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Linux 3.13 Kernel To Bring Major Feature Improvements
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's this-is-only-the-free-version department:
An anonymous reader writes "There's many improvements due in the Linux 3.13 kernel that just entered development. On the matter of new hardware support, there's open-source driver support for Intel Broadwell and AMD Radeon R9 290 'Hawaii' graphics. NFTables will eventually replace IPTables; the multi-queue block layer is supposed to make disk access much faster on Linux; HDMI audio has improved; Stereo/3D HDMI support is found for Intel hardware; file-system improvements are on the way, along with support for limiting the power consumption of individual PC components."

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U.S. 5X Battery Research Sets Three Paths For Replacing Lithium
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 05:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's jugs-that-hold-more-juice department:
dcblogs writes "One year ago this month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $120 million plan to develop a technology capable of radically extending battery life. 'We want to change the game, basically,' said George Crabtree, a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and a physics professor who is leading the effort. The goal is to develop a battery that can deliver five times the performance, measured in energy density, that's also five times cheaper, and do it in five years. They are looking at three research areas. Researchers are considering replacing the lithium with magnesium that has two charges, or aluminum, which has three charges. Another approach investigates replacing the intercalation step with a true chemical reaction. A third approach is the use of liquids to replace crystalline anodes and cathodes, which opens up more space for working ions."

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Google Makes Latest Chrome Build Open PDFs By Default
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 04:01 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's open-it-use-dynamite-if-necessary department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google is changing the way its browser handles PDF files, starting with the Chrome Canary channel. Citing security concerns, the company wants Chrome to open PDF files by default, bypassing any third-party programs such as Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader."

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Woman Facing $3,500 Fine For Posting Online Review
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hidden-so-well-it-didn't-exist department:
sabri writes "Jen Palmer tried to order something from kleargear.com, some sort of cheap ThinkGeek clone. The merchandise never arrived and she wrote a review on ripoffreport.com. Now, kleargear.com is reporting her to credit agencies and sending collectors to fetch $3,500 as part of a clause which did not exist at the alleged time of purchase. 'By email, a person who did not identify him or herself defended the $3500 charge referring again to Kleargear.com's terms of sale. As for Jen being threatened — remove the post or face a fine — the company said that was not blackmail but rather a, "diligent effort to help them avoid [the fine]."' The terms and conditions shouldn't even apply, since the sales transaction was never completed."

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Smithsonian Releases 3D Models of Artifacts
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's creep-out-your-neighbors-with-lincoln's-face department:
plover writes "The Seattle Times reports, 'The Smithsonian Institution is launching a new 3D scanning and printing initiative to make more of its massive collection accessible to schools, researchers and the public worldwide. A small team has begun creating 3D models of some key objects representing the breadth of the collection at the world's largest museum complex. Some of the first 3D scans include the Wright brothers' first airplane, Amelia Earhart's flight suit, casts of President Abraham Lincoln's face during the Civil War and a Revolutionary War gunboat. Less familiar objects include a former slave's horn, a missionary's gun from the 1800s and a woolly mammoth fossil from the Ice Age. They are pieces of history some people may hear about but rarely see or touch.' So far they have posted 20 models, with the promise of many more to come."
They even have a model supernova remnant.

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FCC App Lets Android Users Measure Mobile Broadband Speed
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fast-enough-except-when-it's-not department:
itwbennett writes "The FCC's new Android app will allow users to measure the speed of their mobile broadband connection, while providing aggregate data to the agency for measuring nationwide mobile broadband network performance. Released as open-source software on Thursday, the free FCC Speed Test App will test network performance for parameters such as upload and download speed, latency and packet loss. An iPhone version of the app is in the works."

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Ask Slashdot: What Makes You Uninstall Apps?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that-cottage-cheese-smell department:
jones_supa writes "One of the most important measuring sticks for the success of any software is how long a user keeps it installed after first trying it. Intel has an article about some of the most common reasons users abandon software. Quoting: 'Apps that don’t offer anything helpful or unique tend to be the ones that are uninstalled the most frequently. People cycle through apps incredibly quickly to find the one that best fits their needs. ... A lot of apps have a naturally limited lifecycle; i.e., apps that are centered around a movie release or an app that tracks a pregnancy, or an app that celebrates a holiday. In addition, apps with limited functionality, for example, “lite” games that only go so far, are uninstalled once the user has mastered all the levels.' Some of the common factors they list include: lengthy forms, asking for ratings, collecting unnecessary data, user unfriendliness, unnecessary notifications and, of course, bugs. Additionally, if people have paid even a small price for the app, they are more committed to keep it installed. So, what makes you uninstall a piece of software?"

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Experts Hail Quantum Computer Memory Stability Breakthrough
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's long-enough-to-play-some-quake-3 department:
cold fjord writes "The BBC reports, 'A fragile quantum memory state has been held stable at room temperature for a "world record" 39 minutes — overcoming a key barrier to ultrafast computers. 'Qubits' of information encoded in a silicon system persisted for almost 100 times longer than ever before. ... "This opens the possibility of truly long-term storage of quantum information at room temperature," said Prof Thewalt ... unofficially, the previous best for a solid state system was 25 seconds at room temperature, or three minutes under cryogenic conditions. ... What's more, they found they could manipulate the qubits as the temperature of the system rose and fell back towards absolute zero. At cryogenic temperatures, their quantum memory system remained coherent for three hours. "Having such robust, as well as long-lived, qubits could prove very helpful for anyone trying to build a quantum computer," said co-author Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University's department of materials. ... "We've managed to identify a system that seems to have basically no noise." However she cautions there are still many hurdles to overcome before large-scale quantum computations can be performed. ... "This result represents an important step towards realizing quantum devices," said David Awschalom, professor in Spintronics and Quantum Information, at the University of Chicago. "However, a number of intriguing challenges still remain." — Abstract for the paywalled academic paper."

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Robots: a Working Breed At the Dairy
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's teaching-skynet-humility department:
Rambo Tribble writes "The BBC reports on efforts at Sydney University, where researchers have had excellent success herding dairy cows with robots. By designing the robots to move smoothly, they have kept the cows moving without stressing them. From the video, one can see the animals seem not to interpret the machine as any threat. 'The robot could also cut down the number of accidents involving humans on farms. Most dairy farmers in Australia use quad bikes to round up their cattle and they are one of the leading causes of injury. The team hopes that by using the robot to do the job instead, accident rates could fall.'"

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Woman Facing $3,500 Fine For Posting Online Review
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hidden-so-well-it-didn't-exist department:
sabri writes "Jen Palmer tried to order something from kleargear.com, some sort of cheap ThinkGeek clone. The merchandise never arrived and she wrote a review on ripoffreport.com. Now, kleargear.com is reporting her to credit agencies and sending collectors to fetch $3,500 as part of a clause which did not exist at the alleged time of purchase. 'By email, a person who did not identify him or herself defended the $3500 charge referring again to Kleargear.com's terms of sale. As for Jen being threatened — remove the post or face a fine — the company said that was not blackmail but rather a, "diligent effort to help them avoid [the fine]."' The terms and conditions shouldn't even apply, since the sales transaction was never completed."

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Why Letting Your Insurance Company Monitor How You Drive Can Be a Good Thing
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everybody's-an-above-average-driver department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kim Gittleson reports at BBC that car insurance firms like Progressive are trying to convince consumers that letting them monitor their driving behavior is actually a good thing. They say that the future of car insurance is not just being able to monitor individual drivers to give them lower prices, but also to make them better drivers. 'Now that we can observe directly how people drive, we think this will change the way insurance works,' says Dave Pratt, who says that Progressive has more than a trillion seconds of driving data from 1.6 million customers. '18-year-old guys pay a lot for insurance, but some 18-year-olds are really safe drivers and they deserve a better deal.' Better big data technologies, like the telematic driving data collected by car companies (PDF) or even information gathered from social media profiles, can help augment that risk profile. 'If I'm a driver that doesn't drive that frequently, and I have a pattern that would indicate that I drive more carefully than an average person with my profile, then I may be able to save 30-40% on my car insurance, and that's pretty significant,' says Joe Reifel. For now, using big data analytics for insurers is still in the early stages. Only 2% of the U.S. car insurance market offers an insurance product based on monitoring driving, but that proportion is projected to grow to around 10-15% of the market by 2017. And other countries, like Italy and the U.K., are already using the data to analyze not just risk profiles but also to determine who is at fault in car accidents. The future, most analysts agree is create a continuous feedback loop between insurers and consumers, so that consumers will react to the big data analyses that insurers perform and change their behavior accordingly. 'Bad drivers will at some point need to improve their driving or accept [having] to pay for the real risk they represent,' says Jacques Amselem."

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Prison Is For Dangerous Criminals, Not Hacktivists
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's keep-your-head-down department:
In late 2011, defense contractor Stratfor suffered a cybersecurity breach that resulted in a leak of millions of internal emails. A few months later, the FBI arrested hacktivist Jeremy Hammond and several others for actions related to the breach. Hammond pleaded guilty to one count of violating the CFAA, and today his sentence was handed down: 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He said, [The prosecutors] have made it clear they are trying to send a message to others who come after me. A lot of it is because they got slapped around, they were embarrassed by Anonymous and they feel that they need to save face." Reader DavidGilbert99 adds,
"Former LulzSec and Anonymous member Jake Davis argues that U.S. lawmakers need to take a leaf out of the U.K.'s legal system and not put Jeremy Hammond behind bars for his part in the hack of Stratfor. 'Jeremy Hammond has a lot to give society too. Prisons are for dangerous people that need to be segmented from the general population. Hackers are not dangerous, they are misunderstood, and while disciplinary action is of course necessary, there is nothing disciplined about locking the door on a young man's life for 10 years.'"

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Linux Format Magazine Team Quits, Launches New Profit-Donating Mag
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stick-a-fork-in-it department:
An anonymous reader writes "What happens when the editorial team of the biggest-selling English Linux magazine gets frustrated? They leave their company and start a new one. Most of the writers behind Linux Format have jumped ship and started Linux Voice, a social enterprise magazine which will donate 50% of its profits back to the community, and freely license its content under Creative Commons after 9 months. They're running a fundraiser on Indiegogo with already a quarter of their funding goal reached. Will this shake up the whole publishing industry?"

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First Lab Demonstration That the Ability To Evolve Can Itself Evolve
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's turn-their-evolvificating-up-to-11 department:
ananyo writes "Research on Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, shows that the capacity to evolve can itself be the target of natural selection. B. burgdorferi can cause a chronic infection even if its animal host mounts a strong immune response — evading those defenses by tweaking the shape and expression of its main surface antigen, VIsE. A series of unexpressed genetic sequences organized into 'cassettes' recombine with the VIsE gene, changing the resulting protein such that it escapes detection by the host's immune system. The researchers studied the molecular evolution of the cassettes' genetic sequences in 12 strains of B. burgdorferi. They found that natural selection seemed to favor bacteria with more genetic variability within their cassettes, and hence a greater capacity to generate different versions of the antigen. 'Greater diversity among the cassettes in itself shouldn't be a selective advantage considering they aren't expressed and don't do anything else,' says lead author Dustin Brisson. 'But we did find evidence of selection, so the question is: what else could it be for besides evolvability?'"

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Hotel Tycoon Seeks Property Rights On the Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-rights-onluna department:
SonicSpike writes "The founder of Bigelow Aerospace, Robert Bigelow, made a fortune in the hotel and real estate businesses, and he's pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into an enterprise that will create inflatable habitats designed for life beyond Earth. He entered into an agreement with NASA to provide a report on how ventures like his could help NASA get back to the moon, and even Mars, faster and cheaper. Bigelow is applying to the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation to amend a 1967 international agreement on the moon so that a system of private property rights can be established there. 'When there isn't law and order,' he said, 'there's chaos.' Bigelow said he believes the right to own what one discovers on the moon is the incentive needed for private enterprise to commit massive amounts of capital and risk lives. 'It provides a foundational security to investors,' he said. Bigelow does not feel that any one nation should own the moon. 'No one anything should own the moon,' he said. 'But, yes, multiple entities, groups, individuals, yes, they should have the opportunity to own the moon.'"

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How the NSA Is Harming America's Economy
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's surveillance-industrial-complex department:
anagama writes "According to an article at Medium, 'Cisco has seen a huge drop-off in demand for its hardware in emerging markets, which the company blames on fears about the NSA using American hardware to spy on the rest of the world. ... Cisco saw orders in Brazil drop 25% and Russia drop 30%. ... Analysts had expected Cisco's business in emerging markets to increase 6%, but instead it dropped 12%, sending shares of Cisco plunging 10% in after-hours trading.' This is in addition to the harm caused to remote services that may cost $35 billion over the next three years. Then, of course, there are the ways the NSA has made ID theft easier. ID theft cost Americans $1.52 billion in 2011, to say nothing of the time wasted in solving ID theft issues — some of that figure is certainly attributable to holes the NSA helped build. The NSA, its policies, and the politicians who support the same are directly responsible for massive losses of money and jobs."

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MenuetOS, an OS Written Entirely In Assembly Language, Inches Towards 1.0
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-small-or-go-home department:
angry tapir writes "MenuetOS is an open source, GUI-equipped, x86 operating system written entirely in assembly language that can fit on a floppy disk (if you can find one). I originally spoke to its developers in 2009. Recently I had a chance to catch up with them to chat about what's changed and what needs to be done before the OS hits version 1.0 after 13 years of work. The system's creator, Ville Turjanmaa, says, 'Timeframe is secondary. It's more important is to have a complete and working set of features and applications. Sometimes a specific time limit rushes application development to the point of delivering incomplete code, which we want to avoid. ... We support USB devices, such storages, printers, webcams and digital TV tuners, and have basic network clients and servers. So before 1.0 we need to improve the existing code and make sure everything is working fine. ... The main thing for 1.0 is to have all application groups available'"

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PlayStation 4 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we-are-in-the-future department:
Today marks the launch of the latest entrant to the next-gen console race: Sony's PlayStation 4. A number of reviews for the system have already gone up, but many outlets are waiting for next Friday's Xbox One launch before passing final judgment. With regard to the PS4's hardware and UI, Digital Foundry praises the DualShock 4 controller design and the improvements to background downloading, while worrying about fan noise in warmer environments. iFixit provides a step-by-step teardown of the device, giving it an 8/10 repairability score. Ars has many good things to say, but many bad things as well: "The PlayStation 4 has an excellent controller, decently powerful hardware, some intriguing, well-executed new features, and an interface that shows belated acknowledgment of some of Sony's most user-unfriendly past designs. It also has a lot of features that are half-assed, missing, or downright bewildering at this point." Polygon's review is more visually oriented, filled with pictures, videos, and drawings. They conclude, "[T]he PlayStation 4's focus on gaming — and only gaming — is undermined by a distinct lack of compelling software. That failing is sure to improve — better games and more of them will appear on the PlayStation 4 — but right now, this is a game console without a game to recommend it." Eurogamer's coverage includes has a round-up of launch title reviews and gameplay videos. IGN has coverage of the roughly 0.4% of PS4s that arrive broken out of the box, and Kotaku explains how they fixed theirs.

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Global Warming Since 1997 Underestimated By Half
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's invest-in-sponges department:
Layzej writes "A new paper shows that global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. The reason is that the weather station network covers only about 85% of the planet. Satellite data shows that the parts of the Earth that are not covered by the surface station network, especially the Arctic, have warmed exceptionally fast over the last 15 years. Most temperature reconstructions simply omit any region not covered. A temperature reconstruction developed by NASA somewhat addresses the gaps by filling in missing data using temperatures from the nearest available observations. Now Kevin Cowtan (University of York) and Robert Way (University of Ottawa) have developed a new method to fill the data gaps using satellite data. The researchers describe their methods and findings in this YouTube video. 'The most important part of our work was testing the skill of each of these approaches in reconstructing unobserved temperatures. To do this we took the observed data and further reduced the coverage by setting aside some of the observations. We then reconstructed the global temperatures using each method in turn. Finally, we compared the reconstructed temperatures to the observed temperatures where they are available... While infilling works well over the oceans, the hybrid model works particularly well at restoring temperatures in the vicinity of the unobserved regions.' The authors note that 'While short term trends are generally treated with a suitable level of caution by specialists in the field, they feature significantly in the public discourse on climate change.'"

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Zuckerberg To Teach 10 Million Kids 0-Based Counting
Posted by News Fetcher on November 15 '13 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's why-not-mix-things-up-and-start-at-pi department:
theodp writes "'Why do programmers start counting at zero?' wondered Mike Hoye, questioning the conventional programming wisdom. Code.org will soon introduce the practice to a hoped-for audience of 10 million schoolchildren as part of Computer Science Education Week's Hour of Code. In a tutorial created by engineers from Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook that's intended to introduce programming to kids as young as six years old, an otherwise breezy lesson featuring look-ma-no-typing Blockly and characters out of Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies, a Mark Zuckerberg video introducing the concept of Repeat Loops includes an out-of-place JavaScript example that shows kids it's as easy as 0-1-2-3 to generate 4 lines of lyrics from Happy Birthday to You by using zero-based numbering with a For-loop and ternary If statement. Accompanying videos by Bill Gates on If Statements and basketball star Chris Bosh on Repeat Until Blocks show the Code.org tutorial is still a work-in-progress. That's no big deal, since CSEdWeek has pushed back the delivery date for final Hour of Code tutorials from its prior little-time-for-testing due date to Dec. 9th, the first day of a five-day period during which teachers are expected to deliver the lessons to 10 million students."

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