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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Displays

New Display Technology Corrects For Vision Defects 2

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the fuzzy-pixels dept.
rtoz (2530056) writes Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed a new display technology that automatically corrects for vision defects without requiring glasses or contact lenses. This technique could lead to dashboard-mounted GPS displays that farsighted drivers can consult without putting their glasses on, or electronic readers that eliminate the need for reading glasses. The display is a variation on a glasses-free 3-D technology: a 3-D display projects slightly different images to the viewer's left and right eyes.Similarly, this vision-correcting display projects slightly different images to different parts of the viewer's pupil.
Bug

Passport Database Outage Leaves Thousands Stranded 28

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the maintenance-considered-harmful dept.
linuxwrangler (582055) writes Job interviews missed, work and wedding plans disrupted, children unable to fly home with their adoptive parents. All this disruption is due to a outage involving the passport and visa processing database at the U.S. State Department. The problems have been ongoing since July 19 and the best estimate for repair is "soon." The system "crashed shortly after maintenance."
Businesses

Why TiVo's Founders Crashed and Burned With Qplay 17

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-ever-even-heard-of-this? dept.
Velcroman1 (1667895) writes "Michael Ramsay and Jim Barton created a revolution with TiVo, a device that challenged the notion that we had to watch TV shows when they aired. And they hoped to do it again with Qplay, a device that challenged the notion that short-form videos had to be consumed one at a time, like snacks instead of meals. Qplay streamed curated queues of short-form Internet video to your TV using a small, simple box controlled by an iPad app. So what went wrong? Unlike TiVo, the Qplay box was difficult to justify owning, and thevalue of the service itself is questionable. And as of last week, Qplay is closed."
HP

HP Gives OpenVMS New Life and Path To X86 Port 48

Posted by timothy
from the diversity-in-action dept.
dcblogs (1096431) writes Hewlett-Packard has changed its direction on OpenVMS. Instead of pushing its users off the system, it has licensed OpenVMS to a new firm that plans to develop ports to the latest Itanium chips and is promising eventual support for x86 processors. Last year, HP put OpenVMS on the path to extinction. It said it would not validate the operating system to its latest hardware or produce new versions of it. The move to license the OpenVMS source code to a new entity, VMS Software Inc. (VSI), amounts to a reversal of that earlier decision. VSI plans to validate the operating system on Intel's Itanium eight-core Poulson chips by early 2015, as well as support for HP hardware running the upcoming 'Kittson' chip. It will also develop an x86 port, although it isn't specifying a timeframe. And it plans to develop new versions of OpenVMS.
Programming

Peter Hoddie Talks About His Internet of Things Construction Kit (Video) 40

Posted by Roblimo
from the everything-you-own-must-now-connect-to-the-internet dept.
You remember Peter Hoddie, right? He was one of the original QuickTime developers at Apple. He left in 2002 to help found a startup called Kinoma, which started life developing multimedia players and browsers for mobile devices. Kinoma was acquired in 2011 by Marvell Semiconductor, whose management kept it as a separate entity.

The latest creation from Peter and his crew is the 'Kinoma Create,' AKA the 'JavaScript-Powered Internet of Things Construction Kit.' With it, they say, you can 'quickly and easily create personal projects, consumer electronics, and Internet of Things prototypes.' EE Times mentioned it in March, and they're not the only ones to notice this product. Quite a few developers and companies are jumping on the 'Internet of Things' bandwagon, so there may be a decent -- and growing -- market for something like this. (Alternate Video Link)
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: When Is It Better To Modify the ERP vs. Interfacing It? 145

Posted by timothy
from the which-point-in-the-chain dept.
New submitter yeshuawatso writes I work for one of the largest HVAC manufacturers in the world. We've currently spent millions of dollars investing in an ERP system from Oracle (via a third-party implementor and distributor) that handles most of our global operations, but it's been a great ordeal getting the thing to work for us across SBUs and even departments without having to constantly go back to the third-party, whom have their hands out asking for more money. What we've also discovered is that the ERP system is being used for inputting and retrieving data but not for managing the data. Managing the data is being handled by systems of spreadsheets and access databases wrought with macros to turn them into functional applications. I'm asking you wise and experienced readers on your take if it's a better idea to continue to hire our third-party to convert these applications into the ERP system or hire internal developers to convert these applications to more scalable and practical applications that interface with the ERP (via API of choice)? We have a ton of spare capacity in data centers that formerly housed mainframes and local servers that now mostly run local Exchange and domain servers. We've consolidated these data centers into our co-location in Atlanta but the old data centers are still running, just empty. We definitely have the space to run commodity servers for an OpenStack, Eucalyptus, or some other private/hybrid cloud solution, but would this be counter productive to the goal of standardizing processes. Our CIO wants to dump everything into the ERP (creating a single point of failure to me) but our accountants are having a tough time chewing the additional costs of re-doing every departmental application. What are your experiences with such implementations?
Privacy

UK Government Report Recommends Ending Online Anonymity 152

Posted by timothy
from the but-you-have-a-right-to-be-forgotten dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a bit of pith from TechDirt: Every so often, people who don't really understand the importance of anonymity or how it enables free speech (especially among marginalized people), think they have a brilliant idea: "just end real anonymity online." They don't seem to understand just how shortsighted such an idea is. It's one that stems from the privilege of being in power. And who knows that particular privilege better than members of the House of Lords in the UK — a group that is more or less defined by excess privilege? The Communications Committee of the House of Lords has now issued a report concerning "social media and criminal offenses" in which they basically recommend scrapping anonymity online.
Government

CIA Director Brennan Admits He Was Lying: CIA Really Did Spy On Congress 176

Posted by timothy
from the note-the-passive-voice-and-weasel-words dept.
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes with this story from the Guardian: The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, conceding that the agency employees spied on committee staff and reversing months of furious and public denials. Brennan acknowledged that an internal investigation had found agency security personnel transgressed a firewall set up on a CIA network, called RDINet, which allowed Senate committee investigators to review agency documents for their landmark inquiry into CIA torture." (Sen. Diane Feinstein was one of those vocally accusing the CIA of spying on Congress; Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised a similar question about the NSA.)
PHP

PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification 76

Posted by timothy
from the let-the-ossification-ceremony-commence dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Despite becoming one of the most widely used programming languages on the Web, PHP didn't have a formal specification — until now. Facebook engineer and PHP core contributor Sara Golemon announced the initiative at OSCON earlier this month, and an initial draft of the specification was posted Wednesday on GitHub."
Open Source

Fotopedia Is Shutting Down; Data Avallable Until August 10 41

Posted by timothy
from the grab-now-if-you-want-any dept.
New submitter Randall Booth writes Fotopedia has sent notice to its users that it is shutting down. 'We are sorry to announce that Fotopedia is shutting down. As of August 10, 2014, Fotopedia.com will close and our iOS applications will cease to function. Our community of passionate photographers, curators and storytellers has made this a wonderful journey, and we'd like to thank you for your hard work and your contributions. We truly believe in the concept of storytelling but don't think there is a suitable business in it yet. If you submitted photos and stories to Fotopedia, your data will be available to download until August 10, 2014. After this date, all photos and data will be permanently deleted from our servers."
Displays

iFixit Takes Apart the Oculus Rift DK2, Finds Galaxy Note 3 Display Inside 46

Posted by timothy
from the wait-'til-it's-handed-out-like-earphone-on-the-plane dept.
An anonymous reader writes with a teardown from iFixit of the Oculus Rift Development Kit 2: "iFixit's teardown reveals lots of interesting hardware within, including 40 infrared LEDs, a well-organized motherboard, and a display panel lifted directly from a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. They also took apart the IR tracking camera for good measure." The review is the usual iFixit blend of funny, concise and technical; they include a nice shot showing those IR sources embedded in the plastic of the frame. Why the straight-from-a-phone display? "This seems to make economical sense, since Oculus is working to ship something like 45,000 DK2s—a goodly number for a mid-development prototype, but certainly not enough to warrant a fully custom display."
Transportation

Nevada Construction Project Could Be Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory 60

Posted by timothy
from the speculation-in-the-hills dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "Earlier in the week we heard that Tesla and Panasonic had reached an agreement to build the gigafactory together, and today that became official. Now it seems that things are farther along than anyone thought. In fact, construction of the plant might already be secretly underway in Nevada. This is of course interesting as Tesla hasn't officially announced where the gigafactory will be built. Something called Project Tiger is currently underway east of Reno, and there's a lot of construction workers, heavy equipment, and a heavily guarded fenced barrier around the site. The volume of dirt being moved is 140,000 cubic yards, which matches the gigafactory dimensions given earlier this year by Tesla. Is it possible that Tesla's actually building the gigafactory before even announcing its location? It seems so, yes."
Hardware Hacking

Grad Student Rigs Cheap Alternative To $1,000 Air Purifiers In Smoggy China 143

Posted by timothy
from the filtration-station dept.
An anonymous reader writes "University of Virginia grad student Thomas Talhelm was living in Beijing on a Fulbright Scholarship during the winter of 2012-13, when air pollution was so bad scientists likened it to a nuclear winter. Those who could afford it were resorting to an expensive solution: air filters costing up to $1,000. Talhem built his own on the cheap, getting comparable particulate count results, and has started a company that both markets the product to middle class Chinese and shows others how to DIY."
NASA

NASA's JPL Develops Multi-Metal 3D Printing Process 27

Posted by timothy
from the just-use-a-photoshop-gradient dept.
yyzmcleod (1534129) writes The technology to 3D print a single part from multiple materials has been around for years, but only for polymer-based additive manufacturing processes. For metals, jobs are typically confined to a single powdered base metal or alloy per object. However, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory say they have developed a 3D printing technique that allows for print jobs to transition from one metal to another in a single object. From the article: In JPL’s technique, the build material’s composition is gradually transitioned as the print progresses. For example, the powdered build material might contain 97 percent titanium alloy and 3 percent stainless steel at the beginning of the transition. Then, in 1 percent increments between layers, the gradient progresses to 97 percent stainless steel and 3 percent Ti alloy by some defined point in the overall 3D printing process.
Security

"BadUSB" Exploit Makes Devices Turn "Evil" 169

Posted by timothy
from the thinkgeek-had-something-funnier-years-ago dept.
An anonymous reader writes with s snippet from Ars Technica that should make you (even more) skeptical about plugging in random USB drives, or allowing to persons unknown physical access to you computer's USB ports : When creators of the state-sponsored Stuxnet worm used a USB stick to infect air-gapped computers inside Iran's heavily fortified Natanz nuclear facility, trust in the ubiquitous storage medium suffered a devastating blow. Now, white-hat hackers have devised a feat even more seminal—an exploit that transforms keyboards, Web cams, and other types of USB-connected devices into highly programmable attack platforms that can't be detected by today's defenses. Dubbed BadUSB, the hack reprograms embedded firmware to give USB devices new, covert capabilities. In a demonstration scheduled at next week's Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, a USB drive, for instance, will take on the ability to act as a keyboard that surreptitiously types malicious commands into attached computers. A different drive will similarly be reprogrammed to act as a network card that causes connected computers to connect to malicious sites impersonating Google, Facebook or other trusted destinations. The presenters will demonstrate similar hacks that work against Android phones when attached to targeted computers. They say their technique will work on Web cams, keyboards, and most other types of USB-enabled devices.

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