Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×
Canada

Amazon Tests Delivery Drones At Secret Canada Site After US Frustration 43

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-the-national-dronehockey-league dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Guardian: Amazon is testing its drone delivery service at a secret site in Canada, following repeated warnings by the e-commerce giant that it would go outside the U.S. to bypass what it sees as the U.S. federal government's lethargic approach to the new technology. The largest internet retailer in the world is keeping the location of its new test site closely guarded. What can be revealed is that the company's formidable team of roboticists, software engineers, aeronautics experts and pioneers in remote sensing – including a former NASA astronaut and the designer of the wingtip of the Boeing 787 – are now operating in British Columbia. The end goal is to utilize what Amazon sees as a slice of virgin airspace – above 200ft, where most buildings end, and below 500ft, where general aviation begins. Into that aerial slice the company plans to pour highly autonomous drones of less than 55lbs, flying through corridors 10 miles or longer at 50mph and carrying payloads of up to 5lbs that account for 86% of all the company's packages.
Firefox

Firefox 37 Released 43

Posted by Soulskill
from the onward-and-upward dept.
Today Mozilla began rolling out Firefox version 37.0 to release channel users. This update mostly focuses on behind-the-scenes changes. Security improvements include opportunistic encryption where servers support it and improved protection against site impersonation. They also disabled insecure TLS version fallback and added a security panel within the developer tools. One of the things end users will see is the Heartbeat feedback collection system. It will pop up a small rating widget to a random selection of users every day. After a user rates Firefox, an "engagement" page may open in the background, with links to social media pages and a donation page. Here are the release notes and full changelist.
Books

Book Review: Drush For Developers, 2nd Edition 23

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes As with any content management system, building a website using Drupal typically requires extensive use of its administrative interface, as one navigates through its menus, fills out its forms, and reads the admin pages and notifications — or barely skims them, as they have likely been seen by the site builder countless times before. With the aim of avoiding this tedium, speeding up the process, and making it more programmatic, members of the Drupal community created a "shell" program, Drush, which allows one to perform most of these tasks on the command line. At this time, there is only one current print book that covers this tool, Drush for Developers, Second Edition, which is ostensibly an update of its predecessor, Drush User's Guide. Read below for the rest of Michael's review.
Education

Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous 241

Posted by timothy
from the fallacy-of-the-excluded-middle dept.
HughPickens.com writes According to an op-ed by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post, if Americans are united in any conviction these days, it is that we urgently need to shift the country's education toward the teaching of specific, technical skills, expand STEM courses (science, technology, engineering and math) and deemphasize the humanities. "It is the only way, we are told, to ensure that Americans survive in an age defined by technology and shaped by global competition. The stakes could not be higher." But according to Zakaria the dismissal of broad-based learning, however, comes from a fundamental misreading of the facts — and puts America on a dangerously narrow path for the future.

As Steve Jobs once explained "it's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough — that it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing." Zakaria says that no matter how strong your math and science skills are, you still need to know how to learn, think and even write and cites Jeff Bezos' insistence that writing a memo that makes sense is an even more important skill to master. "Full sentences are harder to write," says Bezos. "They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking." "This doesn't in any way detract from the need for training in technology," concludes Zakaria, "but it does suggest that as we work with computers (which is really the future of all work), the most valuable skills will be the ones that are uniquely human, that computers cannot quite figure out — yet. And for those jobs, and that life, you could not do better than to follow your passion, engage with a breadth of material in both science and the humanities, and perhaps above all, study the human condition."
Earth

Cetaceans Able To Focus Sound For Echolocation 18

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-a-squeaker dept.
Rambo Tribble writes A recent study from Denmark has determined that porpoises, dolphins and whales can focus the sounds they make, described as "clicks and buzzes", when hunting. This appears to exceed even the capabilities of bats. One researcher described the ability as, "like adjusting a flashlight." The BBC offers approachable, and illustrated coverage.
Microsoft

License Details Hint MS Undecided On Suing Users of Its Open Source Net Runtime 140

Posted by timothy
from the full-of-shift dept.
ciaran2014 writes With Microsoft proudly declaring its .NET runtime open source, a colleague and I decided to look at the licensing aspects. One part, the MIT licence, is straightforward, but there's also a patent promise. The first two-thirds of the first sentence seems to announce good news about Microsoft not suing people. Then the conditions begin. It seems Microsoft can't yet bring itself to release something as free software without retaining a patent threat to limit how those freedoms can be exercised. Overall, we found 4 Shifty Details About Microsoft's "Open Source" .NET.
NASA

X-37B To Fly Again 38

Posted by timothy
from the gets-high-with-a-little-help-from-its-friends dept.
schwit1 writes The May 6 Atlas 5 launch will carry one of the Air Force's two X-37B mini-shuttles on a new mission in space. "The Air Force won't yet confirm which of the Boeing-built spaceplanes will be making the voyage. The first craft returned in October from a 675-day mission in space following a 224 day trek in 2010. OTV No. 2 spent 469 days in space in 2011-2012 on its only mission so far. "The program selects the Orbital Test Vehicle for each activity based upon the experiment objectives," said Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesperson. "Each OTV mission builds upon previous on-orbit demonstrations and expands the test envelope of the vehicle. The test mission furthers the development of the concept of operations for reusable space vehicles." There are indications that the Air Force wants to attempt landing the shuttle at Kennedy this time.
China

Bitcoin In China Still Chugging Along, a Year After Clampdown 29

Posted by timothy
from the government-vs-the-people dept.
angry tapir writes A year after China began tightening regulations around Bitcoin, the virtual currency is still thriving in the country, albeit on the fringes, according to its largest exchange. Bitcoin prices may have declined, but Chinese buyers are still trading the currency in high volumes with the help of BTC China, an exchange that witnessed the boom days back in 2013, only to see the bust following the Chinese government's announcement, in December of that year, that banks would be banned from trading in bitcoin.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Questions US Government's Software Flaw Disclosure Policy 14

Posted by Soulskill
from the we'll-do-that-at-least-once-in-the-past-decade dept.
angry tapir writes: It's not clear if the U.S. government is living up to its promise to disclose serious software flaws to technology companies, a policy it put in place five years ago, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They write, "ODNI has now finished releasing documents in response to our suit, and the results are surprisingly meager. Among the handful of heavily redacted documents is a one-page list of VEP 'Highlights' from 2010. It briefly describes the history of the interagency working group that led to the development of the VEP and notes that the VEP established an office called the 'Executive Secretariat' within the NSA. The only other highlight left unredacted explains that the VEP 'creates a process for notification, decision-making, and appeals.' And that's it. This document, which is almost five years old, is the most recent one released. So where are the documents supporting the 'reinvigorated' VEP 2.0 described by the White House in 2014?"
Education

No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the better-learning-through-animated-GIFs dept.
theodp writes: In Why My MOOC is Not Built on Video, GWU's Lorena Barba explains why the Practical Numerical Methods with Python course she and colleagues put together has but one video: "Why didn't we have more video? The short answer is budget and time: making good-quality videos is expensive & making simple yet effective educational videos is time consuming, if not necessarily costly. #NumericalMOOC was created on-the-fly, with little budget. But here's my point: expensive, high-production-value videos are not necessary to achieve a quality learning experience." When the cost of producing an MOOC can exceed $100,000 per course, Barba suggests educators pay heed to Donald Bligh's 1971 observation that "dazzling presentations do not necessarily result in learning." So what would Barba do? "We designed the central learning experience [of #NumericalMOOC] around a set of IPython Notebooks," she explains, "and meaningful yet achievable mini-projects for students. I guarantee learning results to any student that fully engages with these!"
Businesses

IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the becoming-borg-is-at-both-the-top-and-the-bottom dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Dice, there's a breakdown of which tech jobs have the greatest return on investment, with regard to high starting salaries and growth potential relative to how much you need to spend on degrees and certifications. Which jobs top this particular calculation? No shockers here: DBAs, software engineers, programmers, and Web developers all head up the list, with salaries that tick into six-figure territory. How about those with the worst ROI? Graphic designers, sysadmins, tech support, and software QA testers often present a less-than-great combination of relatively little money and room for advancement, even if you possess a four-year degree or higher, unless you're one of the lucky few.
Businesses

Amazon Launches 'Home Services' For Repair, Installation, and Other Work 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the remember-when-they-sold-books dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon has quietly rolled out a new business called "Home Services," which aims to be a middleman between customers and all sorts of contracted services. It includes things like appliance repair, home cleaning, installation/assembly of products in your car or home, tutoring (academic and musical), and even performance art. Amazon makes money on this by taking a cut of the total price — between 10 and 20 percent. Since everything is geolocated, they have many more options available in big cities than in small rural communities. One of Amazon's goals is to help standardize the price for various services, so there aren't any surprises when the bill comes due.
The Almighty Buck

Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains 296

Posted by Soulskill
from the money-is-the-root-of-all dept.
sciencehabit writes: Stark and rising inequality plagues many countries, including the United States, and politicians, economists, and — fortunately — scientists, are debating its causes and solutions. But inequality's effects may go beyond simple access to opportunity: a new study finds that family differences in income and education are directly correlated with brain size in developing children and adolescents. The findings could have important policy implications and provide new arguments for early antipoverty interventions, researchers say.
Bitcoin

Silk Road Investigators Charged With Stealing Bitcoin 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
itwbennett writes Two former U.S. government agents face charges related to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bitcoin while assisting with an investigation of the Silk Road underground online marketplace, with one accused of using a fake online persona to extort money from operators of the site. Facing charges of wire fraud and money laundering are Carl Force, 46, of Baltimore, a former special agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and Shaun Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service. Both served on the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity on the Silk Road website, the Department of Justice said Monday in a press release.
Books

Book Review: Future Crimes 26

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes Technology is neutral and amoral. It's the implementers and users who define its use. In Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, author Marc Goodman spends nearly 400 pages describing the dark side of technology, and those who use it for nefarious purposes. He provides a fascinating overview of how every major technology can be used to benefit society, and how it can also be exploited by those on the other side. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.
Businesses

Apple Extends Its Trade-In Program 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-much-will-you-give-me-for-it? dept.
Mark Wilson writes "Earlier in the month it was reveal that Apple was about to start offering gift cards as part of a trade-in program for people buying new a new iPhone. The updated program has now gone live so you can take your old Apple device, or non-Apple smartphone to an Apple store, or mail it in to receive credit. The credit can be used in store or online against the purchase of a new Apple device, and this program expansion is the latest move from Apple to try to tempt users away from other platforms. You can check online to see how much you can expect to receive for your existing phone and decide whether it's worth your while. Hint: it might not be.
Crime

Attempted Breach of NSA HQ Checkpoint; One Shot Dead 300

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-news dept.
seven of five writes One man is dead and another severely injured after a shootout at one of the main gates of the National Security Agency located at Fort Meade, Maryland. Two men dressed as women attempted to 'penetrate' the entry point with their vehicle when a shootout occurred, officials said. The FBI said they do not believe the incident is related to terrorism.
Government

Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory 1025

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes It will come as no surprise that Apple's CEO Tim Cook doesn't agree with so-called religious freedom laws. Cook says, "[they] rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear," and has penned an op-ed piece for The Washington Post which reads in part: "A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas' marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law. These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."
Government

India Mandates Use of Open Source Software In Government 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-at-last dept.
jrepin writes The Indian government announced a policy yesterday that makes it mandatory to use open-source software in building apps and services, in an effort to "ensure efficiency, transparency and reliability of such services at affordable costs." The new policy (PDF) states that all government organizations must include a requirement for their software suppliers to consider open-source options when implementing e-governance applications and systems. The move will bring the Indian government in line with other countries including the US, UK and Germany that opt for open-source software over proprietary tools.
China

Chinese Scientists Plan Solar Power Station In Space 215

Posted by samzenpus
from the or-you-know-stop-polluting-so-much dept.
knwny points out this lofty proposed power plan in China. "The battle to dispel smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve the energy crisis is moving to space. If news reports are to be believed, Chinese scientists are mulling the construction of a solar power station in a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometres above ground. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth. If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station and be the largest-ever space project."