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Apple Doubles MacBook Pro R/W Performance

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 23:06
Lucas123 writes Benchmark tests performed on the 2015 MacBook Pro revealed it does have twice the read/write performance as the mid-2014 model. Tests performed with the Blackmagic benchmark tool revealed read/write speeds of more than 1,300MBps/1,400MBps, respectively. So what's changed? The new MacBook Pro does have a faster Intel dual-core i7 2.9GHz processor and 1866MHz LPDDR3) RAM, but the real performance gain is in the latest PCIe M.2 flash module. The 2014 model used a PCIe 2.0 x2 card and the 2015 model uses a PCIe 3.0 x4 (four I/O lanes) card. Twice the lanes, twice the speed. While Apple uses a proprietary flash card made by Samsung, Intel, Micron and SanDisk are all working on similar technology, so it's likely to soon wind up in high-end PCs.

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First Prototype of a Working Tricorder Unveiled At SXSW

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 22:25
the_newsbeagle writes The $10 million Tricorder X-prize is getting to the "put up or shut up" stage: The 10 finalists must turn in their working devices on June 1st for consumer testing. At SXSW last week, the finalist team Cloud DX showed off its prototype, which includes a wearable collar, a base station, a blood-testing stick, and a scanning wand. From the article: "The XPrize is partnering with the medical center at the University of California, San Diego on that consumer testing, since it requires recruiting more than 400 people with a variety of medical conditions. Grant Campany, director of the Tricorder XPrize, said he’s looking forward to getting those devices into real patients hands. 'This will be a practical demonstration of what the future of medicine will be like,' said Campany at that same SXSW talk, 'so we can scale it up after competition.'"

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Boeing Patents <em>Star Wars</em> Style Force Field Technology

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 21:42
An anonymous reader was one of many to point out that Boeing doesn't want to rely on a sad devotion to an ancient religion to protect aircraft and conjure up the stolen data tapes, but plans on using force fields instead. "Boeing's new patent may let the force be with you even in real life. The aircraft and defense company has taken a cue from science fiction with its plan to develop a Star Wars style force field that would use energy to deflect any potential damage. Just liking the luminescent shields seen in the film, Boeing's "Method and system for shock wave attenuation via electromagnetic arc" could provide a real-life layer of protection from nearby impacts to targets. The downside: It won't protect from direct hits."

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World's Largest Asteroid Impacts Found In Central Australia

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 20:58
schwit1 writes Scientists doing geothermal research in Australia have discovered evidence of what they think is the largest known impact zone from an meteorite on Earth. The zone is thought to be about 250 miles across, and suggests the bolide split in two pieces each about 6 miles across before impact. The uncertainty is that the evidence for this impact is quite tentative: "The exact date of the impacts remains unclear. The surrounding rocks are 300 to 600 million years old, but evidence of the type left by other meteorite strikes is lacking. For example, a large meteorite strike 66 million years ago sent up a plume of ash which is found as a layer of sediment in rocks around the world. The plume is thought to have led to the extinction of a large proportion of the life on the planet, including many dinosaur species. However, a similar layer has not been found in sediments around 300 million years old, Dr Glikson said. 'It's a mystery – we can't find an extinction event that matches these collisions. I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years,' he said."

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Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 20:15
Michael Ross writes In recent years, JavaScript has enjoyed a dramatic renaissance as it has been transformed from a browser scripting tool primarily used for special effects and form validation on web pages, to a substantial client-side programming language. Similarly, on the server side, after years as the target of criticism, the PHP computer programming language is seeing a revival, partly due to the addition of new capabilities, such as namespaces, traits, generators, closures, and components, among other improvements. PHP enthusiasts and detractors alike can learn more about these changes from the book Modern PHP: New Features and Good Practices, authored by Josh Lockhart. Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.

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NASA's Abandoned Launch Facilities

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 19:53
trazom28 writes I ran across an interesting slideshow of NASA's abandoned launch facilities. It's an interesting piece of scientific history. The images are from "photographer Roland Miller's upcoming book, Abandoned in Place. The book is a visual study of the deactivated launch and research facilities that played an essential role in early American space exploration.

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Finland To Fly "Open Skies" Surveillance Flight Over Russia

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 19:33
jones_supa writes Inspectors from Finland will conduct an observation flight on March 23-27 over the Russian territory within the framework of the Treaty on Open Skies. During the flight that will be conducted along the mutually agreed route, Russian specialists on board of the aircraft will ensure strict compliance with the agreed flight schedule and monitor the use of the equipment stipulated by the treaty. The flight will be conducted on a Swedish SAAB 340 observation aircraft that is not equipped with any weaponry. Both the plane and the equipment installed in it have been examined by the international inspection, including Russian specialists. The treaty on Open Skies is designed to enhance mutual understanding by allowing unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the territories of its 34 current member states.

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Interviews: SMBC's Zach Weiner Answers Your Questions

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 18:50
Last week you had a chance to ask Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC) creator and monocle enthusiast Zach Weiner about his comics, reading classy, and his other projects. Below you'll find his answers to your questions.

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RMS Talks Net Neutrality, Patents, and More

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 18:12
alphadogg writes "According to Richard Stallman, godfather of the free software movement, Facebook is a "monstrous surveillance engine," tech companies working for patent reform aren't going nearly far enough, and parents must lobby their children's schools to keep data private and provide free software alternatives. The free software guru touched on a host of topics in his keynote Saturday at the LibrePlanet conference, a Free Software Foundation gathering at the Scala Center at MIT.

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The First Billion-Pixel Mosaic of Mars

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:50
StartsWithABang writes In 2012, Mars Science Laboratory performed the first robotically-controlled soft landing of a vehicle of such incredible mass: nearly half a tonne. A few months later, the rover, Curiosity, took the first ever billion-pixel mosaic from the Red Planet's surface, with breathtaking views of the terrain and alternate views of what the soils would look like were they here on Earth. Now in its third year on Mars, Curiosity is roving the low slopes of its ultimate destination: Mount Sharp.

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"Google Glass Isn't Dead!" Says Google's CEO Eric Schmidt

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:30
lord_rob the only on writes "After Google stopped selling its wearable Glass device in January this year, many people speculated that the controversial gadget was on its way out for good. However, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has said that the technology behind Glass is too important to throw away, and that the program has been put under the control of Nest's Tony Fadell to "make it ready for users" in the future.

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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Introduces the Doomsday Dashboard

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:47
Lasrick writes You probably know the hand on the Doomsday Clock now rests at 3 minutes to midnight. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has launched a pretty cool little interactive Dashboard that lets you see data that the Bulletin's Science and Security Board considers when making the decision on the Clock's time each year. There are interactive graphs that show global nuclear arsenals, nuclear material security breaches, and how much weapons-grade plutonium and uranium is stored (and where). The climate change section features graphs of global sea level rise over time, Arctic sea ice minimums. atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and differences in global temperature. There's also a section for research on biosecurity and emerging technologies.

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Obama To Announce $240M In New Pledges For STEM Education

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:03
An anonymous reader sends word that President Obama is expected to announce more that $240 million in pledges to boost STEM educations at the White House Science Fair today. "President Barack Obama is highlighting private-sector efforts to encourage more students from underrepresented groups to pursue education in science, technology, engineering and math. At the White House Science Fair on Monday, Obama will announce more than $240 million in pledges to boost the study of those fields, known as STEM. This year's fair is focused on diversity. Obama will say the new commitments have brought total financial and material support for these programs to $1 billion. The pledges the president is announcing include a $150 million philanthropic effort to encourage promising early-career scientists to stay on track and a $90 million campaign to expand STEM opportunities to underrepresented youth, such as minorities and girls."

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Leaked Snowden Docs Show Canada's "False Flag" Operations

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 15:19
An anonymous reader writes Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The Intercept show the extent to which Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) cooperates with the NSA — and perhaps most interestingly details CSEC's "false flag" operations, whereby cyberattacks are designed and carried out with the intention of attribution to another individual, group or nation state. The revelations come in the midst of Canadian controversy regarding the C-51 anti-terrorism bill.

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Cisco SPA300/500 IP Phones Vulnerable To Remote Eavesdropping

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 14:36
Bismillah writes Cisco has confirmed that its SPA300 and SPA500 are vulnerable to remote eavesdropping and dialing, and is working on a patch. Meanwhile, the advice is not to have the phones on internet-facing connections. From the article: "Cisco has confirmed the issue reported by Watts, which is a result of wrong authentication settings in the default configuration of firmware version 7.5.5. An attacker can send a specially crafted Extended Markup Language (XML) request to devices which will allow them to both make phone calls remotely, and listen in on audio streams. Successful exploits could be used to conduct further attacks, Cisco warned. Despite the confirmed vulnerability, Cisco said the flaw was unlikely to be used and gave it a low 'harassment' severity rating."

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Android's Smart Lock Won't Ask You For a Password Until You Set Your Phone Down

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 13:52
jfruh writes Nothing confronts you with how addicted you are to your phone than constantly taking it out of your pocket and entering and re-entering your passcode over and over again to unlock. But without fanfare, Google is releasing an Android update that might solve the problem: a "smart lock" that can figure out if your phone has been set down since the last time you unlocked it. As long as it stays on your person, you won't need to re-enter your password.

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Costa Rica Goes 75 Days Powering Itself Using Only Renewable Energy

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 13:09
An anonymous reader writes with news about an impressive renewable energy accomplishment in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has achieved a clean energy milestone by using 100 per cent renewable energy for a record 75 days in a row. The feat was achieved thanks to heavy rainfall, which powered four hydroelectric plants in the first three months of the year, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute said. No fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014, in the state which is renowned for its clean energy policies."

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Child Psychotherapist: Easy and Constant Access To the Internet Is Harming Kids

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 09:59
First time accepted submitter sharkbiter sends note that one of the UK's foremost psychotherapists has concerns that smartphones may be harmful to the mental health of children. "Julie Lynn Evans has been a child psychotherapist for 25 years, working in hospitals, schools and with families, and she says she has never been so busy. 'In the 1990s, I would have had one or two attempted suicides a year – mainly teenaged girls taking overdoses, the things that don't get reported. Now, I could have as many as four a month.'.... Issues such as cyber-bullying are, of course, nothing new, and schools now all strive to develop robust policies to tackle them, but Lynn Evans’ target is both more precise and more general. She is pointing a finger of accusation at the smartphones - “pocket rockets” as she calls them – which are now routinely in the hands of over 80 per cent of secondary school age children. Their arrival has been, she notes, a key change since 2010. 'It’s a simplistic view, but I think it is the ubiquity of broadband and smartphones that has changed the pace and the power and the drama of mental illness in young people.'”

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Gaming On Linux With Newest AMD Catalyst Driver Remains Slow

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 07:09
An anonymous reader writes The AMD Catalyst binary graphics driver has made a lot of improvements over the years, but it seems that NVIDIA is still leading in the Linux game with their shared cross-platform driver. Tests done by Phoronix of the Catalyst 15.3 Linux Beta found on Ubuntu 15.04 shows that NVIDIA continues leading over AMD Catalyst with several different GPUs on BioShock Infinite, a game finally released for Linux last week. With BioShock Infinite on Linux, years old mid-range GeForce GPUs were clobbering the high-end Radeon R9 290 and other recent AMD GPUs tested. The poor showing wasn't limited to BS:I though as the Metro Redux games were re-tested too on the new drivers and found the NVIDIA graphics still ran significantly faster and certainly a different story than under Windows.

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Finland's Education System Supersedes "Subjects" With "Topics"

Slashdot - Mon, 03/23/2015 - 04:07
jones_supa writes Finland is about to embark on one of the most radical education reform programs ever undertaken by a nation state – scrapping traditional "teaching by subject" in favor of "teaching by topic". The motivation to do this is to prepare people better for working life. For instance, a teenager studying a vocational course might take "cafeteria services" lessons, which would include elements of maths, languages, writing skills and communication skills. More academic pupils would be taught cross-subject topics such as the European Union — which would merge elements of economics, history, languages and geography. There will also be a more collaborative teaching approach, with pupils working in smaller groups to solve problems while improving their communication skills.

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