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Nest Labs Calls Honeywell Lawsuit 'Worse Than Patent Troll'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's devil-they-know department:
UnknowingFool writes "Over a year ago, Nest Labs launched the Learning Thermostat. The brainchild of Tony Fadell, former head of Apple's iPod and iPhone division, the Learning Thermostat promised a self-programming and wifi-enabled thermostat that would save energy costs. After some glowing reviews, Nest found itself in a patent infringement lawsuit against Honeywell. Nest responded with multiple claims calling Honeywell 'worse than a patent troll.' Among Nest's claims: Honeywell hid prior art (some on some previous patents that they owned) and inapplicable patents (patent on mechanical potentiometer when Nest's product does not include one). Nest's stance is that Honeywell filed the lawsuits not to extract money but to set back progress so that they can control the industry."

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Ask Slashdot: Best Book For 11-Year-Old Who Wants To Teach Himself To Program?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's it-isn't-huckleberry-finn department:
New submitter waferthinmint asks "What is the best book for my son to use to teach himself to program? He wants to study on his own but everything seems to assume an instructor or a working theoretical knowledge. He's a bright kid but the right guide can make all the difference. Also, what language should he start with? When I was in HS, it was Basic or Pascal. Now, I guess, C? He has access to an Ubuntu box and an older MacBook Pro. Help me Slashdot; you're our only hope."

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1366x768 Monitors Top 1024x768 For the First Time
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hope-it's-not-like-the-rocky-movies department:
mpol writes "Statcounter released new statistics today and 1366x768 is now the most used screen resolution on the internet. These screens are available in most cheap laptops, and therefore probably sold and used very much. With 19.2%, it is beating the old 4:3 resolution, which still has 18.6% usage share. (But as you know, you have lies, damn lies, and statistics.)"

The numbers are still close, but it sounds like the tide has turned.

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KOffice Descendent Calligra Office and Creativity Suite Hits Release
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's sometimes-they-come-back department:
jrepin writes "The Calligra team has announced the first release of the Calligra suite of office and creativity applications. This marks the end of a long development period lasting almost one and a half year. It is the first release in a long series which is planned to make improved applications every 4 months. Calligra is a continuation of the old KOffice project and it may be interesting for KOffice users to know what they will get. Some highlights are: a completely rewritten text layout engine that can handle most of the advanced layout features of OpenDocument Format (ODF), simplified user interface, support for larger parts of the ODF specification (for example line endings like arrows), and improved import filters for Microsoft document formats. There are also two new applications: Flow for diagrams and flowcharts, and Braindump for the note taking. Calligra Active is a new interface for touch based devices and especially for the KDE Plasma Active environment. Several companies have already used Calligra as a base for their own office solution. One of them is Nokia with their N9 high end smartphone where Calligra is embedded into the so called Harmattan Office."

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Ex-NASA Employees Accuse Agency of 'Extreme Position' On Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hi-dr-potocki! department:
grumpyman writes "A coalition of 49 ex-NASA employees, including seven Apollo astronauts, have accused the U.S. space agency of sullying its reputation by taking the 'extreme position' of concluding that carbon dioxide is a major cause of climate change. Is the claim in this letter opinion or fact?"

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Reddit Subpoenaed In Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's height-of-incivility department:
redletterdave writes "In March, a 51-year-old Reddit user named 'Black Visions' wrote his last post on Reddit. He had been writing frequently about depression and suicide, but in his last post where he also threatened his own suicide, others decided to egg him on even further. That turned out to the be the last straw: Seattle news soon reported Jerry had jumped eight stories from a hotel room in the Double Tree in Tukwila, Washington. Reddit announced on Wednesday that the user's sister Sandy has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against nine Reddit users who egged him on, and Reddit has also been subpoenaed in identifying the information of another three individuals."

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Court Rules Code Not Physical Property
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's took-them-this-long-to-notice department:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov, who downloaded source code for the investment firm's high-speed trading system from the company's computers, was wrongly charged with theft of property because the code did not qualify as a physical object under a federal theft statute, according to a court opinion published Wednesday." Adds the submitter: "The RIAA's definitely got to give Goldman Sachs their secret recipe ..."

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Expect Hundreds of Thunderbolt Devices, Says Intel
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's gee-that's-a-small-production-run department:
An anonymous reader writes "Thunderbolt ports have been spotted on a PC motherboard, but the reality is that the technology is far from mainstream outside of Apple products. Which is why it is interesting to hear Intel predict that 'a hundred' Thunderbolt devices are expected to be on the market by the end of the year. The comment was made this week at Intel's presentation at IDF in Beijing. Ultrabooks with Thunderbolt are expected to appear this year."

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ICANN's Brand-Named Internet Suffix Application Deadline Looms
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's aesthetics-out-the-window department:
AIFEX writes with a snippet from the BBC: "'Organisations wishing to buy web addresses ending in their brand names have until the end of Thursday to submit applications. For example, drinks giant Pepsi can apply for .pepsi, .gatorade or .tropicana as an alternative to existing suffixes such as .org or .com.'" Asks AIFEX: "Does anyone else think this is absolutely ridiculous and defeats the logical hierarchy of current URLs?"

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Lack of Vaccination Sends Babies In Oregon To the Hospital
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's actually-it's-the-illness-that-does department:
First time accepted submitter dmr001 writes "In its fortnightly Communicable Disease newsletter (PDF), Oregon Public Health officials note increasing cases of pertussis (whooping cough) in infants, with 146 hospitalizations noted in the 2 year period ending March 2011, and at least 4 deaths since 2003. Most cases are attributed to lack of vaccination, with 86% of those due to parents declining the vaccine. 'Most of our cases are occurring in under- or unvaccinated children, so getting these kids vaccinated seems to the most obvious approach to reducing illness. In principle... pertussis could be eradicated; but we have a long way to go.'"

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How Windows FreeCell Gave Rise To Online Crowdsourcing
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's mastering-the-game department:
TPIRman writes "In 1994, a physics doctoral student named Dave Ring assembled more than 100 math and puzzle enthusiasts on Usenet for what became one of the earliest online 'crowdsourcing' projects. Their goal: to determine if every hand in Windows' FreeCell solitaire game was in fact winnable, as the program's help file implied. Their efforts soon focused in on one incredibly stubborn hand: #11,982. They couldn't beat it, but in the process of trying, they proved the viability of an idea that would later be refined with crowdsourcing models like Amazon's Mechanical Turk."

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The First Universal Quantum Network
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 06:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's faster-than-fast department:
MrSeb writes "German scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have created the first 'universal quantum network' that could be feasibly scaled up to become a quantum internet. So far their quantum network only spans two labs spaced 21 meters apart, but the scientists stress that longer distances and multiple nodes are possible. The network's construction is ingenious: Each node is represented by a single rubidium atom, trapped inside a reflective optical cavity. These atoms communicate with each other by emitting a single photon over an optical fiber. Each atom is a quantum bit — a qubit — and the polarization of the photon emitted carries the quantum state of the qubit. The receiving qubit absorbs the photon and takes on the quantum state of the transmitter. Voila: A network of qubits that can send, receive, and store quantum information. In another, probably more exciting test, the emitted photons were actually used to entangle the rubidium atoms."

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Data Center Staff Will Sleep Among the Racks For London Olympics
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's best-room-in-the-house department:
1sockchuck writes "Staff at Interxion's London data center are ready to hunker down during the Olympic Games this summer, nestled in snug sleeping pods adjacent to the racks. The arrangement will ensure that the facility will be fully-staffed if London's transit system is taxed by the huge crowds expected for the Games. While staff in many industries might object to a plan that expects them to sleep in their office, data center firms have a primary calling of keeping their facilities operational at all times. Is this too much readiness, or just enough?"

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Why the Middle East Is a Good Place For Women Tech Entrepreneurs
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's unexpected-sales-pitch department:
pbahra writes "Conferences for start-ups and entrepreneurs often feature 'pitch contests,' slots in which aspiring entrepreneurs take to the stage to sell their ideas to the audience. Last month's ArabNet conference, held in the Lebanese capital, was no different. What was different, however, was the number of pitches from female entrepreneurs. The stereotype has it that women in the Middle East are subjugated, oppressed and barely let out of their houses. But if that is the case, how come 40% of the pitches were from women—a higher percentage than is typical in equivalent conferences held in Europe? Nor was this closer-to-equal representation of women unique to ArabNet--other conferences in the region boast similar ratios."

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The Fixes That Google Chrome OS Still Needs To Make
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-but-where's-the-windows-menu department:
CowboyRobot writes "Thomas Claburn at Information Week opines that Google's Chrome OS is actually morphing into the Windows-style os that it intended to make obsolete. There's still room to grow, and here are his suggestions for how to make it better: Get better hardware, Include a Web-based IDE, Support local storage, Allow offline apps. 'When Chrome OS was launched in 2010, Google SVP of Chrome and apps Sundar Pichai declared, "Chrome OS is nothing but the Web." Now, if you peer behind the browser pane, it's clear that Chrome OS is looking beyond the Web. It's not a complete repudiation of Google's bet on the appeal of a thin-client system that keeps user data in the cloud. But it is a concession to the realities of a market that's more comfortable with the familiar desktop metaphor.'"

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Scientists Study Trajectories of Life-Bearing Earth Meteorites
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-come-from-earth department:
Hugh Pickens writes "About 65 million years ago, Earth was struck by an asteroid some 10 km in diameter with a mass of well over a trillion tonnes that created megatsunamis, global wildfires ignited by giant clouds of superheated ash and, the mass extinction of land-based life on Earth. Now astrobiologists have begun to study a less well known consequence: the ejection of billions of tons of life-bearing rocks and water into space that has made its way not just to other planets but other solar systems as well. Calculations by Tetsuya Hara and his colleagues at Kyoto Sangyo University in Japan show that a surprisingly large amount of life-bearing material ended up not on the Moon and Mars, as might be expected, but the Jovian moon Europa and the Saturnian moon Enceladus also received tons of life-bearing rock from earth. Even more amazingly calculations suggest that most Earth ejecta ended up in interstellar space and some has probably already arrived at Earth-like exoplanets orbiting other stars. Hara estimates that about a thousand Earth-rocks from this event would have made the trip to Gliese 581, a red dwarf some 20 light years away that is thought to have a super-Earth orbiting at the edge of the habitable zone, taking about a million years to reach its destination. Of course, nobody knows if microbes can survive that kind of journey or even the shorter trips to Europa and Enceladus. But Hara says that if microbes can survive that kind of journey, they ought to flourish on a super-Earth in the habitable zone (PDF). 'If we consider the possibility that the fragmented ejecta (smaller than 1cm) are accreted to comets and other icy bodies, then buried fertile material could make the interstellar journey throughout the Galaxy,' writes Hara. 'Under these circumstances fragments could continue the interstellar journey and Earth origin meteorites could be transferred to Gl 581 system. If we take it is viable, we should consider the panspermia theories more seriously.'"

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US Judge Rules Against German Microsoft Injunction
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '12 at 01:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's trump-card department:
angry tapir writes "In an unusual case, a U.S. judge has ruled that Motorola cannot enforce an injunction that would prevent Microsoft from selling Windows products in Germany, should a German court issue such an injunction next week. Microsoft asked the judge for the ruling in anticipation of an injunction that a German court is expected to issue related to a patent infringement suit that Motorola filed against Microsoft in Germany. The suit centers primarily on Motorola licenses that have been declared essential to the H.264 video standard. The German injunction is expected on April 17."

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End of Windows XP Support Era Signals Beginning of Security Nightmare
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 10:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-more-patches department:
colinneagle writes "Microsoft's recent announcement that it will end support for the Windows XP operating system in two years signals the end of an era for the company, and potentially the beginning of a nightmare for everyone else. When Microsoft cuts the chord on XP in two years it will effectively leave millions of existing Windows-based computers vulnerable to continued and undeterred cyberattacks, many of which hold the potential to find their way into consumer, enterprise and even industrial systems running the latest software. Although most of the subsequent security issues appear to be at the consumer level, it may not be long until they find a way into corporate networks or industrial systems, Miller says. Even scarier, Sarwate says many SCADA systems for industrial networks still run a modified version of XP, and are not in a position to upgrade. Because much of the software running on SCADA systems is not compatible with traditional Microsoft OS capabilities, an OS upgrade would entail much more work than it would for a home or corporate system."

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How the Sinking of the Titanic Sparked a Century of Radio Improvements
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 08:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's do-better-next-time department:
joshuarrrr writes "When the RMS Titanic scraped an iceberg on the night of 14 April 1912, its wireless operators began sending distress calls on one of the world's most advanced radios: a 5-kilowatt rotary spark transmitter that on a clear night could send signals from the middle of the Atlantic to New York City or London. What the radio operators lacked, however, were international protocols for wireless communications at sea. At the time, US law only required ships to have one operator on board, and he was usually employed by the wireless companies, not the ship itself. On the 100th anniversary of the Titanic, IEEE Spectrum looks at how the tragedy accelerated the improvement of communications at sea."

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Canadian Mint To Create Digital Currency
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 05:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-coins-for-you department:
Oldcynic writes "The Canadian mint has allowed 500 developers to enter a contest to create a new digital currency. The currency would allow micro payments using electronic devices. From the article: 'Less than a week after the government announced the penny’s impending death, the Mint quietly unveiled its digital currency called MintChip.

Still in the research and development phase, MintChip will ultimately let people pay each other directly using smartphones, USB sticks, computers, tablets and clouds. The digital currency will be anonymous and good for small transactions — just like cash, the Mint says.

To make sure its technology meets the gold standard in a world where digital transactions are gaining steam, the Mint is holding a contest for software developers to create applications using the MintChip.'"
It looks like the Canadian Mint might have a bit of Sweden envy.

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