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Internet Standards Groups Unite Behind Open Processes
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's for-some-definitions-of-open department:
alphadogg writes in with an excerpt from Network World:"Five leading Internet standards bodies have joined together to articulate a set of guidelines for the creation of open standards that they say will foster continued innovation, competition and interoperability in the Internet industry. The IEEE, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the IETF, the Internet Society and the World Wide Web Consortium hammered out the language for their five basic principles for standards development over the course of the last few months. Dubbed 'OpenStand,' these lofty principles are envisioned as a modern paradigm for global, open standards development processes. The OpenStand principles are in sharp contrast to the more formal, government-driven efforts of rival standards bodies such as the International Telecommunication Union, which is an arm of the United Nations, and the International Organization for Standardization, a group of national standards bodies."

Although the principles generally seem reasonable, they made no stand against patents in standards: "Standards specifications are made accessible to all for implementation and deployment. Affirming standards organizations have defined procedures to develop specifications that can be implemented under fair terms. Given market diversity, fair terms may vary from royalty-free to fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND)."

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Robot Brings Patch-Clamping To the Masses
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's cat-translator-coming-soon department:
scibri writes about robots helping neuroscientists dig into the brains of (animal) test subjects. From the article: "Robots designed to perform whole-cell patch-clamping, a difficult but powerful method that allows neuroscientists to access neurons' internal electrical workings, could make the tricky technique commonplace. Scientists from MIT have designed a robot that can record electrical currents in up to 4 neurons in the brains of anesthetized mice (paywall) at once, and they hope to extend it to up to 100 at a time. The robot finds its target on the basis of characteristic changes in the electrical environment near neurons. Then, the device nicks the cell's membrane and seals itself around the tiny hole to access the neuron's contents."

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2012 EFF Pioneer Award Winners Revealed
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 08:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's one-way-ticket-to-terror-watch-list department:
An anonymous reader writes "In 2012, EFF Pioneer Award winners are Hardware Hacker Andrew (bunnie) Huang , Anti-ACTA Activist and La Quadrature du Net cofounder Jérémie Zimmermann, and Groundbreaking Anonymity Group Tor. '"Every year, our Pioneer Awards celebrate those who have made a difference for digital freedom. We are extraordinarily proud of this year's winners and their unflagging dedication to protecting the rights of technology users around the world," said EFF Executive Director Shari Steele. "Whether it's your right to reverse engineer a game console, or to avoid the interference of overbroad IP enforcement, or to block websites or governments from tracking your every online move, these winners are working hard to protect our online freedom."'

The 21st edition of the annual EFF Pioneer Awards ceremony will take place September 20 in San Francisco."


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Wave Glider Robot Helps Forecast Hurricane Isaac's Path
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's finding-terrorists-under-the-sea department:
redletterdave writes with news of a drone that's helping weather forecasters this hurricane season. From the article: "Hurricane prediction is not always an exact science — back in 2005, Hurricane Rita was projected to hit Houston, but missed the region entirely — but the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) is already on the case. A few weeks ago today, the agency launched an experimental Wave Glider robot named Alex into the ocean, hoping the unmanned drone can forecast the direction of future storms. The Wave Glider, which is completely powered by the waves and the sun thanks to solar panels and a unique thrust engine, contains a GPS unit, satellite communications systems, and sensors for measuring water temperature, wind speed, and various wave characteristics. With its ability to withstand strong winds and thrashing waters — which are typically prohibitive for humans and even aerial vehicles — and its ability to theoretically drift in the ocean endlessly without refueling, a single Wave Glider could be used to monitor not just one storm, but several hurricanes occurring over an entire seasonal period. The NOAA hopes to soon use more Wave Glider robots like Alex to help determine more accurate hurricane watches and warnings."

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NASA's Kepler Discovers Multiple Planets Orbiting a Pair of Stars
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 07:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's next-week-aliens department:
DevotedSkeptic writes "Kepler has continued its stellar (pun intended) discovery spree, this time locating a multiple planets orbiting a Binary Stars. This is especially interesting because this proves that more than a single planet can form under the stresses of a binary star system. The system is known as a circumbinary planetary system, a mechanism where a planet orbits two stars. Prior to this discovery multiple planets in a circumbinary system was unproven. ... Named Kepler-47, the system consists of a pair of orbiting stars that eclipse each other every 7.5 days. One star is similar in size to our Sol however it only provides approximately 84% of the light, the other is smaller measuring one third of the size of our Sol and emits less than 1% the light. ... Kepler-47b is closer to its two suns orbiting in 50 Earth days. Kepler-47c orbits every 303 days which would place it within the Goldilocks zone. 'Unlike our sun, many stars are part of multiple-star systems where two or more stars orbit one another. The question always has been — do they have planets and planetary systems? This Kepler discovery proves that they do,' said William Borucki, Kepler mission principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. 'In our search for habitable planets, we have found more opportunities for life to exist.'"

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Iranian Players Blocked From World of Warcraft Due To Trade Sanctions
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's overthrow-government-instead department:
cold fjord writes "Is this the end of the world . . . of Warcraft? Maybe for Iranian gamers who are undergoing a forced morale check due to tightening sanctions cutting access to their game of choice. From the article: 'Iranian players of "World of Warcraft" ... have found themselves frozen out by Blizzard Activision Inc., the American company behind the game. Iranian role playing enthusiasts have spent much of the past week peppering Blizzard's message board with complaints about how they weren't able to log on to the service — only to be told recently that U.S. law was to blame. "United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran," the company said in an email sent to players last week...'"

Thanks to the sanctions, they can't get refunds either.

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In Wake of Samsung Verdict, HTC Does Not Intend To Settle
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's today-is-a-good-day-to-die department:
Taco Cowboy writes "The recent lost by Samsung in a court battle against Apple apparently does not put a dent to other parties determination to fight Apple, inside and outside of the court system HTC's Chairperson, Ms. Cher Wang, has publicly re-iterated her belief that the $1 billion jury verdict against Samsung in the U.S. 'does not mean the failure of the entire Google Android ecosystem.'"

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Another LulzSec Member Arrested
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's no-one-went-to-prison-in-wargames department:
hypnosec writes "Raynaldo Rivera, aged 20, suspected member of LulzSec, has been arrested for his alleged role in the breach of Sony Pictures Entertainment last year. The first suspect, Cody Kretsinger, has already pleaded guilty and was indicted last September according to the FBI. Rivera, who also goes by names 'neuron,' 'royal,' and 'wildicv', surrendered to authorities and he has been charged with conspiracy and unauthorized impairment of a protected computer. The LulzSec member may be facing 15 years in prison if convicted."

On the member who pleased guilty: "Kretsinger, who pleaded guilty to the same two charges now facing Rivera, is slated to be sentenced on October 25. A federal prosecutor said he would likely receive substantially less than the 15-year maximum prison term carried by those offenses."

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How Apple Killed the Linux Desktop
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's linux-mobile-seeking-vengeance department:
An anonymous reader writes "Klint Finley discusses Miguel de Icaza's thoughts on how OS X killed Linux on the desktop: 'de Icaza says the desktop wars were already lost to OS X by the time the latest shakeups started happening. And he thinks the real reason Linux lost is that developers started defecting to OS X because the developers behind the toolkits used to build graphical Linux applications didn’t do a good enough job ensuring backward compatibility between different versions of their APIs. "For many years, we broke people’s code," he says. "OS X did a much better job of ensuring backward compatibility."' This, he says, led developers to use OS X as a desktop for server programming. It didn't help that development was 'shifting to the web,' with the need for native applications on the decline."

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Are You Gaming For the Right Reasons?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's gotta-make-that-int-bigger department:
An editorial at IGN discusses healthy (and unhealthy) ways to play video games. The author says that while gaming is a perfectly legitimate hobby, it needs to be approached with moderation and an understanding of what you get out of playing. Without understanding your motivations and compulsions, it's quite possible to play video games in a way that's detrimental. From the article:
"Games, especially modern ones, revolve around the principle that if you put the time in, you will be rewarded. Many gamers claim to not understand how anyone could put up with grinding in a video game. But grinding is comforting. Grinding tells us that, no matter what, if you keep playing you'll become more powerful. ... The real world does not operate this way. You can 'grind' at a job for 10 years and still be laid off. You can 'grind' at your physical health your whole life but if you switch to an unhealthy lifestyle you will immediately begin losing this progress. ... It's important for gamers to have mastery of their own mind. Are you grinding out a level in World of Warcraft because you're truly enjoying the experience, or are you doing it to replace missing feelings of self-worth that you don't want to confront? Do you revel in your virtual successes to avoid the uncomfortable internal dialogue regarding of your abandoned gym routine? Are you playing games because you're having fun, or because you have an unconfronted fear of failure?

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Large Bitcoin Ponzi Scheme Collapses With a Loss of $5.6 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on August 29 '12 at 01:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's jig-is-up department:
New submitter beltsbear writes "Despite the many people calling it out as a Ponzi scheme from the beginning, Pirateat40 was able to collect millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins from thousands of Bitcoin users. At almost every stage Pirateat40 copied the path of the EVE Online Ponzi scheme except on a much larger scale with a far more liquid take. Now, it has shut down, and investors are wondering where their digital currency went. Quoting: 'He claimed that BS&T was sitting on 500,000 BTC on the day of the shutdown, worth more than $5.6 million USD at today's price of $11.38. "Once my process is released you'll understand more of how coins move around," he told members of the Bitcoin community last week. Pirateat40 initially promised to refund his investors' Bitcoin deposits plus interest within a week, effectively admitting that he did not have the Bitcoins on hand. The fund normally paid out on Mondays, but last Monday and today have passed so far without refunds. BS&T investors are complaining loudly and so-called "pass-through" funds that invested with BS&T are shutting down. As of this writing, BS&T says there is "no ETA on payments."'"

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The History of the Floppy Disk
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's once-upon-a-time department:
Esther Schindler writes "Ready for a nostalgic trip into the wayback? We had floppy disks long before we had CDs, DVDs, or USB thumb-drives. Here's the evolution of the portable media that changed everything about personal computing. 'The 8-inch drive began to show up in 1971. Since they enabled developers and users to stop using the dreaded paper tape (which were easy to fold, spindle, and mutilate, not to mention to pirate) and the loathed IBM 5081 punch card. Everyone who had ever twisted a some tape or—the horror!—dropped a deck of Hollerith cards was happy to adopt 8-inch drives. Besides, the early single-sided 8-inch floppy could hold the data of up to 3,000 punch cards, or 80K to you.'"

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Don't Build a Database of Ruin
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-we'll-say-don't-again department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Paul Ohm writes in Harvard Business Review that businesses today are building perfect digital dossiers of their customers, massive data stores containing thousands of facts about every member of our society. He says these databases will grow to connect every individual to at least one closely guarded secret. 'This might be a secret about a medical condition, family history, or personal preference. It is a secret that, if revealed, would cause more than embarrassment or shame; it would lead to serious, concrete, devastating harm,' writes Ohm. 'And these companies are combining their data stores, which will give rise to a single, massive database. I call this the Database of Ruin. Once we have created this database, it is unlikely we will ever be able to tear it apart.' Consider the most famous recent example of big data's utility in invading personal privacy: Target's analytics team can determine which shoppers are pregnant, and even predict their delivery dates, by detecting subtle shifts in purchasing habits. 'In the absence of intervention, soon companies will know things about us that we do not even know about ourselves. This is the exciting possibility of Big Data, but for privacy, it is a recipe for disaster.' According to Ohm, if we stick to our current path, the Database of Ruin will become an inevitable fixture of our future landscape, one that will be littered with lives ruined by the exploitation of data assembled for profit. The only way we avoid this is if companies learn to say, 'no' to some of the privacy-invading innovations they're pursuing. 'The lesson is plain: compete vigorously and beat your competitors in every legitimate way, except when it comes to privacy invasion. Too many companies have learned this lesson the hard way, launching invasive new services that have triggered class action lawsuits, Congressional inquiries, and media firestorms.'"

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Meet the Very First Rover To Land On Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 09:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-may-call-him-todd department:
toygeek writes "Before Curiosity, before Opportunity, before Spirit, and before Sojourner, the very first robot to land on Mars was this little guy, way back in December of 1971. Called PrOP-M, the rover was part of the Soviet Union's Mars-3 mission, which had the potential to deploy the first ever mobile scientific instruments onto the Martian surface. Article also contains Russian video on early rovers."

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Ask Slashdot: Is the Rise of Skeuomorphic User Interfaces a Problem?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's add-to-dictionary department:
An anonymous reader writes "The evolution of user interface design in software is a long one, and has historically tracked the capabilities of computers of the time. Early computers used batch processing which, is mostly unheard of today, and consequently had minimal human interaction. The late 60s saw the introduction of command line interfaces, which remain popular to this day, mostly with technical users. Arguably, what propelled computer use to what it is today is the introduction of the ubiquitous graphical user interface. Although graphical interfaces have evolved, in principle they have remained largely unchanged. The resurgence of Apple saw the rise of skeuomorphic graphical user interfaces, which are now starting to appear on Linux. Are skeuomorphic designs making technology accessible to the masses, or is it simply a case of an unwillingness to innovate and move forward?"

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Haiku OS Ported To Intel 64-Bit Architecture
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's five-and-seven-syllables-at-a-time department:
An anonymous reader writes "The BeOS-compatible Haiku OS operating system has been ported to x86_64. As part of the Google Summer of Code, a student made a 64-bit port of the kernel and user-space and it's now working. However, not all of the BeOS apps and drivers are yet working in 64-bit mode."

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AMD's Next-Gen Steamroller CPU Could Deliver Where Bulldozer Fell Short
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rollin'-rollin'-rollin' department:
MojoKid writes "Today at the Hot Chips Symposium, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster is taking the wraps off the company's upcoming CPU core, codenamed Steamroller. Steamroller is the third iteration of AMD's Bulldozer architecture and an extremely important part for AMD. Bulldozer, which launched just over a year ago, was a disappointment. The company's second-generation Bulldozer implementation, codenamed Piledriver, offered a number of key changes and was incorporated into the Trinity APU family that debuted last spring. Steamroller is the first refresh of Bulldozer's underlying architecture and may finally deliver the sort of performance and efficiency AMD was aiming for when it built Bulldozer in the first place. Enhancements to Fetch and Decode architecture have been made, as well as increased scheduler efficiency and cache load latency, which combined could bring a claimed 15 percent performance-per-watt performance gain. AMD expects to ship Steamroller sometime in 2013 but wouldn't offer timing detail beyond that."

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New Zealand Draft Patent Law Rewritten After Microsoft Meeting
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's spreading-goodwill-and-benevolence department:
ciaran_o_riordan writes "After two private meetings with Microsoft and IBM, New Zealand's proposed new patent legislation has been changed by 'replacing an exclusion in clause 15(3A) (which relates to computer programs) with new clause 10A. Rather than excluding a computer program from being a patentable invention, new clause 10A clarifies that a computer program is not an invention for the purposes of the Bill.' The difference is that the new 10A clause contains the 'as such' loophole — the wording that is used by the European Patent Office to grant software patents. This is the same Patents Bill launched in 2009."

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Tennessee Crater Inches Toward Recognition
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's denting-our-planet department:
tetrahedrassface writes "Slashdot carried the story of an-as-yet unverified impact crater in Tennessee a couple of years ago. After a few weeks of fairly hardcore sample taking, digging, obtaining some good images and manipulating them, I'm proud to report the first batch of evidence in favor of it being an impact site. The primary smoking gun is the presentation of an astrobleme, obtained from High Resolution Ornithographic Images taken in 2008. Also of note are the melted/deformed rocks, magnetic crater dust, and the fitment of the crater rim to a circle. A rented plane and a bunch of photographs today and it's pretty obvious that it's a crater, folks. Cheers!"

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US Doctors Back Circumcision
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's yep-we're-going-there department:
ananyo writes "On 27 August, a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics concludes for the first time that, overall, boys will be healthier if circumcised. The report says that although the choice is ultimately up to parents, medical insurance should pay for the procedure. The recommendation, coming from such an influential body, could boost U.S. circumcision rates, which, at 55%, are already higher than much of the developed world. The researchers estimate that each circumcision that is not performed costs the U.S. health-care system $313."

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