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'Culturomics' Spreads From Google Books To Scientific Preprints
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-making-up-words department:
ananyo writes "Cultural Observatory at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts is to index the whole of the ArXiv pre-print database of papers from the physical sciences, breaking down the full text of the articles into component phrases to see how often a particular word or phrase appears relative to others — a measure of how 'meme-like' a term is. The team has already applied a similar approach to 5 million books in the Google Books database to produce their n-gram viewer. But the Google Books database carries with it a major limitation: because many of the works are under copyright, users cannot be pointed to the actual source material. Applying the tool to ArXiv means it could be used to chart trends in high-energy physics, for example: a quickening pulse of papers citing the Higgs boson, for example, or a peak in papers about supersymmetry, a theory which may soon be waning."

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Facebook Has 25 People Dedicated To Handling Gov't Info Requests
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's government-creates-jobs department:
nonprofiteer writes "A profile of Facebook's CSO reveals that his 70-person security team includes 25 people dedicated solely to handling information requests from law enforcement. They get thousands of calls and e-mails from authorities each week, though Facebook requires police to get a warrant for anything beyond a subscriber's name, email and IP address. CSO Joe Sullivan says that some government agency tried to push Facebook to start collecting more information about their users for the benefit of authorities: 'Recently a government agency wanted us to start logging information we don't log. We told them we wouldn't start logging that piece of data because we don't need it to provide a good product. We talked to our general counsel. The law is not black-and-white. That agency thinks they can compel us to. We told them to go to court. They haven't done that yet.'"

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User Successfully Sues AT&T For Throttling iPhone Data
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's jig-is-up department:
An anonymous reader writes "Matt Spaccarelli has won a judgement of $850 from AT&T for data throttling. From the article: 'Nadel's ruling could pave the way for others to follow suit. AT&T has some 17 million customers with "unlimited data" plans that can be subject to throttling, representing just under half of the company's smartphone users.
AT&T stopped signing up new customers for those plans in 2010, and warned last year that it would start slowing speeds for people who consume the most data. In the last few months, subscribers have been surprised by how little data use it takes for throttling to kick in —often less than AT&T provides to those on limited or "tiered" plans. Spaccarelli said his phone is being throttled after he's used 1.5 gigabytes to 2 gigabytes of data within a new billing cycle. Meanwhile, AT&T provides 3 gigabytes of data to subscribers on a tiered plan that costs the same — $30 per month.'"


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Stroustrup Reveals What's New In C++ 11
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's please-don't-say-facebook-and-twitter-integration department:
snydeq writes "Bjarne Stroustrup discusses the latest version of C++, which, although not a major overhaul, offers many small upgrades to appeal to different areas of development. From the interview: 'I like the way move semantics will simplify the way we return large data structures from functions and improve the performance of standard-library types, such as string and vector. People in high-performance areas will appreciate the massive increase in the power of constant expressions (constexpr). Users of the standard library (and some GUI libraries) will probably find lambda expressions the most prominent feature. Everybody will use smaller new features, such as auto (deduce a variables type from its initializer) and the range-for loop, to simplify code.'"

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North Korea's High-Tech Counterfeit $100 Bills
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-purchase-goods-and-sing-the-glories-of-the-leader department:
ESRB writes "North Korea is apparently able to produce high-quality counterfeits of U.S. dollars — specifically $100 and $50 bills. It's suspected that they possess similar printing technologies as the U.S. and buy ink from the same Swedish firm. 'Since the superdollars were first detected about a decade ago, the regime has been pocketing an estimated $15 to $25 million a year from them. (Other estimates are much higher — up to several hundred million dollars' worth.)' The article also advocates a move to all-digital payment/transfers by pointing out both forms are only representations of value and noting it would cripple criminal operations such as drug cartels, human traffickers, and so forth."

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Microsoft Killing Off Zune, Windows Live Brands?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-at-first-you-don't-succeed department:
suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from The Verge:
"Microsoft appears to be killing off two of its key user-facing brands with the upcoming Consumer Preview release of Windows 8. Windows Live applications have been rolled into preinstalled apps that work as the core 'Windows Communications' applications for Windows 8, and this lack of Windows Live branding is only the tip of the iceberg. 'Microsoft Account' will replace Windows Live ID in Windows 8, and the software giant has also removed traces of Zune from its Windows Store, Music, and Video applications, although Zune Pass functionality remains."

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Wirelessly Powered Medical Implant Propels Itself Through the Bloodstream
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's boy-it's-dark-in-here department:
cylonlover writes "With the wait still on for a miniaturization ray to allow some Fantastic Voyage-style medical procedures by doctors in submarines, tiny electronic implants capable of traveling in the bloodstream show much more promise. While the miniaturization of electronic and mechanical components now makes such devices feasible, the lack of a comparable reduction in battery size has held things back. Now engineers at Stanford University have demonstrated a tiny, self-propelled medical device that would be wirelessly powered from outside the body, enabling devices small enough to move through the bloodstream."

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The Dark Side of Digital Distribution
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's careful-not-to-lose-your-right-hand department:
An anonymous reader writes "Game journalist Stuart Campbell has written an incisive piece on how the digital distribution model users have grown to know and love over the past several years still has some major problems that go beyond even the DRM dilemma. He provides an example of an app developer using very shady update techniques to screw over people who have legitimately purchased their app. Touch Racing Nitro, a retro racing game, launched to moderate success. After tinkering with price points to get the game to show up on the top download charts, the developers finally made it free for a period of four months. 'Then the sting came along. About a week ago (at time of writing), the game received an "update," which came with just four words of description – "Now Touch Racing Free!" As the game was already free, users could have been forgiven for thinking this wasn't much of a change. But in fact, the app thousands of them had paid up to £5 for had effectively just been stolen. Two of the game's three racing modes were now locked away behind IAP paywalls, and the entire game was disfigured with ruinous in-game advertising, which required yet another payment to remove.'"

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RapidShare Fighting Piracy By Slowing Download Speeds
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's because-piracy-only-goes-fast department:
An anonymous reader writes "File hosting sites have been under increased pressure since the shutdown of Megaupload — both from law enforcement and from the sudden influx of new users. RapidShare, already dealing with a reputation as a facilitator of piracy, has now instituted a policy they hope will drive pirates away: download speed caps for its free service. According to TorrentFreak, 'RapidShare says that there is a direct link between free users of file-hosting services and copyright infringement. Those who like to pirate prefer not to pay, the company believes, not least because they want to avoid connecting their personal payment details to a copyright-infringing cyberlocker account. Now, there will be those who say that however RapidShare dress it up, the company will be aware that the restrictions will drive users to their premium services to get better speeds. But interestingly RapidShare is now offering ways for users to get faster download speeds without paying a dime — providing those uploading the original files they’re trying to access do some work.'"

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Physics Is (NP-)Hard
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's assume-a-spherical-traveling-salesman department:
An anonymous reader writes "New research at the boundary of physics and computer science shows that determining the dynamical equations of a system from observations of its behavior is NP-hard. From the abstract: 'The behavior of any physical system is governed by its underlying dynamical equations. Much of physics is concerned with discovering these dynamical equations and understanding their consequences. In this work, we show that, remarkably, identifying the underlying dynamical equation from any amount of experimental data, however precise, is a provably computationally hard problem (it is NP-hard), both for classical and quantum mechanical systems.'"

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NYC To Release Teacher Evaluation Data Over Union Protests
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's modelling-hopelessly-complex-behavior department:
langelgjm writes "Bringing a lengthy legal battle to a close, New York City's Department of Education will today release detailed evaluation reports on individual English and math teachers as a result of a request under public information laws. The city's teachers union has responded with full page ads (PDF) decrying the methodology used in the evaluations. The court's decision attempts to balance the public interest in this data against the rights of individual teachers. Across the country, a large number of states are moving to evaluate teachers based on student performance in an attempt to raise student achievement in the U.S."

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Mozilla Partners Up With LG To Combat Apple and Google
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's competition-is-a-good-thing department:
MrSeb writes "At Mobile World Congress, which begins in three days, Mozilla will finally take the wraps off the Mozilla Marketplace and allow developers to submit their open web technology (HTML5, JavaScript, CSS) apps. While the Marketplace will play an important role in keeping Firefox in step with Chrome, these apps will actually play a far more important role: Boot to Gecko (B2G), Mozilla's upcoming smartphone and tablet OS, will also use the Marketplace. For B2G to succeed it must have apps, and to create apps you need developers. That's why, at MWC, according to a source close to the matter, Mozilla will also be announcing that it has partnered up with LG to make a developer-oriented B2G-powered mobile device. Even more interestingly, Brendan Eich, Mozilla's Chief Technology Officer, says that it will unveil other partners at MWC as well — probably carriers, who are eager to use the open B2G and its Marketplace to escape the huge control that Apple and Google currently exert in the smartphone space."

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Vaccine Could Cut Heroin Addiction
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-make-one-for-nicotine department:
JumperCable writes "Scientists at Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry are working on a vaccine that makes the body resistant to the effects of heroin, so users would no longer get a rush of pleasure. The researchers say they have successfully tested the vaccine on mice and are preparing to test it on humans. Mice given the vaccine showed a huge drop in heroin consumption. 'It would be a vaccine for people who are serious addicts, who have not had success with other treatments and decide to use this application to get away from drugs.'"

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US Appeals Court Upholds Suspect's Right To Refuse Decryption
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's still-vulnerable-to-$5-wrench-decryption department:
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has found that forcing a suspect to decrypt his hard drive when the government did not already know what it contained would violate his 5th Amendment rights. According to Orin Kerr of the Volohk Conspiracy, 'the court's analysis (PDF) isn't inconsistent with Boucher and Fricosu, the two district court cases on 5th Amendment limits on decryption. In both of those prior cases, the district courts merely held on the facts of the case that the testimony was a foregone conclusion.'"

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The Best Streaming Media Player
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's line-em-up department:
DeviceGuru writes "It's looking like 2012 will be a watershed year for cord-cutters wanting to replace expensive cable TV services with low-cost gadgets that stream movies and TV shows from the Internet via free, subscription, and pay-per-view services. Accordingly, this DeviceGuru smackdown pits five popular streaming media player devices against each other. The smackdown compares Roku, Google TV, Apple TV, the Boxee Box, and Netgear's NeoTV, tabulating their key features, functions, specs, supported multimedia formats, and other characteristics, and listing the main advantages and disadvantages of each device. Then, it provides a summary chart that attempts to quantify the whole thing, so you (theoretically) can pick the best one based on what characteristics are most important to you. Of course, the market's evolving so quickly that the entire process will need to be redone in 6 months, but what else is new."

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Should There Be a Sci-Fi Category At the Oscars?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 03:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's best-alien-category department:
An anonymous reader writes "In this chat with the originator of the light-saber in Star Wars and the Nostromo in Alien, director Roger Christian argues that the Academy Awards needs a special category for 'best science-fiction film'. It's a thorny subject, since such a new category would inevitably either get lumped in with fantasy/horror or further 'ghetto-ise' the genre. But with '2001' and 'Avatar' snubbed for best picture, among many others over the years, does ANY sci-fi film ever have a shot at Best Picture?"

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Nordic Nations Pitch For US Data Centers
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 02:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's troll-protected department:
judgecorp writes "Nordic nations are all pitching for business from data centre owners, based on their countries' excellent network provision, plentiful electricity from renewable sources, and a climate where servers can be kept cool cheaply, using the ambient air temperature, with no need for chillers. A Swedish delegation is visiting California to lure other players to follow Facebook into Sweden. Meanwhile, Iceland now has a new multi-tenant data centre to join the existing Thor site, and Denmark has a container-park data centre for its financial industry."

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Australian Govt Re-Kindles Office File Format War
Posted by News Fetcher on February 24 '12 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's list-of-reasons department:
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Government's peak IT strategy group has issued a cautious updated appraisal of currently available office productivity suite file formats, in what appears to be an attempt to more fully explain its thinking about the merits of open standards such as OpenDocument versus more proprietary file formats promulgated by vendors like Microsoft."

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Comparing Today's Computers To 1995's
Posted by News Fetcher on February 23 '12 at 11:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's pentium-80-how-I-miss-you department:
An anonymous reader writes "A look back at two articles from 1995, touting high end computers and 'must haves.' How times have changed... ...'Memory (RAM): We seem to have convinced most manufacturers to adopt eight megabytes as standard, compared with four megabytes in 1994. Don't buy less than eight. The difference in performance between an eight megabyte machine and a four-megabyte machine can be dramatic.'"

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Children Used To Steal Parents' Data
Posted by News Fetcher on February 23 '12 at 09:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's virtual-fagin department:
Barence writes "PC Pro's Davey Winder has revealed how pre-school children are being targeted by data thieves. Security vendors have uncovered a bunch of Flash-based games, colorful and attractive to young kids, which came complete with a remote access trojan. The trojan is usually installed behind a button to download more free games, but BitDefender even found one painting application where the very act of swiping the paintbrush over an online pet to change the color of the virtual animal was enough to trigger redirection to an infected site."

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