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CIA Director David Petraeus Resigns, Citing Affair
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's he's-no-clinton department:
Penurious Penguin writes "After serving as Director of the CIA since September 2011, David Petraeus resigned from his position today, November 9. The retired four-star Army general has cited an extramarital affair as reason for the resignation. Michael Morell will now serve as Acting Director of the CIA."

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Ask Slashdot: Which Virtual Machine Software For a Beginner?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-the-holodeck department:
An anonymous reader writes "I am getting ready to start learning the use of virtual machines. What VM software would you recommend? This is for personal use. It would be good to run both Windows VMs and Linux VMs. Early use would be maintaining multiple Windows installs using only one desktop computer with plenty of cores and memory. I would be starting with a Windows host, but probably later switching to a Linux host after I learn more about it. Free is good, but reliability and ease of use are better. What is your preferred choice for a VM beginner? VMware? Xen? VirtualBox? Something else?"
It may also be helpful if you can recommend particular VM software for particular uses, or provide some insight on different hosting options.

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Would Charles Darwin Have Made a Good Congressman?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's descent-by-natural-election department:
sciencehabit writes "It's a good 130 years too late to answer that question empirically, but at least symbolically Charles Darwin has won support from more than 4000 voters in the 10th congressional district of Georgia, thanks to an initiative headed by James Leebens-Mack, a plant biologist at the University of Georgia in Athens. Like many others, Leebens-Mack was deeply troubled by a speech his Congressman, Paul Broun (R-GA), gave at an Athens church in October deriding teachings on evolution, embryology, and the big bang theory as 'lies straight from the pit of Hell.' Broun, a medical doctor, is a member of the U.S. House of Representative's Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and chair of its Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. Leebens-Mack says the 'protest vote should make it clear to future opponents that there are a lot of people in the district who are not happy with antiscience statements.'"

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NASA Pondering L2 Outpost, Return To Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's moon-mars-L2-just-go-somewhere department:
New submitter Joiseybill writes "Now that the election is over, any voters that may have been influenced can rest easy. Space.com reports that the agency has been 'thinking about setting up a manned outpost beyond the moon's far side, both to establish a human presence in deep space and to build momentum toward a planned visit to an asteroid in 2025.' Space policy expert John Logsdon said, 'NASA has been evolving its thinking, and its latest charts have inserted a new element of cislunar/lunar gateway/Earth-moon L2 sort of stuff into the plan. They've been holding off announcing that until after the election.' According to the article, 'Rumors currently point toward parking a spacecraft at the Earth-moon L2 gateway, so NASA (and perhaps international partners) can learn more about supporting humans in deep space. Astronauts stationed there could also aid in lunar exploration — by teleoperating rovers on the moon's surface, for example.'"

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Patent System Not Broken, Argues IBM's Chief Patent Counsel
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's which-is-good-because-being-broken-is-patented department:
New submitter TurinX writes "Unsurprisingly, IBM's Chief Patent Counsel, Manny Schecter, thinks the patent system isn't broken. He says, 'Patent disputes like [the Apple-Samsung case] are a natural characteristic of a vigorously competitive industry. And they're nothing new: Similar skirmishes have historically occurred in areas as diverse as sewing machines, winged flight, agriculture, and telegraph technology. Each marked the emergence of incredible technological advances, and each generated similar outcries about the patent system. We are actually witnessing fewer patent suits per patent issued today than the historical average.'"
Regarding software patents, he argues, "If patent litigation caused by the U.S. patent system stifled innovation, U.S. software companies would not be the most successful in the world." His recommendation is that we should be patient and "let the system work." Schecter's editorial at Wired is one of a series of expert opinions on the patent system; we've already discussed Richard Stallman's contribution.

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Project Orca: How an IT Disaster Destroyed Republicans' Get-Out-The-Vote Effort
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's whale-of-a-campaign-killer department:
cheesecake23 writes "Many talking heads have attributed Obama's success to an unmatched 'ground game.' Now, inside reports from campaign volunteers suggest that Project Orca, a Republican, tech-based voter monitoring effort with 37,000 volunteers in swing states, turned out to be an epic failure due to dismal IT. Problems ranged from state-wide incorrect PINs, to misleading and delayed information packets delivered to volunteers, to a server outage and missing redirection of secure URLs."

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Moore's Law Is Becoming Irrelevant, Says ARM's Boss
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-useful-anymoore department:
holy_calamity writes "PCs will inevitably shift over to ARM-based chips because efficiency now matters more than gains in raw performance, the CEO of chip designer ARM tells MIT Technology Review. He also says the increasing adoption of ARM-based suppliers is good for innovation (and for prices) because it spurs a competitive environment. 'There’s been a lot more innovation in the world of mobile phones over the last 15-20 years than there has been in the world of PCs.'"

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Book Review: Presentation Patterns
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 12:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
MassDosage writes "In a remarkable show of good timing Presentation Patterns turned up on my desk for review within days of me having been asked to give a presentation at a large tech conference. So I decided to read the book as I worked on my presentation and apply any lessons learned as I worked my way through it. The word "patterns" in the book's title will be known to most software developers as a reference to the seminal 'Gang of four' software design patterns book which codified common solutions to software problems. The concept of patterns originated in building architecture with the idea being that by categorizing and naming solutions to problems, a common vocabulary could be built up that allowed practitioners in a certain field to communicate more effectively. This was hugely successful and has spawned the idea of looking for patterns in many other areas which is where this book comes in." Read on for the rest of Mass Dosage's review. Presentation Patterns: Techniques for Crafting Better Presentations
author Neal Ford, Matthew McCollough, Nathaniel Schutta
pages 265
publisher Addison-Wesley
rating 7.5/10
reviewer Mass Dosage
ISBN 978-0-321-82080-8
summary Techniques for Crafting Better Presentations

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Mike Storey and His Plate Reverb (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 12:15 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's hellooooo-helloooo-hellooo-helloo-helloo department:
"Reverberation is the persistence of sound in a particular space after the original sound is produced," says Wikipedia. More often than not, in studio recordings reverb is added digitally; virtually every FOSS or proprietary sound-editing program has a built-in reverb utility. But what if you're the sort of purist who prefers the analog sound of vinyl records to the digital sound of MP3s or CDs? What if you're the kind of musician who records at the original Sun Studio in Memphis to get that original rock and roll sound? That may be overly picky for most musicians, but there are some who would rather sound like Johnny Cash than Flavor Flav, and they're the ones who are going to insist on real analog reverb instead of twiddling a setting in Audacity. There are many types of analog reverbs, of course. One of the purest types, preferred by many audio purists, is the adjustable plate reverb, and Jim Cunnigham's Ecoplate is considered by many to be the best plate reverb ever -- which brings us to Mike Storey, who wanted an Ecoplate-type plate reverb so badly that he spent eight months building one. He'll run your audio files through it for a (highly negotiable) fee, and maybe give you a bit of advice if you want to build your own, although his biggest piece of advice for you (at the end of the video) to think long and hard before you become a home-brew reverberator, with or without advice and components from Jim Cunningham.

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Sony Entertainment Head Steps Down
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-data-breaches department:
New submitter Mephistophocles writes "Japan Times reports today that Sony Entertainment Chief Tim Schaaf has stepped down. Schaaf's division has recently drawn the ire of users and governments alike after multiple hacks which resulted in the theft of millions of users' personal information. Schaaf joined Sony after a stint at Apple, and had ambitious plans for unifying the end-user's entertainment experience on Sony products, as well as having some big words for how to help out Sony's music division. Tim will be replaced by Andrew House, currently of Sony's Game Division. One wonders — is this a continued sign of deterioration in Sony's Entertainment house?"

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Ear-Powered Medical Devices In Development
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's by-solar-panels-on-the-back department:
cylonlover writes "Our ears work by converting the vibrations of the eardrum into electrochemical signals that can be interpreted by the brain. The current for those signals is supplied by an ion-filled chamber deep within the inner ear – it's essentially a natural battery. Scientists are now looking at using that battery to power devices that could be implanted in the ear, without affecting the recipient's hearing. The 'battery chamber' is located in the cochlea. It is internally divided by a membrane, some of the cells of which are designed to pump ions. The arrangement of those specialized cells, combined with an imbalance of potassium and sodium ions on opposite sides of the membrane, are what creates the electrical voltage. A team of scientists from MIT, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology have recently succeeded in running an ultra-low-power radio-transmitting chip using power from these battery chambers – in guinea pigs' ears."

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China Blocks Google.com, Gmail, Maps and More During 18th Party Congress
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's information-wants-to-be-free-except-during-elections department:
DavidGilbert99 writes "In an extraordinary move, the Chinese authorities have blocked access to Google.com, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, and many more Google services as the Communist Party of China holds the 18th Party Congress. The blocking of these sites was reported by Chinese web monitoring site GreatFire.org, which said, 'Never before have so many people been affected by a decision to block a website.' The latest move in a long line of disputes between the Chinese government and Google, it is unclear yet whether this denial will be temporary (like a similar one in 2010) or permanent."

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A Year After Thailand Flooding, Hard Drive Prices Remain High
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-the-market-will-bear department:
crookedvulture writes "Last October, Thailand was hit by massive flooding that put much of the world's hard drive industry under water. Production slowed to a crawl as drive makers and their suppliers mopped up the damage, and prices predictably skyrocketed. One year later, production has rebounded, with the industry expected to ship more drives in 2012 than it did in 2011. For the most part, though, hard drive prices haven't returned to pre-flood levels. Although 2.5" notebook drives are a little cheaper now than before the flood, the average price of 3.5" desktop drives is up 35% from a year ago. Prices have certainly fallen dramatically from their post-flood peaks, but the rate of decline has slowed substantially in recent months, suggesting that higher prices are the new norm for desktop drives."

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Facebook's Corona: When Hadoop MapReduce Wasn't Enough
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's named-after-a-desire-to-launch-hadoop-into-the-sun department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook's engineers face a considerable challenge when it comes to managing the tidal wave of data flowing through the company's infrastructure. Its data warehouse, which handles over half a petabyte of information each day, has expanded some 2500x in the past four years — and that growth isn't going to end anytime soon. Until early 2011, those engineers relied on a MapReduce implementation from Apache Hadoop as the foundation of Facebook's data infrastructure. Still, despite Hadoop MapReduce's ability to handle large datasets, Facebook's scheduling framework (in which a large number of task trackers that handle duties assigned by a job tracker) began to reach its limits. So Facebook's engineers went to the whiteboard and designed a new scheduling framework named Corona."
Facebook is continuing development on Corona, but they've also open-sourced the version they currently use.

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Bungled Mobile Bet Will Be Ballmer's Swan Song
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tablets-tablets-tablets department:
snydeq writes "'If Windows 8 and the Surface tablet flop, you'll see a shareholder revolt that will send Steve Ballmer packing by this time next year,' writes InfoWorld's Bill Snyder. 'First it was the netbook, then it was the Ultrabook. Microsoft, Intel, and the PC makers keep looking for a way to convince buyers they don't need an iPad or Android tablet. Neither initiative gained much traction, so Microsoft bet big on Windows 8 and the Surface. ... Maybe we're wrong, and buyers will decide that the new OS and the Microsoft's first serious venture into hardware are what they want. It would be a huge boost for the industry if it happens, but I'm not optimistic. ... There's been a string of bad quarters, and the stock has been frozen for nine years. At some point — I think we're getting really close — investors are going to demand a shakeup. When they do, it's going to be good-bye, Ballmer."

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Intel Details Eight-Core Poulson Itanium Processor
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's here's-a-thing-that-exists department:
MojoKid writes "Intel has unveiled details of their new Itanium 9500 family, codenamed Poulson, and the new CPU appears to be the most significant refresh Intel has ever done to the Itanium architecture. Moving from 65nm to 32nm technology substantially reduces power consumption and increases clock speeds, but Intel has also overhauled virtually every aspect of the CPU. Poulson can issue 11 instructions per cycle compared to the previous generation Intanium's six. It adds execution units and re-balances those units to favor server workloads over HPC and workstation capabilities. Its multi-threading capabilities have been overhauled and it uses faster QPI links between CPU cores. The L3 cache design has also changed. Previous Itanium 9300 processors had a dedicated L3 cache for each core. Poulson, in contrast, has a unified L3 that's attached to all its cores by a common ring bus. All told, the new architecture is claimed to offer more than twice the performance of the previous generation Itanium."

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Judge To Review Whether Foreman In Apple v. Samsung Hid Info
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's billion-dollar-voir-dire department:
thomst writes "Cnet's Greg Sandoval is reporting that Lucy Koh the Federal judge in the Apple v. Samsung patent infringement case is reviewing whether jury foreman Velvin Hogan failed to disclose his own patent suit v. Seagate during the jury selection process. Samsung, which lost the suit filed by Apple, has complained that Hogan's failure to disclose his own status as a former patent case plaintiff constituted misconduct serious enough to invalidate the jury's verdict in the case."

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Germany Exports More Electricity Than Ever Despite Phasing Out Nuclear Energy
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-not-easy-being-green department:
An anonymous reader writes "Der Spiegel reports that Germany has exported more electricity this year than ever before, despite beginning to phase out nuclear power. In the first three quarters of 2012, Germany sent 12.3 terawatt hours of electricity across its borders. The country's rapid expansion into renewable energy is credited with the growth. However, the boost doesn't come without a price. The German government's investments into its new energy policy will end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars over the next two decades, and it still relies on imports for its natural gas needs. It also remains to be seen whether winter will bring power shortages. Is Germany a good example of forward-looking energy policy?"

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Google Patents Guilt-By-Association
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-it's-in-the-cloouuuudddd department:
theodp writes "Guilt by association is defined as the attribution of guilt (without proof) to individuals because the people they associate with are guilty. It's also at the heart of U.S. Patent No. 8,306,922, which was awarded to Google on Tuesday for Detecting Content on a Social Network Using Links, the invention of three Googlers. In its patent application, Google argues that if an individual posts content to social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. 'that is illegal (e.g., content violating copyright law, content violating penal statutes, etc.), inappropriate for minors (e.g., pornography, "R" or "NC-17" rated videos, adult content, etc.), in contravention of an end user licensing agreement (EULA), etc.', then their friends 'may be likely to post content to their profile pages related to similar topics.' Google further explains: 'For instance, a first user and a second user that are designated as friends on a social network may be friends based upon a set of common interests (e.g., the first user and the second user are both interested in tennis). If the first user adds content to its profile page that is related to sports, then the friendship (link) between the first user and the second user can indicate that the profile page of the second user is likely to contain content related to sports as well.' By extension, the same holds true for porn, pirated videos and music, etc., right? So, would you feel comfortable being judged by the online company you keep?"

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The Information Age: North Korean Style
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '12 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's disinformation-superhighway department:
An anonymous reader writes "It seems cell phones and the internet have come to the reclusive nation of North Korea — albeit in a manner that you might not expect. North Korea now sports over a million cell phones, although calls are not allowed outside of the country and text messages come daily from North Korean authorities sporting government propaganda. The internet is not the global internet of Twitter and Facebook, but a government-crafted intranet that is restricted to just a tiny percentage of the population. The intranet is restricted to elites in North Korea with good standing. The intranet uses message boards, chat functions, and state sponsored messages; its use has also been encouraged among universities, technical professionals and scientists, and others to exchange info. An even smaller fraction can access the outside internet. All of this seems to be an effort to control the information revolution without losing authority."

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