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DOJ Asks Court To Keep Secret Google / NSA Partnership
Posted by News Fetcher on March 13 '12 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's can-neither-confirm-nor-deny department:
SonicSpike writes "The Justice Department is defending the government's refusal to discuss — or even acknowledge the existence of — any cooperative research and development agreement between Google and the National Security Agency. The Washington based advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center sued in federal district court here to obtain documents about any such agreement between the Internet search giant and the security agency. The NSA responded to the suit with a so-called 'Glomar' response in which the agency said it could neither confirm nor deny whether any responsive records exist. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in Washington sided with the government last July."

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Single-Ion Clock 100 Times More Accurate Than Atomic Clock
Posted by News Fetcher on March 13 '12 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-now-you're-really-late department:
New submitter labnet writes with this excerpt from news.com.au: "University of New South Wales School of Physics professor Victor Flambaum has found a method of timekeeping nearly 100 times more accurate than the best atomic clocks. By using the orbit of a neutron around an atomic nucleus he says the system stays accurate to within 1/20th of a second over billions of years. Although perhaps not for daily use, the technology could prove valuable in science experiments where chronological accuracy is paramount, Prof Flambaum said."

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Using Graph Theory To Predict NCAA Tournament Outcomes
Posted by News Fetcher on March 13 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's more-interesting-than-what-is-at-heart-portrayed department:
New submitter SocratesJedi writes "Like many technically-minded people, I don't have a lot of time to keep up with sports. Nevertheless, trying to predict the outcome of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is a fun activity to share with friends, family and colleagues. This year, I abandoned my usual strategy of quasi-randomly choosing teams and instead modeled the win-loss history of all Division I teams as a weighted network. The network included information from 5242 games played during the 2011-2012 season. From this, teams came be ranked using tools from graph theory and those rankings can be used to predict tournament outcomes. Without any a priori information, this method accurately identified all the #1 seeds in the top 5 best teams. It also predicts that at least one underdog, Belmont (#14 seed), will reach the Elite Eight. Although the ultimate test will be how well it predicts tournament outcomes, initial benchmarks suggest 70-80% accuracy would not be unreasonable."

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Can Microsoft Afford To Lose With Windows 8?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 13 '12 at 04:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's having-lots-of-cash-helps department:
snydeq writes with the opinion that Microsoft can afford Windows 8 failing on the desktop. From the article: "Windows 8 is an experiment that may well fail, but Microsoft will cull invaluable feedback for Windows 9 in the process, long before Windows 7 runs out of gas, writes InfoWorld's Serdar Yegulalp. 'Can Microsoft really afford to alienate one of its biggest market segments for a whole product cycle? In a word: Yes. In fact, doing something this risky might well be vital to Microsoft's survival,' Yegulalp writes. 'Microsoft needs to gamble, and right now might well be the best time for the company to do it. The company needs to learn from its mistakes as quickly and nimbly as they can — and then turn around and make Windows 9 exceed all of our expectations.'"

Microsoft has managed to weather several OS flops (Windows Me anyone?) thanks to their domination of the market, but with Android gadgets and iPhones becoming pervasive can they pull it off again?

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Rogers Joins Telus In Seeking National Regulation
Posted by News Fetcher on March 13 '12 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's cheaper-to-buy-off-one-set-of-politicians department:
silentbrad writes "Canada's largest mobile service provider is urging the federal telecom regulator to implement a mandatory national consumer protection code (PDF; actual filing with the CRTC) in order to diffuse the threat posed by a growing hotchpotch of provincial regulations for wireless services. Rogers Communications Inc. submitted that proposal to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission in an application late Thursday. In doing so, Rogers becomes the second major carrier to ask the CRTC to resume active regulation of the terms and conditions for wireless service contracts, a practice that it largely abandoned during the 1990s. Nonetheless, those regulatory powers, while latent, remain in the Telecommunications Act, meaning the CRTC can still exercise its authority over those matters."

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Evidence of Lost Da Vinci Fresco Behind Florentine Wall
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 11:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's they-know-the-chemical-composition-of-his-preferred-paint department:
Lev13than writes "Art historians working in Florence's city hall claim to have found evidence of Leonardo da Vinci's lost Battle of Anghiari fresco. Painted in 1505, the fresco was covered over by a larger mural during mid-16th Century palace renovations. Historians have long speculated that the original work was protected behind a false wall. Attempts to reveal the truth have been complicated by the need to protect Vasari's masterpiece Battle of Marciano that now graces the room. By drilling small holes into previously-restored sections of Vasari's fresco, researchers used endoscopic cameras and probes to determine that a second wall does exist. They further claim that the hidden wall is adorned with pigments consistent with Leonardo's style. The research has set off a storm of controversy between those who want to find the lost work and others who believe that it is gone, and that further exploration risks destroying the existing artwork."

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Jimmy Wales To Become UK Government Adviser
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 08:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's revision-wars-coming-to-a-government-near-you department:
judgecorp writes "Wikipedia founder Jimmy wales is to become a U.K. government adviser on open government. The unpaid post, announced at SXSW, will see him contributing ideas on issues including the single government portal open.gov.uk. among other things. Wales has been an outspoken critic of some government intiatives in the U.S., including the SOPA act on copyright — whose British counterpart, the DEA, is already law."

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Microsoft Shows Off Adaptive, Multilingual Text to Speech System
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 06:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's still-no-sign-of-warp-drives department:
MrSeb writes about a really cool project from Microsoft's speech research group. From the article: "Microsoft Research has shown off software that translates your spoken words into another language while preserving the accent, timbre, and intonation of your actual voice. In a demo of the prototype software, Rick Rashid, Microsoft's chief research officer, said a long sentence in English, and then had it translated into Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin. You can definitely hear an edge of digitized 'Microsoft Sam,' but overall it's remarkable how the three translations still sound just like Rashid. The translation requires an hour of training, but after that there's no reason why it couldn't be run in real time on a smartphone, or near-real-time with a cloud backend. Imagine this tech in a two-way setup. You speak into your smartphone, and it comes out in their language. Then, the person you're talking to speaks into your smartphone and their voice comes out in your language."

The Techfest 2012 keynote has a demo of the technology around minute 13:00.

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'Honey Stick' Project Tracks Fate of Lost Smartphones
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 04:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's tweeting-as-strangers department:
wiredmikey writes with a quote from an article at Secury Week: "In order to get a look at what happens when a smartphone is lost, Symantec conducted an experiment, called the Honey Stick Project, where 50 fully-charged mobile devices were loaded with the simulated (fake) personal and corporate data and then dropped in publicly accessible spots in five different cities ...Tracking showed that 96-percent of the devices were accessed once found (PDF), and 70-percent of them were accessed for personal and business related applications and information. Less than half of the people who located the intentionally lost devices attempted to locate the owner. Interestingly enough, only two phones were left unaccounted for, the others were all found."

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Yahoo Files Patent Infringement Suit Against Facebook
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 03:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's zuckerburg-unfriends-mr-thompson-lawsuit-results department:
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from an article over at ZD Net: "As expected, Yahoo today filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook. The online giant is claiming the social networking giant infringes on 10 of its patents. Yahoo is hoping to secure some portion of Facebook's revenues moving forward. 'Yahoo! has invested substantial resources in research and development through the years, which has resulted in numerous patented inventions of technology that other companies have licensed,' a Yahoo spokesperson told AllThingsD. 'These technologies are the foundation of our business that engages over 700 million monthly unique visitors and represent the spirit of innovation upon which Yahoo! is built. Unfortunately, the matter with Facebook remains unresolved and we are compelled to seek redress in federal court. We are confident that we will prevail.'"

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Brewing Beer With Free Software
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's free-as-in-freedom-beer department:
An anonymous reader tipped us to an interview with Phillip Lee, author of Brewtarget, one of the best pieces of Free brewing software available (it's even in Debian). The interview discusses some of the technical decisions made (why Qt and Cmake?), and mentions a bit of the plans for future development: "The way the database was designed previously really hadn't been changed since the my first code in 2008, and we were running into a brick wall with some of the features we wanted. After we move to SQLite, there will be quite a lot of new features like being able to search through the ingredients in the database and stuff like that. I also plan to add some water chemistry tools for people that like to alter the ions and salts to fit a particular profile." (The last bit about water salt modifications come as a relief to at least this brewer.)

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How To Crash the US Justice System: Demand a Trial
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pleading-the-sixth department:
Hugh Pickens writes "The U.S. Bill of Rights guarantees the accused basic safeguards, including a fair and speedy jury trial, but in this era of mass incarceration — when our nation's prison population has quintupled in a few decades — these rights are, for the overwhelming majority of people hauled into courtrooms across America, theoretical. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury, in part because the Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that threatening someone with life imprisonment for a minor crime in an effort to induce him to forfeit a jury trial did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to trial. 'The truth is that government officials have deliberately engineered the system to assure that the jury trial system established by the Constitution is seldom used,' says Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the libertarian Cato Institute. Now Susan Burton, head of 'A New Way of Life' (PDF), is helping to start a movement to demand restoration of Americans' basic civil and human rights by asking people who have been charged with crimes to reject plea bargains, and press for trial. 'Can we crash the system just by exercising our rights?' Burton says if everyone charged with crimes suddenly exercised his constitutional rights, there would not be enough judges, lawyers or prison cells to deal with the ensuing tsunami of litigation."

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Open Source Advocates' Attitudes Toward Profit
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's in-the-case-of-ethics-v-greenbacks department:
jfruh writes "Marten Mickos, ex-head of MySQL, was discussing his new open source cloud initiative with the New York Times when he mentioned in passing that 'Some people in open source think it is immoral to make a profit. I don't.' This has set off some predictable hand-wringing within the movement. While some community members are ideologically opposed to profit-making, that attitude isn't held by a majority, or even a plurality."

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Gamers Outdo Computers At DNA Sequence Alignments
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's must-not-be-using-watson department:
ananyo writes "In another victory for crowdsourcing, gamers playing Phylo have beaten a state-of-the-art program at aligning regions of 521 disease-associated genes form different species. The 'multiple sequence alignment problem' refers to the difficulty of aligning roughly similar sequences of DNA in genes common to many species. DNA sequences that are conserved across species may play an important role in the ultimate function of that particular gene. But with thousands of genomes likely to be sequenced in the next few years, sequence alignment will only become more difficult in future. Researchers now report that players of Phylo have produced roughly 350,000 solutions to various multiple sequence alignment problems, beating the accuracy of alignments from a program in roughly 70% of the sequences they manipulated."

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Solving Climate Change By Bioengineering Humans?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-lazy-enough-to-work department:
derekmead writes "Forget CFLs, hybrid cars, and organic jeans. Buying our way out of climate change — even if it's green consumption — won't get us far.
A new paper (PDF), published in Ethics, Policy, and the Environment by NYU bioethics professor S. Matthew Liao, poses an answer: engineer humans to use less. The general plan laid out by Liao is straightforward, ranging from using pharmacological behavior modification to create an aversion to meat in people, to using gene therapy to create smaller, less resource-intensive children. The philosophical and ethical questions, on the other hand, are absurdly complicated. The Atlantic also has a great interview with Liao, in which he talks about gene therapy and making humans hate the taste of meat."


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ESL — a CRT-Based Replacement For CFL Lights Without the Mercury
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's yet-another-bright-idea department:
New submitter An dochasac writes "Everyone knows incandescent lights are inefficient little space heaters which happen to convert 5% of their incoming energy to light. Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) are more efficient, but they contain toxic, brain-eating mercury and emit a greenish light. LEDs are also efficient and last longer, but if their blueish 'white' light doesn't mess up your melatonin balance, their price is high enough to wreck your checking account balance and give you the blues. A company called Vu1 has come up with something called Electron Stimulated Luminance (ESL) lights which claim to solve the mercury and price problem with a light based on Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) technology. These lights have the warm color balance of incandescents and are compatible with dimmer switches. The article has further ESL details along with an explanation of why it's still a bad idea to say these are 'trash can safe.'"

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Algorithm Brings Speedier, Safer CT Scans
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-never-lupus department:
kenekaplan writes "Standard CT scanners can generate images of patient's body in less than five minutes today, but the radiation dose can be equal to about 70 chest X-rays. Lower-powered CT scans can be used in non-emergency situations, but it can take more than four days to produce those images. Intel and GE created an algorithm that speeds up a computer's ability to process the low radiation dose scans by 100x, from 100 hours per image to one hour."

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Ruling Prohibits Kaleidescape From Selling, Supporting Movie Servers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's our-way-or-the-highway department:
Stowie101 writes "Kaleidescape has lost its drawn-out legal battle with the DVD CCA. A judge has issued a permanent injunction that prohibits the sale and support, including product updates, of existing DVD movie servers. 'As part of the injunction, Kaleidescape and its dealers can no longer offer technical support for products that are already in the field, meaning existing servers can receive no updates or repairs.' Kaleidescape has filed an appeal and 'believes that under California law the injunction order should not come into effect unless the California Court of Appeal affirms Judge Monahan's decision.'"

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Nanoscale Race Car Gets 3D Printed With a Laser
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bet-the-insurance-is-high-on-that-thing department:
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have managed to perfect 3D printing at the nanoscale. What may look like a grain of sand to the human eye could in fact be a detailed racing car model, a reproduction of a famous church, or London Bridge. The 3D printer relies on a laser beam directed by mirrors through a liquid resin onto a surface. It can print at 5 meters per second, which is a world record, and the end result is only a few hundred nanometers in size. The next hurdle: printing with bio-material so we can start making our own body parts/organs."

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Anonymous Hacks Tunisian Islamist Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on March 12 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's keeps-on-ticking department:
eldavojohn writes "The hacktivist group Anonymous has claimed another victim by taking down Islamist sites in Tunisia. Similar to an earlier attack on Turkish government sites, #optunisia has resulted in several government blogs and sites being replaced with 'Payback is a b****, isn't it?' The message lists censorship as the motivation behind this activity. The AFP is reporting that this is also in response to the reintroduction of Salafist laws and the caliphate. An additional Anonymous message read, 'We are not against religion, we are Muslims, but we are defending freedom in our country.' Censorship continues wholesale in Tunisia."

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