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Updated: 6 hours 31 min ago

Inkscape Version 0.91 Released

Sat, 2015-01-31 17:55
Bryce writes: Four years since the last major Inkscape release, now news is out about version 0.91 of this powerful vector drawing and painting tool. The main reason for the multi-year delay is that they've switched from their old custom rendering engine to using Cairo now, improving their support for open source standards. This release also adds symbol libraries and support for Visio stencils, cross platform WMF and EMF import and export, a native Windows 64-bit build, scads of bug fixes, and much more. Check out the full release notes for more information about what has changed, or just jump right to downloading your package for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X.

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Can Students Have Too Much Tech?

Sat, 2015-01-31 16:51
theodp writes: In a NY Times Op Ed, developmental psychologist Susan Pinker goes against the conventional White House wisdom about the importance of Internet connectivity for schoolchildren and instead argues that students can have too much tech. "More technology in the classroom has long been a policy-making panacea," Pinker writes. "But mounting evidence shows that showering students, especially those from struggling families, with networked devices will not shrink the class divide in education. If anything, it will widen it." Tech can help the progress of children, Pinker acknowledges, but proper use is the rub. As a cautionary tale, Pinker cites a study by Duke economists that tracked the academic progress of nearly one million disadvantaged middle-school students against the dates they were given networked computers. The news was not good. "Students who gain access to a home computer between the 5th and 8th grades tend to witness a persistent decline in reading and math scores," the economists wrote, adding that license to surf the Internet was also linked to lower grades in younger children.

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GeForce GTX 980 and 970 Cards From MSI, EVGA, and Zotac Reviewed

Sat, 2015-01-31 15:51
MojoKid writes: In all of its iterations, NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture has proven to be a good performing, power-efficient GPU thus far. At the high-end of the product stack is where some of the most interesting products reside, however. When NVIDIA launches a new high-end GPU, cards based on the company's reference design trickle out first, and then board partners follow up with custom solutions packing unique cooling hardware, higher clocks, and sometimes additional features. With the GeForce GTX 970 and GTX 980, NVIDIA's board partners were ready with custom solutions very quickly. These three custom GeForce cards, from enthusiast favorites EVGA, MSI, and Zotac represent optimization at the high-end of Maxwell. Two of the cards are GTX 980s: the MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G and the Zotac GeForce GTX 980 AMP! Omgea, the third is a GTX 970 from EVGA, their GeForce GTX 970 FTW with ACX 2.0. Besides their crazy long names, all of these cards are custom solutions, that ship overclocked from the manufacturer. In testing, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 was the fastest, single-GPU available. The custom, factory overclocked MSI and Zotac cards cemented that fact. Overall, thanks to a higher default GPU-clock, the MSI GTX 980 Gaming 4G was the best performing card. EVGA's GeForce GTX 970 FTW was also relatively strong, despite its alleged memory bug. Although, as expected, it couldn't quite catch the higher-end GeForce GTX 980s, but occasionally outpaced the AMD's top-end Radeon R9 290X.

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Dell Continues Shipping Fresh Linux Laptops

Sat, 2015-01-31 14:48
jones_supa writes: In its latest move, Dell will be bringing Ubuntu 14.04 LTS to its top-of-the-line Precision M3800 workstation laptop and the latest model of the Dell XPS 13. Both systems will be running Ubuntu 14.04.1. According to Barton George, Dell's Director of Developer Programs, programmers had been asking for a better, officially-supported Ubuntu developer laptop. This came about from a combination of the efforts of Dell software engineer Jared Dominguez and enthusiastic feedback. Specs of M3800: 15.6" LCD @ 3840x2160, Intel i7 quad core CPU, NVIDIA Quadro GPU, up to 16 GB RAM. The bad news is, as Dominguez explained on his blog, this version of the M3800 doesn't support its built-in Thunderbolt 2 port out of the box. However, thanks to the hardware-enablement stack in Ubuntu, starting with upcoming Ubuntu 14.04.2, you will be able to upgrade your kernel to add some Thunderbolt support.

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Comcast Employees Change Customer Names To 'Dummy' and Other Insults

Sat, 2015-01-31 13:41
An anonymous reader writes: According to customer bills and screenshots submitted to and reported by blogger Chris Elliot at BoardingArea, Comcast employees have repeatedly changed the names of customers to insults like "dummy," "w***e," "a*****e," and "b***h." Elliott notes although reasons and consequences for this behavior are unknown, "one thing is clear: At least one person, and maybe more than one person, really doesn't like Comcast's customers. Enough to put it in writing. Repeatedly." Comcast has apologized and is looking at ways to prevent it from happening in the future.

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UK Sets Up Internet-Savvy Army Unit

Sat, 2015-01-31 12:38
An anonymous reader sends word that the UK Army is establishing a dedicated unit for fighting wars in the information age. The 77th Brigade will specialize in non-lethal, psychological operations that involve the internet and social media. The army says it's learned through its operations in Afghanistan that there are fights to be won not just on the battlefield, but online as well. "In some senses it's defensive - trying to present the case from this side against opponents who hold many of the cards. We've seen with Islamic State, its incredible capability on the net, Facebook, Instagram and all the rest." The new unit will "try to influence local populations and change behavior through what the Army calls traditional and unconventional means." The army also stressed that they're looking for ways that citizens with the right skills could work alongside the 77th Brigade.

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The NSA Is Viewed Favorably By Most Young People

Sat, 2015-01-31 11:35
cstacy writes: A poll by the Pew Research Center suggests that Snowden's revelations have not much changed the public's favorable view of the NSA. Younger people (under 30) tend to view the NSA favorably, compared to those 65 and older. 61% of people aged 18-29 viewed the NSA favorably, while 30% viewed the NSA unfavorably and 9% had no opinion. 55% of people aged 30-49 viewed the NSA favorably. At the 65+ age bracket, only 40% of people viewed the NSA favorably.

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ESA: No Conclusive Evidence of Big Bang Gravitational Waves

Sat, 2015-01-31 10:30
hypnosec writes: The European Space Agency has made a joint analysis of data gathered by the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments and its own Planck satellite to try to verify previous reports of BICEP2's primordial gravitational wave detection. However, the ESA was unable to find evidence of primordial gravitational waves, and they think the earlier report was simply based on an outdated model that didn't take interstellar dust into account. "The Milky Way is pervaded by a mixture of gas and dust shining at similar frequencies to those of the CMB, and this foreground emission affects the observation of the most ancient cosmic light. Very careful analysis is needed to separate the foreground emission from the cosmic background. Critically, interstellar dust also emits polarized light, thus affecting the CMB polarization as well. ... The BICEP2 team had chosen a field where they believed dust emission would be low, and thus interpreted the signal as likely to be cosmological. However, as soon as Planck’s maps of the polarized emission from Galactic dust were released (PDF), it was clear that this foreground contribution could be much higher than previously expected."

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How Blind Programmers Write Code

Sat, 2015-01-31 09:26
theodp writes: Yes, folks, there are blind programmers. There's Ed Summers, for one, who lost his vision at age 30 and now ghostblogs for Willie the Seeing Eye Dog. And if you've ever wondered how the blind can code, Florian Beijers, who has been blind since birth, explains that all he needs is a normal Dell Inspiron 15r SE notebook and his trusty open source NVDA screen reader software, and he's good-to-go. "This is really all the adaptation a blind computer user needs," Beijers adds, but he does ask one small favor: "If you're writing the next big application, with a stunning UI and a great workflow, I humbly ask you to consider accessibility as part of the equation. In this day and age, there's really no reason not to use the UI toolkits available."

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How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

Sat, 2015-01-31 08:23
HughPickens.com writes James B. Stewart writes in the NYT that in 1998 Bill Gates said in an interview that he "couldn't imagine a situation in which Apple would ever be bigger and more profitable than Microsoft" but less than two decades later, Apple, with a market capitalization more than double Microsoft's, has won. The most successful companies need a vision, and both Apple and Microsoft have one. But according to Stewart, Apple's vision was more radical and, as it turns out, more farsighted. Where Microsoft foresaw a computer on every person's desk, Apple went a big step further: Its vision was a computer in every pocket. "Apple has been very visionary in creating and expanding significant new consumer electronics categories," says Toni Sacconaghi. "Unique, disruptive innovation is really hard to do. Doing it multiple times, as Apple has, is extremely difficult." According to Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson, Microsoft seemed to have the better business for a long time. "But in the end, it didn't create products of ethereal beauty. Steve believed you had to control every brush stroke from beginning to end. Not because he was a control freak, but because he had a passion for perfection." Can Apple continue to live by Jobs's disruptive creed now that the company is as successful as Microsoft once was? According to Robert Cihra it was one thing for Apple to cannibalize its iPod or Mac businesses, but quite another to risk its iPhone juggernaut. "The question investors have is, what's the next iPhone? There's no obvious answer. It's almost impossible to think of anything that will create a $140 billion business out of nothing."

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BT Unveils 1000Mbps Capable G.fast Broadband Rollout For the United Kingdom

Sat, 2015-01-31 05:40
Mark.JUK writes The national telecoms operator for the United Kingdom, BT, has today announced that it will begin a country-wide deployment of the next generation hybrid-fibre G.fast (ITU G.9701) broadband technology from 2016/17, with most homes being told to expect speeds of up to 500Mbps (Megabits per second) and a premium service offering 1000Mbps will also be available. At present BT already covers most of the UK with hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, which delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps by running a fibre optic cable to a local street cabinet and then using VDSL2 over the remaining copper line from the cabinet to homes. G.fast follows a similar principal, but it brings the fibre optic cable even closer to homes (often by installing smaller remote nodes on telegraph poles) and uses more radio spectrum (17-106MHz) over a shorter remaining run of copper cable (ideally less than 250 metres). The reliance upon copper cable means that the real-world speeds for some, such as those living furthest away from the remote nodes, will probably struggle to match up to BT's claims. Nevertheless many telecoms operators see this as being a more cost effective approach to broadband than deploying a pure fibre optic / Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network.

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R.U. Sirius Co-Authors New Book On Transhumanism

Sat, 2015-01-31 02:52
An anonymous reader writes "I've never been able to work up a fear of the robot apocalypse," admits R.U. Sirius, who more than 20 years after Mondo 2000's original guide to geek culture has again collaborated on a new encyclopedia of emerging technologies. As we progress to a world where technology actually becomes invisible, he argues that "everything about how we will define the future is still in play," suggesting that the transhumanist movement is "a good way to take isolated radical tech developments and bundle them together". While his co-author argues transhumanists "like to solve everything," Sirius points out a much bigger concern is a future of technologies dominated by the government or big capital.

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Indian Woman Sues Uber In the US Over Alleged New Delhi Taxi Rape

Sat, 2015-01-31 00:09
"Uber has been the subject of controversy all around the globe," notes new submitter yuetteasvy (3999351), who supplies this story from Reuters about one of the reasons for that controversy: An Indian woman who says she was raped by an Uber driver while she was traveling in his cab in December is suing the San Francisco–based online firm in a U.S. federal court in California, claiming it failed to put in place basic safety procedures while running its car service in India. In her lawsuit, filed on Thursday, the New Delhi woman called the app-based service the "modern day equivalent of electronic hitchhiking." The unidentified plaintiff also calls for Uber to overhaul its safety practices, and seeks unspecified damages in the case, according to Reuters. The news agency quoted Uber as saying that it's "deepest sympathies remain with the victim of this horrific crime." Earlier, the woman was reported to have enlisted the services of Douglas Wigdor, a high-profile U.S. lawyer who represented Nafissatou Diallo, the New York City hotel maid who accused the former International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault. Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney's office went on to drop all charges against Strauss-Kahn, while a civil suit was settled out of court.

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There Is No "You" In a Parallel Universe

Fri, 2015-01-30 21:02
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Ever since quantum mechanics first came along, we've recognized how tenuous our perception of reality is, and how — in many ways — what we perceive is just a very small subset of what's going on at the quantum level in our Universe. Then, along came cosmic inflation, teaching us that our observable Universe is just a tiny, tiny fraction of the matter-and-radiation filled space out there, with possibilities including Universes with different fundamental laws and constants, differing quantum outcomes existing in disconnected regions of space, and even the fantastic one of parallel Universes and alternate versions of you and me. But is that last one really admissible? The best modern evidence teaches us that even with all the Universes that inflation creates, it's still a finite number, and an insufficiently large number to contain all the possibilities that a 13.8 billion year old Universe with 10^90 particles admits."

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George R. R. Martin's "The Winds of Winter" Wiill Not Be Published In 2015

Fri, 2015-01-30 18:52
Dave Knott (2917251) writes George R.R. Martin's "The WInds Of Winter", the fifth book of his bestselling fantasy saga "A Song Of Ice And Fire" (known to television fans as "Game Of Thrones") will not be published in 2015. Jane Johnson at HarperCollins has confirmed that it is not in this year's schedule. "I have no information on likely delivery," she said. "These are increasingly complex books and require immense amounts of concentration to write. Fans really ought to appreciate that the length of these monsters is equivalent to two or three novels by other writers."Instead, readers will have to comfort themselves with a collection, illustrated by Gary Gianni, of three previously anthologised novellas set in the world of Westeros. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" takes place nearly a century before the bloody events of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. Out in October, it is a compilation of the first three official prequel novellas to the series, The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword and The Mystery Knight, never before collected.

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Cutting Through Data Science Hype

Fri, 2015-01-30 18:05
An anonymous reader writes: Data science — or "big data" if you prefer — has evolved into a full-fledged buzzword, thanks to marketing departments around the world. John Foreman writes that part of the marketing blitz has been focused on how fast big data analysis can be. Most companies offering some kind of analytic service try to sell you on how it'll make it easy for you to quickly find and fix the problems with your business. But he points out that good, robust models need a stable set of inputs, and businesses often change far too quickly for any kind of stable prediction. He takes IBM's analytic services as an example, quoting Kevin Hillstrom: "If IBM Watson can find hidden correlations that help your business, then why can't IBM Watson stem a 3 year sales drop at IBM?" Foreman offers some simple advice: "Simple analyses don't require huge models that get blown away when the business changes. ... If your business is currently too chaotic to support a complex model, don't build one."

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Scientists Float Soap Bubbles As a More Effective Drug Delivery Method

Fri, 2015-01-30 17:23
Zothecula writes: As if soap bubbles don't spread enough happiness on their own, scientists have discovered a way of coating them in biomolecules with a view to treating viruses, cancer and other diseases. The technology has been developed at the University of Maryland, where researchers devised a method of tricking the body into mistaking the bubbles for harmful cells, triggering an immune response and opening up new possibilities in the delivery of drugs and vaccines.

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Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

Fri, 2015-01-30 16:44
mdsolar points out this report in the NY Times: An overwhelming majority of the American public, including nearly half of Republicans, support government action to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times, Stanford University and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future. In a finding that could have implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, the poll also found that two-thirds of Americans say they are more likely to vote for political candidates who campaign on fighting climate change. They are less likely to vote for candidates who question or deny the science of human-caused global warming. Among Republicans, 48 percent said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports fighting climate change, a result that Jon A. Krosnick, a professor of political science at Stanford University and an author of the survey, called "the most powerful finding" in the poll. Many Republican candidates either question the science of climate change or do not publicly address the issue.

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Ask Slashdot: How Do I Engage 5th-8th Graders In Computing?

Fri, 2015-01-30 16:01
An anonymous reader writes: I volunteer at a inner-city community after school program focused K-8th grade. Right now, due to the volunteer demographic, we spend most of our activity time in arts and crafts and homework. The 5th-8th students are getting restless with those activities. I've been asked to spice it up with some electrical wizardry. What I'd like to do is introduce the students to basic jobs skills through computers. My thoughts are that I could conduct some simple hands-on experiments with circuits, and maybe some bread boards. Ultimately, we're going to take apart a computer and put it back together. How successful this project is will dictate whether or not we will go into programming. However, whatever we do, I want the kids to obtain marketable skills. Anyone know of a curriculum I can follow? What experiences have you had with various educational computing projects?

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US Army Releases Code For Internal Forensics Framework

Fri, 2015-01-30 15:18
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Maryland has released on GitHub a version of a Python-based internal forensics tool which the army itself has been using for five years. Dshell is a Linux-based framework designed to help investigators identify and examine compromised IT environments. One of the intentions of the open-sourcing of the project is to involve community developers in the creation of new modules for the framework. The official release indicates that the version of Dshell released to Github is not necessarily the same one that the Army uses, or at least that the module package might be pared down from the Army-issued software.

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