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Sagita Displays Hot Air Powered Helicopter
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 05:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's full-of-hot-air department:
rcastro0 writes "Gizmag reports on the Sherpa, an interesting helicopter design at this year's Paris Air Show. As the article explains 'Rather than driving the rotors directly, the Sherpa's engine instead powers a compressor with an air intake at the rear of the helicopter.' There's no tail rotor. This approach is supposed to be more efficient, more reliable and more affordable than the traditional. A one-fifth scale model was shown to fly. Sagita, the 2008 startup behind the project, has yet to build a full scale prototype. They plan to sell a Sherpa two-seater for around US$ 200k in 3 years."

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A Look At Quantum Computer Manufacturer D-Wave and Its Founder
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's road-ahead department:
First time accepted submitter tpjunkie writes "Many slashdot readers will remember D-wave's announcement in 2007 of its quantum computer, an announcement met with skepticism and a good amount of scorn. However, today the company has sold quantum computers to such companies as Lockheed Martin and Google, and their computers have gone from a handful of qubits to 512 in their most recent offerings. Nature has a story including an interview with the company's founder Geordi Rose, and a look at where the company is headed and some of the difficulties it has overcome."

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Lawmakers Try To Block Black Box Technology In Cars, DVR Tracking
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's will-you-stop-following-me department:
Lucas123 writes "Lawmakers this week filed bipartisan legislation that would give car owners control over data collected in black box-style recorders that may be required in all models as soon as next year. The move follows a separate proposal made earlier this month that would limit telecommunications companies in tracking viewer activity with new digital video recorders (DVR) technology. The 'Black Box Privacy Protection Act' would give vehicle owners more control over the information collected through a car or motorcycle event data recorders, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed be required in all new cars as of 2014. 'For me, this is a basic issue of privacy,' said Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA). 'Many consumers aren't even aware that this technology is already in most vehicles.' The second, more colorfully titled piece of legislation, is the 'We Are Watching You Act'. The bill was filed in response to reports that national telecommunications companies are exploring technology for DVRs that would record the personal activities of people as they watch television at home in order to target them for marketing and advertising. If implemented, among other things, when the recording device is in use, the words 'WE ARE WATCHING YOU' would appear on the television screen. 'This may sound preposterous, but it is neither a joke nor an exaggeration,' Capuano said. 'These DVRs would essentially observe consumers as they watch television as a way to super-target ads. It is an incredible invasion of privacy.'"

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Aaron's Law Would Revamp Computer Fraud Penalties
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's malice-would-be-a-good-place-to-start department:
An anonymous reader writes "Two U.S. lawmakers have introduced a bill that would prevent the Department of Justice from prosecuting people for violating terms of service for Web-based products, website notices or employment agreements under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). On Thursday, Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, and Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, introduced Aaron's Law, a bill aimed at removing some types of prosecutions under the CFAA."
The bill is of course named for Aaron Swartz.

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Sony, Microsoft Squabble Over Console Features, But the Real Opponent Is Apple
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's someone-out-there-must-care department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Now that Microsoft and Sony have unveiled their respective next-generation gaming consoles, the two companies have cheerfully resorted to firing broadsides at each other. Whether the current brouhaha has any effect on sales of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 (if hardcore gamers keep complaining, they may even convince Microsoft to knock $100 off the new Xbox and bring its pricing down to the PS4's level), it's also drowning out what many perceive as the real issue: gaming consoles face an existential threat from mobile devices, most notably those running iOS (with some threat from Android). First, there are signs that the hardcore gamer market is soft: console sales in the United States dropped 21 percent in 2012, and sales of new video-game cartridges haven't fared much better. Second, PC/console games such as X-Com have begun appearing on iOS; if that trend continues, the console companies will have more rivals to fight against. Third, Apple is developing a game controller for iOS which could make it an even more dedicated opponent — and convince other tech companies to follow in its footsteps. But don't tell any of that to Microsoft and Sony, which seem content to fire at each other."

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Foxconn Betting Big On Firefox OS
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-but-where's-the-ice-weasel-phone? department:
jfruh writes "Foxconn is firmly identified in the public mind as the company that manufactures iPhones and iPads. But the company is looking to forge its own identity, and sees Firefox OS as the means to do so. To that end, Foxconn is hiring thousands of developers to help work on the open source phone OS and Foxconn's own suite of cloud services."

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Java 6 EOL'd By Oracle
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's this-too-shall-pass department:
Tmack writes "Not completely unexpected, Java6 has reached EOL. This tidbit shows up in Oracle's Java6 FAQ page, recommending everyone update to Java7: 'Oracle no longer posts updates of Java SE 6 to its public download sites. All Java 6 releases up to and including 6u45 have been moved to the Java Archive on the Oracle Technology Network, where they will remain available but not receive further updates. Oracle recommends that users migrate to Java 7 in order to continue receiving public updates and security enhancements.' Apple just pushed its update 16 which is Java6u51, likely to be one of their last Java6 updates."

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Pinholes and Plastic Wrap Make Solid Walls "Transparent" To Sound
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's need-a-better-cone-of-silence department:
First time accepted submitter benonemusic writes "Researchers have devised a means of making sound transmit easily through rigid surfaces, including walls. The process relies on creating small holes on a wall, and covering them on one side with a thin covering made from plastic wrap."

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Megatokyo Gets a Visual Novel Game
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's excessive-is-all-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder department:
TheSHAD0W writes "It's been over a decade since Megatokyo was mentioned in a Slashdot story. Fred Gallagher, author of the long-running webcomic, has launched a Kickstarter for a Megatokyo Visual Novel Game. The KS has fared very well, funding its basic goal in less than four hours and covering most of the posted stretch goals in the first twenty-four. Fred also posted a half-joking stretch goal at a half-million dollars to include'"excessively romantic content,' wink wink nudge nudge. He may have been kidding, but there are some indications it might be reached."

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Cornell Researchers Unveil a Virtual Notary
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's seriously-my-karma-was-like-93 department:
First time accepted submitter el33thack3r writes "We've all wanted a trustworthy record of an online factoid, whether it's your official employment status, a tweet someone made or the hash of an open-source distribution to protect it from tampering. A group of Cornell researchers have just unveiled a service called Virtual Notary that can serve as a witness to online factoids. The service is useful for inventors who want to timestamp an invention disclosure, for people who are seeking an officially random number selected for a raffle or crypto protocol, for web services that want a record of a user's email address, and for many other use cases. The service is free and the researchers are seeking community input on other online factoids of interest. What would you like notarized online?" The concept is interesting, but some of the items they've chosen as examples seem well documented elsewhere, such as historical exchange rates and stock prices.

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Adafruit's Smart Helmet Helps Navigate to NYC's Citi Bike Stations
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's mind-control-the-direct-way department:
coop0030 writes "Add GPS, compass navigation & visibility with LEDs to a helmet that helps you find your way to the closest Citi Bike station in New York City. It's powered by Adafruit's FLORA, a wearable electronics platform. With a detailed tutorial, you can build the helmet, and customize it to work in most cities with a bike share as well."

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Are You Sure This Is the Source Code?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-as-simple-as-md5-sum department:
oever writes "Software freedom is an interesting concept, but being able to study the source code is useless unless you are certain that the binary you are running corresponds to the alleged source code. It should be possible to recreate the exact binary from the source code. A simple analysis shows that this is very hard in practice, severely limiting the whole point of running free software."

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Ask Slashdot: Does LED Backlight PWM Drive You Crazy?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-how-they-send-messages department:
jones_supa writes "I would like to raise some discussion about a hardware issue that has increasingly started to bug me: backlight flicker, from which many LED-backlit monitors suffer. As you might know, the backlight and its dimming is driven by a pulse width modulated square wave, essentially flicking the LEDs on and off rapidly. Back in the CRT days a 100Hz picture was deluxe, due to the long afterglow of the display phosphor. LEDs, however, shut off immediately and my watering eyes and headache tell that we should be using frequencies in multiple kHz there. Unfortunately we too often fall behind that. As one spark of hope, the display review site PRAD has already started to include backlight signal captures to help assessing the problem. However with laptops and various mobile gadgets, finding this kind of information is practically impossible. This issue sort of lingers in the background but likely impacts the well-being of many, and certainly deserves more attention."

So do LEDs bother your eyes? I think CRTs gave me headaches far more often than has any form of flat panel display, at least partly because of the whining noise that CRTs emit.

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Attackers Tweet As They Assault UN Development Program Compound
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's live-tweet-hardly-seems-the-term department:
Koreantoast writes "In another interesting example of the increasing use and sophistication of social media by non-governmental organizations, the Somali-based Islamic insurgency al-Shabab live tweeted their latest attack, a suicide assault against a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) facility in Mogadishu which left 15 dead. During the event, they denounced UNDP, tweeting during the attack that the UN is 'a merchant of death & a satanic force of evil, has a long inglorious record of spreading nothing but poverty, dependency & disbelief' and proceeded to mock newly appointed UN Representative Nicholas Kay who is to arrive in Somalia later this month. Also of note is their initiation of communications with various press entities including the AP, BBC and IHS Janes through Twitter. Hat tip to Foreign Policy magazine for the story."

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Latest Target In War On Drugs: Google Autocomplete
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's wrong-folks-to-micromanage department:
netbuzz writes "The National Association of Attorneys General met in Boston this week and one panel focused on the 'safe harbor' provision of 1996 Communications Decency Act. Within that broader discussion, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood cited the autocomplete feature in Google search as evidence the company has more control over content than it contends. 'We know they manipulate the autocomplete feature,' Hood said, with his point being that there should be more such manipulation, not less. His primary example: a search on 'prescription drugs online' presents an autocomplete suggestion of 'prescription drugs online without a prescription.'"

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Battery Materials Made Using Crab Shells
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's and-they're-delicious department:
MTorrice writes "Crab shells usually are just a nuisance that you have to crack and dig through to get the delicious meat inside. But one team of materials scientists thinks the shells could help them fabricate materials for long lasting batteries. The team used the nanostructures (abstract) found in the crustacean shells as templates to make sulfur and silicon electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries. Sulfur or silicon electrodes have a 10-times greater theoretical energy storage capacity than electrodes used in commercial batteries."

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Fixing Over a Decade of Missing Computer Programming Education In the UK
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-don't-need-no-education-well-maybe-we-do department:
For around a decade programming was not part of the computer curriculum in the U.K.. Through a lot of hard work from advocates and the industry this will soon change, but a large skills gap still exists. Tim Gurney is just one of many working on closing that gap. His Coding in Schools initiative aims to "work with schools and students and inspire the next generation of computer programmers and software engineers by creating and spearheading schools based programming clubs." I recently sat down with Tim to talk about who's working on the problem and what yet needs to be done. Read below to see what he's doing to change the state of things.

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Homebrew Camera Mod Mimics LANDSAT Satellite
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's for-the-neighborhood-watch-with-dea-ambitions department:
An anonymous reader writes "These folks at Public Lab have published instructions to hack a conventional camera to do photosynthesis photography, just like NASA's LANDSAT satellite. What better way to introduce your kids to space technologies and learn more about the environment? Measure the health of your garden, all with a simple filter switch and some post-processing. It's thoroughly documented at http://publiclab.org/wiki/near-infrared-camera, and you can do it to a variety of cameras."

(And here's a link to the related — and fully funded — kickstarter project.)

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Nationwide Snooping System Launched In India
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's obviously-they're-behind department:
knwny writes "The Times of India reports that 'India has launched a wide-ranging surveillance program that will give its security agencies and even income tax officials the ability to tap directly into e-mails and phone calls without oversight by courts or parliament, several sources said.'" Adds an anonymous reader: "What's chilling is the comments from senior officials indicating that parts of the program are already live, without absolutely any discussion in public about it."

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Former TigerDirect President Indicted In $230 Million Laundering Scheme
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '13 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's my-washer-won't-even-hold-that-much department:
McGruber writes "Carl Fiorentino, known to many slashdotters for his regular hyperbole-filled emails advertising 'unbelievable' blowout pricing on memory, storage, other components, and overclocker specials, has been indicted in New York federal court on seven counts of fraud and money laundering charges. Fiorentino allegedly took more than $7 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for steering more than $230 million in business to the Taiwanese and California companies that made the payments."

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