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War By Remote Control, With Military Robots Set To Self Destruct
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-you-hear-buzzing-it's-too-late department:
New submitter RougeFive writes "A new wave of Kamikaze unmanned military aircraft, ground robots and water vessels are being built to deliberately destroy themselves as they hit their targets. Since it now makes more economic sense to have them crash into enemy targets rather than engage them, and since direct impact needs only manned or automated navigation rather than the highly-trained skills of multiple operators, these UAVs could well become the de-facto method of engagement of the future."

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Ask Slashdot: Rugged E-book Reader?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's toughbook-is-copyrighted-though department:
First time accepted submitter Augury writes "I'm about to undertake a lengthy trip involving travel through dusty, damp and drop-inducing environments. When it comes to packing for such a trip, reading is a fundamental need, to help while away the inevitable hours spent in transit lounges, at bus stops and on beaches. The weight and bulk of the dead tree approach makes it impractical, so an e-book reader seems ideal — does anyone have any experience with ruggedising an e-book reader for such conditions?"

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Telco Company Claims Freedom of Speech Includes Misleading Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's liar-liar department:
An anonymous reader writes "Rogers Telecommunications is claiming that a ruling by Canada's Competition Bureau violates Rogers' freedom of speech. The company is in court over a 2010 ad campaign where it claimed that its discount brand 'Chatr' was more reliable and suffered fewer dropped calls than the competition. The Competition Bureau found 'no discernible difference in dropped-call rates between Rogers/Chatr and new entrants' and began legal proceedings against Rogers for violating Canada's Competition Act. The Bureau is seeking a $10 million (CDN) fine, an end to the ad campaign, and for Rogers to issue a corrective notice."

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Store Offers Kinect Body Scanner To Help You Find Jeans That Fit
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's tailor-of-tomorrow department:
itwbennett writes "For those of you who can't count on a friend to tell you that a little more air should come between you and your Calvins, a Bloomingdales store in Palo Alto has just the solution: An Xbox Kinect-based body scanner that will help you find your best fit. While body measuring systems aren't new, using the Xbox Kinect is a much more affordable solution. Which means that soon we'll all have the opportunity for a computer to tell us that we should 'avoid wearing low to mid rise jeans.'"

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Indian Government Mulls Giving Away Mobile Phones To the Poor
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 01:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's let-them-eat-phones department:
jalfreize writes "The Indian government is finalizing a $1.2 billion plan to hand out free mobile phones to the poorest Indian families (around six million households, according to some estimates). The Times of India reports: 'Top government managers involved in formulating the scheme want to sell it as a major empowerment initiative... While the move will ensure contact with the beneficiaries of welfare programmes (sic) ..., there is also a view the scheme will provide an opportunity for the (government) to open a direct line of communication with a sizable population that plays an active role in polls.'"

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No Bomb Powerful Enough To Destroy an On-Rushing Asteroid, Sorry Bruce Willis
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 11:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's big-bomb department:
coondoggie writes "Maybe it's the doom predictions about the end of the Mayan calendar this year, or maybe these guys are obsessed with old Bruce Willis movies. Either way a class of physics students from the University of Leicester decided to evaluate whether or not the premise of Willis' 1998 'Armageddon' movie — where a group of oil drillers is sent by NASA to detonate nuclear devices on an asteroid that threatens to destroy Earth — could actually happen. The students found it would take a bomb about a billion times stronger than the biggest bomb ever detonated on Earth."

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Open-Source Movements Bicker Over Logo
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 08:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's you're-both-pretty department:
colinneagle writes in with a story about open source organizations fighting over logos. "A gear logo proposed to represent and easily identify open-source hardware has caught the eyes of the The Open Source Initiative, which believes the logo infringes its trademark. The gear logo is backed by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA), which was formally established earlier this year to promote hardware innovation and unite the fragmented community of hackers and do-it-yourselfers. The gear mark is now being increasingly used on boards and circuits to indicate that the hardware is open-source and designs can be openly shared and modified. OSI has now informed OSHWA, which is acting on behalf of the open-source hardware community, that the logo infringes on its trademark. The issue at stake is a keyhole at the bottom of the open-source hardware logo, which resembles a keyhole at the bottom of the OSI logo. The gear logo was created as part of the contest hosted by the group that founded OSHWA, and the mark was released by its designer under a Creative Commons license, opening it up for the community to use on hardware."

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US Is Finally Cleaning Up Agent Orange In Vietnam
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 07:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-gonna-need-a-bigger-mop department:
derekmead writes "It only took 40 years. And yes, Washington still disputes Hanoi's claim that up to 4 million Vietnamese suffered contact with the defoliant, which was dumped en masse in a U.S. air campaign to scorch away the dense jungle cover under which guerilla fighters hid. But the AP reports that the U.S. is finally set to start cleaning up the mess. The numbers are staggering: Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed some 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and a galaxy of other herbicides on nearly a quarter of former South Vietnam. The defoliant ate through about 5 millions acres – a tract comparable in size to Massachusetts – of forest. An additional half-million acres of crops were decimated."

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Legitimate eBook Lending Community Closed After Copyright Complaints
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 06:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's never-share department:
Ian Lamont writes "LendInk, a community for people interesting in using the lending features of the Kindle and Nook, has been shut down after some authors mistakenly thought the site was hosting pirated ebooks. The site brought together people who wanted to loan or borrow specific titles that are eligible for lending, and then sent them to Amazon or BarnesAndNoble.com to make the loans. Authors and publishers who were unaware of this feature of the Kindle and Nook, and/or mistakenly assumed the site was handing out pirated copies, were infuriated. LendInk's hosting company received hundreds of complaints and shut the site down. LendInk's owner says: 'The hosting company has offered to reinstate Lendink.com on the condition that I personally respond to all of the complaints individually. I have to say, I really do not know if it is worth the effort at this point. I have read the comments many of these people have posted and I don't think any form of communication will resolve the issues in their eyes. Most are only interested in getting money from me and others are only in in for the kill. They have no intentions of talking to me or working this out. So much for trying to start a business and live the American Dream.'"

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Kim Dotcom Raid - What Really Happened
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's super-serious department:
chill writes "People have been discussing the raid on the Dotcom mansion for months, but now more details and video footage of that morning have begun to emerge from the trial. From the article: 'At 6.46am on January 20, the raid was underway. The helicopter carrying members of the elite special tactics group flew into the Coatesville home of Dotcom.

“Ground units, Gates are open,” someone says into the radio.

Dotcom’s pregnant wife their three children, some guests and about a dozen staff were also there.

All is quiet below.

Within seconds four armed members of the special tactics group ran towards the main door.

The helicopter immediately took off. The main justification for using it at all was that Doctom’s security staff could have stopped police vehicles at the gates. But as the chopper flew out, ground forces were already arriving just seconds behind.'"


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Google Unveils New Search Features, Including iOS Voice Search
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's new-ways-to-find-stuff department:
First time accepted submitter sohmc writes "Some time ago, Google admitted that the biggest threat was not other search engines but services like Siri. However, Google just bridged that gap with Google Voice Search, already available in Jelly Bean, but also available via downloadable app. Google also submitted this app to the iOS App Store and is currently waiting approval. However, Slashdotters are no doubt recalling to mind the 'Google Voice' fiasco, in which Apple refused to allow it to appear, saying that it replaces a native function. It wasn't until Apple was brought before Congress to answer questions on how it approves or rejects apps that Google Voice was brought in."

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Ask Slashdot: Most Underappreciated Sci-Fi Writer?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nice-try-zombie-brunner department:
mvdwege writes "In the thread on the most depressing sci-fi, there were hundreds of posts but merely four mentions of John Brunner, dystopian writer par excellence. Now, given the normally U.S. libertarian bent of the Slashdot audience, it is understandable that an outright British Socialist writer like Brunner would get short shrift, but it got me thinking: what Sci-fi writers do you know that are, in your opinion, vastly underappreciated?"

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SUSE Slowly Shows UEFI Secure Boot Plan
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-a-stately-and-majestic-pace department:
itwbennett writes "One blog post at a time, SUSE is revealing its plan for getting SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) to boot on machines with UEFI Secure Boot. The short version: 'For now, it seems, SLES will implement an approach similar to that used by Fedora,' writes Brian Proffitt. '[Director of the SUSE Linux Enterprise Olaf] Kirch's first blog entry on Tuesday merely introduced the problem of UEFI Secure Boot. Today's blog only specified the use of the shim bootloader.' Just dying to know what's next? Tune in to the SUSE blog."

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FCC Asked To Reassess Cell Phone Radiation Guidelines
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everybody-is-surprisingly-reasonable department:
An anonymous reader writes "A U.S. government report released on Tuesday says the Federal Communications Commission needs to update its guidelines for limiting cell phone radio-frequency exposure. The limit was set in 1996 to an exposure rate of 1.6 watts per kilogram, and has not been updated since. The report does not advocate in favor of any particular research, and actually points out that the limit could possibly be raised, but says the FCC's rules have not kept pace with recent studies on the subject one way or the other. An executive for The Wireless Association said, 'The FCC has been vigilant in its oversight in this area and has set safety standards to make sure that radio frequency fields from wireless phones remain at what it has determined are safe levels. The FCC's safety standards include a 50-fold safety factor and, as the FCC has noted, are the most conservative in the world.'"

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July Heat Set U.S. Record
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's air-conditioning-wins-the-mvp department:
gollum123 sends this excerpt from CNN:
"The July heat wave that wilted crops, shriveled rivers and fueled wildfires officially went into the books Wednesday as the hottest single month on record for the continental United States. The average temperature across the Lower 48 was 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th-century average, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reported. That edged out the previous high mark, set in 1936, by two-tenths of a degree, NOAA said. In addition, the seven months of 2012 to date are the warmest of any year on record and were drier than average as well, NOAA said. U.S. forecasters started keeping records in 1895. And the past 12 months have been the warmest of any such period on record, topping a mark set between July 2011 and this past June. Every U.S. state except Washington experienced warmer-than-average temperatures, NOAA reported."

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Productivity and Creativity Software Coming To Steam
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's infinite-app-stores department:
lga writes "Valve announced today in a press release that they are expanding Steam beyond games and will start to deliver other software. This means that Steam will compete directly with Microsoft's Windows Store and perhaps explains some of Gabe Newell's disdain for Windows 8. The ability to save documents to Steam Cloud space also brings Valve into competition with the likes of Dropbox and Skydrive. According to the press release, 'The Software titles coming to Steam range from creativity to productivity. Many of the launch titles will take advantage of popular Steamworks features, such as easy installation, automatic updating, and the ability to save your work to your personal Steam Cloud space so your files may travel with you.'"

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Will Online Learning Disrupt Programming Language Adoption?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's zero-to-standard-in-5.4-months department:
theodp writes "Back in the day, getting traction for a new programming language was next to impossible. First, one needed a textbook publishing deal. Then, one needed a critical mass of CS profs across the country to convince their departments that your language was worth teaching at the university level. And after that, one still needed a critical mass of students to agree it was worth spending their time and tuition to learn your language. Which probably meant that one needed a critical mass of corporations to agree they wanted their employees to use your language. It was a tall order that took years if one was lucky, and only some languages — FORTRAN, PL/I, C, Java, and Python come to mind — managed to succeed on all of these fronts. But that was then, this is now. Whip up some online materials, and you can kiss your textbook publishing worries goodbye. Manage to convince just one of the new Super Profs at Udacity or Coursera to teach your programming language, and they can reach 160,000 students with just one free, not-for-credit course. And even if the elite Profs turn up their nose at your creation, upstarts like Khan Academy or Code Academy can also deliver staggering numbers of students in a short time. In theory, widespread adoption of a new programming language could be achieved in weeks instead of years or decades, piquing employers' interest. So, could we be on the verge of a programming language renaissance? Or will the status quo somehow manage to triumph?"

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Mexico Kills 8 Million Chickens To Contain H7N3 Virus
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's suddenly-glad-we're-the-dominant-species-on-this-planet department:
An anonymous reader writes "Mexico has so far slaughtered eight million chickens and vaccinated 66 million more in an effort to contain a bird flu outbreak in the west of the country, officials said Tuesday. The country's agriculture ministry had identified the diseased chickens during the vaccination process in the Los Altos region of Jalisco state, which led to the destruction of the H7N3-carrying birds."

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How To Watch Internet TV Across International Borders
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-computer-is-broadcasting-an-ip-address department:
colinneagle writes "Living in the U.S., one of my greatest regrets is that I can't watch BBC video with iPlayer. If I were living in the U.K., I'd feel the same away about not being able to watch shows on Hulu. But, with a Web proxy or a virtual private network (VPN) and an IP address in a country where the content is available, you can watch these shows. Technically, it's easy to set your browser up to use a Web proxy or VPN software. With a Web proxy and Windows XP, for example, you just go to Internet Options, click the Connections tab, and then click LAN Settings. Next, under Proxy server you click to select the 'Use a proxy server for your LAN' check box. Finally, you enter the IP address of the proxy server and in the Port box, type the IP number that is used by the proxy server for client connections—that's usually 8080. It's usually pretty simple to do that in any browser and operating system. There are also programs, such as Proxy Switchy, for Chrome that makes it easy to switch from one proxy to another in a single session. When you use a proxy, though, all your traffic is still open to network administrators. If you want to visit another country and watch their TV in privacy, you'll need a VPN."

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Bad Software Runs the World
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-runs-it-badly department:
whitroth tips a story at The Atlantic by James Kwak, who bemoans the poor quality of software underpinning so many important industries. He points out that while user-facing software is often well-polished, the code running supply chains, production lines, and financial markets is rarely so refined. From the article:
"The underlying problem here is that most software is not very good. Writing good software is hard. There are thousands of opportunities to make mistakes. More importantly, it's difficult if not impossible to anticipate all the situations that a software program will be faced with, especially when — as was the case for both UBS and Knight — it is interacting with other software programs that are not under your control. It's difficult to test software properly if you don't know all the use cases that it's going to have to support. There are solutions to these problems, but they are neither easy nor cheap. You need to start with very good, very motivated developers. You need to have development processes that are oriented toward quality, not some arbitrary measure of output."

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