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Ask Slashdot: Life After N900?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '14 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's old-ways-are-best-ways department:
Rydia writes "Since it first released, I have been in love with my Nokia N900, and it has satisfied all my needs for a mobile with a high degree of control and utility. Sadly, the little guy is showing his age, both in battery life (even with the powersaving kernel options enabled), and performing in general has been left far, far in the dust by phones that are now considered quite old. The time has come to find its successor, but after a thorough search of smartphone options, I can't find any handset that offers everything for the power user that the N900 did (much less a hardware keyboard). I'd like to avoid supporting Google/Android, but there don't seem to be many options. Have any other techies found a replacement for their N900?"

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Watch Steve Jobs Demo the Mac, In 1984
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '14 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's he-oughtta-know department:
VentureBeat is one of the many outlets featuring recently surfaced video of Steve Jobs doing an early demo of the Macintosh, 30 years ago. I remember first seeing one of these Macs in 1984 at a tiny computer store in bustling downtown Westminster, Maryland, and mostly hogging it while other customers (or, I should say, actual customers) tapped their feet impatiently.

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Powering Phones, PCs Using Sugar
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '14 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's skynet-will-be-a-hungry-boy department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "A team of researchers at Virginia Tech University have developed a battery with energy density an order of magnitude higher than lithium-ion batteries, while being almost endlessly rechargeable and biodegradable as well – because it's made of sugar. The battery is an enzymatic biofuel fuel cell – a type of fuel cell that uses a catalyst to strip molecules from molecules of a fuel material. Instead of using platinum or nickel for catalysts, however, biofuel cells use the catalysts made from enzymes similar to those used to break down and digest food in the body. Sugar is a good fuel material because it is energy dense, easy to obtain and transport, and so simple to biodegrade that almost anything biological can eat it. Sugar-based fuel cells aren't new, but existing designs use only a small number of enzymes that don't oxidize the sugar completely, meaning the resulting battery can hold only small amounts of energy that it releases slowly. A new design that uses 13 enzymes that can circulate freely to get better access to sugar molecules, however, is able to store energy at a density of 596 amp-hours per kilogram – an order of magnitude higher than lithium-ion batteries, according to Y.H. Percival Zhang, who studies biological systems engineering at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. "Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature," Zhang said in a statement announcing publication in Nature Communications of his paper describing the battery. "So it's only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.""

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New Russian Fighter Not Up To Western Standards
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '14 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's does-this-come-with-the-xm-radio? department:
schwit1 writes "Despite initial high expectations, the Indian Air Force appears to be souring on a joint development deal with Russia for a new fifth-generation fighter jet, according to the Business Standard, a major Indian business publication. The Russian prototype is 'unreliable, its radar inadequate, its stealth features badly engineered,' said Indian Air Force Deputy Air Marshall S Sukumar at a Jan. 15 meeting, according to minutes obtained by the Business Standard. 'They're very good at building airplanes,' Cordesman said. 'The problem that Russia, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, has been putting out the military equivalent of show cars. They look good, but it isn't always clear how practical they are and how many of the specifications they can actually meet.'"

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Fancy Yourself a Tycoon? OpenTTD 1.4.0 On Its Way
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '14 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-tunnels-clear-conditions-good department:
phmadore writes "Version 1.4.0 of the most intellectually challenging OSS game out there (IMO), OpenTTD (Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe), is near at hand. Of course, most servers are still running 1.3.3 (the last stable, major version change, from November/December-ish). N-Ice.org typically waits until a stable release has been around for a minute to implement the changes into its online client (which is as yet unavailable as a binary for Linux; it varies only slightly from the official release and non-Windows users are able to interface with it no problem), but there are exciting developments coming down the pipe for OpenTTD. 'The new SSE blitters were also further improved. Not immediately noticeable but useful in the future, are the new string codes to display amounts of cargo in NewGRFs. For our Korean users, the separators in numbers were fixed.'
Here is some information on the history of OTTD."


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Bletchley Park's Bitter Dispute Over Its Future
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-things-to-all-people department:
An anonymous reader writes "Tensions are high at Bletchley Park between the new management who want a 21st century instalment and the volunteers who want to show the whole story (and get dismissed for doing so). This report [Note: video, with sound] is from the BBC: 'The groundbreaking intelligence work carried out at Bletchley Park during the second world war was credited with bringing forward the end of the conflict. In 2011 the site was awarded a £4.6m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). But Bletchley is currently in the throes of a bitter dispute, between owners who want to create a brand new visitors centre, and volunteers who have been working on the site for years.'"

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VC Likens Google Bus Backlash To Nazi Rampage
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's naw-it's-more-maoist-or-khmer-rouge department:
theodp writes "Valleywag reports on legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tom Perkins' WSJ op-ed on class tensions, in which the KPCB founder and former HP and News Corp. board member likens criticism of the techno-affluent and their transformation of San Francisco to one of the most horrific events in Western history. 'I would call attention to the parallels of Nazi Germany to its war on its "one percent," namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the "rich,"' Perkins writes. 'There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these "techno geeks" can pay...This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent 'progressive' radicalism unthinkable now?"'"

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23-Year-Old Chess Grandmaster Whips Bill Gates In 71 Seconds
Posted by News Fetcher on January 26 '14 at 03:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-long-would-you-last? department:
MojoKid writes "There's no disputing that Bill Gates is blessed with a brilliant mind. Sure, he dropped out of Harvard College, but he got accepted into the elite institution of higher learning in the first place. Leading into his college career, Gates scored 1,590 out of 1,600 on the SAT. The rest is history — he went on to co-found Microsoft, built a net worth that's in the billions ($76.8 billion at last count), and now spends his time on his philanthropic efforts. Regardless, it took 23-year-old Magnus Carlsen, a "grandmaster" Chess player since the age of 13 and new world Chess champion, just 71 seconds to defeat Gates in a friendly game of Chess on a Norwegian television show. It takes longer to heat up a cup of water in the microwave."

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Spoiled Onions: Exposing Malicious Tor Exit Relays
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 11:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-tell-me-I'll-pass-on-the-message department:
An anonymous reader points out this recently published study (PDF) on detecting malicious (or at least suspicious) Tor exit relays. From their conclusions: "After developing a scanner, we closely monitored all ~1000 exit relays over a period of four months. Wed discovered 25 relays which were either outright malicious or simply misconfigured. Interestingly, the majority of the attacks were coordinated instead of being isolated actions of independent individuals. Our results further suggest that the attackers made an active effort to remain under the radar and delay detection."

One of the authors, Philipp Winter, wrote a followup blog post to help clarify what the paper's findings mean for Tor users, including this clarification: "First, it's important to understand that 25 relays in four months isn't a lot. It is ultimately a very small fraction of the Tor network. Also, it doesn't mean that 25 out of 1,000 relays are malicious or misconfigured (we weren't very clear on that in the paper). We have yet to calculate the churn rate of exit relays which is the rate at which relays join and leave the network. 1,000 is really just the approximate number of exit relays at any given point in time. So the actual number of exit relays we ended up testing in four months is certainly higher than that. As a user, that means that you will not see many malicious relays 'in the wild."

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Decision, EA: Judge Reverses Multimillion Dollar Award To Madden Dev
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's such-bizarre-reasoning department:
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "A federal judge overturned a jury's multimillion-dollar damage award to the programmer of the original John Madden Football video game on Wednesday, saying there was no evidence that his work was copied for seven years, without credit, by the marketer of later versions of the hugely successful game. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer of San Francisco spared Electronic Arts Inc. from nearly $4 million in damages, plus interest that could have exceeded $7 million. The jury verdict also could have led to larger damages against the company for later versions of the game, which reaped billions of dollars in revenues, if future juries found that those, too, had been lifted from the work of programmer Robin Antonick." Also at Kotaku.

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Michaels Stores Investigating Possible Data Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 06:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's switching-targets department:
tsu doh nimh writes "Michaels Stores Inc., which runs more than 1,250 crafts stores across the United States, said Saturday that it is investigating a possible data breach involving customer cardholder information. According to Brian Krebs, the journalist who broke the story [and, previously] news of the Target and Neiman Marcus breaches, the U.S. Secret Service has confirmed it is investigating. Krebs cited multiple sources in the banking industry saying they were tracking a pattern of fraud on cards that were all recently used at Michaels Stores Inc. In response to that story, Michaels issued a statement saying it 'recently learned of possible fraudulent activity on some U.S. payment cards that had been used at Michaels, suggesting that the Company may have experienced a data security attack.' In 2011, Michaels disclosed that attackers had physically tampered with point-of-sale terminals in multiple stores, but so far there are no indications what might be the cause of the latest breach. Both Target and Neiman Marcus have said the culprit was malicious software designed to steal payment card data, and at least in Target's case that's been shown to be malware made to infect retail cash registers."

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ChipSiP Smart Glass Specs Better Than Google Glass?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wait-for-a-flood-of-do-alikes department:
First time accepted submitter SugarManner writes "Google Glass is in for a fight even before they hit the market. The Taiwanese company Chipsip has just released plans for a competing product that beats Google Glass on all specifications. (Seen on the Swedish Elektronik Tidningen — warning: written in Swedish) Nine sensors on the Taiwanese product 'Smart Glass' can detect speed, altitude, temperature, light and position. It has built-in GPS, Bluetooth 4.0 and a microphone. The processor is based on Rock Chips Cortex A9 system RK3168 running at 1.5 GHz. While Google Glass supports 802.11g communication, Chipsip Smart Glass supports 802.11n. The camera and screen resolution also top Google Glass by a notch, and with stereo sound on the Smart Glass compared to Google's mono sound, it seems that the Taiwanese company has hit all the right spots to make Google goggle. Or not. Google Glass is still in Beta, so specs on the final product may change."

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Kentucky: Programming Language = Foreign Language
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's take-exciting-vacations-to-$place department:
jackb_guppy writes with word that "Legislation that would let students use computer programming courses to satisfy foreign-language requirements in public schools moved forward in the Kentucky Senate on Thursday." From the article: "Kentucky students must earn 22 credits to graduate high school, but 15 of those credits represent requirements for math, science, social studies and English — and college prerequisites call on students to have two credits of foreign language, [state senator David] Givens said.

Meanwhile, Givens pointed to national statistics showing that less than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with a degree in computer science despite a high demand in the market and jobs that start with $60,000 salaries."


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New England Burns Jet Fuel To Keep Lights On
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's molasses-burns-well-too department:
First time accepted submitter inqrorken writes "During the recent cold snap, New England utilities turned to an unconventional fuel: jet fuel. Due to high demand for heating, natural gas supplies dropped and prices skyrocketed to $140/mmBtu and prompting the midatlantic RTO to call on demand response in the region. With 50% of installed generation capacity natural-gas fired, one utility took the step of running its jet fuel-based turbines for a record 15 hours."

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RNC Calls For Halt To Unconstitutional Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's pretty-words-all-in-a-row department:
Bob9113 writes "According to an article on Ars Technica, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has passed a resolution that "encourages Republican lawmakers to immediately take action to halt current unconstitutional surveillance programs and provide a full public accounting of the NSA's data collection programs." The resolution, according to Time, was approved by an overwhelming majority voice vote at the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting General Session, going on this week in Washington, DC."

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Schiller Says Apple Is the Last PC Maker From the Mac Era, Forgets About HP
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 11:47 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's I-feel-happy-I-feel-happy department:
An anonymous reader writes "Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, recently claimed that Apple is the only computer company left from the early days of the Mac. Unfortunately for him, HP still exists. "Every company that made computers when we started the Mac, they're all gone," Schiller told Macworld in an interview on Apple's Cupertino campus. 'We're the only one left.' I'm sorry Apple, but when exactly did HP declare bankruptcy? We contacted an HP spokesperson for a statement on Apple's ridiculous claim and were pointed to its timeline history page."

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How Google Broke Itself and Fixed Itself, Automatically
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's arise-phoenix-arise department:
lemur3 writes "On January 24th Google had some problems with a few of its services. Gmail users and people who used various other Google services were impacted just as the Google Reliability Team was to take part in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit. Everything seemed to be resolved and back up within an hour. The Official Google Blog had a short note about what happened from Ben Treynor, a VP of Engineering. According to the blog post it appears that the outage was caused by a bug that caused a system that creates configurations to send a bad one to various 'live services.' An internal monitoring system noticed the problem a short time later and caused a new configuration to be spread around the services. Ben had this to say of it on the Google Blog, 'Engineers were still debugging 12 minutes later when the same system, having automatically cleared the original error, generated a new correct configuration at 11:14 a.m. and began sending it; errors subsided rapidly starting at this time. By 11:30 a.m. the correct configuration was live everywhere and almost all users' service was restored.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Educating Kids About Older Technologies?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's welcome-to-your-new-privy department:
ProgramErgoSum writes "Horse carriages, vinyl records, telegraphy, black and white television are all great examples of technology that held tremendous sway decades ago and eventually faded away. Other systems such as railways and telephony are 'historical,' but have advanced into the current age, too. I think not being aware of the science behind such yesteryear technologies (or their histories) is not right. I feel it would be most beneficial to encourage kids to explore old technologies and perhaps even try simple simulations at home or school. So, what websites or videos or other sources of information would you reach out to that teaches the basics of say, telegraphy? Or, signalling in railways? Etc. etc." Do you (or do you plan to) educate your kids about any particular older technologies?

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K-12 CS Education Funding: Taxes, H-1B Fees, Donations?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's still-on-that-eh? department:
theodp writes "Back in 2010, Bill Gates Sr. made the case for I-1098, an initiative for a WA state income tax that Gates argued was needed to address K-12 funding inequity, which he claimed was forcing businesses "to import technically-trained employees, while our own people are shut out of highly paid careers." Opposed by the deep-pocketed, high-tech studded Defeat 1098, the initiative was defeated. Four years later, some of the same high-tech leaders who records show funded Defeat 1098 — including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ($425K), Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith ($10K), Code.org founder Hadi Partovi ($10K), Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ($100K), Microsoft Corporation ($75K) — have gotten behind groups like Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us and Code.org, which are singing a similar Chicken Little tune, telling lawmakers that U.S. students will continue to be shut out of highly paid computer science careers without additional K-12 funding, and the U.S. will lose its competitive edge unless tech is permitted to import even more technically-trained employees. In a departure from Gates' income-tax based solution, Microsoft and Code.org argue that the-problem-is-the-solution, proposing that tech visa fees be used to fund K-12 CS programs. To 'accept that computer science classes are only available to the privileged few,' writes Code.org, 'seems un-American'. So, as some of the nation's biggest K-12 school systems turn to Code.org for CS education programs, should they expect the funding to come from taxes, H-1B tech visa fees, or the-kindness-of-wealthy-strangers philanthropy?"

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Hackers Steal Law Enforcement Documents From Microsoft
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '14 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's traffic-ticket-inquiry department:
wiredmikey writes "Microsoft on Friday said that attackers breached the email accounts of a "select number" of employees, and obtained access to documents associated with law enforcement inquiries. According to the company, a number of Microsoft employees were targeted with attacks aiming to compromise both email and social media accounts '..We have learned that there was unauthorized access to certain employee email accounts, and information contained in those accounts could be disclosed,' said Adrienne Hall, General Manager at Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group. 'It appears that documents associated with law enforcement inquiries were stolen,' Hall said. Targeted attacks like this are not uncommon, especially for an organization like Microsoft. What's interesting about this is that the incident was significant enough to disclose, indicating that a fair number of documents could have been exposed, or that the company fears some documents will make their way to the public if released by the attackers—which may be the case if this was a 'hacktivist' attack."

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