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Software Patch Fixes Mars Curiosity Rover's Auto-focus Glitch

Slashdot - Sun, 2015-05-24 01:20
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have successfully uploaded and applied a software patch to NASA's Curiosity Rover on Mars. The patch fixes a focusing problem that cropped up in November when the laser that helps to focus one of its cameras failed. "Without this laser rangefinder, the ChemCam instrument was somewhat blind," said Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at Los Alamos. "The main laser that creates flashes of plasma when it analyzes rocks and soils up to 25 feet [7.6 meters] from the rover was not affected, but the laser analyses only work when the telescope projecting the laser light to the target is in focus." Before the fix, scientists had to shoot images at nine different focus settings to distill a decent set of data. Now, they say the new software results in better images in a single shot than even before the laser broke down. The program that runs the instrument is only 40 kilobytes in size.

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Categories: Technology

Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 22:16
Mark Wilson sends word that Amazon will begin paying corporate taxes on profits made in the UK. The company had previously been recording most of its UK sales as being in Luxembourg, which let them avoid the higher taxes in the UK. But at the end of last year, UK regulators decided they were losing too much tax revenue because of this practice, so they began implementing legislation that would impose a 25% tax on corporations routing their profits elsewhere. Amazon is the first large corporation to make the change, and it's expected to put pressure on Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others to do the same.

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Categories: Technology

Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 19:04
sciencehabit sends news of a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology which found that science is still perceived as a predominantly male profession across the world. The results were broken out by country, and while the overall trend stayed consistent throughout (PDF), there were variations in perception. For explicit bias: "Countries where this association was strongest included South Africa and Japan. The United States ranked in the middle, with a score similar to Austria, Mexico, and Brazil. Portugal, Spain, and Canada were among the countries where the explicit bias was weakest." For implicit bias: "Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, and Sweden were among the countries with the highest implicit bias scores. The United States again came in at the middle of the pack, scoring similarly to Singapore. Portugal, Spain, and Mexico had among the lowest implicit bias scores, though the respondents still associated science more with men than with women."

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Categories: Technology

The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 18:01
Dave Knott writes: Fans of 1980s cinema were disappointed when the year 2015 arrived without a practical version Marty McFly's hoverboard. Now, a Montréal-based man has brought it closer to reality by setting a new record for longest "flight" by hoverboard. In a filmed test recognized by the Guiness Book of World Records, Catalin Alexandru Duru pilots his somewhat cumbersome looking rig for 250 meters — five times the previous record — at a height of five meters above Quebec's Lake Ouareau. Duru and his business partner "hope to have a new prototype finished by the end of the year and then have hoverboards available for purchase across the country. He wouldn't say how much the prototype cost to build, but said that the first generation of the machine will likely be 'quite expensive.'" "This thing is still quite dangerous," he added, explaining that the pilot uses only his or her feet to fly the contraption. The commercial version's software will limit it to flying below a height of about one-and-a-half meters above the ground.

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Categories: Technology

This Week's Top Downloads

Lifehacker.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 18:00

Every week, we share a number of downloads for all platforms to help you get things done. Here were the top downloads from this week.

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Turn a Jar of Mayo Into the Perfect Hiding Place for Your Valuables

Lifehacker.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 17:00

Thieves like to get in and get out of your home as fast as possible. This DIY hideaway for your valuables sits in one of the last places they’ll ever look: your fridge.

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Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 16:59
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.

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Categories: Technology

Noisli for Chrome Generates Background Sound to Keep You Productive

Lifehacker.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 16:00

Chrome: We’re big fans of the Noisli web app , which allows you to create background noise so you can focus on your work . The new Chrome extension works the same way, but you don’t need to keep that extra tab open to use it.

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Oculus Founder Hit With Lawsuit

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 15:53
An anonymous reader writes: Palmer Luckey, founder of VR headset-maker Oculus, has been sued by a company accusing him of taking their confidential information and passing it off as his own. Total Recall Technologies, based in Hawaii, claims it hired Luckey in 2011 to build a head-mounted display. Part of that employment involved Luckey signing a confidentiality agreement. In August, 2012, Luckey launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift headset, and Facebook bought his company last year for $2 billion. TRT is seeking compensatory and punitive damages (PDF).

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Categories: Technology

Why You Should Protect Even Your Most Unimportant Data

Lifehacker.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 15:00

When it comes to protecting our data, many of us only place a high priority on certain important data like financial information or location. However, even seemingly mundane data can be used to paint a picture if you’re not careful to protect it.

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Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 14:45
BarbaraHudson writes: Reuters is reporting that the citizens of Ireland voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriages. While it's also legal in 19 other countries, Ireland was the first to decide this by putting the question to the citizens. "This has really touched a nerve in Ireland," Equality Minister Aodhan O'Riordain said at the main count center in Dublin. "It's a very strong message to every LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) young person in Ireland and every LGBT young person in the world." Observers say the loss of moral authority of the Catholic church after a series of sex scandals was a strong contributing factor, with priests limiting their appeals to the people sitting in their pews. In contrast, the "Yes" side dominated social media.

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Categories: Technology

GIFs for Mac Makes Sure You Always Have the Perfect Reaction GIF Handy

Lifehacker.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 14:00

OS X: GIF is a simple, free app for the Mac that lets you search for the perfect GIF at the perfect time, get a link to paste it into a chat or email, or download it to your computer. If you communicate with GIFs (and honestly, who doesn’t at this point ), it saves you the effort of Googling around for the perfect one.

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Ask Slashdot: Can SaaS Be Both Open Source and Economically Viable?

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 13:49
An anonymous reader writes: The CTO behind Lucidchart, an online diagramming app, recently cited the open source rbush project as an invaluable tool for helping implement an "in-memory spatial index" that "increased spatial search performance by a factor of over 1,000 for large documents." My question is this: what risks does a SaaS company like Lucidchart face in making most of their own code public, like Google's recent move with Chrome for Android, and what benefits might be gained by doing so? Wouldn't sharing the code just generate more users and interest? Even if competitors did copy it, they'd always be a step behind the latest developments.

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Categories: Technology

Death In the Browser Tab

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 12:44
theodp writes: "There you are watching another death on video," writes the NY Times' Teju Cole. "In the course of ordinary life — at lunch or in bed, in a car or in the park — you are suddenly plunged into someone else's crisis, someone else's horror. It arrives, absurdly, in the midst of banal things. That is how, late one afternoon in April, I watched Walter Scott die. The footage of his death, taken by a passer-by, had just been published online on the front page of The New York Times. I watched it, sitting at my desk in Brooklyn, and was stunned by it." Cole continues, "For most of human history, to see someone die, you had to be there. Depictions of death, if there were any, came later, at a certain remove of time and space." Disturbing as they may be (Cole notes he couldn't bear to watch the ISIS beheading videos), such images may ultimately change things for the better. Is it better to publish them than sweep them under the carpet?

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Categories: Technology

Today's Best Deals: $2 Summer Reading, Surround Sound Starting at $65

Lifehacker.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 12:00

Fill up your Kindle today with books starting at $2, including Water for Elephants. If some of your favorites are on the discount list definitely us know in the comments.

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Researchers Devise Voting System That Seems Secure, But Is Hard To Use

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 11:41
An anonymous reader writes: According to an article in ReadWrite, a team of British and American researchers have developed a hacker resistant process for online voting called Du-Vote. It uses a credit card-sized device that helps to divide the security-sensitive tasks between your computer and the device in a way that neither your computer nor the device learns how you voted (PDF). If a hacker managed to control the computer and the Du-Vote token, he still can't change the votes without being detected.

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Categories: Technology

New 'Deep Learning' Technique Lets Robots Learn Through Trial-and-Error

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 10:40
jan_jes writes: UC Berkeley researchers turned to a branch of artificial intelligence known as deep learning for developing algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error. It's a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence. Their demonstration robot completes tasks such as "putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more" without pre-programmed details about its surroundings. The challenge of putting robots into real-life settings (e.g. homes or offices) is that those environments are constantly changing. The robot must be able to perceive and adapt to its surroundings, so this type of learning is an important step.

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Categories: Technology

Top 10 Smart Ways to Organize and Upgrade Your Garage

Lifehacker.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 10:00

The garage is often a neglected, messy space. With a little organization and a few handy projects, though, we can get much more use out of our garages and also modernize them. Here are our top 10 garage upgrade ideas.

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Hacker Warns Starbucks of Security Flaw, Gets Accused of Fraud

Slashdot - Sat, 2015-05-23 09:35
Andy Smith writes: Here's another company that just doesn't get security research. White hat hacker Egor Homakov found a security flaw in Starbucks gift cards which allowed people to steal money from the company. He reported the flaw to Starbucks, but rather than thank him, the company accused him of fraud and said he had been acting maliciously.

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Categories: Technology

Use an IKEA Box as a Foldable Laptop Hood for Outdoor Use

Lifehacker.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 09:00

If you’ve ever worked outdoors with your laptop, you know how critical it is to get some shade for your screen so you can actually see it. Instead of buying a laptop visor, pick up an IKEA storage box for $6 to serve as your laptop’s foldable shade.

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