/.

Subscribe to /. feed /.
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 2 hours 17 min ago

TSA Screeners Win Immunity From Abuse Claims, Court Rules

12 July 2018 - 8:45pm
Mr.Intel writes from a report via Reuters: "Fliers may have a tough time recovering damages for invasive screenings at U.S. airport security checkpoints, after a federal appeals court on Wednesday said screeners are immune from claims under a federal law governing assaults, false arrests and other abuses," reports Reuters. In a 2-1 vote, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are shielded from liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) because they do not function as "investigative or law enforcement officers." The decision, the first on the issue by a federal appeals court, was a defeat for Nadine Pellegrino, a business consultant from Boca Raton, Florida. "She and her husband had sued for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution over a July 2006 altercation at Philadelphia International Airport," reports Reuters. According to court papers, Pellegrino had been randomly selected for additional screening at the Philadelphia airport before boarding a U.S. Airways flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Pellegrino, then 57, objected to the invasiveness of the search, but conditions deteriorated and she was later jailed for about 18 hours, the papers show. Criminal charges were filed, and Pellegrino was acquitted at a March 2008 trial.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Astronomers Detected a 'Ghost Particle' and Tracked It To Its Source

12 July 2018 - 8:03pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Space.com: Astronomers have traced a high-energy neutrino to its cosmic source for the first time ever, solving a century-old mystery in the process. Observations by the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole and a host of other instruments allowed researchers to track one cosmic neutrino to a distant blazar, a huge elliptical galaxy with a fast-spinning supermassive black hole at its heart. And there's more. Cosmic neutrinos go hand in hand with cosmic rays, highly energetic charged particles that slam into our planet continuously. So, the new find pegs blazars as accelerators of at least some of the fastest-moving cosmic rays as well. Astronomers have wondered about this since cosmic rays were first discovered, way back in 1912. But they've been thwarted by the particles' charged nature, which dictates that cosmic rays get tugged this way and that by various objects as they zoom through space. Success finally came from using the straight-line journey of a fellow-traveler ghost particle. On Sept. 22, 2017, [...] IceCube picked up another cosmic neutrino. It was extremely energetic, packing about 300 teraelectron volts -- nearly 50 times greater than the energy of the protons cycling through Earth's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider. Within 1 minute of the detection, the facility sent out an automatic notification, alerting other astronomers to the find and relaying coordinates to the patch of sky that seemed to house the particle's source. The community responded: Nearly 20 telescopes on the ground and in space scoured that patch across the electromagnetic spectrum, from low-energy radio waves to high-energy gamma-rays. The combined observations traced the neutrino's origin to an already-known blazar called TXS 0506+056, which lies about 4 billion light-years from Earth. The IceCube team also went through its archival data and found more than a dozen other cosmic neutrinos that seemed to be coming from the same blazar. These additional particles were picked up by the detectors from late 2014 through early 2015. The findings are reported in two separate studies published in the journal Science.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Gawker.com Sold To Bleacher Report Co-Founder Bryan Goldberg In Bankruptcy Auction

12 July 2018 - 7:20pm
The now-dormant news and gossip website Gawker.com was sold on Thursday to Bryan Goldberg, the founder of Bustle and co-founder of Bleacher Report. According to CNN, the site sold for less than $1.5 million. From the report: Goldberg founded the sports website Bleacher Report along with three other people in 2005; in 2012, they sold it to Turner, which like CNN is owned by AT&T. He launched Bustle, a website focused on women's issues, in 2013. Goldberg addressed the Gawker sale in a Bustle internal email on Thursday, saying the site will be acquired "under a new holding company, separate from Bustle." "You are probably wondering what happens next," he said in the email, which was obtained by CNN. "The short is this -- not much. We have no immediate plans to re-launch Gawker. For now, things will stay as they are. I'm very excited about the possibilities for the future of Gawker. I will share more in the months ahead." The sale includes an archive of hundreds of thousands of Gawker stories and social media accounts affiliated with the site. Gawker Media was sold to Univision in 2016 for $135 million and renamed Gizmodo Media Group after the company declared bankruptcy, "the result of a legal assault waged by the former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan that was secretly subsidized by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, a longtime Gawker adversary," reports CNN.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Stops Selling 2015 MacBook Pro With Old-Style Keyboard, Legacy Ports

12 July 2018 - 6:40pm
After announcing new MacBook Pro models today, Apple has removed the 2015 MacBook Pro from the Mac section of its website. Ars Technica reports: Beloved by many, the 2015 MacBook Pro had a number of features that have since been changed or have disappeared entirely from new MacBook Pro models. Arguably the most polarizing among these tweaks is the butterfly keyboardâ"the 2015 MacBook Pro predates that mechanism, making its traditional keyboard a preferred alternative for many users. The 2015 MacBook Pro also contained legacy ports that Apple has since abandoned in the newest models: USB-A, HDMI, and Thunderbolt 2 ports, and an SD card slot. All of the newest MacBook Pros exclusively feature Thunderbolt 3 ports, which some will appreciate but all will scowl at when they're forced to buy multiple dongles to connect legacy accessories. Currently, Apple has a few 2015 MacBook Pro models listed in its online clearance section, but it's likely that Apple will not have more to sell after those are gone.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Russian Influence Campaign Sought To Exploit Americans' Trust In Local News

12 July 2018 - 6:03pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The information operatives who worked out of the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg did not stop at posing as American social media users or spreading false information from purported news sources, according to new details. They also created a number of Twitter accounts that posed as sources for Americans' hometown headlines. NPR has reviewed information connected with the investigation and found 48 such accounts. They have names such as @ElPasoTopNews, @MilwaukeeVoice, @CamdenCityNews and @Seattle_Post. "A not-insignificant amount of those had some sort of variation on what appeared to be a homegrown local news site," said Bret Schafer, a social media analyst for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, which tracks Russian influence operations and first noticed this trend. Another example: The Internet Research Agency created an account that looks like it is the Chicago Daily News. That newspaper shuttered in 1978. The Internet Research Agency-linked account was created in May 2014, and for years, it just posted local headlines, accumulating some 19,000 followers by July 2016. Another twist: These accounts apparently never spread misinformation. In fact, they posted real local news, serving as sleeper accounts building trust and readership for some future, unforeseen effort. "They set them up for a reason. And if at any given moment, they wanted to operationalize this network of what seemed to be local American news handles, they can significantly influence the narrative on a breaking news story," Schafer told NPR. "But now instead of just showing up online and flooding it with news sites, they have these accounts with two years of credible history."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

India Now Has the 'World's Strongest' Net Neutrality Rules

12 July 2018 - 5:22pm
India has just adopted tough new rules guaranteeing an open and fair internet for nearly half a billion people. From a report: The government has taken an "unambiguous stand" on the issue by endorsing net neutrality rules proposed last November, India's telecom regulator said on Thursday. Net neutrality rules require internet providers to treat all online content the same, preventing them from favoring -- or withholding -- access to certain websites, services or apps. The principle is under attack in America, where the Trump administration repealed federal laws last month, but has been staunchly defended in India in the face of attempts by global tech companies such as Facebook to offer stripped-down internet access.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Justice Department Appeals Time Warner-AT&T Merger Approval

12 July 2018 - 4:37pm
The Justice Department will appeal the AT&T-Time Warner merger approval, according to a court document filed Thursday. In one of the largest U.S. antitrust cases in decades, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled last month that the merger could go on despite the government's resistance. The feds did not seek a stay that would have prevented the merger from taking place, and AT&T and Time Warner closed the deal directly after Leon's ruling.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Python Language Founder Steps Down

12 July 2018 - 4:02pm
After almost 30 years of overseeing the development of the world's most popular language, Python, its founder and "Benevolent Dictator For Life" (BDFL), Guido van Rossum, has decided to remove himself entirely from the decision process. From a report: Van Rossum isn't leaving Python entirely. He said, "I'll still be there for a while as an ordinary core dev, and I'll still be available to mentor people -- possibly more available." It's clear from van Rossum's note he's sick and tired of running the organization. He wrote, "I don't ever want to have to fight so hard for a PEP (Python Enhancement Proposals) [PEP 572 Assignment Expressions] and find that so many people despise my decisions." In addition, van Rossum hints he's not been well. "I'm not getting younger... (I'll spare you the list of medical issues.)" So, "I'm basically giving myself a permanent vacation from being BDFL, and you all will be on your own." From the email: I am not going to appoint a successor. So what are you all going to do? Create a democracy? Anarchy? A dictatorship? A federation? I'm not worried about the day to day decisions in the issue tracker or on GitHub. Very rarely I get asked for an opinion, and usually it's not actually important. So this can just be dealt with as it has always been. At Slashdot, we had the privilege of interviewing Guido van Rossum, a Computer History Museum honoree, in 2013.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Canadian Telecoms Make The Most Money on Data Usage In The World: Tefficient

12 July 2018 - 3:25pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: Canadian wireless users have some of the lowest data usage in the world, but Canadian telecom companies make the most money off the customers they have, a new report shows. A study by telecom comparison site Tefficient looked at data usage per SIM card in 36 countries worldwide in 2017, and how much money telecoms made per gigabyte of wireless data used. Canadians used about 1.3 GB of data per month per SIM card last year. There were only five countries where wireless customers used less than that -- the Czech Republic, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, and Greece. By contrast, Indian telecoms had the lowest revenue per gigabyte, and showed the highest growth in data usage in 2017 -- more than 300 percent.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Claims It Has Enabled Its Partners To 'Double the Number of Black and Latinx Students and Girls Taking AP Computer Science'

12 July 2018 - 2:45pm
theodp writes: In a Monday blog post, the outgoing Head of Education for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Chan Zuckerberg Initiative made the claim that "we've made investments that enabled our partners to double the number of Black and Latinx students and girls taking AP Computer Science." The claim is an apparent reference to the highly-promoted and wildly-successful new AP Computer Science Principles course (dubbed "Coding Lite" by the NY Times), which the NSF and College Board began development on in 2009. Zuckerberg's CZI LLC was created in late 2015.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ear Implant Lets Deaf Gerbils Sense Sound From Light Signals

12 July 2018 - 2:06pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: A research team at the University Medical Center Gottingen has created a cochlear implant that uses light to restore auditory responses in deaf gerbils. The study provides a proof-of-concept that combining optical stimulation with genetic manipulation can successfully restore sound perception, and could lead to a new generation of more accurate cochlear implants. Approximately 360 million people worldwide have hearing impairment. Traditional cochlear implants can partially restore the ability to hear in many of these patients by stimulating ear cells with electrical signals. In such devices, however, the generated current tends to spread around each point of contact, activation of a large population of neurons and limiting the resolution and clarity of sound signals. Christian Wrobel and colleagues tackled this obstacle by designing a light-based cochlear implant. Optical stimulation promises spatially confined activation of neurons in the auditory nerve, potentially yielding spatially precise ear cell stimulation with limited spreading.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

First-Ever Color X-ray on a Human

12 July 2018 - 1:31pm
What if, instead of a black and white X-ray picture, a doctor of a cancer patient had access to color images identifying the tissues being scanned? From a post: This is now a reality, thanks to a New-Zealand company that scanned, for the first time, a human body using a breakthrough color medical scanner based on the Medipix3 technology developed at CERN. Father and son scientists Professors Phil and Anthony Butler from Canterbury and Otago Universities spent a decade building and refining their product. Medipix is a family of read-out chips for particle imaging and detection. The original concept of Medipix is that it works like a camera, detecting and counting each individual particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open. This enables high-resolution, high-contrast, very reliable images, making it unique for imaging applications in particular in the medical field. Hybrid pixel-detector technology was initially developed to address the needs of particle tracking at the Large Hadron Collider, and successive generations of Medipix chips have demonstrated over 20 years the great potential of the technology outside of high-energy physics.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft is Updating Windows Notepad Application For the First Time in Years

12 July 2018 - 12:40pm
Microsoft is giving its Notepad app for Windows a surprising amount of new features. From a report: You'll soon be able to do wrap around find and replace alongside the ability to zoom into text by holding down the ctrl key and using the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Microsoft is also adding in extended line ending support so that Unix/Linux line endings (LF) and Macintosh line endings (CR) are supported in Notepad. The status bar will now be enabled by default in Notepad, and it includes the ability to display line and column numbers when word-wrap is enabled.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Walmart's Newly Patented Technology For Eavesdropping On Workers Presents Privacy Concerns

12 July 2018 - 12:00pm
Walmart has patented an audio surveillance system which can be used to listen to conversations between employees and customers at checkout. From a report: The "listening to the frontend" technology, as its called, is one of many futuristic ideas Walmart has sought to patent in recent years as it competes with Amazon for domination of the retail industry. While there's no guarantee that Walmart will ever build this technology, the patent shows the company is thinking about using tech not just to facilitate deliveries or make its warehouses more efficient, but also to manage its workforce, which is the largest in the United States. Walmart declined to comment on whether it plans to use audio sensors to measure the productivity of its staff in the near future, but said in a statement, "We're always thinking about new concepts and ways that will help us further enhance how we serve customers, but we don't have any further details to share on these patents at this time."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The First Real Boom in Virtual Reality? It's Pornography.

12 July 2018 - 11:20am
An anonymous reader shares a report: Pornography has provided the first real boom in VR, and adult-entertainment companies like Naughty America are leading the way. In the 18 months after producing its first VR video, the San Diego-based studio released 108 more, making it one of the most prolific producers of VR content in the world. In 2017, the company operated a booth at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and became the first adult business allowed to exhibit in 19 years. It's not surprising that adult-entertainment companies are among the first movers in the nascent VR industry. After adult content helped popularize new media formats like VHS, Blu-ray and streaming video, the idea that porn drives digital innovation became a widely accepted truth. What is surprising is how big VR porn has become, and how quickly. In 2016, Samsung, HTC, Google, Sony and Facebook-owned Oculus sold just over 6.1 million headsets worldwide, according to an estimate from SuperData, a videogame market research firm. In December 2016 alone, Naughty America's customers downloaded more than 20 million VR videos, the company said. VR porn consumers are also more willing to pay for content than consumers of typical online porn.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Could Move Some Jobs Abroad Because of US Immigration Policies, Top Exec Says

12 July 2018 - 10:40am
Microsoft does not want to move jobs out of the United States but certain decisions out of Washington could potentially force its hands, the company's President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith warned. From a report: The Trump Administration's tough stance on immigration has attracted a lot of criticism from big technology firms, which rely heavily on skilled foreign workers from around the world. Smith previously spoke out against efforts to stop the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program -- an Obama-era policy that provides legal protection for young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Microsoft has advocated the protection of DACA and more broadly supported immigration as a way to make sure U.S. companies are hiring talented people. "We do worry about a couple of the very specific immigration questions that people appear to be debating in Washington," Smith told CNBC's Akiko Fujita in an interview on Wednesday. [...] "We don't want to move jobs out of the United States and we hope that we don't see decision making in Washington that would force us to do that," he said, adding that Microsoft has been openly speaking to people in Congress, at the White House and even the Canadian government to safeguard the interest of its employees. Microsoft has a development center in Vancouver, which Smith described as a "bit of a safety valve." "We're not going to cut people loose. We're going to stand behind them," he added.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Look at Street Network Orientation in Major US Cities

12 July 2018 - 10:00am
Geoff Boeing, a postdoc in the Urban Analytics Lab at the University California, Berkeley, has published a blog post that offers a fascinating look at the street orientation of major cities in the USA and around the world. What is interesting in his findings is how cities from different historical periods form different patterns, and also just how uniformly grid-structured most American cities are. From his post: In 1960, Kevin Lynch published The Image of the City, his treatise on the legibility of urban patterns. How coherent is a city's spatial organization? How do these patterns help or hinder urban navigation? I recently wrote about visualizing street orientations with Python and OSMnx. That is, how is a city's street network oriented in terms of the streets' compass bearings? How well does it adhere to a straightforward north-south-east-west layout? I wanted to revisit this by comparing 25 major US cities' orientations. Each of the cities is represented by a polar histogram (aka rose diagram) depicting how its streets orient. Each bar's direction represents the compass bearings of the streets (in that histogram bin) and its length represents the relative frequency of streets with those bearings. [...] Most cities' polar histograms similarly tend to cluster in at least a rough, approximate way. But then there are Boston and Charlotte. Unlike most American cities that have one or two primary street grids organizing city circulation, their streets are more evenly distributed in every direction. Boeing published a follow-up to the post to include to compare world cities.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple Refreshes MacBook Pro Lineup

12 July 2018 - 8:55am
Apple said on Thursday it is refreshing the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. Neither machines are getting major redesigns, but the innards are getting a spec update. For starters, both the models are powered by the 8th-generation Intel processors and house more cores than before -- a maximum of six cores on the 15-inch model (compared to four in last year's models) and four in the 13-inch model (compared to two). That means faster performance for many use cases. Maximum SSD capacity is also doubled, and the MacBook Pro line offers DDR4 RAM for the first time. ArsTechnica: The laptops also borrow some features from the iMac Pro and the iPad Pro -- the T2 chip and True Tone, respectively -- and feature a revised butterfly keyboard, the third generation of the design Apple introduced in 2016 (the revision is a little more significant this time around). Apart from those tweaks to the keyboard, the basic design of the MacBook Pro is unchanged. The top configuration of the 15-inch model includes an 8th-generation, six-core Intel Core i9 CPU clocked at 2.9GHz. Six-core Intel Core i7 processors are also options. The 2017 iteration of the MacBook Pro featured DDR3 memory with a maximum configuration of 16GB. This time, it's DDR4, and the maximum is 32. The faster memory uses more energy, so a bigger battery is now included -- but Apple's battery life estimate remains the same as last year's. The GPU in the top standard configuration is listed as an AMD Radeon Pro 555X. The 13-inch model has different specs, of course. It still only offers integrated Intel graphics, for one thing -- Intel Iris Plus 655, this time with 128MB of eDRAM. But the maximum number of cores are again doubled -- in this case to four -- in 8th-generation Intel Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs, which run at up to 2.7GHz. Maximum SSD capacity is also doubled; it's now 2TB. The maximum memory is still 16GB. Apple claims the 13-inch model is up to twice as fast as its predecessor, though it will of course depend on the application. ArsTechnica says the keyboard on the new MacBook Pro models, though look similar to the one in the predecessor lineup, feel a little different to type on. The price of 13-inch starts at $1,799 while the 15-inch starts at $2,399.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Magic Leap Finally Demoed Its Headset And It Is 'Disappointing'

12 July 2018 - 7:00am
From a story on Digg, via DaringFireball: Magic Leap, the secretive augmented reality company that has raised $2.3 billion, finally demoed its long-rumored, much-vaunted headset on Wednesday (and announced that the headset will ship this summer). It was disappointing. Magic Leap has promised big things -- remember the tiny elephant in your hands? Remember that whale jumping out of the gym floor? But the animations demonstrated on Wednesday fall short of those promises. Waaaay short. An executive with Magic Leap, which has long remained tight lipped on its roadmap and commercial availability of its products, said on a Twitch livestream this week that the Magic Leap One, a developer-geared headset, will ship this season. (Summer ends September 22, so the company has 10 weeks to meet its self-imposed deadline.)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Killing Rats Could Save Coral Reefs

12 July 2018 - 5:00am
The much maligned rat is not a creature many would associate with coral reefs. But scientists studying reefs on tropical islands say the animals directly threaten the survival of these ecosystems. From a report: A team working on the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean found that invasive rats on the islands are a "big problem" for coral reefs. Rats decimate seabird populations, in turn decimating the volume of bird droppings -- a natural coral fertiliser. The findings are published in Nature. Scientists now advocate eradicating rats from all of the islands to protect these delicate marine habitats.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pages