Geek Stuff

Deals of the Day (12-16-2014)

Liliputing -

The Acer Aspire E11 is a low-cost Windows notebook with an 11.6 inch display. Models normally sell for around $200 and up, but right now the Microsoft Store is offering a model with an Intel Celeron N2840 Bay Trail processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32GB of flash storage for $149. Want a model with a […]

Deals of the Day (12-16-2014) is a post from: Liliputing

Virtual Reality Experiment Wants To Put White People In Black Bodies

Slashdot -

Molly McHugh (3774987) writes with an intriguing use of VR technology: "It's as simple as making a light-skinned person feel connected to a virtual, darker skinned self—a thought experiment pretty much impossible without the immersive potency of VR. The effect is achieved by outfitting participants in VR headsets with built-in head-tracking and motion capture capabilities that sync actual movement to virtual experience." From the article: Evolving from cruder methods, VR is a natural extension of research examining the ways that people think differently when made to feel like they are part of a meaningfully different social group, known as an outgroup. ... What’s most exciting about this channel of research is that it gets at the kind of complex, subtle prejudices that most people can’t even articulate if asked directly.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Touring a Carnival Cruise Simulator: 210 Degrees of GeForce-Powered Projection

Slashdot -

MojoKid writes Recently, Carnival cruise lines gave tours of their CSMART facility in Almere, the Netherlands. This facility is one of a handful in the world that can provide both extensive training and certification on cruise ships as well as a comprehensive simulation of what it's like to command one. Simulating the operation of a Carnival cruise ship is anything but simple. Let's start with a ship that's at least passingly familiar to most people — the RMS Titanic. At roughly 46,000 tons and 882 feet long, she was, briefly, the largest vessel afloat. Compared to a modern cruise ship, however, Titanic was a pipsqueak. As the size and complexity of the ships has grown, the need for complete simulators has grown as well. The C-SMART facility currently sports two full bridge simulators, several partial bridges, and multiple engineering rooms. When the Costa Concordia wrecked off the coast of Italy several years ago, the C-SMART facility was used to simulate the wreck based on the black boxes from the ship itself. When C-SMART moves to its new facilities, it'll pick up an enormous improvement in processing power. The next-gen visual system is going to be powered by104 GeForce Grid systems running banks of GTX 980 GPUs. C-SMART executives claim it will actually substantially reduce their total power consumption thanks to the improved Maxwell GPU. Which solution is currently in place was unclear, but the total number of installed systems is dropping from just over 500 to 100 rackmounted units.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Is Every Orc an Author? On Rehearing, Judges Challenge 5-Second Copyright in Garcia v. Google

EFF's Deeplinks -

A panel of eleven Ninth Circuit federal judges heard oral arguments yesterday in Garcia v. Google, a copyright case arising from the notorious "Innocence of Muslims" video that was associated with violent protests around the world. The appellant, Cindy Lee Garcia, argues that she holds a copyright in her five-second performance in the video (a performance she says was tricked into giving), and is trying to use that claim to get the video pulled off the internet. To the shock of many, last February two Ninth Circuit judges agreed she might have a claim and ordered Google to remove the video from YouTube and prevent future uploads. Yesterday’s hearing revisited the facts and law that led to that decision. 

The judges grilled Garcia’s counsel on the question of copyrightability, challenging the notion that Garcia’s five-second performance could be a copyrightable work.  “Could any person who appeared in the battle scenes of the Lord of the Rings claim rights in the work?” asked Judge Margaret McKeown. And, she wondered, wasn’t this case really an issue of possible fraud, not copyright infringement?

Judge Alex Kozinski, however, suggested that the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, which recognizes certain performance rights for actors, requires courts to recognize Ms. Garcia’s claimed copyright interest. However, the treaty is not yet in force, in the U.S. or anywhere else. In any event, as Google counsel explained, it is not clear that the treaty would create a copyright interest in a five-second performance that was part of a much longer work. Judge Kozinski also compared Ms. Garcia’s claim to a 1977 case involving a short performance by a “human cannonball.”

Google’s counsel stressed the burden on service providers and video-makers of recognizing a copyright interest in this case. If every person captured doing something creative on film could claim a copyright in it, service providers could find themselves flooded with takedown notices under the DMCA, resulting in the silencing of all kinds of lawful speech.  

Google’s counsel also attempted to keep the court focused on the preliminary injunction standard, which requires courts to deny the broad injunctive relief Garcia sought if the law does not “clearly favor” the legal claim. In this case, the overwhelming weight of case law (including a recent Ninth Circuit opinion) and even the Copyright Office clearly disfavors Garcia’s theory.  In our view, that, by itself, should have resolved the question.

Monday's hearing follows months of controversy. EFF and many other public interest groups have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, noting (among other concerns) that actors generally do not have a copyright in their performances and that in any case neither Garcia nor the earlier opinion had justified a prior restraint of speech. We hope the Ninth Circuit quickly comes to the same conclusion and lifts the injunction.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceDMCANo Downtime for Free SpeechFree SpeechRelated Cases: Garcia v. Google, Inc
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Microsoft Gets Industry Support Against US Search Of Data In Ireland

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes Tech giants such as Apple and eBay have given their support in Microsoft's legal battle against the U.S. government regarding the handing over of data stored in an Irish datacenter. In connection with a 2014 drugs investigation, U.S. prosecutors issued a warrant for emails stored by Microsoft in Ireland. The firm refused to hand over the information, but in July was ordered by a judge to comply with the investigation. Microsoft has today filed a collection of letters from industry supporters, such as Apple, eBay, Cisco, Amazon, HP, and Verizon. Trade associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Digital Rights Ireland have also expressed their support.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Huawei Honor 6 Plus smartphone has a dual-lens camera

Liliputing -

The HTC One M8 may have been the first smartphone to ship with a dual-lens camera, but apparently it won’t be the latest. Huawei just unveiled the Honor 6 Plus smartphone with a 5.5 inch, 1080p display, a 1.8 GHz Kirin 925 octa-core processor, and a dual-lens rear camera. The phone’s rear camera has dual 8MP […]

Huawei Honor 6 Plus smartphone has a dual-lens camera is a post from: Liliputing

Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes with this news from the EFF's Deep Links: The public got an early holiday gift today when a federal court agreed with us that six weeks of continually video recording the front yard of someone's home without a search warrant violates the Fourth Amendment. In United States v. Vargas local police in rural Washington suspected Vargas of drug trafficking. In April 2013, police installed a camera on top of a utility pole overlooking his home. Even though police did not have a warrant, they nonetheless pointed the camera at his front door and driveway and began watching every day. A month later, police observed Vargas shoot some beer bottles with a gun and because Vargas was an undocumented immigrant, they had probable cause to believe he was illegally possessing a firearm. They used the video surveillance to obtain a warrant to search his home, which uncovered drugs and guns, leading to a federal indictment against Vargas.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








EFF in Court to Argue NSA Data Collection from Internet Backbone Is Unconstitutional

EFF's Deeplinks -

First Public Court Challenge to “Upstream” Internet Spying

Oakland - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will argue on Friday before a federal court that the National Security Agency (NSA) is violating the Fourth Amendment by copying and searching data that it collects by tapping into the Internet backbone. The hearing on a motion for partial summary judgment in Jewel v. NSA will be at 9 am on Dec. 19 before Judge Jeffrey White at the federal courthouse in Oakland.

Jewel was filed in 2008 on behalf of San Francisco Bay Area resident Carolyn Jewel and other AT&T customers. EFF has amassed a mountain of evidence to support the case, including documents provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein, which show that the company has routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA. Other whistleblowers—including Thomas Drake, Bill Binney and Edward Snowden—have revealed more detail about how this technique feeds data into the NSA's massive databases of communications. Since June 2013, the government has confirmed that it searches much of the content it collects as part of its "upstream" collection without a warrant. The government claims the content searches are justified under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and do not violate the Fourth Amendment.

Under the government's legal theory, it can copy virtually all Internet communications and then search them from top to bottom for specific "identifiers"—all without a warrant or individualized suspicion—as long as it does so quickly using only automated processes.

EFF Special Counsel Richard Wiebe will argue before the court that the Fourth Amendment definitively bars this type of dragnet. As EFF presented in its motion, enough information now exists on the record for the court to rule that the government's technique represents an unconstitutional search and seizure.

What: Motion for Partial Summary Judgment

Who: Richard Wiebe, EFF Special Counsel

Date: Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

Time: 9:00 am

Where: Oakland Federal Courthouse

Courtroom 5, 2nd Floor

1301 Clay St.

Oakland, CA

Wiebe and EFF staff attorneys will be available for comment immediately following the hearing.

For more on Jewel v. NSA: https://www.eff.org/cases/jewel

Contact:

Dave Maass
   Media Relations Coordinator
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   press@eff.org


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T-Mobile Data Stash lets you roll over unused data

Liliputing -

T-Mobile has unveiled a new service called Data Stash, which lets customers roll over unused 4G LTE data from month to month. Data Stash will roll out to all customers on eligible T-Mobile Simple Choice Plans starting in January, and every customer starts off with 10GB of free data for each line on their plan. […]

T-Mobile Data Stash lets you roll over unused data is a post from: Liliputing

Godot Engine Reaches 1.0, First Stable Release

Slashdot -

goruka writes "Godot, the most advanced open source (MIT licensed) game engine, which was open-sourced back in February, has reached 1.0 (stable). It sports an impressive number of features, and it's the only game engine with visual tools (code editor, scripting, debugger, 3D engine, 2D engine, physics, multi-platform deploy, etc) on a scale comparable to commercial offerings. As a plus, the user interface runs natively on Linux. Godot has amassed a healthy user community (through forums, Facebook and IRC) since it went public, and was used to publish commercial games in the Latin American and European markets such as Ultimo Carnaval with publisher Square Enix, and The Mystery Team by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Skype Unveils Preview of Live English-To-Spanish Translator

Slashdot -

mpicpp writes that Microsoft, after demoing the technology back in May, is giving some real-world exposure to its Skype-based translation. The Skype preview program will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on the desktop or device. Skype asked two schools to try Skype Translator – Peterson School in Mexico City, and Stafford Elementary School in Tacoma, USA – playing a game of 'Mystery Skype' in which the children ask questions to determine the location of the other school. One classroom of children speaking Spanish and the other speaking English, Skype Translator removed this language barrier and enabled them to communicate.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Denmark Makes Claim To North Pole, Based On Undersea Geography

Slashdot -

As reported by The Independent, A scientific study has found that Greenland is actually connected to the area beneath the polar ice where the North Pole lies – thanks to a huge stretch of continental crust known as the Lomonosov Ridge. Since Greenland is a Danish territory, that gives the country the right to put its hat in the ring for ownership of the stretch of land, Denmark’s foreign minister [Martin Lidegaard ] said. ... Of the five Arctic countries – the US, Russia, Norway, Canada and Denmark —only Canada and Russia had indicated an interest in the North Pole territory until now. "This is a historical milestone for Denmark and many others as the area has an impact on the lives of lot of people. After the U.N. panel had taken a decision based on scientific data, comes a political process," Lidegaard told The Associated Press in an interview on Friday. "I expect this to take some time. An answer will come in a few decades. Why such a big deal? As Business Insider notes, The U.S. currently estimates that the Arctic sea bed could contain 15% of the earth's remaining oil, along with 30% of the planet's natural gas and 20% of its liquefied natural gas. Whichever country is able to successfully claim the Arctic would have the right to extract these resources.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

Raspberry Pi -

As you may have heard if you follow us on Twitter, Facebook or G+, we are sponsoring this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. The lectures are part of British educational history: Michael Faraday started them in 1825 to introduce science to ordinary people – especially young people – and they’ve been running ever since, with only one break in 1939-42 during World War II.

Professor Danielle George, presenter of this year’s lectures. Photo credit: Paul Wilkinson

We’re incredibly proud to be associated with the lectures. They’re a real educational jewel, and they provide some of the best television in the UK over the Christmas period. British readers can watch this year’s lectures on BBC4 on December 29, 30 and 31 – the theme (which, serendipitously, has a lot of relevance for Raspberry Pi users) is Sparks will fly: How to hack your home. International viewers will be able to watch later on on the Royal Institution’s website.

Here’s a teaser the Royal Institution released on YouTube yesterday.

If you’d like to read more about this year’s lectures, there’s a long interview with Professor Danielle George in the Guardian, where she explains why hacking is such a crucial skill for children. We hope you’ll be watching the lectures along with us!

NASA's $349 Million Empty Tower

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: In a scathing indictment of NASA's bureaucracy, the Washington Post documents a $349 million project to construct a laboratory tower that was closed as soon as it was finished. From the article: "[The tower was] designed to test a new rocket engine in a chamber that mimicked the vacuum of space. ... As soon as the work was done, it shut the tower down. The project was officially 'mothballed' — closed up and left empty — without ever being used. ... The reason for the shutdown: The new tower — called the A-3 test stand — was useless. Just as expected. The rocket program it was designed for had been canceled in 2010. ... The result was that NASA spent four more years building something it didn't need. Now, the agency will spend about $700,000 a year to maintain it in disuse. ... Jerked from one mission to another, NASA lost its sense that any mission was truly urgent. It began to absorb the vices of less-glamorous bureaucracies: Officials tended to let projects run over time and budget. Its congressional overseers tended to view NASA first as a means to deliver pork back home, and second as a means to deliver Americans into space. In Mississippi, NASA built a monument to its own institutional drift."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








The Joker Behind the Signetics 25120 Write-Only Memory Chip Hoax

Slashdot -

New submitter st1lett0 writes: Now and in years past, electronic engineers and hobbyists alike have enjoyed the classic 1972 April Fool's joke by Signetics of the Signetics 25120 Write-Only Memory chip. Now it seems that the previously anonymous practical joker has identified himself and stepped forward with new information to correct and complete the story.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Webcast Funerals Growing More Popular

Slashdot -

HughPickens.com writes: Lex Berko reports in The Atlantic that although webcasting has been around since the mid-1990s, livestreamed funerals have only begun to go mainstream in the last few years. The National Funeral Directors Association has only this year introduced a new funeral webcasting license that permits funeral homes to legally webcast funerals that include copyrighted music. The webcast service's growing appeal is, by all accounts, a result of the increasing mobility of modern society. Remote participation is often the only option for those who live far away or have other barriers — financial, temporal, health-related — barring them from attending a funeral. "It's not designed to replace folks attending funerals," says Walker Posey. "A lot of folks just don't live where their family grew up and it's difficult to get back and forth." But some funeral directors question if online funerals are helpful to the grieving process and eschew streaming funerals live because they do not want to replace a communal human experience with a solitary digital one. What happens if there's a technical problem with the webcast — will we grieve even more knowing we missed the service in person and online? Does webcasting bode well for the future of death acceptance, or does it only promote of our further alienation from that inevitable moment? "The physical dead body is proof of death, tangible evidence that the person we love is gone, and that we will someday be gone as well," says Caitlin Doughty, a death theorist and mortician. "To have death and mourning transferred online takes away that tangible proof. What is there to show us that death is real?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








BT To Buy UK 4G Leader EE For £12.5 Billion

Slashdot -

DW100 writes: The UK mobile market looks set for a radical shake-up after BT confirmed it is now in final stage discussions to buy EE for £12.5bn. The move will see the telecom giant return to the mobile market for the first time in over a decade and make the company the leader in both fixed and mobile markets. Whether or not telecom regulator Ofcom will agree to such a deal, though, remains to be seen.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Mysterious Martian Gouges Carved By Sand-surfing Dry Ice

Slashdot -

sciencehabit writes: After the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter began beaming back close-up images of the Red Planet, researchers spotted peculiar features along the slopes of dunes: long, sharply defined grooves that seem to appear and disappear seasonally. They look like trails left behind by tumbling boulders, but rocks never appear in the sunken pits at the trail ends. Researchers initially took these gullies as signs of flowing liquid water, but a new model suggests they're the result of sand-surfing dry ice that breaks off from the crests of dunes and skids down slopes. This is no ordinary tumble — according to the model, the bases of the chunks are continually sublimating, resulting in a hovercraftlike motion that gouges the dune while propelling the ice down slopes.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








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