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Ask Slashdot: Keeping Personal Tech Cool In Extreme Heat?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 06:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's we'd-like-to-know-in-middle-texas-too department:
An anonymous reader writes "I live in the Middle East. Summer temperatures occasionally reach 60C/140F, well over the operating specs for most consumer tech. Quite a number of work and residential compounds are secured, prohibiting everything from computers to cameras to phones to USB sticks to car remote controls. When I know that I'm visiting one of those compounds, I end up leaving all the tech I can at home or in the office, and only bringing a cell phone, and leaving it in my car. However, "only a cell phone" has quickly morphed into "only two cell phones, a car MP3 player and remote, and .... ooh, shiny... a new tablet... and an electric razor just in case I have to touch up before a party in a compound." I'm wondering what kind of technologies we have for keeping all this tech cool for four hours in the car. Overnight events might last longer, but won't be as hot."

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The True Challenges of Desktop Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's editing-video-would-be-nice department:
olau writes "Hot on the heels on the opinion piece on how Mac OS X killed Linux on the desktop is a more levelheaded analysis by another GNOME old-timer Christian Schaller who doesn't think Mac OS X killed anything. In fact, in spite of the hype surrounding Mac OS X, it seems to barely have made a dent in the overall market, he argues. Instead he points to a much longer list of thorny issues that Linux historically has faced as a contender to Microsoft's double-monopoly on the OS and the Office suite."

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Java Exploit Patched? Not So Fast
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's few-beans-short department:
PCM2 writes "The Register reports that Security Explorations' Adam Gowdiak says there is still an exploitable vulnerability in the Java SE 7 Update 7 that Oracle shipped as an emergency patch yesterday. 'As in the case of the earlier vulnerabilities, Gowdiak says, this flaw allows an attacker to bypass the Java security sandbox completely, making it possible to install malware or execute malicious code on affected systems.'"

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Going All-Google To Replace Your PC and TV Service
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's owning-things-is-so-90s department:
GMGruman writes "James Curnow writes 'Google's vision of computing involves tossing your PC or Mac and moving to a cloud-centric, all-Google ecosystem. Call it the Googleplex: a mix of the Chrome OS-based Chromebox PC or Chromebook laptop, one or more Android tablets — perhaps a 10-inch model for work and a 7-inch Nexus 7 for entertainment on the go — and a Nexus Q home entertainment system that you control via an Android device.' So he takes the 'Googleplex' for a test drive to see how well it delivers on the Android/Chrome OS vision."

But what about throwing xbmc or MythTV onto an old (or cheap new) box with a couple of huge drives (HDTV's being glorified monitors and all)?

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DNA Analysis Suggests Humans Interbred With Denisovans
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's star-trek-romance department:
ananyo writes "Tens of thousands of years ago modern humans crossed paths with the group of hominins known as the Neandertals. Researchers now think they also met another, less-known group called the Denisovans. The only trace that we have found, however, is a single finger bone and two teeth, but those fragments have been enough to cradle wisps of Denisovan DNA across thousands of years inside a Siberian cave. Now a team of scientists has been able to reconstruct their entire genome from these meager fragments. The analysis supports the idea that Neandertals and Denisovans were more closely related to one another than either was to modern humans and also suggests new ways that early humans may have spread across the globe."

wombatmobile linked to an article that focuses on the new techniques used to sequence the DNA of the bone fragments in question.

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NCSoft Closes "City of Heroes" Publisher Paragon Studios
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's labor-day-surprise department:
samazon writes "Earlier today, City of Heroes community manager Andy Belford announced that NCSoft is shutting down Paragon Studios. Over 7,500 individuals were viewing the official CoH forums as of 3:00 PM EST, and this thread from Belford, AKA Zwilinger, notes that 'In a realignment of company focus and publishing support, NCsoft has made the decision to close Paragon Studios. Effective immediately, all development on City of Heroes will cease and we will begin preparations to sunset the world's first, and best, Super Hero MMORPG before the end of the year.' A petition has already been created to save City of Heroes."

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HP Launches Beta of Open webOS
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's code-freedom-day department:
puddingebola writes "HP done gone and released the open source version of webOS. From the article: 'Gone are the days of HP's TouchPad and Palm ambitions, but HP is moving ahead with its plans to make webOS, its beleaguered mobile operating system, live on as open-source supported platform. Today it's launching the beta release... The release will have 54 components available as open source, the blog says, some 450,000 lines of code under the Apache 2.0 license.'"

There are two flavors: an OpenEmbedded based version for targeting mobile device (kudos there!), and a desktop build which runs Luna as an application on the desktop (how long until someone writes a rootless version?). More info at the Open webOS project overview page, with source code over at GitHub

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LG Builds Working Flexible Cable Battery
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 12:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's warning-electro-bracelet-may-explode department:
MrSeb writes with news on work toward flexible batteries good enough for Real World use (you have to power this flexible electrionics somehow). From the article: "LG Chem ... has devised a cable-type lithium-ion battery that's just a few millimeters in diameter, and is flexible enough to be tied in knots, worn as a bracelet, or woven into textiles. The underlying chemistry of the cable-type battery is the same as the lithium-ion battery in your smartphone or laptop — there's an anode, a lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cathode, an electrolyte — but instead of being laminated together in layers, they're twisted into a hollow, flexible, spring-like helix. flexible batteries have been created before — but they've all just standard, flat, laminated batteries made from sub-optimum materials, such as polymers. As such, as they have very low energy density, and they're only bendy in the same way that a thin sheet of plastic is bendy. LG Chem's cable-type batteries have the same voltage and energy density as your smartphone battery — but they're thin and highly flexible to boot. LG Chem has already powered an iPod Shuffle for 10 hours using a knotted 25cm length of cable-type battery."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Book Review: Think Like a Programmer
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
MassDosage writes "After nearly 15 years or of writing code professionally it was refreshing to take a figurative step back and read a book aimed at people getting started with computer programming. As the title suggests, Think Like A Programmer tries to get to the core of the special way that good programmers think and how, when faced with large and complex problems, they successfully churn out software to solve these challenges in elegant and creative ways. The author has taught computer science for about as long as I've been programming and this shows in his writing. He has clearly seen a lot of different people progress from newbie programmers to craftsmen (and craftswomen) and has managed to distill a lot of what makes this possible in what is a clear, well-written and insightful book." Read below for the rest of Mass Dosage's review. Think Like A Programmer
author V. Anton Spraul
pages 256
publisher No Starch Press
rating 8/10
reviewer Mass Dosage
ISBN 978-1-59327-424-5
summary An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving

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ArenaNet Suspends Digital Sales of Guild Wars 2
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's ignore-the-exploit-over-there department:
kungfugleek writes "Throughout the launch of subscription-free MMO Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet has stated that the player-experience is their top priority and, if necessary, they would suspend digital sales to protect their servers from crushing loads. While the launch has been considerably more stable than most big-budget MMO's in recent months, some players, especially those in Europe, have experienced trouble logging in and getting booted from servers. So yesterday, ArenaNet held true to their word, and temporarily suspended digital sales from their website. Personally, I think this is an incredible show of customer-centered focus. To turn down purchases, especially first-party purchases, where the seller gets a higher percentage of the sale, during a major title's first week of sales, would be inconceivable by other companies. Is this a bad move for ArenaNet? Will there be enough of a long-term payout to make up for the lost sales? And does this put pressure on other major studios to follow suit in the face of overwhelming customer response?"

New submitter charlieman writes with related news: "Yesterday ArenaNet banned players for exploiting an error in their new game Guild Wars 2. The so called exploit was in fact an error on ArenaNet's side, leaving weapons at a low price from some vendors. Players saw this and started making profits buying and selling the items.
Should players be penalized for errors committed by the game developers? Taking in account that the game is fairly new, the economy hasn't stabilized yet and most don't know the value of things. Today they've given these players a 'second chance', but shouldn't they be apologizing instead?"

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Police Probing Theft of Millions of Pounds of Maple Syrup From Strategic Reserve
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 10:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's greatest-heist-of-our-time department:
An anonymous reader writes with this bit from the Globe and Mail: "Quebec police are on the hunt for a sticky-fingered thief after millions of dollars of maple syrup vanished from a Quebec warehouse. The theft was discovered during a routine inventory check last week at the St-Louis-de-Blandford warehouse, where the syrup is being held temporarily. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, which is responsible for the global strategic maple syrup reserve, initially kept the news quiet, hoping it would help police solve the crime quickly."

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Universal Turing Machine In Penrose Tile Cellular Automata
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 10:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's mine-bitcoins-using-xscreensaver department:
New submitter submeta writes "Katsunobu Imai at Hiroshima University has figured out a way to construct a universal Turing machine using cellular automata in a Penrose tile universe. 'Tiles in the first state act as wires that transmit signals between the logic gates, with the signal itself consisting of either a 'front' or 'back' state. Four other states manage the redirecting of the signal within the logic gates, while the final state is simply an unused background to keep the various states separate.' He was not aware of the recent development of the Penrose glider, so he developed this alternative approach."

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Gamma-Ray Photon Observations Indicate Space-Time Is Smooth
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's as-an-android's-bottom department:
eldavojohn writes "Seven billion light years away (seven billion years ago), a gamma-ray burst occurred. The observation of four Fermi-detected gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) has led physicists to speculate that space-time is indeed smooth (abstract and a pre-publication PDF both available). A trio of photons were observed to arrive very close together, and the observers believe that these are from the same burst, which means there was nothing diffracting their paths from the gamma-ray burst to Earth. This observation doesn't prove that space-time is infinitesimally smooth like Einstein predicted, but does indicate it's smooth for a range of parameters. Before we can totally discount the theory that space-time is comprised of Planck-scale pixels, we must now establish that the proposed pixels don't disrupt the photons in ways independent of their wavelengths. For example, this observation did not disprove the possibility that the pixels exert a subtler 'quadratic' influence over the photons, nor could it determine the presence of birefringence — an effect that depends on the polarization of the light particles."

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Torchlight 2 Release Date: 20 September
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mere-weeks department:
Cheeze ball writes "Due to the level of support provided by their forums community, Runic Games has released the Torchlight 2 release date early. Torchlight 2 will be available on 20 September 2012. The 'official' announcement is tomorrow at PAX, where the game is available for play. The forums have been very supportive of the dev team, primarily because of the team's responsiveness in posting weekly updates and the way the beta test was conducted. This support prompted Runic to inform its forum community first."
If you're curious how the game is shaping up, Eurogamer has a thorough preview from a few months ago.

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The Case Against DNA
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everything-in-moderation department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Thanks to fast-paced television crime shows such as CSI, we have come to regard DNA evidence as incontestable. But BBC reports that David Butler has every right to be cynical about the use of DNA evidence by the police. Butler spent eight months in prison, on remand, facing murder charges after his DNA was allegedly found on the victim. 'I think in the current climate [DNA] has made police lazy,' says Butler. 'It doesn't matter how many times someone like me writes to them, imploring they look at the evidence... they put every hope they had in the DNA result.' The police had accused Butler of murdering a woman, Anne Marie Foy, in 2005 — his DNA sample was on record after he had willingly given it to them as part of an investigation into a burglary at his mother's home some years earlier. But Butler has a rare skin condition, which means he sheds flakes of skin, leaving behind much larger traces of DNA than the average person. Butler worked as a taxi driver, and so it was possible for his DNA to be transferred from his taxi via money or another person, onto the murder victim. The case eventually went to trial and Butler was acquitted after CCTV evidence allegedly placing Butler in the area where the murder took place was disproved. Professor Allan Jamieson, head of the Glasgow-based Forensic Institute, has become a familiar thorn in the side of prosecutors seeking to rely on DNA evidence and has appeared as an expert witness for the defense in several important DNA-centered trials, most notably that of Sean Hoey, who was cleared of carrying out the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people. Jamieson's main concern about the growing use of DNA in court cases is that a number of important factors — human error, contamination, simple accident — can suggest guilt where there is none. 'Does anyone realize how easy it is to leave a couple of cells of your DNA somewhere?' says Jamieson. 'You could shake my hand and I could put that hand down hundreds of miles away and leave your cells behind. In many cases, the question is not "Is it my DNA?", but 'How did it get there?"'"

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Valve Finds Open Source Drivers To Be Great
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's like-peanut-butter-and-chocolate department:
An anonymous reader writes "Intel's Open-Source Technology Center was given source-code access to Valve's Left 4 Dead 2 game in order to help them fix Linux bugs and to better optimize their graphics driver to this forthcoming Linux native game on the Source Engine. Intel has talked about their Valve Linux development experiences and now they managed to get Left 4 Dead 2 running on their open-source graphics driver. Valve also has grown fond of open-source hardware drivers: 'Valve Linux developers have also been happy looking at an open-source graphics driver. Valve Linux developers found it equally thrilling that now when hitting a bottleneck in their game or looking for areas for performance optimizations, they are simply able to look into Intel's open-source Linux graphics driver to understand how an operation is handled by the hardware, tossing some extra debugging statements into the Intel driver to see what's happening, and making other driver tweaks.'"

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Twitter Jokes: Free Speech On Trial
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's 140-characters-of-terror department:
An anonymous reader writes "On 6 January 2010, Paul Chambers typed a flippant tweet that would turn his life upside-down for the next two and a half years. As the courts repeatedly showed a lack of common sense and an ignorance of technology, for a long time it looked as though the right to free speech in the UK was under very real threat. Now that it's over, we can step back and take a detailed look at how such an insane case even came to trial. This article delves deep into the the Twitter Joke Trial: how it happened, what it means, and the epic struggle to balance civility and civil liberties."

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Funky Flying Wing Rotates 90 Degrees To Go Supersonic
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-it-for-a-spin department:
Big Hairy Ian writes "An aircraft that resembles a four-point ninja star could go into supersonic mode by simply turning 90 degrees in midair. The unusual 'flying wing' concept has won $100,000 in NASA funding to trying becoming a reality for future passenger jet travel. The supersonic, bidirectional flying wing idea comes from a team headed by Ge-Chen Zha, an aerospace engineer at Florida State University. He said the fuel-efficient aircraft could reach supersonic speeds without the thunderclap sound (PDF) produced by a sonic boom — a major factor that previously limited where the supersonic Concorde passenger jet could fly over populated land masses."

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Leak Shows What Could Be Nokia's New Windows Phone 8 Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's solid-color-rectangles department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Did images of Nokia's upcoming Windows Phone 8 smartphones leak a few days early? That's the question after a Twitter feed, @evleaks, posted a set of images early on Aug. 31. The first, it claimed, was of the '4.3-inch Nokia Lumia 820,' while the second purported to show the '4.5-inch Nokia Lumia 920 with PureView.' Corporate-sanctioned leaks are a fairly regular thing in the tech world, but they tend to follow well-defined patterns: a public-relations executive — wait, sorry, 'unnamed source' — will email a journalist with an image of an upcoming device, for example, or a disgruntled former engineer will data-dump information onto their blog. Glossy publicity images originating from a new, relatively unknown Twitter feed is less common, although the Twitter feed in question has leaked other images in the past."

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FinSpy Commercial Spyware Abused By Governments
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '12 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us department:
plover writes "The NY Times has a story about FinSpy, a commercial spyware package sold 'only for law enforcement purposes,' being used by governments to spy on dissidents, journalists, and others. Two U.S. computer experts, Morgan Marquis-Boire from Google, and Bill Marczak, a PhD student in Computer Science, have been tracking it down around the world. 'The software proved to be the stuff of a spy film: it can grab images of computer screens, record Skype chats, turn on cameras and microphones and log keystrokes. The two men said they discovered mobile versions of the spyware customized for all major mobile phones. But what made the software especially sophisticated was how well it avoided detection. Its creators specifically engineered it to elude antivirus software made by Kaspersky Lab, Symantec, F-Secure and others.'"

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