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Education

Interviews: Juan Gilbert Answers Your Questions 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-you-go dept.
Last week you had a chance to ask the Associate Chair of Research in the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida, Juan Gilbert, about the Human Centered Computing Lab, accessibility issues in technology, and electronic voting. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.
Businesses

Utility Wants $17,500 Refund After Failure To Scrub Negative Search Results 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-don't-have-abything-good-to-say dept.
mpicpp Points out this story about Seattle City Light's anger over negative search results and its inability to get them removed. Seattle's publicly-owned electrical utility, City Light, is now demanding a refund for the $17,500 that it paid to Brand.com in a botched effort to boost the online reputation of its highly-paid chief executive, Jorge Carrasco. Brand.com "enhances online branding and clears negatives by blanketing search results with positive content" in an attempt to counteract unwanted search engine results. City Light signed a contract with the company in October 2013 and extended it in February 2014. The contracts authorized payments of up to $47,500. Hamilton said that he first raised the issue of the utility's online reputation when he was interviewing for the chief of staff job in early 2013. "All I saw were negative stories about storms, outages and pay increases and I raised it as a concern during that interview," he said. "And then after I started, [CEO Jorge Carrasco] and I discussed what we could do to more accurately represent the utility and what the utility is all about, because we didn't feel it was well represented online." Thus, the Brand.com contract. City Light says that it only ever thought Brand.com would help it place legitimate material in legitimate outlets—talking up some of the positive changes that have taken place at City Light during Carrasco's tenure. Instead, it appears to have received mostly bogus blog posts.
Books

The Least They Could Do: Amazon Charges 1 Cent To Meet French Free Shipping Ban 308

Posted by timothy
from the not-a-sou-more dept.
Last year, we mentioned that the French government was unhappy with Amazon for offering better prices than the French competition, and strongly limited the amount by which retailers can discount books. Last month, the French parliament also passed a law banning free delivery of books. Ars Technica reports that Amazon has responded with a one-penny shipping rate on the orders that would previously have shipped free. Says the article: This is by no means the first time France has tried to put a damper on major US tech companies dabbling in books or other reading materials. In 2011, the country updated an old law related to printed books that then allowed publishers to impose set e-book pricing on Apple and others. And in 2012, there was the very public dispute between French lawmakers and Google over the country's desire to see French media outlets paid for having their content pop up in search results. At least for now with this most recent situation, an online giant has found a relatively quick and easy way to regain the upperhand.
Hardware

Slashdot Asks: Do You Want a Smart Watch? 381

Posted by timothy
from the does-it-shoot-deadly-darts? dept.
Watches that do more than tell the time have been around for a long time. (And in fiction, James Bond, Dick Tracey, and Michael Knight all had notably high-tech watches.) The new smart watches from Samsung and LG, without a phone connected via Bluetooth as backhaul, can still serve to show the time and to serve as alarms (and Samsung's can measure your pulse, too), but all the magic features (like searching by voice via the watch) do require a connection. They can't play MP3s or take pictures on their own, and they don't have built-in GPS. Even so, compared to the polarizing Google Glass, the new breed of smart watches are wearables that probably are an easier sell, even if this far the trend has been to replace watches with smart phones. (Android Wear has gotten a lot of attention, but Microsoft has their own upcoming, and Apple almost certainly does, too.) Are you interested in a smart watch, and if so, what uses do you want it for? If they have no appeal to you now, are there functions that would make you change your mind on that front?
Transportation

Lyft's New York Launch Halted By Restraining Order 92

Posted by timothy
from the restraining-competition-is-more-like-it dept.
Forbes reports that Lyft's planned expansion into the New York market has been delayed by a restraining order. The article explains that State officials had asked Lyft to delay its launch. When Lyft refused, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office filed a temporary restraining order against the startup Friday morning to prevent its launch. Other statements said that the restraining order had been granted, though Simpson said that was untrue. Lyft and officials will reconvene in court Monday for a hearing. Lyft will not launch until it has reached an agreement with the city, Simpson said. Since Monday, when Lyft announced it was planning to launch in the two boroughs [of Queens and Brooklyn], the app has faced criticism from city officials. The taxi and limousine commission declared the app 'unauthorized' and said its riders were at risk and its drivers could be cited and fined if they were caught using it. Lyft seems to have left riders mostly unscathed in Boston, where it's been operating since early last year, and in numerous other cities. Also at Ars Technica.
Supercomputing

A Peek Inside D-Wave's Quantum Computing Hardware 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the hamsters-are-neither-alive-nor-dead dept.
JeremyHsu writes: A one-second delay can still seem like an eternity for a quantum computing machine capable of running calculations in mere millionths of a second. That delay represents just one of the challenges D-Wave Systems overcame in building its second-generation quantum computing machine known as D-Wave Two — a system that has been leased to customers such as Google, NASA and Lockheed Martin. D-Wave's rapid-scaling approach to quantum computing has plenty of critics, but the company's experience in building large-scale quantum computing hardware could provide valuable lessons for everyone, regardless of whether the D-Wave machines live up to quantum computing's potential by proving they can outperform classical computers. (D-Wave recently detailed the hardware design changes between its first- and second-generation quantum computing machines in the the June 2014 issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity.)

"We were nervous about going down this path," says Jeremy Hilton, vice president of processor development at D-Wave Systems. "This architecture requires the qubits and the quantum devices to be intermingled with all these big classical objects. The threat you worry about is noise and impact of all this stuff hanging around the qubits. Traditional experiments in quantum computing have qubits in almost perfect isolation. But if you want quantum computing to be scalable, it will have to be immersed in a sea of computing complexity.
Television

Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the bend-like-the-broadcast-reed dept.
An anonymous reader writes Rather than completely shuttering its TV-over-the-internet business, Aereo has decided to embrace the Supreme Court's recent decision against it. In a letter to the lower court overseeing the litigation between the company and network broadcasters, Aereo asks to be considered a cable company and to be allowed to pay royalties as such. Cable companies pay royalties to obtain a copyright statutory license under the Copyright Act to retransmit over-the-air programming, and the royalties are set by the government, not the broadcasters. The broadcasters are not happy with this move, of course, claiming that Aereo should not be allowed to flip-flop on how it defines itself.
Google

Google, Dropbox, and Others Forge Patent "Arms Control Pact" 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-together dept.
jfruh writes Patent trolling is a serious irritant and financial drain on many big tech companies — but those same companies can't guarantee that their own future management won't sell the patents they own to a 'non-practicing entity', especially in the case of sale or bankruptcy. That's why a number of tech giants, including Google and Dropbox, have formed the 'License or Transfer Network,' in which a patent will automatically be licensed to everyone else in the network in the event that it's sold to a third party.
Transportation

Hacking a Tesla Model S Could Net $10,000 Prize 77

Posted by timothy
from the usb-port-under-the-gas-cap dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "It seems there's a new hack challenge set every week, but this time, it seems different. A challenge has been thrown down to hack a Tesla Model S with a $10,000 prize. The organizers of a computer security conference have set the challenge and it's open to anyone that registers for the Syscan conference. Taking place in Beijing from July 16-17, the rules for the hack competition haven't been revealed yet but a Model S will be on display for hackers to try their luck on. It's important to note that Tesla itself isn't involved in the competition in any official capacity, nor does it support the competition. If successful, this wouldn't be the first time a Tesla Model S has been hacked. In that instance Tesla was quick to warn people that making changes in the Model S' software would immediately void the car's warranty. Given the car's high-tech nature, it's no shock Tesla's taking security seriously. With $10,000 on the line, it'll be interesting to see if anyone manages to crack the code."
Technology

The Future of Wearables: Standalone, Unobtrusive, and Everywhere 56

Posted by samzenpus
from the computer-clothes dept.
jfruh writes Wearable tech has been a pretty niche product so far, and a widely derided one at that, but moves are in the works to help the category break into the mainstream. One of the biggest irritants is that most wearable devices must pair with a smartphone to actually connect to the Internet — but an AT&T exec says that his company will be selling a standalone wearable by the end of 2014. Google Glass has been a flashpoint of conflict not least because it's extremely obvious; its creator says that subtle, non intrusive versions are coming. And while everyone wonders what Apple's play in this space will be, it may be best to imagine what they're working on as a successor to their fading iPod line.
Science

A Brain Implant For Synthetic Memory 87

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the paging-dr-soong dept.
the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "People who have experienced traumatic brain injuries sometimes lose the ability to form new memories or recall old ones. Since many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffered TBIs, the U.S. military is funding research on an implantable device that could do the job of damaged brain cells." Lofty goals: "To start, DARPA will support the development of multi-scale computational models with high spatial and temporal resolution that describe how neurons code declarative memories — those well-defined parcels of knowledge that can be consciously recalled and described in words, such as events, times, and places. Researchers will also explore new methods for analysis and decoding of neural signals to understand how targeted stimulation might be applied to help the brain reestablish an ability to encode new memories following brain injury. ... Building on this foundational work, researchers will attempt to integrate the computational models ... into new, implantable, closed-loop systems able to deliver targeted neural stimulation that may ultimately help restore memory function."
Education

Interviews: Ask Juan Gilbert About Human-Centered Computing 30

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Awarded the first Presidential Endowed Chair at Clemson University, and being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), are just a couple of Juan Gilbert's more noteworthy honors. Juan is the Associate Chair of Research in the Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department at the University of Florida where he leads the Human Centered Computing Lab. With the help of students, the lab works on a variety of issues, including electronic voting, automotive user interfaces, advanced learning technologies, culturally relevant computing or ethnocomputing, and databases and data analytics. Dr. Gilbert has agreed to answer any questions you might have about computing and affecting society through accessible technologies. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Businesses

US Tech Firms Recruiting High Schoolers (And Younger) 253

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-oughta-be-a-law-enforcing-the-laws-we-already-have dept.
ShaunC writes: Is there a glut of qualified American tech workers, or isn't there? Some companies like Facebook and Airbnb are now actively courting and recruiting high school students as young as 13 with promises of huge stipends and salaries. As one student put it, "It's kind of insane that you can make more than the U.S. average income in a summer." Another who attended a Facebook-sponsored trip said he'd "forego college for a full-time job" if it were offered. Is Silicon Valley taking advantage of naive young workers?
Privacy

Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies 353

Posted by Soulskill
from the beware-the-all-seeing-actuaries dept.
New submitter jbmartin6 writes: The Panopticon may be coming, but perhaps not how we think. Instead of a massive government surveillance program, we might end up subjected to ubiquitous monitoring to save on our insurance premiums. The "internet of things (you can't get away from)" makes this more and more possible. Here a company saved money on its health insurance premiums by distributing Fitbits and an online service to enable reporting fitness gains back to the insurance company. We've already seen the stories on using black boxes to monitor drivers. There is even an insurance company named Panoptic! Heck, why not a premium hike for owners of this or that "aggressiveness gene"? What if in the future we got a quick "+50 cents" tweet for every scoop of ice cream? I suppose the natural stopping point might be the balance between an individual's willingness to be monitored and the desire to reduce insurance premiums.
NASA

Interview: Edward Stone Talks About JPL and Space Exploration 57

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
samzenpus writes We recently had a chance to sit down with Edward Stone, Former Director of JPL, and ask him about his time as a project scientist for the Voyager program and the future of space exploration. In addition to our questions, we asked him a number of yours. Read below to see what professor Stone had to say.
Businesses

No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say 401

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-do-it dept.
sabri writes To have a labor shortage or not to have, that's the question. According to the San Jose Mercury News: Last month, three tech advocacy groups launched a labor boycott against Infosys, IBM and the global staffing and consulting company ManpowerGroup, citing a "pattern of excluding U.S. workers from job openings on U.S soil." They say Manpower, for example, last year posted U.S. job openings in India but not in the United States." "It's getting pretty frustrating when you can't compete on salary for a skilled job," said Rich Hajinlian, a veteran computer programmer from the Boston area. "You hear references all the time that these big companies ... can't find skilled workers. I am a skilled worker."
IT

Ask Slashdot: How Often Should You Change Jobs? 282

Posted by Soulskill
from the headhunters-can-keep-their-opinions-to-themselves dept.
An anonymous reader writes "We all know somebody who changes jobs like changing clothes. In software development and IT, it's getting increasingly hard to find people who have been at their job for more than a few years. That's partly because of tech companies' bias for a young work force, and partly because talented people can write their own ticket in this industry. Thus, I put the question to you: how often should you be switching jobs? Obviously, if you find the perfect company (full of good people, doing interesting things, paying you well), your best bet is to stay. But that's not the reality for most of the workforce. Should you always be keeping an eye out for new jobs? Is there a length of time you should stick around so you don't look like a serial job-hopper? Does there come a point in life when it's best to settle down and stick with a job long term?"
Transportation

Autonomous Trucking 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the project-optimus dept.
An anonymous reader writes We've heard about all the effort going into self-driving cars, but what about the massive fleet of trucks we use to deliver goods around the country? Well, Mercedes is trying to tackle that problem. They have just demonstrated an autonomous 18-wheeler on the German Autobahn. It's clearly a long-term project; they named it "Future Truck 2025," as an unsubtle reminder that this tech needs a lot of development before it's ready for common use. "Special cameras and multiple radar systems watch the road, the sides of the road, and cars and trucks behind the vehicle. Future Truck is also envisioned to communicate with other vehicles and connect to growing sources of online information as Big Data balloons on the road. ... Many of the component parts to put a vehicle like this into production are already available in trucks on the market: Systems that help drivers keep their distance from other drivers, active braking assistance, guidance and mapping systems, and fine-tuned cruise control and tons of other hi-tech tchotchke."
NASA

NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever 146

Posted by timothy
from the because-rockets dept.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, NASA has given a green light to the production of a new motor, dubbed the Space Launch System, intended to enable deep space exploration. Boeing, prime contractor on the rocket, announced on Wednesday that it had completed a critical design review and finalized a $US2.8-billion contract with NASA. The last time the space agency made such an assessment of a deep-space rocket was the mighty Saturn V, which took astronauts to the moon. ... Space Launch System's design called for the integration of existing hardware, spurring criticism that it's a "Frankenstein rocket," with much of it assembled from already developed technology. For instance, its two rocket boosters are advanced versions of the Space Shuttle boosters, and a cryogenic propulsion stage is based on the motor of a rocket often used by the Air Force. The Space Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group and frequent NASA critic, said Space Launch System was "built from rotting remnants of left over congressional pork. And its budgetary footprints will stamp out all the missions it is supposed to carry, kill our astronaut program and destroy science and technology projects throughout NASA."
Google

Google Reader: One Year Later 132

Posted by timothy
from the somehow-we-manage dept.
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes "Just over a year has passed since Google closed Google Reader; have your reading habits changed? When Google announced in March 2013 that Google Reader would close, a number of pundits saw it as a sign of the imminent death of RSS feeds as redundant tech. But 15 months has gone by and I can't see that very much has changed. Former Google Reader users fled to any number of smaller competitors, including Feedly, which as a result quadrupled its userbase from around 4 million users to around 15 million users and 24,000 paying customers in February 2014. I can't speak for you but I am still getting my news from RSS feeds, just like I did before the Readerpocalypse. Zite might be gone and Pulse might belong to LinkedIn but RSS feeds are still around."

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