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Solar Electric Spacecraft Propulsion Could Get NASA To an Asteroid
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '13 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's here-comes-the-sun department:
coondoggie writes "In the process of detailing its $17.7 billion 2014 budget this week, NASA highlighted a mission to snag a 500 ton asteroid, bring it back, stash it near the moon and study it. It also took the time to put in a plug for an ongoing research project it has gong called Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) that NASA says could be the key technology it needs to pull off the asteroid plan."

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The Hacker Lifecycle
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '13 at 04:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pollination-fertilization-budding-and-dispersal department:
An anonymous reader writes "Hacker Benjamin Smith deconstructs the cycle of education, production, and rest that will be familiar to many software and hardware engineers. He breaks it down into four steps: 1) Focused effort toward a goal, 2) structured self-education, 3) side-projects to sharpen skills, and 4) burnout and rest. He writes, 'As my motivation waxes at the beginning of a cycle, I find myself with a craving to take steps towards that goal. I do so by starting a project which focuses on one thing only: building a new income stream. As a result of this single-mindedness, the content or subject of the project is often less interesting than it otherwise might have been. ... [Later], I almost always decide to teach myself a new technical skill or pick up some new technology. ... This is usually the most satisfying period of my cycle. I am learning a new skill or technology which I know will enhance my employability, allow me to build things I previously could only have daydreamed about, and will ultimately be useful for many years to come. ... [In the burnout phase], I'll spend this period as ferociously devoted to my leisure activities as I was to my productive tasks. But after a few months of this, I start to feel an itch...'"

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Apple Near Deal For Radio Service
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '13 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's iListen-to-your-iFavorite-iSongs department:
An anonymous reader writes "TechCrunch and The Verge are reporting that Apple is near a deal with Universal Music to provide a streaming 'iRadio' music service. 'Apple is expected to launch a web radio service similar to Pandora's later this year, provided that executives there can strike an agreement with Sony Music Entertainment as well as music publishers. Talks with Sony, which operates the third label, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony / ATV, the music publishing company jointly run with the estate of the late singer Michael Jackson, are said to not be as far along towards reaching a deal. ... As for the financial terms, Apple will not receive the steep discounts it had sought for the labels' music.' Apple's 400 million active iTunes accounts could give even Pandora, with its 200 million users, something to worry about. 'For startups and streaming music companies, this means looking closely at the competitive advantages offered by their own platforms and decided how best to position their own services. A key advantage, and one that will likely get emphasized by virtually everyone challenged by an iRadio, is cross-platform compatibility. Apple will likely be able to offer something along those lines through iTunes on Windows, but for the most part it'll be a strictly iOS/Mac affair. That, combined with personalization and recommendation engines, along with other value add features, will be the way to combat an iTunes streaming service, but no matter what, an Apple product will change the face of this market.'"

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Six Retailers Announce Recall of Buckyballs and Buckycubes
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's first-world-natural-selection department:
thereitis writes "The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with six retailers, is announcing the voluntary recall of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes high-powered magnet sets due to ingestion hazard. CPSC continues to warn that these products contain defects in the design, warnings and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury and death to children and teenagers. An administrative complaint has been filed which is rare, as CPSC has filed only four administrative complaints in the past 11 years."
This follows last year's ban on buckyballs.

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Hacker Modifies Facebook Home To Work On All Android Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-that-social-norms department:
An anonymous reader writes "That was quick. Mere hours after Facebook Home arrived on Google Play, the launcher has been modified to remove the device-specific limitation. This means you can use the latest Facebook service on any Android device. The brilliant hackers at XDA Developers have done it again. This particular hack was performed by XDA Senior Member theos0o; who provides details and download links."

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DarkSeas Games Developing Spiritual Successor To Road Rash
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-do-an-image-search-on-that-name-fyi department:
Feast Huggston writes "Indie Dev Darkseas Games has released an early gameplay trailer (video) of Road Redemption, a modern reimagining of the Sega Genesis (and later 3DO/N64/PSX/PC) motorcycle combat-racing classic Road Rash. The project has been in development since early 2012 and utilizes the Unity 4 engine. It is currently slated for release on PC, Mac, and Linux in 2014, with a stretch goal of eventually reaching the major game consoles. So far, it has raised over $24,000 of its $160,000 pledge goal on Kickstarter. While Road Rash creator Dan Geisler recently stated that he was interested in making another Road Rash, he is apparently not directly involved in this project, although he has given it his blessing. I grew up playing the heck out of this on Genesis and PC and it already appears that for many, a rebirth of this franchise was long overdue."

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Aurora Borealis Likely To Be Visible In Southern NY and PA Tonight
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pretty-lights department:
New submitter chromaexcursion writes "Several news source are reporting the likelihood of an impressive show of the Aurora Borealis visible as far south as Washington D.C. this evening. Accuweather explains: 'On the Kp index, the flare has been categorized at 6 to 8. This is a scale for measuring the intensity of a a geomagnetic storm. The 6 to 8 rating means that the effects of the radiation will have a greater reach. ... The radiation from such a flare may cause radio wave disturbances to electronics such as cell phones, GPS and radios, causing services to occasionally cut in and out. While traveling slower than was originally anticipated, the flare effects are moving towards Earth at 1000 km per second. ... The lights are currently estimated for 8 p.m. EDT Saturday arrival, with a possible deviation of up to seven hours.' Check the map; if you're in a fair-to-good zone, head out after sunset to see the show."

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Popular Wordpress Plug-in Caught Spamming Is Put On Probation
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stop-or-i'll-say-stop-again department:
chicksdaddy writes "Social Media Widget, a free plug-in for the WordPress blogging platform with more than a million downloads, was restored to WordPress's official plugin directory on Thursday, days after it was found injecting WordPress websites with spam links to web sites offering Pay Day Loans. In a post on a support forum for Social Media Widget (SMW), Samuel Wood, a WordPress administrator, said that WordPress was willing to give SMW and its owner a second chance after he claimed to have been the victim of a contract developer gone rogue. 'Naturally we do take a very hard line on spam, and obviously an author putting malicious code into a plugin is enough grounds for us to bring down the ban hammer,' Wood wrote on Friday. 'But there are natural circumstances where an author may not be at fault.' SMW appears to be such a case. It is one of the 20 most popular WordPress add-ons and allows WordPress web site operators to include links to their other social media accounts. Brendan Sheehan, the owner of SMW, said, 'We trusted the wrong people with our plugin code and take full responsibility. We are a marketing company at heart and are not actually developers, so in order to provide major updates and improvements, we had to seek outside help. Some of these people deceived us and abused our trust and naivety...We will not make this mistake again.' Wood said the folks at Wordpress decided to accept that story — but that they're watching SMW closely. 'Basically, the current maintainer is not a professional programmer, and put his trust in the wrong freelancers to do the coding work for him...We'll be watching the plugin for changes,' he said. 'The plugin is back up for now, and as long as it stays clean, it's fine.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Building a Web App Scalable To Hundreds of Thousand of Users?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-up-in-that-there-cloud department:
AleX122 writes "I have an idea for a web app. Things I know: I am not the first person with a brilliant idea. Many others 'inventors' failed and it may happen to me, but without trying the outcome will always be failure. That said, the project will be huge if successful. However, I currently do not have money needed to hire developers. I have pretty solid experience in Java, GWT, HTML, Hibernate/Eclipselink, SQL/PLSQL/Oracle. The downside is project nature. All applications I've developed to date were hosted on single server or in small cluster (2 tomcats with fail-over). The application, if I succeed, will have to serve thousands of users simultaneously. The userbase will come from all over the world. (Consider infrastructure requirements similar to a social network.) My questions: What technologies should I use now to ensure easy scaling for a future traffic increase? I need distributed processing and data storage. I would like to stick to open standards, so Google App Engine or a similar proprietary cloud solution isn't acceptable. Since I do not have the resources to hire a team of developers and I will be the first coder, it would be nice if technology used is Java related. However, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail, so I am open to technologies unrelated to Java."

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Scientists Are Cracking the Primordial Soup Mystery
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's life-here-began-out-there department:
derekmead writes "Scientists have had a basic understanding of how life first popped up on Earth for a while. The so-called 'primordial soup' was sitting around, stagnant but containing the basic building blocks of life. Then something happened and we ended up with life. It's that 'something' that has been the sticking point for scientists, but new research from a team of scientists at the University of Leeds has started to shed light on the mystery, explaining just how objects from space might have kindled the reaction that sparked life on Earth. It's generally accepted that space rocks played an important role in life's genesis on Earth. Meteorites bombarding the planet early in its history delivered some of the necessary materials for life but none brought life as we know it. How inanimate rocks transformed into the building blocks of life has been a mystery. But this latest research suggests an answer. If meteorites containing phosphorus landed in the hot, acidic pools that surrounded young volcanoes on the early Earth, there could have been a reaction that produced a chemical similar one that's found in all living cells and is vital in producing the energy that makes something alive."

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What's Next For Smartphone Innovation
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's integrated-cloaking-device department:
SternisheFan sends in an article about the new features and developments we can expect out of smartphones in the near future. The shortlist: more sensors for tracking the world outside the phone, more gesture-based (i.e. non-touch) input, and integration with wearable computers like smartwatches and Google Glass. From the article:
"These under-appreciated components -- the gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, and so forth -- are starting to get more friends in the neighborhood. Samsung, for instance, slipped pressure, temperature, and humidity sniffers into the Galaxy S4. They may not be the sexiest feature in your phone, but in the future, sensors like accelerometers will be able to collect and report much more detailed information. ... In addition to air quality, temperature and speed of movement are also biggies. [Also, a smartphone that can] track your pulse, or even double as an EKG, turning the everyday smartphone into a medical device. ... [For wearable computing,] your smartphone is still there, still essential for communicating with your environment, but it becomes only one device in a collection of other, even more personal or convenient gadgets, that solve some of the same sorts of problems in different or complementary ways."
What do you think will be the next generation of killer features for smartphones?

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Building a Better Tech School
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's better-option-than-certification-hell department:
An anonymous reader writes "In late 2011, Cornell University won a prize from NYC Mayor Bloomberg's contest to design a new science school. Google donated some space in Manhattan, and since January this year students have been enrolled in the school's 'beta class, a one-year master's program in computer science.' The beta curriculum is designed to equip the students with all the knowledge they need to jump right into a tech startup: there's a mandatory business class, the U.S. Commerce Department stationed a patent officer on-site, and mentors from the private sector are brought in to help with design. 'The curriculum will not be confined to standard disciplines, but will combine fields like electrical engineering, software development and social sciences, and professors will teach across those boundaries. In fact, no professor has an office, not even the dean, and Dr. Huttenlocher insists they will not when the campus moves to Roosevelt Island, either. Instead, each person has a desk with low dividers, and people can grab conference rooms as needed — much like the headquarters of a small tech company.' It's a long, interesting article about how they're trying to turn 'tech school' into something a lot more rigorous and innovative than something like ITT Tech."

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NOAA: Arctic Likely Free Of Summer Ice By 2050 — Possibly Much Sooner
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-a-chill-pill department:
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have published research into the shrinking levels of sea ice in the Arctic. They wanted to figure out how long it would take before summer sea ice disappeared entirely. Since there's no perfect model for predicting ice levels, they used three different methods. All three predicted the Arctic would be nearly free of summer sea ice by the middle of the century, and one indicated it could happen as early as 2020. Two of the methods were based on observed sea ice trends. If ice loss proceeds as it has in the past decade, we get the 2020 timeframe. If ice loss events are large, like the 2007 and 2012 events, but happen at random some years, the estimate is pushed back to 2030. The third method uses global climate models to 'predict atmosphere, ocean, land, and sea ice conditions over time.' This model pushes the timeframe back to 2040 at the earliest, and around 2060 as the median (abstract). One of the study's authors, James Overland, said, "Rapid Arctic sea ice loss is probably the most visible indicator of global climate change; it leads to shifts in ecosystems and economic access, and potentially impacts weather throughout the northern hemisphere. Increased physical understanding of rapid Arctic climate shifts and improved models are needed that give a more detailed picture and timing of what to expect so we can better prepare and adapt to such changes. Early loss of Arctic sea ice gives immediacy to the issue of climate change."

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Eric Schmidt: Regulate Civilian Drones Now
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ban-telescopes-and-corrective-lenses-as-well department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google Chairman Eric Schmidt is urging lawmakers to regulate the use of unmanned aircraft by civilians — and quickly. He posed this hypothetical situation to The Guardian: 'You're having a dispute with your neighbor. How would you feel if your neighbor went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their backyard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?' Schmidt went on to bring up military and terrorist concerns. 'I'm not going to pass judgment on whether armies should exist, but I would prefer to not spread and democratize the ability to fight war to every single human being. It's got to be regulated... It's one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they're doing, but have other people doing it... it's not going to happen.'"

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LyX Joins the Google Summer of Code 2013
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's needs-support-for-anti-aircraft-missiles department:
Hamburg writes "LyX joined this year's Google Summer of Code (GSoC 2013) as a mentoring organization. The LaTeX based open-source GUI LyX has been accepted to the GSoC for the first time. With LyX one can start using LaTeX without being used to 'program' documents. So it's an important entry point to the (La)TeX world, and a bridge between GUI word processors and LaTeX. This is a great opportunity for its development, now student developers can get financial support for contributing new features: successful contributions will earn a stipend of 5000 USD for the student and 500 USD for the organization, in this case the LyX project, who provides mentors to the students. There are already many project ideas, for example a GUI for editing layouts, a presentation mode, EPUB export, an outliner tool for intuitive writing, retina screen (HiDPI) support, and interactive concurrent editing. Would you like to take part, or do you have further ideas for improvements or features? Send your proposals to the lyx-devel mailing list, or simply comment here, what can be suggested to the LyX mentors."

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Twitter Adding Music Recommendation
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's #getoffmylawn department:
An anonymous reader writes "The NY Times reports that Twitter will soon launch a new music recommendation system for users of its service. The company teased the new feature and directed queries to announcement that We Are Hunted, a company focused on music recommendation through social media, would be shutting down and joining the Twitter team. 'Recommendations based on social media interactions have become common throughout digital media for things like restaurants and shopping. Many online music services offer these features as well. Spotify, for example, can broadcast its users' playlists through Facebook. Twitter's advantage, in addition to its size, may lie in the devotion of its customers. "Music is one of the most tweeted topics," said Ted Cohen, a former label executive who is now a consultant to digital music companies. "Discovery is critical to the growth of music, and the new gatekeeper is recommendations from trusted sources."' Oddly, those 'trusted sources' seem to be celebrities with Twitter accounts at the moment, as the system is currently invite-only and restricted to 'influencers.'"

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Stephen Hawking Warns Against Confining Ourselves To Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's universe-won't-mourn-a-mote-of-dust department:
alancronin writes with this excerpt from CNet:
"Stephen Hawking, one of the world's greatest physicists and cosmologists, is once again warning his fellow humans that our extinction is on the horizon unless we figure out a way to live in space. Not known for conspiracy theories, Hawking's rationale is that the Earth is far too delicate a planet to continue to withstand the barrage of human battering. 'We must continue to go into space for humanity,' Hawking said today, according to the Los Angeles Times. 'We won't survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet.'"

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Repo Man Director Alex Cox Plans To Edit Next Film With OpenShot
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's punk-rock-ethos-includes-low-cost department:
New submitter JonOomph writes "Director Alex Cox, the creator of Repo Man and Sid and Nancy, is making plans via Kickstarter for his next film, Bill, the Galactic Hero, a feature-length science fiction comedy set in the far reaches of our galaxy. He is challenging the norm by shooting the film on 35mm monochrome (black and white) film, possibly the last film to ever attempt this, and possibly the first feature film to be edited with popular open source video editor OpenShot." If you don't like spoilers, I suggest reading this short but fascinating piece on Repo Man (one of my all-time favorite movies) only after watching it.

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Crowdsourced Effort May Have Found Soviet Mars Mission's Remains
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 03:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's crispy-on-the-outside department:
A story at Slashgear says that the remains of a Soviet mission to Mars may have been spotted — on Mars — by enthusiasts poring over old photos taken by a NASA orbiter. The article points out that the find must be confirmed by further imaging, but matches the seekers' expectations.

From the article: "The community at VK.com/Curiosity_Live crowdsourced a mission to find the Soviet Union’s long-lost Mars 3 spacecraft, with the site’s leader, Vitali Egorov of St. Petersburg, Russia, creating models of what hardware from the spacecraft should look like. With this reference, the community combed through a large image taken five years ago by NASA’s MRO, identifying what is believed to be the craft’s parachute, lander, terminal retrorocket, and heat shield."

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UK Gov To Investigate 'Aggressive' In-app Purchases
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '13 at 01:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's buy-this-now department:
hypnosec writes "The UK Government will be examining whether free to download apps are putting unfair pressure on kids to pay up for additional content within the game through in-app purchases. Office of Fair Trading (OFT), UK, will be carrying out the investigation of games that include 'commercially aggressive' in-app purchases after a number of cases have been reported whereby parents have incurred huge bills after their kids have spent huge amounts on in-app purchases."

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