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Earth

France Wants To Get Rid of Diesel Fuel 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the send-it-to-us dept.
mrspoonsi sends this Reuters report: France wants to gradually phase out the use of diesel fuel for private passenger transport and will put in place a system to identify the most polluting vehicles, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Friday. Next year, the government will launch a car identification system that will rank vehicles by the amount of pollution they emit, Valls said in a speech. This will make it possible for local authorities to limit city access for the dirtiest cars. "In France, we have long favoured the diesel engine. This was a mistake, and we will progressively undo that, intelligently and pragmatically," Valls said. About 80 percent of French motorists drive diesel-powered cars. Valls said taxation would have to orient citizens towards more ecological choices, notably the 2015 state budget measures to reduce the tax advantage of diesel fuel versus gas.
Power

Shale: Good For Gas, Oil...and Nuclear Waste Disposal? 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the triple-threat dept.
Lasrick writes: Chris Neuzil is a senior scientist with the National Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. He thinks the qualities of shale make it the perfect rock in which to safely and permanently house high-level nuclear waste. Given the recent discovery that water is much more of an issue than originally thought for the tough rock at Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Utah, the unique qualities of shale, along with its ubiquitous presence in the U.S., could make shale rock a better choice for the 70,000 metric tons of commercial spent fuel currently sitting above ground at nuclear power facilities throughout the country. France, Switzerland, and Belgium are all considering repositories in shale, but it hasn't been studied much in the U.S. "Shale is the only rock type likely to house high-level nuclear waste in other countries that has never been seriously considered by the U.S. high-level waste program. The uncertain future of Yucca Mountain places plans for spent nuclear fuel in the United States at a crossroads. It is an opportunity to include shale in a truly comprehensive examination of disposal options."
Debian

Debian Forked Over Systemd 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-house-divided dept.
jaromil writes: The so called "Veteran Unix Admin" collective has announced that the fork of Debian will proceed as a result of the recent systemd controversy. The reasons put forward are not just technical; included is a letter of endorsement by Debian Developer Roger Leigh mentioning that "people rely on Debian for their jobs and businesses, their research and their hobbies. It's not a playground for such radical experimentation." The fork is called "Devuan," pronounced "DevOne." The official website has more information.
Japan

Volcanic Eruption In Japan Disrupts Flights 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the underground-affecting-the-skies dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A volcano in southern Japan erupted today, sending out chunks of magma and a kilometer-high plume of ash. Flights to and from the nearby city of Kumamoto were canceled, and a Japan Airlines spokesman said more could be disrupted if the eruption continues. "Mount Aso, whose huge caldera dominates the southwestern main island of Kyushu, rumbled into life on Tuesday. Meteorologists warned volcanic stones and ash could fall in a one-kilometer radius of the volcano. The eruption is Aso's first in 19 years and comes two months after Mount Ontake in central Nagano killed more than 60 hikers when it erupted without warning."
Math

Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election 340

Posted by samzenpus
from the fix-is-in dept.
HughPickens.com writes Gerrymandering is the practice of establishing a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating district boundaries to concentrate all your opponents' votes in a few districts while keeping your party's supporters as a majority in the remaining districts. For example, in North Carolina in 2012 Republicans ended up winning nine out of 13 congressional seats even though more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans statewide. Now Jessica Jones reports that researchers at Duke are studying the mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. Mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn created a series of district maps using the same vote totals from 2012, but with different borders. Their work was governed by two principles of redistricting: a federal rule requires each district have roughly the same population and a state rule requires congressional districts to be compact. Using those principles as a guide, they created a mathematical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of the state's 13 congressional districts. "We just used the actual vote counts from 2012 and just retabulated them under the different districtings," says Vaughn. "If someone voted for a particular candidate in the 2012 election and one of our redrawn maps assigned where they live to a new congressional district, we assumed that they would still vote for the same political party."

The results were startling. After re-running the election 100 times with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election — four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. "If we really want our elections to reflect the will of the people, then I think we have to put in safeguards to protect our democracy so redistrictings don't end up so biased that they essentially fix the elections before they get started," says Mattingly. But North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho is unimpressed. "I'm saying these maps aren't gerrymandered," says Rucho. "It was a matter of what the candidates actually was able to tell the voters and if the voters agreed with them. Why would you call that uncompetitive?"
Earth

Renewables Are Now Scotland's Biggest Energy Source 187

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-green dept.
AmiMoJo writes Government figures revealed that Scotland is now generating more power from "clean" technologies than nuclear, coal and gas. The combination of wind, solar and hydroelectric, along with less-publicized sources such as landfill gas and biomass, produced 10.3TWh in the first half of 2014. Over the same period, Scotland generated 7.8TWh from nuclear, 5.6TWh from coal and 1.4TWh from gas, according to figures supplied by National Grid. Renewable sources tend to fluctuate throughout the year, especially in Scotland where the weather is notoriously volatile, but in six-month chunks the country has consistently increased its renewable output.
Earth

Scientists Develop "Paint" To Help Cool the Planet 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
AaronW writes Engineers at Stanford University have developed an ultrathin, multilayered, nanophotonic material that not only reflects heat away from buildings but also directs internal heat away using a system called "photonic radiative cooling." The coating is capable of reflecting away 97% of incoming sunlight and when combined with the photonic radiative cooling system it becomes cooler than the surrounding air by around 9F (5C). The material is designed to radiate heat into space at a precise frequency that allows it to pass through the atmosphere without warming it.
Piracy

Kim Dotcom Says Legal Fight Has Left Him Broke 113

Posted by timothy
from the broke-the-bench dept.
mrspoonsi writes Kim Dotcom, the founder of the seized file-sharing site Megaupload, has declared himself "broke". The entrepreneur said he had spent $10m (£6.4m) on legal costs since being arrested in New Zealand in 2012 and accused of internet piracy. Mr Dotcom had employed a local law firm to fight the US's attempt to extradite him, but his defence team stepped down a fortnight ago without explaining why. Mr Dotcom said he would now represent himself at a bail hearing on Thursday. He denies charges of racketeering, conspiring to commit copyright infringement and money laundering. He told a conference in London, via a video link, that his lawyers had resigned because he had run out of money. "The [US authorities] have certainly managed to drain my resources and dehydrate me, and without lawyers I am defenceless," he said. "They used that opportunity to try and get my bail revoked and that's what I'm facing."
Businesses

Behind Apple's Sapphire Screen Debacle 178

Posted by timothy
from the creative-managment dept.
Frankie70 (803801) writes Apple invested more than $1 billion in an effort to make sapphire one of iPhone 6's selling point. But the iPhone 6 was released without the sapphire screen. GT Advanced Technologies, the small company chosen to supply Apple with enormous quantities of cheap sapphire, declared bankruptcy a month later. Recent documents from GT's bankruptcy proceedings, and conversations with people familiar with operations at Apple and GT, provide several clues as to what went wrong. GT said that to save costs, Apple decided not to install backup power supplies, and multiple outages ruined whole batches of sapphire. The terms Apple negotiated committed GT to supplying a huge amount of sapphire, but put Apple under no obligation to buy it. In its bankruptcy documents, GT would later accuse Apple of using "bait-and-switch" tactics, and said the terms of the deal were "onerous and massively one-sided."
Security

Syrian Electronic Army Takes Credit For News Site Hacking 22

Posted by timothy
from the how-to-win-no-friends-and-influence-people dept.
New submitter ddtmm writes The Syrian Electronic Army is claiming responsibility for the hacking of multiple news websites, including CBC News. Some users trying to access the CBC website reported seeing a pop-up message reading: "You've been hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)." It appears the hack targeted a network used by many news organizations and businesses. A tweet from an account appearing to belong to the Syrian Electronic Army suggested the attacks were meant to coincide with the U.S. Thanksgiving on Thursday. The group claimed to have used the domain Gigya.com, a company that offers businesses a customer identity management platform, to hack into other sites via GoDaddy, its domain registrar. Gigya is "trusted by more than 700 leading brands," according to its website. The hacker or hackers redirected sites to the Syrian Electronic Army image that users saw. Gigya's operations team released a statement Thursday morning saying that it identified an issue with its domai registrar at 6:45 a.m. ET. The breach "resulted in the redirect of the Gigya.com domain for a subset of users," the company said. Among the websites known to be hacked so far are New York Times, Chicago Tribune, CNBC, PC World, Forbes, The Telegraph, Walmart and Facebook.
Handhelds

Apple and Amazon Launch Black Friday Price War 39

Posted by timothy
from the you-can-win-the-race-to-the-bottom dept.
An anonymous reader writes Forbes magazine points out that tablet computers are receiving some of the biggest discounts for this year's day-after-Thanksgiving sales. "With slowing growth in the tablet market and an increasing array of choices, some of the strongest bargains will come in that sector," they report, noting that Target is giving away a $140 gift card with purcahses of an iPad Air 2 (and a $100 gift card with the iPad Mini or first-generation iPad Air). But Amazon has already launched a counter-strike, posting big discounts online on Thanksgiving day for their entire line of Kindles, including a black-and-white Kindle for just $49, and their 6-inch color/high-definition HD6 for just $79.
Math

Riecoin Breaks World Record For Largest Prime Sextuplet, Twice 46

Posted by timothy
from the well-the-sextuplet-was-just-sitting-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes Last week, Riecoin – a project that doubles as decentralized virtual currency and a distributed computing system — quietly broke the record for the largest prime number sextuplet. This happened on November 17, 2014 at 19:50 GMT and the calculation took only 70 minutes using the massive distributed computing power of its network. This week the feat was outdone and the project beat its own record on November 24, 2014 at 20:28 GMT achieving numbers 654 digits long, 21 more than its previous record.
United Kingdom

Edsac Goes Live, At UK's National Museum of Computing 37

Posted by timothy
from the sometimes-things-get-lost-in-the-mail dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Britain's National Museum of Computing has flipped the switch on the venerable Edsac computer. The arduous task of reconstructing the 1949 behemoth, fraught with little in terms of the original hardware or documentation, was brought to fruition on Wednesday. As project lead Andrew Herbert is quoted as saying, "We face the same challenges as those remarkable pioneers who succeeded in building a machine that transformed computing." A remarkably shaky video of the event, replete with excellent views of the floor at the videographer's feet, can be found here."
Media

Windows 10 To Feature Native Support For MKV and FLAC 292

Posted by timothy
from the upgrades-always-welcome dept.
jones_supa writes Windows Media Player is going to become a more useful media player for those who want to play geeky file formats. Microsoft has earlier confirmed that Windows 10 will come with native support for Matroska Video, but the company now talks about also adding FLAC support. Microsoft's Gabriel Aul posted a teaser screenshot in Twitter showing support for this particular format. It can be expected to arrive in a future update for people running the Windows 10 Technical Preview. Not many GUI changes seem to be happening around Media Player, but work is done under the hood.
Wikipedia

Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the playing-favorites dept.
HughPickens.com writes Brian Fung writes in the Washington Post that Wikipedia has been a little hesitant to weigh in on net neutrality, the idea that all Web traffic should be treated equally by Internet service providers such as Comcast or Time Warner Cable. That's because the folks behind Wikipedia actually see a non-neutral Internet as one way to spread information cheaply to users in developing countries. With Wikipedia Zero, users in places like Pakistan and Malaysia can browse the site without it counting against the data caps on their cellphones or tablets. This preferential treatment for Wikipedia's site helps those who can't afford to pay for pricey data — but it sets the precedent for deals that cut against the net neutrality principle. "We believe in net neutrality in America," says Gayle Karen Young, adding that Wikipedia Zero requires a different perspective elsewhere. "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."

Facebook and Google also operate programs internationally that are exempted from users' data caps — a tactic known somewhat cryptically as "zero rating". Facebook in particular has made "Facebook Zero" not just a sales pitch in developing markets but also part of an Internet.org initiative to expand access "to the two thirds of the world's population that doesn't have it." But a surprising decision in Chile shows what happens when policies of neutrality are applied without nuance. Chile recently put an end to the practice, widespread in developing countries, of big companies "zero-rating" access to their services. "That might seem perverse," says Glyn Moody, "since it means that Chilean mobile users must now pay to access those services, but it is nonetheless exactly what governments that have mandated net neutrality need to do."

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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