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Scientists Found the Origin of the Ebola Outbreak - Sat Aug 30 13:40:02 2014

Taco Cowboy sends this report from Vox: One of the big mysteries in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is where the virus came from in the first place — and whether it's changed in any significant ways. ... In a new paper in Science (abstract), researchers reveal that they have sequenced the genomes of Ebola from 78 patients in Sierra Leone who contracted the disease in May and June. Those sequences revealed some 300 mutations specific to this outbreak. Among their findings, the researchers discovered that the current viral strains come from a related strain that left Central Africa within the past ten years. ... Using genetic sequences from current and previous outbreaks, the researchers mapped out a family tree that puts a common ancestor of the recent West African outbreak some place in Central Africa roughly around 2004. This contradicts an earlier hypothesis that the virus had been hanging around West Africa for much longer than that. Researchers are also planning to study the mutations to see if any of them are affecting Ebola's recent behavior. For example, this outbreak has had a higher transmission rate and lower death rate than others, and researchers are curious if any of these mutations are related to that. ... The scientific paper on Ebola is also a sad reminder of the toll that the virus has taken on those working on the front lines. Five of the authors died of Ebola before it was published.


MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board - Sat Aug 30 12:36:01 2014

DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "In a bid to harness the energy and enthusiasm swirling around today's open, hackable single board computers, Imagination Technologies, licensor of the MIPS ISA, has unveiled the Creator C120 development board, the ISA's counter to ARM's popular Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black SBCs. The MIPS dev board is based on a 1.2GHz dual-core MIPS32 system-on-chip and has 1GB RAM and 8GB flash, and there's also an SD card slot for expansion. Ports include video, audio, Ethernet, both WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, and a bunch more. OS images are already available for Debian 7, Gentoo, Yocto, and Arch Linux, and Android v4.4 is expected to be available soon. Perhaps the most interesting feature of the board is that there's no pricing listed yet, because the company is starting out by giving the boards away free to developers who submit the most interesting projects."


Dell's New Alienware Case Goes to Extremes To Prevent Overheating - Sat Aug 30 10:50:30 2014

MojoKid writes Dell's enthusiast Alienware brand has always stood out for its unique, other-worldly looks (sometimes good, sometimes, not so good) and there's such a thing as taking things to the next level, this might be it. However, there's more to this refresh than just shock value. It's actually a futuristic aesthetic with a rather purposeful design behind it. Today Alienware gave a sneak peek at their completely redesigned Alienware Area 51 desktop system. This refreshed system is unlike any previous Alienware rig you've seen. With a trapezoidal shape to its chassis, Dell-Alienware says you can place the Area-51 against a wall and not have to worry about thermals getting out of the control. That's because there's a controlled gap and a sharp angle to the chassis that ensures only a small part of the system actually rests near the wall, leaving extra room for hot air to escape up and away. This design also offers users easy access to rear IO ports. Despite the unique design, there's plenty of room for high end components inside. The retooled chassis can swallow up to three 300W double-wide full-length graphics cards. It also brings to the table Intel's latest and greatest Haswell-E in six-core or eight-core options, liquid cooled and nestled into Intel's X99 chipset. No word from Dell on the price but the new Area-51 is slated to start shipping in October.


Watch UK Inventor Colin Furze Survive a Fireworks Blast In a Metal Suit - Sat Aug 30 09:35:29 2014

Nerval's Lobster writes Labor Day is nigh, and with it the official end of summer. It's time to pack away the umbrellas and beach towels, and perhaps spend a few minutes flipping through photos of all the fun times you had over the past couple months: the grilling, the trips, the fireworks oh yes, the fireworks Chances are pretty good that you've set off more than a few fireworks in your time. But Colin Furze, the British inventor and YouTube celebrity who once co-hosted Sky1's Gadget Geeks? Well, he puts everybody's love of fireworks to shame. He loves fireworks so much, in fact, that he built a giant metal suit so he could stand in the middle of an epic pyrotechnic display. No matter how good your own engineering skills (or strong your courage), it's inadvisable to try this at home. But it's sure fun to watch.


Hal Finney, PGP and Bitcoin Pioneer, Dies At 58 - Sat Aug 30 07:06:41 2014

New submitter brokenin2 writes Hal Finney, the number two programmer for PGP and the first person to receive a Bitcoin transaction, has passed away. From the article on Coindesk: "Shortly after collaborating with Nakamoto on early bitcoin code in 2009, Finney announced he was suffering from ALS. Increasing paralysis, which eventually became near-total, forced him to retire from work in early 2011."


Google Introduces HTML 5.1 Tag To Chrome - Sat Aug 30 04:28:01 2014

darthcamaro (735685) writes "Forget about HTML5, that's already passe — Google is already moving on to HTML5.1 support for the upcoming Chrome 38 release. Currently only a beta, one of the biggest things that web developers will notice is the use of the new "picture" tag which is a container for multiple image sizes/formats. Bottom line is it's a new way to think about the "IMG" tag that has existed since the first HTML spec."


Anti-Ebola Drug ZMapp Makes Clean Sweep: 18 of 18 Monkeys Survive Infection - Sat Aug 30 01:39:34 2014

Scientific American reports, based on a study published today in Nature, that ZMapp, the drug that has been used to treat seven patients during the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa, can completely protect monkeys against the virus, research has found. ... The drug — a cocktail of three purified immune proteins, or monoclonal antibodies, that target the Ebola virus — has been given to seven people: two US and three African health-care workers, a British nurse and a Spanish priest. The priest and a Liberian health-care worker who got the drug have since died. There is no way to tell whether ZMapp has been effective in the patients who survived, because they received the drug at different times during the course of their disease and received various levels of medical care. NPR also has an interview with study lead Gary Kobinger, who says that (very cautious) human trials are in the works, and emphasizes the difficulites of producing the drug in quantity.


Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague - Fri Aug 29 23:53:01 2014

Foreign Policy has an in-depth look at the contents of a laptop reportedly seized this year in Syria from a stronghold of the organization now known as the Islamic State, and described as belonging to a Tunisian national ("Muhammed S."). The "hidden documents" folder of the machine, says the report, contained a vast number of documents, including ones describing and justifying biological weapons: The laptop's contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations -- and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State's deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another. ... The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia's northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education: The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals. ... "The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge," the document states.


Study: Social Networks Have Negative Effect On Individual Welfare - Fri Aug 29 22:17:32 2014

An anonymous reader writes: A study of 50,000 people in Italy has found the impact of social networking on individual welfare to be "significantly negative." The researchers found that improvements in self-reported well-being occurred when online networking led to face-to-face interactions, but this effect was overwhelmed by the perceived losses in well-being (PDF) generated by interaction strictly through social networks. The researchers "highlight the role of discrimination and hate speech on social media which they say play a significant role in trust and well-being. Better moderation could significantly improve the well-being of the people who use social networks, they conclude."


Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup - Fri Aug 29 21:34:44 2014

mdsolar sends this report from Symmetry Magazine: Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. ... [M]uon tomography is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don't damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography. ... By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team's software creates a three-dimensional picture of what's inside. ... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core. "When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn't know about," says Morris. "They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles."


Mozilla To Support Public Key Pinning In Firefox 32 - Fri Aug 29 20:52:25 2014

Trailrunner7 writes: Mozilla is planning to add support for public-key pinning in its Firefox browser in an upcoming version. In version 32, which would be the next stable version of the browser, Firefox will have key pins for a long list of sites, including many of Mozilla's own sites, all of the sites pinned in Google Chrome and several Twitter sites. Public-key pinning has emerged as an important defense against a variety of attacks, especially man-in-the-middle attacks and the issuance of fraudulent certificates. The function essentially ties a public key, or set of keys, issued by known-good certificate authorities to a given domain. So if a user's browser encounters a site that's presenting a certificate that isn't included in the set of pinned public keys for that domain, it will then reject the connection. The idea is to prevent attackers from using fake certificates in order to intercept secure traffic between a user and the target site.


This 'SimCity 4' Region With 107 Million People Took Eight Months of Planning - Fri Aug 29 20:09:27 2014

Jason Koebler writes: Peter Richie spent eight months planning and building a megacity in vanilla SimCity 4, and the end result is mind-boggling: 107.7 million people living in one massive, sprawling region (video). "Traffic is a nightmare, both above ground and under," Richie said. "The massive amount of subway lines and subway stations are still congested during all times of the day in all neighborhoods of each and every mega-city in the region. The roadways are clogged at all times, but people still persist in trying to use them."


Robot Printer Brings Documents To Your Desk - Fri Aug 29 19:26:22 2014

mrspoonsi sends this news from the BBC: Fuji Xerox has developed a new robotic printer that can move around a lounge or office to bring documents to the person who printed them. The printer is designed to be used primarily in public places as a way to keep sensitive documents secure. Sensors on the machine prevent it from bumping into people on the way. However, some analysts argued that the idea was not cost effective when compared with other secure printing methods. Fuji Xerox — a joint venture between the two firms — has been testing the printer this month at a business lounge in Tokyo. Each desk in the lounge is given a unique web address from which to print. Users access the address and upload documents to be printed. Once the printer receives the job, it moves to the intended recipient who then has to display a smart card to activate printing.


Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory - Fri Aug 29 18:53:01 2014

crookedvulture writes: Intel has updated its high-end desktop platform with a new CPU-and-chipset combo. The Haswell-E processor has up to eight cores, 20MB of cache, and 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0. It also sports a quad-channel memory controller primed for next-gen DDR4 modules. The companion X99 chipset adds a boatload of I/O, including 10 SATA ports, native USB 3.0 support, and provisions for M.2 and SATA Express storage devices. Thanks to the extra CPU cores, performance is much improved in multithreaded applications. Legacy comparisons, which include dozens of CPUs dating back to 2011, provide some interesting context for just how fast the new Core i7-5960X really is. Intel had to dial back the chip's clock speeds to accommodate the extra cores, though, and that concession can translate to slower gaming performance than Haswell CPUs with fewer, faster cores. Haswell-E looks like a clear win for applications that can exploit its prodigious CPU horsepower and I/O bandwidth, but it's clearly not the best CPU for everything. Reviews also available from Hot Hardware, PC Perspective, AnandTech, Tom's Hardware, and HardOCP.


IEEE Guides Software Architects Toward Secure Design - Fri Aug 29 17:52:01 2014

msm1267 writes: The IEEE's Center for Secure Design debuted its first report this week, a guidance for software architects called "Avoiding the Top 10 Software Security Design Flaws." Developing guidance for architects rather than developers was a conscious effort the group made in order to steer the conversation around software security away from exclusively talking about finding bugs toward design-level failures that lead to exploitable security vulnerabilities. The document spells out the 10 common design flaws in a straightforward manner, each with a lengthy explainer of inherent weaknesses in each area and how software designers and architects should take these potential pitfalls into consideration.


Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies - Fri Aug 29 17:08:27 2014

Nate the greatest writes: Amazon is in a bitter contract fight with Hachette in the U.S. and Bonnier in Germany, and now it seems the retail giant is also in conflict with publishers in Japan. Amazon has launched a new rating system in Japan which gives preference to publishers with larger ebook catalogs (and publishers that pay higher fees), leading to complaints that Amazon is using its market power to blackmail publishers. Where have we heard that complaint before?

The retailer is also being boycotted by a handful of Japanese publishers who disagree with Amazon offering a rewards program to students. The retailer gives students 10% of a book's price as points, which can be used to buy more books. This skirts Japanese fixed-price book laws, so several smaller publishers pulled their books from Amazon in protest. Businesses are out to make money and not friends, but Amazon sure is a lightning rod for conflicts, isn't it?



Astronomers Find What May Be the Closest Exoplanet So Far - Fri Aug 29 16:23:01 2014

The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have found a 5.4 Earth-mass planet orbiting the star Gliese 15A, a red dwarf in a binary system just 11.7 light years away (PDF). Other exoplanets candidates have been found that are closer, but they are as yet unconfirmed. This is more evidence that alien planets are common in the galaxy.


How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband - Fri Aug 29 15:40:41 2014

Rick Zeman writes: The Center for Public Integrity has a comprehensive article showing how Big Telecom (aka, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner) use lobbyists, paid-for politicians, and lawsuits (both actual and the threat thereof) in their efforts to kill municipal broadband. From the article: "The companies have also used traditional campaign tactics such as newspaper ads, push polls, direct mail and door-to-door canvassing to block municipal networks. And they've tried to undermine the appetite for municipal broadband by paying for research from think tanks and front groups to portray the networks as unreliable and costly."


Magnetic Stimulation Boosts Memory In Humans - Fri Aug 29 14:58:26 2014

sciencehabit writes: Our memories are annoyingly glitchy. Names, dates, birthdays, and the locations of car keys fall through the cracks, losses that accelerate at an alarming pace with age and in neurodegenerative diseases. Now, by applying electromagnetic pulses through the skull to carefully targeted brain regions, researchers have found a way to boost memory performance in healthy people. The new study (abstract) sheds light on the neural networks that support memories and may lead to therapies for people with memory deficits, researchers say. Similar studies have been performed using electric current.


Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee Or Naps Alone - Fri Aug 29 14:15:11 2014

An anonymous reader writes: Caffeine is a staple of most workplaces — it's rare to find an office without a coffee pot or a fridge full of soda. It's necessary (or at least feels like it's necessary) because many workers have a hard time staying awake while sitting at a desk for hours at a time, and the alternative — naps — aren't usually allowed. But new research shows it might be more efficient for employers to encourage brief "coffee naps," which are more effective at returning people to an alert state than either caffeine or naps alone. A "coffee nap" is when you drink a cup of coffee, and then take a sub-20-minute nap immediately afterward. This works because caffeine takes about 20 minutes to get into your bloodstream, and a 20-minute nap clears adenosine from your brain without putting you into deeper stages of sleep. In multiple studies, tired participants who took coffee naps made fewer mistakes in a driving simulator after they awoke than the people who drank coffee without a nap or slept without ingesting caffeine.


US Government Fights To Not Explain No-Fly List Selection Process - Fri Aug 29 13:33:01 2014

An anonymous reader writes: On August 6, U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga ordered the federal government to "explain why the government places U.S. citizens who haven't been convicted of any violent crimes on its no-fly database." Unsurprisingly, the federal government objected to the order, once more claiming that to divulge their no-fly list criteria would expose state secrets and thus pose a national security threat. When the judge said he would read the material privately, the government insisted that reading the material "would not assist the Court in deciding the pending Motion to Dismiss (PDF) because it is not an appropriate means to test the scope of the assertion of the State Secrets privilege." The federal government has until September 7 to comply with the judge's order unless the judge is swayed by the government's objection.


Google Testing Drone Delivery System: 'Project Wing' - Fri Aug 29 12:50:15 2014

rtoz writes: Google's research division, Google X, is developing a fleet of drones to deliver goods. This drone delivery system is called "Project Wing," and Google X has been developing it in secret for the past two years. During a recent test in Australia, drones successfully delivered a first aid kit, candy bars, dog treats, and water to a couple of Australian farmers. The self-flying vehicle uses four electrically-driven propellers to get around, and it has a wingspan of about five feet. It weighs just under 19 pounds and can take off and land without a runway. Google's long-term goal is to develop drones that could be used for disaster relief by delivering aid to isolated areas.


Microsoft Releases Replacement Patch With Two Known Bugs - Fri Aug 29 12:08:21 2014

snydeq writes Microsoft has re-released its botched MS14-045/KB 2982791 'Blue Screen 0x50' patch, only to introduce more problems, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. "Even by Microsoft standards, this month's botched Black Tuesday Windows 7/8/8.1 MS14-045 patch hit a new low. The original patch (KB 2982791) is now officially 'expired' and a completely different patch (KB 2993651) offered in its stead; there are barely documented revelations of new problems with old patches; patches that have disappeared; a 'strong' recommendation to manually uninstall a patch that went out via Automatic Update for several days; and an infuriating official explanation that raises serious doubts about Microsoft's ability to support Windows 9's expected rapid update pace."


For $1.5M, DeepFlight Dragon Is an "Aircraft for the Water" - Fri Aug 29 09:40:20 2014

Zothecula writes No one with red blood in their veins buys a sports car and hands the keys to a chauffeur, so one of the barriers to truly personal submarining has long been the need for a trained pilot, not to mention the massive logistics involved in transporting, garaging and launching the underwater craft ... until now. Pioneering underwater aviation company DeepFlight is set to show an entirely new type of personal submarine at the 2014 Monaco Yacht Show next week, launching the personal submarine era with a submersible that's reportedly so easy to pilot that it's likely to create a new niche in the tourism and rental market.


Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court - Fri Aug 29 08:17:01 2014

angry tapir writes The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a government funded watchdog organization, is taking Valve to court. The court action relates to Valve's Steam distribution service. According to ACCC allegations, Valve misled Australian consumers about their rights under Australian law by saying that customers were not entitled to refunds for games under any circumstances.


How the World's Fastest Electric Car Is Pushing Wireless Charging Tech - Fri Aug 29 07:11:40 2014

An anonymous reader writes With the first ever season of Formula E revving up in China next month, it's clear there's more to electric cars than Tesla. But the race cars hitting the track in Beijing don't have anything on the speed of Drayson Racing Technology's Lola B12 69/EV, which holds the record for the world's fastest lightweight electric car, and which uses the kind of power technologies that could one day have applications off the track too—like charging your phone wirelessly.


Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia - Fri Aug 29 04:33:09 2014

Andreas Kolbe writes Wikipedia is well known to have a very large gender imbalance, with survey-based estimates of women contributors ranging from 8.5% to around 16%. This is a more extreme gender imbalance than even that of Reddit, the most male-dominated major social media platform, and it has a palpable effect on Wikipedia content. Moreover, Wikipedia editor survey data indicate that only 1 in 50 respondents is a mother – a good proportion of female contributors are in fact minors, with women in their twenties less likely to contribute to Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation efforts to address this "gender gap" have so far remained fruitless. Wikipedia's demographic pattern stands in marked contrast to female-dominated social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest, where women aged 18 to 34 are particularly strongly represented. It indicates that it isn't lack of time or family commitments that keep women from contributing to Wikipedia – women simply find other sites more attractive. Wikipedia's user interface and its culture of anonymity may be among the factors leading women to spend their online time elsewhere.


Software Error Caused Soyuz/Galileo Failure - Fri Aug 29 02:13:01 2014

schwit1 writes An investigation into the recent failed Soyuz launch of the EU's Galileo satellites has found that the Russian Fregat upper stage fired correctly, but its software was programmed for the wrong orbit. From the article: "The failure of the European Union’s Galileo satellites to reach their intended orbital position was likely caused by software errors in the Fregat-MT rocket’s upper-stage, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported Thursday. 'The nonstandard operation of the integrated management system was likely caused by an error in the embedded software. As a result, the upper stage received an incorrect flight assignment, and, operating in full accordance with the embedded software, it has delivered the units to the wrong destination,' an unnamed source from Russian space Agency Roscosmos was quoted as saying by the newspaper."


IBM Opens Up Its Watson Supercomputer To Researchers - Fri Aug 29 01:28:01 2014

An anonymous reader writes IBM has announced the "Watson Discovery Advisor" a cloud-based tool that will let researchers comb through massive troves of data, looking for insights and connections. The company says it's a major expansion in capabilities for the Watson Group, which IBM seeded with a $1 billion investment. "Scientific discovery takes us to a different level as a learning system," said Steve Gold, vice president of the Watson Group. "Watson can provide insights into the information independent of the question. The ability to connect the dots opens up a new world of possibilities."


The Executive Order That Led To Mass Spying, As Told By NSA Alumni - Fri Aug 29 00:03:43 2014

An anonymous reader writes with this Ars piece about the executive order that is the legal basis for the U.S. government's mass spying on citizens. One thing sits at the heart of what many consider a surveillance state within the US today. The problem does not begin with political systems that discourage transparency or technologies that can intercept everyday communications without notice. Like everything else in Washington, there's a legal basis for what many believe is extreme government overreach—in this case, it's Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981. “12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US," whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. "My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.” The document, known in government circles as "twelve triple three," gives incredible leeway to intelligence agencies sweeping up vast quantities of Americans' data. That data ranges from e-mail content to Facebook messages, from Skype chats to practically anything that passes over the Internet on an incidental basis. In other words, EO 12333 protects the tangential collection of Americans' data even when Americans aren't specifically targeted—otherwise it would be forbidden under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.


Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries - Thu Aug 28 23:21:57 2014

An anonymous reader writes "A recent survey of scientific education and attitudes showed the Canadian population to have the highest level of scientific literacy in the world, as well as the fewest reservations about the direction of scientific progress (full report). A key factor is a high level of scientific knowledge among the general population (despite comparatively low numbers of people employed in STEM fields). Another is a higher level of comfort with choosing rationality over religious belief — only 25% of Canadians surveyed agreed with the statement "We depend too much on science and not enough on faith", as opposed to 55% in the U.S. and 38% in the E.U.

I also wonder if the vaunted Canadian healthcare system plays a role. When advances in medical science are something you automatically expect to benefit from personally if you need them, they look a lot better than when you have to scramble just to cover your bills for what we have now."



Brian Stevens Resigns As Red Hat CTO - Thu Aug 28 22:39:07 2014

darthcamaro (735685) writes Since November of 2001, Brian Stevens has been the CTO of Red Hat but as of August 28 that's no longer the case. Under Stevens' tenure, Red Hat transformed its business, adding Red Hat Enterprise Linux, acquiring JBoss, Qumranet, Gluster and Ceph as well as joining (and now leading) the OpenStack Foundation. So why did he leave? No official word, but apparently it is to pursue a new opportunity that Stevens just could not pass up.


Drought Inspires a Boom In Pseudoscience, From Rain Machines To 'Water Witches' - Thu Aug 28 21:54:50 2014

merbs (2708203) writes Across drought-stricken California, farmers are desperate for water. So many of them are calling dowsers. These 'water witches', draped in dubious pseudoscience or self-assembled mythologies—or both—typically use divining rods and some sort of practiced intuition to "find" water. The professional variety do so for a fee. And business is booming. They're just part of a storied tradition of pseudoscientific hucksters exploiting our thirst for water, with everything from cloudbusters to rainmachines to New Age rituals.


Judge Lucy Koh Rejects Apple's Quest For Anti-Samsung Injunction - Thu Aug 28 21:22:06 2014

The Associated Press, in a story carried by The Financial Express, reports that Federal Judge Lucy Koh has has rejected Apple's attempt to block the sale of several older Samsung smartphones that copied features in the iPhone. Wednesday's rebuff comes nearly four months after a jury awarded Apple Inc. $119 million in damages for Samsung's infringements on technology used in the trend-setting iPhone. The amount was well below the $2.2 billion in damages that Apple had been seeking in the latest round of legal wrangling between the world's two leading smartphone makers since the tussle began four years ago. The Register also carries the story, and notes Perhaps because the ongoing battle was turning the two companies into law firms rather than tech titans, the two agreed to abandon all patent lawsuits outside the USA earlier this month. However, Apple still wanted the infringing features extirpated from American stores, and was seeking to have phones nobody bought banned as ammo for future battles.


No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand - Thu Aug 28 20:48:01 2014

New submitter willoremus writes A wounded Army vet had his $75k prosthetic hand bricked when someone stole his iPod Touch? Yeah, not so much. I'm a tech reporter for Slate.com, and a Slashdot post earlier this week prompted me to look into this story and ultimately debunk some of the key info. Sorry for self-posting, but I thought folks here might be interested in the truth since the false story was one of the top posts earlier this week.


State of the GitHub: Chris Kelly Does the Numbers - Thu Aug 28 20:03:16 2014

I talked with Chris Kelly of GitHub at last week's LinuxCon about GitHub. He's got interesting things to say about the demographics and language choices on what has become in short order (just six years) one of the largest repositories of code in the world, and one with an increasingly sophisticated front-end, and several million users. Not all of the code on GitHub is open source, but the majority is -- handy, when that means an account is free as in beer, too. (And if you're reading on the beta or otherwise can't view the video below, here's the alternative video link.)


PHP 5.6.0 Released - Thu Aug 28 19:24:31 2014

An anonymous reader writes "The PHP team has announced the release of PHP 5.6.0. New features include constant scalar expressions, exponentiation using the ** operator, function and constant importing with the use keyword, support for file uploads larger than 2 GB, and phpdbg as an interactive integrated debugger SAPI. The team also notes important changes affecting compatibility. For example: "Array keys won't be overwritten when defining an array as a property of a class via an array literal," json_decode() is now more strict at parsing JSON syntax, and GMP resources are now objects. Here is the migration guide, the full change log, and the downloads page."


The American Workday, By Profession - Thu Aug 28 18:31:42 2014

An anonymous reader writes NPR has created an interesting visualization of workday data from the American Time Survey. It shows what the typical working times are for each profession. You can see some interesting trends, like which professions distribute their work throughout the day (firefighters and police), which professions take their lunch breaks the most seriously (construction), and which professions reverse the typical trends (food service). "Still, Americans work more night and weekend hours than people in other advanced economies, according to Dan Hamermesh and Elena Stancanelli's forthcoming paper (PDF). They found that about 27 percent of Americans have worked between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. at least once a week, compared with 19 percent in the U.K. and 13 percent in Germany."


Mozilla Rolls Out Sponsored Tiles To Firefox Nightly's New Tab Page - Thu Aug 28 17:47:58 2014

An anonymous reader writes Mozilla has rolled out directory tiles, the company's advertising experiment for its browser's new tab page, to the Firefox Nightly channel. We installed the latest browser build to give the sponsored ads a test drive. When you first launch Firefox, a message on the new tab page informs you of the following: what tiles are (with a link to a support page about how sponsored tiles work), a promise that the feature abides by the Mozilla Privacy Policy, and a reminder that you can turn tiles off completely and choose to have a blank new tab page. It's quite a lot to take in all at once.


Ask Slashdot: What Are the Best Games To Have In Your Collection? - Thu Aug 28 17:05:09 2014

SternisheFan writes: I am not a "gamer," per se. I grew up on "old school" arcade/Atari-type games. My question is: What are the very best games to own? Let's assume platform is irrelevant — any console, any computer, any operating system, any mobile device. I'd just like to know what you think are the most indispensable games to have in your collection. Let's expand this to include board games and other tabletop games as well. What games do you make sure to always have on hand for get-togethers?


Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine - Thu Aug 28 16:23:01 2014

SpzToid (869795) writes Those plucky "Ukrainian separatist's" ambition to join Russia have now been given Russian military support, as the Russian Army with long columns of armor have invaded Ukraine and have opened up a second warring front, in a big way. The Reuters report, interestingly, quotes a member of Putin's own advisory council on human rights describing the move as an invasion: "When masses of people, under commanders' orders, on tanks, APCs and with the use of heavy weapons, (are) on the territory of another country, cross the border, I consider this an invasion."


Microsoft Dumps 1,500 Apps From Its Windows Store - Thu Aug 28 15:30:30 2014

redletterdave writes: Microsoft announced on its Windows blog Wednesday that it's removed more than 1,500 apps from its Windows Store in a bid to clean up the store and restore trust with Windows 8 and Windows Phone users. Microsoft's new certification process, in particular, asks for clear and accurate names that "reflect the functionality of the app," more accurate categories, and differentiated icons to ensure apps aren't confused with one another. Microsoft reached out to developers with apps that violated its policies; some agreed to make changes to their software, while those who were "less receptive" saw their apps removed from the Windows Store. That might be just the beginning.


Anita Sarkeesian, Creator of "Tropes vs. Women," Driven From Home By Trolls - Thu Aug 28 14:58:10 2014

Sonny Yatsen writes: Anita Sarkeesian, the creator of Tropes vs. Women — a video series exploring negative tropes and misogynistic depictions of women in video games — reports that she has been driven from her home after a series of extremely violent sexual threats made against her. Her videos have previously drawn criticism from many male gamers, often coupled with violent imagery or threats of violence. The Verge story linked has this to say: The threats against Sarkeesian have become a nasty backdrop to her entire project — and her life. If the trolls making them hoped for attention, they've gotten it. They've also inexorably linked criticism of her work, valid or not, with semi-delusional vigilantism, and arguably propelled Tropes vs. Women to its current level of visibility. If a major plank of your platform is that misogyny is a lie propagated by Sarkeesian and other "social justice warriors," it might help to not constantly prove it wrong.


Death Valley's Sailing Stones Caught In the Act - Thu Aug 28 14:34:48 2014

Capt.Albatross (1301561) writes "The flat surface of the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is littered with rocks, some weighing hundreds of kilograms, each at the end of a track indicating that it has somehow slid across the surface. The mechanism behind this has been the subject of much speculation but little evidence, until a trio of scientists caught them in action with cameras and GPS."


Research Shows RISC vs. CISC Doesn't Matter - Thu Aug 28 14:13:01 2014

fsterman writes The power advantages brought by the RISC instruction sets used in Power and ARM chips is often pitted against the X86's efficiencies of scale. It's difficult to asses how much the difference between instruction sets matter because teasing out the theoretical efficiency of an ISA from the proficiency of a chip's design team, technical expertise of its manufacturer, and support for architecture-specific optimizations in compilers is nearly impossible . However, new research examining the performance of a variety of ARM, MIPS, and X86 processors gives weight to Intel's conclusion: the benefits of a given ISA to the power envelope of a chip are minute.


Google Wins $1.3 Million From Patent Troll - Thu Aug 28 13:30:10 2014

An anonymous reader writes Earlier this year, Google sued Beneficial Innovations for breach of contract, ostensibly in defense of its Doubleclick ad technology clients against whom Beneficial Innovations had filed suits despite Google having already paid licensing fees for the technology. Following Google's jury trial win, the company was originally awarded only 'nominal damages of $1 and a judicial order stopping Beneficial from going after more Doubleclick customers.' Now, however, the presiding judge has ruled that Google is entitled to some attorneys' fees in the amount of $1.3 million (PDF).


FBI Investigates 'Sophisticated' Cyber Attack On JP Morgan, 4 More US Banks - Thu Aug 28 12:58:01 2014

Bruce66423 writes with news of an electronic attack believed to affect at least five U.S. banking institutions this month, including JP Morgan, now being investigated by the FBI. According to the Independent, The attack on JP Morgan reportedly resulted in the loss of “gigabytes of sensitive data” that could have involved customer and employee information. It is said to have been of a level of sophistication beyond ordinary criminals, leading to speculation of a state link. The FBI is thought to be investigating whether there is a connection to Russia. American-Russian relations continue to be fraught amid the crisis in Ukraine, with sanctions ramped up. Bruce66423 asks "The quality of the attack, which appears to have led to 'gigabytes' of data being lost, is raising the prospect of a state being the source. The present culprit suggested is Russia... why the assumption it's not China — just because China isn't invading the Ukraine at the moment?" News of the attack is also at the New York Times, which notes Earlier this year, iSight Partners, a security firm in Dallas that provides intelligence on online threats, warned companies that they should be prepared for cyberattacks from Russia in retaliation for Western economic sanctions. But Adam Meyers, the head of threat intelligence at CrowdStrike, a security firm that works with banks, said that it would be “premature” to suggest the attacks were motivated by sanctions.


Indiana University Researchers Get $1 Million Grant To Study Memes - Thu Aug 28 12:12:15 2014

An anonymous reader writes with news that the NSF has just awarded a group of researchers a grant to study the life cycle of memes. "Indiana University is receiving nearly $1 million in federal grant money to investigate the genesis, spread, and demise of Internet memes. The grant from the National Science Foundation awards four Indiana researchers $919,917 to for a project called Truthy that will, as the grant's abstract explains, "explore why some ideas cause viral explosions while others are quickly forgotten." (And yes, in case you're wondering, the name was inspired by Stephen Colbert's neologism "truthiness.") The government-funded research is aimed at identifying which memes are organic and which ones are mere astroturf. "While the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns," Truthy's About page explains."


Euro Bank Santander Commissions Study On Bitcoin's Impact On Banking - Thu Aug 28 09:45:25 2014

First time accepted submitter Nikkos (544004) writes Digital currency news website HashReport broke the news Monday that European megabank Santander has commissioned a study to "Analyze the impact of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on banks and devise a strategic course of action." The study is being facilitated as a challenge through Yegii, an 'Insight Network' founded by Trond Undheim. Undheim is also a Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as Managing Director at Tautec Consulting. The challenge was initiated by Julio Faura — Head of Corporate development for Banco Santander. According to Dr. Undheim, Faura was "looking for additional outside perspective onto the topic of Bitcoin. While acquiring consulting services from top tier consulting firms can be exciting, he thought that an outsider, multidisciplinary perspective, would be particularly helpful."


African States Aim To Improve Internet Interconnections - Thu Aug 28 08:18:01 2014

jfruh writes A rapidly growing percentage of Africans have access to the Internet — and yet most of the content they access, even things aimed specifically at an African audience, is hosted on servers elsewhere. The reason is a bewildering array of laws in different nations that make cross-border cooperation a headache, a marked contrast to places like Europe with uniform Internet regulations. At the Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum in Senegal, a wide variety of Internet actors from the continent are aiming to solve the problem.


Fake NVIDIA Graphics Cards Show Up In Germany - Thu Aug 28 07:23:01 2014

An anonymous reader writes "Several fake NVIDIA cards — probably GeForce GT 440 — have had their BIOS reflashed to report themselves as GeForce GTX 660. They were sold under the brand "GTX660 4096MB Nvidia Bulk" but only deliver 1/4 of the speed of a real GTX 660. Investigations are ongoing into who did the reflashing, but several hundred of them have already been sold and are now being recalled."


NASA Telescopes Uncover Early Construction of Giant Galaxy - Thu Aug 28 04:38:01 2014

littlesparkvt (2707383) writes "Astronomers have uncovered for the first time the earliest stages of a massive galaxy forming in the young Universe. The discovery was made possible through combining observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, and the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The growing galaxy core is blazing with the light of millions of newborn stars that are forming at a ferocious rate. The paper appears in the journal Nature on 27 August." (Here's the NASA press release.)


Fish Raised On Land Give Clues To How Early Animals Left the Seas - Thu Aug 28 02:09:50 2014

sciencehabit writes When raised on land, a primitive, air-breathing fish walks much better than its water-raised comrades, according to a new study. The landlubbers even undergo skeletal changes that improve their locomotion. The work may provide clues to how the first swimmers adapted to terrestrial life. The study suggests that the ability of a developing organism to adjust to new conditions—its so-called developmental plasticity—may have played a role in the transition from sea to land.


Netflix Open Sources Internal Threat Monitoring Tools - Thu Aug 28 01:46:41 2014

alphadogg (971356) writes Netflix has released three internal tools it uses to catch hints on the Web that hackers might target its services. "Many security teams need to stay on the lookout for Internet-based discussions, posts and other bits that may be of impact to the organizations they are protecting," wrote Andy Hoernecke and Scott Behrens of Netflix's Cloud Security Team. One of the tools, called Scumblr, can be used to create custom searches of Google sites, Twitter and Facebook for users or keywords.


Old Doesn't Have To Mean Ugly: Squeezing Better Graphics From Classic Consoles - Thu Aug 28 00:32:08 2014

MojoKid writes If you're a classic gamer, you've probably had the unhappy experience of firing up a beloved older title you haven't played in a decade or two, squinting at the screen, and thinking: "Wow. I didn't realize it looked this bad." The reasons why games can wind up looking dramatically worse than you remember isn't just the influence of rose-colored glasses — everything from subtle differences in third-party hardware to poor ports to bad integrated TV upscalers can ruin the experience. One solution is an expensive upscaling unit called the Framemeister but while its cost may make you blanch, this sucker delivers. Unfortunately, taking full advantage of a Framemeister also may mean modding your console for RGB output. That's the second part of the upscaler equation. Most every old-school console could technically use RGB, which has one cable for the Red, Green, and Blue signals, but many of them weren't wired for it externally unless you used a rare SCART cable (SCART was more common in other parts of the world). Modding kits or consoles cost money, but if you're willing to pay it, you can experience classic games with much better fidelity.


$33 Firefox Phone Launched In India - Wed Aug 27 23:49:34 2014

davidshenba writes Intex and Mozilla have launched Cloud FX, a smartphone powered by Mozilla's Firefox OS. The phone has a 1 GHz processor, 2 Megapixel camera, dual SIM, 3.5 inch capacitive touchscreen. Though the phone has limited features, initial reviews say that the build quality is good for the price range. With a price tag of $33 (2000 INR), and local languages support the new Firefox phone is hitting the Indian market of nearly 1 billion mobile users.


New NRC Rule Supports Indefinite Storage of Nuclear Waste - Wed Aug 27 23:06:27 2014

mdsolar writes in with news about a NRC rule on how long nuclear waste can be stored on-site after a reactor has shut down. The five-member board that oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday voted to end a two-year moratorium on issuing new power plant licenses. The moratorium was in response to a June 2012 decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that ordered the NRC to consider the possibility that the federal government may never take possession of the nearly 70,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at power plant sites scattered around the country. In addition to lifting the moratorium, the five-member board also approved guidance replacing the Waste Confidence Rule. "The previous Waste Confidence Rule determined that spent fuel could be safely stored on site for at least 60 years after a plant permanently ceased operations," said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the NRC. In the new standard, Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule, NRC staff members reassessed three timeframes for the storage of spent fuel — 60 years, 100 years and indefinitely.


CenturyLink: Comcast Is Trying To Prevent Competition In Its Territories - Wed Aug 27 22:23:57 2014

mpicpp sends word that CenturyLink has accused Comcast of restricting competition in the development of internet infrastructure. CenturyLink asked the FCC to block the acquisition of Time Warner Cable to prevent Comcast from further abusing its size and power. For example, Comcast is urging local authorities to deny CenturyLink permission to build out new infrastructure if they can't reach all of a city's residents during the initial buildout. Of course, a full buildout into a brand new market is much more expensive than installing connections a bit at a time. Comcast argues that CenturyLink shouldn't be able to cherry-pick the wealthy neighborhoods and avoid the poor ones. CenturyLink points out that no other ISP complains about this, and says allowing the merger would let Comcast extend these tactics to regions currently operated by Time Warner Cable.


Underground Experiment Confirms Fusion Powers the Sun - Wed Aug 27 22:02:03 2014

sciencehabit writes: Scientists have long believed that the power of the sun comes largely from the fusion of protons into helium, but now they can finally prove it (abstract). An international team of researchers using a detector buried deep below the mountains of central Italy has detected neutrinos—ghostly particles that interact only very reluctantly with matter—streaming from the heart of the sun. Other solar neutrinos have been detected before, but these particular ones come from the key proton-proton fusion reaction that is the first part of a chain of reactions that provides 99% of the sun's power.


Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling? - Wed Aug 27 21:39:01 2014

An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has been overbilling my account based on overcounting DSL internet usage (they charge in 50 gigabyte units after the first 150). I have been using a Buffalo NFinity Airstation as a managed switch to count all traffic. As you may know, this device runs firmware based on dd-wrt and has hidden telnet functionality, so I am able to load a script to count traffic directly onto the device. I have an auto-scraper that collects the data and saves it on my computer's hard disk every two minutes while the computer is running. While it is not running, the 2 minute counters accumulate in RAM on the device. Power problems are not normally an issue here; and even when they are I can tell it has happened. The upshot of all this is I can measure the exact amount of download bandwidth and a guaranteed overestimate of upload bandwidth in bytes reliably. I have tested this by transferring known amounts of data and can account for every byte counted, including ethernet frame headers. AT&T's billing reporting reports usage by day only, lags two days, and uses some time basis other than midnight. It is also reading in my testing a fairly consistent 14% higher whenever the basis doesn't disturb the test by using too much bandwidth too close to midnight.

AT&T has already refused to attempt to fix the billing meter, and asserts they have tested it and found it correct. Yet they refuse to provide a realtime readout of the counter that would make independent testing trivial. I've been through the agencies (CPUC, FCC, and Weights & Measures) and can't find one that is interested, AT&T will not provide any means for reasonable independent testing of the meter. It is my understanding that if there is a meter and its calibration cannot be checked, there is a violation of the law, yet I can't find an agency that can even accept such a claim (I'm not getting "your claim is meritless", but "we don't handle that"). If indeed they are not overbilling, my claim of no way to verify the meter still stands. My options are running thin here. So that my account can be identified by someone who recognizes the case: 7a6c74964fafd56c61e06abf6c820845cbcd4fc0 (bit commitment).



Slashdot Talks WIth IBM Power Sytems GM Doug Balog (Video) - Wed Aug 27 21:08:01 2014

Yesterday we had a story titled 'IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch.' In the intro Timothy wrote, '...watch for a video interview with Balog on how he's helping spend the billion dollars that IBM pledged last year on open source development.' This is that video, and in it Balog tells us how much IBM loves Linux and open source, and how they're partnering with multiple distros, recently including Ubuntu. So get ready for Power 8 servers in October. IBM is pushing them like mad -- especially in the Linux/FOSS realm. (Alternate Video Link)


Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts - Wed Aug 27 20:20:44 2014

SternisheFan sends this report from Universe Today: How does microgravity affect your health? One of the chief concerns of NASA astronauts these days is changes to eyesight. Some people come back from long-duration stays in space with what appears to be permanent changes, such as requiring glasses when previously they did not. And the numbers are interesting. A few months after NASA [said] 20% of astronauts may face this problem, a new study points out that 21 U.S. astronauts that have flown on the International Space Station for long flights (which tend to be five to six months) face visual problems. These include "hyperopic shift, scotoma and choroidal folds to cotton wool spots, optic nerve sheath distension, globe flattening and edema of the optic nerve," states the University of Houston, which is collaborating with NASA on a long-term study of astronauts while they're in orbit.


DoT Proposes Mandating Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communications - Wed Aug 27 19:36:45 2014

schwit1 sends word that the Dept. of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has given notice of a proposal (PDF) for a new car safety standard that would require vehicle-to-vehicle communication equipment in all new passenger cars and light trucks. The NHTSA thinks this will facilitate the development of new safety software for vehicles. They estimate it could prevent over 500,000 crashes (PDF) each year. "Some crash warning V2V applications, like Intersection Movement Assist and Left Turn Assist, rely on V2V-based messages to obtain information to detect and then warn drivers of possible safety risks in situations where other technologies have less capability. ... NHTSA believes that V2V capability will not develop absent regulation, because there would not be any immediate safety benefits for consumers who are early adopters of V2V." The submitter notes that this V2V communication would include transmission of a vehicle's location, which comes with privacy concerns.


How Red Hat Can Recapture Developer Interest - Wed Aug 27 18:53:05 2014

snydeq writes: Developers are embracing a range of open source technologies, writes Matt Asay, virtually none of which are supported or sold by Red Hat, the purported open source leader. "Ask a CIO her choice to run mission-critical workloads, and her answer is a near immediate 'Red Hat.' Ask her developers what they prefer, however, and it's Ubuntu. Outside the operating system, according to AngelList data compiled by Leo Polovets, these developers go with MySQL, MongoDB, or PostgreSQL for their database; Chef or Puppet for configuration; and ElasticSearch or Solr for search. None of this technology is developed by Red Hat. Yet all of this technology is what the next generation of developers is using to build modern applications. Given that developers are the new kingmakers, Red Hat needs to get out in front of the developer freight train if it wants to remain relevant for the next 20 years, much less the next two."


U.S. Senator: All Cops Should Wear Cameras - Wed Aug 27 18:10:58 2014

Several readers sent word that U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has begun speaking in favor of mandatory cameras for police across the country. "Everywhere I go people now have cameras. And police officers are now at a disadvantage, because someone can tape the last part of an encounter and not tape the first part of the encounter. And it gives the impression that the police officer has overreacted when they haven't." This follows the recent controversy ove the shooting death of Michael Brown in a police incident, as well as a White House petition on the subject that rocketed to 100,000 signatures.

McCaskill continued, "I would like to see us say, 'If you want federal funding in your community, you've got to have body cams on your officers. And I think that would go a long way towards solving some of these problems, and it would be a great legacy over this tragedy that's occurred in Ferguson, regardless of what the facts say at the end as to whether or not anyone is criminally culpable."


Scientists Craft Seamless 2D Semiconductor Junctions - Wed Aug 27 17:28:02 2014

vinces99 (2792707) writes Scientists have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick. The University of Washington researchers have demonstrated that two of these single-layer semiconductor materials can be connected in an atomically seamless fashion known as a heterojunction. This result could be the basis for next-generation flexible and transparent computing, better light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, and solar technologies.

"Heterojunctions are fundamental elements of electronic and photonic devices," said senior author Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering and of physics. "Our experimental demonstration of such junctions between two-dimensional materials should enable new kinds of transistors, LEDs, nanolasers, and solar cells to be developed for highly integrated electronic and optical circuits within a single atomic plane."



Google Buys Zync Cloud Graphics Rendering Service - Wed Aug 27 16:44:32 2014

mpicpp (3454017) writes To beef up its cloud platform with more specialized packages, Google is acquiring Zync for its large scale rendering service for movie special effects, called Zync Render. Google plans to offer the Zync service on its Google Cloud Platform, where it can be used by motion picture studios that do not want to build their own rendering farms.


GOG Introduces DRM-Free Movie Store - Wed Aug 27 16:32:48 2014

Via Engadget comes news that GOG, the DRM-free game store platform, has launched a DRM-free movie store. The initial set of movies are gamer oriented, and you won't find major studio releases (yet, and not for a lack of trying on the part of GOG). From GOG: Our goal is to offer you cinema classics as well as some all-time favorite TV series with no DRM whatsoever, for you to download and keep on your hard drive or stream online whenever you feel like it. We talked to most of the big players in the movie industry and we often got a similar answer: "We love your ideas, but we do not want to be the first ones. We will gladly follow, but until somebody else does it first, we do not want to take the risk". DRM-Free distribution is not a concept their lawyers would accept without hesitation.

We kind of felt that would be the case and that it's gonna take patience and time to do it, to do it, to do it right. That's quite a journey ahead of us, but every gamer knows very well that great adventures start with one small step. So why not start with something that feels very familiar? We offer you a number of gaming and Internet culture documentaries - all of them DRM-Free, very reasonably priced, and presenting some fascinating insight into topics close to a gamer's heart.
Videos are mostly 1080p (~8GB for a 90 minute film) and can be acquired for about $6. They're using h.264/mp4 and not VP9/Matroska, but you can't have everything ;). If you don't want to download that much data, it looks like all of the videos are also available in 720p and 576p.


GOG Introduces DRM-Free Movie Store - Wed Aug 27 16:10:27 2014

Via Engadget comes news that GOG, the DRM-free game store platform, has launched a DRM-free movie store. The initial set of movies are gamer oriented, and you won't find major studio releases (yet, and not for a lack of trying on the part of GOG). From GOG: Our goal is to offer you cinema classics as well as some all-time favorite TV series with no DRM whatsoever, for you to download and keep on your hard drive or stream online whenever you feel like it. We talked to most of the big players in the movie industry and we often got a similar answer: "We love your ideas, but we do not want to be the first ones. We will gladly follow, but until somebody else does it first, we do not want to take the risk". DRM-Free distribution is not a concept their lawyers would accept without hesitation.

We kind of felt that would be the case and that it's gonna take patience and time to do it, to do it, to do it right. That's quite a journey ahead of us, but every gamer knows very well that great adventures start with one small step. So why not start with something that feels very familiar? We offer you a number of gaming and Internet culture documentaries - all of them DRM-Free, very reasonably priced, and presenting some fascinating insight into topics close to a gamer's heart.
Videos are mostly 1080p (~8GB for a 90 minute film) and can be acquired for about $6. They're using h.264/mp4 and not VP9/Matroska, but you can't have everything ;).


Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio - Wed Aug 27 15:38:01 2014

frdmfghtr (603968) writes Over at Ars Technica, there's a story about a bill in the Ohio legislature that wants to downplay the teaching of the scientific process. From the article: "Specifically prohibiting a discussion of the scientific process is a recipe for educational chaos. To begin with, it leaves the knowledge the kids will still receive—the things we have learned through science—completely unmoored from any indication of how that knowledge was generated or whether it's likely to be reliable. The scientific process is also useful in that it can help people understand the world around them and the information they're bombarded with; it can also help people assess the reliability of various sources of information." The science standards would have "...focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another." Political interpretation of scientific facts include humans contributing to climate change according to the bill's sponsor, who also thinks intelligent design would be OK under the law.


Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report - Wed Aug 27 14:57:09 2014

New submitter SomeoneFromBelgium (3420851) writes According to Bloomberg a leaked climate report from the IPPC speaks of "Irreversible Damage." The warnings in the report are, as such, not new but the tone of voice is more urgent and more direct than ever. It states among other things that global warming already is affecting "all continents and across the oceans," and that "risks from mitigation can be substantial, but they do not involve the same possibility of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts as risks from climate change, increasing the benefits from near-term mitigation action."


Chromium 37 Launches With Major Security Fixes, 64-bit Windows Support - Wed Aug 27 14:13:32 2014

An anonymous reader writes Google has released Chrome/Chromium version 37 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Among the changes are better-looking fonts on Windows and a revamped password manager. There are 50 security fixes, including several to patch a sandbox escaping vulnerability. The release also brings stable 64-bit Windows support which ...offers many benefits for speed, stability and security. Our measurements have shown that the native 64-bit version of Chrome has improved speed on many of our graphics and media benchmarks. For example, the VP9 codec that’s used in High Definition YouTube videos shows a 15% improvement in decoding performance. Stability measurements from people opted into our Canary, Dev and Beta 64-bit channels confirm that 64-bit rendering engines are almost twice as stable as 32-bit engines when handling typical web content. Finally, on 64-bit, our defense in depth security mitigations such as Partition Alloc are able to far more effectively defend against vulnerabilities that rely on controlling the memory layout of objects. The full changelog.


Time Warner Cable Experiences Nationwide Internet Outage - Wed Aug 27 13:31:04 2014

Wolfrider (856) writes Reports are coming in from multiple U.S. states that TWC is having a major Internet outage since early this morning. ... TWC's customer service reps are reportedly a bit overwhelmed by call volume at the moment, and no ETA yet. According to CNET, most locations should be more-or-less back online as of 7 a.m. EDT or so (my TWC connection came back around 7:30 a.m. EDT). TWC says it's maintenance gone wrong: In response to a query by CNET, Time Warner Cable issued this statement: "At 430am ET this morning during our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services. As of 6am ET services were largely restored as updates continue to bring all customers back online."


Statistics Losing Ground To CS, Losing Image Among Students - Wed Aug 27 12:47:16 2014

theodp (442580) writes Unless some things change, UC Davis Prof. Norman Matloff worries that the Statistician could be added to the endangered species list. "The American Statistical Association (ASA) leadership, and many in Statistics academia," writes Matloff, "have been undergoing a period of angst the last few years, They worry that the field of Statistics is headed for a future of reduced national influence and importance, with the feeling that: [1] The field is to a large extent being usurped by other disciplines, notably Computer Science (CS). [2] Efforts to make the field attractive to students have largely been unsuccessful."

Matloff, who has a foot in both the Statistics and CS camps, but says, "The problem is not that CS people are doing Statistics, but rather that they are doing it poorly. Generally the quality of CS work in Stat is weak. It is not a problem of quality of the researchers themselves; indeed, many of them are very highly talented. Instead, there are a number of systemic reasons for this, structural problems with the CS research 'business model'." So, can Statistics be made more attractive to students? "Here is something that actually can be fixed reasonably simply," suggests no-fan-of-TI-83-pocket-calculators-as-a-computational-vehicle Matloff. "If I had my druthers, I would simply ban AP Stat, and actually, I am one of those people who would do away with the entire AP program. Obviously, there are too many deeply entrenched interests for this to happen, but one thing that can be done for AP Stat is to switch its computational vehicle to R."



Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory - Wed Aug 27 12:13:54 2014

Back in 2009, researchers theorized that space could be a hologram.Four years ago, Fermilab proposed testing the theory, and the experiment is finally going online. Jason Koebler (3528235) writes Operating with cutting-edge technology out of a trailer in rural Illinois, government researchers started today on a set of experiments that they say will help them determine whether or not you and me and everything that exists are living in a two-dimensional holographic universe. In a paper explaining the theory, Craig Hogan, director of the Department of Energy's Fermilab Center for Particle Astrophysics writes that "some properties of space and time that seem fundamental, including localization [where things are], may actually emerge only as a macroscopic approximation from the flow of information in a quantum system." In other words, the location of places in space may constantly fluctuate ever so slightly, which would suggest we're living in a hologram.


HP Recalls 6 Million Power Cables Over Fire Hazard - Wed Aug 27 09:13:01 2014

Via the Consumerist comes news that HP is recalling power cables after about 30 reports that they were melting from regular use. From the article: Hewlett-Packard received 29 reports of the melting or charring power cords, two that included claims of minor burns and 13 claims of minor property damage. The black power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and with AC adapter-powered accessories such as docking stations and have an "LS-15" molded mark on the AC adapter. About 5.6 million power cords were sold in the United States, while 446,700 were sold in Canada from September 2010 to June 2012 at electronic stores and hp.com.


Brown Dwarf With Water Clouds Tentatively Detected Just 7 Light-Years From Earth - Wed Aug 27 07:13:05 2014

sciencehabit (1205606) writes Astronomers have found signs of water ice clouds on an object just 7.3 light-years from Earth — less than twice the distance of Alpha Centauri. If confirmed, the discovery is the first sighting of water clouds beyond our solar system. The clouds shroud a Jupiter-sized object known as a brown dwarf and should yield insight into the nature of cool giant planets orbiting other suns.


UK Prisons Ministry Fined For Lack of Encryption At Prisons - Wed Aug 27 04:09:48 2014

Bruce66423 (1678196) writes The Guardian reports that the UK Information Commissioner has levied a fine of £180,000 on the Ministry of Justice for their failure to encrypt data held on external hard drives at prisons. The fine is nominal — one part of government fining another is rather pointless, but it does show that there's a little bit of accountability. Of course it's interesting to consider the dangers of this hopefully old way of storing backups; but the question of whether we do a lot better now is quite pointed. To make matters worse, one of the unencrypted backup hard drives walked away.


Seagate Ships First 8 Terabyte Hard Drive - Wed Aug 27 02:13:01 2014

MojoKid (1002251) writes Seagate announced today that it has begun shipping the world's first 8 Terabyte hard drive. The 8TB hard drive comes only five months after Western Digital released the first ever 6TB HDD. Up until then, Seagate's high capacity HDDs had been shipping only to select enterprise clients. The 8TB HDD comes in the 3.5-inch form factor and, according to the manufacturer, features a SATA 6Gbps interface and multi-drive RV tolerance which makes it suitable for data centers. It's unclear what technology the drive is based on, or if PMR (Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) or low-resistance helium technology was employed.


Comcast Tells Government That Its Data Caps Aren't Actually "Data Caps" - Wed Aug 27 00:17:09 2014

mpicpp (3454017) writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica about Comcast's data caps that aren't data caps:Customers must pay more if they exceed limits — but it's not a cap, Comcast says. For the past couple of years, Comcast has been trying to convince journalists and the general public that it doesn't impose any "data caps" on its Internet service. ... That's despite the fact that Comcast in some cities enforces limits on the amount of data customers can use and issues financial penalties for using more than the allotment. Comcast has said this type of billing will probably roll out to its entire national footprint within five years, perhaps alongside a pricier option to buy unlimited data. ... Comcast's then-new approach was touted to "effectively offer unlimited usage of our services because customers will have the ability to buy as much data as they want."


Project Zero Explots 'Unexploitable' Glibc Bug - Tue Aug 26 23:36:14 2014

NotInHere (3654617) writes with news that Google's Project Zero has been busy at work. A month ago they reported an off-by-one error in glibc that would overwrite a word on the heap with NUL and were met with skepticism at its ability to be used in an attack. Google's 'Project Zero' devised an exploit of the out-of-bounds NUL write in glibc to gain root access using the setuid binary pkexec in order to convince skeptical glibc developers. 44 days after being reported, the bug has been fixed. They even managed to defeat address space randomization on 32-bit platforms by tweaking ulimits. 64-bit systems should remain safe if they are using address space randomization.


Exomoon Detection Technique Could Greatly Expand Potential Habitable Systems - Tue Aug 26 22:53:01 2014

Luminary Crush (109477) writes Most of the detected exoplanets thus far have been gas giants which aren't great candidates for life as we know it. However, many of those planets are in fact in the star's habitable zone and could have moons with conditions more favorable. Until now, methods to detect the moons of such gas giants have been elusive, but researchers at the University of Texas, Arlington have discovered a way to detect the interaction of a moon's ionosphere with the parent gas giant from studies of Jupiter's moon Io. The search for 'Pandora' has begun.


Free Law Casebook Project Starts With IP Coursebook - Tue Aug 26 22:11:28 2014

An anonymous reader writes Duke Law School's James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins just published a CC licensed, freely downloadable textbook called "Intellectual Property Law and the Information Society." (Which includes a discussion of whether and when the term "intellectual property" is a dangerous misnomer). The book is apparently part of an attempt to lower what the authors describe as the "obscene cost" of legal textbooks. "This is the first in a series of free digital/low cost print legal educational materials to be published by Duke's Center for the Study of the Public Domain—starting with statutory supplements aimed at the basic classes. The goal of this project... is to improve the pricing and access norms of the world of legal textbook publishing, while offering the flexibility and possibility for customization that unfettered digital access provides. We hope it will provide a pleasant, restorative, competitive pressure on the commercial publishers to lower their prices and improve their digital access norms." The book's "problems range from a video of the Napster oral argument to counseling clients about search engines and trademarks, applying the First Amendment to digital rights management and copyright or commenting on the Supreme Court's new rulings on gene patents.. [The book] includes discussions of such issues as the Redskins trademark cancelations, the Google Books case and the America Invents Act."


Uber Has a Playbook For Sabotaging Lyft, Says Report - Tue Aug 26 21:29:48 2014

Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes "The folks over at The Verge claim that 'Uber is arming teams of independent contractors with burner phones and credit cards as part of its sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors.' Interviews and documents apparently show Uber reps ordering and canceling Lyft rides by the thousands, following a playbook with advice designed to prevent Lyft from flagging their accounts. 'Uber appears to be replicating its program across the country. One email obtained by The Verge links to an online form for requesting burner phones, credit cards, and driver kits — everything an Uber driver needs to get started, which recruiters often carry with them.' Is this an example of legal-but-hard-hitting business tactics, or is Uber overstepping its bounds? The so-called sharing economy seems just as cutthroat — if not more so — than any other industry out there."


The Grumpy Programmer has Advice for Young Computer Workers (Video) - Tue Aug 26 20:58:01 2014

Bob Pendleton calls his blog "The Grumpy Programmer" because he's both grumpy and a programmer. He's also over 60 years old and has been programming since he was in his teens. This pair of videos is a break from our recent spate of conference panels and corporate people. It's an old programmer sharing his career experiences with younger programmers so they (you?) can avoid making his mistakes and possibly avoid becoming as grumpy as he is -- which is kind of a joke, since Bob is not nearly as grumpy as he is light-hearted. (Transcript covers both videos. Alternate Video Link One; Alternate Video Link Two)


MediaGoblin 0.7.0 "Time Traveler's Delight" Released - Tue Aug 26 20:08:51 2014

paroneayea (642895) writes "The GNU MediaGoblin folks have put out another release of their free software media hosting platform, dubbed 0.7.0: Time Traveler's Delight. The new release moves closer to federation by including a new upload API based on the Pump API, a new theme labeled "Sandy 70s Speedboat", metadata features, bulk upload, a more responsive design, and many other fixes and improvements. This is the first release since the recent crowdfunding campaign run with the FSF which was used to bring on a full time developer to focus on federation, among other things."


How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids - Tue Aug 26 19:26:04 2014

KentuckyFC writes The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is constructed from 2.4 million limestone blocks, most about 2.5 tonnes but some weighing in at up to 80 tonnes, mostly sourced from local limestone quarries. That raises a famous question. How did the ancient Egyptians move these huge blocks into place? There is no shortage of theories but now a team of physicists has come up with another that is remarkably simple--convert the square cross section of the blocks into dodecadrons making them easy to roll. The team has tested the idea on a 30 kg scaled block the shape of a square prism. They modified the square cross-section by strapping three wooden rods to each long face, creating a dodecahedral profile. Finally, they attached a rope to the top of the block and measured the force necessary to set it rolling. The team say a full-sized block could be modified with poles the size of ships masts and that a work crew of around 50 men could move a block with a mass of 2.5 tonnes at the speed of 0.5 metres per second. The result suggests that this kind of block modification is a serious contender for the method the Egyptians actually used to construct the pyramids, say the researchers.


VMware Unveils Workplace Suite and NVIDIA Partnership For Chromebooks - Tue Aug 26 18:43:36 2014

Gamoid writes At VMworld today, VMware introduced the Workplace Suite, a platform for securely delivering applications and content across desktops and mobile devices from the cloud. The really cool part, though, is a partnership with Google and NVIDIA to deliver even graphics-intensive Windows applications on a Chromebook. From the article: "The new VMware Workplace Suite takes advantage of three existing VMware products: Tools for application, device, and content management as well as secure cloud file storage that comes from the January acquisition of enterprise mobile management company AirWatch; VMware Horizon for desktop-as-a-service; and brand-new acquisition CloudVolumes for app delivery. "


Climate Scientist Pioneer Talks About the Furture of Geoengineering - Tue Aug 26 18:01:17 2014

First time accepted submitter merbs writes At the first major climate engineering conference, Stanford climatologist Ken Caldeira explains how and why we might come to live on a geoengineered planet, how the field is rapidly growing (and why that's dangerous), and what the odds are that humans will try to hijack the Earth's thermostat. From the article: "For years, Dr. Ken Caldeira's interest in planet hacking made him a curious outlier in his field. A highly respected atmospheric scientist, he also describes himself as a 'reluctant advocate' of researching solar geoengineering—that is, large-scale efforts to artificially manage the amount of sunlight entering the atmosphere, in order to cool off the globe."


California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels - Tue Aug 26 17:28:01 2014

cartechboy writes Google showed us what it feels is the car of the future. It drives itself, it doesn't have a gas or brake pedal, and there's no steering wheel. But that last one might be an issue. Back in May California's Department of Motor Vehicles published safety guidelines aimed at manufacturers of self-driving vehicles. After seeing Google's self-driving car vision, the California DMV has told the company it needs to add all those things back to their traditional locations so that occupants can take "immediate physical control" of the vehicle if necessary. Don't for a second think this is a major setback for Google, as the prototypes unveiled weren't even close to production ready. While the DMV may loosen some of these restrictions in the future as well all become more comfortable with the idea of self-driving vehicles, there's no question when it comes down to the safety of those on the road.


TechCentral Scams Call Center Scammers - Tue Aug 26 16:43:01 2014

An anonymous reader writes "At TechCentral, we get on average called at least once a week — sometimes far more often — by a friendly sounding Indian national warning us that our Windows computer is infected with a virus. The call, which originates from a call centre, follows exactly the same script every time. Usually we shrug them off and put the phone down, but this week we thought we'd humour them to find out how they operate. As this week's call came in, the first thing the "operator" at the other end of the line tried to establish was who was owner of the Windows computer in the household. I'd taken the call. It was time to have some fun. I told the scammer that I was the PC owner. He proceeded to introduce himself as "John Connor." I laughed quietly as I imagined Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator hunting down this scamster in the streets of Calcutta. Perhaps he should have come up with a more convincing name."


IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch - Tue Aug 26 15:59:07 2014

darthcamaro (735685) writes "Now that IBM has sold off its x86 server business to Lenovo, it's full steam ahead for IBM's Power business. While Intel is ramping up its next generation of server silicon for a September launch, IBM has its next lineup of Power 8 servers set to be announced in October. "There is a larger than 4U, 2 socket system coming out," Doug Balog, General Manager of Power Systems within IBM's System and Technology Group said. Can IBM Power 8 actually take on x86? Or has that ship already sailed?" At last weekend's Linux Con in Chicago, IBM talked up the availability of the Power systems, and that they are working with several Linux vendors, including recently-added Ubuntu; watch for a video interview with Balog on how he's helping spend the billion dollars that IBM pledged last year on open source development.


A Horrifying Interactive Map of Global Internet Censorship - Tue Aug 26 15:16:00 2014

An anonymous reader writes "Imagine a world where the book burners had won. A world where information is filtered and must be approved by governments before it can be accessed by their citizens. A world where people are held down and kept in line by oppressive regimes that restrict the free flow of information and bombard citizens with government-approved messages. Now stop imagining, because this horrifying world already exists..."


New Windows Coming In Late September -- But Which One? - Tue Aug 26 14:23:01 2014

snydeq (1272828) writes "Nobody seems to know for sure whether 'Threshold' and 'Windows 9' will be one and the same or separate operating systems, reports Woody Leonhard in his roundup of insights on Microsoft's forthcoming OS plans, expected September 30. 'Many people think the terms are synonymous, but longtime Chinese leaker Faikee continues to maintain that they are two separate products, possibly headed in different directions. Neowin Senior Editor and Columnist Brad Sams appears to have access to the most recent test builds, possibly on a daily basis. He doesn't talk about details, but the items he's let drop on the Neowin forum leave an interesting trail of crumbs.' Either way, the next iteration of Windows will have a lot to say about the kind of Microsoft to expect as Satya Nadella cements his leadership over the flagship OS."


California Passes Law Mandating Smartphone Kill Switch - Tue Aug 26 13:34:12 2014

alphadogg (971356) writes "Smartphones sold in California will soon be required to have a kill switch that lets users remotely lock them and wipe them of data in the event they are lost or stolen. The demand is the result of a new law, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/... into effect on Monday, that applies to phones manufactured after July 1, 2015, and sold in the state. While its legal reach does not extend beyond the state's borders, the inefficiency of producing phones solely for California means the kill switch is expected to be adopted by phone makers on handsets sold across the U.S. and around the world."


$75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen - Tue Aug 26 12:50:22 2014

kdataman writes U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ben Eberle, who lost an arm and both legs in Afghanistan, had his Ipod Touch stolen on Friday. This particular Ipod Touch has an app on it that controls his $75,000 prosthetic arm. The robbery bricked his prosthesis: "That is because Eberle's prosthetic hand is programmed to only work with the stolen iPod, and vice versa. Now that the iPod is gone, he said he has to get a new hand and get it reprogrammed with his prosthesis." I see three possibilities: 1) The article is wrong, possibly to guilt the thief into returning the Ipod. 2) This is an incredibly bad design by Touch Bionics. Why would you make a $70,000 piece of equipment permanently dependent on a specific Ipod Touch? Ipods do fail or go missing. 3) This is an intentionally bad design to generate revenue. Maybe GM should do this with car keys? "Oops, lost the keys to the corvette. Better buy a new one."


Amazon To Buy Twitch For $970 Million - Tue Aug 26 12:05:56 2014

Dave Knott (2917251) writes Amazon has agreed to acquire the live game-streaming service Twitch for approximately $970 million in cash, a move that could help Amazon bolster its position in the fast-growing business of online gaming and give it technology to compete with video-streaming rivals Netflix and YouTube. The acquisition, which has been approved by Twitch's shareholders, is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Google had for some time been reported to have interest in acquiring Twitch, but those talks cooled in recent weeks. Google was unable to close the deal, said sources familiar with the talks, because it was concerned about potential antitrust issues that could have come with the acquisition.


Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group - Tue Aug 26 09:27:08 2014

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes American Commitment, a conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a "grassroots" campaign to kill net neutrality — at one point suggesting that "Marxists" think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea. American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether" and says that the FCC is plotting a "federal Internet takeover," a move that "sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia."


Early Bitcoin User Interviewed By Federal Officers - Tue Aug 26 07:20:17 2014

MrBingoBoingo (3481277) writes Recently a Bitcoin user reports being interviewed over their past use of a now defuct exchange service by agents from the FBI and Treasury Department. This encounter raises concerns that earlier Bitcoin users who entered the space inocuously and without ties to Dark Markets or The Silk Road might need to prepare for Law Enforcement questioning about their early Bitcoin related activities.


Predictive Modeling To Increase Responsivity of Streamed Games - Tue Aug 26 04:00:33 2014

jones_supa (887896) writes Streaming game services always bump up against a hard latency limit based on the total round-trip time it takes to send user input to a remote server and receive a frame of game data from that server. To alleviate the situation, Microsoft Research has been developing a system called DeLorean (whitepaper) using predictive modeling to improve the experienced responsiveness of a game. By analyzing previous inputs in a Markov chain, DeLorean tries to predict the most likely choices for the user's next input and then generates speculative frames that fit those inputs and sends them back to the user. The caveat is that sending those extra predictive frames and information does add a bandwidth overhead of anywhere from 1.5 to 4 times that of a normal streaming game client. During testing the benefits were apparent, though. Even when the actual round-trip time between input and server response was 256 ms, double-blind testers reported both the gameplay responsiveness and graphical quality of the DeLorean system were comparable to a locally played version of the game.