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Sci-Fi

We're In a Golden Age of Star Trek Webseries Right Now 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the living-long-and-prospering dept.
New submitter DakotaSmith writes: io9 has an article explaining why We're Living In The Golden Age Of Star Trek Webseries Right Now. If you're a true geek, you probably already know about Star Trek Continues and Star Trek: Phase II. (If you're a true geek and you don't know about them, run — do not walk, run — to watch "Lolani." Your brain— and more importantly, your heart — will love you for the rest of your life.)

But there's more to it than that. A lot more. How about the years'-long wait for Act IV of Starship Exeter : "The Tressaurian Intersection"? Or Yorktown: "A Time to Heal" — an attempt to resurrect an aborted fan film from 1978 starring George Takei? For fans of old-school Star Trek (the ones who pre-date "Trekker" and wear "Trekkie" as a badge of honor), not since 1969 has there been a better time to watch Star Trek: The Original Series.

(Oh, and there's plenty content out there for you "Trekkers" and NextGen-era fans. It all varies in quality, but it doesn't take much effort to find them. This is truly a Golden Age. Recognize it and enjoy it while it lasts.)
Firefox

Firefox 37 Released 132

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.
Education

No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC 87

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!"
EU

Europe Agrees On Regulatory Drone Framework 14

Posted by Soulskill
from the american-regulators-still-arguing-about-what-email-is dept.
Hallie Siegel writes: Not a week goes by where some aspect of drone regulation fails to make the news. But for any regulated industry where technology is advancing faster than new rules can be agreed upon, it will undoubtedly cause a few headaches. This week closes with a very positive announcement from European stakeholders on the future of drones. During a two-day conference in Riga, the European aviation community found broad agreement on the main principles to guide a regulatory framework to allow drone operations throughout Europe from 2016 onward.
Government

Notel Media Player Helps North Koreans Skirt Censorship 54

Posted by timothy
from the one-day-will-be-on-ebay.nk dept.
An anonymous reader writes A small portable media device, costing roughly $50, is allowing North Koreans to access and view foreign media despite tight government censorship, according to a Reuters report. The 'Notel', a mashup of notebook and television, is being described as a symbol of change in the repressed society. Used to watch DVDs and shared content from USB sticks and SD cards, the media player can be easily concealed and transported among families and friends. According to correspondents in the region, as many as half of all urban North Korean households have a notel and are swapping a broad range of banned media such as soaps and TV dramas from South Korea and China, Hollywood blockbusters, and news clips — all of which is strictly forbidden by Pyongyang law.
Communications

How Professional Russian Trolls Operate 261

Posted by Soulskill
from the bridge-related-employment dept.
New submitter SecState writes: Hundreds of full-time, well-paid trolls operate thousands of fake accounts to fill social media sites and comments threads with pro-Kremlin propaganda. A St. Petersburg blogger spent two months working 12-hour shifts in a "troll factory," targeting forums of Russian municipal websites. In an interview, he describes how he worked in teams with two other trolls to create false "debates" about Russian and international politics, with pro-Putin views always scoring the winning point. Of course, with the U.S. government invoking "state secrets" to dismiss a defamation case against the supposedly independent advocacy group United Against a Nuclear Iran, Americans also need to be asking how far is too far when it comes to masked government propaganda.
Businesses

Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-clouds dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that Amazon is now offering unlimited cloud storage plans to compete with Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. "Last year, Amazon gave a boost to its Prime members when it launched a free, unlimited photo storage for them on Cloud Drive. Today, the company is expanding that service as a paid offering to cover other kinds of content, and to users outside of its loyalty program. Unlimited Cloud Storage will let users get either unlimited photo storage or "unlimited everything" — covering all kinds of media from videos and music through to PDF documents — respectively for $11.99 or $59.99 per year."
The Media

NY Times: "All the News That Mark Zuckerberg Sees Fit To Print"? 79

Posted by timothy
from the who-do-you-trust-and-why dept.
theodp writes Two years ago, Politico caught Mark Zuckerberg's soon-to-be launched FWD.us PAC boasting how its wealthy tech exec backers would use their companies to 'control the avenues of distribution' for a political message in support of their efforts. Now, the NY Times is reporting that Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook, citing a source who said the Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal. Facebook declined to comment on specific discussions with publishers, but noted it had provided features to help publishers get better traction on Facebook, including tools unveiled in December that let them target their articles to specific groups of Facebook users. The new plan, notes the Times, is championed by Chris Cox, the top lieutenant to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and a "major supporter" of FWD.us. Exploring Facebook's wooing of the media giants, the Christian Science Monitor asks if social media will control the future of news, citing concerns expressed by Fusion's Felix Salmon, who warns that as news sites sacrifice their brands to reach a wider audience, their incentives for accuracy and editorial judgment will disappear.
Books

Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
Japan

No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1 234

Posted by timothy
from the oh-this-old-thing? dept.
An anonymous reader writes To nobody's surprise, the Japanese press reports that a new way to look at the inside of one of the Fukushima 1 damaged reactors has shown the fuel is not in place. Engineers have not been able to develop a machine to directly see the exact location of the molten fuel, hampered by extremely high levels of radiation in and around the reactors, but a new scan technique using muons (details on the method in the media are missing) have shown the fuel is not in its place. While Tepco's speculation is that the fuel may be at the bottom of the reactor, it is a safe bet that at least some of it has burned through and has gone on to create an Uruguay syndrom.
Media

Ask Slashdot: Building a Home Media Center/Small Server In a Crawlspace? 253

Posted by timothy
from the make-sure-you-can-retrieve-it-later dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I've decided it's time for me to build a separate machine specifically for use as a Media Center/Small Home Server. My wife and I haven't had cable TV in years, instead relying entirely on Netflix, other streaming sites, and hard copies we've bought over the years. Having just finished ripping our entire media collection (CDs, DVDs, and even our vinyls and VHS with the help of a capture card and some sweet digital voodoo) to a couple HDDs, I'm feeling froggy. Up until now we've been using WDTV Live, and it's been pretty snazzy, but I want to upgrade to a dedicated media machine instead of piggybacking off of my office computer. It'll be a Windows based machine utilizing Plex, and it's going in the crawlspace of the house. The crawlspace in question is unfinished, but I do have a dry concrete slab down there where I can put/mount/assemble something. Cooling won't be an issue obviously, and I am keeping a close eye on hardware specs with regards to moisture. It is still a crawlspace though. What would be a good setup to to house the hardware? Priorities being to safeguard against moisture, vermin, and dirt. Modified PC Tower? Rack? Build an enclosure? Something I haven't considered?

Please assume I'm stubborn and absolutely dead-set on putting it in the crawlspace to avoid the discussion devolving into the 'best' place to put a media machine."
Biotech

Sloppy Biosafety Procedures Found At Federal Disease Center 21

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
schwit1 writes: An investigation of a federal center for studying dangerous diseases in primates has found serious biosafety procedure violations. "Concerns arose at the center in Covington, Louisiana, after two rhesus macaques became ill in late November with melioidosis, a disease caused by the tropical bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. In January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Department of Agriculture investigators traced the strain infecting the primates to a vaccine research lab working with mice. Last month, as the investigation continued, CDC suspended the primate center's 10 or so research projects involving B. pseudomallei and other select agents (a list of dangerous bacteria, viruses, and toxins that are tightly regulated). Meanwhile, a report in USA Today suggested the bacterium might have contaminated the center's soil or water. In addition, workers "frequently entered the select agent lab without appropriate protective clothing," the release says. No center staff has shown signs of illness. On 12 March, however, Tulane announced that blood tests have found that one worker has low levels of antibodies to the bacterium, suggesting possible exposure at the center, according to ABC News."
Television

Apple Reportedly Working On an Online TV Service 87

Posted by Soulskill
from the eliminating-those-choices-that-confuse-your-pretty-little-head dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a Wall Street Journal report (paywalled) Apple is in negotiations with media companies to develop an online TV service. The service will include a bundle of roughly 25 channels, so less popular channels will have a very difficult time fighting for a spot. Most major networks should be present, although NBC's participation is dubious because of its ties to Comcast, which would be in direct competition with Apple's service. "If Apple can offer a comprehensive, albeit slimmed-down, bundle for $30 to $40 a month, that could force distributors to cut prices or eat into margins to retain subscribers. At Comcast, for example, average video revenue per user should be about $79.45 in 2015, according to UBS. Meanwhile, its programming costs per average subscriber should be about $39.60. Those costs may need to rise. That roughly 50% gross margin looks vulnerable."
The Almighty Buck

Global Learning XPRIZE Senior Director Matt Keller Answers Your Questions 4

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-they-are dept.
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask former Vice President of One Laptop per Child, and current Senior Director of the Global Learning XPRIZE Matt Keller about education and the competition. The XPRIZE challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic with a Grand Prize of $10 million. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard? 452

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-fit-through-doors dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After five years of service, my keyboard is dying, and I'm starting to look for a new one. Since it's for my primary machine, and I spend a lot of hours there for both work and leisure, I'd like to invest in a high-quality replacement. What do you recommend? I've been using a Logitech G15, and it worked well enough — but not well enough for me to buy another. (I've also heard Logitech's build quality has been on the decline in recent years — has that been your experience, those of you who own their recent hardware?) My use cases include coding and gaming, so durability is a big plus.

I'd prefer something a bit less bulky than the G15, which has a raised area at the top for media controls and a tiny screen. I don't mind a thicker bottom bezel so much. I'm not a huge fan of ergonomic/split keyboards, but if you know a really excellent one, I wouldn't rule it out. Same with mechanical keyboards — love the action, but the noise is an issue. I don't need any particular bells and whistles, but don't mind them. As for a budget... as I said, it's for a heavy-use machine, so I don't mind investing in great hardware. (That said, if I'm spending $150+, it better automatically make sure all my semicolons are in the right place.) So, what keyboard has served you well?
Communications

Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English' 667

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-feel-free-to-continue-screaming-at-random-internet-commenters dept.
Pikoro writes: A recent article in the Wall Street Journal explains why the concept of a "proper" English isn't realistic. Quoting: "It's a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers can't express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. ... As children, we all have the instinct to acquire a set of rules and to apply them. ... We know that a certain practice is a rule of grammar because it’s how we see and hear people use the language. ... That’s how scholarly linguists work. Instead of having some rule book of what is “correct” usage, they examine the evidence of how native and fluent nonnative speakers do in fact use the language. Whatever is in general use in a language (not any use, but general use) is for that reason grammatically correct. The grammatical rules invoked by pedants aren’t real rules of grammar at all. They are, at best, just stylistic conventions.
Social Networks

Education Company Monitors Social Media For Test References 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the learning-how-to-spy-via-standardized-tests dept.
theodp writes: As if people haven't found enough to hate about the new 11+ hour K-12 PARCC standardized testing, the Washington Post reports that Pearson, the world's largest education company, is monitoring social media during the administration of the PARCC Common Core test to detect any security breaches, saying it is "obligated" to alert authorities when any problems are discovered. The monitoring of social media was revealed in a message that a New Jersey School Superintendent sent to colleagues about a "Priority 1 Alert" initiated by Pearson in response to a student who referenced a PARCC test question in an after-school Tweet. The news was broken in a blog entry by former NJ Star-Ledger reporter Bob Braun, who also posted the Superintendent's message and called the monitoring of social media nothing less than "spying." Pearson has a contract of more than $100 million to administer the PARCC in New Jersey.
United Kingdom

Swedish Authorities Offer To Question Assange In London 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-place-or-yours dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Since 2012, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up inside Ecuador's embassy in London trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces a sexual assault investigation. Now, after the case has been stalled for years, Swedish prosecutors are arranging to come to London and question Assange within the embassy. According to his lawyer, Assange welcomes this, but Sweden still needs to be granted permission from both the UK and Ecuador. "Assange's lawyers, who are appealing against his arrest warrant in Sweden's highest court, have complained bitterly about the prosecutor's refusal to travel to London to speak to him – an essential step under Swedish jurisprudence to establish whether Assange can be formally charged. [Lead investigator Marianne] Ny's refusal, they say, has condemned Assange to severe limitations on his freedom that are disproportionate to the accusations against him." Ny has also requested a DNA sample from Assange.
Open Source

Linux Kernel Adopts 'Code of Conflict' 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-excellent-to-each-other dept.
Motor was one of several readers to note that a small patch recently added to the Linux kernel contains guidelines for discourse and dispute resolution within the community. It's called the "Code of Conflict." Quoting: Your code and ideas behind it will be carefully reviewed, often resulting in critique and criticism. The review will almost always require improvements to the code before it can be included in the kernel. Know that this happens because everyone involved wants to see the best possible solution for the overall success of Linux. .... If however, anyone feels personally abused, threatened, or otherwise uncomfortable due to this process, that is not acceptable. ... As a reviewer of code, please strive to keep things civil and focused on the technical issues involved.
Transportation

Lawsuit Claims Major Automakers Have Failed To Guard Against Hackers 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-they'll-listen-when-lawyers-say-it dept.
Lucas123 writes: A Dallas-based law firm has filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California claiming Ford, GM and Toyota all ignored basic electronic security measures that leave vehicles open to hackers who can take control of critical functions and endanger the safety of the driver and passengers. The suit, filed on behalf of three vehicle owners and "all others similarly situated" is seeking unspecified damages and an injunction that would force automakers to install proper firewalls or encryption in vehicle computer bus systems, which connect dozens of electronic control units. "Toyota, Ford and GM have deliberately hidden the dangers associated with car computer systems, misleading consumers," attorney Marc Stanley said. The lawsuit cites several studies revealing security flaws in vehicle electronics. A 2013 study by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency found researchers could make vehicles "suddenly accelerate, turn, [and] kill the brakes." A study released last month by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) also claims automakers have fallen far short in their responsibility to secure their vehicles' electronics.