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Cisco To Acquire Sourcefire For $2.7 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '13 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's billions-with-a-b department:
Orome1 writes "Cisco will acquire Sourcefire, a provider of intelligent cybersecurity solutions. Under the terms of the agreement, Cisco will pay $76 per share in cash in exchange for each share of Sourcefire and assume outstanding equity awards for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $2.7 billion, including retention-based incentives. The acquisition has been approved by the board of directors of each company. Once the transaction closes, Cisco will include Sourcefire into its guidance going forward. Prior to the close, Cisco and Sourcefire will continue to operate as separate companies."

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How Joel Spolsky Shot Down a Microsoft Patent In 15 Minutes
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '13 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's method-or-art-of-taking-down-software-patents department:
Thornburg contributes news of a story spotted on Techmeme, writing: "[Joel Spolsky of] Joel On Software has a story about how he found and submitted prior art for a Microsoft patent listed on Ask Patents in 15 minutes. The patent was rejected based largely on the document he submitted." Spolsky gives a very readable introduction to the patent system, and software patents in particular; I especially like this part: "Software patent applications are of uniformly poor quality. They are remarkably easy to find prior art for. Ask Patents can be used to block them with very little work. And this kind of individual destruction of one software patent application at a time might start to make a dent in the mountain of bad patents getting granted. ... How cool would it be if Apple, Samsung, Oracle and Google got into a Mexican Standoff on Ask Patents? If each of those companies had three or four engineers dedicating a few hours every day to picking off their competitors’ applications, the number of granted patents to those companies would grind to a halt."

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PIN-Cracking Robot To Be Showed Off At Defcon
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '13 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's brute-force department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "At the Def Con hacker conference in Las Vegas early next month, security researchers Justin Engler and Paul Vines plan to show off the R2B2, or Robotic Reconfigurable Button Basher, a piece of hardware they built for around $200 that can automatically punch PIN numbers at a rate of about one four-digit guess per second, fast enough to crack a typical Android phone's lock screen in 20 hours or less. Engler and Vines built their bot, shown briefly in a preview video, from three $10 servomotors, a plastic stylus, an open-source Arduino microcontroller, a collection of plastic parts 3D-printed on their local hackerspace's Makerbot 3D printer, and a five dollar webcam that watches the phone's screen to detect if it's successfully guessed the password. The device can be controlled via USB, connecting to a Mac or Windows PC that runs a simple code-cracking program. The researchers plan to release both the free software and the blueprints for their 3D-printable parts at the time of their Def Con talk."

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Crowdsourced Finnish Copyright Initiative Meets Signature Requirement
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '13 at 04:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's serve-the-people department:
First time accepted submitter Koookiemonster writes "The Finnish citizens' initiative site (Finnish/Swedish only) has fulfilled the required amount of signatures for the third initiative since its founding. This means that the Parliament of Finland is required to take the Common Sense in Copyright initiative into processing. The initiative calls for removal of copyright infringement as a crime, reducing violations by private individuals to a misdemeanor."

Torrent Freak notes "This makes Finland the first country in the world in which legislators will vote on a copyright law that was drafted by citizens."

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Fedora Project Developer Proposes Layered, More Agile Design to Distribution
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '13 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's upstream-engagement department:
Karrde712 writes "Fedora Cloud Architect Matthew Miller announced a proposal on a plan to redesign the way that the Fedora Project builds its GNU/Linux distribution. Fedora has often been described as a 'bag of bits,' with thousands of packages and only minimal integration. Miller's proposal for 'Fedora.Next' describes reorganizing the packages and upstream projects that comprise Fedora into a series of 'rings,' each level of which would have its own set of release and packaging requirements. The lowest levels of the distribution may be renamed to 'Fedora Core.' Much discussion is ongoing on the Fedora Devel mailing list. If any Slashdot readers have good advice to add to the discussion, it would be most useful to respond to the ongoing thread there."

A full presentation on the plan will be given at the Flock conference next month, and draft slides have been uploaded. A few more details about the discussion are below the fold.

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Imitation In Dogs Matches Humans and Apes
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 11:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's that's-where-fido-picked-up-his-bad-habits department:
sciencehabit writes "The next time your dog digs a hole in the backyard after watching you garden, don't punish him. He's just imitating you. A new study reveals that our canine pals are capable of copying our behavior as long as 10 minutes after it's happened. The ability is considered mentally demanding and, until this discovery, something that only humans and apes were known to do."

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Copyright Drama Reaches 3D Printing World
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 08:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's can't-use-that-object department:
jfruh writes "Stratasys, one of the world's biggest 3D printer manufacturers, routinely uses 3D-printed objects as displays for its booths at trade shows. The problem: It's been using objects designed by popular designer Asher Nahmias, whose creations are licensed under a noncommercial Creative Commons license — and he says Stratasys's use violates the licensing terms. This is just one example of how the nascent 3D printing industry is having to grapple with the IP implications of creating physical objects out of downloadable designs. Another important problem: IP law distinguishes between purely decorative and useful objects, but how should the digital files that provide a design for those objects be treated?"

The models are copyrighted and licensed NC, but what about the resulting object? Precedent seems to imply that the resulting object cannot be controlled (e.g. the output of a GPLed program is not GPLed, so why should executing a program on a 3D printer be any different?).

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Google Launches Cloud Printer Service For Windows
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 06:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's not-invented-here department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google today announced it is bringing its Cloud Print project to Windows. The company has launched both a driver and a service, both of which are available for download now from Google Tools. For those who don't know, Google Cloud Print connects Cloud Print-aware applications (across the Web, desktop, and mobile) to any printer. It integrates with the mobile versions of Gmail and Google Docs, and is also listed as a printer option in the Print Preview page of Chrome."

One of the things that annoys me about Android: having to print through the Cloud (tm) when I have an Internet Printing Protocol CUPS server on the same network as my phone connected to a printer ten feet from me. It wouldn't be so bad if the Google Cloud Print libraries weren't proprietary and did something like IPP proxying instead of using a similarly proprietary API.

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New Zealand Government About To Legalize Spying On NZ Citizens
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 04:31 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's if-you-have-nothing-to-hide department:
Flere Imsaho writes "After admitting they have illegally spied on NZ citizens or residents 88 times (PDF) since 2003, the government, in a stunning example of arse covering, is about to grant the GCSB the right to intercept the communications of New Zealanders in its role as the national cyber security agency, rather than examine the role the GCSB should play and then look at the laws. There has been strong criticism from many avenues. The bill is being opposed by Labor and the Greens, but it looks like National now have the numbers to get this passed. Of course, the front page story is all about the royal baby, with this huge erosion of privacy relegated to a small article near the bottom of the front page. Three cheers, the monarchy is secure, never mind the rights of the people. More bread and circuses anyone?"

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Lenovo "Rips and Flips" the ThinkPad With New Convertible Helix Design
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 04:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's watch-movies-on-your-work-laptop department:
MojoKid writes "Convertible laptops and ultrabooks had a big presence this year with the release of Windows 8. At CES, Lenovo revealed its ThinkPad Helix which it marketed as having a 'groundbreaking "rip and flip" design' that enables this 11.6-inch ultrabook to transform into a powerful Windows 8 tablet with Intel vPro technology for the enterprise. The ThinkPad Helix lets you work in four different modes: laptop, tablet, stand, and tablet+. When attached to the Enhanced Keyboard Dock in laptop mode, you'll get additional battery life and additional ports as well as Lenovo's ThinkPad Precision keyboard, a five button trackpad that supports Windows 8 features, and a traditional ThinkPad TrackPoint. ... The ThinkPad Helix features an 11.6-inch Full HD 1080p IPS (In-Plane Switching) 10-point multi-touchscreen with pen touch input and Gorilla Glass for protection. Lenovo claims the ThinkPad Helix will run for up to 8 hours on a single charge. Performance-wise, the new ThinkPad tablet convertible doesn't have a ton of horsepower, but the machine will get by well enough handling light multimedia and office app use with relative ease."

The "stand" mode is just the tablet part mounted away from the keyboard, tablet+ similarly just the tablet part folded over the dock giving it a longer battery life and more ports. It comes at a price though: ~$1800.

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EOMA-68 Based KDE Vivaldi Tablet Engineering Boards Ship
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's better-living-through-modular-hardware department:
sfcrazy writes "Aaron Seigo, a lead KDE developer, says that the ambitious KDE tablet Vivaldi is shipping to the team for quality testing. Seigo writes on his Google+ page, 'A great start to the week with a warm, sunny, quiet Monday. Well, almost quiet. The first Vivaldi tablets, new dual-core engineering boards and the custom EOMA68 developer workbenches we commissioned have all been shipped out. Don't get too excited: the tablets are pre-certification (EC/FCC) and are on their way to us so we can verify the Q/A targets we set out. Still ...'"

It looks like long-time reader lkcl's EOMA-68 initiative is working out; in related news the first batch of Allwinner A10 EOMA-68 cards is shipping to the "...20 Free Software developers brave enough to take one of these at this very early phase."

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Hollywood's Love of Analytics Couldn't Prevent Six Massive Blockbuster Flops
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's well-that-wasn't-good department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "In June, Steven Spielberg predicted that Hollywood was on the verge of an 'implosion' in which 'three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing to the ground.' The resulting destruction, he added, could change the film industry in radical and possibly unwelcome ways. And sooner than he may have thought, the implosion has arrived: in the past couple weeks, six wannabe blockbusters have cratered at the North American box office: 'R.I.P.D.,' 'After Earth,' 'White House Down,' 'Pacific Rim,' and 'The Lone Ranger.' These films featured big stars, bigger explosions, and top-notch special effects—exactly the sort of summer spectacle that ordinarily assures a solid run at the box office. Yet all of them failed to draw in the massive audiences needed to earn back their gargantuan budgets. Hollywood's more reliant than ever on analytics to predict how movies will do, and even Google has taken some baby-steps into that arena with a white paper describing how search-query patterns and paid clicks can estimate how well a movie will do on its opening weekend, but none of that data seems to be helping Hollywood avoid shooting itself in the foot with a 'Pacific Rim'-sized plasma cannon. In other words, analytics can help studios refine their rollout strategy for new films—but the bulk of box-office success ultimately comes down to the most elusive and unquantifiable of things: knowing what the audience wants before it does, and a whole lot of luck."

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Robotic Skin Lights Up When Touched
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 01:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's touch-a-touch-a-touch-a-touch-me department:
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have designed a super-thin flexible skin that lights up when touched. 'Thinner than a sheet of paper, the skin is made from layers of plastic and a pressure-sensitive rubber. A conductive silver ink, organic LEDs, and thin-film transistors made from semiconductor-enriched carbon nanotubes are sandwiched between the layers. Applying pressure sends a signal through the rubber that ultimately turns on the LEDs, which light up in red, green, yellow or blue. Instead of using the material to create bodysuits for Burning Man or other illuminated party tricks, scientists suggest that it might be used for smart wallpapers, health-monitoring devices, or in robotics. The type of interactive pressure sensor developed by the Berkeley scientists could also be useful in artificial skin for prosthetic limbs'"

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What Wi-Fi Would Look Like If We Could See It
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 01:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's looking-behind-the-curtain department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Artist Nickolay Lamm, a blogger for MyDeals.com, decided to shed some light on the subject. He created visualizations that imagine the size, shape, and color of wi-fi signals were they visible to the human eye. 'I feel that by showing what wi-fi would look like if we could see it, we'd appreciate the technology that we use everyday,' Lamm told me in an email. 'A lot of us use technology without appreciating the complexity behind making it work.'"

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True Tales of (Mostly) White Hat Hacking
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's playing-for-the-right-team department:
snydeq writes "Stings, penetration pwns, spy games — it's all in a day's work along the thin gray line of IT security, writes Roger A. Grimes, introducing his five true tales of (mostly) white hat hacking. 'Three guys sitting in a room, hacking away, watching porn, and getting paid to do it — life was good,' Grimes writes of a gig probing for vulnerabilities in a set-top box for a large cable company hoping to prevent hackers from posting porn to the Disney Channel feed. Spamming porn spammers, Web beacon stings with the FBI, luring a spy to a honeypot — 'I can't say I'm proud of all the things I did, but the stories speak for themselves.'"

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US Air Force Reporting Pilot Shortage
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's watch-your-six department:
An anonymous reader writes "Times sure have changed: it is no longer cool to be a fighter pilot. The Pentagon expects to be short some 200 fighter pilots this year, and is projecting that shortfall will increase to 700 pilots by 2021. Various factors seem to be involved: better paying jobs in the commercial sector with more stability, the stress of repeated overseas deployments, and the threat that ultimately the job they trained to do — fly planes — is being superseded by remotely-controlled drones. With demand for commercial aviators heating up as thousands of pilots are expected to reach mandatory retirement age (65) in the next five years, the Air Force is caught in a quandary. Where are they going to get the pilots to fly their shiny new F-35s?"

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Former WaPo Staffer Rob Pegoraro Talks About Newspapers' Decline (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 11:30 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's paper-is-too-20th-century-for-words department:
Newpapers. Remember them? The printout editions of websites like NYTimes.com, WSJ.com, and Rob Pegoraro's former workplace, WashingtonPost.com? Rob still writes for USAToday.com and its printout edition, but as a freelancer, not on staff. He's one of few newspaper layoff victims who has managed to hustle up enough freelance work to make a decent living. He's even on Boing Boing and Discovery.com. Where else? Tiny shots on various TV news programs, and one-off articles here and there. He's a hard-working and prolific guy, and he's had an insider's view of the decline of the newspaper industry and the rise of the online news business. In this interview he talks about both -- and adds a few cautionary notes for Rob Malda, the Slashdot co-founder who is now a Washington Post employee.

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X Chromosome May Leave a Mark On Male Fertility
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's guiding-hand department:
sciencehabit writes "Behind every great man, the saying goes, there's a great woman. And behind every sperm, there may be an X chromosome gene. In humans, the Y chromosome makes men, men, or so researchers have thought: It contains genes that are responsible for sex determination, male development, and male fertility. But now a team has discovered that X—'the female chromosome'—could also play a significant role in maleness. It contains scores of genes that are active only in tissue destined to become sperm. The finding shakes up our ideas about how sex chromosomes influence gender and also suggests that at least some parts of the X chromosome are playing an unexpectedly dynamic role in evolution."

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Canonical Seeks $32 Million To Make Ubuntu Smartphone
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pay-the-man department:
nk497 writes "Canonical has kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to raise $32 million in 30 days to make its own smartphone, called Ubuntu Edge, that can also hook up to a monitor and be used as a PC. If it meets its funding target on Indiegogo, the Ubuntu Edge is scheduled to arrive in May 2014. To get one, backers must contribute $600 (£394) on the first day or $810 (£532) thereafter. Canonical will only make 40,000 of the devices."

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Disney Algorithm Builds High-Res 3D Models From Ordinary Photos
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '13 at 09:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's adding-a-little-depth department:
Zothecula writes "Disney Research has developed an algorithm which can generate 3D computer models from 2D images in great detail, sufficient, it says, to meet the needs of video game and film makers. The technology requires multiple images to capture the scene from a variety of vantage points. The 3D model is somewhat limited in that it is only coherent within the field of view encompassed by the original images. It does not appear to fill in data"

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