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Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Responds In Nepal 25 25

An anonymous reader writes with news about the efforts of the The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to help in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal. The team asks those living in the affected areas to help out by reporting which buildings are damaged, which are still standing, and where fissures and other quake damage is located. has a profile of their efforts which reads: Since the devastating earthquake in Nepal, there have been responses from all over the world from relief agencies, governments, non-profits, and ordinary citizens. One interesting effort has been from the crowdsourced mapping community, especially on, a free and open web map of the world that anyone can edit (think the Wikipedia of maps.) The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), an NGO that works to train, coordinate, and organize mapping on OpenStreetMap for humanitarian, disaster response, and economic development, has mobilized volunteers from around the world to help map since the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

Ham Radio Fills Communication Gaps In Nepal Rescue Effort 141 141

itwbennett writes: Amateur radio has stepped in to fill communication gaps in Nepal, which is struggling with power outages and a flaky Internet after a devastating earthquake on Saturday killed over 5,000 people. Though 99 persons have ham licenses in Kathmandu, about eight use high-frequency (HF) radios that can transmit long distances, while another 30 have very high frequency and ultra high frequency sets for local traffic, said Satish Kharel, a lawyer in Kathmandu, who uses the ham call signal 9N1AA. The hobbyist radio operators are working round-the-clock to help people get in touch with relatives, pass on information and alert about developing crises.

Nepal Earthquake: Facebook To Google, How Tech Is Helping Survivors Reach Out 39 39

An anonymous reader writes: In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Nepal, many social media sites and mobile applications have come up with features that could help locate friends and loved ones. From the Times of India: "Social networking website Facebook, and Google's Person Finder have helped locate the whereabouts of those stranded in quake-hit areas. For instance, members of one Himmatramka family residing in Birgunj in Nepal marked themselves safe on Facebook. 'Our relatives back in India were worried about our safety. So, we marked ourselves safe to inform them,' said Nitesh Himmatramka.

7.8 Earthquake Rocks Nepal, Hundreds Dead 114 114

An anonymous reader writes: Nepal was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 today, with an epicenter 80 km east of the country's second biggest city, Pokhara. Its effects were also strongly felt in the capital, Kathmandu. Casualty reports conflict, but authorities have indicated at least 500 are dead and many more are feared to be trapped. Nepal has declared a state of emergency for the affected areas, and asked for international humanitarian assistance. India and Pakistan have both offered help. Some Indian cities were affected by the earthquake as well, and there are reports of avalanches on Mt. Everest, which has many climbers at any given time.

Fault System Enables Larger Quakes In California 63 63

Taco Cowboy writes Researchers have mapped the land at the southern end of the Hayward Fault and found that the creep continued 15 km beyond to merge with the Calaveras Fault, which was thought to be independent. "The maximum earthquake on a fault is proportional to its length, so by having the two directly connected, we can have a rupture propagating across from one to the other, making a larger quake," said lead researcher Estelle Chaussard, a postdoctoral fellow in the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. "People have been looking for evidence of this for a long time, but only now do we have the data to prove it". The 70-kilometer-long Hayward Fault is already known as one of the most dangerous in the country because it runs through large population areas from its northern limit on San Pablo Bay at Richmond to its southern end south of Fremont. Last month the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a 14.3 percent likelihood of a magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake on the Hayward Fault in the next 30 years, and a 7.4 percent chance on the Calaveras Fault, but there is one problem — the estimate was based on the assumption that the two faults are independent systems, and that the maximum quake on the Hayward Fault would be between magnitudes 6.9 and 7.0. Given that the Hayward and Calaveras faults are connected, the energy released in a simultaneous rupture could be 2.5 times greater, or a magnitude 7.3 quake.

Developers Race To Develop VR Headsets That Won't Make Users Nauseous 164 164 writes Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that for the last couple of years, the companies building virtual reality headsets have begged the public for patience as they strive to create virtual environments that don't make people physically sick. "We're going to hang ourselves out there and be judged," says John Carmack, chief technology officer of Oculus, describing what he calls a "nightmare scenario" that has worried him and other Oculus executives. "People like the demo, they take it home, and they start throwing up," says Carmack. "The fear is if a really bad V.R. product comes out, it could send the industry back to the '90s." In that era, virtual reality headsets flopped, disappointing investors and consumers. "It left a huge, smoking crater in the landscape," says Carmack, who is considered an important game designer for his work on Doom and Quake. "We've had people afraid to touch V.R. for 20 years." This time around, the backing for virtual reality is of a different magnitude. Facebook paid $2 billion last year to acquire Oculus. Microsoft is developing its own headset, HoloLens, that mixes elements of virtual reality with augmented reality, a different medium that overlays virtual images on a view of the real world. Google has invested more than $500 million in Magic Leap, a company developing an augmented reality headset. "The challenge is there is so much expectation and anticipation that that could fall away quite quickly if you don't get the type of traction you had hoped," says Neil Young. (More, below.)

How a Shaking Stadium Is Helping Scientists Track Earthquakes 25 25

vinces99 writes Researchers are installing three seismometers in Seattle's CenturyLink stadium to monitor shaking from Seahawks fans during Saturday's NFL playoff game. The new, faster data transmission will show crowd motion on the website before a touchdown shows up on the 10-second delayed TV broadcast. Researchers dub these "Early Earthquake Rowdiness Warnings." A guaranteed shaking and intense public interest gives the seismologists a unique opportunity to test new technology that gives seconds to minutes warning of a real earthquake.

Quake On an Oscilloscope 71 71

An anonymous reader writes: Developer Pekka Väänänen has posted a fascinating report on how he got Quake running on an oscilloscope (video link). Obviously, the graphic details gets stripped down to basic lines, but even then, you need to cull any useless or unseen geometry to make things run smoothly. He says, "To cull the duplicates a std::unordered_set of the C++ standard library is used. The indices of the triangle edges are saved in pairs, packed in a single uint64_t, the lower index being first. The set is cleared between each object, so the same line could still be drawn twice or more if the same vertices are stored in different meshes. Before saving a line for end-of-the-frame-submit, its indices in the mesh are checked against the set, and discarded if already saved this frame. At the end of each frame all saved lines are checked against the depth buffer of the rendered scene. If a line lies completely behind the depth buffer, it can be safely discarded because it shouldn't be visible."

LA Mayor Proposes Earthquake Retrofits On Thousands of Buildings 178 178 writes The LA Times reports that Ls Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed the most ambitious seismic safety regulations in California history that would require owners to retrofit thousands of buildings most at risk of collapse during a major earthquake. "The time for retrofit is now," says Garcetti, adding that the retrofits target buildings "that are known killers. Complacency risks lives. One thing we can't afford to do is wait." The mayor's plan calls for thousands of wood buildings to be retrofitted within five years, and hundreds of concrete buildings to be strengthened within 30. The retrofitting requirements must be approved by the City Council, and would have to be paid for by the building owners, with the costs presumably passed on to tenants and renters. The costs could be significant: $5,000 per unit in vulnerable wooden buildings and $15 per square foot for office buildings, Business owners, who have expressed concern in the past that these kinds of programs may be unaffordable, said the cost of retrofitting some buildings could easily exceed $1 million each. "This will cost us billions of dollars in the private and public sector," says Garcetti. "But we cannot afford not to do it."

The last major earthquake in Los Angeles was the 6.7-magnitude Northridge quake, which killed close to 60 people in 1994. But it was not close to the catastrophe that seismologists predict if there is a major shift on the San Andreas fault, and the fact that it has not produced a major quake in recent years has fed a sense of complacency. Seismologists now say a 7.5-magnitude event on the Puente Hills would be "the quake from hell" because it runs right under downtown Los Angeles and have estimated that would kill up to 18,000 people, make several million homeless, and cause up to $250 billion in damage. "We want to keep the city up and running after the earthquake happens," says Lucy Jones aka "The Earthquake Lady," a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey and something of a celebrity in a city that is very aware of the potential danger of its location. "If everything in this report is enacted, I believe that L.A. will not just survive the next earthquake, but will be able to recover quickly."

Nevada Earthquake Swarm Increases Chance of Larger Quake 65 65

An anonymous reader writes Hundreds of small earthquakes have been gaining in strength in northwestern Nevada. The Nevada region bordering California and Oregon was hit by 18 quakes in less than 24 hours, with magnitudes measuring from 2.7 to 4.5. According to CNN: "This does not necessarily mean a big one will come, state seismologists said, but they added that it's good to be prepared, just in case. Seismologists refer to such quake groupings as swarms, and the U.S. Geological Survey has detected them regularly. They can produce thousands of small tremors."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Quake Meets Minecraft in FPS Construction Kit Gunscape 50 50

SlappingOysters writes: One of the highlighted games at the PAX AUS expo starting on October 31 is Blowfish Studios' Gunscape, a game described as an FPS construction kit. As well as building and sharing FPS maps for multiplayer gaming sessions across eight different modes, the game will also be able to handle up to nine-player splitscreen on a 4K display. This includes co-op map building.

Ask Slashdot: Capture the Flag Training 102 102

An anonymous reader writes "I'm a computer science professor and a group of students want me to help them train for a capture the flag competition. I am interested in this and I'm familiar with security in general, but I've never been involved in one of these competitions. Does anyone know of any resources which would be useful to train for this?"
First Person Shooters (Games)

John Romero On Reinventing the Shooter 266 266

An anonymous reader writes: John Romero helped bring us Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein, but he's also known for Daikatana — an immensely-hyped followup that flopped hard. After remaining on the periphery of game development since then, Romero announced last month that he's coming back to the FPS genre with a new game in development. Today, he spoke with Develop Magazine about his thoughts on the future of shooters. Many players worry that the genre is stagnant, but Romero disagrees that this has to be the case. "Shooters have so many places to go, but people just copy the same thing over and over because they're afraid to try something new. We've barely scratched the surface."

He also thinks the technology underpinning games matters less than ever. Romero says high poly counts and new shaders are a distraction from what's important: good game design. "Look at Minecraft – it's unbelievable that it was made by one person, right? And it shows there's plenty of room for something that will innovate and change the whole industry. If some brilliant designers take the lessons of Minecraft, take the idea of creation and playing with an environment, and try to work out what the next version of that is, and then if other people start refining that, it'll take Minecraft to an area where it will become a real genre, the creation game genre."

Changing the Rules of a 15-Year-Old Game: Quake Live Update Causes Controversy 170 170

An anonymous reader writes: As id Software aims for a larger, more mainstream audience for its free-to-play shooter Quake Live (based on 1998's Quake III Arena) on Steam, big changes are afoot. A new update was pushed out last week which adds some new, more beginner-friendly features to the game. These include weapon loadouts, which grant players a weapon of their choice when they spawn, timer icons, which indicate when the all-important powerup items will spawn, and an automatic bunny-hop to gain extra speed. The changes have been met with hostility from longtime players who prefer the "purist" rules of old and the duel format. As the writer points out, however, if the update helps attract more elite players to the gamer, it could breathe new life into a very old game.

RAYA: Real-time Audio Engine Simulation In Quake 89 89

New submitter bziolko writes: RAYA is a realtime game audio engine that utilizes beamtracing to provide user with realistic audio auralization. All audio effects are computed based on the actual geometry of a given game level (video) as well as its acoustic properties (acoustic materials, air attenuation). The sound changes dynamically along with movement of the game character and sound sources, so the listener can feel as if they were right there — in the game.

Magnitude 6.0 Quake Hits Northern California, Causing Injuries and Outages 135 135

As numerous sources report, an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 struck California early Sunday morning, with an epicenter about 9 miles south of Napa. According to the San Francisco Chronicle's account, Some power lines down in western Contra Costa County, but Bay Area bridges appeared to be fine, according to the California Highway Patrol. There were widespread reports of power outages, gas leaks and flooding in the North Bay, with at least 15,000 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. customers without power in Vallejo, Napa, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and Sonoma. Police reminded motorists to stop at darkened intersections. ... In Benicia, several miles from the epicenter, the quake was strong enough to knock pictures off mantles. Bay Area bridges appear to have survived the quake -- significant, in that the L.A. Times reports that USGS estimates peg it as "the largest earthquake to strike the Bay Area since the Loma Prieta temblor of 1989," and says that injury reports (especially from glass) are streaming in from the area around Napa. The Times also has a larger estimate of customers suffering power outages: "more than 42,000" around the northern Bay Area. Unsurprisingly, social media channels are full of pictures showing some of the damage.

For those in California, did you feel the quake? (And from how far away?) Update: 08/24 13:15 GMT by T : Also in earthquake news: an even stronger quake (magnitude 6.4) on Saturday struck central Chile, shaking Santiago -- nearly 70 miles from the epicenter -- for more than half a minute, but with "no immediate reports of fatalities or serious damage."

Geophysicists Discover How Rocks Produce Magnetic Pulses 72 72

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Since the 1960s, geophysicists have known that some earthquakes are preceded by ultra-low frequency magnetic pulses that increase in number until the quake takes place. But this process has always puzzled them: how can rocks produce magnetic pulses? Now a group of researchers has worked out what's going on. They say that rocks under pressure can become semiconductors that produce magnetic pulses under certain circumstances.

When igneous rocks form in the presence of water, they contain peroxy bonds with OH groups. Under great temperature and pressure, these bonds break down creating electron-holes pairs. The electrons become trapped at the site of the broken bonds but the holes are free to move through the crystal structure. The natural diffusion of these holes through the rock creates p and n regions just like those in doped semiconductors. And the boundary between these regions behaves like the p-n junction in a diode, allowing current to flow in one direction but not the other. At least not until the potential difference reaches a certain value when the boundary breaks down allowing a sudden increase in current. It is this sudden increase that generates a magnetic field. And the sheer scale of this process over a volume of hundreds of cubic meters ensures that these magnetic pulses have an extremely low frequency that can be detected on the surface. The new theory points to the possibility of predicting imminent earthquakes by triangulating the position of rocks under pressure by searching for the magnetic pulses they produce (although significantly more work needs to be done to characterize the process before then)."

Under Revised Quake Estimates, Dozens of Nuclear Reactors Face Problems 152 152

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors across the United States, including the operator of Indian Point 2, in Buchanan, N.Y., have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they cannot show that their reactors would withstand the most severe earthquake that revised estimates say they might face, according to industry experts. As a result, the reactors' owners will be required to undertake extensive analyses of their structures and components. Those are generally sturdier than assumed in licensing documents, but owners of some plants may be forced to make physical changes, and are likely to spend about $5 million each just for the analysis."

8.2 Earthquake Off the Coast of Chile, Tsunami Triggered 86 86

An 8.2-magnitude earthquake has struck roughly 60km off the cost of Chile. Its depth was approximately 20.1km. A tsunami has been generated, and evacuations have been ordered along the coast near the strike. Tsunami warnings were also issued for Peru and Ecuador. According to the Associated Press, "Coastal residents of northern Chile evacuated calmly as waves measuring almost 2 meters (6 1/2 feet) struck ahead of a tsunami that was expected to come ashore later. ... Chile's emergency service reported some roads blocked by landslides caused by the quake, but said no injuries had been reported so far."

How a 'Seismic Cloak' Could Slow Down an Earthquake 101 101

Daniel_Stuckey writes "The United States is currently gripped in a bout of earthquake mania, following a series of significant tremors in the West. And any time Yellowstone, LA, or San Francisco shakes, people start to wonder if it's a sign of The Big One to come. Yet even after decades of research, earthquake prediction remains notoriously hard, and not every building in quake-prone areas has an earthquake-resistant design. What if, instead of quaking in our boots, we could stop quakes in their tracks? Theoretically, it's not a crazy idea. Earthquakes propagate in waves, and if noise-canceling headphones have taught us anything, it's that waves can be absorbed, reflected, or canceled out. Today, a paper published in Physical Review Letters suggests how that might be done. It's the result of French research into the use of metamaterials—broadly, materials with properties not found in nature—to modify seismic waves, like a seismic cloaking device."