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Earth

In Time For Halloween: 9 New Tarantula Species Discovered 26

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-my-parlor dept.
Damien1972 writes "If you suffer from acute arachnophobia, this is the perfect Halloween discovery for you: a spider expert has discovered nine new species of arboreal tarantulas in Brazil. Although tarantula diversity is highest in the Amazon rain-forest, the new species are all found in lesser-known Brazilian ecosystems like the Atlantic Forest and the cerrado."
Technology

Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer's Pen 712

Posted by samzenpus
from the mightier-than-the-mouse dept.
First time accepted submitter Laser Dan writes "I'm an engineer (robotics) who can't seem to find a pen that satisfies me. Most of my writing is just temporary "thinking notes" on random bits of paper, like diagrams, flowcharts, equations etc, but pens always seem to have one or more of the following issues:

1. They write too thickly — I write very small, and when I start adding extra details to diagrams it gets even smaller. A line width of about 0.2-0.4mm would be good.

2. The ink bleeds, making the lines thick and unclear.

3. The ink is slow to dry or the tip grows blobs of ink, causing smudges everywhere.

4. The first line drawn is not fully dark, as the ink takes a short distance to get going.

5. The lines drawn are faint unless you press hard (I don't).

I have been given several fancy pens (Parker etc) over the years but they all suffered from problems 1, 3 (blobs), 4 and 5. I'm considering trying a Fisher space pen, but it looks like even the fine cartridge writes rather thickly. Have any fellow Slashdotters found their ultimate pen?"
HP

Physicist Explains Cthulhu's "Non-Euclidean Geometry" 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the dead-but-dreaming dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mathematician Benjamin K. Tippett has written a fascinating and deadpan paper (Pdf) giving insights into Cthulhu. A 'Bubble' of warped Space-Time makes alarmingly consistent sense of the dead God's cyclopean city under the sea. From the paper: 'We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.'"
IBM

Watson Goes To Medical School 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the computer-learning dept.
First time accepted submitter Kwyj1b0 writes "I.B.M's Watson is headed to the Cleavland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University for training. Clinicians and students will answer and correct Watson's questions, in an attempt to crowdsource its education. From the article: '“Hopefully, we can contribute to the training of this technology,” said Dr. James K. Stoller, chairman of the Education Institute at Cleveland Clinic. The goal, he added, was for Watson to become a “very smart assistant.” Part of Watson’s training will be to feed it test questions from the United States Medical Licensing Exam, which every human student must pass to become a practicing physician. The benefit for Watson should be to have a difficult but measurable set of questions on which to measure the progress of its machine-learning technology.'"
AI

Self-Driving Car Faces Off Against Pro On Thunderhill Racetrack 151

Posted by Soulskill
from the see-you-on-the-top-gear-track dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Rachel Swaby reports that a self-driving car and a seasoned race-car driver recently faced off at Northern California's three-mile Thunderhill Raceway loop. The autonomous vehicle is a creation from the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS). 'We tried to model [the self-driving car] after what we've learned from the best race-car drivers,' says Chris Gerdes (who talks more about the development of autonomous cars in this TED talk). So who won? Humans, of course. But only by a few measly seconds. 'What the human drivers do is consistently feel out the limits of the car and push it just a little bit farther,' explained Gerdes. 'When you look at what the car is capable of and what humans achieve, that gap is really actually small.' Because the self-driving car reacts to the track as if it were controlled in real time by a human, a funny thing happens to passengers along for the ride. Initially, when the car accelerates to 115 miles per hour and then brakes just in time to make it around a curve, the person riding shotgun freaks out. But a second lap looks very different. Passengers tend to relax, putting their faith in the automatically spinning wheel. 'We might have a tendency to put too much confidence in it,' cautioned Gerdes. 'Watching people experience it, they'll say, oh, that was flawless.' Gerdes reaction: 'Wait wait! This was developed by a crazy professor and graduate students!'"
Science

Flexible Circuits By the Slice 10

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-is-not-enough-but-two-is-too-much dept.
MTorrice writes "Researchers have demonstrated a way to make high performance, flexible integrated circuits using almost exclusively standard equipment and materials already needed to make conventional chips. Such a method could allow electronics manufacturers to build new devices, such as smart medical implants and flexible displays, without needing to significantly overhaul current production protocols. The method, developed by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, started with researchers patterning integrated circuits on silicon wafers using a standard production line. They then cut off the top 20 to 30 micrometers of the wafer using a thin wire—like slicing a block of cheese—to produce a thin, flexible platter of circuits."
Power

Wireless Power Over Distance: Just a Parlor Trick? 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the efficiency-is-a-harsh-taskmaster dept.
Lucas123 writes "Companies like U.S.-based WiTricity and China-based 3DVOX Technology claim patents and products to wirelessly powering anything from many feet away — from smart phones and televisions to electric cars by using charging pads embedded in concrete. But more than one industry standards group promoting magnetic induction and short-distance resonance wireless charging say such technology is useless; Charging anything at distances greater than the diameter of a magnetic coil is an inefficient use of power. For example, Menno Treffers, chairman of the Wireless Power Consortium, says you can broadcast wireless power over six feet, but the charge received will be less than 10% of the source. WiTricity and 3DVOX, however, are fighting those claims with demonstrations showing their products are capable of resonating the majority of source power."
The Internet

Court Rules Website Terms of Service Agreement Completely Invalid 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the by-reading-this-you-agree-buy-me-lunch dept.
another random user sends this excerpt from Business Insider: "In January, hackers got hold of 24 million Zappos customers' email addresses and other personal information. Some of those customers have been suing Zappos, an online shoes and clothing retailer that's owned by Amazon.com. Zappos wants the matter to go into arbitration, citing its terms of service. The problem: A federal court just ruled that agreement completely invalid. So Zappos will have to go to court—or more likely settle to avoid those legal costs. Here's how Zappos screwed up, according to Eric Goldman, a law professor and director of Santa Clara University's High Tech Law Institute: It put a link to its terms of service on its website, but didn't force customers to click through to it."
Displays

Linus Torvalds Advocates For 2560x1600 Standard Laptop Displays 661

Posted by Soulskill
from the at-least-catch-up-to-mid-'90s-CRT-screens dept.
beeudoublez points out a Google+ post by Linus Torvalds arguing that today's standard laptop display resolution is unreasonably low. He said, "...with even a $399 tablet doing 2560x1600 pixel displays, can we please just make that the new standard laptop resolution? Even at 11"? Please. Stop with the 'retina' crap, just call it 'reasonable resolution.' The fact that laptops stagnated ten years ago (and even regressed, in many cases) at around half that in both directions is just sad. I still don't want big luggable laptops, but that 1366x768 is so last century."
Networking

Dutch DigiNotar Servers Were Fully Hacked 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-don't-fool-around dept.
ChristW writes "The final report that was handed to the Dutch government today indicates that all 8 certificate servers of the Dutch company DigiNotar were fully hacked. (Report PDF in English.) Because the access log files were stored on the same servers, they cannot be used to find any evidence for or against intrusion. In fact, blatant falsification has been found in those log files. A series of so-far unused certificates has also been found. It is unknown if and where these certificates have been used."
Cellphones

Stolen Cellphone Databases Switched On In US 165

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-criminals-will-just-have-tiny-tablets dept.
alphadogg writes "U.S. cellphone carriers took a major step on Wednesday toward curbing the rising number of smartphone thefts with the introduction of databases that will block stolen phones from being used on domestic networks. The initiative got its start earlier this year when the FCC and police chiefs from major cities asked the cellular carriers for assistance in battling the surging number of smartphone thefts. In New York, more than 40 percent of all robberies involve cellphones and in Washington, D.C., cellphone thefts accounted for 38 percent of all robberies in 2011."
Science

Empathy Represses Analytic Thought, and Vice Versa 293

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-note-sports-fans dept.
hessian sends this quote from a Case Western Reserve University news release: "New research shows a simple reason why even the most intelligent, complex brains can be taken by a swindler's story – one that upon a second look offers clues it was false. When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis, a pivotal study led by a Case Western Reserve University researcher shows (abstract). ... At rest, our brains cycle between the social and analytical networks. But when presented with a task, healthy adults engage the appropriate neural pathway, the researchers found. The study shows for the first time that we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time. The work suggests that established theories about two competing networks within the brain must be revised. More, it provides insights into the operation of a healthy mind versus those of the mentally ill or developmentally disabled."
Privacy

Federal Judge Approves Warrantless, Covert Video Surveillance 420

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-surprise-the-youtube-generation dept.
Penurious Penguin writes "Your curtilage may be your castle, but 'open fields' are open game for law-enforcement and surveillance technology. Whether 'No Trespassing' signs are present or not, your private property is public for the law, with or without a warrant. What the police cannot do, their cameras can — without warrant or court oversight. An article at CNET recounts a case involving the DEA, a federal judge, and two defendants (since charged) who were subjected to video surveillance on private property without a warrant. Presumably, the 4th Amendment suffers an obscure form of agoraphobia further elucidated in the article."
Firefox

Windows Browser Ballot Glitch Cost Firefox 6-9 Million Downloads 245

Posted by Soulskill
from the emulating-real-ballots dept.
nk497 writes "Microsoft's failure to include the EU browser ballot in Windows 7 SP1 cost Mozilla as many as 9 million Firefox downloads, the organization's head of business affairs revealed. Harvey Anderson said daily downloads of Firefox fell by 63% to a low of 20,000 before the ballot was reinstated, and after the fix, downloads jumped by 150% to 50,000 a day. Over the 18 months the ballot was missing, that adds up to six to nine million downloads — although it's tough to tell if the difference has more to do with Chrome's success or the lack of advertising on Windows systems. The EU is currently investigating the 'glitch,' and Microsoft faces a massive fine for failing to include the screen, which offers download details for different browsers to European Windows users, as part of measures ordered by the EU to balance IE's dominance."
The Internet

NYC Data Centers Struggle To Recover After Sandy 231

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the bucket-brigade dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Problems in New York's data centers persisted through Wednesday morning, with hosting companies and other facilities racing against time to keep generators humming as water was pumped out of their facility basements. The fight now is to keep those generators fueled while pumps clear the basement areas, allowing the standard backup generators to begin operating. It's also unclear whether the critical elements of infrastructure (power and communications) will both be up and running in time to restore services. The following is a list of some of the data centers and services in the area, and how they're faring." I'm responsible for a few servers at Peer1, and their efforts are interesting: "Peer1’s operations at 75 Broad are operating on sheer manpower: a bucket brigade. According to a blog post from Fog Creek Software, one of the clients at the building, about 30 customers are lifting buckets (or cans) of diesel fuel up 18 flights of stairs."

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