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German Police Stop Man With Mobile Office In Car
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '12 at 12:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-what's-the-trouble-officer? department:
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Forget texting while driving. German police say they nabbed a driver who had wired his Ford station wagon with an entire mobile office. Saarland state police said Friday the 35-year-old man was pulled over for doing 130 kph (80 mph) in a 100 kph zone while passing a truck Monday. Built on a wooden frame on his passenger seat they found a laptop on a docking station tilted for easy driver access, a printer, router, wireless internet stick, WLAN antenna, and an inverter to power it all."

I've driven some long trips with a similar passenger-seat setup (minus the printer). but of course for use only while stopped. Since the police in this case had no evidence that the rig was being used while driving, the driver was ticketed only for speeding and for having unsecured items. Really, it seems like something that Skymall should offer in neater form; now I regret not picking up a surplus police cruiser computer when they were in stock at the local Goodwill.

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Housewives On Trial In China For Smuggling In iPhones
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 09:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's random-headline-generator department:
Quillem writes "Last year, Hong Kong residents were finding it hard to get their hands on the latest Apple iGadget even though supply was plentiful. An investigation revealed that most of the iPhones and iPads that made it into HK were being smuggled sans import duties into mainland China—where the devices were yet to be released—by housewives who were paid around USD 6 per smuggled gadget. Earlier this week, 25 of the suspected smugglers went on trial in Shenzhen city."

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US Justice Dept. Sues eBay For Anti-Competitive Hiring Practices
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's scratcha-my-back department:
McGruber writes "The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. Justice Department is suing eBay for allegedly agreeing with Intuit not to hire each other's employees. According to the article, 'eBay's agreement with Intuit hurt employees by lowering the salaries and benefits they might have received and deprived them of better job opportunities at the other company,' said acting Assistant Attorney General Joseph Wayland, who is in charge of the Justice Department's antitrust division. The division 'has consistently taken the position that these kinds of agreements are per se (on their face) unlawful under antitrust laws.'"

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GOP Brief Attacks Current Copyright Law
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's political-parties-work-like-stopped-clocks department:
cervesaebraciator writes "Regardless of how one feels about the GOP generally, it is always heartening to see current copyright and IP law questioned on a national stage. A Republican study committee, chaired by Ohio Representative Jim Jordan released a brief today titled Three Myths about Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix it. Among other things, the brief attacks current copyright law as hampering scientific inquiry, penalizing journalism, and retarding the potential of the internet to allow the dispersion of knowledge through e-readers. In the briefs words, 'Current copyright law does not merely distort some markets – rather it destroys entire markets.' Four potential policy solutions are proposed: statutory damage reform, expansion of fair use, punishing false copyright claims, and limiting copyright terms. There may yet be hope for a national debate on the current oppressive copyright system, if just a fool's hope."

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NASA: Mission Accomplished, Kepler – Now Look Harder Still
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's to-seek-out-new-life-and-new-civilizations department:
cylonlover writes "It's been more than three and a half years since the Kepler Space Telescope began its mission as humanity's watcher for Earth-like planets outside of the Solar System. In that time, Kepler has done exactly what was asked of it: provide the data to help identify more than 2,300 exoplanet candidates in other star systems. And so NASA has announced the 'successful completion' of Kepler's prime mission. There's one nagging detail, though: we are yet to find a truly Earth-like planet. It's time to alter the parameters of the search, which is why NASA has announced Kepler will now begin an extended mission that could last as long as four years."

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Indian School Textbook Says Meat-Eaters Lie and Commit Sex Crimes
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-don't-eat-greens,-food-eats-greens department:
another random user writes with bad news from the BBC for anybody who enjoys a hamburger now and again:
"Meat-eaters 'easily cheat, lie, forget promises and commit sex crimes,' according to a controversial school textbook available in India. New Healthway, a book on hygiene and health aimed at 11 and 12 year-olds, is printed by one of India's leading publishers. 'This is poisonous for children,' Janaki Rajan of the Faculty of Education at Jamia Millia University in Delhi told the BBC. 'The government has the power to take action, but they are washing their hands of it,' she said. 'The strongest argument that meat is not essential food is the fact that the Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables,' reads a chapter entitled Do We Need Flesh Food? The chapter details the 'benefits' of a vegetarian diet and goes on to list 'some of the characteristics' found among non-vegetarians. 'They easily cheat, tell lies, forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes,' it says."

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Apple Patents Page Turn Animation
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-as-it's-now-called-the-iTurn department:
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the NY Times Bits blog:
"If you want to know just how broken the patent system is, just look at patent D670,713, filed by Apple and approved this week by the United States Patent Office. This design patent, titled, 'Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface,' gives Apple the exclusive rights to the page turn in an e-reader application. ... Apple argued that its patented page turn was unique in that it had a special type of animation other page-turn applications had been unable to create."
The article doesn't really make it clear, but this is for the UI design of showing a page being turned, not the actual function of moving from one page to another. That said, the patent itself cites similar animations in Flash from 2004.

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The New Series of Doctor Who: Fleeing From Format?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's this-equals-not-that department:
An anonymous reader sends in this thoughtful article about the format of Doctor Who:
"The New Series has given itself two basic tasks. One, to put back and keep on our screens a program by the name of Doctor Who that maintains substantial visible continuity with the classic series in many ways. Two, and this is where conflicting elements start to come in, to seek to define this resurrected program against many aspects of the classic series, even fundamental aspects, in pursuit of task one. In itself this is neither good nor bad. If anything it is on balance probably a good thing to seek to redress the shortcomings of the classic series, but what matters, ultimately, is the choices involved and their execution."

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Brain Scans of Rappers and Jazz Musicians Shed Light On Creativity
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's medial-prefrontal-lit-like-thrusters-on-the-shuttle department:
ananyo writes "Rappers making up rhymes on the fly while in a brain scanner have provided an insight into the creative process. Freestyle rapping — in which a performer improvises a song by stringing together unrehearsed lyrics — is a highly prized skill in hip hop. But instead of watching a performance in a club, Siyuan Liu and Allen Braun, neuroscientists at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Maryland, and their colleagues had 12 rappers freestyle in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. The artists also recited a set of memorized lyrics chosen by the researchers. By comparing the brain scans from rappers taken during freestyling to those taken during the rote recitation, they were able to see which areas of the brain are used during improvisation. The rappers showed lower activity in part of their frontal lobes called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during improvisation, and increased activity in another area, called the medial prefrontal cortex. The areas that were found to be 'deactivated' are associated with regulating other brain functions. The results echo an earlier study of jazz musicians. The findings also suggest an explanation for why new music might seem to the artist to be created of its own accord. With less involvement by the lateral prefrontal regions of the brain, the performance could seem to its creator to have 'occurred outside of conscious awareness,' the authors write in the paper."
Bonus points for science rhymes; for anyone who has the time.

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Valve's Steam License Causes Linux Packaging Concerns
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's patience-young-padawan department:
New submitter skade88 writes "With the Linux Steam beta giving Ubuntu and its large userbase all the love, other Linux gamers understandably want to be let in on the fun. For the beta, Valve has provided Steam as a Debian package. Many hungry Linux gamers have reported that they have Steam running on their favorite distro, but that still leaves the legal debate. What is the legal threshold needed to get Steam in the repos of your preferred flavor of Linux? Will Valve's one-size-fits-every-OS license be flexible to work on Linux or will it delay the dream of a viable gaming world for Linux? We are so close to bridging the last major hurdle in finally realizing the year of the Linux desktop: Gaming. Lets hope the FOSS community and Valve can play together so we all win."

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Gentoo Forks udev
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's lennart-vows-revenge department:
In October, Linus Torvalds expressed concerns that udev was making "...changes
that were known to be problematic, and are pure and utter stupidity." Several Gentoo developers were also concerned about the removal of features and uncooperative nature of udev maintained by the systemd developers, so they've announced a fork: "After speaking with several other Gentoo developers that share Linus'
concerns, I have decided to form a team to fork udev. Our plan is to eliminate the separate <tt>/usr</tt> requirement from our fork, among other things. We will announce the project later this week."


The project name (for now) is udev-ng, and you can grab the code from Github.

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iOS 6 Streaming Bug Sends Data Usage Skyrocketing
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's please-don't-start-calling-this-streamgate department:
MojoKid writes "iOS 6, by all appearances, has a streaming problem. This is separate from the network issues that led Verizon to state that it wouldn't bill people for overages that were caused by spotty Wi-Fi connectivity. The issue has been detailed at PRX.org with information on how the team saw a huge spike in bandwidth usage after the release of iOS 6, and then carefully tested the behavior of devices and its own app to narrow the possible cause. In one case, the playback of a single 30MB episode caused the transfer of over 100MB of data. It is believed that the issue was solved with the release of iOS 6.0.1, but anecdotal evidence from readers points to continued incidents of high data usage, even after updating. If you own an iPhone 5 or upgraded to iOS 6 on an older device, it is strongly recommend to check your usage over the past two months, update to iOS 6.0.1, and plan for a lengthy discussion with your carrier if it turns out your data use went through the roof."

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Judge Accepts $22.5M Google Fine In Privacy Case
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's more-interesting-if-she'd-accepted-a-$22.5M-bribe department:
itwbennett writes "Judge Susan Illston has said she will approve a $22.5 million settlement deal between Google and the FTC over the company's practice of circumventing privacy protections in Apple's Safari browser to place tracking cookies on user's computers. Judge Illston also expressed concern about what will happen to the tracking data Google collected, since the settlement doesn't call for Google to destroy the data."

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German City Says OpenOffice Shortcomings Are Forcing It Back To Microsoft
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-of-worms department:
The city of Freiburg, Germany adopted OpenOffice back in 2007, mostly replacing the Microsoft Office software it had been using previously. Now, an anonymous reader tips news that the city council is preparing to abandon OpenOffice and switch back.
"'In the specific case of the use of OpenOffice, the hopes and expectations of the year 2007 are not fulfilled,' the council wrote, adding that continuing use OpenOffice will lead to performance impairments and aggravation and frustration on the part of employees and external parties. 'Therefore, a new Microsoft Office license is essential for effective operations,' they wrote. ... 'The divergence of the development community (LibreOffice on one hand Apache Office on the other) is crippling for the development for OpenOffice,' the council wrote, adding that the development of Microsoft Office is far more stable. Looking at the options, a one-product strategy with Microsoft Office 2010 is the only viable one, according to the council."
The council was also disappointed that more municipalities haven't adopted OpenOffice in the meantime. Open source groups and developers criticized the move and encouraged the council to consider at least moving to a more up-to-date version of the office software suite.

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The Downside of Warp Drives: Annihilating Whole Star Systems When You Arrive
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's minor-details department:
MrSeb writes "The dream of faster-than-light travel has been on the mind of humanity for generations. Until recently, though, it was restricted to the realm of pure science fiction. Theoretical mechanisms for warp drives have been posited by science, some of which actually jive quite nicely with what we know of physics. Of course, that doesn't mean they're actually going to work, though. NASA researchers recently revisited the Alcubierre warp drive and concluded that its power requirements were not as impossible as once thought. However, a new analysis from the University of Sydney claims that using a warp drive of this design comes with a drawback. Specifically, it could cause cataclysmic explosions at your destination."

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Hostess To Close; No More Twinkies
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's a-true-tragedy-of-our-time department:
RenderSeven writes "In a press release issued today, baker Hostess Brands asked a bankruptcy court for permission to close all of its plants and sell off their assets, immediately laying off 18,500 workers. Citing high labor and rising health care costs, increasing competition and growing consumer awareness of healthy foods, Hostess says it can no longer operate without union concessions. A crippling strike has already shut down operations at all facilities, and while the Teamsters Union has ratified a new contract to keep Hostess in business, the Bakers Union has refused saying they would rather see the company closed than accept pension cuts. The Teamsters union is urging the bakers union to hold a secret ballot on whether to continue striking; citing its financial experts who had access to the company's books, the Teamsters say that Hostess' warning of liquidation is 'not an empty threat or a negotiating tactic' but a certain outcome if workers keep striking. If your late-night programming is fueled by Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Zingers, better stock up now."
[Editor's note: A whole bunch of users submitted this news. I worry about our readership's cholesterol levels.]

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Website Calls Out Authors of Racist Anti-Obama Posts
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's more-speech-as-a-counter-to-free-speech department:
stevegee58 writes "A tumblr blog entitled 'HelloThereRacists' is publicly identifying other online posters who make racist/assassination comments about President Obama. Beyond merely identifying online usernames, the blog's author is uncovering and publishing the real names and locations of offending posters. It's an interesting mess of legal issues. The outed posters are at risk of a Secret Service visit, but the trouble may not end there. The HelloThereRacists blogger himself may have some problems publicly identifying posters, who are frequently underage teenagers."
Update: 11/16 19:17 GMT by S : The blog has already been taken down.

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Verizon To Throttle Pirates' Bandwidth
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's arrr-me-hearties department:
another random user sends this excerpt from the BBC:
"U.S. net firm Verizon has declared war on illegal downloaders, or pirates, who use technologies such as BitTorrent to steal copyrighted material. Verizon has said it will first warn repeat offenders by email and voicemail. Then it will restrict or 'throttle' their internet connection speeds. Time Warner Cable, another U.S. internet service provider pledging to tackle piracy, says it will use pop-up warnings to deter repeat offenders. After that it will restrict subscribers' web browsing activities by redirecting them to a landing page. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which campaigns for digital freedom, is highly critical of the imminent campaign, saying: 'Big media companies are launching a massive peer-to-peer surveillance scheme to snoop on subscribers.' ISPs will be acting as 'Hollywood's private enforcement arm,' it added."

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Will It Take a 'Cyber Pearl Harbor' To Break Congressional Deadlock?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-perhaps-a-cybertsunami,-or-a-cyberarmageddon department:
Hugh Pickens writes "For years lawmakers had heard warnings about holes in corporate and government systems that imperil U.S. economic and national security. Now Ward Carroll writes that in the face of what most experts label as a potential 'Cyber Pearl Harbor' threat, Republicans have stalled the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 with a Senate vote of 51–47 against the legislation. This drew a quick response from the staff of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: 'The U.S. defense strategy calls for greater investments in cybersecurity measures, and we will continue to explore ways to defend the nation against cyber threats,' says DoD spokesman George Little. 'If the Congress neglects to address this security problem urgently, the consequences could be devastating.' Many Senate Republicans took their cues from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and businesses that framed the debate not as a matter of national security, but rather as a battle between free enterprise and an overreaching government. They wanted to let companies determine whether it would be more cost effective — absent liability laws around cyber attacks — to invest in the hardware, software, and manpower required to effectively prevent cyber attacks, or to simply weather attacks and fix what breaks afterwards. 'Until someone can argue both the national security and the economic parts of it, you're going to have these dividing forces,' says Melissa Hathaway, a White House cyber official in the Bush and Obama administrations. 'Most likely, big industry is going to win because at the end of the day our economy is still in trouble.'"

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How Robots Saved an Artist's Sanity
Posted by News Fetcher on November 16 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mend-all-humans department:
New submitter lebijoutier writes "According to Slate, '[Patrick] Tresset, for one, discovered a novel way to stay mentally healthy with the help of drugs and still pursue what was once his life's work: He created robots that can draw portraits. Far from a mere novelty, his research is telling us more about both the creative process in humans and how we relate emotionally to machines. ... Most of us still don't have robots in the home, but for decades now, we've been waiting for machines to do our bidding. Tresset believes that it might be a good idea to imbue all personal robots with some sort of artistic skill to encourage an emotional bond — it might allow for more trust, perhaps, though you can also see how overly identifying with a machine might create some existential questions.' The article also has a fascinating video of five of his robots sketching a single human."

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