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Massive Open Online School "FutureLearn" Opens
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 04:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's go-learn-something department:
judgecorp writes "Twenty-three British universities are contributing to a British provider of "massive open online courses" (MOOCs) by the name of FutureLearn. Backed by long-established expert, The Open University, which has been doing remote learning for 44 years, the British MOOC provider aims to compete with US outfits such as Khan Academy and Coursera."

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GTA V Makes $800 Million In 24 Hours
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-lot-of-cheese department:
An anonymous reader writes "The highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V was released at midnight yesterday, and to no surprise has managed to break the record for highest sales in 24 hours. Distributors Take-Two Interactive have announced that the game has managed to achieve a staggering $800m (£490m) worth of sales within the first day, and is certainly going to break the forecasted $1 billion within the week. The record was previous held by Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops which made $500m within 24 hours in 2009. The game also holds the title for the quickest entertainment product to achieve $1 billion in sales as they hit the mark by day 15."

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Linus Torvalds Admits He's Been Asked To Insert Backdoor Into Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 11:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's getting-in department:
darthcamaro writes "At the Linuxcon conference in New Orleans today, Linus Torvalds joined fellow kernel developers in answering a barrage of questions about Linux development. One question he was asked was whether a government agency had ever asked about inserting a back-door into Linux. Torvalds responded 'no' while shaking his head 'yes,' as the audience broke into spontaneous laughter. Torvalds also admitted that while he as a full life outside of Linux he couldn't imagine his life without it. 'I don't see any project coming along being more interesting to me than Linux,' Torvalds said. 'I couldn't imagine filling the void in my life if I didn't have Linux.'"

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One Man's Battle With Patent Trolls
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 09:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pay-up department:
farrellj writes "Dovden Investments, labelled as a Patent Troll by many, got more than they bargained for when they went after Ottawa developer Larry Dunkelman. Mr. Dunkelman wrote BusBuddy, an app that takes GPS and scheduling data from OC Transpo, the local city bus service, and predicts when the bus you are waiting for will actually arrive. But when Dovden came along and asked for $10,000, as a 'licensing' fee, Dunkelman got angry, and decided to fight. 'They claim to have patented the method of using GPS location on vehicles to determine when they will arrive at a certain place,' Dunkelman said. 'This applies to buses, package delivery, airplanes, trains - any business that employs a fleet of vehicles in which they track their location to arrive at a certain place, is open to this patent troll.' Dunkelman hired an intellectual property lawyer and started chipping away at the company's claims. Dovden has since discontinued the suit and are now being chased by Dunkelman and his lawyer for legal costs."

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Group Attacks Bad Software Patents Before They're Approved
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's not-on-our-watch department:
Curupira writes "Ars Technica discusses how the Linux Defenders group are exercising the rights granted by the America Invents Act to identify and fight the patents that potentially threaten Linux and open source software. From the article: 'In a session at LinuxCon today, Linux Defenders director Andrea Casillas explained how the group is using rights granted by the new law to fight patent applications. A project of the Open Invention Network, Software Freedom Law Center, and Linux Foundation, Linux Defenders examines the 6,000 new patent applications published each week, attempting to identify those that are potentially threatening to Linux and open source. Then, the group looks for prior art that would invalidate at least some of the claims in the patents.'"

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Hulu "Kicking Back Into Action" Says CEO, Adding New Content
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's back-to-life department:
cagraham writes "While rival Netflix dominated the news this summer with original programming and content deals, the only news from Hulu was a July announcement that they might be sold off. Parent companies Disney, 21st Century Fox, and Comcast seem to have decided against that now, and acting CEO Andy Forssell says they're 'kicking back into action.' The main take is that they've signed an agreement with the BBC to add show like Sherlock, MI-5, and Doctor Who, although the deal isn't exclusive, and the shows are already on other streaming services."

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South African Research Team Creates World's First Digital Laser
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's better-focus department:
smi.james.th writes in with news about new laser technology developed in South Africa. "The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced in Pretoria on Tuesday that it had developed the world's first digital laser. 'I am always very cautious about using the term "breakthrough",' noted Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom. 'We scrutinized this very carefully before we said that this is really new! South African scientists are once again making noteworthy contributions to the world.'... A normal laser contains two mirrors, opposed to each other and at opposite ends of the instrument. One is highly reflective and the other is a curved, partially reflective mirror. In the digital laser, the curved mirror is replaced by a liquid crystal display (LCD) system. The LCD is connected to a computer and monitor."

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Emotional Attachment To Robots Could Affect Battlefield Outcome
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's finally-a-use-for-the-uncanny-valley department:
vinces99 writes "It's becoming more common to have robots sub for humans to do dirty or sometimes dangerous work. But researchers are finding that, in some cases, people have started to treat robots like pets, friends or even as an extension of themselves. That raises a question: If a soldier attaches human or animal-like characteristics to a field robot, can it affect how they use the robot? What if they 'care' too much about the robot to send it into a dangerous situation? Julie Carpenter, who just received a doctorate in education from the University of Washington, wanted to find out. She interviewed Explosive Ordnance Disposal military personnel – highly trained soldiers who use robots to disarm explosives – about how they feel about the robots they work with every day. What she found is that troops' relationships with robots continue to evolve as the technology changes. Soldiers told her that attachment to their robots didn't affect their performance, yet acknowledged they felt a range of emotions such as frustration, anger and even sadness when their field robot was destroyed. That makes Carpenter wonder whether outcomes on the battlefield could potentially be compromised by human-robot attachment, or the feeling of self-extension into the robot described by some operators."

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Tesla Working On Autonomous Cars: Musk Wants Teslas With Auto-Pilot
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
cartechboy writes "Do you like driving? Well then, you're going to hate the future, because automakers are racing to beat each other to the starting line of the self-driving car race. By 2020, autonomous vehicles may arrive from Cadillac, Nissan, Volvo, Mercedes, Audi, and even Google. But now Tesla wants to jump into the ring. CEO Elon Musk told the Financial Times that the electric-car maker will build a self-driving car...within three years. You'll note that's much sooner than 2020, which means Tesla would beat other, larger automakers to the punch. For those who fear self-driving cars, Musk said the autonomous Tesla could drive 90 percent of the time, but that in his opinion, a vehicle without a human in the cockpit isn't feasible. Like it or not, our roads will probably be safer because you won't actually be driving — well, OK, that other guy who's texting or talking or drinking a huge coffee or ... you get the idea."

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Brazil Announces Plans To Move Away From US-Centric Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's taking-their-toys-and-going-home department:
trbdavies writes "The Associated Press reports: 'President Dilma Rousseff ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company's network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to U.S. tech companies such as Facebook and Google. The leader is so angered by the espionage that on Tuesday she postponed next month's scheduled trip to Washington, where she was to be honored with a state dinner.' Among Brazil's plans are a domestic encrypted email service, laying its own fiber optic cable to Europe, requiring services like Facebook and Google to store data generated by Brazilians on servers located in Brazil, and pushing for 'international rules on privacy and security in hardware and software during the U.N. General Assembly meeting later this month.'"

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Join the Efforts of a Manned Mission To Jovian Moon Europa
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-serious-about-emigration department:
Kristian vonBengtson writes "Objective Europa aims to send human beings to Jupiter's icy moon, Europa, on a one way mission in search of extraterrestrial life while expanding the borders of exploration and knowledge for all mankind. The starting point of Objective Europa is purely theoretical (Phase I) but will move into more advanced phases including prototyping, technology try-outs, and eventually a crewed launch. Objective Europa is a crowd-researched project made up of an international team of volunteers. Many people from a wide range of backgrounds have already joined and become a vital part of the mission. ... [Europa's] deep ocean and active geology provide a solid platform for extraterrestrial life, making Europa one of the most enticing locations to explore in the solar system. The 600-day flight required to reach Europa is manageable with today's technology, and the many challenges of such a mission pose a perfect starting point for new research and innovative thinking."

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BlackBerry Reportedly Prepping To Slash Workforce By 40 Percent
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sorry-about-your-luck department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "BlackBerry is preparing to slice up to 40 percent of its workforce by the end of 2013, according to anonymous sources speaking to The Wall Street Journal. The layoffs will reportedly shrink the company's overall operations and affect every department. A BlackBerry spokesperson refused to comment on the matter to the Journal. BlackBerry bet the company on the success of its new BlackBerry 10 operating system, but its first two 'hero' devices running the software — the Z10 and Q10 — failed to make much of an impact when they arrived on the market earlier this year. On Sept. 18, BlackBerry also unveiled the larger Z30, which runs an updated version of BlackBerry 10 and features a five-inch AMOLED touchscreen and larger battery. Once a dominant player in the mobile-device space, BlackBerry seemed helpless to respond as Google Android and Apple iOS slowly but surely chewed away its market-share over several quarters. As corporations adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, a flood of personal iPhones and Android devices helped displace BlackBerry as a mainstay of executives and office workers."

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Google Tackles Health
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's as-long-as-you-don't-mind-having-sponsored-cells department:
Google has announced the formation of a new company called Calico, which aims to promote health and fight aging. Larry Page said, "That’s a lot different from what Google does today. And you’re right. But as we explained in our first letter to shareholders, there’s tremendous potential for technology more generally to improve people’s lives. So don’t be surprised if we invest in projects that seem strange or speculative compared with our existing Internet businesses." He expanded upon this in an interview with Time: "I'm not proposing that we spend all of our money on those kinds of speculative things. But we should be spending a commensurate amount with what normal types of companies spend on research and development, and spend it on things that are a little more long-term and a little more ambitious than people normally would. More like moon shots." The new company's CEO will be Arthur Levinson, who is currently the chairman of Apple and biotech company Genentech. Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "For too many of our friends and family, life has been cut short or the quality of their life is too often lacking. Art is one of the crazy ones who thinks it doesn't have to be this way."

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IBM VP Talks About Another $1 Billion for Linux Development (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's a-billion-here-and-a-billion-there-can-add-up-to-real-money-if-you're-not-careful department:
Brad McCredie is an IBM VP, and head of IBM's Power Systems development. (He's also one of the mere few hundred IBM Fellows that have been named in the past 50 years.) He pointed out in his keynote at this year's LinuxCon gathering that IBM has been adopting and supporting Linux (and associated software, like Apache) in various ways for the past decade and a half. Famously, the company promised to support Linux to the tune of a billion dollars in 2001, and McCredie renewed the promise on Tuesday. I sat down to talk with him about just how they'll go about spending the next billion dollars on Linux development; when a company has more than $200 billion in market capitalization, there are lots of ways to spread it around. Spending on hardware is one way, and McCredie also talked about the recently announced OpenPower consortium, which ties directly into the ongoing Linux push.

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Physicists Discover Geometry Underlying Particle Physics
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's amplituhedron-is-the-word-of-the-day department:
New submitter Lee_Dailey sends this news from Quanta Magazine:
"Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality. 'This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,' said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University who has been following the work. The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like "amplituhedron," which yields an equivalent one-term expression."

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Ask Slashdot: When Is Patent License Trading Not Trolling?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 10:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's middlemen-like-to-think-that department:
LeadSongDog writes "A piece in yesterday's Forbes offers arguments on why not all 'Non-Practicing Entities' are 'Patent Trolls.' Comments here on such businesses are often critical. Is there a right way to trade in patents for profit without abusing the process?"

From the article: "The Founders’ decision to foster non-practicing entities and patent licensing proved crucial to America’s rapid technological progress and economic growth. Patent records from the nineteenth century reveal that more than two-thirds of all the great inventors of the Industrial Revolution, including Thomas Edison and Elias Howe, were non-practicing entities who focused on invention and licensed some or all of their patents to others to develop into new products."

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Cyanogen Mod Goes Commercial To Make "Available On Everything, To Everyone"
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's live-long-and-profit department:
The popular Cyanogen Mod distribution of the Android Open Source Project dropped a bombshell today: the founding members have formed a corporation (currently with a team of seventeen hackers) to work on the project with the founder of Boost Mobile as the CEO. Quoting the announcement: "You have probably seen the pace of development pick up drastically over the past few months. More devices supported, bigger projects such as CM Account, Privacy Guard, Voice+, a new version of Superuser, and secure messaging. We vastly improved our infrastructure. We’re doing more bug fixes, creating more features, and improving our communication. We think that the time has come for your mobile device to truly be yours again, and we want to bring that idea to everybody. ... So what does this all mean for the community? The first thing I wanted to do when I realized we were actually doing this, was tell everyone possible. But when starting a company, you have to think about the larger picture. This meant not announcing until the time was right, our house was in order and we would have something to show. I have seen open source projects come and go, some being bought out and closed, others stagnating and falling by the wayside. I don’t want to see this happen with CM."

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Nvidia Unveils Its Own 7" Tegra Note Tablet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's your-name-here-for-a-few-million department:
crookedvulture writes "Nvidia has already produced a gaming handheld based on its quad-core Tegra 4 SoC. Today, the company announced plans to build a 7" Tegra Note tablet that uses the same chip. Rather than selling the tablet itself, Nvidia will make the device available through parters like EVGA and PNY. Asking price: $199. That seems a little steep given the Tegra Note's 1280x800 display resolution, which delivers a much lower PPI than the 1080p panel in the latest Nexus 7. But the Tegra Note does have some perks, including front-facing speakers, Micro HDMI output, microSD expansion, and an optional stylus. The tablet also boasts a fancy camera that taps into the Tegra chip's photography engine. Nvidia promises to keep the device updated with the latest versions of Android, too. You can expect to see the Tegra Note for sale worldwide in the next few months."

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Orbital Sciences Cargo Test Mission To ISS Launches Successfully
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 08:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's ups-trucks-in-spaaaaace department:
Months after a successful test launch of the Antares rocket with a dummy payload, today Orbital Sciences Corp successfully launched their demo cargo mission to the ISS. Their Cygnus resupply craft detached from the second stage and at 11:33 a.m. deployed its solar array. From NASA: "Solar array deployment is complete for Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus spacecraft, now traveling 17,500 mph in Earth's orbit to rendezvous with the International Space Station on Sunday, Sept. 22, for a demonstration resupply mission. The spacecraft will deliver about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food and clothing, to the space station's Expedition 37 crew, who will grapple and attach the capsule using the orbiting laboratory's robotic arm."

There's an updates weblog, and some pictures.

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Abandoned UK National Health Service IT System Has Cost $16bn... So Far
Posted by News Fetcher on September 18 '13 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's waterfall-is-back-in-style department:
dryriver writes with news of yet another major software project gone awry. From the article: "An abandoned National Health Service (NHS) patient record system has so far cost the taxpayer nearly £10bn, with the final bill for what would have been the world's largest civilian computer system likely to be several hundreds of millions of pounds higher, according a highly critical report from parliament's public spending watchdog. MPs on the public accounts committee said final costs are expected to increase beyond the existing £9.8bn because new regional IT systems for the NHS, introduced to replace the National Programme for IT, are also being poorly managed and are riven with their own contractual wrangles. When the original plan was abandoned the total bill was expected to be £6.4bn."

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