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AI

Computer Beats Humans At Arimaa 9

Posted by timothy
from the call-back-when-it-can-make-a-good-egg-cream dept.
An anonymous reader writes A computer engine has beaten humans at Arimaa, an abstract strategy game, in the official human–computer challenge of the year. Sharp, as the bot is called, had to beat each of three strong human players in a best 2-out-3 contest and managed to sweep the first two rounds, thereby already guaranteeing victory. Its developer David Wu will receive a $12,000 prize, contingent on him submitting a paper describing the program to the International Computer Games Association.
Crime

Oklahoma Says It Will Now Use Nitrogen Gas As Its Backup Method of Execution 120

Posted by timothy
from the that's-not-the-only-cost dept.
schwit1 writes Yesterday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that approves the use of nitrogen gas for executions in the state. The method, which would effectively asphyxiate death row inmates by forcing them to breathe pure nitrogen through a gas mask, is meant to be the primary alternative to lethal injection, the Washington Post reports.

Fallin and other supporters of the procedure say it's pain-free and effective, noting that the nitrogen would render inmates unconscious within ten seconds and kill them in minutes. It's also cheap: state representatives say the method only requires a nitrogen tank and a gas mask, but financial analysts say its impossible to give precise figures, the Post reports.

Oklahoma's primary execution method is still lethal injection, but the state's procedure is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, Tennessee suspended executions statewide following challenges to its own lethal injection protocol.
Math

Mandelbrot Zooms Now Surpass the Scale of the Observable Universe 45

Posted by timothy
from the from-here-you-can-see-forever dept.
StartsWithABang writes You're used to real numbers: that is, numbers that can be expressed as a decimal, even if it's an arbitrarily long, non-repeating decimal. There are also complex numbers, which are numbers that have a real part and also an imaginary part. The imaginary part is just like the real part, but is also multiplied by i, or the square root of -1. It's a simple definition: the Mandelbrot set consists of every possible complex number, n, where the sequence n, n^2 + n, (n^2 + n)^2 + n, etc.—where each new term is the prior term, squared, plus n—does not go to either positive or negative infinity. The scale of zoom visualizations now goes well past the limits of the observable Universe, with no signs of loss of complexity at all.
Security

Chrome 43 Should Help Batten Down HTTPS Sites 37

Posted by timothy
from the yes-yes-we-know dept.
River Tam writes The next version of Chrome, Chrome 43, promises to take out some of the work website owners — such as news publishers — would have to do if they were to enable HTTPS. The feature might be helpful for publishers migrating legacy HTTP web content to HTTPS when that old content can't or is difficult to be modified. The issue crops up when a new HTTPS page includes a resource, like an image, from an HTTP URL. That insecure resource will cause Chrome to flag an 'mixed-content warning' in the form of a yellow triangle over the padlock.
Transportation

How Uber Surge Pricing Really Works 70

Posted by timothy
from the has-a-catchy-name-regardless dept.
minstrelmike writes with this analysis from Nicholas Diakopoulos of the Washington Post: At the core of Uber's wild success and market valuation of over $41 billion is its data and algorithmically fueled approach to matching supply and demand for cars. It's classic economics, supposedly....but is Uber's surge pricing algorithm really doing what they claim? Do surge prices really get more cars on the road?

My analysis suggests that rather than motivating a fresh supply of drivers, surge pricing instead re-distributes drivers already on the road.
Adds minstrelmike: The writer goes on to analyze 4 weeks of pricing info from 5 areas in D.C. and plotted prices versus wait times. "Price surging can work in any of three ways: by reducing demand for cars (less people want a car for a higher price), by creating new supply (providing an incentive for new drivers to hit the roads), or by shifting supply (drivers) to areas of higher demand."

It moves current drivers from one side of town to the other. It does not put new drivers on the road. It can't because the prices change every 3-5 minutes."
Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars Battlefront Game Trailer Is So Realistic It Looks Like Movie Footage 99

Posted by timothy
from the cgi-is-cheaper-than-actors dept.
MojoKid writes It has been a tremendous week for Star Wars fans. First we got to see Han Solo and Chewbacca make an emotional reappearance in the newest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer (the second official trailer Disney has put out). Now, Electronic Arts is treating us to a visual smorgasbord of cinema-quality footage showing the forthcoming Star Wars Battlefront game. Battlefront will support to up 40 players divided between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire, all shooting it out and playing with some of the coolest Star Wars vehicles and weapons around. We're talking jetpacks, AT-AT war machines, AT-STs, TIE Fighters, X-wings, and more. Though the trailer allegedly shows actually "game engine footage," it's questionable whether or not it's actual gameplay or just pre-rendered cut scenes from the game engine. Either way, it's still pretty impressive.
The Courts

DIA Polygraph Countermeasure Case Files Leaked 74

Posted by timothy
from the well-someone-is-fibbing dept.
George Maschke writes AntiPolygraph.org (of which I am a co-founder) has published a set of leaked Defense Intelligence Agency polygraph countermeasure case files along with a case-by-case analysis. The case files, which include polygraph charts and the exact questions used, suggest that the only people being "caught" trying to beat the polygraph are those using crude, unsophisticated methods that anyone who actually understood polygraph procedure and effective countermeasures (like, say, a real spy, saboteur, or terrorist) would ever use. AntiPolygraph.org has previously published polygraph community training materials on countermeasures that indicate they lack the ability to detect countermeasures like those described in our free book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (PDF) or in former police polygraph examiner Doug Williams' manual, How to Sting the Polygraph . Williams, who was indicted last year after teaching undercover federal agents how to pass a polygraph, is scheduled to stand trial on May 12 in Oklahoma City.
Cellphones

Does Lack of FM Support On Phones Increase Your Chances of Dying In a Disaster? 266

Posted by timothy
from the well-if-you-put-it-that-way dept.
theodp writes You may not know it," reports NPR's Emma Bowman, "but most of today's smartphones have FM radios inside of them. But the FM chip is not activated on two-thirds of devices. That's because mobile makers have the FM capability switched off. The National Association of Broadcasters has been asking mobile makers to change this. But the mobile industry, which profits from selling data to smartphone users, says that with the consumer's move toward mobile streaming apps, the demand for radio simply isn't there." But FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says radio-enabled smartphones could sure come in handy during times of emergency. So, is it irresponsible not to activate the FM chips? And should it's-the-app-way-or-the-highway Apple follow Microsoft's lead and make no-static-at-all FM available on iPhones?
The Military

US Military To Recruit Civilian Cybersecurity Experts 56

Posted by timothy
from the which-masters-would-you-prefer? dept.
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. Army is to create a new cybersecurity division, Cyber Branch 17, and is also considering launching a cyber career track for civilians, according to an announcement made this week by Lt. Gen. Edward C. Cardon. Cardon, who currently heads the U.S. Army's cyber command, ARCYBER, spoke to the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Tuesday about the growing threats and capabilities used in cyber warfare. He argued that creating a cyber career management field for civilians would result in an easier recruitment process, as opposed to recruiting internally and trying to retain the talent, he said. Cardon maintains that recruiting and retaining talent in the field is often challenging, given internal employment constraints surrounding compensation and slow hiring processes.
Google

Google To Propose QUIC As IETF Standard 70

Posted by timothy
from the ok-now-do-it-this-way dept.
As reported by TechCrunch, "Google says it plans to propose HTTP2-over-QUIC to the IETF as a new Internet standard in the future," having disclosed a few days ago that about half of the traffic from Chrome browsers is using QUIC already. From the article: The name "QUIC" stands for Quick UDP Internet Connection. UDP's (and QUIC's) counterpart in the protocol world is basically TCP (which in combination with the Internet Protocol (IP) makes up the core communication language of the Internet). UDP is significantly more lightweight than TCP, but in return, it features far fewer error correction services than TCP. ... That's why UDP is great for gaming services. For these services, you want low overhead to reduce latency and if the server didn't receive your latest mouse movement, there's no need to spend a second or two to fix that because the action has already moved on. You wouldn't want to use it to request a website, though, because you couldn't guarantee that all the data would make it. With QUIC, Google aims to combine some of the best features of UDP and TCP with modern security tools.
Communications

Norway Will Switch Off FM Radio In 2017 237

Posted by timothy
from the video-sought-by-police-for-questioning dept.
New submitter titten writes The Norwegian Ministry of Culture has announced that the transition to DAB will be completed in 2017. This means that Norway, as the first country in the world to do so, has decided to switch off the FM network. Norway began the transition to DAB in 1995. In recent years two national and several local DAB-networks has been established. 56 per cent of radio listeners use digital radio every day. 55 per cent of households have at least one DAB radio, according to Digitalradio survey by TNS Gallup, continuously measuring the Norwegian`s digital radio habits.
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: What Features Would You Like In a Search Engine? 241

Posted by timothy
from the esp-heads-the-list dept.
New submitter nicolas.slusarenko writes Nowadays, there is one dominant search engine in the world among few alternatives. I have the impression that the majority of users think that it is the best possible service that could be made. I am sure that we could have a better search engine. During my spare time I been developing Trokam, an online search engine. I am building this service with the features that I would like to find in a service: respectful of user rights, ad-free, built upon open source software, and with auditable results. Well, those are mine. What features would you like in a search engine?
Privacy

The Upsides of a Surveillance Society 212

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-it's-not-all-upside? dept.
theodp writes Citing the comeuppance of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, who was suspended from her job after her filmed ad-hominem attack on a person McHenry deemed to be beneath her in terms of appearance, education, wealth, class, status went viral, The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes that one silver lining of the omnipresence of cameras it that the possibility of exposure can also encourage us to be a little kinder to each other. "Terrible behavior," Garber writes, "whether cruel or violent or something in between, has a greater possibility than it ever has before of being exposed. Just as Uber tracks ratings for both its drivers and its users, and just as Yelp can be a source of shaming for businesses and customers alike, technology at large has afforded a reciprocity between people who, in a previous era, would have occupied different places on the spectrum of power. Which can, again, be a bad thing — but which can also, in McHenry's case, be an extremely beneficial one. It's good that her behavior has been exposed. It's good that her story going viral might discourage similar behavior from other people. It's good that she has publicly promised 'to learn from this mistake.'"
Transportation

Dutch Prosecutors Launch Criminal Investigation Against Uber For Flouting Ban 47

Posted by timothy
from the red-lights-and-red-tape dept.
An anonymous reader writes Dutch prosecutors have announced that they are prosecuting taxi-hailing giant Uber for continuing to disregard last December's ban on the company offering its unlicensed UberPOP service in the Netherlands. The statement declares 'The company Uber is now a suspect...This means a preliminary examination will be started to collect evidence that Uber is providing illegal transportation on a commercial basis,'. Dutch police presented evidence to the prosecutors of UberPOP drivers in Amsterdam ignoring the ban, and at the time of writing the UberPOP service is still available via Uber's Amsterdam website [https://www.uber.com/cities/amsterdam]. Though Uber inspires new litigation on a weekly basis in the territories in which it is seeking to consolidate its services, this is the first time it has been the subject of a criminal prosecution.
Space

Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine 68

Posted by timothy
from the partially-electric-is-still-cool dept.
New submitter Adrian Harvey writes The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses rocket fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.
Businesses

Twitter Moves Non-US Accounts To Ireland, and Away From the NSA 133

Posted by timothy
from the be-right-over-here-guys dept.
Mark Wilson writes Twitter has updated its privacy policy, creating a two-lane service that treats U.S. and non-U.S. users differently. If you live in the U.S., your account is controlled by San Francisco-based Twitter Inc, but if you're elsewhere in the world (anywhere else) it's handled by Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland. The changes also affect Periscope. What's the significance of this? Twitter Inc is governed by U.S. law; it is obliged to comply with NSA-driven court requests for data. Data stored in Ireland is not subject to the same obligation. Twitter is not alone in using Dublin as a base for non-U.S. operations; Facebook is another company that has adopted the same tactic. The move could also have implications for how advertising is handled in the future.
Google

Google Ready To Unleash Thousands of Balloons In Project Loon 46

Posted by timothy
from the buncha-crazies dept.
jfruh writes Google has figured out how to produce an Internet-broadcast balloon in a few hours, and is on the verge of unleashing Project Loon onto the world. The project, which will work with ISPs to beam LTE cellular signals to remote regions that don't have Internet access, will be working with local ISPs rather than selling broadband directly to customers.
Robotics

Drought and Desertification: How Robots Might Help 113

Posted by timothy
from the droids-you're-looking-for dept.
Hallie Siegel writes Groundwater levels in California's Central Valley are down to historic lows and reservoirs have been depleted following four consecutive years of severe drought in the state. California is set to introduce water rationing in the coming weeks, and though the new rationing rules will focus on urban areas and not farms for the time being, they serve as a warning bell to farmers who will inevitably need to adapt to the effects of climate change on food production. John Payne argues that long term solutions are needed to help make agriculture drought resistant and looks at some of the ways that robotics might help.
Microsoft

Microsoft Open Technologies Is Closing: Good Or Bad News For Open Source? 108

Posted by timothy
from the sea-change-or-see-no-change dept.
BrianFagioli writes When Microsoft Open Technologies was founded as a subsidiary of Microsoft — under Steve Ballmer's reign — many in the open source community hailed it as a major win, and it was. Today, however, the subsidiary is shutting down and being folded into Microsoft. While some will view this as a loss for open source, I disagree; Microsoft has evolved so much under Satya Nadella, that a separate subsidiary is simply no longer needed. Microsoft could easily be the world's biggest vendor of open source software, which is probably one reason some people don't like the term.
Medicine

When You're the NFL Commish, Getting E-Medical Record Interoperability's a Cinch 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-good-to-be-the-commish dept.
Lucas123 writes: The NFL recently completed the rollout of an electronic medical record (EMR) system and picture archiving & communication system (PACS) that allows mobile access for teams to player's health information at the swipe of a finger — radiological images, GPS tracking information, and detailed health evaluation data back to grade school. But as NFL football players are on the road a lot, often they're not being treated at hospitals or by specialists whose own EMRs are integrated with the NFL's; it's a microcosm of the industry-wide healthcare interoperability issue facing the U.S. today. The NFL, however, found achieving EMR interoperability isn't so much a technological issue as a political one, and if you have publicity on your side, it's not that difficult. NFL CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle, who led the NFL's EMR rollout, said a call from a team owner to a hospital administrator typically does the trick. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell once made the call to a hospital CEO, "and things started moving in the next couple of days," McKenna-Doyle said. "They're very aware of the publicity."