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New York Times Halves Monthly Free Article Views To Ten
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 06:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's nine-after-reading-this department:
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times has announced that, starting in April, visitors to NYTimes.com will only be able to access 10 free articles a month, down from 20 articles currently. The NYTimes paywall was put into effect last year, and seems to have been a success, with nearly half a million digital subscriptions to all of Times Co.'s websites; this despite the fact that the paywall is trivial to circumvent (for example, by deleting all cookies from nytimes.com)."

The submitter included a link to the WSJ article on the change, which appears to also be paywalled.

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3D Printer Models For Universal Construction Toy Connectors
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's you-would-pirate-a-car-wouldn't-you department:
dangle writes "F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab have officially released their Free Universal Construction Kit, allowing builders to freely interconnect parts from Lego, K'Nex, Fischertechnik, and other common building sets. ZomeTool and Zoob patterns will be available after related patents expire. The makers have also spent considerable effort investigating and anticipating legal complaints from manufacturers, using an Inverse Think of The Children Argument: Some may express concern that the Free Universal Construction Kit infringes such corporate prerogatives as copyright, design right, trade dress, trademarks or patents of the supported toy systems. We encourage those eager to enforce these rights to please think of the children — and we assert that the home printing of the Free Universal Construction Kit constitutes protected fair use."

Model files are available over at Thingiverse. The designs are all covered by the CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Senator Wyden Demands ACTA Goes Before Congress
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's i-thought-riders-were-bad department:
Fluffeh writes "As recently covered here, EU countries are starting to drop ACTA support, now long-time opponent of the secretly negotiated Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, Sen. Ron Wyden introduced an amendment to a Senate 'jobs bill' that would force ACTA to come before Congress for approval. His second amendment tries to force a change (PDF) in how the whole process around such treaties is handled. Right now, the U.S. attempts to keep its negotiating positions a secret. What vital national security interests could be at stake if the public knew USTR was promoting 'graduated response' laws or proposing changes in ISP liability? Wyden doesn't believe there are any."

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HP To Combine PC, Printer Divisions
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-at-first-you-don't-succeed-something-something department:
itwbennett writes "Apotheker wanted to sell off HP's PC division, Whitman vowed not to, and now HP is combining the PC division with the printer division in an effort to cut costs, unnamed sources told the All Things D blog. Given that both divisions reported declining sales last quarter, is HP hoping that two wrongs make a right?"

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Why Linux Can't 'Sell' On the Desktop
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everybody-knows-tuxes-are-expensive department:
New submitter VoyagerRadio writes "Recently I found myself struggling with a question I should easily have been able to answer: Why would anyone want to use Linux as their everyday desktop (or laptop) operating system? It's a fair question, and asked often of Linux, but I'm finding it to be a question I can no longer answer with the conviction necessary to 'sell' the platform. In fact, I kind of feel like a car salesman who realizes he no longer believes in the product he's been pitching. It's not that I don't find Linux worthy; I simply don't understand how it's ever going to succeed on the desktop with voluntary marketing efforts. What do Linux users need to do to replicate the marketing efforts of Apple and Microsoft and other corporate operating system vendors? To me, it seems you don't sell Linux at all because there isn't supposed to be one dominant distribution that stands out from the rest. Without a specific product to put on the shelf to sell, what in the world do you focus your efforts on selling? An idea?"

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Clever Clues Clobber Crossword Computer
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's blithe-banter-bamboozles-brainy-bots department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Steve Lohr reports that an impressive crossword-solving computer program called Dr. Fill matched its digital wits against 600 of the nation's best human crossword-solvers, finishing only 141st at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in New York. 'I wish it had done better,' says Dr. Matthew Ginsberg, the creator of Dr. Fill and an expert in artificial intelligence. Dr. Fill typically thrives on conventional crosswords, even ones with arcane clues and answers; it solved one of the most difficult puzzles at the tournament perfectly. But the computer does poorly with clever clues based on puns or jokes, because humans and machines solve the crosswords very differently. Humans recognize patterns based on accumulated knowledge and experience, while computers make endless calculations to determine the most statistically probable answer. The computer program is literal minded, and tends to struggle on puzzles with humor, and puzzles with unusual themes or letter arrangements. Take this clue from a 2010 puzzle in The Times: Apollo 11 and 12 (180 degrees). The answer is SNOISSIWNOOW, seemingly gibberish. A clever human could eventually figure out that those letters, when rotated 180 degrees, spell MOON MISSIONS. Humans get the joke, while a literal-minded computer does not. 'Occasionally, Dr. Fill just doesn't get it,' says Ginsberg. 'That's my nightmare.'"

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Humble Bundle For Android 2 Goes Live
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 11:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-day-another-bundle department:
spidweb writes "The latest Humble Bundle has gone live, with five new games for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Android. It consists of Zen Bound 2, Avadon: The Black Fortress, Canabalt, and Cogs, with Swords & Soldiers thrown in for anyone who pays at least the average. As always, the games are pay-what-you-want and DRM-free, and this is the initial Linux and Android release for many of them. Of course, as is the tradition with Humble Bundles, other games are likely to be added on later."

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The Numbers Behind the Copyright Math
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's each-song-is-worth-all-the-songs department:
TheUnknownCoder writes "The MPAA claims $58 billion in actual U.S. economic losses and 373,000 lost jobs due to piracy. Where are these numbers coming from? Rob Reid puts these numbers into perspective in this TED Talk, leaving us even more puzzled about the math behind copyright laws. 'Ignoring improbabilities like pirated steaks and daffodils, I looked at actual employment and headcount in actual content industries, and found nothing approaching the claimed losses. There are definitely concrete and quantifiable piracy-related losses in the American music industry. The Recording Industry Association’s website has a robust and credible database that details industry sales going back to 1973, which any researcher can access for a few bucks (and annoying as I’ve found the RIAA to be on certain occasions, I applaud them for making this data available). I used it to compare the industry’s revenues in 1999 (when Napster debuted) to 2010 (the most recent available data). Sales plunged from $14.6 billion down to $6.8 billion — a drop that I rounded to $8 billion in my talk. This number is broadly supported by other sources, and I find it to be entirely credible. But this pattern just isn’t echoed in other major content industries.'"

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AMD Releases Open-Source Radeon HD 7000 Driver
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's still-waiting-on-the-open-source-sand-wedge department:
An anonymous reader writes "AMD has publicly released the open-source code to the Radeon HD 7000 series 'Southern Islands' graphics cards for Linux users. This allows users of AMD's latest-generation of Radeon graphics cards to use the open-source Linux driver rather than Catalyst, plus there's also early support for AMD's next-generation Fusion APUs."

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$1.5 Billion: the Cost of Cutting London-Tokyo Latency By 60ms
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's aussies-still-jealous department:
MrSeb writes "Starting this summer, and thanks to the continuing withdrawal of Arctic sea ice, a convoy of ice breakers and specially-adapted polar ice-rated cable laying ships will begin to lay the first ever trans-Arctic Ocean submarine fiber optic cables. Two of these cables, called Artic Fibre and Arctic Link, will cross the Northwest Passage, which runs through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. A third cable, the Russian Optical Trans-Arctic Submarine Cable System (ROTACS), will skirt the north coast of Scandinavia and Russia. All three cables will connect the United Kingdom to Japan, with a smattering of branches that will provide high-speed internet access to a handful of Arctic Circle communities. The completed cables are estimated to cost between $600 million and $1.5 billion each. As it stands, it takes roughly 230 milliseconds for a packet to go from London to Tokyo; the new cables will reduce this by 30% to 170ms. The latency drop will mainly benefit algorithmic stock market traders, but other areas like education, telemedicine, and POTS will also enjoy the speed-up. Perhaps more importantly, almost every cable that lands in Asia goes through a choke point in the Middle East or the Luzon Strait between the Philippine and South China seas. If a ship were to drag an anchor across the wrong patch of seabed, billions of people could wake up to find themselves either completely disconnected from the internet or surfing with dial-up-like speeds. The three new cables will all come down from the north of Japan, through the relatively-empty Bering Sea. In addition, the Arctic Ocean, where each of the cables will run for more than 5,000 miles, is one of the least-trafficked parts of the world. That said, the cables will still have to be laid hundreds of meters below the surface to avoid the tails of roving icebergs."

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Possible Supernova In Nearby Spiral Galaxy
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sorry-about-your-luck-aliens department:
New submitter Zburatorul writes "In an electronic telegram to the IAU, an Italian astronomer reports his discovery of a possible supernova (magnitude R = 15) near spiral galaxy M95 on images taken March 16th. Many more independent and confirming observations are trickling in. The Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, has a more layman-friendly article about it. The bad news: it won't be visible with the naked eye. The good news: it's not going to kill us."

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Will Mobile Wallets Replace Their Traditional Counterparts?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 06:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's my-wallet-is-pretty-mobile-already department:
Cara_Latham writes "Mobile wallets are all the rage. But legitimate questions remain as to whether they will ever truly replace their leathery counterparts. Mobile wallets, which use NFC-based technology to allow customers to make contactless payments at the point of sale, already have begun to make their presence felt. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google launched a digital wallet this past fall. The search giant has agreements with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover to make the Google Wallet available to the card companies' account holders, and there even are some NFC-enabled terminals in use across the U.S. that can accept it, including at many mass transit stations. And mobile wallet ventures are cropping up around the globe, as well. Telecom companies including Vodafone and Telefonica announced this year wallet initiatives in Africa and Latin America. But mobile wallets still face many hurdles before they can gain widespread adoption, experts say, including the rather difficult task of getting consumers to change long-held habits."

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Michael Bay To Remake TMNT As Aliens
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stop-assassinating-my-childhood department:
Nidi62 writes "We all know that Michael Bay loves to put 86 minutes of explosions into a 90-minute movie. But it appears that he has found a new way to screw up a movie. He is directing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot in which the turtles are not created with ooze: they are 'from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.' No word yet on whether he's consulting with George Lucas on how to totally destroy the origin and essence of a classic story."
Responding to criticism, Bay thoughtfully explained that fans need to "chill."

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Using Mech Combat To Hone Engineering Skills
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-practicing-for-defeating-skynet department:
jjp9999 writes "Mech Warfare is a mix between Battlebots and MechWarrior, only without the fanfare. The teams around the competitions include engineers and professionals in robotics, and the games are — aside from being an homage to their love for science fiction — a way to hone their skills in the field. Andrew Alter, roboticist and one of the mech pilots, said the competitions are taken as 'an engineering challenge,' noting that while they do compete, 'Having this mix of skill levels and demographics is really great to see, as information and ideas tend to flow freely. We're also solving practical real-world problems like being able to stream video over WiFi in high-interference areas. It's not nearly as easy as one might think.'"

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All Video Games Cause Aggressive Behavior, Say Two US Congressmen
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-intended-as-a-factual-statement department:
Fluffeh writes with news that U.S. Congressmen Baca (D-CA) and Wolf (R-VA) have proposed a bill that would require most video games to have a warning label decrying their "potential damaging" long-term effects on children.
"Under the one-page Violence in Video Games Labeling Act (PDF), packaging for all video games except those rated 'EC' for Early Childhood would be required to prominently display a message reading: 'WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.' The proposed label would be required even if the video game in question is not violent."

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Optimize Offshore Wind Farms Using Weather Modeling
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's any-way-the-wind-blows department:
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a Stanford news release:
"Politics aside, most energy experts agree that cheap, clean, renewable wind energy holds great potential to help the world satisfy energy needs while reducing harmful greenhouse gases. Wind farms placed offshore could play a large role in meeting such challenges, and yet no offshore wind farms exist today in the United States. In a study just published in Geophysical Research Letters, a team of engineers at Stanford has harnessed a sophisticated weather model to recommend optimal placement of four interconnected wind farms off the coast of the Eastern United States, a region that accounts for 34 percent of the nation’s electrical demand and 35 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. ... Among its findings, the Stanford model recommended a farm in Nantucket Sound, precisely where the controversial Cape Wind farm has been proposed. The Cape Wind site is contentious because, opponents say, the tall turbines would diminish Nantucket’s considerable visual appeal. By that same token, the meteorological model puts two sites on Georges Bank, a shallows located a hundred miles offshore, far from view in an area once better known for its prodigious quantities of cod. The fourth site is off central Long Island."

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A Hacked WiFi Router, an API, and a Toy Bus: It's the Ambient Bus Arrival Monito
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-want-to-be-outdoors-any-longer-than-necessary department:
JohnGrahamCumming writes "In this simple project, a hacked Linksys WRT54GL talks to a public API to get real-time bus information, and displays the times of the next buses on a model bus. Never miss the bus again! 'It's possible to reflash the Linksys with a custom Linux installation that lets me control the box completely (and still use it as a wireless router). There are various project, but I used OpenWRT. With OpenWRT it's possible to SSH into the box and treat it as any Linux server (albeit a rather slow one). But there's plenty of power to grab bus times and update an LED display connected to the WRT54GL's serial port. "

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U.S. Missile Defense Against Iran Makes China/Russia Mad, Might Not Even Work
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-we-blame-george-lucas-for-this department:
An anonymous reader writes "The United States, since the 1980s, has been trying to make missile defense work. Billions of dollars spent, tons of political capital spent, and not a lot to show. The U.S. does have two viable options: the SM-2 and SM-3, although neither are perfect. The U.S., with European allies, has been deploying missile defense in Europe to block a possible strike from Iranian nuclear tipped missiles (even though they have not made nukes or the missiles to carry them). One problem: such defenses could, in theory, also block Russian and Chinese missiles. Russia is now planning to make more missiles to counter such defenses and could pull out of the New Start Treaty. They may also stop helping U.S. forces to supply themselves in Afghanistan. Is this all worth it for something that might not even work?"

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Elon Musk: Future Round-Trip To Mars Could Cost Under $500,000
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's colonized-by-rich-people department:
An anonymous reader writes with this quote from the BBC:
"Rocket entrepreneur Elon Musk believes he can get the cost of a round trip to Mars down to about half a million dollars. The SpaceX CEO says he has finally worked out how to do it, and told the BBC he would reveal further details later this year or early in 2013. ... 'My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars — this is very important — so you don't have to carry the return fuel when you go there,' he said. 'The whole system [must be] reusable — nothing is thrown away. That's very important because then you're just down to the cost of the propellant.' ... He conceded the figure was unlikely to be the opening price — rather, the cost of a ticket on a mature system that had been operating for about a decade. Nonetheless, Musk thought such an offering could be introduced in 10 years at best, and 15 at worst."

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Liberating the Laws You Must Pay To Read
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's yes-apparently-this-needs-to-be-a-thing department:
Writing for Boing Boing, Carl Malamud describes the campaign he's been waging to let U.S. citizens read the public safety standards that have become part of federal law — without needing to pay for the privilege. "These public safety standards govern and protect a wide range of activity, from how bicycle helmets are constructed to how to test for lead in water to the safety characteristics of hearing aids and protective footwear." Despite a U.S. Appeals Court ruling which said 'the law' should be in the public domain, many safety codes are still privately produced and then distributed for a fee, to recoup development costs. "Public.Resource.Org has a mission of making the law available to all citizens, and these technical standards are a big black hole in the legal universe. We've taken a gamble and spent $7,414.26 to buy 73 of these technical public safety standards that are incorporated into the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations." Malamud and his Public.Resource.Org foundation are trying — very cautiously — to make these laws more broadly available. "...even though we strongly believe that the documents are not entitled to copyright protection, and moreover that our limited print run is in any case definitely fair use, if a judge were to decide that what we did was breaking the law, 25 copies of 73 standards works out to $273,750,000 in potential liability. While whales may make bigger bets, we draw the line at $273 million."

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