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FDA May Let Patients Buy More Drugs Without Prescriptions
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-prescriptions-are-sacred-and-perfect department:
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration may soon permit Americans to obtain some drugs used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes without obtaining a prescription allowing patients to diagnose their ailments by answering questions online or at a pharmacy kiosk in order to buy current prescription-only drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol, certain infections, migraine headaches, asthma or allergies. Some pharmacists embrace the notion that they should be able to dole out medication for patients' chronic conditions without making them go through a doctor. 'This could eliminate the need for a physician visit for certain meds that may have been prescription prior to this change,' said Ronna Hauser, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association. 'However, there may be circumstances when a patient might need a physician visit and diagnosis and original prescription to start therapy but could continue on that therapy with pharmacist refill authorization capabilities.'" (Read more, below.)

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DDR4 RAM To Hit Devices Next Year
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's wear-your-helmets department:
angry tapir writes "Micron has said that DDR4 memory — the successor to DDR3 DRAM — will reach computers next year, and that the company has started shipping samples of the upcoming DDR memory type. DDR4 is more power-efficient and faster than DDR3. New forms of DDR memory first make it into servers and desktops, and then into laptops. Micron said it hopes that DDR4 memory will also reach portable devices like tablets, which currently use forms of low-power DDR3 and DDR2 memory."

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Facebook Spammers Make $20M, Get $100K Fine
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bad-work-if-you-can-get-it department:
jfruh writes "Adscend Media, which has been making up to $20M a year from so-called "likejacking" spam on Facebook, has reached agreement with the Attorney General of Washington to stop those activities and pay $100,000 in court costs. Among other nefarious techniques, Adscend would overlay Facebook "like" buttons with provocative photos to spread links to ads from which Adscend would earn referral fees. Adscend also settled out of court with Facebook for an undisclosed amount."

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Why You Don't Want a $99 Xbox 360
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-it's-only-wafer-thin department:
itwbennett writes "Peter Smith has done the math on Microsoft's $99 Xbox 360 — 4GB model (no hard drive) and a Kinect sensor. Here's why it's a bad deal: 'You'll be paying $99 + $359.76 in monthly fees, or $458.76 over the course of two years. Compare that with (I'm using prices from Amazon that were accurate as of May 7th, 2012) $287.70 for an Xbox 360 4GB + Kinect bundle, and two 12-month Xbox Live Gold cards at $48.41 each, a total of $384.52. So you're paying almost $75 for the privilege of laying out small cash now.' And then there's the not insignificant matter of early termination fees."

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Undergrad Project Offers Site Privacy Information At a Glance
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's go-no-go department:
An anonymous reader writes "Not everyone can read legalese. Websites ought to have clearer, more transparent, and simpler privacy policies. One important step in this direction is a simple way of summarizing a privacy policy's features, to make it easy to see how a website will use and protect user data. Inspired by Creative Commons and the Mozilla Privacy Icon Project, we (a group of Yale undergrads) have designed a set of icons, as well as simple descriptions, to describe common features of privacy policies. Additionally, we have built a generator to make it easy for websites to add these icons to their own sites. To further encourage awareness, we have reviewed several popular websites' privacy policies, so that users can see for themselves how they fare." True to their word, the examples show some tiny but nicely scannable icons.

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Nearly 150 Companies Show Interest in the Tech Love Boat
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's sealand-with-engines department:
New submitter dandv writes with an story from VentureBeat about another entry in the race to escape national jurisdiction by offshoring work — literally offshoring, that is : "Blueseed is a Silicon Valley company that plans on launching a cruise ship 30 minutes from the coast of California, housing startup entrepreneurs from around the world. These startuppers won't need to bother with US visas, because the ship will be in international waters. They'll have to pay tax to whatever country they're incorporated in, though. So far, 146 startups said they'd like to come to the ship."

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20 Years of GSM and SMS
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's grudgingly-admit-sms-is-useful department:
udas writes "Two thirds of the world's population, 4 billion people, use cell phones today, and all of them have access to SMS. Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM), set up in 1982, created the GSM standard, leading to a unified, open, standard-based mobile network. SMS, upto 160 7-bit character messages sent over control channels (when they aren't busy), was part of the original GSM specification itself. The first GSM handests were approved for sale in May 1992. But it was not until 1996, when pay-as-you-go SIM cards showed up, and the kids got their hands on it, that SMS gained popularity."

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Heartland Institute Learning To Troll On Billboards
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 04:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's tim-mcveigh-was-vegan-too department:
Fluffeh writes "The Heartland Institute is a lovely group of folks who take issue with mainstream climate science. They organize an annual get-together of like minded folk and talk trash about environmental change. 'The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society.' (That's from a press release!). Recently, when they were tricked by a researcher into sending him a lot of internal documents, they decided to go on the offensive and also get some more media attention. After all, any story is a good story, right? Launching a billboard with the Unabomber on it with the slogan 'I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?' was just the start, with the institute planning Fidel Castro, Charles Manson and possibly even Osama Bin Laden. That's when even their stout backers threatened to walk away, backing started to dry up — and it seems that common sense started to prevail — but only so far as to stop them from making their message too public."

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Scientists Solve Mystery of Ireland's Moving Boulders
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's sea-aliens-did-it department:
Hugh Pickens writes "How has a 78-ton boulder traveled 130 meters inland from the sea since 1991? Live Science reports that geologists have puzzled for years over the mysterious boulders that litter the desolate coastline of Ireland's Aran Islands that somehow move on their own when no one is looking. The sizes of the boulders in the formations range 'from merely impressive to mind-bogglingly stupendous,' writes geoscientist Rónadh Cox. While some researchers contend that only a tsunami could push these stones, new research finds that plain old ocean waves, with the help of some strong storms, do the job. Some boulders move inland at an average rate of nearly 3 meters per decade, with one rock moving 3.5 meters vertically and 69 meters horizontally in one year. The team compared modern high-altitude photos of the coastline to a set of meticulous maps from 1839 that identified the location of the boulders' ridges — nearly 100 years after the most recent tsunami to hit the region, which struck in 1755. The Aran cliffs rise nearly vertically out of the Atlantic (video), leaving very deep water close to the shore. As waves slam into the sheer cliff, that water is abruptly deflected back out toward the oncoming waves. This backflow may amplify subsequent waves resulting an occasional storm wave that is much larger than one would expect. 'There's a tendency to attribute the movement of large objects to tsunami,' says Cox. 'We're saying hold the phone. Big boulders are getting moved by storm waves.'"

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Exposure to Wide Variety of Microbes May Reduce Allergies
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 11:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's introducing-whole-foods-gammaproteobacteria-shake department:
sciencehabit writes "A new study reveals that people who grow up in more rural environments are less likely to develop allergies. The reason may be that environments rich with species harbor more friendly microbes, which colonize our bodies and protect against inflammatory disorders."

From the article: "To test whether or not biodiversity does indeed create a shield against such conditions, the team investigated the microbial diversity of 118 teenagers. The study participants, who had lived in the same houses their whole lives, were chosen at random from a 100-by-150-kilometer block in eastern Finland. Some kids lived on rural, isolated farms, while others lived in larger towns. ... surveyed all of the types of plants growing around the adolescents' homes. The participants were part of a separate long-term allergy study, so the researchers took advantage of that data to investigate the connection between biodiversity and allergies. ... Whether there is just something special about Finland's native plants or whether this finding can be applied around the world is still an open question, Hanski says. 'Many research groups worldwide could easily attain these data from their study populations, and then we'd know how general these results might be.'"

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Dealing With the Eventual Collapse of Social Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 08:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's when-in-doubt-legislate department:
taskforce writes "There are good reasons to think a web services like Facebook won't be around forever. If Facebook ever were to go down there would be potentially huge costs to its users. We can all take individual steps to protect our data and social network, but is there anything we can do to our economy to mitigate the costs of the failure of these services? The Red Rock looks at the role open source, open standards, consumer cooperatives, and enterprise reform can play. The author concludes that all is not lost, and that there's a lot we can do to reduce both the cost and frequency of failure."

His suggestions are pretty radical: "The first is draw up an Open Data Bill and pass it into law. This would (where applicable) mandate the use of open standards by firms, and also mandate that all data held about a user is downloadable by that user, in an open standard. ... The second is to reform the corporate structure of larger companies to include some directors elected by consumers, rather than just shareholders. Not all the directors, like in the Cooperative Group, and not even a majority, but just a small portion of the board — say one third."

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Low Oxygen Cellular Protein Synthesis Mechanism Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 06:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's live-forever department:
New submitter _prime writes "Until recently the mechanism by which cells make proteins in low-oxygen environments has been unknown. As published in Nature (paywall) this week, the discovery of the mechanism by an Ottawa-based team of researchers potentially means it could be 'very easy to kill cancer cells' without harming normal cells because cancer cells leverage the same low-oxygen protein synthesis mechanism even in the presence of normal oxygen levels."

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Ubuntu Will Soon Ship On 5% of New PCs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 04:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's and-they-say-gnu-on-the-desktop-will-never-happen department:
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Phoronix: "Chris Kenyon, the VP of sales and business development for Canonical, just spoke this afternoon at the Ubuntu 12.10 Developer Summit about what Canonical does with OEMs and ODMs. He also tossed out some rather interesting numbers about the adoption of Ubuntu Linux. Namely, Ubuntu will ship on 5% of worldwide PC sales with a number of 18 million units annually."

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America's Next Bomber: Unmanned, Unlimited Range, Aimed At China
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 03:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's solving-world-hunger-through-total-war department:
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. military is developing its next generation bomber with Chinese anti-access strategy — the ability to stop any enemy force from coming to fight with things like carrier killer missiles — in mind. The new bomber will replace older platforms like the 1950's B-52, the 1970's B-1, and 1990's B-2 stealth bomber. The new bomber will sport some unique qualities. It will have an option to be unmanned, will act similar to a UAV, have better stealth capabilities, will be connected to U.S. intelligence networks to create a 'smart' battlefield environment, and have near unlimited range thanks to in-air refueling."

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Google Gets Driverless License For Nevada Roads
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's but-officer-the-car-was-driving department:
Fluffeh writes "On Monday, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles approved Google's license application to test autonomous vehicles on the state's roads. The state had approved such laws back in February, and has now begun issuing licenses based on those regulations. The state previously outlined that companies that want to test such vehicles will need an insurance bond of $1 million and must provide detailed outlines of where they plan to test it and under what conditions. Further, the car must have two people in it at all times, with one behind the wheel who can take control of the vehicle if needed. The Autonomous Review Committee of the Nevada DMV is supervising the first licensing procedure and has now approved corresponding plates to go with it, complete with a red background and infinity symbol."

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How Long Before the Kickstarter Bubble Bursts?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's when-people-realize-they-don't-have-that-much-patience department:
An opinion piece at Gamasutra takes a look at the recent success of Kickstarter campaigns for video game projectsDouble Fine's adventure game and a sequel to Wasteland each raised around $3 million. Hundreds of other projects have sprung up, hoping to replicate that success — but will it last? From the article:
"I am convinced that Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine know how to deliver a game (mostly) on time and (mostly) on budget. Brian Fargo too. Is that true for all 314 of the current Kickstarter projects? What about the projects which get started but never finished? If publishers like LucasArts can cancel games that are almost finished or like Codemasters can pay for a game it never saw, what certainty do pledgers have that the game that they have paid for will ever see the light of day? We are still in the early days of our Kickstarter relationship, the early days of falling in love. Everything our partner does is wonderful. We gloss over the risks, we ignore the downsides, because the glory of falling in love is everything. I think we have about six months left of that period. Towards the end of this year, some Kickstarter projects are going to start slipping. Some will see their teams collapse amidst bicker recriminations. Some pledgers are going to start getting very angry."

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Universities Hold Transcripts Hostage Over Loans
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's might-execute-a-few-to-show-they're-serious department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Dave Lindorff writes in the LA Times that growing numbers of students are discovering their old school is actively blocking them from getting a job or going on to a higher degree by refusing to issue an official transcript. The schools won't send the transcripts to potential employers or graduate admissions office if students are in default on student loans, or in many cases, even if they just fall one or two months behind. It's no accident that they're doing this. It turns out the federal government 'encourages' them to use this draconian tactic, saying that the policy 'has resulted in numerous loan repayments.' It is a strange position for colleges to take, writes Lindorff, since the schools themselves are not owed any money — student loan funds come from private banks or the federal government, and in the case of so-called Stafford loans, schools are not on the hook in any way. They are simply acting as collection agencies, and in fact may get paid for their efforts at collection. 'It's worse than indentured servitude,' says NYU Professor Andrew Ross, who helped organize the Occupy Student Debt movement last fall. 'With indentured servitude, you had to pay in order to work, but then at least you got to work. When universities withhold these transcripts, students who have been indentured by loans are being denied even the ability to work or to finish their education so they can repay their indenture.'"

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Hubble To Use the Moon To View Transit of Venus
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's oh-yeah-it-was-easy-i-just-used-the-moon department:
astroengine writes "As we recently discussed, on June 5 or 6 this year — the exact time and date depends on where you are in the world — Venus will be visible as a small black circle crossing the disk of the sun. Usually, the Hubble Space Telescope would have no business observing this event — the sun is too close for its optics. But plans are afoot for Hubble to observe the reflected sunlight bouncing off the lunar surface during the transit. As the sunlight will pass through the Venusian atmosphere, the transit will provide invaluable spectroscopic data about Venus' atmospheric composition. This, in turn, will help astronomers in characterizing the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars."

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DHS Asked Gas Pipeline Firms To Let Attackers Lurk Inside Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-could-possibly-go-wrong department:
wiredmikey writes "According to reports, which were confirmed Friday by ICS-CERT (PDF), there has been an active cyber attack campaign targeting the natural gas industry. However, it's the advice from the DHS that should raise some red flags. 'There are several intriguing and unusual aspects of the attacks and the U.S. response to them not described in Friday's public notice,' Mark Clayton wrote. 'One is the greater level of detail in these alerts than in past alerts. Another is the unusual if not unprecedented request to leave the cyber spies alone for a little while.' According to the source, the companies were 'specifically requested in a March 29 alert not to take action to remove the cyber spies if discovered on their networks, but to instead allow them to persist as long as company operations did not appear to be endangered.' While the main motive behind the request is likely to gain information on the attackers, letting them stay close to critical systems is dangerous. The problem lies in the complexities of our critical infrastructures and the many highly specialized embedded systems that comprise them."

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Philips Releases 100W-Equivalent LED Bulb, Runs On Just 23 Watts
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-not-easy-being-green department:
MrSeb writes "The Light Fair convention kicks off in Las Vegas this week, so there will be any number of related announcements coming soon. Lighting giant Philips is starting things off early with the announcement of their 100W-equivalent LED bulb, the AmbientLED 23W. The model produces 1700 lumens, putting it at a very respectable 73.9 lm/W. The unveiling comes shortly after Philips' L Prize bulb was made available to consumers. That bulb currently sells for about $60 and is a more efficient light source, capable of 94 lm/W. The two use similar designs; for example, both take advantage of remote phosphor, but the AmbientLED 23W (it will be called the EnduraLED in non-consumer applications) is brighter and lacking in some of the performance characteristics of the L Prize winner, including luminous efficiency and color accuracy. Philips' 100W-equivalent bulb will be available some time in the fourth quarter. Pricing has yet to be announced, but it will likely be well over $30."

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