Volt owners will be able to brag about their mileage more easily now thanks to OnStar. "GM rushed work on a new API to get a popular Volt owner site back on road. You probably don't think of your car as a developer platform, but Mike Rosack did. A few days after buying his Chevy Volt, Rosack started slowly mining his driving data. But he eventually revved up his efforts and created a community platform for drivers to track their own efficiency. Today more than 1,800 Volt owners compare stats with each other, jockeying for position on Rosack's Volt Stats leader board."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
First time accepted submitter ASDFnz writes "The reward for successfully completing a block (also called mining) is about to halve from 50 bitcoins to 25. From the article: 'Bitcoin is built so that this reward is halved every 210,000 blocks solved. The idea is as bitcoin grows the transaction fees become the main part of the reward and the introduction of new bitcoins slows down to a trickle. This also means that there will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoins in circulation.' You can watch the countdown here."
An anonymous reader writes "Following the news that Minecraft has been ported to the Raspberry Pi, Mojang has announced a new augmented reality iOS app. The app uses your iOS device's camera to track your surroundings before projecting creations onto the landscape. Not only can you see the results on your screen, but you can change their size as you please, and also walk around them to view from different angles."
A study has found that a decreased pH level in the antarctic is damaging the shells of native wildlife. "Marine snails in seas around Antarctica are being affected by ocean acidification, scientists have found. An international team of researchers found that the snails' shells are being corroded. Experts says the findings are significant for predicting the future impact of ocean acidification on marine life. The results of the study are published in the journal Nature Geoscience (abstract). The marine snails, called "pteropods", are an important link in the oceanic food chain as well as a good indicator of ecosystem health. 'They are a major grazer of phytoplankton and... a key prey item of a number of higher predators - larger plankton, fish, seabirds, whales,' said Dr Geraint Tarling, Head of Ocean Ecosystems at the British Antarctic Survey and co-author of the report."
SternisheFan writes "The structure of the universe and the laws that govern its growth may be more similar than previously thought to the structure and growth of the human brain and other complex networks, such as the Internet or a social network of trust relationships between people, according to a new study. 'By no means do we claim that the universe is a global brain or a computer,' said Dmitri Krioukov, co-author of the paper, published by the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), based at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego.'But the discovered equivalence between the growth of the universe and complex networks strongly suggests that unexpectedly similar laws govern the dynamics of these very different complex systems,' Krioukov noted."
First time accepted submitter Vorknkx writes "I work in a small ISP. Most of our customers have cable modems but some of them are using Canopy or Ubiquity products. To manage all that, we're using a number of programs and solutions not necessarily made for such a task that are kept up to date simply using copy and paste. We have an Access database for all our internet customers, an Excel document for our wireless users, The Dude to monitor every user and a custom-made web application to monitor traffic. Needless to say, we're starting to hit the limit and juggling between all these programs is a complete pain. Is there some kind of all-in-one solution that would allow us to eliminate all the copy and paste while keeping the same functionality?"
An anonymous reader writes "We've heard this one before, over and over again: pirates are the biggest spenders. It therefore shouldn't surprise too many people to learn that shutting down Megaupload earlier this year had a negative effect on box office revenues. The latest finding comes from a paper titled: 'Piracy and Movie Revenues: Evidence from Megaupload.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "The Orlando Sentinel reports that a google search was made for the term 'foolproof suffocation' on the Anthony family's computer the day Casey Anthony's 2-year-old daughter Caylee was last seen alive by her family — a search that did not surface at Casey Anthony's trial for first degree murder. In the notorious 31 days which followed, Casey Anthony repeatedly lied about her and her daughter's whereabouts and at Anthony's trial, her defense attorney argued that her daughter drowned accidentally in the family's pool. Anthony was acquitted on all major charges in her daughter's death, including murder. Though computer searches were a key issue at Anthony's murder trial, the term 'foolproof suffocation' never came up. 'Our investigation reveals the person most likely at the computer was Casey Anthony,' says investigative reporter Tony Pipitone. Lead sheriff's Investigator Yuri Melich sent prosecutors a spreadsheet that contained less than 2 percent of the computer's Internet activity that day and included only Internet data from the computer's Internet Explorer browser – one Casey Anthony apparently stopped using months earlier — and failed to list 1,247 entries recorded on the Mozilla Firefox browser that day — including the search for 'foolproof suffocation.' Prosecutor Jeff Ashton said in a statement to WKMG that it's 'a shame we didn't have it. (It would have) put the accidental death claim in serious question.'"
theodp writes "The press has been filled with wide-eyed articles about how Obama's tech team pulled out the stops in their race against the Republicans. But as exciting as some of the new techniques dreamed up may be, Tom Steinberg points out it's important to reflect on the difference between choosing to use tech skills to win a particular fight, versus trying to improve the workings of the democratic system, or helping people to self-organize and take some control of their own lives. 'I am still filled with an excitement about the prospects for non-partisan technologies that I can't muster for even the coolest uses of randomized control trial-driven political messaging,' writes Steinberg. 'The reason why all comes down to the fact that major partisan digital campaigns change the world, but they don't do it in the way that services like eBay, TripAdvisor and Match.com do. What all these sites have in common – helping people sell stuff they own, find a hotel, or a life partner – is that they represent a positive change in the lives of millions of people that is not directly opposed by a counter-shift.'"
cylonlover writes "OK, first things first – stop picturing a car with solar panels connected to its engine. What Missouri-based inventors Matt Bellue and Ben Cooper are working on is something a little different than that. They want to take an internal combustion engine, and run it on water and solar-heated oil instead of gasoline. That engine could then be hooked up to a generator, to provide clean electricity. While that may sound a little iffy to some, Bellue and Cooper have already built a small-scale prototype."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Hill: "The past week's violence in Gaza has rekindled calls for Twitter to shutter the accounts of U.S.-labeled terror groups such as Hamas. Seven House Republicans asked the FBI in September to demand that Twitter take down the accounts of U.S.-designated terrorist groups, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Somalia's al Shabaab. The letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller was spearheaded by Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), who said Wednesday that the recent events vindicated the request. 'Allowing foreign terrorist organizations like Hamas to operate on Twitter is enabling the enemy,' [Poe said] 'Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilize in their War on Israel.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Game designer Tadhg Kelly has an article discussing the direction the games industry has taken over the past several years. Gaming has become more of a business, and in doing so, become more of a science as well. When maximizing revenue is a primary concern, development studios try to reduce successful game designs to individual elements, then naively seek to add those elements to whatever game they're working on, like throwing spices into a stew. Kelly points out that indie developers who are willing to experiment often succeed because they understand something more fundamental about games: fun. Quoting: 'The guy who invented Minecraft (Markus "Notch" Persson) didn't just create a giant virtual world in which you could make stuff, he made it challenging. When Will Wright created the Sims, he didn't just make a game about living in a virtual house. He made it difficult to live successfully. That's why both of those franchises have sold millions of copies. The fun factor is about more than making a game is amusing or full of pretty rewards. If your game is a dynamic system to be mastered and won, then you can go nuts. If you can give the player real fun then you can afford to break some of those format rules, and that's how you get to lead rather than follow the market. If not then be prepared to pay through the nose to acquire and retain players.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Vaccines, contrary to opinions from the anti-science crowd, are some of the most effective tools in modern medicine. For some diseases, a single shot is all it takes for lifetime immunity. Others, though, require booster shots, to remind your immune system exactly what it should prepare to fight. Failure to get these shots threatens an individual's health, and the herd immunity concept as well. Scientists are now looking into 'self-boosting' vaccines in order to fix that problem. Some viruses are capable of remaining in the body for a person's entire lifetime. If researchers can figure out a way to safely harness these, it may be possible to add genes that would create proteins to train the immune system against not just one, but multiple other viruses (abstract). This is a difficult problem to solve; changing the way we do vaccinations will itself have consequences for herd immunity. It also hinges on finding a virus that can survive the immune system without having uncomfortable flare-ups from time to time."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "Advances in an artificial intelligence technology that can recognize patterns offer the possibility of machines that perform human activities like seeing, listening and thinking. ... But what is new in recent months is the growing speed and accuracy of deep-learning programs, often called artificial neural networks or just 'neural nets' for their resemblance to the neural connections in the brain. 'There has been a number of stunning new results with deep-learning methods,' said Yann LeCun, a computer scientist at New York University who did pioneering research in handwriting recognition at Bell Laboratories. 'The kind of jump we are seeing in the accuracy of these systems is very rare indeed.' Artificial intelligence researchers are acutely aware of the dangers of being overly optimistic. ... But recent achievements have impressed a wide spectrum of computer experts. In October, for example, a team of graduate students studying with the University of Toronto computer scientist Geoffrey E. Hinton won the top prize in a contest sponsored by Merck to design software to help find molecules that might lead to new drugs. From a data set describing the chemical structure of 15 different molecules, they used deep-learning software to determine which molecule was most likely to be an effective drug agent."
An anonymous reader writes "The amusing 'but does it run Crysis?' question has a cousin: 'but does it run Minecraft?' The makers of Raspberry Pi can now officially say that yes, yes it does. Called Minecraft: Pi Edition, the latest flavor of the popular game carries 'a revised feature set' and 'support for several programming languages,' so you can code directly into Minecraft before or after you start playing. That means you can build structures in the traditional Minecraft way, but you can also break open the code and use a programming language to manipulate things in the game world."