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Businesses

Can Tech Workers Skip The Olympics As Easily As Athletes? (networkworld.com) 93

netbuzz writes: [Network World reports:] "Golfer Jordan Spieth announced this morning that he will not play in the Olympics, citing Zika, meaning the world's top four players in his sport have now opted out of going to Brazil. They're self-employed and answer to no one. But what of the rank-and-file employees who work for major technology companies sending large contingents to Brazil? Are they being asked -- or compelled -- to ignore the risks? Conversely, could women of child-bearing age be denied the opportunity to go at an employer's discretion?" Major vendors like Cisco and GE say they're not making anyone go, though at least one expert says that doing so wouldn't necessarily be a violation of employment law. When asked if anyone declined to go, a Cisco spokesperson said via email: "We're not in a position to confirm whether employees have opted out (that is between them and their manager), but we provide for that option." GE provided a similar response, saying, "No GE employees have opted out of going, but GE employees are free to opt out at any time." Patricia Pryor, an attorney at Jackson Lewis P.C. in Cincinnati who has addressed these issues in a piece for The National Law Review earlier this year, was asked by Network World as well. She says: "Employers are wise to be flexible with travel requirements to Zika-infested areas when they can and when doing so is reasonable. However, there are some jobs where the purpose of the job/or the essential functions of the job require travel to these areas. If it is not reasonable or possible to delay travel to the area, an employer generally can require employees to travel."
Patents

Patent Troll VirnetX Wants To Ban FaceTime and iMessage, Increase Damages Award By $190M (9to5mac.com) 94

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, patent troll VirnetX won a court battle with Apple to the tune of $625 million. Now, the company wants to increase the damages award by $190 million. Law360 reports: "At a post-trial hearing Wednesday, Texas technology company VirnetX argued that although an injunction blocking Apple's popular video chatting and messaging features, along with a virtual private network on demand feature, may seem like a harsh remedy, it is necessary because of the irreparable harm Apple's infringement caused the company. VirnetX also asked the court to increase the jury's damages award by at least $190 million, arguing that Apple has been the 'poster child' for unreasonable litigation tactics." VirnetX also wants the court to block FaceTime and iMessage entirely. "Meanwhile, Apple argued that in light of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decisions rejecting the four patents-in-suit, an injunction would be inappropriate, as would any ongoing royalty based on FaceTime, iMessage and virtual private network on demand features. The tech giant also sought a mistrial based on a purportedly inappropriate argument to the jury and argued that the company is entitled to a judgment of non infringement, despite the jury verdict, based on VirnetX's allegedly insufficient evidence," reports Law360.
Microsoft

Microsoft Awards Grants To Deliver Affordable Internet Access (cnet.com) 25

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Microsoft said Tuesday it had awarded grants to 12 businesses as part of the company's Affordable Access Initiative, part of the software giant's effort to encourage low-cost Internet around the world. Grant recipients include businesses from Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the UK and the US. In addition to financial support, each company will have access to Microsoft resources, software and services to help them develop their technology. "With more than half of the world's population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving," Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, said in a press release. "By using technology that's available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come." Google and Facebook are also working on bringing affordable Internet access around the world. Google has plans to broadcast Internet from hot air balloons via Project Loon, while Facebook plans to beam Internet down to earth from drones.
Network

DARPA Extreme DDOS Project Transforming Network Attack Mitigation (networkworld.com) 21

coondoggie quotes a report from Networkworld: Researchers with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have quickly moved to alter the way the military, public and private enterprises protect their networks from high-and low-speed distributed denial-of-service attacks with a program called Extreme DDoS Defense (XD3). The agency has since September awarded seven XD3 multi-million contracts to Georgia Tech, George Mason University, Invincea Labs, Raytheon BBN, Vencore Labs (two contracts) and this week to the University of Pennsylvania to radically alter DDOS defenses. One more contract is expected under the program. [DARPA says the XD3 program looks to develop technologies that: Thwart DDos attacks by dispersing cyber assets (physically and/or logically) to complicate adversarial targeting, disguise the characteristics and behaviors of those assets to confuse or deceive the adversary, blunt the effects of attacks that succeed in penetrating other defensive measures by using adaptive mitigation techniques on endpoints such as mission-critical servers.]
Earth

Harvard Scientist: Rio Olympics Could Spark 'Full Blown Global Health Disaster' (independent.co.uk) 147

An anonymous reader writes: Doctors have warned that the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro could spark a "full-blown public health disaster" with the spread of the Zika virus. The World Health Organization has declared a health emergency in response to the disease's spread through Latin America. Rio has the highest number of cases of any state in the country. Dr Amir Attaran said in the Harvard Public Health Review the Olympic Games could increase the spread of the virus, suggesting the Games should be hosted by a different city in Brazil. "While Brazil's Zika inevitably will spread globally, given enough time, viruses always do -- it helps nobody to speed that up," he said. "In particular, it cannot possibly help when an estimated 500,000 foreign tourists flock into Rio for the Games, potentially becoming infected, and returning to their homes where both local Aedes mosquitoes and sexual transmission can establish new outbreaks." It's highly unlikely the virus will cause officials to take drastic action since the Games start on August 5th. With economic and political issues in the country, the Zika virus is just one more thing undermining confidence in the country's ability to host the Olympics. It was reported earlier this year that Rio has given up on its promise to eliminate 80 percent of the sewage found in the city's notoriously filthy water.
Books

2016 Hugo Awards Shortlist Dominated By Rightwing Campaign (theguardian.com) 702

Dave Knott quotes a report from The Guardian: The annual Hugo awards for the best science fiction of the year have once again been riven by controversy, as a concerted campaign by a conservative lobby has dominated the ballot. The Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies movements, which both separately campaign against a perceived bias towards liberal and leftwing science-fiction and fantasy authors, have managed to get the majority of their preferred nominations on to the final ballot, announced today. Since 2013, the Puppies factions have posted recommendations of works to combat the Hugo tendency to reward works that leaders of the movement deem "niche, academic, overtly to the left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun." The Rabid Puppies has been successful in getting its nominations on the shortlist again this year; out of 80 recommendations, 62 have received sufficient votes to make the ballot. At MidAmeriCon II this year, it was announced that more than 4,000 nominating ballots were cast for the 2016 Hugo awards, almost double the previous record of 2,122 ballots. This news was initially greeted with cautious optimism, but the shortlist shows that the Puppies and their supporters have redoubled their efforts to "game" the awards. The shortlist will be voted upon and the winners revealed at the forthcoming Worldcon in Kansas in August.
Japan

Japan To Begin Testing Fingerprints As 'Currency' (the-japan-news.com) 106

schwit1 quotes a report from The Japan News: Starting this summer, the government will test a system in which foreign tourists will be able to verify their identities and buy things at stores using only their fingerprints. The government hopes to increase the number of foreign tourists by using the system to prevent crime and relieve users from the necessity of carrying cash or credit cards. It aims to realize the system by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The experiment will have inbound tourists register their fingerprints and other data, such as credit card information, at airports and elsewhere. Tourists would then be able to conduct tax exemption procedures and make purchases after verifying their identities by placing two fingers on special devices installed at stores. The Inns and Hotels Law requires foreign tourists to show their passports when they check into ryokan inns or hotels. The government plans to substitute fingerprint authentication for that requirement.
PlayStation (Games)

Fallout 4 Wins Best Game At Bafta Awards (bbc.com) 120

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Fallout 4 has won the best game of the year at 2016's British Academy Games Awards. It marks the first time its US-based developer Bethesda has won the prize. It did not win in any other category. Fallout 4 is an action-focused role-playing game set in Boston following a nuclear war. It contains hundreds of hours of storyline to explore. Like last year's winner -- Destiny -- it had not won a prize in any of the other categories before taking the top award. The studio's European managing director said he had not expected the result, and recalled that although Fallout is now one of gaming's biggest franchises, it too started out small. "You don't have to have the multi-million dollar budgets to make great games -- I've seen a huge amount of evidence for that tonight," said Sean Brennan.
Open Source

Slashdot Asks: The Beanies Return; Who Deserves Recognition for 2014? 299

It's been a long time since Slashdot has awarded the Beanies -- nearly 15 years, in fact. But there's no time like the present, especially since tomorrow edges on the new year, and in early 2015 we'd like to offer a Beanie once again, to recognize and honor your favorite person, people (or project; keep reading) of the past year. Rather than a fine-grained list of categories like in 2000, though, this time around we're keeping it simple: we can always complicate things later, if warranted. So, please nominate below whoever you think most deserves kudos for the last twelve months. Is it ...

Read on below to see how you can take part, and then nominate your favorite in the comments below.

Sci-Fi

The 2014 Hugo Awards 180

Dave Knott writes: WorldCon 2014 wrapped up in London this last weekend and this year's Hugo Award winners were announced. Notable award winners include:

Best Novel: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
Best Novelette: "The Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal
Best Novella: "Equoid" by Charles Stross
Best Short Story: "The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere" by John Chu
Best Graphic Story: "Time" by Randall Munroe
Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Gravity written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón, directed by Alfonso Cuarón
Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Game of Thrones: "The Rains of Castamere" written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, directed by David Nutter

The results of this year's awards were awaited with some some trepidation in the SF community, due to well-documented attempts by some controversial authors to game the voting system. These tactics appear to have been largely unsuccessful, as this is the fourth major award for the Leckie novel, which had already won the 2013 BSFA, 2013 Nebula and 2014 Clarke awards.
Sci-Fi

John Scalzi's Redshirts Wins Hugo Award for Best Novel 112

The Hugo awards were presented last night, providing recognition to the best science fiction of the past year. The award for Best Novel was presented to John Scalzi for Redshirts, a comedic work playing on the trope of low-ranking officers frequently getting themselves killed in sci-fi works. Best Novella went to Brandon Sanderson for The Emperor's Soul, and Best Novelette went to The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Cadigan. Best Graphic Story was awarded to the creators of Saga. Best Dramatic Presentation (long form) was given for Joss Whedon's The Avengers movie, and (short form) was presented for the "Blackwater" episode of the Game of Thrones TV show. The Best New Writer was Mur Lafferty. Here's a full list of the nominees and winners.
Encryption

MIT Crypto Experts Win 2012 Turing Award 32

alphadogg writes "A pair of MIT professors and security researchers whose work paved the way for modern cryptography have been named winners of the 2012 A.M. Turing Award, also known as the 'Nobel Prize in Computing.' Shafi Goldwasser, the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and Silvio Micali, the MIT Ford Professor of Engineering, are recipients of the award, which will be formally presented by the Association for Computing Machinery on June 15 in San Francisco. According to the ACM: 'By formalizing the concept that cryptographic security had to be computational rather than absolute, they created mathematical structures that turned cryptography from an art into a science.' Goldwasser and Micali will split a $250K prize."
Transportation

Tesla Model S Named 'Car of the Year' 303

SternisheFan writes with news that Automobile Magazine has named the all-electric Tesla Model S its Car of the Year. Quoting: "We weren't expecting much from the Tesla other than some interesting dinner conversation as we considered 'real' candidates like the Subaru BRZ and the Porsche Boxster. In fact, the Tesla blew them, and us, away. Actually, the Model S can blow away almost anything. 'It's the performance that won us over,' admits editor-in-chief Jean Jennings. 'The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses.' Our Model S was of Signature Performance spec, which means its AC induction motor puts out 416 hp and that it blasts to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. ... You'll note that we haven't even discussed Tesla's raison d'etre, which is, in Musk's words, 'To accelerate the advent of electric cars.' That's another credit to the Model S's overall execution and seductive powers. 'The electric motor does not define this car,' says Nelson. But it is, at the end of the day, what makes this very good sport sedan an absolute game changer. The Model S's range, rated by the EPA at 265 miles with the largest battery, finally fits the American conception of driving."
Sci-Fi

Hugo Awards Live Stream Cut By Copyright Enforcement Bot 393

New submitter Penmanpro writes news of the Hugo Awards stream being unintentionally cut off by some AI gone awry: "Quotes from the linked article 'UStream's incorrectly programmed copyright enforcement squad had destroyed our only access.' 'Just as Neil Gaiman was giving an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, "The Doctor's Wife." Where Gaiman's face had been were the words, "Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement."'"
Books

Among Others Wins Hugo For Best Novel 115

The 2012 Hugo Award ceremony has completed at Chicon 7, and Among Others by Jo Walton has been given the award for Best Novel. The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson won for Best Novella, and The Paper Menagerie won for Best Short Story. Doctor Who had three nominations for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), and ended up taking home the award for the episode "The Doctor's Wife," which was written by Neil Gaiman and directed by Richard Clark. Season 1 of Game of Thrones won Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form), edging out Hugo and Captain America. Ursula Vernon was awarded the Best Graphic Story Hugo for Digger. See below for the full list of winners.
Science

Scientists Inducted Into Chemistry "Hall of Fame" 35

First time accepted submitter ACXNew writes "The scientists behind three inventions that touch the lives of millions of people around the world will be inducted into a coveted scientific 'Hall of Fame' as the latest Heroes of Chemistry named by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. Established in 1996, the ACS Heroes of Chemistry program recognizes scientists whose work in various fields of chemistry and chemical engineering has led to the successful innovation and development of commercial products that benefit humankind."
The Almighty Buck

Committee Lowers Nobel Prize Award 178

Snirt writes "The Nobel Committee has chosen to lower this year's Nobel prize winnings by two million kronor ($283,030) due to turbulence in the current economic climate. The prize now stands at 8 million kronor, down from the 10 million of 2011. 'The reason behind this decision is that the financial markets are really unstable and there are reasons to suspect that this turbulence will continue for a while still,' said Lars Heikensten, head of the Nobel Committee, to the TT news agency. 'Long term, we aim to raise the figure, even though we think that the Nobel Prize's value should lie in the prize itself and not the prize money,' he said. While Heikensten admits that it was a 'tough decision' to cut the prize money, he told the news agency that it's not the first time the prize sum has been altered, adding that it has been lowered and raised several times over the past few years."
United Kingdom

Arise SIR Jonathan Ive 183

mariocki writes "Steve Jobs' go-to design man Jonathan Ive, the creator of modern computer design classics such as the iMac, MacBook Pro and iPod/iPhone/iPad, has been awarded a knighthood in the New Year's Honours list, taking him from plain old 'Mr' straight to 'Sir' in one fell swoop. This now puts him in the same league as Paul McCartney, Michael Caine, Bob Geldof and Bill Gates. Ive said 'I discovered at an early age that all I've ever wanted to do is design' and even for Apple haters his designs have done more for personal computer design than the mainstream PC manufacturers could imagine, taking the PC from the geek den into the living room of even the most painfully trendy fashionista."
Sci-Fi

The 2011 Hugo Awards 162

An anonymous reader writes "The Hugo Award is the leading prize for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy writing. Named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of Amazing Stories magazine, the awards have been given out since 1955. This year's winners were announced Saturday during the Hugo Awards Ceremony in Reno, Nevada."
Science

Why There's No Nobel Prize In Computing 229

alphadogg writes "When Nobel Prizes are dished out each fall, the most accomplished professionals in computing, telecom and IT have usually been left out in the cold. That's because there is no Nobel Prize for these fields, and it's unlikely there will be one any time soon. According to the Nobel Foundation: 'The Nobel Prizes, as designated in the Will of Alfred Nobel, are in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Only once has a prize been added — a Memorial Prize — The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, donated by Sweden's central bank to celebrate its tercentenary in 1968. The Nobel Foundation's Board of Directors later decided to keep the original five prizes intact and not to permit new additions.' So, if IBM, Google, Apple or some other deep-pocketed tech company wanted to make a big donation along the lines of what Sweden's central bank did in 1968, maybe it could sway the Nobel Foundation to add a prize. But it most likely wouldn't be officially called a Nobel Prize."

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