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Ten States Pass Anti-Patent-Troll Laws, With More To Come
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 07:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-under-the-bridge department:
An anonymous reader writes "With patent reform stalled in the Senate, many states have decided to take up the issue themselves. 'As states kicked off their legislative sessions this winter, lawmakers responded to the threats against small businesses by writing bills that would ban "bad faith patent assertions" as a violation of consumer-protection laws. The bills target a specific type of patent troll: the kind that sends out vaguely worded letters demanding licensing fees. The thousands of letters sent out by the "scanner trolls" at MPHJ Technology are often brought up as a case-in-point. The new laws allow trolls that break rules around letter-writing to be sued in state court, either by private companies they've approached for licensing fees, or by state authorities themselves.'"

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How Predictable Is Evolution?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 04:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's step-by-step department:
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If the clock rewound, would organisms evolve the same way they did before? Humble stick insects may hold the answer to that long-running question in biology. Through studies of these bugs, whose bodies match the leaves the insects live on, researchers have found that although groups of the bug have evolved similar appearances, they achieved that mostly via different changes in their DNA. 'I think it says that repeatability of evolution is very low,' says Andrew Hendry, an evolutionary biologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who was not involved with the work."

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New Tech Super PACs Could Tap Into Google Riches
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 03:46 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pot-of-gold department:
An anonymous reader writes "A for-profit university bankrolled by prominent tech firms and co-founded by futurist Ray Kurzweil is behind four separate super PACs formed this week, according to interviews and documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Randi Willis, an official at Singularity University, confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that leaders at her institution will later this year begin determining how to best use these new political committees, which could tap into the wealth of tech industry titans."

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IBM Discovers New Class of Polymers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 03:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's brand-new department:
Charliemopps (1157495) writes "IBM Research has published a new paper to the journal, Science in which the describe a newly discovered class of Industrial Polymers that promise to revolutionize the fields of transportation, aerospace, and microelectronics. These materials resist cracking, have strength higher than that of bone, the ability to self-heal, and are completely recyclable. 'Codenamed Titan and Hydro, both of which came from the same reaction. One is rigid; it could become part of the next generation of computers. The other is a gel, so it it could be included in water-soluble nail polish.'"

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Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 02:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wake-me-when-it-can-do-austin-to-dallas department:
An anonymous reader writes "The aviation industry has taken a tentative step toward electric power with the successful maiden flight of the Airbus E-Fan. The manufacturer known for the massive A380 jetliner began testing this small experimental aircraft last week, with the ultimate aim of lowering the huge carbon dioxide emissions from commercial flights. The E-FAN is powered by 120 lithium-polymer batteries, and can fly at speeds up to 136mph. Measuring just 19 feet from nose to tail, the compact aircraft show that Airbus probably isn't ready for commercial zero emissions flight just yet, but it does highlight the potential benefits."

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Apple's Revenge: iMessage Might Eat Your Texts If You Switch To Android
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 01:46 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's computer-says-no department:
redletterdave (2493036) writes "When my best friend upgraded from an iPhone 4S to a Galaxy S4, I texted her hello. Unfortunately, she didn't get that text, nor any of the five I sent in the following three days. My iPhone didn't realize she was now an Android user and sent all my texts via iMessage. It wasn't until she called me about going to brunch that I realized she wasn't getting my text messages. What I thought was just a minor bug is actually a much larger problem. One that, apparently, Apple has no idea how to fix. Apple said the company is aware of the situation, but it's not sure how to solve it. One Apple support person said: 'This is a problem a lot of people are facing. The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it. There are no reliable solutions right now — for some people the standard fixes work immediately; many others are in my boat.'"

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OCZ RevoDrive 350 PCIe SSD Hits 1.8GB/sec With Standard Toshiba MLC NAND
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 01:01 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's and-this-time-next-year department:
MojoKid (1002251) writes "OCZ was recently acquired by Toshiba and has been going through its product stack, revamping its SSD portfolio with fresh re-designs based on Toshiba NAND Flash memory for not only increased performance but better cost structure as well. OCZ has now replaced their RevoDrive family of PCIe SSD cards with an almost complete re-designed of the product. The RevoDrive 350 is based on the same OCZ VCA 2.0 (Virtualized Controller Architecture) technology as the previous generation but is now enabled with a PCI Express X8 card interface and up to 4 LSI SandForce SD-2282 SSD processors, along with 19nm Toshiba NAND Flash. The good news is, not only is the new RevoDrive 350 faster at 1.8GB/sec claimed bandwidth for sequential reads and 1.7GB/sec for sequential writes, but it's also significantly more affordable, at literally half the price of the previous gen RevoDrive 3 when it first launched. In the benchmarks, the new PCIe card excels at read throughput, regularly hitting its 1.8GB/sec claimed bandwidth, especially with sequential workloads. Write performance is solid as well and the drive competes with the likes of some higher-end and more expensive SLC NAND-based PCIe cards like LSI's WarpDrive and Intel's SSD 910."

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Don't Be a Server Hugger! (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 12:16 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's old-stewball-was-the-most-loyal-server-horse-we-ever-done-had department:
Curtis Peterson says admins who hang onto their servers instead of moving into the cloud are 'Server Huggers,' a term he makes sound like 'Horse Huggers,' a phrase that once might have been used to describe hackney drivers who didn't want to give up their horse-pulled carriages in favor of gasoline-powered automobiles. Curtis is VP of Operations for RingCentral, a cloud-based VOIP company, so he's obviously made the jump to the cloud himself. And he has reassuring words for sysadmins who are afraid the move to cloud-based computing is going to throw them out of work. He says there are plenty of new cloud computing opportunities springing up for those who have enough initiative and savvy to grab onto them, by which he obviously means you, right?

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You've Got Male: Amazon's Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's truth-in-action department:
reifman (786887) writes "San Francisco's gender imbalance is so bad that a startup recently proposed flying women in from New York City for dates. But, if you're a straight male thinking of moving to Seattle to work in technology, think again. Seattle's gender ratio is even more imbalanced and it's about to get much worse for men. Amazon is building out enough space to employ 5% of the city population and its workforce is 75 percent male. By the end of 2014, Seattle will have 130 single men for every 100 single women."

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Could High Bay-Area Prices Make Sacramento the Next Big Startup Hub?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cost-of-living-is-important department:
waderoush (1271548) writes "Don't laugh. As the cost of housing spirals out of control on the San Francisco peninsula, neighboring metro regions like Sacramento are beginning to look more attractive to startup founders who prefer a Northern California lifestyle but haven't worked in the Silicon Valley gold mines long enough to become 1-percenters. Today Xconomy presents Part 1 of a two-part look at innovation in the Sacramento-Davis corridor and efforts to make the region more welcoming to high-tech entrepreneurs. In Sacramento's favor, there's a talented workforce fueled by a top-20 university (UC Davis), space for expansion, proximity to the ski mountains at Tahoe, and a far lower cost of living — the average house in Sacramento is selling for $237,000, compared to $909,000 in San Francisco. The downsides include a shortage of local investment dollars and a lower density of startups, meaning there's less opportunity for serendipitous collaboration. But locals say recent efforts to boost the local high-tech economy are working. 'I really feel like we are in a renaissance area,' says Eric Ullrich, co-founder of Hacker Lab, a Midtown Sacramento co-working space."

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Ask Slashdot: Easy-To-Use Alternative To MS Access For a Charity's Database?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's take-your-best-shot department:
New submitter danzvash (447536) writes "I'm doing some volunteering for a street kids charity in Senegal, West Africa, and they need a new database to store all their information for the kids, and to help the funding organizations like UNICEF. The charity staff have a few computers running Windows 7. Being a die-hard OSS geek I'm more inclined to knock up a MySQL backend with a Django (or similar) front-end and run the whole thing from a reliable VPS. But it needs to be understandable by the non-geeks in the charity — there is no IT expertise here. Is there anything that can allow me to design and edit databases, tables, and forms but doesn't require an MS license?"

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FCC Votes To Consider Next Round of 'Net Neutrality' Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 09:31 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's double-secret-prohibited department:
As you may have watched live earlier today, the FCC in a protester-heavy hearing has voted to formally consider a net neutrality proposal. The linked L.A. Times story says the 3-2 vote of the commissioners represents a victory for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: 'A Democrat who took over in November, Wheeler triggered outrage among public interest groups, online activists and many liberals with a plan that would for the first time allow the possibility of so-called pay-for-priority deals. Wheeler said his plan has been misconstrued and that it would not allow broadband providers to block any legal content or slow down connections in a way that is commercially unreasonable.' As the Washington Post points out, the phrase "commercially unreasonable" is a loaded one. More good coverage at Ars Technica, too.

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Unlock Your Android Phone With Open Source Wearable NFC
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 08:46 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-attach-it-to-your-gun department:
coop0030 (263345) writes "Becky Stern at Adafruit has created a guide on how to create an open source NFC ring or other wearable to mod and unlock your Android phone. From the tutorial: 'Unlock your phone by just picking it up! No more pesky password or gesture PIN, just scan an NFC tag! This guide covers creating an NFC ring, putting an NFC tag in your nail polish, modding your Android installation to read tags from the lockscreen, and creating an automation toolchain to unlock the phone when the desired tag is scanned.'
There is also a video that demonstrates how it works."


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Why Should Red Hat Support Competitors' Software?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-for-fun-vs-bottom-line-reality department:
colinneagle (2544914) writes "The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, based on documents it reviewed, Red Hat "has chosen not to provide support to its commercial Linux customers if they use rival versions of OpenStack." But the big question is: Why would customers have expected that in the first place? Gartner analyst Lydia Leong told Network World that Red Hat isn't really doing anything wrong here. Customers shouldn't have an expectation that Red Hat would support competitors' software. "The norm would be to expect that non-Red Hat software is treated like any other third-party software," Leong says. If Red Hat has done anything wrong, it's that it has not clearly articulated its positioning and support for non-Red Hat OpenStack distros. Red Hat did not immediately respond to a question asking for a clarification on its support policy. The complication in all this comes from the fact that OpenStack is an open source project and there are misconceived notions that all OpenStack clouds are interoperable with one another. But Leong says just because OpenStack is open source doesn't change the expectations around vendors supporting competitors' products."

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Adobe Creative Cloud Services Offline (Again?)
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 07:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's more-moving-parts-to-fail department:
New submitter jvp (27996) writes "Adobe's authentication system for its Creative Cloud as well as its website services is down, and has been since Wednesday (14 May) afternoon. What this means: If you're a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can't log into your account via the desktop application. Online services such as the fonts are not available. Applications (eg: Photoshop, Premiere, etc) will continue to work. Softpedia has a nice article on it, but their time frames are off quite a bit." As of this writing, a message on the Adobe Creative Cloud page says "Creative Cloud is currently undergoing maintenance. Please check back later. Thank you for your patience." Even though I've come to like some remote-hosted software, like gmail, I don't think I'd want tools for manipulating local media tied even loosely to the uptime of a remote computer (or network connection).

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Data Mining Reveals How Wording Influences Tweet Propagation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you'll-never-believe-how-money-maker-#7-brings-tears-to-your-eyes department:
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "One of the most widely shared tweets in history is Obama's "Four more years", posted after his second presidential election victory and currently retweeted 775,000 times. But how would different wording have influenced this tweet's popularity and the way it spread? It's easy to imagine that there's no way of telling what might have been in such an alternative universe. But a surprising phenomenon on Twitter has allowed data scientists to study this kind of alternative reality and work out the factors that make one tweet more popular than another. It turns out that the twitter stream contains a surprisingly large number of tweets from the same authors, pointing to the same content but with different messages. That's a natural experiment in which factors such as the author, the URL, the number of followers and so on are all held constant while the message varies. By studying these pairs of tweets, researchers can measure how well each performs and then determine which factors contribute to their popularity. These turn out to be things like the amount of information the tweet contains, the language it uses and even whether it includes a request for a retweet. The team has developed an algorithm that predicts which of a pair of tweets is more likely to be successful with greater accuracy than humans. And they've even set up a website where anybody can test their tweet-rating ability and thereby improve their chances of writing the perfect tweet."

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Watch the FCC Vote On Net Neutrality Live At 10:30am Eastern
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-now-now department:
New submitter giltwist (1313107) writes "Very shortly, the FCC will begin its vote on proceeding 14-28 regarding Chairman Wheeler's highly contentious Net Neutrality proceeding. Senator Al Franken called Net Neutrality the free speech issue of our time. The vote begins at 10:30am Eastern time today. Make sure to watch it live at the FCC's live stream." "A particularly full agenda" is right; it's a rambunctious crowd, too.

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Comcast Predicts Usage Cap Within 5 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hang-onto-your-bits department:
finalcutmonstar (1862890) writes "With net neutrality dying a slow painful death, it is no surprise that in an investor call yesterday Comcast executive VP(and Darth Vader impersonator) David Cohen predicts bandwidth caps within the next 5 years. The cap would start at 300 GB and cost the customer subscriber an extra 10 USD for 50 GB. But, Cohen stated that 'I would also predict that the vast majority of our customers would never be caught in the buying the additional buckets of usage, that we will always want to say the basic level of usage at a sufficiently high level that the vast majority of our customers are not implicated by the usage-based billing plan.'" Update: 05/15 13:58 GMT by T : Correction: Cohen is actually talking about data transferred, rather than stored (as headline originally had it), as reader MAXOMENOS points out.

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IACR Finally Gets Around To Repudiating Mass Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-many-you're-making-us-look-bad department:
First time accepted submitter TechyImmigrant (175943) writes "Following the focus on government mass surveillance resulting from the information revealed by Edward Snowden, many organizations involved in security and communications put out statements essentially repudiating that surveillance. As of yesterday (May 15th 2014) the IACR (International Association for Cryptologic Research) who one might expect to have a position on this, has finally one year after the anniversary of the leaks, got around to making a position statement. 'The membership of the IACR repudiates mass surveillance and the undermining of cryptographic solutions and standards. Population-wide surveillance threatens democracy and human dignity. We call for expediting research and deployment of effective techniques to protect personal privacy against governmental and corporate overreach.'

So the crypto guys don't like it either. Now we know."


They're not the only ones:

reader Juha Saarinen (2822817) writes "Stung by concerns that the NSA may have introduced deliberately weakened crypto algorithms, NIST is embarking on a review of its existing standards and developments."

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Comcast Predicts Storage Cap Within 5 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '14 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hang-onto-your-bits department:
finalcutmonstar (1862890) writes "With net neutrality dying a slow painful death, it is no surprise that in an investor call yesterday Comcast executive VP(and Darth Vader impersonator) David Cohen predicts bandwidth caps within the next 5 years. The cap would start at 300 GB and cost the customer subscriber an extra 10 USD for 50 GB. But, Cohen stated that 'I would also predict that the vast majority of our customers would never be caught in the buying the additional buckets of usage, that we will always want to say the basic level of usage at a sufficiently high level that the vast majority of our customers are not implicated by the usage-based billing plan.'"

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