Graphics

Ubisoft Talks Splitscreen and the Division 13

SlappingOysters writes: Ubisoft's next entry in the Tom Clancy series is pushing at the boundaries of three genres, mixing the RPG, the squad-based shooter and the MMO into The Division. The game features drop-in, drop-out co-op in a near-future, post-pandemic New York that seamlessly allows players to transition from PvE to PvP environments without any menus or lobbies. However, despite its co-op gameplay, The Division does not support splitscreen. Finder.com.au recently ran an extensive hands-on with the game, as well as an interview with Ubisoft Massive's creative director Magnus Jansén regarding the decision to forgo splitscreen co-op.
Cellphones

Smartphones May Soon Provide Earthquake Warnings (sciencemag.org) 32

sciencehabit writes: When it comes to an earthquake, just a few seconds' warning could make the difference between life and death. But many earthquake-prone countries lack the seismic networks that would give their citizens the lead time to find cover or shut down critical utilities. Now, a group of enterprising engineers is looking at a substitute network: smartphones. Using smartphones' built-in accelerometers, researchers have invented an app, released today, that they say can detect strong earthquakes seconds before the damaging seismic waves arrive. MyShake, as the app is called, could become the basis for an earthquake warning system for the world's most vulnerable regions.
Earth

Researchers Improve Efficiency of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles By Almost 12% (dispatchtribunal.com) 32

hypnosec writes: A new study has put forward claims that by working on and improving the energy management system (EMS) that decides when the switch from 'all-electric' mode to 'hybrid' mode in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, efficiency of these vehicles can be improved by as much as 12 per cent. Researchers have shown in their lab tests that blended discharge strategies wherein power from the battery is used throughout the trip, have proven to be more efficient at minimizing fuel consumption and emissions.
Social Networks

French Court Rules That Facebook Can Now Be Sued in France (thestack.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes: A Paris court of appeal has ruled in favor of a French complainant whose account was suspended, because he linked to an image of the 1866 Gustav Courbet nude 'L'Origine du monde', currently residing at the Musee d'Orsay. The appeals court not only agreed that the user's suspension by Facebook constitutes censorship, but the ruling itself negates Facebook's insistence that all legal challenges take place in its native California.
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Have a Pager? Do You Find It Useful? 178

New submitter Chance Callahan writes: I am starting a business, helping a friend with his own startup, and volunteering regularly with a major political campaign (#feelthebern). One thing I have noticed is that my phone likes to die at the most inconvenient times and leaves me out of touch with people. With the business I'm starting requiring clients to be able to get ahold me quickly, I have been seriously considering getting a two-way pager. It's much easier swap out a AA battery once a month then to worry "will client X be able to get ahold me in the event of an emergency?" So, Slashdot, the million dollar question is, in the age of cell phones, do you have a pager? Do you still find it useful? Do any other "dead-tech" tools still play a big role for your communications? For example, fax machines are still big in Japan, and a lot of people keep landlines, too.
GUI

Fresh Wayland Experiences With Weston, GNOME, KDE and Enlightenment 71

jones_supa writes: Software developer Pavlo Rudyi has written a blog post about his experiences with the various desktop environments currently supporting Wayland. The results are not a big surprise, but nevertheless it is great to see the continued interest in Wayland and the ongoing work by many different parties in ensuring that Wayland will eventually be able to dominate the Linux desktop. To summarize, Pavlo found Weston to be "good," GNOME is "perfect," KDE is "bad," and Enlightenment is "good." He also created a video from his testing. Have you done any testing? What's your experience?
Bug

iPhones Bricked By Setting Date To Jan 1, 1970 (theguardian.com) 125

lightbox32 writes: Beware of a hoax circling the interwebs, which can be seen by setting your iPhone's date to January 1, 1970. Many people are reporting that doing so will brick the device. It's unclear what exactly causes the issue, but could be related to how iOS stores date and time formats. Jan. 1, 1970 is a value of zero or less than zero, which would make any process that uses a time stamp to fail. Apple is aware of the issue and is looking into it.
Technology

Did a Timer Error Change the Outcome of a Division I College Basketball Game? 125

New submitter javakah writes: Controversy has erupted from the February 10th basketball game between Boise State and Colorado State, and speculation is that a timer may have made an incorrect assumption about the number of frames per second the game was recorded in, and ultimately lead to an erroneous result. With the game tied in overtime, Boise State had the ball out-of-bounds with 0.8 seconds left on the game clock. The ball was thrown in-bounds, the shot went in, and the game clock showed that the Boise State player got the shot off with 0.4 seconds left. However there was a problem: the game clock did not start until a fraction of a second after the in-bounds player touched the ball. Referees decided to use video replay to examine whether the player had gotten the shot off within 0.8 seconds or not. To do this, they used a timer embedded in the video replay system. This embedded timer indicated that 1.3 seconds had passed between the time that the in-bounds player touched the ball and when he got the shot off. (Read more, below.)
AI

Google Brain Researchers Make Significant Progress On Language Modeling (arxiv.org) 28

New submitter integralclosure writes: Using neural networks, Google Brain researchers have significantly improved a computer's ability to model English (achieving extremely low perplexity score on a large dataset). Using the model they were able to generate random sentences, such as the following: 'Yuri Zhirkov was in attendance at the Stamford Bridge at the start of the second half but neither Drogba nor Malouda was able to push on through the Barcelona defence.' The sentences are generally coherent and mostly grammatically correct. Advances seem to be a replay of neural networks' dominance in the Imagenet competition.
Networking

UCL Scientists Push 1.125Tbps Through a Single Coherent Optical Receiver 23

Mark.JUK writes: A team of researchers working in the Optical Networks Group at the University College London in England claim to have achieved the "greatest information rate ever recorded using a single [coherent optical] receiver", which was able to handle a record data speed of 1.125 Terabits per second (Tbps). The result, which required a 15 sub-carrier 8GBd DP-256QAM super-channel (15 channels of data) and total bandwidth of 121.5GHz, represents an increase of 12.5% relative to the previous record (1Tbps). Now they just need to test it using some long fibre optic cable because optical signals tend to become distorted when they travel over thousands of kilometers.
Censorship

Indonesia Moves To Ban Same-Sex Emojis On Messaging Apps (thestack.com) 256

An anonymous reader writes: The Indonesian government has this week demanded that instant messaging apps available in the country remove all same-sex emoticons from their platforms, or face heavy sanctions. While homosexuality is not illegal in the country, it remains a controversial issue in the Muslim-dominated country. Now in the latest effort to crackdown on gay rights, Indonesian authorities want to ban emojis, stickers and emoticons which depict same-sex couples, the rainbow flag, and any symbol that symbolises the lesbian, bay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Apps that have been targeted by the demands include the popular Asian messaging app LINE, Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter. The Indonesian Communication and Information Ministry added that a particular concern was that children would find the bright coloured stickers appealing.
Firefox

Pwn2Own 2016 Won't Attack Firefox (Because It's Too Easy) (eweek.com) 223

darthcamaro writes: For the last decade, the Pwn2own hacking competition has pitted the world's best hackers against web browsers to try and find zero-day vulnerabilities in a live event. The contest, which is sponsored by HPE and TrendMicro this year, is offering over half a million dollars in prize money, but for the first time, not a penny of that will directed to Mozilla Firefox. While Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Apple Safari are targets, Firefox isn't because it's apparently too easy and not keeping up with modern security: "'We wanted to focus on the browsers that have made serious security improvements in the last year,' Brian Gorenc, manager of Vulnerability Research at HPE said."
Windows

Internet Archive Brings Classic Windows 3.1 Apps To Your Browser (google.com) 86

The Internet Archive has made it possible for you to make a virtual visit to the wide, wide world of Windows 3.1 games (and other apps, too), via a collection of virtualized images. Jason Scott is the game collector and digital archivist behind the online museum of malware mentioned here a few days ago. "Now," Ars Technica reports, "Scott and his crew have done it again with the Windows 3.X Showcase, made up of a whopping 1,523 downloads (and counting), all running in a surprisingly robust, browser-based JavaScript emulation of Windows 3.1. You'll recognize offerings like WinRisk and SkiFree, but the vast majority of the collection sticks to a particularly wild world of Windows shareware history, one in which burgeoning developers seemed to throw everything imaginable against 3.1's GUI wall to see what stuck." Says the article: A volunteer "really did the hard work" of getting the Windows files required for each DOSBOX instance down to 1.8 MB, and in the process came up with a more centralized version of those files on his server's side, as opposed to kinds that would require optimizations for every single emulated app.
Power

Boeing Installs World's Largest 'Reversible' Renewable Energy Storage System (computerworld.com) 102

Lucas123 writes: Boeing announced that it has installed a first-of-its-kind 50MW Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system on a naval base in Port Hueneme, Calif. The fuel cell system, which can scale to 400KW, is unique in that it uses solar power to generate hydrogen gas from seawater, which it then stores until power and it releases the gas into a fuel cell stack to produce electricity, heat and water. Because the system can both store energy and produce electricity, Boeing is calling the fuel cell system "reversible." The Navy's Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center is testing the fuel cell system on a microgrid to determine its viability for use at both remote bases and during overseas military missions.
AI

Debating a Ban On Autonomous Weapons (thebulletin.org) 194

Lasrick writes: A pretty informative debate on banning autonomous weapons has just closed at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The debate looks at an open letter, published In July, 2015, in which researchers in artificial intelligence and robotics (and endorsed by high-profile individuals such as Stephen Hawking) called for 'a ban on offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control.' The letter echoes arguments made since 2013 by the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, which views autonomous weapons as 'a fundamental challenge to the protection of civilians and to international human rights and humanitarian law.'

But support for a ban is not unanimous. Some researchers argue that autonomous weapons would commit fewer battlefield atrocities than human beings—and that their development might even be considered morally imperative. The authors in this debate focus on these questions: Would deployed autonomous weapons promote or detract from civilian safety; and is an outright ban the proper response to development of autonomous weapons?

Government

Senate Passes Bill Making Internet Tax Ban Permanent (consumerist.com) 92

kheldan writes: Nearly two decades ago, Congress passed the first Internet Tax Freedom Act, establishing that — with a handful of grandfathered exceptions — local, state, and federal governments couldn't impose taxes on Internet access. Problem is, that law has had to be renewed over and over, each time with an expiration date. But today, the U.S. Senate finally passed a piece of legislation that would make the tax ban permanent.
United Kingdom

Google Settles Decade-Long Tax Dispute In UK (thestack.com) 61

An anonymous reader writes: Alphabet, Inc., parent company to Google, has agreed to pay $185 million to settle UK taxes going back to 2005. The company has also agreed to adopt a new approach to taxes in the UK going forward. While this is a sizeable figure, many believe it is too little, and constitutes a sweetheart deal between the government and Google. Matt Brittin, the President of EMEA Business and Operations for Google, was a participant in a televised hearing today in which UK lawmakers questioned the $185 million settlement. He stated, "We find ourselves in the position where we are paying the tax that the tax authorities told us to pay."
Desktops (Apple)

Kim Jong-Un Found To Be Mac User 188

jones_supa writes: He might hate the United States, but he sure digs those designed-in-California computers. You probably wouldn't take Kim Jong-un as a Mac user. Usually, in photos of him checking out military computers, we see the North Korean dictator in front of a PC with a Dell monitor. However, a handful of photos of the supreme leader at his own desk show him with Macs, leading to the assumption that while the military may use PCs, his personal preference is Mac. Reuters correspondent James Pearson, who covers both Koreas, tweeted out a fresh image of little Kim using a MacBook Pro inside an aircraft. There are other images, including a 2013 image of Kim Jong-un at his desk with an iMac. That same year, the South Korean newspaper Chosun published a photo from North Korean Central News Agency, which features an Apple iMac. This might also explain why the country's home-grown Linux distribution Red Star imitates OS X.
Businesses

Qualcomm Promises Gigabit LTE Speeds and New Chips to Power Smartwatches (google.com) 43

Qualcomm may have been losing steam (and jobs and sales), but it looks like the major telecommunications corporation is back in the lead when it comes to pushing out new LTE technologies. Qualcomm announced today the new Snapdragon X16 modem, which together with the WTR5975 transceiver, boasts Category 16 LTE download speeds of up to 1Gbps. Qualcomm also announced new chips that will power the next generation of wearables. Although you shouldn't hold your breath just yet, the implications could be huge!

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