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Poker Pros Win Against AI, But Experts Peg Match As Statistical Draw

Slashdot - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 15:33
hypnosec writes with some positive news for Skynet watchers, in that humans still have at least a slight lead against the AIs who might one day imprison us in energy-harvesting goo tanks, or at least beating us in Las Vegas. The two-day poker showdown involving four of the world's top (human) players and a Carnegie Mellon University AI program called Claudico saw the professionals win, after several days of heads-up no-limit Texas Hold'em. "Despite the win, the poker players' $732,713 collective lead over Claudico wasn't quite large enough to attain statistical significance, experts have said. This means that the results can't be accepted as scientifically reliable thereby indicating that the "Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence" competition effectively ended in a statistical tie." On the other hand, the computers sure got over what looked like a rout by the humans.

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FWD.us To Laid-Off Southern California Edison Workers: Boo-Hoo

Slashdot - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 14:27
theodp writes: Speaking at a National Journal LIVE event that was sponsored by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us and Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective, FWD.us "Major Contributor" Lars Dalgaard was asked about the fate of 500 laid-off Southern California Edison IT workers, whose forced training of their H-1B worker replacements from offshore outsourcing companies sparked a bipartisan Senate investigation. "If you want the job, make yourself able to get the job," quipped an unsympathetic Dalgaard (YouTube). "Nobody's going to hold you up and carry you around...If you're not going to work hard enough to be qualified to get the job...well then, you don't deserve the job." "That might be harsh," remarked interviewer Niharika Acharya. Turning to co-interviewee Pierre-Jean Cobut, FWD.us's poster child for increasing the H-1B visa cap, Acharya asked, "Do you agree with him?" "Actually, I do," replied PJ, drawing laughs from the crowd.

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Enterprise SSDs, Powered Off, Potentially Lose Data In a Week

Slashdot - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 12:00
New submitter Mal-2 writes with a selection from IB Times of special interest for anyone replacing hard disks with solid state drives: The standards body for the microelectronics industry has found that Solid State Drives (SSD) can start to lose their data and become corrupted if they are left without power for as little as a week. ... According to a recent presentation (PDF) by Seagate's Alvin Cox, who is also chairman of the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC), the period of time that data will be retained on an SSD is halved for every 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) rise in temperature in the area where the SSD is stored. If you have switched to SSD for either personal or business use, do you follow the recommendation here that spinning-disk media be used as backup as well?

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Messenger Data Says Mercury's Magnetic Past Goes Back Billions of Years

Slashdot - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 09:06
Space.com notes a study published in the May 7th issue of Science (abstract) which concludes not only that Mercury has a magnetic history dating back billions of years, but also that the strength of that field means that it once rivaled Earth's own magnetic field, though it is now "about 100 times weaker." The source of this conclusion is data gathered prior to the crash of NASA's Messenger probe into Mercury's surface on April 30 of this year. Says the story: The researchers analyzed magnetic data collected by MESSENGER in the fall of 2014 and 2015, when the spacecraft flew incredibly close to the planet's surface, at altitudes as low as 9 miles (15 kilometers). In contrast, the lowest that MESSENGER flew in previous years was between 125 and 250 miles (200 and 400 km). ... The scientists detected magnetized rocks in a part of Mercury's crust that, due to the presence of many craters from cosmic impacts, appears to be quite ancient. The researchers suggest the rocks were once magnetized by the planet's magnetic field, and based on the age and amount of the magnetized rocks, as well as how strongly they were magnetized, the investigators deduced that Mercury's magnetic field has persisted for 3.8 billion years.

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Photobucket Hackers Nabbed, Face Serious Charges From US Authorities

Slashdot - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 06:20
The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement released Friday that two men, Brandon Bourret, and Athanasios Andrianakis, of Colorado Springs, Colorado and Sunnyvale, California, respectively, were arrested for their sale of software designed to breach the security of photo-sharing site Photobucket.com; their "Photofucket" app, says the linked Register report, was used "to plunder Photobucket's users' private and password-protected information, images and videos, it has been alleged ... The charge sheet against Bourret and Andrianakis details one count of conspiracy and one count of computer fraud, aid and abet – both of which carry a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, the men stand accused of two counts of access device fraud, which carries a higher prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to a quarter of a million dollars, per count." The indictment, filed in Federal District Court in Colorado, is far easier to read than many.

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Transformer Explosion Closes Nuclear Plant Unit North of NYC

Slashdot - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 03:27
Reuters reports that a transformer failure and related fire have forced the closure of a generating unit of the Indian Point nuclear plant, about 40 miles north of New York City; another generator at the same facility was unaffected. Witnesses reported seeing an explosion, as well as (according to NBC News) a "huge ball of black smoke" when the transformer exploded, which led to the shut-down of the site's Unit 3. The Reuters article says the plant "has long been controversial because of its proximity to the United States' largest city. Indian Point is one of 99 nuclear power plants licensed to operate in the United States and which generate about 20 percent of U.S. electricity use, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website.

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Texas Regulators Crack Down on App-Driven Hauling Service

Slashdot - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 01:26
According to the Austin American-Statesman, it's not just ride-sharing companies like Uber drawing attention from regulators, at least in Texas, but also a similar service that's hauling goods rather than people. In a letter demanding that Austin-based Burro cease its phone-coordinated delivery service, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles director of enforcement William P. Harbeson says that "[a]nyone moving household goods in a pick-up truck or other type or size of vehicle for hire is required to register" with the Department, "and show proof of insurance in the amounts required by law." According to the letter, this includes not just professional or even regular haulers, but also people moving a piece of furniture bought at a garage sale for pay; considering the number of people offering that kind of service on Austin's Craigslist, or in the parking lot of home supply stores like Home Depot, it seems like a regulation that will put a dent in the wallet of quite a few people. Burro, for its part, says its providers "are backed by $1M in insurance" — more than can be said for one of the obvious substitutes, which is relying on friends or acquaintances with a roof-rack and some bungie cords.

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WHO Declares Liberian Ebola Outbreak Over

Slashdot - Sun, 05/10/2015 - 00:10
The Washington Post reports that after 42 days with no new cases of Ebola infection in Liberia, the World Health Organization has declared over the outbreak which killed more than 4,000 people in that country; 42 days means twice the known maximum incubation period for the disease, though scientists' understanding of the virus's persistence continues to evolve. From the WHO's statement: Health officials have maintained a high level of vigilance for new cases. During April, the country’s 5 dedicated Ebola laboratories tested around 300 samples every week. All test results were negative. While WHO is confident that Liberia has interrupted transmission, outbreaks persist in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone, creating a high risk that infected people may cross into Liberia over the region’s exceptionally porous borders.

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Ask Slashdot: Moving To an Offshore-Proof Career?

Slashdot - Sat, 05/09/2015 - 22:49
New submitter sundarvenkata writes: I am sure most slashdotters (including the ones who had the I-am-an-indispensable-snowflake stance in the past) have already foreseen the writing on the wall for the future of tech professions (with IT being the worst hit) given some of the ominous news in the past few years: here, here and here. Of course, there are always the counter-arguments put forth by slashdotters that "knowing the business" or "being the best in what you do" would save one's derriere as if the offshore workers will remain permanently impaired of such skills. But I was wondering if some slashdotters could share some constructive real-life experiences of planning a transition to a relatively offshore-proof career. If you have already managed to accomplish such a career change, what was your journey and what would your advice be to other aspirants?

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Samsung's SSD 840 Read Performance Degradation Explained

Slashdot - Sat, 05/09/2015 - 21:48
An anonymous reader writes with a link to TechSpot's explanation of the reason behind the performance degradation noticed by many purchasers of certain models of Samsung SSD (the 840 and 840 EVO), and an evaluation of the firmware updates that the firm has released to address is. From the piece, a mixed but positive opinion of the second and latest of these firmware releases: "It’s not an elegant fix, and it’s also a fix that will degrade the lifetime of the NAND since the total numbers of writes it’s meant to withstand is limited. But as we have witnessed in Tech Report’s extensive durability test there is a ton of headroom in how NAND is rated, so in my opinion this is not a problem. Heck, the Samsung 840 even outlasted two MLC drives. As of writing, the new firmware has only been released for the 2.5” model of the SSD 840 EVO, so users of the 840 EVO mSATA model still have to be patient. It should also be noted that the new firmware does not seem to work well with the TRIM implementation in Linux, as this user shared how file system corruption occurs if discard is enabled."

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