Government

Think Tanks: How a Bill [Gates Agenda] Becomes a Law 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the daily-dose-of-cynicism dept.
theodp writes: The NY Times' Eric Lipton was just awarded a 2015 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting that shed light on how foreign powers buy influence at think tanks. So, it probably bears mentioning that Microsoft's 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy (PDF) to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas — which is on the verge of being codified into laws — was hatched at an influential Microsoft and Gates Foundation-backed think tank mentioned in Lipton's reporting, the Brookings Institution. In 2012, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings hosted a forum on STEM education and immigration reforms, where fabricating a crisis was discussed as a strategy to succeed with Microsoft's agenda after earlier lobbying attempts by Bill Gates and Microsoft had failed. "So, Brad [Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith]," asked the Brookings Institution's Darrell West at the event, "you're the only [one] who mentioned this topic of making the problem bigger. So, we galvanize action by really producing a crisis, I take it?" "Yeah," Smith replied (video). And, with the help of nonprofit organizations like Code.org and FWD.us that were founded shortly thereafter, a national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis was indeed created.
Space

Hubble Turns 25 43

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-for-all-the-desktop-wallpapers dept.
Taco Cowboy points out that the Hubble Space Telescope turns 25 today. Hubble was launched on April 24, 1990, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Currently, it is flying about 340 miles over the Earth and circling us every 97 minutes. While the telescope itself is not really much to look at, that silver bucket is pure gold for astronomers. Scientists have used that vantage point to make ground-breaking observations about planets, stars, galaxies and to reveal parts of our universe we didn't know existed. The telescope has made more than a million observations and astronomers have used Hubble data in more than 12,700 scientific papers, "making it one of the most productive scientific instruments ever built," according to NASA. ... NASA aims to keep Hubble operating through at least 2020 so that it can overlap with its successor. The James Webb Space Telescope is due to launch in October 2018 and begin observations in mid-2019. NASA celebrated by releasing a new, epic image from Hubble titled "Celestial Fireworks." It is accompanied by an impressive flythrough video. Some nice galleries of Hubble images have been put together at the NY Times and Slate, but a bigger collection is available directly from the official Hubble website.
Education

Virtual Reality Games Can Improve Memory Retention of Safety Instructions 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget dept.
vrml writes: Using a virtual reality (VR) headset to experience risky situations as immersive 3D games improves memory retention of passenger safety instructions, according to research published in the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, and illustrated by a YouTube video. Researchers recruited occasional flyers: half of them played a VR gaming experience of an airliner water landing and evacuation, while the other half studied a real airline safety card. After one week, passengers who had studied the safety card suffered a significant loss of knowledge, while passengers who had played the VR game fully retained the safety knowledge gained. The research group has now made available its emergency water landing experience also for the Oculus Rift.
Youtube

YouTube Going Dark On Older Devices 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the making-your-smart-TV-a-bit-dumber dept.
PC Mag reports on changes to the YouTube API, which have rendered YouTube apps inoperable on older consoles, smart TVs, and other video streaming devices. They're doing this because the old version of the API doesn't support some of YouTube's newer features. Newer devices might be able to upgrade — Apple handhelds that can run iOS 7 or later will have no problem, nor will 3rd-gen Apple TVs and devices running Google TV 3 or 4. But earlier Apple TVs and Google TVs running version 2 or earlier will be out of luck.
Cellphones

Does Lack of FM Support On Phones Increase Your Chances of Dying In a Disaster? 350

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?
Microsoft

Microsoft's Role As Accuser In the Antitrust Suit Against Google 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-the-other-side dept.
HughPickens.com writes Danny Hakim reports at the NYT that as European antitrust regulators formally accuse Google of abusing its dominance, Microsoft is relishing playing a behind-the-scenes role of scold instead of victim. Microsoft has founded or funded a cottage industry of splinter groups to go after Google. The most prominent, the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace, or Icomp, has waged a relentless public relations campaign promoting grievances against Google. It conducted a study that suggested changes made by Google to appease regulators were largely window dressing. "Microsoft is doing its best to create problems for Google," says Manfred Weber, the chairman of the European People's Party, the center-right party that is the largest voting bloc in the European Parliament. "It's interesting. Ten years ago Microsoft was a big and strong company. Now they are the underdog."

According to Hakim, Microsoft and Google are the Cain and Abel of American technology, locked in the kind of struggle that often takes place when a new giant threatens an older one. Microsoft was frustrated after American regulators at the Federal Trade Commission didn't act on a similar antitrust investigation against Google in 2013, calling it a "missed opportunity." It has taken the fight to the state level, along with a number of other opponents of Google. Microsoft alleges that Google's anti-competitive practices include stopping Bing from indexing content on Google-owned YouTube; blocking Microsoft Windows smartphones from "operating properly" with YouTube; blocking access to content owned by book publishers; and limiting the flow of ad campaign information back to advertisers, making it more expensive to run ads with rivals. "Over the past year, a growing number of advertisers, publishers, and consumers have expressed to us their concerns about the search market in Europe," says Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel. "They've urged us to share our knowledge of the search market with competition officials."
Robotics

Embedded Linux Takes to the Skies (Video) 26

Posted by Roblimo
from the robot-drones-want-you-to-take-them-to-your-leader-(beep) dept.
This is an interview with Clay McClure. He makes his living designing 'custom Linux software solutions for technology start-ups in Atlanta and the San Francisco Bay area.' He also works on Embedded Linux for autonomous drones. Here's a link to slides from a talk he gave on exactly that topic: Flying Penguins - Embedded Linux Applications for autonomous UAVs, and that's far from all he has to say about making Linux-controlled drones. However, for some reason Timothy and Clay didn't talk about using drones for target practice. Perhaps they can discuss that another time.

NOTE: We urge you to read the transcript of this interview even if you prefer watching videos; it contains material we left out of the video due to sound problems.
United States

Hillary Clinton Declares 2016 Democratic Presidential Bid 676

Posted by samzenpus
from the throwing-her-hat-in-the-ring dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a move that surprised no one, Hillary Clinton has officially announced she is entering the 2016 race for the White House. According to the Times: "Ending two years of speculation and coy denials, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced on Sunday that she would seek the presidency for a second time, immediately establishing herself as the likely 2016 Democratic nominee. 'I'm running for president,' she said with a smile near the end of a two-minute video released just after 3 p.m. 'Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion,' Mrs. Clinton said. 'So I'm hitting the road to earn your vote — because it's your time. And I hope you'll join me on this journey.'"
Space

Copenhagen Suborbitals Test Rocket Engine 9

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-infinty-and-beyond dept.
An anonymous reader writes Copenhagen Suborbitals, the amateur manned space program, is conducting a rocket engine test today. The event is being streamed Live in HD on YouTube. The rocket engine is named BPM 2 and is a prequel to a planned series of test of the BPM 5 rocket engine currently being built. The purpose of the BPM 2 test is primarily to test a newly constructed mobile test stand and to test various fuel additives before the BPM 5 test series are to begin later in the first half of 2015.
Operating Systems

First Alpha of Public Sector Linux Deployment System 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the nordic-tux dept.
New submitter mathiasfriman writes: SverigeLinux (SwedenLinux in Swedish) is a project financed by the Swedish Internet Fund that is developing a Linux deployment system for the public sector. It is based on DebianLAN and has just released its first public early alpha version. This 7 minute video shows how you can deploy up to 100 workstations with minimal Linux knowledge in under an hour, complete with DHCP, DNS and user data in LDAP, logins using Kerberos and centralized storage. The project has a home on GitHub and is looking for testers and developers. Don't worry, no Björgen Kjörgen; it's all in English.
Software

Why Some Developers Are Live-Streaming Their Coding Sessions 131

Posted by timothy
from the look-at-me-look-at-me dept.
itwbennett writes Adam Wulf recently spent two weeks live-streaming himself writing every line of code for a new mobile app. He originally started to live-stream as 'a fun way to introduce the code to the community.' But he quickly learned that it helps him to think differently than when he was coding without the camera on. "Usually when I work, so much of my thought process is internal monologue," he said, "but with live streaming I try to narrate my thought process out loud. This has forced me to think through problems a little differently than I otherwise would, which has been really beneficial for me."
Youtube

Google To Offer Ad-Free YouTube - At a Price 358

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up dept.
First time accepted submitter totalcaos writes YouTube announced today its plans for an ad-free, subscription-based service by way of an email sent out to YouTube Partners. The email details the forthcoming option, which will offer consumers the choice to pay for an "ads-free" version of YouTube for a monthly fee. The additional monetization option requires partners to agree to updated terms on YouTube's Creator Studio Dashboard, which notes that the changes will go into effect on June 15, 2015. We talked about the possibility of an ad-free model back in October.
United States

Snowden Demystified: Can the Government See My Junk? 200

Posted by timothy
from the aside-from-the-hidden-cameras dept.
An anonymous reader writes Comedian and journalist John Oliver set out to understand US Government surveillance in advance of the June 2015 expiration of section 215 of the Patriot Act. What resulted was a humorous but exceptionally journalistic interview of Edward Snowden which distilled the issues down in a (NSFW) way everyone can understand. Regardless of whether you view Snowden as a despicable traitor or an honorable whistleblower, it's worth a watch.
Advertising

Consumer Groups Bemoan Google's "Deceptive" Ads for Kids In FTC Complaint 92

Posted by timothy
from the part-of-this-nutritious-breakfast dept.
Mark Wilson writes A number of consumer groups have filed a complaint with the FTC suggesting that Google is targeting children with 'unfair and deceptive' ads in YouTube Kids for Android and iOS. A letter signed by Children Now, Consumer Watchdog, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, and others says that ads are displayed in a way that would not be permitted on broadcast or cable television. The letter makes three main complaints about the app. The first suggests that Google mixes programming and ads, while another says that the relationship between Google and the manufacturers of advertised products is not clear. The groups ask for the FTC to take action to stop the advertisements. Also covered by The Verge and VentureBeat; here's the complaint letter.
Youtube

Google Rolls Out VP9 Encoding For YouTube 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the prettier-pictures-per-megabit dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The YouTube engineering blog announced that they've begun encoding videos with Google's open VP9 codec. Their goal is to use the efficiency of VP9 to bring better quality video to people in low-bandwidth areas, and to spur uptake of 4K video in more developed areas. "[I]f your Internet connection used to only play up to 480p without buffering on YouTube, it can now play silky smooth 720p with VP9."
Censorship

Turkey Blocks Twitter, YouTube Access Over Image of Slain Prosecutor 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-likes-for-you dept.
jaa101 writes ABC (Australia) reports Turkey has blocked access to Twitter and YouTube, over the publication of photographs of an Istanbul prosecutor held at gunpoint by far-left militants hours before he was killed in a shootout last week. From the article: "Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said a prosecutor had sought the block on access to social media sites because some media organisations had acted 'as if they were spreading terrorist propaganda' in sharing the images. 'This has to do with the publishing of the prosecutor's picture. What happened in the aftermath [of the prosecutor's killing] is as grim as the incident itself,' said presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin."
The Media

Ask Slashdot: Options Beyond YouTube For An Indie Web Show? 60

Posted by timothy
from the pirate-tv-from-your-house dept.
New submitter Deltree Zero writes: I have an indie TV-style education/entertainment show which focuses on medicinal cannabis growing and use in Maine, product reviews, guests, etc. I have been creating the show at home using a very passable camera, editing with Lightworks, and have been distributing it via YouTube. I am five monthly episodes in, and besides needing a small upgrade in the microphone department, production has settled in to a workable quality level that I can be proud of. I am not looking to collect money at any time during distribution. The show is getting quite popular and I was wondering if any Slashdot readers had any advice on how to distribute my show other ways than YouTube. I see Roku is an outlet like this but my show must first pass through some sort of content filter and I am still waiting to hear if medicinal cannabis is on the "no-no list." There are other indie TV-style channels I have heard of, Revision 3, for example. What other indie channels exist that might deliver my show at low or no cost? What other methods of digital distribution make sense for an upcoming web show looking to free itself from YouTube as its only distribution point?
News

Rare Ideopathic Encephaly Tied to Higher IQ, Not Lower 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the consume-mass-quantities dept.
Timothy writes Cranial deformation is commonly linked to brain dysfunction; it is one of the most common serious conditions affecting fetal growth. Multiple factors are involved, but in nearly every case on record the result is debilitating; stillbirth or neonatal death are common. A mutation, though, has been observed among members of a New Jersey family which represents a rare case of heritable encephaly tied not to dysfunction, but to higher-than-average intelligence, and with no evident negative health consequences.

Donald R. DeCicco (not his real name) and his wife Prymaat of Paramus, both French-born naturalized U.S. citizens, were born with unremarkable physical characteristics, apart from a specific constellation of physical abnormalities affecting maxillofacial and brain development. In both of their cases, brain development appears to be ordinary, but with all brain lobes occupying a volume that is both larger and narrower than typical. All medical tests (and the couple's success as educated, productive members of society) make it clear that their condition has not prevented ordinary life, and may even have enhanced it; a series of MRI and PET scans conducted by Johns Hopkins researchers indicated that their above-average cerebella are at least as active and neuron-rich as are more run-of-the-mill subjects' brains, and tests of memory, cognition, and reasoning place both DeCicco and Clorhone in the top percentile of American rest subjects. A daughter, Connie, shares both their unusual skeletal growth pattern, and is similarly highly intelligent; perhaps this form of heritable encephaly should be thought of as akin to Marfan syndrome, for its pairing of both high intelligence and a characteristic bone-growth pattern. At least one researcher quoted in the linked article believes that less extreme forms of the same anomaly can be observed in some historical and contemporary figures, citing as examples both Vladimir Putin and actor Richard Belzer as bearing some tendency toward the same characteristic shape.

First described by a family physician and described in the Journal of the Society of the Federal Health Professionals,the condition has been labeled Sandler's Syndrome.
Sci-Fi

We're In a Golden Age of Star Trek Webseries Right Now 71

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.)
Nintendo

Mario 64 Remake Receives a DMCA Complaint From Nintendo 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-fun-allowed dept.
jones_supa writes: Well, we saw this one coming. Just a couple of days after computer science student Erik Roystan Ross released a free recreation of the first level of Nintendo's 1996 Super Mario 64, Nintendo filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint. It was sent to the content distribution network CloudFlare and the complaint asked to immediately disable public access to the page hosting the remade game. CloudFlare forwarded the complaint to the person hosting Ross' game, after which the hosting provider (a friend of Ross) had to take the game down. Nintendo also sent Ross takedown notices for his downloadable desktop versions of the Bob-Omb Battlefield. Nintendo is famously protective of its copyright, taking issue even with "Let's Play" videos posted on YouTube and threatening to shut down live-streamed Super Smash Bros tournaments."