea," Pinker writes. "But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it." Tech can help the progress of children, Pinker acknowledges, but proper use is the rub. As a cautionary tale, Pinker cites a study by Duke economists that tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. The news was not good. "Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores," the economists wrote, adding that license to surf the Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.










GeForce GTX 980 and 970 Cards From MSI, EVGA, and Zotac Reviewed - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 20:51:00 GMT2015-01-31T20:51:00Z
MojoKid writes: In all of its iterations, NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture has proven to be a good performing, power-efficient GPU thus far. At the high-end of the product stack is where some of the most interesting products reside, however. When NVIDIA launches a new high-end GPU, cards based on the company's reference design trickle out first, and then board partners follow up with custom solutions packing unique cooling hardware, higher clocks, and sometimes additional features. With the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980, NVIDIA's board partners were ready with custom solutions very quickly. These three custom GeForce cards, from enthusiast favorites EVGA, MSI, and Zotac represent optimization at the high-end of Maxwell. Two of the cards are GTX 980s: the MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G and the Zotac GeForce GTX 980 AMP! Omgea, the third is a GTX 970 from EVGA, their GeForce GTX 970 FTW with ACX 2.0. Besides their crazy long names, all of these cards are custom solutions, that ship overclocked from the manufacturer. In testing, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 was the fastest, single-GPU available. The custom, factory overclocked MSI and Zotac cards cemented that fact. Overall, thanks to a higher default GPU-clock, the MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G was the best performing card. EVGA's GeForce GTX 970 FTW was also relatively strong, despite its alleged memory bug. Although, as expected, it couldn't quite catch the higher-end GeForce GTX 980s, but occasionally outpaced the AMD's top-end Radeon R9 290X.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.










Dell Continues Shipping Fresh Linux Laptops - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 19:48:00 GMT2015-01-31T19:48:00Z
jones_supa writes: In its latest move, Dell will be bringing Ubuntu 14.04 LTS to its top-of-the-line Precision M3800 workstation laptop and the latest model of the Dell XPS 13. Both systems will be running Ubuntu 14.04.1. According to Barton George, Dell's Director of Developer Programs, programmers had been asking for a better, officially-supported Ubuntu developer laptop. This came about from a combination of the efforts of Dell software engineer Jared Dominguez and enthusiastic feedback. Specs of M3800: 15.6" LCD @ 3840x2160, Intel i7 quad core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro GPU, up to 16 GB RAM. The bad news is, as Dominguez explained on his blog, this version of the M3800 doesn't support its built-in Thunderbolt 2 port out of the box. However, thanks to the hardware-enablement stack in Ubuntu, starting with upcoming Ubuntu 14.04.2, you will be able to upgrade your kernel to add some Thunderbolt support.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.










Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 18:41:00 GMT2015-01-31T18:41:00Z
An anonymous reader writes: According to customer bills and screenshots submitted to and reported by blogger Chris Elliot at BoardingArea, Comcast employees have repeatedly changed the names of customers to insults like "dummy," "w***e," "a*****e," and "b***h." Elliott notes although reasons and consequences for this behavior are unknown, "one thing is clear: At least one person, and maybe more than one person, really doesn't like Comcast's customers. Enough to put it in writing. Repeatedly." Comcast has apologized and is looking at ways to prevent it from happening in the future.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.










UK Sets Up Internet-Savvy Army Unit - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:38:00 GMT2015-01-31T17:38:00Z
An anonymous reader sends word that the UK Army is establishing a dedicated unit for fighting wars in the information age. The 77th Brigade will specialize in non-lethal, psychological operations that involve the internet and social media. The army says it's learned through its operations in Afghanistan that there are fights to be won not just on the battlefield, but online as well. "In some senses it's defensive - trying to present the case from this side against opponents who hold many of the cards. We've seen with Islamic State, its incredible capability on the net, Facebook, Instagram and all the rest." The new unit will "try to influence local populations and change behavior through what the Army calls traditional and unconventional means." The army also stressed that they're looking for ways that citizens with the right skills could work alongside the 77th Brigade.

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The NSA Is Viewed Favorably By Most Young People - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 16:35:00 GMT2015-01-31T16:35:00Z
cstacy writes: A poll by the Pew Research Center suggests that Snowden's revelations have not much changed the public's favorable view of the NSA. Younger people (under 30) tend to view the NSA favorably, compared to those 65 and older. 61% of people aged 18-29 viewed the NSA favorably, while 30% viewed the NSA unfavorably and 9% had no opinion. 55% of people aged 30-49 viewed the NSA favorably. At the 65+ age bracket, only 40% of people viewed the NSA favorably.

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ESA: No Conclusive Evidence of Big Bang Gravitational Waves - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 15:30:00 GMT2015-01-31T15:30:00Z
hypnosec writes: The European Space Agency has made a joint analysis of data gathered by the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments and its own Planck satellite to try to verify previous reports of BICEP2's primordial gravitational wave detection. However, the ESA was unable to find evidence of primordial gravitational waves, and they think the earlier report was simply based on an outdated model that didn't take interstellar dust into account. "The Milky Way is pervaded by a mixture of gas and dust shining at similar frequencies to those of the CMB, and this foreground emission affects the observation of the most ancient cosmic light. Very careful analysis is needed to separate the foreground emission from the cosmic background. Critically, interstellar dust also emits polarized light, thus affecting the CMB polarization as well. ... The BICEP2 team had chosen a field where they believed dust emission would be low, and thus interpreted the signal as likely to be cosmological. However, as soon as Planck’s maps of the polarized emission from Galactic dust were released (PDF), it was clear that this foreground contribution could be much higher than previously expected."

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How Blind Programmers Write Code - Sat, 31 Jan 2015 14:26:00 GMT2015-01-31T14:26:00Z
theodp writes: Yes, folks, there are blind programmers. There's Ed Summers, for one, who lost his vision at age 30 and now ghostblogs for Willie the Seeing Eye Dog. And if you've ever wondered how the blind can code, Florian Beijers, who has been blind since birth, explains that all he needs is a normal Dell Inspiron 15r SE notebook and his trusty open source NVDA screen reader software, and he's good-to-go. "This is really all the adaptation a blind computer user needs," Beijers adds, but he does ask one small favor: "If you're writing the next big application, with a stunning UI and a great workflow, I humbly ask you to consider accessibility as part of the equation. In this day and age, there's really no reason not to use the UI toolkits available."

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