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Bill Gates Seeking Patent To Make Shakespeare Less Boring
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '13 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's textbooks-are-as-tedious-as-a-twice-told-tale department:
theodp writes "GeekWire reports that Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold are seeking a patent on making textbooks less boring by using a cellphone or other device to scan text on a page, parse its meaning, and automatically create suitable accompanying video or pictures to keep students engaged. From the patent application for Autogenerating Video From Text: 'A student is assigned a reading assignment. To make the assignment more interesting, the student may use his or her mobile phone to take a picture of a page of the textbook. The systems and methods described herein may then generate a synthesized image sequence of the action occurring in the text. Thus, rather than simply reading names and dates, the student may see soldiers running across a battlefield.' Furthermore, the patent explains, the experience may be tailored to a user's preferences: 'For example, in a video clip about a Shakespearean play, the preference data may be used to insert family members into the video clip instead of the typical characters.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Is There a Good Device Holster?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's infinite-cargo-shorts department:
gurps_npc writes "I have seen several technology holsters. There are a lot of good ones for cell phones, but I am looking for something larger — for a tablet (Nook/Kindle/Nexus/iPad). There is, however, a direct trade-off between being discreet and having decent carrying capacity. Has anyone found an ideal balance? I would love to hear from people with direct experience. Do you look like the worst kind of geek hipster while wearing it? Any feature I should look for? I found one from a company called techslinger, but it looks a bit too geeky for me (double-sided makes it really stand out)."

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New York's Financial Regulator Subpoenas Bitcoin Companies
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's party's-over-folks department:
dreamstateseven writes "Things are getting serious for Bitcoin this month: a federal judge declared it real money, Bloomberg gave it an experimental ticker, Thailand declared it illegal, and now New York's financial regulator announced an interest in regulating it. The department is starting out by subpoenaing 22 digital-currency companies and investors to get a lay of the Bitcoin land. They sent letters to the major Bitcoin players asking them to hand over information regarding their money laundering controls, consumer protection practices, source of funding, pitch books (for Bitcoin start-ups) and investment strategies (for Bitcoin investors). Keep in mind, a subpoena doesn't mean criminal activity has taken place."

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Fedora Core May Be Reborn
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what's-old-is-new department:
darthcamaro writes "At the first ever Fedora Flock conference this past weekend, a proposal was put forward by developer Mat Miller to re-architect Fedora with a core distribution, surrounded by layers of additional functionality for desktop, server and cloud. It's a proposal that Fedora Project Leader Robyn Bergeron is interested in too. 'How can we make Fedora be something that is modular enough to fit into all those different environments (device, desktop, server & cloud) , while still acknowledging that a one-size-fits-all approach isn't something that draws people into the project?' Bergeron said. 'People want something that is specifically for them.'"

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US Horse Registry Forced To Accept Cloned Horses
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's yea-or-neigh department:
kdryer39 writes "U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson said she will sign an order requiring the American Quarter Horse Association to begin allowing cloned animals to be placed on its registry, according to the organization. A jury last month ruled that the horse association violated anti-monopoly laws by banning cloned animals. The quarter horse association issues and maintains a pedigree registry of American quarter horses, a popular breed associated with cowboys riding on the range in the 19th and early 20th centuries."

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Medical Costs Bankrupt Patients; It's the Computer's Fault
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 04:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-blame-the-schools department:
nbauman writes "Don't get cancer until 2015. The Obama health reform is supposed to limit out-of-pocket costs to $12,700. But the Obama Administration has delayed its implementation until 2015. The insurance companies told them that their computers weren't able to add up all their customers' out-of-pocket costs to see whether they had reached the limit. For some common diseases, such as cancer or heart failure, treatment can cost over $100,000, and patients will be responsible for the balance. Tell me, Slashdot, how difficult would it be to rewrite an insurance billing system to aggregate a policyholder's out-of-pocket costs? 'A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said: "We knew this was an important issue. We had to balance the interests of consumers with the concerns of health plan sponsors and carriers, which told us that their computer systems were not set up to aggregate all of a person's out-of-pocket costs. They asked for more time to comply."'"

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EFF Slams Google Fiber For Banning Servers On Its Network
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 03:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-my-quake-3-server-isn't-welcome-then-i-am-not-welcome department:
MojoKid writes "Anyone who has tried to host their own website from home likely knows all-too-well the hassles that ISPs can cause. Simply put, ISPs generally don't want you to do that, preferring you to move up to a business package (aka: more expensive). Not surprisingly, the EFF doesn't like these rules, which seem to exist only to upsell you a product. The problem, though, is that all ISPs are deliberately vague about what qualifies as a 'server.' Admittedly, when I hear the word 'server,' I think of a Web server, one that delivers a webpage when accessed. The issue is that servers exist in many different forms, so to target specific servers 'just because' is ridiculous (and really, it is). Torrent clients, for example, act as servers (and clients), sometimes resulting in a hundred or more connections being established between you and available peers. With a large number of connections like that being allowed, why would a Web server be classified any different? Those who torrent a lot are very likely to be using more ISP resources than those running websites from their home — yet for some reason, ISPs force you into a bigger package when that's the kind of server you want to run. We'll have to wait and see if EFF's movement will cause any ISP to change. Of all of them, you'd think it would have been Google to finally shake things up."

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Court: NRC In Violation For Not Ruling On Yucca Mountain
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's waste-not-want-not department:
schwit1 sends this quote from an AP report: "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] to complete the licensing process and approve or reject the Energy Department's application for a never-completed waste storage site at Nevada's Yucca Mountain. In a sharply worded opinion, the court said the nuclear agency was 'simply flouting the law' when it allowed the Obama administration to continue plans to close the proposed waste site 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The action goes against a federal law designating Yucca Mountain as the nation's nuclear waste repository. 'The president may not decline to follow a statutory mandate or prohibition simply because of policy objections,' Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in a majority opinion (PDF), which was joined Judge A. Raymond Randolph. Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland dissented. The appeals court said the case has important implications for the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government. 'It is no overstatement to say that our constitutional system of separation of powers would be significantly altered if we were to allow executive and independent agencies to disregard federal law in the manner asserted in this case by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,' Kavanaugh wrote. 'The commission is simply defying a law enacted by Congress ... without any legal basis.'"

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The First 'Practical' Jetpack May Be On Sale In Two Years
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-sufficiently-impractical-values-of-practical department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "This week, New Zealand-based company Martin Aircraft became certified to take what it calls 'the world's first practical jetpack' out for a series of manned test flights. If all goes well, the company plans to start selling a consumer version of the jetpack in 2015, starting at $150,000 to $200,000 and eventually dropping to $100,000. 'For us it's a very important step because it moves it out of what I call a dream into something which I believe we're now in a position to commercialize and take forward very quickly,' CEO Peter Coker told the AFP."

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Cold War Plan Tried To Put a Copper Ring Around the Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-let's-wrap-the-moon-in-tinfoil department:
Wired has the story of a plan enacted in the early 1960s by the U.S. Air Force and the Department of Defense that had the goal of safeguarding the country's long-range communications from Russian interference. The solution they came up with wasn't easy, but it was straightforward: launch hundreds of millions of thin copper wires into orbit in the hopes of forming an artificial ring around the planet. From the article:
"Project Needles, as it was originally known, was Walter E. Morrow’s idea. He suggested that if Earth possessed a permanent radio reflector in the form of an orbiting ring of copper threads, America’s long-range communications would be immune from solar disturbances and out of reach of nefarious Soviet plots. Each copper wire was about 1.8 centimeters in length. This was half the wavelength of the 8 GHz transmission signal beamed from Earth, effectively turning each filament into what is known as a dipole antenna. The antennas would boost long-range radio broadcasts without depending on the fickle ionosphere. ... On May 9, 1963, a second West Ford launch successfully dispersed its spindly cargo approximately 3,500 kilometers above the Earth, along an orbit that crossed the North and South Pole. Voice transmissions were successfully relayed between California and Massachusetts, and the technical aspects of the experiment were declared a success. As the dipole needles continued to disperse, the transmissions fell off considerably, although the experiment proved the strategy could work in principle."

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Open Source Licensing Debate Has Positive Effect On GitHub
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 12:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's clearly-we-need-another-new-license department:
New submitter Lemeowski writes "Critics have been pounding GitHub recently, claiming it is hosting tons of code with no explicit software license. The debate was thrust into the limelight last year when James Governor of RedMonk issued an acclaimed tweet about young developers being 'about POSS — post open source software,' meaning they disliked or avoided licensing and governance. Red Hat's IP attorney Richard Fontana explores the complaint saying there is a positive aspect of the POSS and GitHub phenomenon: Developers are, for the first time in the history of free software, helping inform each other about licensing and aiding in the selection process. The result is that it's becoming easier to suggest legal improvements to GitHub-hosted repositories."

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Google Multiplies Low-Tier Bug Bounties By Factor of Five
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-william-mckinleys department:
Trailrunner7 writes "Google's bug bounty program has been one of the more successful reward systems of its kind, and the company has regularly modified and expanded the program over the years to keep pace with what's going on in the industry. Google also has increased the rewards it offers for certain kinds of vulnerabilities several times, and the company is doing it again, raising the lower reward level from $1,000 to $5,000. This is the second major reward increase in the last couple of months. In June the company jacked up the amount of money it pays for cross-site scripting vulnerabilities in Google web properties to $7,500, and also raised the reward for authentication bypasses to that same level. Now, Google is giving researchers more incentive to find significant vulnerabilities in its Chrome browser."

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Amateur Astronomer Bruce Berger Talks About Meteors and Telescopes (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-to-see-stars-without-getting-hit-on-the-head department:
Bruce Berger is an IT
guy, but he's also an amateur astronomer who takes at least one aspect
of astronomy more seriously than most sky-watchers. Not
content with what he could buy when he first wanted a telescope of his
own, Berger set out to make one -- it turned out so well, he says
he'll never part with it, and he's made several others since, and
taught many other people to do the same. In this pursuit, he's also
been a long-time member of the Amateur
Telescope Makers of Boston
, including a stint as the group's
president. (Berger's custom license plate reads "SCPMKR.") In the video
below, though, I caught up with him in Maine between evenings watching
this year's spectacular Leonid showers (and without any of his
home-built scopes to hand), to give some insight about what would-be
skywatchers should consider in looking at scopes. It's surprising just
how good today's telescopes are for the money, but it's easy to be
ripped off, too, or at least disappointed. (And besides avoiding
department store junk, building your own is still Bruce's strongest
advice.)

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Neurologists Shine Light On Near-Death Experiences
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-towards-the-light department:

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Russia Today: Vladimir Putin's Weapon In 'The War of Images'
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's next-gen-propaganda department:
dryriver sends in a story at Der Spiegel Online about news network Russia Today, and how it is becoming a powerful propaganda tool for Vladimir Putin to use against Western audiences. Quoting:
"Since 2005, the Russian government has increased the channel's annual budget more than tenfold, from $30 million (€22.6 million) to over $300 million. Russia Today's budget covers the salaries of 2,500 employees and contractors worldwide, 100 in Washington alone. And the channel has no budget cuts to fear now that Putin has issued a decree forbidding his finance minister from taking any such steps. The Moscow leadership views the funds going to the channel as money 'well invested,' says Natalya Timakova, the press attaché to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 'In addition, Russia Today is — and I hope the Germans will forgive me for this remark — significantly more modern than Deutsche Welle, for example, and it also has more money.' ... Russia Today sees itself as a champion of a global audience critical of the West. But it is also meant to amplify the self-doubts of Europeans and Americans who have been forced by recent events to wonder if their own countries — like Russia and China — are corrupt and in the grip of a pervasive intelligence apparatus. In any case, the station has a rare knack for propaganda. ... To spice up the news, directors sometimes use Hollywood-like special effects, such as a computer-animated tank that looks like it is rolling over the newscaster's feet or Israeli fighter jets that fly a virtual loop through the studio before dropping their bombs over a map of Syria."

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Microsoft: Xbox One Won't Require Kinect To Function
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hmm,-what-do-we-complain-about-now? department:
UnknowingFool writes "Microsoft has reversed course on another aspect of the Xbox One. Though Xbox One will come bundled with a Kinect sensor, the console will work without it. Critics were had suggested that an always-on video and audio sensor could be used to spy on users. Microsoft's Marc Whitten said, 'Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.' This is the latest reversal from Microsoft since they killed the phone-home DRM and made it region-free."

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Illuminating Window-Less Houses With a Plastic Bottle
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's completely-beats-cow-dung department:
New submitter DancesWithWolves writes "The BBC reports on Alfredo Moser, who came up with a way of illuminating his house during the day without electricity — using nothing more than plastic bottles filled with water and a tiny bit of bleach. In the last two years his idea has spread throughout the world. It is expected to be in one million homes by early next year.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Med-School Note-Taking?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-mean-you-don't-like-onenote department:
First time accepted submitter spencj writes "I'm just starting year two of medical school, and I've been rethinking the way I make and create notes/study guides. One of the problems I've considered is that we learn about the same topic in several arenas. For example, if I consider some disease like coronary artery disease, I will likely learn about this topic in cardiology, radiology, pharmacology, and then in outside study resources such as Kaplan guides, online resources, etc.. Further, it will come up in August, October, March, April, etc.. My dream app is some combination of Excel, Visio, Word, and a blog where I could tag selections of text. If I then 'filtered' by certain parameters, it would collapse all the information I'd collected from different resources. For example, say I create a flowchart in Visio, take some notes in Word, create a table in Excel, and save from text from a web resource. I tag each item with 'coronary artery disease,' then I want to quickly query for all of my items with this tag. Is there any kind of app or resource that can pull this off? Medical students everywhere would be grateful."

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Larry Ellison Believes Apple Is Doomed
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-the-long-run-we're-all-doomed department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Oracle CEO Larry Ellison thinks that Apple will collapse without Steve Jobs at the helm. In a televised interview with CBS News, scheduled to air August 13, Ellison called the deceased Jobs 'brilliant' and compared him to iconic creators such as Thomas Edison and Pablo Picasso. When asked about Apple's future now that Jobs is dead, Ellison didn't hold back: 'We already know, we saw — we conducted the experiment, it's been done.' Raising his hand above his head, presumably to indicate the rise of Apple's fortunes during Jobs' initial reign, Ellison said: 'We saw Apple with Steve Jobs.' Then he lowered his hand: "We saw Apple without Steve Jobs." In other words, the period following Jobs' ouster, when the company's revenues declined and it launched whole portfolios of consumer products that failed. 'We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,' Ellison continued, raising his hand above his head again — this time, to suggest that incandescent period following Jobs' return to the company, when it released the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and a variety of bestselling PCs. 'And now, we're going to see Apple without Steve Jobs,' he finished, and his hand fell."

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Obama's Privacy Reform Panel Will Report To ... the NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-washing-the-dishes-honey department:
FuzzNugget writes "No, you didn't just stumble upon The Onion by mistake. Ars Technica reports that Obama's "reform" panel will report directly to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who arguably lied to congress about whether the NSA conducted dragnet surveillance of Americans' communications. But is anyone really surprised?"

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