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Ask Slashdot: Buy Or Build a High End Gaming PC? 320

An anonymous reader writes: Looking at some Black Friday ads, I'm seeing some good deals on Alienware and other gaming rigs that would be cheaper than building them from scratch. If you built or were to build a high end gaming rig, what would you suggest? Or would you just get a prebuilt system and customize it to your needs? I'm not looking for cheap, I want best quality and performance, but not overkill that would rival supercomputers and at the same time break my bank account. It would be a Windows system to keep my family happy, but possibly dual boot with Linux to keep me happy. It will be located in the livingroom hooked up to a regular monitor and the big screen TV, replacing a budget PC that's in there now.

The First Online Purchase Was a Sting CD (Or Possibly Weed) ( 53

tedlistens writes: On August 11, 1994, 21-year-old Dan Kohn, founder of a pioneering, online commerce site, made his first web sale. His customer, a friend of his in Philadelphia, spent $12.48, plus shipping costs on Sting's CD "Ten Summoner's Tales," in a transaction protected by PGP encryption. "Even if the N.S.A. was listening in, they couldn't get his credit card number," Kohn told a New York Times reporter in an article about NetMarket the following day. According to a new short video about the history of online shopping, there were a few precedents, including a weed deal between grad students on the ARPANET and a 74-year-old British grandmother who in 1984 used a Videotex—essentially a TV connected to telephone lines—to order margarine, eggs, and cornflakes.
Hardware Hacking

Raspberry Pi Unveils New $5 Mini-computer 235

An anonymous reader writes: The Raspberry Pi Foundation unveiled the Pi Zero, a new $5 mini-computer, Thursday morning. The board is the smallest Raspberry Pi yet, containing the first-gen Raspberry Pi's BCM2835 chip (safely overclocked to 1GHz) and 512MB RAM. The latest issue of The Magpi will include a free Raspberry Pi Zero and hits U.K. newsstands Thursday. The announcement came just a few days before the highly anticipated C.H.I.P. $9 mini-computer goes on sale to the public. puddingebola writes: How can they achieve this price, you may ask? "Its 40-pin GPIO header has identical pinouts, although the pads on the circuit board are "unpopulated," meaning you'll have to solder on your own connector. The same goes for the composite video output: The connection is available, but if you need a socket, you must solder it yourself." Dude, go to Radio Shack. Some relevant specs besides those mentioned above, from the blog post linked:
  • Micro-SD card slot
  • mini-HDMI socket for 1080p60 video output
  • Micro-USB sockets for data and power
  • Identical pinout to Model A+/B+/2B
  • An unpopulated composite video header
  • "Our smallest ever form factor, at 65mm x 30mm x 5mm"

New submitter graffitiwriter adds a note that the newest Pi has "already been turned into a retro gaming console. It turns out the Pi Zero is more than capable of running Retro Pie and other emulators, and even has a video output that lets you play games on an old CRT TV."


What Is the Future of the Television? ( 232

An anonymous reader writes: Benedict Evans has an interesting post about where television hardware is headed. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the tech industry made a huge push to invade the living room, trying to make the internet mesh with traditional TV broadcasts. As we all know, their efforts failed. Now, we periodically see new waves of devices to attach to the TV, but none have been particularly ambitious. The most successful devices of the recent wave, like the Chromecast and Apple TV, are simply turning the TV into a dumb screen for streamed content. Meanwhile, consumption of all types of video content is growing on smaller screens — tablets, phones, etc. Even game consoles are starting to see their market eroded by boxes like the Steam Link, which acts as a pipe for a game being played elsewhere on a PC. It raises an intriguing question: where is the television headed? What uses and functions does one giant screen serve that can't be cleverly redistributed to smaller screens? Evans concludes, "The web's open, permissionless innovation beat the closed, top-down visions of interactive TV and the information superhighway."

Even the Dumbest Ransomware Is Almost Unremovable On Smart TVs ( 150

An anonymous reader writes: Apparently even the easiest-to-remove ransomware is painfully hard to uninstall from smart TVs, if they're running on the Android TV platform, and many are. This didn't happen in a real-world scenario (yet), and was only a PoC test by Symantec. The researcher managed to remove the ransomware only because he enabled the Android ADB tool beforehand, knowing he would infect the TV with the ransomware. "Without this option enabled, and if I was less experienced user, I'd probably still be locked out of my smart TV, making it a large and expensive paper weight," said the researcher.

How Black Friday and Cyber Monday Are Losing Their Meaning ( 138 writes: Brad Tuttle reports at Money Magazine that while the terms "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" are more ubiquitous than ever, the importance of the can't-miss shopping days is undeniably fading. Retailers seem to want it both ways: They want shoppers to spend money long before these key shopping events, and yet they also want shoppers to turn out in full force to make purchases over the epic Black Friday weekend. When they use the "Cheap Stuff!" card day after day and week after week, the deals on any single day stop seeming special. Add to that the trend of manufacturers creating stripped-down versions of their electronics to sell on Black Friday, and consumers have less reason than ever to flood retail stores.

The true story behind Black Friday is not as sunny as retailers might have you believe. Back in the 1950s, police in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the chaos that ensued on the day after Thanksgiving, when hordes of suburban shoppers and tourists flooded into the city in advance of the big Army-Navy football game held on that Saturday every year. Shoplifters would also take advantage of the bedlam in stores to make off with merchandise, adding to the law enforcement headache. Sometime in the late 1980s, however, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers. The result was the "red to black" concept of the holiday mentioned earlier, and the notion that the day after Thanksgiving marked the occasion when America's stores finally turned a profit.

The Military

Turkey Downs Allegedly Intruding Russian Fighter Near Syria Border ( 594

jones_supa writes: Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 fighter near the Syrian border on Tuesday after repeated warnings over airspace violations. Moscow said it could prove the jet had not left Syrian air space. Footage from private Turkish broadcaster Haberturk TV showed the warplane going down in flames in a woodland area. Separate footage from Turkey's Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed. A Syrian rebel group sent a video to Reuters that appeared to show one of the pilots immobile and badly wounded on the ground and an official from the group said he was dead. This is the first time a NATO member's armed forces have downed a Russian military aircraft since the 1950s. The Guardian is following the developments with live updates. Also covered by the BBC, which notes Russian aircraft have flown hundreds of sorties over northern Syria since September. Moscow says they have targeted only "terrorists", but activists say its strikes have mainly hit Western-backed rebel groups. Turkey, a vehement opponent of Syria's president, has warned against violations of its airspace by Russian and Syrian aircraft. Last month, Ankara said Turkish F-16s had intercepted a Russian jet that crossed its border and two Turkish jets had been harassed by an unidentified Mig-29.

Netflix Remaking Lost In Space ( 169

An anonymous reader writes: Classic sci-fi show Lost in Space is making a comeback. Netflix is developing a new version of the series, according to Kevin Burns, the executive producer in charge of the project. "The original series, which lasted three seasons and 83 episodes, is set in a futuristic 1997 and follows the Robinson family's space exploration. After the villainous Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) sabotages the navigation system, they become helpless and, yes, lost. (The robot tasked with protecting the youngest child, the precocious Will, utters "Danger, Will Robinson!" — a phrase that still tortures this reporter.)" Burns has been trying to bring the series back for more than 15 years, and it looks likely he'll finally get his chance.

Florida Group Wants To Make Space a 2016 Presidential Campaign Issue ( 118

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story on News 13, an Orlando TV station, Space Florida is working to make space a political issue in the 2016 presidential election. Thus far the campaign for the presidency has been dominated by more mundane issues such as the economy, illegal immigration, and the threat of terrorism. Space Florida, which is "the State of Florida's aerospace economic development agency," is said to be "working with three other battleground states to make sure America's space program is a part of the campaign for president." Presumably one of those states is Texas, which has lots of electoral votes

MST3K Successfully Crowdsources Its Comeback ( 53

An anonymous reader writes: At least three new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will be filmed, thanks to over $2 million in online contributions from fans. Responding to a Kickstarter plea by series creator Joel Hodgson, fans contributed over $1.5 million within just two days, and after five more they'd push Hodgson over the first $2 million threshold. "We've got movie sign," Hodgson posted on Twitter, noting that for each additional $1.1 million raised over the next 20 days, three more new episodes would be filmed. And this Thursday he'll be hosting a grateful online marathon of classic episodes on Thanksgiving Day, a tradition which dates back nearly 25 years, when "Mystery Science Theater 3000" first began its 8-year run on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi channel.

Ad Networks Using Inaudible Sound To Link Phones, Tablets and Other Devices ( 223

ourlovecanlastforeve writes with a link to Ars Technica's report of a new way for ads to narrow in on their target: high-pitched sounds that can make ad tracking cross devices and contexts. From the article: The ultrasonic pitches are embedded into TV commercials or are played when a user encounters an ad displayed in a computer browser. While the sound can't be heard by the human ear, nearby tablets and smartphones can detect it. When they do, browser cookies can now pair a single user to multiple devices and keep track of what TV commercials the person sees, how long the person watches the ads, and whether the person acts on the ads by doing a Web search or buying a product.

Star Trek: Renegades Working On Episodes 2 and 3 ( 35

JoSch1337 writes: The last time Star Trek: Renegades was on Slashdot was in 2013. It's an independent, canon-faithful Trek series with high production values and some of the actors from the TV shows. Since their original campaign, the team has produced an amazing pilot episode 1 and is now gathering support to produce episode 2, and even episode 3 if they reach their stretch goal. From the Kickstarter page: "Star Trek Renegades is an independent, fan-funded and supported Internet television series, executive produced by Sky Conway. Renegades features a combination of familiar Star Trek character and actors, plus a collection of hot, new rising actors. Set a decade after Voyager's return from Delta Quadrant, ST: Renegades focuses on a team of fugitives, who are on the run from the Federation while secretly working for the head of Starfleet intelligence, Admiral Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Tuvok (Tim Russ, who also directs) to root out internal corruption within the Federation as well as external threats."

MST3K Is Kickstarting Back To Life 83

New submitter kevin lyda writes: The creator of MST3K wants to bring it back. Anywhere from just three episodes up to a full season. Joel is also including options to make it DRM-free. Wired reports: "Hodgson officially launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund new episodes of the series. The initial goal of $2 million would fund only three episodes, but if the campaign does well enough, the project could make as many as 12 episodes (that maximum order would require $5.5 million). The rewards run the gamut from the typical t-shirt all the way up to fans contributing riffs to the episodes or hosting live installments of the show. But the real fun begins if MST3K finds an angel investor willing to splash some serious cash: 'Finally, if we raise $1 BILLION—stay with me on this one—we’re going to adopt a real live teenage boy and "Truman Show" him into believing he is the Pumaman!'"

TV Networks Cutting Back On Commercials ( 242

An anonymous reader writes: Cable providers aren't the only ones feeling pressure from cord cutters. The TV networks themselves are losing viewers the same way. A lot of those viewers are going to Netflix and other streaming services, which are often ad-free, or have ad-free options. Now, in an effort to win back that audience (and hang on to the ones who are still around), networks are beginning to cut back on commercial time during their shows. "Time Warner's truTV will cut its ad load in half for prime-time original shows starting late next year, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes said last week on an earnings call. Viacom has recently slashed commercial minutes at its networks, which include Comedy Central and MTV. Earlier this month, Fox said it will offer viewers of its shows on Hulu the option to watch a 30-second interactive ad instead of a typical 2 1/2-minute commercial break. Fox says the shorter ads, which require viewers to engage with them online, are more effective because they guarantee the audience's full attention."

Viewing Data Harvested From Smart TVs Used To Push Ads To Other Screens? ( 148

chicksdaddy writes: In the latest episode of EULA overreach, electronics maker Vizio Holdings has been called out by the non profit investigative reporting outfit ProPublica for an on-by-default feature on its smart TVs called "Smart Interactivity" that analyzes both broadcast and streamed content viewed using the device. ProPublica noted that the company's privacy policy failed to clearly describe the tracking behavior, which included the collection of information such as the date, time, channel and whether the program was viewed live or recorded.

According to ProPublica, the monitoring of viewing information through IP addresses, while it does not identify individuals, can be combined with other data available in commercial databases from brokers such as Experian, creating a detailed picture of an individual or household. Vizio has since updated its privacy policy with a supplement that explains how "Smart Interactivity" works.

The bigger issue may be what that updated privacy policy reveals. As The Security Ledger notes, the updated Vizio privacy policy makes clear that the company will combine "your IP address and other Non-Personal Information in order to inform third party selection and delivery of targeted and re-targeted advertisements." Those advertisements "may be delivered to smartphones, tablets, PCs or other internet-connected devices that share an IP address or other identifier with your Smart TV."

In other words, TV viewing patterns will be used to serve ads to any device user who happens to be connected to the same network as the Vizio Smart TV — an obvious problem for households with a mix of say... adults and children?! Vizio does provide instructions for disabling the Smart Interactivity features and says that "connected" features of the device aren't contingent on monitoring. That's better than some other vendors. In 2014, for example, LG used a firmware update for its smart televisions to link the "smart" features of the device to viewer tracking and monitoring. Viewers who applied the update, but refused to consent to monitoring were not able to use services like Netflix and YouTube.


With Respect To Gaming, Android Still Lags Behind iOS ( 166

An anonymous reader writes: No matter what you think about the Android/iOS divide from either a hardware or software perspective, there's simply no getting around the fact that many developers still take an iOS-first approach with respect to app development. With games, where development costs are already sky-high, the dynamic is even more pronounced. For instance, one of the most addictive, successful, and highly rated apps currently available on the App Store is a great snowboarding game called Alto's Adventure. It was originally released this past February for the iPhone and iPad (and now the Apple TV). Still today, nine months after its initial release, an Android version of the app remains non-existent. Now if you're an Android user who happens to enjoy mobile gaming, it's easy to see how this dynamic playing out over and over again can quickly become an endless source of frustration.
The Almighty Buck

Dorms For Grownups: a Solution For Lonely Millennials? 412 writes: Alana Semuels writes in The Atlantic that Millennials want the chance to be alone in their own bedrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens, but they also want to be social and never lonely.That's why real estate developer Troy Evans is starting construction on a new space in Syracuse called Commonspace that he envisions as a dorm for Millennials. It will feature 21 microunits, each packed with a tiny kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and living space into 300-square-feet. The microunits surround shared common areas including a chef's kitchen, a game room, and a TV room. "We're trying to combine an affordable apartment with this community style of living, rather than living by yourself in a one-bedroom in the suburbs," says Evans. The apartments will be fully furnished to appeal to potential residents who don't own much (the units will have very limited storage space). The bedrooms are built into the big windows of the office building—one window per unit—and the rest of the apartment can be traversed in three big leaps. The units will cost between $700 and $900 a month. "If your normal rent is $1,500, we're coming in way under that," says John Talarico. "You can spend that money elsewhere, living, not just sustaining."

Co-living has also gained traction in a Brooklyn apartment building that creates a networking and social community for its residents and where prospective residents answer probing questions like "What are your passions?" and "Tell us your story (Excite us!)." If accepted, tenants live in what the company's promotional materials describe as a "highly curated community of like-minded individuals." Millennials are staying single longer than previous generations have, creating a glut of people still living on their own in apartments, rather than marrying and buying homes. But the generation is also notoriously social, having been raised on the Internet and the constant communication it provides. This is a generation that has grown accustomed to college campuses with climbing walls, infinity pools, and of course, their own bathrooms. Commonspace gives these Milliennials the benefits of living with roommates—they can save money and stay up late watching Gilmore Girls—with the privacy and style an entitled generation might expect. "It's the best of both worlds," says Michelle Kingman. "You have roommates, but they're not roommates."

Ask Slashdot: Tiny PCs To Drive Dozens of NOC Monitors? 197

mushero writes: We are building out a new NOC with dozens of LCD monitors and need ideas for what PCs to use to drive all those monitors. What is small and easy to stack, rack, power, manage, replace, etc.?

The room is 8m x 8m. It has a central 3x3 LCD array, as well as mixed-size and -orientation LCD monitors on the front and side walls (plus scrolling LEDs, custom desks, team tables, etc) — it's designed as a small version of the famous AT&T Ops Center. We are an MSP and this is a tour showcase center, so more is better — most have real functions for our monitor teams, DBAs, SoC, alert teams, and so on, 7x24. We'll post pics when it's done.

But what's the best way to drive all this visual stuff? The simplest approach for basic/tiny PCs is to use 35-50 of these — how do we do that effectively? Almost all visuals are browser-only, so any PC can run them (a couple will use Apple TV or Cable feeds for news). The walls are modular and 50cm thick, and we'll have a 19" rack or two, so we have room, and all professional wiring/help as needed.

Raspberry Pis are powerful enough for this, but painful to mount and wire. Chromeboxes are great and the leading candidate, as the ASUS units can drive two monitors. The Intel NUC can also do this — those and the Chromeboxes are easily stackable. My dream would be a quad-HDMI device in Chromebox form factor. Or are there special high-density PCs for this with 4-8-16 HDMI outputs?

Each unit will be hard-wired to its monitor, and via ip-KVM (need recommendations on that, too, 32+ port) for controls. Any other ideas for a cool NOC are also appreciated, as we have money and motivation to do anything that helps the team and the tours.

Coming Set-top Box Mandate May Help Break Pay TV Firms' Hold Over Viewers ( 153

Joe_Dragon sends a report from the LA Times about proposed regulations that could disrupt the cable industry's hold on consumers by targeting set-top boxes. These boxes are required to view most pay-TV programming these days, and consumers often require multiples if they have more than one TV. The rental fees add up to almost $20 billion in revenue for the industry each year. Yet the technology within these boxes is nothing special, and alternatives could easily arise if there was incentive to create them. "The changes aren't coming fast enough for some lawmakers and consumer advocates as well as tech companies such as Google Inc., which are eager to jump into the set-top box market. They want the Federal Communications Commission to require that pay TV providers make their services more easily compatible with third-party set-top boxes or similar devices. ... Such a mandate could allow consumers to access their pay TV and streaming services through one device instead of having to switch between two or more. And it could lead to innovations such as an ability to search for programming across services to determine, for example, whether a movie is available on Netflix or on-demand via a pay TV provider."

ABC's 'BattleBots' Reboot Will Come Back For a Second Season ( 37

An anonymous reader writes: Good news if you're a fan of watching robots fight or just flail around in a corner. ABC has renewed BattleBots for a second season. According to The Wrap: "Following the summer ratings hit "Celebrity Family Feud," the six-episode first season of "BattleBots" earned an average of 5.4 million total viewers and a 1.7 rating among adults 18-49. Season 2 will keep the single-elimination tournament format of the first, but will double the size of the field to include expert roboticists, garage builders, families on a mission and past winners returning to defend their turf."