Geek Stuff

Deals of the Day (2-09-216)

Liliputing -

Every Google user gets at least 15GB of free cloud storage with Google Drive. You can pay to get more, but there are plenty of ways to get additional storage for free by buying some Chromebooks, smartphones, or other devices… or just by answering some questions. For the second year in a row, Google is offering […]

Deals of the Day (2-09-216) is a post from: Liliputing

President Obama Unveils $19 Billion Plan To Overhaul U.S. Cybersecurity

Slashdot -

erier2003 writes: President Obama on Tuesday unveiled an expansive plan to bolster government and private-sector cybersecurity by establishing a federal coordinator for cyber efforts, proposing a commission to study future work, and asking Congress for funds to overhaul dangerously obsolete computer systems. His newly signed executive orders contain initiatives to better prepare college students for cybersecurity careers, streamline federal computer networks, and certify Internet-connected devices as secure. The Cybersecurity National Action Plan also establishes a Federal Privacy Council (to review how the government stores Americans' personal information), creates the post of Chief Information Security Officer, and establishes a Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity.

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Adblock Fast Returns To Google Play a Week After Being Pulled

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: A week ago, Google suddenly removed Adblock Fast from its Android app store. Today, the ad blocker has been reinstated, enabling Samsung users to download it once again from Google Play. Late last month, the browser preinstalled on Samsung's Android phones gained support for content-blocking plugins, and the first plugin to support the functionality was a free and open-source solution called Adblock Fast. Rocketship Apps, the maker of Adblock Fast, uploaded the Android plugin on January 29, but Google rejected an app update on February 1. The app hit Google Play's top spot for free, new productivity apps on February 2, and was pulled by Google on the same day.

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Imagination wants you to build a Terminator… what could possibly go wrong?

Liliputing -

We’ve seen a lot of low-cost development boards/single-board computers hit the streets since the first Raspberry Pi first launched in 2012, including models with Intel, ARM, and MIPS processors… and Imagination Technologies would really like you to use those MIPS-based models. The company launched the MIPS Creator Ci20 board in 2014, and a new Ci40 […]

Imagination wants you to build a Terminator… what could possibly go wrong? is a post from: Liliputing

Not Mormon®, But Still Mormon

EFF's Deeplinks -

Who is a Mormon? This is a fundamental question of self-identity, religion, and even Wikipedia. One would think, however, that that answer would not be found in trademark law.

Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (IRI), which owns and manages the trademarks of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has made a series of trademark claims against small startups and organizations using the term “Mormon” in their names and URLs, including our client, the Mormon Mental Health Association (MMHA).

We first heard of IRI making claims to own the word “Mormon” when they got into a legal dispute with a company called “Mormon Match.” IRI claimed that both the company name and the associated URL infringed on IRI’s trademarks in the terms “Mormon” and “Mormon.org” (among others).

Although that case later settled, IRI continued to pressure others to change their names and URLs if they contained the word “Mormon.” This time, they have targeted the MMHA, a registered 501(c)(3), professional association for mental health providers, clinicians, educators and advocates who are interested in or are working with members of the LDS Church, as well as members of any church tracing back to the restoration movement of Joseph Smith. As it makes clear on its website, it is not affiliated with the LDS Church.

As we recently explained to IRI, MMHA uses the term “Mormon” to accurately refer to the community it serves, which includes both those officially affiliated with the LDS Church and those that aren’t. It’s not surprising that people use the term “Mormon” in a broader sense. There is no other term that so accurately and precisely describes those who follow what they see as the teachings of the Book of Mormon (whether through the LDS church or otherwise), or who are members of the broader community.

As the Supreme Court has said, trademark law should not be used to "deprive commercial speakers of the ordinary utility of descriptive words." We’re disappointed that IRI is seeking to prevent MMHA and others from self-identifying as Mormon in the name of “consumer confusion” that does not exist.

Trademark law does not give one company the right to control language.  IRI should immediately cease this trademark campaign that results in community tensions that need not exist.   


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Australia Cuts 110 Climate Scientist Jobs: "The Science is Settled."

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: With an ax rather than a scalpel, Australia's federal science agency last week chopped off its climate research arm in a decision that has stunned scientists and left employees dispirited. Why? Because the science is settled, there is no need for more basic research, the government says. No doubt many will experience a case of schadenfreude as they see those who have long claimed "the science is settled" face the inevitable and logical consequence of that stance.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Wired To Block Ad-Blocking Users, Offer Subscription

Slashdot -

AmiMoJo writes: In a blog post Wired has announced that it will begin to block users who block ads on its site: "On an average day, more than 20 percent of the traffic to WIRED.com comes from a reader who is blocking our ads. We know that you come to our site primarily to read our content, but it's important to be clear that advertising is how we keep WIRED going," wrote the editors. The post goes on to offer two options for users blocking ads: whitelist wired.com or subscribe for $1/week.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Skylake Breaks 7GHz In Intel Overclocking World Record

Slashdot -

MojoKid writes: Intel's latest generation of processors built on the Skylake architecture are efficient as well as seriously fast. The flagship, Core i7-6700K, is an interesting chip as it's clocked at a base 4GHz, and can peak at 4.2GHz with Turbo Boost. Of course, as fast as the 6700K is, overclocking can always help take things to the next level, or at least temporarily explore future potential. In Chi-Kui Lam's case, he did just that, and managed to break a world record for Intel processors along the way. Equipped with an ASRock motherboard, G.SKILL memory, and a beefy 1.3KW Antec power supply — not to mention liquid nitrogen — Lam managed to break through the 7GHz barrier to settle in at 7025.66MHz. A CPU-Z screenshot shows us that all cores but one were disabled — something traditionally done to improve the chances of reaching such high clock speeds.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Kickstarter examines 100 thousand projects funded in 7 years

Liliputing -

Have an idea for a new product, artwork, or performance piece, but don’t have the funding to bring it to market? Once upon a time you had to find investors or take out loans. These days you can turn to a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter to see if you can get potential customers to help […]

Kickstarter examines 100 thousand projects funded in 7 years is a post from: Liliputing

An Advanced Math Education Revolution Is Underway In the U.S.

Slashdot -

AthanasiusKircher writes: The Atlantic has an >extended article on the recent surge in advanced math education at the primary and secondary levels in the U.S., arguing that last year's victory for the U.S. in the Math Olympiad was not a random anomaly. Participation in math camps, after-school or weekend math "academies," and math competitions has surged in recent years, with many programs having long wait lists. Inessa Rifkin, co-founder of one of these math academies, argues that the problems with math education begin in the 2nd and 3rd grades: ""The youngest ones, very naturally, their minds see math differently.... It is common that they can ask simple questions and then, in the next minute, a very complicated one. But if the teacher doesn't know enough mathematics, she will answer the simple question and shut down the other, more difficult one." These alternative math programs put a greater focus on problem-solving: "Unlike most math classes, where teachers struggle to impart knowledge to students—who must passively absorb it and then regurgitate it on a test—problem-solving classes demand that the pupils execute the cognitive bench press: investigating, conjecturing, predicting, analyzing, and finally verifying their own mathematical strategy. The point is not to accurately execute algorithms, although there is, of course, a right answer... Truly thinking the problem through—creatively applying what you know about math and puzzling out possible solutions—is more important." The article concludes by noting that programs like No Child Left Behind have focused on minimal standards, rather than enrichment activities for advanced students. The result is a disparity in economic backgrounds for students in pricey math activities; many middle-class Americans investigate summer camps or sports programs for younger kids, but they don't realize how important a math program could be for a curious child. As Daniel Zaharopol, founder of a related non-profit initiative, noted in his searches to recruit low-income students: "Actually doing math should bring them joy."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hackers Leak List of FBI Employees

Slashdot -

puddingebola writes: The hackers responsible for the leaking of DHS employees made good on their threat to reveal the names of 20,000 FBI employees. From the article: "The hacker provided Motherboard with a copy of the data on Sunday. The list includes names, email addresses (many of which are non-public) and job descriptions, such as task force deputy director, security specialist, special agent, and many more. The list also includes roughly 1,000 FBI employees in an intelligence analysis role."

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The Internet of Broken Things

Slashdot -

szczys writes: The Internet of Things is all the hype these days. On one side we have companies clamoring to sell you Internet-Connected-everything to replace all of the stuff you already have that is now considered "dumb." On the other side are security researchers screaming that we're installing remote access with little thought about securing it properly. The truth is a little of both is happening, and that this isn't a new thing. It's been around for years in industry, the new part is that it's much wider spread and much closer to your life. Al Williams walks through some real examples of the unintended consequences of IoT, including his experiences building and deploying devices, and some recent IoT gaffs like the NEST firmware upgrade that had some users waking up to an icy-cold home.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Another new Raspbian release

Raspberry Pi -

Some of you may have spotted that there is a new Raspbian release available for download. For most people, this is primarily updates and bug fixes to the existing Jessie image – but there’s one exciting new feature that might be of interest to some people…

But before we get to that, here’s a summary of the other changes.

New versions of applications

There are new versions of many of the standard applications.

Sonic Pi is now at version 2.9. A full list of changes can be found in the History section of the Info window in Sonic Pi, but the highlights include two new effects functions, a new logging system, and the inclusion of all of Sam Aaron’s articles for The Magpi magazine as part of the online tutorials.

Scratch is now at version 20160115. This has improved sound input capabilities, support for the CamJam EduKit 3 robotics board, basic PWM support in the GPIO server, and various improvements to the display, including font scaling.

Mathematica is now at version 10.3. This adds support for a larger set of the functionality detailed in Stephen Wolfram’s new “Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language” book. It also supports the use of the Sense HAT, adds interfacing to Arduino, and includes many new Mathematica functions.

Node-RED is now at version 12.5 – this adds no significant new functionality, but fixes a number of bugs and contains some internal performance improvements.

New versions of libraries

WiringPi has been updated to version 2.31, which allows GPIO pins to be accessed from applications that use the library without needing to use sudo. For more details, see the WiringPi website.

The RPi.GPIO library has been included, which allows easy access to the Pi’s GPIO pins from Python – see here for more details.

The Java platform included has been updated to version 8, update 65.

Bug fixes

The volume/audio device icon on the taskbar is now compatible with a wider range of USB audio devices – people reported that it was impossible to set some USB sound devices as the default output. Due to the way the ALSA system works, it is very difficult to make this completely infallible, but the new version should work with a much wider selection of devices than before.

The Main Menu editor now allows new menus to be created. In earlier versions, due to an issue with the way the LXDE desktop environment interpreted its configuration files, creating a new menu caused all other menus to be hidden – this should now work correctly.

The GUI Raspberry Pi Configuration and command-line raspi-config applications now offer the correct overclocking options on all Pi 1, Pi 2 and Pi Zero boards. There are also some updated language translations submitted by the community – many thanks to the translators!

The Wastebasket is now consistently named as such everywhere when the desktop is set to British English. (It previously had a wide selection of names in different places, including Trash and Rubbish Bin…)

The ping command no longer requires sudo.

One more thing…

We hope the above changes are useful, but Raspbian will still look pretty much the same as it did for the last release in November. But we have been working on one other thing behind the scenes for this release: this won’t be of interest to most users, but for some, we hope it will be very useful.

In this release we are shipping an experimental OpenGL driver for the desktop which uses the GPU to provide hardware acceleration. This is turned off by default – if you want to enable it, you can find it in the command-line version of raspi-config, under Advanced Options->GL Driver. Due to memory requirements, this will not work on Pi 1 or Pi Zero boards – it is solely for Pi 2. (raspi-config will only allow it to be enabled on a Pi 2; be warned that if you enable it on a Pi 2 and then move that SD card into a Pi 1 or Pi Zero, the Pi will not boot.)

If you don’t use this option, the desktop does have OpenGL support, but it uses a very slow software renderer, which makes all but the most basic OpenGL applications pretty much unusable. The hardware-accelerated version is much faster, and makes some quite decent OpenGL games playable on the Pi.

As a quick demonstration of the effect of the driver, try installing the mesa-utils package with sudo apt-get install mesa-utils

This installs a simple OpenGL demo program called glxgears which shows three rotating gear-wheels. To run it, type glxgears

With the standard software renderer, this runs at around 23 frames per second, flickers a lot, and doesn’t actually show the correct colours. If you try it again with the new driver enabled, it runs at the screen refresh rate of 60 fps, with no flicker and the correct colours.

Rotating gears are all very well, but they aren’t that exciting, are they? So how about some actual games? One that is popular in the office is Neverball – try sudo apt-get install neverball

This barely runs at all under the software renderer, but is quite slick and playable with the new driver.

Or try Oolite, which looks quite similar to another game that those of us of a certain age remember fondly. sudo apt-get install oolite

There are various other OpenGL games and applications available in apt – to find them, try apt-cache search opengl

Bear in mind that this is an experimental release of the driver which we are making available to the community as a public beta test; it is still slightly unstable, there will inevitably be some graphic glitches, and you shouldn’t expect every OpenGL program to run perfectly. It also has some side effects, notably in terms of making small changes to the way normal windows and menus are displayed. For this reason, we’d advise only enabling the driver if you know that it is going to be useful for some specific program you are using; if you’re not sure whether or not you should be using it, you probably shouldn’t be!

How do I get it?

A full image and a NOOBS installer are available from the Downloads page on this website.

If you are running the current Jessie image, it can be updated to the new version by running

sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get dist-upgrade sudo apt-get install raspi-gpio

To add the experimental GL driver, you will also need to run

sudo apt-get install xcompmgr libgl1-mesa-dri

As ever, your feedback on the new release is very welcome – feel free to comment here or in the forums.

The post Another new Raspbian release appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Are Roads Safer With No Central White Lines?

Slashdot -

Press2ToContinue writes: White lines along the center of roads have been removed in parts of the UK, with some experts saying it encourages motorists to slow down. So is it the beginning of the end for the central road marking? You are driving along the road when the dotted white line that has been your companion — separating your car from oncoming traffic — suddenly disappears. One theory is that you will slow down, making the road safer. What could possibly go wrong?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Working On Wireless Charging For Self-Driving Cars

Slashdot -

MikeChino writes: New FCC filings suggest that Google is currently installing wireless charging systems for self-driving cars at its headquarters in Mountain View. The documents suggest that the systems will be installed by Hevo Power and Momentum Dynamics. Both companies offer technology that can wirelessly charge an electric car via plates that are embedded in the ground.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

China Just Made a Major Breakthrough In Nuclear Fusion Research

Slashdot -

New submitter TechnoidNash writes: China announced last week a major breakthrough in the realm of nuclear fusion research. The Chinese Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST), was able to heat hydrogen gas to a temperature of near 50 million degrees Celsius for an unprecedented 102 seconds. While this is nowhere near the hottest temperature that has ever been achieved in nuclear fusion research (that distinction belongs to the Large Hadron Collider which reached 4 trillion degrees Celsius), it is the longest amount of time one has been maintained.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Wolves Howl In Different 'Dialects,' Machine Learning Finds

Slashdot -

derekmead writes: Differentiating wolf howls with human ears can prove tricky, so researchers have turned to computer algorithms to suss out if different wolf species howl differently. They think that understanding wolf howls could help improve wolf conservation and management programs. In a study published in the journal Behavioural Processes, a group of international researchers describe using machine learning for the first time to analyze 2,000 wolf howls gathered from both wild and domesticated wolves and their subspecies from around the world.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Java Installer Flaw Shows Why You Should Clear Your Downloads Folder

Slashdot -

itwbennett writes: On Friday, Oracle published a security advisory recommending that users delete all the Java installers they might have laying around on their computers and use new ones for versions 6u113, 7u97, 8u73 or later. The reason: Older versions of the Java installer were vulnerable to binary planting in the Downloads folder. 'Though considered relatively complex to exploit, this vulnerability may result, if successfully exploited, in a complete compromise of the unsuspecting user's system,' said Eric Maurice, Oracle's software security assurance director, in a blog post.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How the Cloud Has Changed (Since Last You Looked)

Slashdot -

snydeq writes: InfoWorld's Peter Wayner takes a look at the new services and pricing models that are making cloud computing more powerful, complex, and cheaper than it was a few short years ago. 'We get more, but using it isn't always as simple as it could be. Sure, you still end up on root on some box that's probably running Linux, but getting the right performance out of that machine is more complex,' Wayner writes. "But the real fun comes when you try to figure out how to pay for your planned cloud deployment because there are more options than ever. ... In some cases, the cost engineering can be more complex than the software engineering."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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