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Why Juries Have No Place In the Patent System
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-only-we-had-robots-to-evaluate-patents department:
New submitter Isara writes "GigaOm's Jeff John Roberts has a compelling writeup about patent trials and how juries are detrimental to justice in such cases. Roberts uses the recent Apple-Samsung trial as the backdrop for his article; although the trial lasted three weeks, during which hundreds of documents were presented and the finer points of U.S. patent law were discussed, the jury only took 2-3 days to deliberate. 'Patents are as complex as other industrial policies like subsidies or regulatory regimes. When disputes arise, they should be put before an expert tribunal rather than a jury that is easily swayed by schoolyard "copycat" narratives.'"

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Firefox 15 Released: Silent Updates, Compressed Textures, Add-on Memory Leak Fix
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's when-in-chrome department:
Mozilla released Firefox 15 today, and it brings a number of interesting changes. First, the browser is finally switching to a "silent" update model, like Chrome. (No doubt in answer to endless complaints about their rapid release cycle.) In addition, Mozilla says they have "now plugged the main cause of memory leaks in Firefox add-ons." Add-ons commonly hold extra copies of sites in memory when they don't need to, and the browser now has a mechanism to detect this and reclaim the memory. Another significant improvement is the addition of native support for compressed textures in WebGL, which is a boost for high-res 3D gaming. Here are release notes for the desktop and mobile versions.

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White House Finalizes 54.5 MPG Fuel Efficiency Standard
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's couldn't-you-pick-an-integer department:
The Obama Administration announced today it has finalized new fuel efficiency standards that will require new cars and light-duty trucks to have an average efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This adds to the requirement that 2016's new cars must average 35.5 miles per gallon. "The final standards were developed by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA following extensive engagement with automakers, the United Auto Workers, consumer groups, environmental and energy experts, states, and the public. Last year, 13 major automakers, which together account for more than 90 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States, announced their support for the new standards." According to the administration, the standards will reduce dependence on foreign oil, save money at the pump, protect the environment, and everything else that sounds good in an election year.

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Welcome to the University of Michigan's Computer and Video Game Archive (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 09:45 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's new-and-old-games-side-by-side-for-you-to-play department:
After watching this video, a lot of you are going to wish you were
Dave Carter, who works at the University of Michigan's Computer and Video Game Archive. He deals with video games, from the oldest hand-helds and consoles to the newest Xbox and PC games and controllers. A lot of his time is no doubt spent fixing things that break, finding obscure games, being generally helpful, and making sure nobody breaks the games, consoles, computers, controllers, and even board games and memorabilia in the collection. But still, this has got to be the ultimate job for a game junkie. And it looks like a great place to visit, because this museum is part of a library, and just as a library encourages you to pick up books and read them, this is a place where you can actually play the games, not just stare at a ColecoVision console in a display case. You can play in a cubicle or, for games that take some space, there are a couple of big gaming rooms with soft-looking sofas and big flat-screen TVs, where you can jump up and down like crazy while you're doing Guitar Hero or using a Wii or Kinect. And if you can't make it to Ann Arbor, MI, there's an informative blog that's all about video games past and present that's must reading for almost any serious gamer.

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Bill "The Science Guy" Nye Says Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-orthodoxy-means-now department:
timeOday writes "BigThink has released a video missive by Bill Nye ('The Science Guy') in which he challenges the low level of acceptance of evolution, particularly in the United States. He does not mince words: 'I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can — we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.'"

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VMware Back-Pedals On vRAM Scheme, Back To Per-Core Pricing
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's old-ways-is-best-ways department:
Last year VMware introduced a complex pricing scheme based on the size of the memory associated with each virtual machine instance. New CEO Pat Gelsinger announced this week that this system (which he described as "a four letter word") has been deprecated, and VMware is back to more straightforwardly charging per physical processor core. Adds reader hypnosec: "Pricing hasn't been announced yet but a file [PDF] present on VMware's site does give an indication about the new pricing."

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A Month After Grum Botnet Takedown, Spam Back To Previous Levels
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-like-the-pollen-count department:
wiredmikey writes "It's been over a month since spam-spewing Grum botnet has been shut down, but spam experts say there hasn't been a noticeable impact on global spam volume. Symantec researchers at the time estimated that Grum was responsible for one-third of all spam being sent worldwide, and its takedown led to an immediate drop in global spam email volumes by as much as 15 to 20 percent. However, the drop was only temporary. While Grum had an estimated hundred thousand zombies sending spam, the machines were likely blocked for sending emails too frequently, or wound up on IP blacklists, said Andrew Conway, Cloudmark researcher. IP filtering is fast and cheap, and is a good first line of defense against spam, Conway said. Grum spam was easy to blacklist, and despite its size, most spam messages from the botnet probably never reached user inboxes."

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The Programmers Go Coding Two-by-Two — Hurrah?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's simple-chronic-pairitosis department:
theodp writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that pair programming is all the rage at tech darlings Facebook and Square. Its advocates speak in glowing terms of the power of pair programming, saying paired coders can catch costly software errors and are less likely to waste time surfing the Web. 'The communication becomes so deep that you don't even use words anymore,' says Facebook programmer Kent Beck. 'You just grunt and point.' Such reverent tones prompted Atlassian to poke a little fun at the practice with Spooning, an instructional video in which a burly engineer sits on a colleague's lap, wraps his arms around his partner's waist and types along with him hand over hand."

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IBM Mainframe Running World's Fastest Commercial Processor
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's overclocked-with-pencil-lead-of-course department:
dcblogs writes "IBM's new mainframe includes a 5.5-GHz processor, which may be the world's fastest commercial processor, say analysts. This new system, the zEnterprise EC12, can also support more than 6-TB of flash memory to help speed data processing. The latest chip has six cores, up from four in the prior generation two years ago. But Jeff Frey, the CTO of the System Z platform, says they aren't trading off single-thread performance in the mainframe with the additional cores. There are still many customers who have applications that execute processes serially, such as batch applications, he said. This latest chip was produced at 32 nanometers, versus 45 nanometers in the earlier system. This smaller size allows more cache on the chip, in this case 33% more Level-2 cache. The system has doubled the L3 and L4 cache over the prior generation."

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Confessions of a Left-Handed Technology User
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's sinister-implications department:
harrymcc writes "Over at TIME.com, I wrote about my trials and tribulations as a left-handed person who uses technology products. An awful lot of them have clearly been designed with the right-handed majority in mind, even when they claimed they weren't. But the good news is that modern smartphones and tablets are very lefty-friendly compared to the devices that preceded them."

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Lexmark To Exit Inkjet Printer Market
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let's-send-more-horse-heads department:
Barence writes "Lexmark has announced it will stop making inkjet printers and cut 1,700 jobs as part of a cost-cutting restructuring move. Lexmark will stop all inkjet development worldwide by 2013, and close its Philippines-based inkjet supplies manufacturing plant by 2015. This will provide annual savings of $85 million, rising to $95 million by 2015. The total restructuring cost before tax is expected to be $160 million. The company is also looking into the possible sale of its inkjet-related technology." I know there are some purposes for which inkjets are good (modern home photo printing can be insanely good, and we've featured a lot of cool projects which use inkjets to print sensors, solar cells, antennae, and more), but I get just a little queasy whenever I see an inkjet printer purchased by an innocent friend or family member who doesn't realize quite how much it will end up costing them in the long run.

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Ask Slashdot: Rescuing a PC That's Been Hit By Scammers?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-much-holy-water-ya-got? department:
New submitter malcus writes "My father was hit by scammers the other day and even though he has handed over all computer service tasks to me they were able to sweet-talk him into: (1) Running some 'checks' to confirm the 'grave situation' that his computer was heading for (bad). (2) Start some remote-control program (worse). (3) Giving them his social security number (terrible). When they asked him for his credit card information he stopped and is now probably expecting them to call again. Meanwhile I have told him to dump the computer in holy-water or aqua regis and cut the internet cable. I am heading over to his place later and wonder what measures I should take."

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Can Data Mining Win a Presidential Campaign?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's greetings-citizen department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "According to the Associated Press, Mitt Romney's campaign has contracted consumer-analytics firm Buxton Co. to drill deep into consumer data, with the aim of digging up 'wealthy and previously untapped' donors. (Romney digital director Zac Moffatt told political Website Politico as far back as June that the Romney campaign would 'outsource' its data analytics rather than develop the necessary infrastructure in-house.) In addition to hooking the digital side of their campaign to the Facebook data hose, Obama's election managers have hired a mix of digital directors, software engineers and statistics experts. 'Obama for America is looking for Quantitative Media Analysts, Analytics Engineers, Battleground States Elections Analysts and Modeling Analysts,' reads a want ad on the campaign's Website. The goal: to create data processing pipelines, integrate new data into models, build tools, and generate reports. In an election this close, with a rapidly shrinking number of undecided voters and contested states, a razor-thin advantage created by data analytics could mean the difference between success and failure."

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Study Shows Marijuana Use In Teens Correlates To Decreasing IQ
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's news-for-long-term-nerds department:
retroworks writes "The BBC reports on a paper published in the U.S.'s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showing a correlation between persistent, regular cannabis use and risk of lower IQ. The study finds the risk particularly correlates use of cannabis by teenagers who use the drug "four times a week year after year." The more people smoked, the greater the loss in IQ. Reviewers of the study at King's College Institute of Psychiatry states that the data and methodology are exceptional, but she also cautions that there may be another explanation, such as depression, which could lower IQ while stimulating marijuana use. The study does not mention or rule out 'nocebo' effects, i.e. just feeling stupid for spending your teens hanging out with potheads."

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Apple Seeks To Block 8 Samsung Products After Court Win
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's rent-seeking-isn't-the-free-market department:
angry tapir writes "Apple has asked a U.S. court to block sales of eight Samsung Electronics products, following the iPhone maker's victory in a patent lawsuit against Samsung. In a filing to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Apple asked for preliminary injunctions against seven smartphones carrying its Galaxy brand, plus the Droid Charge. It based the requests on a jury's ruling on Friday that Samsung had infringed several Apple patents. Apple said it wants the preliminary injunction pending a final injunction."

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LendInk EBook Lending Service Returns, Receives Fishy DMCA Notice
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 04:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's thou-shalt-not-share-with-strangers department:
Ian Lamont writes "Remember LendInk, the legitimate ebook lending community that got knocked offline at the beginning of August by a mob of misguided authors? The site's owner, Dale Porter, received a lot of support after the story went viral and last week was able to reactivate the site and his affiliate accounts with Amazon and Barnes & Noble."

The owner reportedly received a DMCA notice immediately, but a few folks dug and it appears that the "lawyer" who issued it is no lawyer at all, and probably an Internet troll (evidence includes not being listed as a lawyer in PA, using a home address, and sending the takedown from gmail). Or just a really bad lawyer.

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Diaspora* Announces It Is Now a "Community Project"
Posted by News Fetcher on August 28 '12 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's running-out-of-cash department:
History's Coming To writes "Decentralised social network startup Diaspora* announced on their blog today that they will become a 'community project' with the intention of making it an entirely community-driven, community-run project.
Whether this is a sign of the project losing impetus, or whether this will provide the push needed to challenge commercially run social networks, remains to be seen."


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UK License Plate Cameras Have "Gaps In Coverage"
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '12 at 11:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's can-you-track-me-now? department:
Aguazul2 writes "UK police are sad that despite having the most comprehensive driver surveillance system of any developed country, there are still gaps in their coverage. From the article: 'The cameras automatically record plate/time/location information and send it to a central data store, which has complete nationwide records for 6 years.' Also interesting is that an unspecified 'particular driving style' can be used to evade detection by the cameras. It appears, however, that criminals are well aware of the cameras and take other routes. Big Brother technology, coming soon to a country near you!"

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Micromotors Race About By Turning Water Into Hydrogen Gas
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '12 at 08:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's don't-let-krycek-get-any department:
MTorrice writes "Microscopic particles of aluminum and gallium rocket around using water as their fuel. The particles, which are 20 m in diameter, are asymmetric: A chemical reaction on the back side of the particle forms hydrogen gas bubbles that propel the motor forward. Over the past several years, bioengineers have built micro- and nanosized rockets that zip through liquids, fueled by chemical reactions between the materials that make up the rockets and their environments. The engineers hope someday these tiny motors could help deliver cargo, such as drugs, in people. Unfortunately, many of these motors require toxic hydrogen peroxide as fuel source, limiting their use in the body. To overcome that constraint, the new micromotors harness a well-known reaction between aluminum and water to produce hydrogen gas."

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Exposure to Backlit Displays Reduces Melatonin Production
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '12 at 06:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's hack-all-night department:
alphadogg writes "Researchers have discovered that relatively little exposure to tablets and other electronics with backlit displays can keep people up at night by messing with their circadian rhythms. The study from the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute showed that a 2-hour exposure to electronic devices with such displays causes suppression of the melatonin hormone and could make it especially tough for teens to fall asleep. The study, funded by Sharp Laboratories of America, simulated usage of such devices among 13 people using special glasses/goggles and light meters"

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