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Energy Harnessed From Humidity Can Power Small Devices 41 41

sciencehabit writes: Scientists have built small devices that generate electricity by harnessing changes in the ambient humidity. This is done through the use of dormant bacterial spores which expand when they absorb moisture from the air. To prove the concept, researchers attached the spores to one side of a curved polymer sheet, and when the spores absorbed humidity from the air, the sheet straightened out. Coupling this movement with an electromagnetic generator allowed them to harvest enough energy to power small devices like an LED and a 100-gram toy car.

Ask Slashdot: Best Test Case Manager Plugin For JIRA? 70 70

Bomarc writes: I've been working with software testing ... for a few years now. And there seems to be a serious lack of QA — Test Case Management (TCM) tools. The company that I'm working for needs a good test case manager. Currently JIRA is the tool of choice for other aspects of project management. I'm not asking to jump ship from JIRA, but the Atlassian TCM "Zephyr" has several problems, some of the key ones include: It does not have (any) matrix capabilities, no test case suite capabilities, if you change one test case (including assignments) the system changes all of the runs from that test case, the integration between the defect tracker and the TCM is archaic (at best), the number of actions to pass/fail a step (or test case) are annoying (way to many). Whoever designed it doesn't use it. If you watch the "Introduction" for Zephyr – it is amusing to see how the person performing he demo skips over and fumbles when dealing with the flaws I've mentioned above.

I have used the product "TestLog" which is a well-thought-out product; has test matrix capabilities (and other good features); however it does not have any integration with JIRA. (Hint, hint: Atlassian, this is what you need!).

Is there any company that makes a "plug-in" for JIRA with a similar features to TestLog – test case management that is well thought out, not just an afterthought?

New Chrome Extension Uses Sound To Share URLs Between Devices 77 77

itwbennett writes: Google Tone is an experimental feature that could be used to easily and instantly share browser pages, search results, videos and other pages among devices, according to Google Research. "The initial prototype used an efficient audio transmission scheme that sounded terrible, so we played it beyond the range of human hearing," researcher Alex Kauffmann and software engineer Boris Smus wrote in a post on the Google Research blog.

New Device Could Greatly Improve Speech and Image Recognition 67 67

jan_jes writes: Scientists have successfully demonstrated pattern recognition using a magnonic holographic memory device, a development that could greatly improve speech and image recognition hardware. The researchers built a prototype eight-terminal device consisting of a magnetic matrix with micro-antennas to excite and detect the spin waves. The micro-antennas allow the researchers to generate and recognize any input phase pattern, a big advantage over existing practices. It takes about 100 nanoseconds for recognition, which is the time required for spin waves to propagate and to create the interference pattern. The main challenge associated with magnonic holographic memory is the scaling of the operational wavelength, which requires the development of sub-micrometer scale elements for spin wave generation and detection.

1980's Soviet Bloc Computing: Printers, Mice, and Cassette Decks 74 74

szczys writes Martin Maly rode the wave of computer evolution in the 1980's while living in the former Czechoslovak Republic. Computers themselves were hard to come by, peripherals were even more rare and so enthusiasts of the time hacked their own, like dot-matrix printers and computer mice. If your build was impressive enough, the government would adopt it and begin manufacturing the design somewhat widely. Was your first computer mouse built into a plastic spice container? We covered what the personal computer revolution was like in Eastern Bloc countries back in December.

NBC Thinks Connected Gloves and "Bullet Time" Can Make Boxing Cool 169 169

New submitter Lashdots writes with this excerpt from a piece at Fast Company about what may be the future of boxing, at least from the perspective of television audiences. "Right now, millennials turn boxing on and they're like, 'Who's winning? I don't get this,'" said Anthony Bailey. The chief technology officer of NBC's Premier Boxing Champions was watching a pair of fighters spar—each wearing sensor-equipped boxing gloves—in preparation for this weekend's fight, the first to be broadcast on NBC's primetime slot (8:30 pm EST) in 30 years. "These guys are real athletes. It's not just two guys going out in the ring trying to beat the crap out of each other. It's two guys that actually have strategy. They're actually thinking."

In a makeshift television studio here last month, Bailey, a team of engineers, and some of boxing's heaviest hitters were working to make that thinking a little more visible—in HD, with video-game-like graphics and Matrix-like camera angles. It's one part of an ambitious multimillion-dollar effort by NBC and some of boxing's biggest names to gain an edge against popular competitors like mixed martial arts, and to draw in younger, more casual audiences who may never have thought about watching before.

Silicon Valley Security Experts Give 'Blackhat' a Thumbs-Up; Do You? 98 98 writes Cade Metz writes that last week Parisa Tabriz, head of Google's Chrome security team, helped arrange an early screening of Michael Mann's Blackhat in San Francisco for 200-odd security specialists from Google, Facebook, Apple, Tesla, Twitter, Square, Cisco, and other parts of Silicon Valley's close-knit security community, and their response to the film was shockingly positive. "Judging from the screening Q&A—and the pointed ways this audience reacted during the screening—you could certainly argue Blackhat is the best hacking movie ever made," writes Metz. "Many info-sec specialists will tell you how much they like Sneakers—the 1992 film with Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Dan Ackroyd, Ben Kingsley, and River Phoenix—but few films have so closely hewed to info-sec reality as Mann's new movie, fashioned in his characteristic pseudo-documentary style." "Unlike others, this is a film about a real person, not a stereotype—a real guy with real problems thrust into a real situation," says Mark Abene. "The technology—and the disasters—in the film were real, or at least plausible.

Director Michael Mann worked closely with Kevin Poulsen in researching, writing, and shooting the film. Like Hemsworth's character, Poulsen spent time in prison for his hacking exploits, and Mann says his input was invaluable. "It's the first crime-thriller to hinge so heavily on hacking without becoming silly." says Poulson. "We put a lot of work into finding plausible ways that malware and hosting arrangements and all these other things could be used to advance the plot and all of that I think turned out pretty nice."
I'm a fan of Michael Mann, and the previews I've seen of Blackhat make it look at least like a passable thriller. For anyone who's seen the film already, what did you think?

Text Editor Created In Minecraft 114 114

jones_supa writes: The redstone mechanics in Minecraft can be pushed surprisingly far to create rather advanced digital circuits. Thanks to a user nicknamed Koala_Steamed, there now exists a text editor inside the game (YouTube demonstration). It comes with a 5 x 10 character matrix in which each character uses a starburst (16-segment) display. There are 7.357 x 10^92 different combinations the screen can show, all of which can be controlled from a single line. The scale of the workings used to make this piece of logic, using only redstone, is dauntingly huge.

Researchers Accidentally Discover How To Turn Off Skin Aging Gene 175 175

BarbaraHudson sends this excerpt from The Province: While exploring the effects of the protein-degrading enzyme Granzyme B on blood vessels during heart attacks, professor David Granville and other researchers at the University of British Columbia couldn't help noticing that mice engineered to lack the enzyme had beautiful skin at the end of the experiment, while normal mice showed signs of age. The discovery pushed Granville's research in an unexpected new direction.

The researchers built a mechanized rodent tanning salon and exposed mice engineered to lack the enzyme and normal mice to UV light three times a week for 20 weeks, enough to cause redness, but not to burn. At the end of the experiment, the engineered mice still had smooth, unblemished skin, while the normal mice were deeply wrinkled.

Granzyme B breaks down proteins and interferes with the organization and the integrity of collagen, dismantling the scaffolding — or extra-cellular matrix — that cells bind to. This causes structural weakness, leading to wrinkles. Sunlight appears to increase levels of the enzyme and accelerate its damaging effects.

AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us 417 417

An anonymous reader writes: Oren Etzioni has been an artificial intelligence researcher for over 20 years, and he's currently CEO of the Allen Institute for AI. When he heard the dire warnings recently from both Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, he decided it's time to have an intelligent discussion about AI. He says, "The popular dystopian vision of AI is wrong for one simple reason: it equates intelligence with autonomy. That is, it assumes a smart computer will create its own goals, and have its own will, and will use its faster processing abilities and deep databases to beat humans at their own game. ... To say that AI will start doing what it wants for its own purposes is like saying a calculator will start making its own calculations." Etzioni adds, "If unjustified fears lead us to constrain AI, we could lose out on advances that could greatly benefit humanity — and even save lives. Allowing fear to guide us is not intelligent."

Celebrated Russian Hacker Now In Exile 130 130

An anonymous reader writes: VKontakte is a Russian social network, more popular there than even Facebook. Its founder, Pavel Durov, was a celebrity for his entrepreneurial skills, much like Mark Zuckerberg elsewhere. But as Russia has cracked down on internet freedoms, 30-year-old Durov had to relinquish control of the social network. He eventually fled the country when the government pressured him to release data on Ukrainian protest leaders. He's now a sort of roving hacker, showing up where he's welcome and not staying too long. "Mr. Durov, known for his subversive wit and an all-black wardrobe that evokes Neo from the Matrix movies, is now a little-seen nomad, moving from country to country every few weeks with a small band of computer programmers. One day he is in Paris, another in Singapore." Durov said, "I'm very happy right now without any property anywhere. I consider myself a legal citizen of the world."

The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google 205 205 writes Jim Edwards writes at Business Insider that Google is so large and has such a massive need for talent that if you have the right skills, Google is really enthusiastic to hear from you — especially if you know how to use MatLab, a fourth-generation programming language that allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages, including C, C++, Java, Fortran and Python. The key is that data is produced visually or graphically, rather than in a spreadsheet. According to Jonathan Rosenberg , Google's former senior vice president for product management, being a master of statistics is probably your best way into Google right now and if you want to work at Google, make sure you can use MatLab. Big data — how to create it, manipulate it, and put it to good use — is one of those areas in which Google is really enthusiastic about. The sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. When every business has free and ubiquitous data, the ability to understand it and extract value from it becomes the complimentary scarce factor. It leads to intelligence, and the intelligent business is the successful business, regardless of its size. Rosenberg says that "my quote about statistics that I didn't use but often do is, 'Data is the sword of the 21st century, those who wield it the samurai.'"

Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation 173 173

An anonymous reader writes Google has been testing its autonomous vehicles on U.S. roads for a while now. In fact, they're required to, by law. "California's regulations stipulate autonomous vehicles must be tested under "controlled conditions" that mimic real-world driving as closely as possible. Usually, that has meant a private test track or temporarily closed public road." It's easy enough to test a few prototypes, but whenever autonomous cars start being produced by manufacturers, it'll become a lot more complicated. Now, Google is lobbying to change that law to allow testing via computer simulation. Safety director Ron Medford said, "Computer simulations are actually more valuable, as they allow manufacturers to test their software under far more conditions and stresses than could possibly be achieved on a test track." Google spokeswoman Katelin Jabbari said, "In a few hours, we can test thousands upon thousands of scenarios which in terms of driving all over again might take decades." Shee adds that simulator data can also easily provide information on how human behavior creeps into driving. "It's not just about the physics of avoiding a crash. It's also about the emotional expectation of passengers and other drivers." For example, when one of Google's computer-controlled cars is cut off, the software brakes harder than it needs to, because this makes the passengers feel safer. Critics say relying heavily on simulation data is flawed because it doesn't take into account how other cars react to the computer's driving.

New Process Promises Ammonia From Air, Water, and Sunlight 117 117

The synthesis of ammonia is one of the globe's most significant industrial applications of chemistry. PhysOrg reports the publication in the August issue of Science (sadly, article is paywalled) the description of a low-energy process to syntheize ammonia for fertilizer using just air, water, and sunlight, by zapping with electricity water bubbling through a matrix of iron oxide, and sodium and potassium hyroxide. Electricity isn't free, though — "Low energy" in this case means two-thirds the energy cost of the long-in-use Haber-Bosch process. Researcher Stuart Licht is getting some of the energy to run this reaction from a high-efficiency solar cell he's created, which creates hydrogen as a byproduct. Along with the elimination of the need to produce hydrogen from natural gas, the overall emissions are reduced quite significantly. The whole process also takes place at milder conditions, not requiring 450C and 200 times atmospheric pressure as the Haber-Bosch process does. ... But even with Licht's method, [University of Bristol electrochemistry professor David] Fermin points out that we are far away from being able to replicate nature's efficiency at converting nitrogen from the air to useful chemicals, which is done by nitrogen-fixing bacteria. "What is truly remarkable is that nature does it incredibly efficiently at low-temperature," Fermin added. And yet, if something more efficient can replace the Haber-Bosch process, it would lower the energy input of the production of one of the worlds most important chemicals and lead to a notable reduction in global CO2 emissions.

The Oculus Rift DK2: In-Depth Review (and Comparison To DK1) 54 54

Benz145 (1869518) writes "The hotly anticipated Oculus Rift DK2 has begun arriving at doorsteps. The DK2s enhancements include optical positional tracking and a higher resolution panel, up from 1280×800 to 1920×1080 (1080p) and moved to a pentile-matrix OLED panel for display duties. This means higher levels of resolvable detail and a much reduced screen door effect. The panel features low persistence of vision, a technology pioneered by Valve that aims to cut motion artefacts by only displaying the latest, most correct display information relative to the user's movements – as users of the DK1 will attest, its LCD panel was heavily prone to smearing, things are now much improved with the DK2."
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: What Inspired You To Start Hacking? 153 153

An anonymous reader writes "What got you into hacking? This is a question that Jennifer Steffen, IOActive CEO, often asks hackers she meets on conferences around the world. More often than not, the answer is movies: War Games, Hackers, The Matrix, and so on. But today, it is the real life hacking that is inspiring the movies of tomorrow. 'Hackers are doing epic stuff,' she says, and they are now inspiring movies and comics. So, what got you started? And what makes a good hacker today?"

Anti-Surveillance Mask Lets You Pass As Someone Else 196 196

SonicSpike (242293) points out this article about a mask that can foil surveillance cameras and provide fuel for nightmares. "If the world starts looking like a scene from Matrix 3 where everyone has Agent Smith's face, you can thank Leo Selvaggio. His rubber mask aimed at foiling surveillance cameras features his visage, and if he has his way, plenty of people will be sporting the Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic in public. It's one of three products made by the Chicago-based artist's URME Surveillance, a venture dedicated to 'protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.' 'Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub,' reads the URME (pronounced U R Me) site. 'We don't believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn't have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.'"
The Media

DreamWorks Animation CEO: Movie Downloads Will Move To Pay-By-Screen-Size 347 347

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Jeffrey Katzenberg, the head of Dreamworks Animation, speaking at the Milken Global Conference in California, opined that the future pricing model for movie downloads will revolve around screen size. In his view, larger screens will incur larger download prices. As he says, 'It will reinvent the enterprise of movies.' Unclear is how physical dimensions, rather than just resolution matrix, will be determined. Will we soon be saying 'hello' to screen spoofing?" Can you fake the physical dimensions reported in the EDID block when the connection is using HDCP? Aside from the implication that this would mean more DRM (and seems pretty unworkable, but with the rise of locked bootloaders on even x86 hardware...), the prices he predicts seem alright: "A movie screen will be $15. A 75-inch TV will be $4. A smartphone will be $1.99."

Ties of the Matrix: An Exercise in Combinatorics 51 51

mikejuk (1801200) writes "The Matrix Reloaded started something when 'The Merovingian' wore a number of very flashy ties. The problem was that we thought we knew how many ways you can tie a tie. The number of ways had been enumerated in 2001 and the answer was that there were exactly 85 different ways but the enumeration didn't include the Matrix way of doing it. So how many "Merovingian" knots are there? The question is answered in a new paper, More ties than we thought [PDf], by Dan Hirsch, Meredith L. Patterson, Anders Sandberg and Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson. The methodology is based on the original enumeration and an interesting application of language theory. The idea is to create a programming language for tying ties and then work out how many programs there are. For single depth tucks there are 177,147 different sequences and hence knots. Of these there are 2046 winding patterns that take up to 11 moves, the same as the The Merovingian knot and other popular knots, and so these are probably practical with a normal length necktie."

Mathematician Gives Tips On How To Win $1 Billion On NCAA Basketball 76 76

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jake Simpson reports at The Atlantic that Mathematician Tim Chartier, a Davidson College professor who specializes in ranking methods, teaches a math-heavy form of bracketology — the science of predicting the annual NCAA college basketball tournament at Davidson College in North Carolina. Chartier's academic research is in ranking methods where he looks at things like the page-ranking algorithms of Google. 'In 2009, my collaborator Amy Langville said: "You know what? ESPN has this huge online bracket tournament. Let's create brackets with our ranking methods, just to see if it's creating meaningful information."' Chartier's formula, an evolving code-based matrix that ranks each of the 68 tournament teams, has helped several Davidson students score in the 96th percentile (or higher) in ESPN's bracket challenge and this year, Chartier's goal is to help someone win the $1 billion prize offered by Warren Buffett to anyone who correctly predicts all 63 games of the men's tournament.

Chartier uses two methods. One is the Colley Method, named after astrophysicist Wesley Colley who developed a method used by the BCS for college football (PDF). His basketball method only counts wins and losses, not margin of victory. The other method is the Massey method created by sports statistician Kenneth Massey (PDF), which does integrate scores. Chartier has not been banned from any office pools — at least none that he knows of. But as a result of coming pretty darn close to filling out a perfect bracket just by crunching the numbers, brackets have become a labor of love. 'Now that the brackets are actually out, I've had students in and out of my office all week, sharing new ideas,' says Chartier. 'For me, that's more fun than filling out a bracket. They will all be filling out brackets, so it's like I'm doing parallel processing. I know what might work, but watching them figure out the odds, is a thrill.'"