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The Media

NY Times: "All the News That Mark Zuckerberg Sees Fit To Print"? 79

Posted by timothy
from the who-do-you-trust-and-why dept.
theodp writes Two years ago, Politico caught Mark Zuckerberg's soon-to-be launched FWD.us PAC boasting how its wealthy tech exec backers would use their companies to 'control the avenues of distribution' for a political message in support of their efforts. Now, the NY Times is reporting that Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook, citing a source who said the Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal. Facebook declined to comment on specific discussions with publishers, but noted it had provided features to help publishers get better traction on Facebook, including tools unveiled in December that let them target their articles to specific groups of Facebook users. The new plan, notes the Times, is championed by Chris Cox, the top lieutenant to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and a "major supporter" of FWD.us. Exploring Facebook's wooing of the media giants, the Christian Science Monitor asks if social media will control the future of news, citing concerns expressed by Fusion's Felix Salmon, who warns that as news sites sacrifice their brands to reach a wider audience, their incentives for accuracy and editorial judgment will disappear.
Books

Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices 176

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
Japan

No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1 234

Posted by timothy
from the oh-this-old-thing? dept.
An anonymous reader writes To nobody's surprise, the Japanese press reports that a new way to look at the inside of one of the Fukushima 1 damaged reactors has shown the fuel is not in place. Engineers have not been able to develop a machine to directly see the exact location of the molten fuel, hampered by extremely high levels of radiation in and around the reactors, but a new scan technique using muons (details on the method in the media are missing) have shown the fuel is not in its place. While Tepco's speculation is that the fuel may be at the bottom of the reactor, it is a safe bet that at least some of it has burned through and has gone on to create an Uruguay syndrom.
Media

Ask Slashdot: Building a Home Media Center/Small Server In a Crawlspace? 252

Posted by timothy
from the make-sure-you-can-retrieve-it-later dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've decided it's time for me to build a separate machine specifically for use as a Media Center/Small Home Server. My wife and I haven't had cable TV in years, instead relying entirely on Netflix, other streaming sites, and hard copies we've bought over the years. Having just finished ripping our entire media collection (CDs, DVDs, and even our vinyls and VHS with the help of a capture card and some sweet digital voodoo) to a couple HDDs, I'm feeling froggy. Up until now we've been using WDTV Live, and it's been pretty snazzy, but I want to upgrade to a dedicated media machine instead of piggybacking off of my office computer. It'll be a Windows based machine utilizing Plex, and it's going in the crawlspace of the house. The crawlspace in question is unfinished, but I do have a dry concrete slab down there where I can put/mount/assemble something. Cooling won't be an issue obviously, and I am keeping a close eye on hardware specs with regards to moisture. It is still a crawlspace though. What would be a good setup to to house the hardware? Priorities being to safeguard against moisture, vermin, and dirt. Modified PC Tower? Rack? Build an enclosure? Something I haven't considered?

Please assume I'm stubborn and absolutely dead-set on putting it in the crawlspace to avoid the discussion devolving into the 'best' place to put a media machine."
Biotech

Sloppy Biosafety Procedures Found At Federal Disease Center 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
schwit1 writes: An investigation of a federal center for studying dangerous diseases in primates has found serious biosafety procedure violations. "Concerns arose at the center in Covington, Louisiana, after two rhesus macaques became ill in late November with melioidosis, a disease caused by the tropical bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. In January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Agriculture investigators traced the strain infecting the primates to a vaccine research lab working with mice. Last month, as the investigation continued, CDC suspended the primate center's 10 or so research projects involving B. pseudomallei and other select agents (a list of dangerous bacteria, viruses, and toxins that are tightly regulated). Meanwhile, a report in USA Today suggested the bacterium might have contaminated the center's soil or water. In addition, workers "frequently entered the select agent lab without appropriate protective clothing," the release says. No center staff has shown signs of illness. On 12 March, however, Tulane announced that blood tests have found that one worker has low levels of antibodies to the bacterium, suggesting possible exposure at the center, according to ABC News."
Television

Apple Reportedly Working On an Online TV Service 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the eliminating-those-choices-that-confuse-your-pretty-little-head dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a Wall Street Journal report (paywalled) Apple is in negotiations with media companies to develop an online TV service. The service will include a bundle of roughly 25 channels, so less popular channels will have a very difficult time fighting for a spot. Most major networks should be present, although NBC's participation is dubious because of its ties to Comcast, which would be in direct competition with Apple's service. "If Apple can offer a comprehensive, albeit slimmed-down, bundle for $30 to $40 a month, that could force distributors to cut prices or eat into margins to retain subscribers. At Comcast, for example, average video revenue per user should be about $79.45 in 2015, according to UBS. Meanwhile, its programming costs per average subscriber should be about $39.60. Those costs may need to rise. That roughly 50% gross margin looks vulnerable."
The Almighty Buck

Global Learning XPRIZE Senior Director Matt Keller Answers Your Questions 4

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-they-are dept.
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask former Vice President of One Laptop per Child, and current Senior Director of the Global Learning XPRIZE Matt Keller about education and the competition. The XPRIZE challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic with a Grand Prize of $10 million. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard? 451

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-fit-through-doors dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After five years of service, my keyboard is dying, and I'm starting to look for a new one. Since it's for my primary machine, and I spend a lot of hours there for both work and leisure, I'd like to invest in a high-quality replacement. What do you recommend? I've been using a Logitech G15, and it worked well enough — but not well enough for me to buy another. (I've also heard Logitech's build quality has been on the decline in recent years — has that been your experience, those of you who own their recent hardware?) My use cases include coding and gaming, so durability is a big plus.

I'd prefer something a bit less bulky than the G15, which has a raised area at the top for media controls and a tiny screen. I don't mind a thicker bottom bezel so much. I'm not a huge fan of ergonomic/split keyboards, but if you know a really excellent one, I wouldn't rule it out. Same with mechanical keyboards — love the action, but the noise is an issue. I don't need any particular bells and whistles, but don't mind them. As for a budget... as I said, it's for a heavy-use machine, so I don't mind investing in great hardware. (That said, if I'm spending $150+, it better automatically make sure all my semicolons are in the right place.) So, what keyboard has served you well?
Communications

Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English' 667

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-feel-free-to-continue-screaming-at-random-internet-commenters dept.
Pikoro writes: A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains why the concept of a "proper" English isn't realistic. Quoting: "It's a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers can't express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. ... As children, we all have the instinct to acquire a set of rules and to apply them. ... We know that a certain practice is a rule of grammar because it’s how we see and hear people use the language. ... That’s how scholarly linguists work. Instead of having some rule book of what is “correct” usage, they examine the evidence of how native and fluent nonnative speakers do in fact use the language. Whatever is in general use in a language (not any use, but general use) is for that reason grammatically correct. The grammatical rules invoked by pedants aren’t real rules of grammar at all. They are, at best, just stylistic conventions.
Social Networks

Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the learning-how-to-spy-via-standardized-tests dept.
theodp writes: As if people haven't found enough to hate about the new 11+ hour K-12 PARCC standardized testing, the Washington Post reports that Pearson, the world's largest education company, is monitoring social media during the administration of the PARCC Common Core test to detect any security breaches, saying it is "obligated" to alert authorities when any problems are discovered. The monitoring of social media was revealed in a message that a New Jersey School Superintendent sent to colleagues about a "Priority 1 Alert" initiated by Pearson in response to a student who referenced a PARCC test question in an after-school Tweet. The news was broken in a blog entry by former NJ Star-Ledger reporter Bob Braun, who also posted the Superintendent's message and called the monitoring of social media nothing less than "spying." Pearson has a contract of more than $100 million to administer the PARCC in New Jersey.
United Kingdom

Swedish Authorities Offer To Question Assange In London 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-place-or-yours dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Since 2012, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up inside Ecuador's embassy in London trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces a sexual assault investigation. Now, after the case has been stalled for years, Swedish prosecutors are arranging to come to London and question Assange within the embassy. According to his lawyer, Assange welcomes this, but Sweden still needs to be granted permission from both the UK and Ecuador. "Assange's lawyers, who are appealing against his arrest warrant in Sweden's highest court, have complained bitterly about the prosecutor's refusal to travel to London to speak to him – an essential step under Swedish jurisprudence to establish whether Assange can be formally charged. [Lead investigator Marianne] Ny's refusal, they say, has condemned Assange to severe limitations on his freedom that are disproportionate to the accusations against him." Ny has also requested a DNA sample from Assange.
Open Source

Linux Kernel Adopts 'Code of Conflict' 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-excellent-to-each-other dept.
Motor was one of several readers to note that a small patch recently added to the Linux kernel contains guidelines for discourse and dispute resolution within the community. It's called the "Code of Conflict." Quoting: Your code and ideas behind it will be carefully reviewed, often resulting in critique and criticism. The review will almost always require improvements to the code before it can be included in the kernel. Know that this happens because everyone involved wants to see the best possible solution for the overall success of Linux. .... If however, anyone feels personally abused, threatened, or otherwise uncomfortable due to this process, that is not acceptable. ... As a reviewer of code, please strive to keep things civil and focused on the technical issues involved.
Transportation

Lawsuit Claims Major Automakers Have Failed To Guard Against Hackers 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-they'll-listen-when-lawyers-say-it dept.
Lucas123 writes: A Dallas-based law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California claiming Ford, GM and Toyota all ignored basic electronic security measures that leave vehicles open to hackers who can take control of critical functions and endanger the safety of the driver and passengers. The suit, filed on behalf of three vehicle owners and "all others similarly situated" is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction that would force automakers to install proper firewalls or encryption in vehicle computer bus systems, which connect dozens of electronic control units. "Toyota, Ford and GM have deliberately hidden the dangers associated with car computer systems, misleading consumers," attorney Marc Stanley said. The lawsuit cites several studies revealing security flaws in vehicle electronics. A 2013 study by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency found researchers could make vehicles "suddenly accelerate, turn, [and] kill the brakes." A study released last month by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) also claims automakers have fallen far short in their responsibility to secure their vehicles' electronics.
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: Video Storage For Time Capsule? 169

Posted by timothy
from the what-would-vint-cerf-do? dept.
New submitter dwywit, anticipating World Backup Day, writes I've been asked to film this year's ANZAC services in my town. This is a big one, as it's the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign, and dear to our hearts here in Oz. The organisers have asked me to provide a camera-to-projector setup for remote viewing (they're expecting big crowds this year), and a recording of the parade and various services throughout the morning. Copies will go to the local and state library as a record of the day, but they would also like a copy to go into a time capsule. I have two issues to solve: 1. a storage medium capable of lasting 50 or 100 years and still be readable, and 2. a wrapper/codec that will be available and usable when the capsule is opened. I have the feeling that a conversion to film might be the only way to satisfy both requirements — it's easy enough to build a projector, or even re-scan the images for viewing. Has anyone got a viable alternative? Cloud storage isn't an option — this is going underground in a stainless steel container. See also this similar question from 2008; how have the options changed in the meantime?
Networking

Does USB Type C Herald the End of Apple's Proprietary Connectors? 392

Posted by timothy
from the u-stands-for-physically-incompatible dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Verge has an interesting editorial about the USB Type C connector on the new Macbook, and what this might mean for Apple's Lightning and Thunderbolt connectors. The former is functionally identical to USB Type C, and the latter has yet to prove popular in the external media and "docking" applications for which it was originally intended. Will Apple phase out these ports in favour of a single, widely-accepted, but novel standard? Or do we face a dystopian future where Apple sells cords with USB Type C on one end, and Lightning on the other?
Books

Book Review: Data and Goliath 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World, author Bruce Schneier could have justifiably written an angry diatribe full of vitriol against President Obama and the NSA for their wholesale spying on innocent Americans and violations of myriad laws. Instead, he was written a thoroughly convincing and brilliant book about big data, mass surveillance and the ensuing privacy dangers facing everyone. A comment like what's the big deal? often indicates a naiveté about a serious significant underlying issue. The idea that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear is a dangerously narrow concept on the value of privacy. For many people the notion that the NSA was performing spying on Americans was perceived as not being a big deal, since if a person is innocent, then what do they have to worry about. In the book, Schneier debunks that myth and many others, and defends the importance of privacy. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
The Internet

NSA Director Argues For "Red Button" Autonomy Against Unattributed Cyber-Attacks 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the candy-like-shiny-red-button dept.
An anonymous reader writes U.S. Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers — director of the National Security Agency and Commander of United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) — has suggested that cyber-attacks can begin and escalate so quickly that USCYBERCOM would need powers to retaliate immediately, without (as it is currently obliged) referring the matter to the United States Strategic Command. In testimony to the "House Armed Services Committee on cyber operations and improving the military's cybersecurity posture" on March 4th, Adm. Rogers argues for "development of defensive options which do not require full attribution to meet the requirements of law and international agreement."
Portables

Ultralight Convertibles Approaching Desktop Performance 161

Posted by timothy
from the lots-of-moving-parts-to-break dept.
MojoKid writes Laptops with fully articulating hinges are starting to show up from more vendors than just Lenovo, though the company certainly got some mileage out of their Yoga brand of machines. Now it appears HP is getting in on the action as well, with the new HP Spectre X360 that's powered by Intel's new Core i5-5200U Broadwell-based processor with integrated Intel HD 5500 series graphics, along with 8GB of DDR3-1600 memory, a 256GB Solid State Drive (a Samsung M.2 PCIe SSD), 802.11ac WiFi, and a 13.3" Full HD (1920x1080) multi-touch screen. The Spectre X360 has a geared and spring-assisted hinges. The hinges swing open easily, and then offer more resistance as the screen is moved into an upright position, or swung around into tent, stand, or tablet modes. What's also interesting about this new breed of convertibles, beyond just its ability to contort into tablet mode and various other angles, is that performance for these ultralight platforms is scaling up nicely, with faster, low-power processors and M.2 PCIe Solid State Drives offering up a very responsive experience and under 10 second boot times. It has gotten to the point that 3 pound and under notebooks feel every bit as nimble as desktop machines, at least for mainstream productivity and media consumption usage models.
Communications

GSM/GPS Tracking Device Found On Activist's Car At Circumvention Tech Festival 143

Posted by timothy
from the just-can't-catch-a-break-with-you-people dept.
vivaoporto writes A GSM/GPS tracking device was found this March 4 on an activist's car attending the Circumvention Tech Festival in Valencia, Spain, a festival that proposes to gather "the community fighting censorship and surveillance for a week of conferences, workshops, hackathons, and social gatherings, featuring many of the Internet Freedom community's flagship events." They are now asking for the internet tech community for help in order to identify the device. Below verbatim is the plea for help published on the Tor Project website. The fine article also contains pictures of the device.

"On March 4th, 2015, we found a tracking device inside of the wheel well of a car belonging to an attendee of the Circumvention Tech Festival in Valencia, Spain. This was reported in the local media.

If you have information about this device — please send information to jacob at appelbaum dot net using gpg.

The device was magnetically mounted inside of the left wheel well of the car. The battery is attached by cable to the tracking device. The battery was magnetically mounted to the frame of the car. The tracking device was similarly magnetically mounted. The device itself has an external magnetically mounted GPS antenna. It has a very simple free hanging GSM antenna. The device included a Movistar SIM card for GSM network access. The entire device was wrapped in black tape."
Technology

First Fully Digital Radio Transmitter Built Purely From Microprocessor Tech 88

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-way-to-listen dept.
Zothecula writes For the first time in history, a prototype radio has been created that is claimed to be completely digital, generating high-frequency radio waves purely through the use of integrated circuits and a set of patented algorithms without using conventional analog radio circuits in any way whatsoever. This breakthrough technology promises to vastly improve the wireless communications capabilities of everything from 5G mobile technology to the multitude devices aimed at supporting the Internet of Things (IoT).