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Ubuntu Isn't Becoming Less Open, Says Shuttleworth
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's frantic-flamingo department:
sfcrazy writes "While the larger Ubuntu community was busy downloading, installing and enjoying the latest edition of Ubuntu yesterday, a post by Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth ruffled some feathers. He gave the impression that from now on only select members of the community will be involved in some development and it will be announced publicly only after completion. There was some criticism of this move, and Shuttleworth responded that they are actually opening up projects being developed internally by Canonical employees instead of closing currently open projects. He also made a new blog post clarifying his previous comments: 'What I offered to do, yesterday, spontaneously, is to invite members of the community in to the things we are working on as personal projects, before we are ready to share them. This would mean that there was even less of Ubuntu that was NOT shaped and polished by folk other than Canonical – a move that one would think would be well received. This would make Canonical even more transparent.'"

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How Do You Spot a Genius?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's look-for-the-striped-crest department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Ingrid Wickelgren reports in Scientific American that people have long-equated genius with intelligence, but it is more aptly characterized by creative productivity which depends on a combination of genetics, opportunity and effort. 'Nobody can be called out for outstanding contributions to a field without a lot of hard work, but progress is faster if you are born with the right skills. Personality also plays a role. If you are very open to new experiences and if you have psychopathic traits (yes, as in those shared by serial killers) such as being aggressive and emotionally tough, you are more likely to be considered a genius.' True creativity and genius depends on an unfiltered view of the world, one that is unconstrained by preconceptions and more open to novelty, writes Wickelgren. 'In particular, a less conceptual and more literal way of thinking, one more typical of people with autism, can open the mind up to seeing details that most people miss.' Our schools devote few resources on nurturing nascent genius, concludes Wickelgren, because they are focused on helping those students most likely to be left behind. 'We need to train teachers to spot giftedness, which may take a variety of forms and often needs to be accompanied by creativity, drive and passion. Offering a greater variety of enrichment activities to children will cause many more hidden talents to surface. And accelerated classes and psychological coaching are essential for nurturing talent as early and vigorously as possible.'"

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Scientists Match Dream Images To Photos
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 01:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that's-nice-but-please-don't department:
scibri writes "Scientists have learned how to discover what you are dreaming about while you sleep. A team of Japanese researchers scanned the brains of three people as they slept, and compared the scans to those of the same people looking at photos of common objects. They were then able to tell, with 75% — 80% accuracy, if one of those images appeared in a dream."

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Windows RT vs. Windows 8 Could Burn Consumers
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's grandma-wants-the-one-with-internets-in-it department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "The Surface currently available for pre-order runs Windows RT, a version of the operating system designed to run on ARM architecture. Windows RT looks virtually identical to Windows 8, which, like previous versions of Windows, runs on the x86 architecture that dominates the laptop and desktop market. Microsoft's early marketing materials aren't exactly highlighting that differences between Windows RT and Windows 8 — and as a result, there's a high potential for unsuspecting consumers to end up burned when they buy a Windows RT tablet expecting the complete Windows experience. But Windows RT won't support legacy Windows applications — instead, users will need to hope and pray that developers port those applications to the Windows Store, the only venue for RT-supported apps. Over at The Verge, the intrepid Sean Hollister asked eight Microsoft Store representatives about the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT, and received several confusing responses. 'To their credit, half of the representatives admitted that Windows RT wasn't as capable as Windows 8,' he wrote. 'The other half not so much. Moreover, those reps who did admit issues seemed dismissive of Windows RT as a whole.'"

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Electronic Tweezers Grab Nanoparticles
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's much-cooler-than-using-regular-tweezers department:
MTorrice writes "A beam of electrons can pick up and carry nanoparticles, according to a new study (abstract). The so-called electronic tweezers could help scientists in diverse tasks, such as building up new materials nanoparticle-by-nanoparticle, and measuring the forces between nanoparticles and living cells, the researchers say. In the past, scientists have manipulated microsized particles, including single cells, using a beam of laser light called optical tweezers. But the force required to trap a particle with optical tweezers increases as the particle gets smaller, making grappling with nanoparticles difficult. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory developed an alternative to optical tweezers by modifying a transmission electron microscope, which produces images by passing a stream of electrons through a sample."
Reader Sven-Erik adds news of a tractor beam generated with laser light that can pull microscopic particles over distances of 30 micrometers (abstract).

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Dutch Ministry Proposes Powers For Police To Hack Computers, Install Spyware
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us department:
hypnosec writes "The Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security has proposed some rather over the line measures and wants to extend such powers to the police that would allow them to break into computers and mobile phones in any part of the world. According to the proposal (PDF in Dutch), dated October 15, the ministry has asked for powers that would allow police to not only break into computers, but also allow them to install spyware, search for data in those computers, and destroy data. As explained by digital rights group 'Bits of Freedom,' which obtained the copy of the proposal, if the Dutch police get such powers, the security of computer users would be lessened and there will be a 'perverse incentive to keep information security weak.'"

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The Group That Makes Tech Work For the Disabled
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's adapted-for-use department:
jfruh writes "When the iPhone was first released in 2007, the blind community assessed it and determined it was essentially useless for them. Today it's the number one phone used by blind people, largely because of the efforts of the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM). NCAM is part of WGBH, Boston's public television station, which broadcast the first captioned TV show in 1972. Since then NCAM has been a lifeline that makes sure that people with disabilities aren't left out of the technological revolution."

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Mozilla Opens the Firefox App Store To Early Testers
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's there-are-never-enough-app-stores department:
SternisheFan sends this quote from ZDNet:
"Mozilla has opened its Firefox Marketplace, with Android device owners and developers getting the first access to the browser's app store. The access arrived on Thursday, in the release of the latest 'Aurora' build of Firefox for Android. Aurora is meant for developers and early adopters, as it is the test stream of Mozilla's browser. The storefront lets people find and install web applications delivered via the browser, and gives developers a place to publicize their apps. 'We're hoping that Aurora users, our awesome early adopters, will go experience the Firefox Marketplace on their Android phones and let us know what they think,' Mozilla Labs engineering manager Bill Walker said in a blog post. 'Our goal is to collect as much real-life feedback as possible about the Marketplace's design, usability, performance, reliability, and content.' ... Mozilla said it expects to follow with a Marketplace for the Firefox browser beta and Firefox OS launches next year."

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TSA Moving X-ray Body Scanners To Smaller Airports
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shuffle-it-around-so-it-looks-like-we're-doing-something department:
OverTheGeicoE writes "If you're concerned about possible health effects from TSA's X-ray body scanners, you might be pleased to learn that TSA is making changes. TSA is removing X-ray body scanners from major airports including Los Angeles International, Boston's Logan, Chicago's O'Hare, and New York City's JFK. Then again, these changes might not please you at all, because they are not mothballing the offending devices. No, they are instead moving them to smaller airports like the one in Mesa, AZ. Is this progress, or is TSA just moving potentially dangerous scanners from 'Blue' areas to 'Red' ones right before a presidential election?"

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Eben Moglen Talks About Free Software in the Second of Two Video Interviews
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 10:30 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's second-time's-a-charm department:
Yesterday we ran a video interview with Eben Moglen, who according to Wikipedia, "is a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, and is the founder, Director-Counsel and Chairman of [the] Software Freedom Law Center." And as we also said yesterday, since 2011 he's been working with FreedomBox, a project working toward "a personal server running a free software operating system, with free applications designed to create and preserve personal privacy." Prof. Moglen is also one of the most polished speakers anywhere, on any topic, in our opinion. So please enjoy this second video of him speaking to (and answering questions from) Slashdot readers.

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Brazilian Newspapers Leave Google News En Masse
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's taking-their-toys-and-going-home department:
Dupple writes "In light of the recent story regarding Google threatening a French media ban after France proposed that search engines should pay for content, it seems a similar thing is happening in Brazil, with numerous papers leaving Google News. The controversy fueled one of the most intense debates during the Inter American Press Association's 68th General Assembly, which took place from Oct. 12 to 16 in São Paulo. On one side of the debate were defenders of news companies' authoring rights, like German attorney Felix Stang, who said, 'platforms like Google's compete directly with newspapers and magazines because they work like home pages and use content from them.' On the other, Google representatives said their platform provides a way to make journalistic content available to more people. According to Marcel Leonardi, the company's public policies director, Google News channels a billion clicks to news sites around the world."

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Making a Slashdot Omelet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 09:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-alone-in-the-moonlight department:
It's been said that the mix of stories on Slashdot is like an omelet: linux and tech, mixed with science and Legos, and a few reviews and sci-fi folded in. It's not just the stories that are a good mix, however, it's the people behind them. Through the past 15 years, an unusual cast of characters have been responsible for keeping the site up and running and bringing you the stories you want to read. We've asked a number of them to write a few words about their time working here and to share a few memories. Below you'll find that some of our former employees don't know what "a few words" means, and a collection of what bringing you news for the past 15 years has been like.

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Good Old Games Adds Mac OS X Support
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-i-can-play-games-and-be-hip-at-the-same-time department:
SquarePixel writes "The nostalgic games seller Good Old Games has added Mac OS X support to its platform and a catalog of games to go with it. 'During its much-ballyhooed news-a-thon, GOG drew back the curtain on a new version of its service tailored to Macs, which brings with it 50 games (eight of which you receive free just for signing up) and some rather tempting deals. Speaking of, there's this insane 32-game pay-what-you-want Interplay special leading the charge in celebration of GOG's fourth anniversary.'"
Unfortunately, Linux support doesn't seem to be in the cards just yet. On a list of requested site features, Linux support has gotten quite a few votes, but a GOG employee said, "Linux is a great platform, and we love how much passion you guys are showing for it here on our wishlist. ... If we're able to bring GOG.com games to Linux--and we're constantly evaluating ways that we can do this--we want to make sure that we're doing it the GOG.com way: simple, easy, and it 'just works.' I'm not telling you guys to give up hope--we know how much you want this--but what I am saying is that this is harder to support than it might seem initially, and we're not ready to move to support Linux officially just yet."

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Standard For Electric Car Charging Announced
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's which-automakers-will-promptly-ignore department:
SchrodingerZ writes "The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), an international syndicate, has unveiled what is to become the standard for electric car charging. In today's market there are hundreds of different methods and plugs to charge a variety of different cars, now a single multi use plug is announced as the world standard. Called the J1772 , it 'has two charging plugs incorporated into a single design and is said to reduce charging times from as long as eight hours to as little as 20 minutes.' The cumulative work of over 190 'global experts,' the plug can cater to both AC and DC currents for charging. The plug also sets a new standard on safety regulations, including 'its ability to be safely used in all weather conditions, and the fact that its connections are never live unless commanded by the car during charging.' The J1772 beat out its Japanese competitor the CHAdeMO, used as an option on the Nissan Leaf."

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No Microbes In First Sample From Lake Vostok
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-about-ancient-sea-monsters department:
ananyo writes "A first analysis of the ice that froze onto the drillbit used in last February's landmark drilling to a pristine Antarctic lake shows no native microbes came up with the lake water, according to Sergey Bulat of Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute (Russia). The very uppermost layer of Lake Vostock appears to be 'lifeless' so far, says Bulat, but that doesn't mean the rest of it is. Bulat and his colleagues counted the microbes present in the ice sample and checked their genetic makeup to figure out the phylotypes. They counted fewer than 10 microbes/ml — about the same magnitude they would expect to find in the background in their clean room."

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Randomly Generated Math Article Accepted By 'Open-Access' Journal
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stochastically-orthogonal-and-trivially-affine department:
call -151 writes "Many years ago, a human-generated intentionally nonsense paper was accepted by the (prominent) literary culture journal Social Text. In August, a randomly-generated nonsense mathematics paper was accepted by one of the many low-tier 'open-access' research mathematics journals. The software Mathgen, which generated the accepted submission, takes as inputs author names (or those can be randomly selected also) and generates nicely TeX'd and impressive-sounding sentences which are grammatically correct but mathematically disconnected nonsense. This was reviewed by a human, (quickly, for math, in 12 days) and the reviewers' comments mention superficial problems with the submission (PDF). The references are also randomly-generated and rather hilarious. For those with concerns about submitting to lower-tier journals in an effort to promote open access, this is not a good sign!"

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Free Online Education Unwelcome In Minnesota
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's are-you-familiar-with-the-internet department:
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
"[Minnesota's] Office of Higher Education has informed the popular provider of massive open online courses, or MOOC's, that Coursera is unwelcome in the state because it never got permission to operate there. It's unclear how the law could be enforced when the content is freely available on the Web, but Coursera updated its Terms of Service to include the following caution: 'Notice for Minnesota Users: Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.' Tricia Grimes, a policy analyst for the state's Office of Higher Education, said letters had been sent to all postsecondary institutions known to be offering courses in Minnesota."

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Scientists Turn Air Into Petrol
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-that-dead-dinosaurs department:
rippeltippel writes "The Independent reports on a scientific breakthrough which would allow us to synthesize petrol from thin air. Quoting from the article: 'Air Fuel Synthesis in Stockton-on-Tees has produced five liters of petrol since August when it switched on a small refinery that manufactures gasoline from carbon dioxide and water vapor. The company hopes that within two years it will build a larger, commercial-scale plant capable of producing a ton of petrol a day. It also plans to produce green aviation fuel to make airline travel more carbon-neutral. ... Tim Fox, head of energy and the environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, said: "It sounds too good to be true, but it is true. They are doing it and I've been up there myself and seen it. The innovation is that they have made it happen as a process. It's a small pilot plant capturing air and extracting CO2 from it based on well known principles. It uses well-known and well-established components but what is exciting is that they have put the whole thing together and shown that it can work." Although the process is still in the early developmental stages and needs to take electricity from the national grid to work, the company believes it will eventually be possible to use power from renewable sources such as wind farms or tidal barrages. "We've taken carbon dioxide from air and hydrogen from water and turned these elements into petrol," said Peter Harrison, the company's chief executive, who revealed the breakthrough at a conference at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London."

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FTC Offers $50,000 For Best Way To Stop Robocalls
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's dial-A-for-annoying department:
coondoggie writes "It's not clear if the Federal Trade Commission is throwing up its hands at the problem or just wants some new ideas about how to combat it, but the agency is now offering $50,000 to anyone who can create what it calls an innovative way to block illegal commercial robocalls on landlines and mobile phones."

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Privacy Advocates Oppose Aussie Data Breach Laws
Posted by News Fetcher on October 19 '12 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's letting-them-know department:
schliz writes "This week, Australia's Attorney-General released a discussion paper about introducing laws that would force companies to notify members of the public any time personal information about that customer falls into the wrong hands. California introduced similar mandatory data breach notification laws in 2003, but Australian privacy advocates are now opposing the move, saying it's a decade too late."

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