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Education

The Ig Nobel Awards Celebrate Their 26th First Annual Awards Ceremony (improbable.com) 36

Thursday Harvard's Sanders Theatre hosted the 26th edition of the humorous research awards "that make people laugh, then think...intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative -- and spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology." One of this year's winners actually lived as a goat, wearing prosthetic extensions on his arms and legs so he could travel the countryside with other goats. Long-time Slashdot reader tomhath writes: The Journal of Improbable announced these winners:

REPRODUCTION PRIZE [EGYPT] -- The late Ahmed Shafik, for studying the effects of wearing polyester, cotton, or wool trousers on the sex life of rats, and for conducting similar tests with human males.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [NEW ZEALAND, UK] -- Mark Avis, Sarah Forbes, and Shelagh Ferguson, for assessing the perceived personalities of rocks, from a sales and marketing perspective...

PEACE PRIZE [CANADA, USA] -- Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called 'On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit'...

PERCEPTION PRIZE [JAPAN] -- Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

The Improable Research site lists the rest of this year's 10 winners, as well as every winner for the previous 25 years.
Privacy

Woman Sues Sex Toy App For Secretly Capturing Sensitive Information (ctvnews.ca) 211

A woman in Chicago filed a class action lawsuit against the makers of a smartphone-enabled vibrator, alleging their devices "secretly collect and transmit 'highly sensitive' information." CTV News reports: The lawsuit, which was filed earlier this month in an Illinois court, explains that to fully operate the device, users download the We-Connect app on a smartphone, allowing them and their partners remote control over the Bluetooth-equipped vibrator's settings... The suit alleges that unbeknownst to its customers, Standard Innovation designed the We-Connect app to collect and record intimate and sensitive data on use of the vibrator, including the date and time of each use as well as vibration settings...

It also alleges the usage data and the user's personal email address was transmitted to the company's servers in Canada. The statement of claim alleges the company's conduct demonstrates "a wholesale disregard" for consumer privacy rights and violated a number of state and federal laws.

Slashdot reader BarbaraHudson argues that "It kind of has to share that information if it's going to be remotely controlled by someone else." But the woman's lawsuit claims she wouldn't have bought the device if she'd known that while using it, the manufacturer "would monitor, collect and transmit her usage information."
Crime

Fugitive Arrested After Using 'Wanted' Poster As His Facebook Profile Pic (ibtimes.co.uk) 89

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A fugitive in Florida has been arrested by police after he used a wanted poster adorned with his mug shot for his Facebook profile picture," writes the International Business Times. After investigating reports of a disturbance, police discovered the 41-year-old's Facebook profile, which revealed the man was already wanted for six months for violating his parole after two counts of battery.

"Police say that as they arrested Yearwood a bag of marijuana fell out of his pocket. They charged him with possession of cannabis under 20 grams and are continuing to investigate the battery complaint."

One Twitter user jokingly suggested that the suspect should also be charged with copyright infringement -- for using the police department's photo without their permission.
Music

What Jonathan Coulton Learned From The Technology Industry (geekwire.com) 88

In a new article on GeekWire, Jonathan Coulton explains why he left a comfortable software development job in 2005 to launch a career as an online singer-songwriter. But he also describes the things he learned from the tech industry. "These guys were doing this thing they wanted to do, this thing they felt competent doing. They didn't chase after things, and they worked hard, but it was a business they created because they enjoyed it. They tried to minimize the things they didn't want to do. It wasn't about getting rich; it was about getting satisfied...

"I wanted to a set a good example to my children. I wanted to be the person I wanted to be, someone willing to take chances -- a person who didn't live with enormous regrets..." Within the first year, he had not replaced his software salary, but had enough success to cover his babysitter and to keep food on the table.

When he was younger -- in the pre-internet days -- "It was very unclear how to become a musician," Coulton explains. But somehow rolling his own career path eventually led to a life which includes everything from guest appearances on radio shows to an annual cruise with his fans (this year featuring Aimee Mann, Wil Wheaton, and Redshirts author John Scalzi).
Biotech

'Longest Living Human' Says He Is Ready For Death At 145 (telegraph.co.uk) 314

Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes an article from The Telegraph: An Indonesian man who claims to be the longest living human in recorded history has described how he "just wants to die". Mbah Gotho, from Sragen in central Java, was born on December 31, 1870, according to the date of birth on his identity card. Now officials at the local record office say they have finally been able to confirm that remarkable date as genuine. If independently confirmed, the findings would make Mr Gotho a staggering 145 years old -- and the longest lived human in recorded history.
"One of Mr Gotho's grandsons said his grandfather has been preparing for his death ever since he was 122," according to the article. Though he lived long enough to meet his great-great grandchildren, he's already outlived four wives, all 10 of his brothers and sisters, and all of his children.
Classic Games (Games)

Hacked Hobbit Pinball Machine Joins IoT, Broadcasts Itself Over Twitch (lachniet.com) 45

Random web surfers could send a text message or even upload an image to be displayed on the back glass of Mark Lachniet's pinball machine, according to Mael517, while the machine itself webcast footage of both its playing field and backglass using Twitch. Interestingly, all the extra functionality was coded directly into the machine, according to Lachniet, who added only the webcam and an ethernet cord. The Hobbit [machine] has a whole bunch of hardware that I don't really understand and can barely fix... However, it has a computer in its guts, and this I can mostly understand.
After identifying the pinball machine's motherboard, CPU, operating system (Ubuntu) and an SQL database, Lachniet was able to backup its software, and then create his own modifications. He envisions more possibilities -- for example, the ability to announce high scores on social media accounts or allow remote servicing of the machine. Lachniet even sees the possibility of a world-wide registry of pinball game scores with each player's location overlaid on Google Maps "so you could view pinball hot spots and where the high scores were coming from," and maybe even networking machines together to allow real-time global competition."
Sci-Fi

Star Wars Actor Kenny Baker Dies at Age 81 (theguardian.com) 51

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Guardian: The British actor who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 81 after a long illness. Kenny Baker, who was 3-feet 8-inches tall, shot to fame in 1977 when he first played the robot character.

He went on to play the character in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as the three Star Wars prequels from 1999 to 2005. He also appeared in a number of other much loved films in the 1980s, including The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.

Baker's niece told the newspaper that "He brought lots of happiness to people and we'll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world..."
The Military

How The Navy Tried To Turn Sharks into Torpedos (undark.org) 60

Long-time Slashdot reader v3rgEz writes: Documents recently declassified show one of the odder experimental weapons developed after World War II: Weaponized sharks. Guided by sharp electric shocks, the sharks were trained to deliver explosive payloads -- essentially turning them into living, breathing, remote-controlled torpedoes that could be put to use in the Pacific Theater.
Following years of research on "shark repellent," the Navy spent 13 years building a special head gear for sharks which sensed the shark's direction and tried to deliver shocks if the sharks strayed off-course. The journalist who tracked down details of "Project Headgear" published the recently-declassified information on MIT's journalism site Undark, noting that "The shark wasn't so much a 'torpedo' as a suicide bomber... "
The Almighty Buck

Wild Abuse Allegations Taint Indiegogo Helmet Maker Skully (digitaltrends.com) 84

Skully raised $2.4 million on Indiegogo in 2014 to manufacture motorcycle helmets with built-in Augmented Reality. Now they're filing for bankruptcy, and informing customers that refunds are unlikely on their $1,500 pre-ordered helmets. But a lawsuit filed by Skully bookkeeper Isabelle Faithhauer "claims the Wellers used the funds raised by the Indiegogo campaign and a secondary $11 million round of funding in 2015 as their personal 'piggy banks' to buy several motorcycles, two Dodge Vipers, groceries, and so on," according to a Digital Trends article shared by KingGypsy: The Wellers took trips to Bermuda and Hawaii using company funds, she said, went to strip clubs, rented a Lamborghini, and paid for personal housekeeping services on the company credit card, as well as paying out funds ranging from $500 to $80,000. Lastly, she claims that the Wellers asked her to fudge the books to obscure the expenses. Faithhauer claims that when accountants came calling with questions about the expenses, she was up front about what was going on. She says that when she took a pre-approved vacation to Disneyland in December of 2015, she was fired upon her return and offered a severance package, which the suit calls "hush money." She declined the offer.
"Following her termination at Skully, Faithhauer claims that when she found a new job, her new employer contacted the Wellers at Skully and were told she could not be trusted with confidential information. She was fired from that job as well."
Sci-Fi

Star Trek Convention Celebrates The Show's 50th Anniversary (cnet.com) 25

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: CNET has a photo gallery with highlights from this year's Star Trek convention, celebrating the show's 50th anniversary. Highlights include a replica of the time portal from Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever episode, as well as a weird model of the Enterprise made entirely out of balloons. Special guests included former Star Trek actors Jonathan Frakes, Kirstie Alley, Levar Burton, and Whoopi Goldberg. And William Shatner reportedly made "the Captain Kirkiest stage entrance ever made," then talked about everything from Star Wars and The Twilight Zone to Pokemon Go.
Earth

Mysterious, Ice-Buried Cold War Military Base May Be Unearthed By Climate Change (sciencemag.org) 108

Slashdot reader sciencehabit quotes Science magazine: It sounds like something out of a James Bond movie: a secret military operation hidden beneath the Greenland Ice Sheet. But that's exactly what transpired at Camp Century during the Cold War. In 1959, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the subterranean city under the guise of conducting polar research -- and scientists there did drill the first ice core ever used to study climate. But deep inside the frozen tunnels, the corps also explored the feasibility of Project Iceworm, a plan to store and launch hundreds of ballistic missiles from inside the ice.

The military ultimately rejected the project, and the corps abandoned Camp Century in 1967. Engineers anticipated that the ice -- already a dozen meters thick -- would continue to accumulate in northwestern Greenland, permanently entombing what they left behind. Now, climate change has upended that assumption. New research suggests that as early as 2090, rates of ice loss at the site could exceed gains from new snowfall. And within a century after that, melting could begin to release waste stored at the camp, including sewage, diesel fuel, persistent organic pollutants like PCBs, and radiological waste from the camp's nuclear generator, which was removed during decommissioning.

United Kingdom

British Newspaper Fooled By Online Harry Potter/Pokemon Go Hoax (snopes.com) 36

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "The creators behind Pokemon Go are developing a new Harry Potter version of the app, according to reports," claimed The Metro -- citing as their source the web site "Hello Giggles". But that site's source -- as well as the source for an inaccurate article in Yahoo! Style -- was the infamous JTXH, a parody news sites created three months ago, whose other false scoops have included "NASA to make announcement involving 'religious' implications" and "Denny's waitress assaulted by Muslims for serving bacon during Ramadan".
From Snopes.com: There is no real radio or television outlet with the call letters JTXH; that identifier is purely the province of a fake news web site masquerading as a legitimate news outlet. JTXH News has previously published fabricated clickbait stories such as "Bernie campaign caught distributing LSD to youth" and "Chick-Fil-A is considering banning anyone who 'can't figure out their gender.'"
Sci-Fi

Star Trek's 50th Anniversary Celebrated at Comic-Con (deadline.com) 106

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: Leonard Nimoy's 59-year-old son released a trailer for his upcoming documentary, For The Love Of Spock. CBS released a video teaser for their upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series. And Schmaltz brewery released a "Trouble With Tribbles" beer.

It was all part of the festivities celebrating the 50th anniversary of CBS's original Star Trek series at this year's Comic-Con festival in San Diego, which culminated with an all-star panel of actors from previous Star Trek TV series. William Shatner, Michael Dorn, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, and Scott Bakula all reminisced on the phenomenon of the show's fan culture, with Dorn telling the audience that Apple's iPad was inspired by Star Trek technology. And Brent Spiner told the audience, "We're in a time now where identity is under attack... Politicians could learn from Star Trek."

Earth

New Zealand Crowdfunds $1.7 Million To Buy A Private Beach (fastcoexist.com) 124

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes an article from FastCoExist: When debt-troubled businessman Michael Spackman put his private New Zealand beach on sale, Kiwis started a crowdfunding campaign to buy it back for the public... The crowdfunding campaign raised $1.7 million in donations from around 40,000 people. Even the New Zealand government contributed $254,000.
The BBC reports that the campaign "snubbed a businessman who offered them money in exchange for private access to part of the beach," with the campaign's creator calling this an example of technology's power to unite people for a common cause. "Sometimes you can feel powerless, so for us, it's been a marvelous experience... There's been a real feeling of coming together."
Software

The Freeware Hall of Fame Enters Its 20th Year (freewarehof.org) 41

After our story about the ongoing development of FreeDOS, long-time Slashdot reader reybo shares another valuable resource that's been "All free, all the time since 1984": Younger FreeDOS users may not know of the Freeware Hall of Fame, a source of old DOS freeware some of which is on-line 24/7 at www.freewarehof.org . This file base of free programs was begun in 1984 to help small businesses enter the world of computers. It became an international file base distributed to BBSs around the world via floppy disc until Bobbie Sumrada in Memphis gave it a home on CHEERS, her premier BBS.

The entire history is on the FreeHOF web site. Also there are downloadable copies of PCBoard, one of the great BBS platforms of all time. Anyone can create a dial-up BBS with this to see what they were like, so long as they have a DOS partition for it. I think MS DOS is also there to download, version 5.n or 6.n. Something you won't find at this site is games. FHOF never distributed games.

"No Flash, no Java, no goddam rollovers..." reads one page, which notes that in the mid-'90s they were picked as one of the world's 25 best BBSs by Boardwatch magazine.
Red Hat Software

Red Hat Exec Marries A Couple At Red Hat Summit (cio.com) 62

On the second day of the Red Hat Summit this week, attendees found themselves invited to a wedding during one of the general sessions. The groom was Matt Hargrave, a Red Hat client from Texas, and, it probably goes without saying, a huge fan of the company. The bride was Shannon Montague, a sign language interpreter, and "maybe the most understanding bride ever," jokes Slashdot reader itwbennett: "Pushing a commit to github isn't the same as committing to a life partner. There is no forking this project," Red Hat EVP Paul Cormier told a Texas couple, as he united them in holy matrimony... Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst was ring bearer. You can watch the ceremony on YouTube.
"After today your relationship will have newly architected infrastructure. And, of course, collaboration is...critical." I'm wondering if Slashdot readers can suggest more geeky marriage vows -- or have any other geeky wedding stories to share.
Television

Is The Future Of Television Watching on Fast-Forward? (washingtonpost.com) 296

The average American watches three hours of TV each day, and researchers have found that most people already prefer listening to accelerated speech. "After watching accelerated video on my computer for a few months, live television began to seem excruciatingly slow..." writes the Washington Post's Jeff Guo. "Movie theaters feel suffocating. I need to be able to fast-forward and rewind and accelerate and slow down, to be able to parcel my attention where it's needed..." Slashdot reader HughPickens.com distills some interesting points from Guo's article: You can play DVDs and iTunes purchases at whatever tempo you like, and a Google engineer has written a popular Chrome extension that accelerates most other Web videos, including on Netflix, Vimeo and Amazon Prime. Over 100,000 people have downloaded that plug-in, and the reviews are ecstatic. "Oh my God! I regret all the wasted time I've lived before finding this gem!!" one user wrote.

According to Guo speeding up video is more than an efficiency hack. "I quickly discovered that acceleration makes viewing more pleasurable. "Modern Family" played at twice the speed is far funnier -- the jokes come faster and they seem to hit harder. I get less frustrated at shows that want to waste my time with filler plots or gratuitous violence. The faster pace makes it easier to appreciate the flow of the plot and the structure of the scenes."

Guo writes that "I've come to believe this is the future of how we will appreciate television and movies. We will interrogate videos in new ways using our powers of time manipulation... we will all be watching on our own terms." Will this eventually become much more common? How many Slashdot readers are already watching speeded-up videos?
Quake

A New 'Quake' Episode Appears 20 Years Later (vice.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes this report from Motherboard: The months leading up to this year's phenomenal reboot of Doom were stuffed with all kinds of fun developments surrounding the original series, whether it was mods that let you play as Duke Nukem or whole new levels from famed designer John Romero. There's now a new Quake game in the works, and already it appears to be enjoying a similar renaissance. Yesterday MachineGames, the studio behind Wolfenstein: The New Order, released an entirely new episode for the original Quake in celebration of its 20-year anniversary, and you can play it entirely for free.
IBM

IBM Engineer Builds a Harry Potter Sorting Hat Using 'Watson' AI (thenextweb.com) 117

An anonymous reader writes: As America celebrates Father's Day, The Next Web reports on an IBM engineer who found a way to combine his daughters' interest in the Harry Potter series with an educational home technology project. Together they built a Hogwarts-style sorting hat -- which assigns its wearer into an appropriate residence house at the school of magic -- and it does it using IBM's cognitive computing platform Watson. "The hat uses Watson's Natural Language Classifier and Speech to Text to let the wearer simply talk to the hat, then be sorted according to what he or she says..." reports The Next Web. "Anderson coded the hat to pick up on words that fit the characteristics of each Hogwarts house, with brainy and cleverness going right into Ravenclaw's territory and honesty a recognized Hufflepuff attribute."
The hat's algorithm would place Stephen Hawking and Hillary Clinton into Ravenclaw, according to the article, while Donald Trump "was assigned to Gryffindor for his boldness -- but only with a 48 percent certainty."

The sorting hat talks, drawing its data directly from the IBM Cloud, and if you're interested in building your own, the IBM engineer has shared a tutorial online.
Classic Games (Games)

Mattel Sells Out Of 'Game Developer Barbie' (cnet.com) 224

Long-time Slashdot reader sandbagger writes: The Mattel people have released a new Barbie doll figurine touted as Game Developer Barbie. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, she was apparently designed by a game developer.
It's already sold out on Mattel's web site, with CNET saying it provides a better role model than a 2014 book In which "computer engineer" Barbie designed a cute game about puppies, then admitted "I'll need Steven's and Brian's help to turn it into a real game," before her laptop crashed with a virus. Mattel says that with this new doll, "young techies can play out the creative fun of this exciting profession," and the doll even comes with a laptop showing an IDE on the screen. Sandbagger's original submission ended with a question. Do Slashdot readers think this will inspire a new generation of programmers to stay up late writing code?

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