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EFF Announces New Patent Reform Project
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's realistic-windmills department:
olsmeister writes "On Tuesday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced its 'Defend Innovation' project, which includes seven proposals for software patent reform. These proposals include things like shorter coverage for software patents, and a requirement to demonstrate running code for each claim in the patent."

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Chuck Schumer Tells Apple and Google To "Curb Your Spy Planes"
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's moral-panic-from-his-high-horseness department:
mk1004 writes with news from The Register that U.S. Senator Charles Schumer of New York has written to Apple and Google
regarding their use of 'military-grade spy planes.' The Senator claims concerns ranging from voyeurism to terrorism. Suggested protections: Warn when areas are going to be imaged, give property owners the right to opt out, and blurring of individuals. Schumer seems happy enough, though, with the more detailed versions of such surveillance being in the hands of law enforcement agencies, and phrases his complaint to emphasize what he perceives as risks to infrastructure brought about by detailed maps that anyone can browse: "[I]f highly detailed images become available, criminals could create more complete schematic maps of the power and water grids in the United States. With the vast amount of infrastructure across the country, it would be impossible to secure every location."

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Locked-Down Tablets Endanger FLOSS For End Users
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's debian-friendliness-as-coal-mine-canary department:
itwbennett writes "If you buy into the idea that tablets (and ultrabooks, and smartphones) in the enterprise are nothing more than glorified thin clients, then Microsoft's Surface presentation seemed more flashback than future. And if you're a fan of free software, the announcement might also have struck fear in your heart. While Microsoft has never locked out apps based on license, it's not impossible that they might chose a more locked-down Apple-esque approach for Surface, writes blogger Brian Proffitt. 'And that could put free software for end users very much at risk.'"

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Another YouTube Conversion Site Clipped
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's no-wall-just-this-thorny-hedge department:
Hodejo1 writes "[Tuesday] morning we learned that Google fired the first volley against YouTube conversion sites by blocking YouTube-MP3.org's servers from accessing its service and sending a letter threatening legal action. It looks like the fast growing Clip.dj also got the letter based on the note posted on the site: 'We're sorry to announce this, but Clip.dj has shut its service down for good.'"

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2 New Social Networks With Very Different Political Twists
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's choose-your-paradigm department:
judgecorp writes "Frustrated at the off-topic chatter on Twitter, British MP Louise Mensch has launched a supposedly rival service. Despite the name, Menshn, this is apparently not a hoax, but a site aimed at 'on-topic' conversation, initially around the U.S. election. Mensch is a former 'chick lit' author, and a Member of Parliament since 2010. She has taken part in questioning of Rupert and James Murdoch, and urged control of social media." If "control of social media" urged by sitting politicians strikes you as undesirable, or the hyper-focused content seems constraining, take heart: an anonymous reader points out an online community of a different stripe — a social network launched by Wikileaks, intended to be "a secure, surveillance-resistant social network purpose-built for Friends of WikiLeaks." Whether or not your politics line up with those of most Wikileaks supporters, you might wish for some of the features FoWL is designed to provide: "By design your details are encrypted, and hidden from everyone except your immediate contacts. Even we can't access them. Connected by FoWL, friends of WikiLeaks will communicate however they like, including using secure person-to-person methods. As the network grows away from the site infrastructure, it becomes autonomous and decentralized, opaque to observers and impossible to compromise."

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NVIDIA Responds To Linus Torvalds
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-can-actually-get-a-degree-in-pr department:
jones_supa writes "NVIDIA's PR department has issued a statement following the harsh comments by Linus Torvalds last week where he referred to the graphics company as the single worst company he's ever dealt with, called them out on not supporting Optimus, and other issues. Basically the company replied they're committed to Linux using their proprietary driver that is largely common across platforms, and this allows for same-day Linux support with full OpenGL implementation. They also say that they're active in ARM Linux for Tegra and support a wide range of hardware under Linux. Despite having not made any commitment to better support Optimus under Linux nor providing technical assistance to the Nouveau community, NVIDIA assures us that 'at the end of the day, providing a consistent GPU experience across multiple platforms for all of our customers continues to be one of our key goals.'"

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Ask Slashdot: a Good Geek Project For My Arthritic Grandfather?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's spy-on-the-neighbors'-lawn department:
An anonymous reader writes "My grandfather is a retired electrician whom I've been trying to keep mentally busy. Together we've gotten an Arduino kit and have been working on some simple projects. He does the wiring and I've been writing the code. Recently his arthritis has been getting worse and he's been unable to work with the tiny components that the Arduino projects require. Does anyone have a recommendation for something similar we could work on together that would be easier for someone with his compromised manual dexterity?"

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Microsoft Wins Congressional Backing For Do-Not-Track Default In IE10
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's crazy-pills-have-not-yet-worn-off department:
An anonymous reader writes "Thought Do Not Track was strictly a geeks' issue? Think again. After Microsoft was slapped down for enabling DNT by default in Internet Explorer 10, the co-chairs of the US's Congressional Bi-Partisan Privacy Caucus have sent a strongly-worded letter to the W3C urging it to reconsider. As webdev360.com points out, it's an interesting (unprecedented?) example of Congress interacting with the standards body: 'Whether members of the [working group] will take kindly to the Representatives' interference remains to be seen. Ed Markey's legislative director, Joseph Wender, has brought the letter to the attention of the group's mailing list, but, as of the time of writing, he hasn't received any replies.'"

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CNET, IDC Find Rapid Increase In Behavioral Data Tracking
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's surprising-nobody-who-cares department:
retroworks writes "According to columnist Elinor Mills at CNET, efforts to track consumer browsing behavior are 'rising dramatically.' In an interview with Gordon McLeod, CEO of data mining company Krux.com, advertising targeted at browsing habits has increased fourfold since 2010. IDC, according to McLeod, projects the browser-search-term-targeted advertising industry to grow from 'zero to $5 billion in less than 5 years.' Will health insurance companies see us crawling for information on family illnesses? After reading the article, I went hunting for a download of 2008 program antiphormlite, and found nothing remaining at any download site (including CNET). Is there another 'cookie camouflage' alternative to polluting the cookie stream with false positives? Or are we left to 'do not track' pledges and trusting Tor redirectors?"

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Samsung Galaxy S III Launched, Hands-On Testing
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-day-another-phone department:
MojoKid writes "One of the most highly anticipated Android phones of the year is the Samsung Galaxy S III and its official launch is today. This smartphone comes with a number of new features we haven't seen on many Android phones, including improved voice control functionality, new sharing features, and Near Field Communication features. Those include Samsung's new TecTiles, which are programmable NFC tags you can use to control the phone's many features and functions. For example, you can program a TecTile to automatically change phone settings for a particular location, send a text message, open apps, etc. Samsung's S Voice functionality works much the same way as Apple's Siri: you can use plain English to tell the phone what you want it to do. You can set alarms, update your social networks, get navigation instructions and ask basic questions. During tests with the Galaxy S III, the performance and accuracy with S Voice was comparable to Siri on an iPhone 4S. Performance-wise, the Galaxy S III handled well in the benchmarks, with Qualcomm's dual-core SnapDragon S4 offering a very fluid experience across Samsung's 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display."

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Microsoft To PC and Tablet Makers: You're Not Our Future
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's remember-when-companies-just-did-one-or-two-things department:
snydeq writes "Microsoft's plan to build its own Windows 8 tablets puts longtime allies in peril — and it may be the right thing to do. 'In announcing the Surface tablets, due to be released this fall, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer cited Apple's advantage (without mentioning Apple) of integrated software and hardware. "Things work better when hardware and software are considered together," he said. "We control it all, we design it all, and we manufacture it all ourselves." ... Like Apple, Microsoft will hire a few PC makers to do the actual production work. But the need for 20 brands of me-too laptops, tablets, and convertibles is low. Manufacturing sophisticated electronics is a skill requiring manufacturing innovation. But all those branded-but-otherwise-undifferentiated PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones just aren't needed in the vision Ballmer sketched out yesterday.'"

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Why 'Nigerian Scammers' Say They're From Nigeria
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '12 at 12:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hello-sir-madam department:
angry tapir writes "'Nigerian scams' (also known as '419 scams' but more accurately called 'advance fee fraud') continue to clog up inboxes with tales of fantastic wealth for the recipient. The raises the question: Do people still fall for this rubbish? The emails often outline ridiculous scenarios but promise millions if a person offers to help get money out of a country. The reason for the ridiculous scenarios seems obvious in retrospect: According to research by Cormac Herley at Microsoft, scammers are looking for the most gullible people, and their crazy emails can help weed out people who are savvy enough to know better. Contrary to what people believe, the scams aren't 'free' for the scammers (PDF): sending an email might have close to zero cost attached, but the process of getting money out of someone can be quite complicated and incurs costs (for example, recruiting other parties to participate in the scam). So at the end of the day, the scammer wants to find people who will almost certainly fall for the scam and offer a good return."

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Shenzhou 9 Sparks Renewed Debate On Space Race With China
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '12 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's where's-jfk-when-you-need-him department:
MarkWhittington writes "With the flight of the Shenzhou 9, which includes the first docking between a Chinese spacecraft and a prototype space station module, a renewed debate has arisen over the implications of Chinese space feats. China is planning a large space station by the end of this decade. It has expressed the desire to land people on the moon sometime in the next decade. Scientists, foreign policy experts and journalists debate whether China has supplanted the U.S. as a space power and whether that matters. 'In reality, the implications of China's move could be a much cooler third option: a new space race between the Chinese government and U.S. startups. While China is 50 years behind the U.S. government, they are much more comparable to U.S. companies. It was only a couple of weeks ago that SpaceX made history by becoming the first private company to successfully dock a space module to a station in orbit. This means they are roughly 10-15 years behind the Chinese government, but they could gain fast.'"

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The Dry Ice 'Snowflakes' of Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '12 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's requires-advanced-snowman-construction-skills department:
astroengine writes "After collecting the vast quantities of data gathered by orbiting Mars spacecraft, MIT scientists have uncovered some rather interesting facts about Martian snow. For starters, as the majority of the Mars atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide, the snowflakes are made from CO2 ice — basically tiny particles of 'dry ice.' Also, the snowflakes are very small — approximately the size of a red blood cell. 'These are very fine particles, not big flakes,' said MIT assistant professor Kerri Cahoy in a press release. If you saw these 'snowflakes' fall, 'you would probably see it as a fog, because they're so small,' she added."

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US, Israel Behind Flame Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '12 at 06:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's apparently-they-did-start-the-fire department:
The Washington Post is reporting that the sophisticated 'Flame' malware was created by the United States and Israel in order to collect intelligence on Iranian computer networks. The intel was to be used in a cyber-sabotage campaign intended to slow Iran's development of nuclear weapons. This follows confirmation a few weeks ago that the U.S. and Israel were behind Stuxnet, which caused problems at Iran's nuclear facilities. From the article:
"The emerging details about Flame provide new clues to what is thought to be the first sustained campaign of cyber-sabotage against an adversary of the United States. 'This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,' said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today. 'Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.' ... The scale of the espionage and sabotage effort 'is proportionate to the problem that's trying to be resolved,' the former intelligence official said, referring to the Iranian nuclear program. Although Stuxnet and Flame infections can be countered, 'it doesn't mean that other tools aren't in play or performing effectively,' he said."

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Google's Nexus Tablet To Be Unveiled Next Week
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '12 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's jumping-into-the-race-for-second-place department:
zacharye writes "Google chairman Eric Schmidt revealed in December that the company was working on its first own-brand tablet, and the 'Nexus 7' slate will finally be unveiled next week during the Google I/O developer conference, according to multiple reports. The latest reaffirmation comes from DigiTimes, which has reported a number of details surrounding Google's upcoming tablet that will seemingly prove accurate."

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Belief In Hell Predicts a Country's Crime Rates Better Than Other Factors
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '12 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-correlates-with-air-conditioner-sales department:
An anonymous reader writes "Religion is often thought of as psychological defense against bad behavior, but researchers have recently found that the effect of religion on pro-social behaviors may actually be driven by the belief in hell and supernatural punishment rather than faith in heaven and spiritual benevolence. In a large analysis of 26 years of data consisting of 143,197 people in 67 countries, psychologists found significantly lower crime rates in societies where many people believe in hell compared to those where more people believed in heaven."

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Capitalists Who Fear Change
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's great-band-names department:
bill_mcgonigle writes "In his essay 'Capitalists Who Fear Change,' author Jeffrey Tucker takes on 'wimps who don't want to improve.' From DMCA take-downs on 3D printing files to the constant refrain that every new form of music recording will 'kill music,' Mr. Tucker observes, 'Through our long history of improvement, every upgrade and every shift from old to new inspired panic. The biggest panic typically comes from the producers themselves who resent the way the market process destabilizes their business model.' He analyzes how the markets move the march of technology ever forward. He takes on patents, copyrights, tariffs, and protectionism of entrenched interests in general, with guarded optimism: 'The promise of the future is nothing short of spectacular — provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don't get their way.'"

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Is Oracle Really Offering 100+ Cloud Applications?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-sufficiently-small-values-of-100 department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claimed during a June 6 presentation that the upcoming Oracle Cloud would offer more than 100 enterprise-grade applications. While Oracle certainly intends on offering a broad range of cloud products, at least one analyst has questioned how the company is counting up to that magic '100 applications' total. Meanwhile, another analyst feels that, despite Oracle's commanding presence in enterprise IT, it could face a significant challenge in its fight for the cloud-computing market."

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NYC's Trash-Sucking Tubes May Be Upgraded, Expanded
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-the-mega-maid-sir department:
derekmead writes "When urban planners were trying to turn New York's Roosevelt Island from a haven for the disabled and the mentally ill into a liveable city, they got utopian. Lying beneath their plans was an unusual technology: a series of tubes that literally suck garbage from buildings at speeds up to 60 miles per hour to a central collection point, where the trash is taken off the island by truck or barge. Theoretically, that eliminates the emissions and traffic caused by giant garbage trucks, and makes trash sorting easier. Now, more than thirty years after the 'AVAC,' or Automated Vacuum Collection System, was installed, Envac, the Swedish company that built it, is exploring how to upgrade it and even extend the system to other parts of the city. Under a new feasibility study conducted by City University and funded by two city agencies, the easiest option would be to stretch the current system south, to cover the new technology campuses being built on Roosevelt Island by Cornell University and the Technion. "

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