Bay Area Cities Consider Rideshare Tax On Uber, Lyft ( 92

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A local city council member is beginning to float the idea of taxing ridehailing companies like Uber and Lyft as a possible way to raise millions of dollars and help pay for local public transportation and infrastructure improvements. If the effort is successful, Oakland could become the first city in California -- Uber and Lyft's home state -- to impose such a tax. However, it's not clear whether Oakland or any other city in the Golden State has the authority to do so under current state rules. Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan told the East Bay Express that she wants the city council to put forward a ballot measure that would tax such rides. A similar proposal in nearby San Francisco, projecting a fee of $0.20 to $1 per ride, would allow the city to collect an estimated $12.5 to $62.5 million annually. However, an October 2017 city analysis noted that San Francisco "cannot initiate locally without state authorizing legislation" and that the fee "may disproportionately impact lower-income households."
The Matrix

Nokia's Banana Phone From The Matrix is Back ( 93

The Verge: Back in 1999, Keanu Reeves was famous for playing Neo in The Matrix, and not for looking sad on a bench. Nokia was also the "world's leading mobile phone supplier" back then, and it used this popularity to feature its Nokia 8110 "banana phone" in The Matrix film. At the time everyone who considered themselves cool (definitely me) wanted a Nokia phone just like Neo's, but most of us had to settle for the Nokia 7110 with its spring-loaded slider. Now HMD, makers of Nokia-branded phones, is bringing the Nokia 8110 back to life as a retro classic . Just like the Nokia 3310 that was a surprise hit at Mobile World Congress last year, the 8110 plays on the same level of nostalgia. The slightly curved handset has a slider that lets you answer and end calls, and HMD is creating traditional black and banana yellow versions. The Nokia 8110 runs on the Smart Feature OS, so this is a basic featurephone and you're not going to get access to the Android apps found on other Nokia Android smartphones. The Nokia 8110 will be available in May for just 79 euros ($97).

Should Apps Replace Title Bars with Header Bars? ( 362

Gnome contributor Tobias Bernard is on a crusade against title bars -- "the largely empty bars at the top of some application windows [that] contain only the window title and a close button." Instead he wants to see header bars -- "a newer, more flexible pattern that allows putting window controls and other UI elements in the same bar." Tobias Bernard writes: Header bars are client-side decorations (CSD), which means they are drawn by the app rather than the display server. This allows for better integration between application and window chrome. All GNOME apps (except for Terminal) have moved to header bars over the past few years, and so have many third-party apps. However, there are still a few holdouts.
He's announcing the CSD Initiative, "an effort to get apps (both GNOME and third-party) to drop title bars and adopt GNOME-style client-side decorations... The only way to solve this problem long-term is to patch applications upstream to not use title bars. So this is what we'll have to do."
  • Talk to the maintainers and convince them that this is a good idea
  • Do the design work of adapting the layout and make mockups
  • Figure out what is required at a technical level
  • Actually implement the new layout and get it merged

Implementation is already in progress for Firefox, though it has not yet been started for other high-priority apps like LibreOffice, GNOME Terminal, and Skype. "If you want to help with any of the above tasks," writes Tobias, "come talk to us on #gnome-design on IRC/Matrix."


Crowdfunded 'PowerWatch' Runs on Body Heat, Never Needs Charging ( 81

Engadget reports on a new watch that suggests the possibility of a future without chargers: This thermal-powered wearable doesn't need one -- it gets energy by converting your body heat into electricity. It's been a year since I saw an early prototype of the PowerWatch -- a smart(ish) watch that tracks basic fitness metrics. Now, the self-proclaimed energy-harvesting company is finally ready to ship PowerWatches to the early adopters who backed its Indiegogo campaign...

Because its functions are pretty basic and its LCD screen is relatively low-powered, it doesn't take too much electricity to keep the watch running... The PowerWatch can not only tell the time, set alarms and timers but also track your activity and sleep... Matrix co-founder Douglas Tham said the PowerWatch will keep running for up to 12 months if you don't wear it, and a PowerSave mode kicks in to conserve energy by killing non-timekeeping functions.


Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Favorite William Gibson Novel? 298

dryriver writes: When I first read William Gibson's Neuromancer and then his other novels as a young man back in the 1990s, I was blown away by Gibson's work. Everything was so fresh and out of the ordinary in his books. The writing style. The technologies. The characters and character names. The plotlines. The locations. The future world he imagined. The Matrix. It was unlike anything I had read before. A window into the far future of humanity. I had great hopes over the years that some visionary film director would take a crack at creating film versions of Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive . But that never happened. All sorts of big budget science fiction was produced for TV and the big screen since Neuromancer that never got anywhere near the brilliance of Gibson's future world. Gibson's world largely stayed on the printed page, and today very few people talk about Neuromancer, even though the world we live in, at times, appears headed in the exact direction Gibson described in his Sprawl trilogy. Why does hardly anybody talk about William Gibson anymore? His books describe a future that is much more technologically advanced than where we are in 2017, so it isn't like his future vision has become "badly dated." To get the conversation going, we rephrased dryriver's question... What is your favorite William Gibson novel?

New Battery Technology Draws Energy Directly From The Human Body ( 98

An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer: A team of eleven scientists from UCLA and the University of Connecticut has created a new energy-storing device that can draw electrical power from the human body. What researchers created is a biological supercapacitor, a protein-based battery-like device that extracts energy from the human body and then releases it inside an electrical circuit â" the implantable medical device. According to a research paper published earlier this month, the supercapacitor is made up by a device called a "harvester" that operates by using the body's heat and movements to extract electrical charges from ions found in human body fluids, such as blood, serum, or urine.

As electrodes, the harvester uses a carbon nanomaterial called graphene, layered with modified human proteins. The electrodes collect energy from the human body, relay it to the harvester, which then stores it for later use. Because graphene sheets can be drawn in sheets as thin as a few atoms, this allows for the creation of utra-thin supercapacitors that could be used as alternatives to classic batteries. For example, the bio-friendly supercapacitors researchers created are thinner than a human hair, and are also flexible, moving and twisting with the human body.

Data Storage

New 'Spray-On' Memory Could Turn Everyday Items Into Digital Storage Devices ( 38

Researchers at Duke University have developed "spray-on" digital memory using only an aerosol jet printer and nanoparticle inks. An anonymous reader quotes Duke Today: The device, which is analogous to a 4-bit flash drive, is the first fully-printed digital memory that would be suitable for practical use in simple electronics such as environmental sensors or RFID tags. And because it is jet-printed at relatively low temperatures, it could be used to build programmable electronic devices on bendable materials like paper, plastic or fabric...

The new material, made of silica-coated copper nanowires encased in a polymer matrix, encodes information not in states of charge but instead in states of resistance. By applying a small voltage, it can be switched between a state of high resistance, which stops electric current, and a state of low resistance, which allows current to flow. And, unlike silicon, the nanowires and the polymer can be dissolved in methanol, creating a liquid that can be sprayed through the nozzle of a printer.

Amazingly, its write speed is three microseconds, "rivaling the speed of flash drives." The information can be re-written many times, and the stored data can last for up to 10 years.

'The Matrix' Reboot: It's Finally Happened. Hollywood Has Run Out of All the Ideas ( 542

An anonymous reader shares a Quartz report: In our hearts, we all knew this day would come. Warner Bros. is planning a reboot of The Matrix just 18 years after the iconic sci-fi action film dazzled audiences around the world, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The Matrix films were lauded for their creativity, special effects, and distinct cyberpunk and manga influences. In total, the trilogy grossed over $1.6 billion worldwide. The Matrix will join other famous film properties -- Star Wars, Godzilla, Planet of the Apes, and Terminator among them -- receiving a recent franchise reboot or "reimagining." Others include RoboCop, Star Trek, Ghostbusters, and Jurassic Park. Meanwhile, reboots of Indiana Jones, Predator, Jumanji, and every superhero movie that's ever existed, are scheduled to hit theaters soon. And TV, for its part, is a dystopian wasteland of bland prequels to famous action movies. Hollywood relying on tentpole franchises, instead of taking risks on original ideas, is not new or surprising. But many believed that certain properties like The Matrix were off limits -- at least so soon after originally being made. It's clear now, though, that the major film studios can't afford to wait. They have no other ideas. This puts the studios in a precarious situation, because the once tried-and-true strategy of inundating cinemas with popular franchise extensions no longer looks as foolproof as it used to.

HP Is Advertising Its Real, Modern Printers on This Fake, Awkward '80s Computer Show ( 86

T.L. Stanley, writing for AdWeek: It's a fine line between effective '80s homage and clumsy retro spoof, with the latter usually involving a lot of overplayed visual gags like brick-sized cell phones and VHS tapes. Cue pointing and laughing. This new HP video, dubbed "Computer Show," hits the sweet spot perfectly with its recreation of a Reagan-era public access show about technology, but with a fish-out-of-water spin. The host is stuck in time -- stilted stage manner, goofy haircut and all -- but his guests are current-day tech pioneers. Awkward hilarity ensues. The short film, made by Giant Spoon and Sandwich Video for HP, sets up a print-off between HP's PageWide super-fast model and a dot matrix supplied by an employee of the neighborhood "Kwikopy."

More Code In Movies: Nmap Meets Snowden ( 73

After Saturday's story about the code samples in the new movie Arrival, an anonymous reader reminded us of this classic essay at For reasons unknown, Hollywood has decided that Nmap is the tool to show whenever hacking scenes are needed... While Nmap had been used in some previous obscure movies, it was The Matrix Reloaded which really turned Nmap into a movie star! has a tradition -- the first person to notify them when new Nmap appears in a new movie wins a signed copy of Nmap Network Scanning "or a T-shirt of your choice from the Zero Day Clothing Nmap Store." (The site adds that "movie script writers, artists, and digital asset managers are also welcome to email Fyodor for advice.") And just added another film, Oliver Stone's new movie about Edward Snowden. In one early scene, Snowden is given a network security challenge at a CIA training class which is expected to take 5 to 8 hours. But with the help Nmap and a custom Nmap NSE script named ptest.nse, Snowden stuns the professor by completing everything in 38 minutes!
According to the site, even the movie's trailer features Nmap. Anybody else have their own favorite stories about code in the movies?
United States

Bank of America Analysts Say There's A 50% Chance We Live In The Matrix ( 284

Bank of America analysts have suggested that there is a 20 to 50 percent chance that the world around us is a "Matrix-style virtual reality." The report stated, "It is conceivable that with advancements in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and computing power, members of future civilizations could have decided to run a simulation of their ancestors." The idea is certainly nothing new, as many influential visionaries have come to similar theories. What some may find most unusual about the report is who issued it. According to Business Insider, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America's wealth management company, sent out a briefing to investors outlining their Matrix theory. In response, Slashdot reader marmot7 writes: Personally, I'd like to see all that brain power go toward a better and more stable banking system, not toward the promoting the nihilistic and self-indulgent idea that this might be the Matrix. Don't worry that banks behave in ways that create instability, it's not real. Just relax and enjoy the ones and zeroes. I have no doubt there are good, well meaning people there. I just don't really need my bank weighing in on the mystery of reality any more than I need them to come up with a unified theory of physics at long last. Well, unless it's in their spare time then by all means.

George Takei Opposes Gay Sulu In 'Star Trek Beyond' ( 354 writes: Seth Abramovitch reports in the Hollywood Reporter that actor and LGBT activist George Takei says Paramount's plans to have Sulu's character in the upcoming 'Star Trek Beyond' the first LGBTQ lead character in Star Trek history is out of step with what creator Gene Roddenberry would have wanted. [Roddenberry] "was a strong supporter of LGBT equality," says Takei, now 79. "But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope -- and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air." Takei says he'd much prefer that Sulu stay straight. "I'm delighted that there's a gay character," says Takei. "Unfortunately, it's a twisting of Gene's creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate." The timeline logic of the new revelation is enough to befuddle even the most diehard of Trek enthusiasts, as the rebooted trilogy takes place before the action of the original series. In other words, assuming canon orthodoxy, this storyline suggest Sulu would have had to have first been gay and married, only to then go into the closet years later. Simon Pegg, who has co-written the latest Star Trek movie, as well as starring as Scotty, has responded to criticism by the actor George Takei at the film-makers' decision to make the character he used to play openly gay. "He's right, it is unfortunate, it's unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn't featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the 'gay character,' rather than simply for who they are, and isn't that tokenism?" says Pegg. "Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere."

Ask Slashdot: How Can You Manage Developers Distributed Across Multiple Projects? 112

An anonymous Slashdot reader asks whether it's possible to manage a "distributed" team of software developers in different locations who are all assigned to different projects, each with their own independent project managers: All embedded software engineers from multiple offices in different countries are now being reorganized into this new distributed team [with] better control of its own development practices, processes and tools, since everyone is working in embedded software...

While there's extensive material throughout the Internet on best practices for managing distributed teams, it seems to either take an agile perspective, the project manager's perspective or be otherwise based on the assumption that everyone in the team are working in the same project. In my case, I'd be managing a distributed team of developers all assigned to different projects. How can I build cohesion, alignment and trust for my team of embedded software developers in this new three-dimensional distributed matrix organization?

Anyone have any relevant experiences to share with distributed teams or "matrix" organizations? Leave your answers in the comments. How can you manage developers who are all distributed across multiple projects?

Huawei Prepares For Robot Overlords and Communication With the Dead ( 114

An anonymous reader shares a report on Bloomberg: Chinese technology giant Huawei is preparing for a world where people live forever, dead relatives linger on in computers and robots try to kill humans. Kevin Ho, president of its handset product line said his company used science fiction movies like "The Matrix" to envision future trends and new business ideas. "Hunger, poverty, disease or even death may not be a problem by 2035, or 25 years from now," he said. "In the future you may be able to purchase computing capacity to serve as a surrogate, to pass the baton from the physical world to the digital world." He described a future where children could use apps like WeChat (Editor's note: WeChat is a popular instant messaging app in China and other Asian markets) to interact with dead grandparents, thanks to the ability to download human consciousness into computers.For those unaware, Huawei is a major Chinese conglomerate. The company, known for its network equipment, last year got some spotlight for its Nexus 6P smartphone.
Social Networks

Stephen Fry Urges Young To Flee 'Dystopian' Social Networks 270

An anonymous reader writes: English writer, presenter and activist Stephen Fry has urged his fans to abandon social networks, comparing such platforms to 'dystopian' forms of government seen in 1970s sci-fi films such as Logan's Run and Soylent Green. In a 2,600-word essay, the comedian, who had over four million Twitter followers prior to deleting his account in February, also compared the 'surveilled conformity' of social media to the unreal state of society depicted in The Matrix. "Who most wants you to stay on the grid? The advertisers. Your boss. Human Resources. The advertisers. Your parents (irony of ironies -- once they distrusted it, now they need to tag you electronically, share your Facebook photos and message you to death). The advertisers. The government. Your local authority. Your school. Advertisers," he writes. "Well, if you're young and have an ounce of pride, doesn't that list say it all?"

Cloud Security Startup ProtectWise Creates Network DVR To Analyze Threats ( 41

MojoKid writes: A Denver-based security startup called ProtectWise has a rather interesting twist on a security as a service platform that also incorporates an innovative threat detection and management user interface. The ProtectWise security platform runs on a cloud-based infrastructure that currently utilizes Amazon AWS for storage and processing. ProtectWise is an all software solution comprised of a "Cloud Network DVR" platform made-up of virtual cameras in the cloud that record all traffic on the network. The sensors (12MB install package) record all network traffic wherever they're installed and stream it up to the ProtectWise platform where it is securely stored and the threat analysis is performed. The sensors can be configured with profiles to capture just light metadata like netflow or headers (source, destination etc.) all the way to the full payload. You can then playback the traffic from the ProtectWise cloud analytics platform, going months back if needed, and analyze the data for threats. You can go back in time and see if, where and how you've been compromised retrospectively. There's also a ProtectWise HUD that visualizes and renders network threat location and progression, allowing you to make better use of all the data recorded. It has a 'KillBox' that visually shows attack event progression across the network area. The only question has to do with compliance for financial applications since it is cloud-based. Currently, ProtectWise has 100 or so deployments of its product in the market with customers like Netflix, Hulu, Expedia, Pandora and Universal Music.

Why Sarcasm Is Such a Problem In Artificial Intelligence ( 152

An anonymous reader writes: A new paper from researchers in India and Australia, "Automatic Sarcasm Detection: A Survey," highlights one of the strangest and ironically most humorous facets of the problems in machine learning and humour. The paper outlines ten years of research efforts from groups interested in detecting sarcasm in online sources. It details the ways that academia has approached the sarcasm problem, including flagging authors and ring-fencing sarcastic data. However, the report concludes that the solution to the problem is not necessarily one of pattern recognition [PDF], but rather a more sophisticated matrix that has some ability to understand context.
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: Cheap and Fun Audio Hacks? 135

An anonymous reader writes: A few years back I discovered that even a person of limited soldering skills can create a nifty surround-sound system with the magic of a passive matrix decoder system; the results pleased me and continue to, It's certainly not a big and fancy surround system, but I recommend it highly as a project with a high ratio of satisfaction to effort. (Here's one of the many, many tutorials out there on doing it yourself; it's not the long-forgotten one I actually used, but I like this one better.) I like listening to recorded music sometimes just to hear how a particular playback system sounds, not just to hear the music "as intended." I'd like to find some more audio hacks and tricks like this that are cheap, easy, and fun. Bonus points if they can be done with the assistance of a couple of smart children, without boring them too much. I have access to Goodwill and other thrift stores that are usually overflowing with cheap-and-cheerful gear, to match my toy budget. What mods or fixes would be fun to implement? Are there brands or models of turntable I should look for as the easiest with which to tinker? Are there cool easy-entry projects akin to that surround sound system that I could use to improve my radio reception? I'm not sure what's out there, but I'd like to get some cool use out of the closet-and-a-half I've got filled with speakers and other gear that I can't quite bear to toss, since "it still works."

The Tamagochi Singularity Made Real: Infinite Tamagochi Living On the Internet ( 84

szczys writes: Everyone loves Tamagochi, the little electronic keychains spawned in the '90s that let you raise digital pets. Some time ago, XKCD made a quip about an internet-based matrix of thousands of these digital entities. That quip is now a reality thanks to elite hardware hacker Jeroen Domburg (aka Sprite_TM). In his recent talk called "The Tamagochi Singularity" at the Hackaday SuperConference he revealed that he had built an infinite network of virtual Tamagochi by implementing the original hardware as a virtual machine. This included developing AI to keep them happy, and developing a protocol to emulate their IR interactions. But he went even further, hacking an original keychain to use wirelessly as a console which can look in on any of the virtual Tamagochi living on his underground network. This full-stack process is unparalleled in just about every facet: complexity, speed of implementation, awesome factor, and will surely spark legions of other Tamagochi Matrices.

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