By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's cool-solutions-to-weird-problems department
coondoggie writes "If smartwatches and other ultra-small devices are to become the text generators of the future, their diminutive keyboards are going to have to be way more useful for, um, big fingered typists. Carnegie Mellon researchers may have the answer to that problem. Called ZoomBoard, the text entry technique is based on the iconic QWERTY keyboard layout."
The zoom board paper
(PDF) has details. Entering a letter becomes a multi-step process; first you mash the general area of the keyboard containing the letter you want, and eventually it becomes large enough to hit. Test subjects managed to hit 9.3wpm after practice, versus 4.5 wpm for people trying to peck on a teeny-tiny virtual keyboard. They were inspired at least in part by the venerable Dasher
input method.Read Replies (0)
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's mozilla-will-eat-you department
nk497 writes "Mozilla has sent a cease-and-desist order to Gamma International, after it was revealed the controversial creator of spyware for governments was disguising itself as Firefox on PCs. 'We cannot abide a software company using our name to disguise online surveillance tools that can be — and in several cases actually have been — used by Gamma's customers to violate citizens' human rights and online privacy,' Mozilla said."
DavidGilbert99 writes on the wider implications of the Citizen Lab report: "Governmental spying software has been in the news a lot in recent months and today Citizen Lab has revealed its latest findings, showing that one of the most prolific tools in use, Finfisher, is now in use in 36 countries around the world
[beware the auto playing video ads with sound]." And, Voulnet adds "According to analysis and report
by CitizenLab of the Gamma FinFisher trojan spyware used against dissidents in the middle east and around the world, the FinFisher codebase uses the LGPL GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library
, possibly without adhering to its distribution restrictions."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's where's-The-Doctor-when-you-need-him department
ceview writes "This story at Wired seems to have lots of people a bit confused: 'In February 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange and, he worried, somewhat embarrassing idea. Impossible as it seemed, Wilczek had developed an apparent proof of "time crystals" — physical structures that move in a repeating pattern, like minute hands rounding clocks, without expending energy or ever winding down. ... [A] Berkeley-led team will attempt to build a time crystal by injecting 100 calcium ions into a small chamber surrounded by electrodes. The electric field generated by the electrodes will corral the ions in a "trap" 100 microns wide, or roughly the width of a human hair. The scientists must precisely calibrate the electrodes to smooth out the field. Because like charges repel, the ions will space themselves evenly around the outer edge of the trap, forming a crystalline ring.' The experimental set up is incredibly delicate (Bose Einstein Condensate), so it implies this perpetual motion effect can't really be used to extract energy. What is your take on it? It's unlike to upend anything, as the article suggests, because at a quantum level things behave weirdly at the best of times. The heavy details are available at the arXiv."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's skin-in-the-game department
waderoush writes "A rash of media reports last week, reporting on a study released by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, implied that using voice-to-text apps like Siri or Vlingo while driving is no safer than manual texting. But Adam Cheyer, the co-inventor of Siri, says journalists took the wrong message from the study, which didn't test Siri or Vlingo in the recommended hands-free, eyes-free mode. In the study, researchers asked subjects to drive a closed course while they held an iPhone or Android phone in one hand, spoke messages into Siri or Vlingo, proofread the messages visually, and pressed buttons to send the messages. Under these conditions, driver response times were delayed by nearly a factor of two, the researchers found. 'Of course your driving performance is going to be degraded if you're reading screens and pushing buttons,' says Cheyer, who joined Apple in 2010 as part of the Siri acquisition and left the company two years later. To study whether voice-to-text apps are really safer than manual texting, he says, the Texas researchers should have tested Siri and Vlingo in car mode, where a Bluetooth headset or speakers are used to minimize visual and manual interaction. 'The study seems to have misunderstood how Siri was designed to be used,' Cheyer says. 'I don't think that there is any evidence that shows that if Siri and other systems are used properly in eyes-free mode, they are 'just as risky as texting.''"Read Replies (0)
Does Antimatter Fall Up?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's where's-scotty-when-you-need-him department
New submitter Doug Otto sends word that researchers working on the ALPHA experiment
at CERN are trying to figure out whether antimatter interacts with gravity in the same way that normal matter does
. The ALPHA experiment wasn't designed to test for this, but they realized part of it — an antihydrogen trap — is suitable to collect some data. Their preliminary results: uncertain, but they can't rule it out
. From the article:"Antihydrogen provides a particularly useful means of testing gravitational effects on antimatter, as it's electrically neutral. Gravity is by far the weakest force in nature, so it's very easy for its effects to be swamped by other interactions. Even with neutral particles or atoms, the antimatter must be moving slowly enough to perform measurements. And slow rates of motion increase the likelihood of encountering matter particles, leading to mutual annihilation and an end to the experiment. However, it's a challenge to maintain any antihydrogen long enough to perform meaningful experiments on it, regardless of its speed. ... The authors of the current study realized that [antiatoms trapped in ALPHA] eventually escaped or were released from this magnetic trap. At that point, they were momentarily in free-fall, experiencing no force other than gravity. The detectors on the outside of ALPHA could then determine if the antihydrogen was rising or falling under gravity's influence, and whether the magnitude of the force was equivalent to the effect on matter."Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's wishful-thinking department
Nerval's Lobster writes "BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins believes that tablets will be dead by 2018. 'In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,' he told an interviewer at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles, according to Bloomberg. 'Maybe a big screen in your workplace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.' That may come as a surprise to Apple, Google, Amazon and Samsung, all of which have built significant tablet businesses over the past few years. Research firm Strategy Analytics suggested in a research note earlier this month that the global tablet market hit 40.6 million units shipped in the first quarter of 2013, a significant rise from the 18.7 million shipped in the same quarter last year. So why would Heins offer such a pessimistic prediction when everyone else — from the research firms to the tablet-makers themselves — seems so full-speed-ahead? It's easy to forget sometimes that BlackBerry has its own tablet in the mix: the PlayBook, which was released to quite a bit of fanfare in early 2011 but failed to earn iPad-caliber sales. Despite that usefulness to developers, however, the PlayBook has become a weak contender in the actual tablet market. If Heins is predicting that market's eventual demise, it could be a coded signal that he intends to pull BlackBerry out of the tablet game, focusing instead on smartphones. It wouldn't be the first radical move the company's made in the past year."Read Replies (0)