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Expect a Flood of Competitions As US Tries To Spur Public Inventions
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 10:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's ninety-nine-percent-perspiration department:
coondoggie writes "When it comes to stirring the brains of genius, a good competition can bring forward some really great ideas. That's the driving notion behind myriad public competitions, or challenges as they are often labeled, that will take place in the near future sponsored by your US government. The competitions are increasing by design as part of the $45 billion America Competes Act renewed by Congress last year that gave every federal department and agency the authority to conduct prize competitions, according to the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy."

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The Liberated Pixel Cup: a Game Making Contest From the CC, FSF, and OpenGameArt
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-your-game-face-on department:
Lendrick writes "OpenGameArt.org, the Free Software Foundation, and the Creative Commons are teaming up to bring the Liberated Pixel Cup, a free-as-in-freedom game making contest starting on June 1st and going through July 31st. The contest will be divided into two phases: the first phase will be about adding on to a consistent set of art commissioned specially for the contest, and the second phase, starting on July 1st, will be about building games using the provided art."

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Coming to an Ice Cream Shop Near You: Soft Serve Beer
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 09:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's icy-and-not-particularly-delicious department:
Cazekiel writes "Sticking a mug in your freezer to ensure a cold beer may be made obsolete, if the Japanese brewing giant Kirin has anything to do about it. How? Kirin came up with a ... way to create frozen beer foam, dispensed the way you would a soft-serve ice cream cone.Gizmag gives us the details: 'To make the topping, regular Ichiban beer is frozen to -5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) while air is continuously blown into it. It's kind of like when a child makes bubbles in their drink, except inside a blast freezer. Once the topping is placed onto regular, unfrozen beer though, it acts as an insulating lid and keeps the drink cold for 30 minutes.'"

Might make flavorless rice lagers easier to go down, but what about real beer? A hefeweizen under an ice cap on a warm summer afternoon? How about an entire glass full of frozen chocolate stout?

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Artificial Neural Networks Demonstrate the Evolution of Human Intelligence
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's chicks-dig-cooperation department:
samazon writes "Ph.D. students at Trinity College in Dublin have constructed an artificial neural network model to demonstrate the Machiavellian intelligence theory — that human intelligence evolved based on the need for social teamwork and indexing a variety of social relationships and statuses. (Abstract) The experiment involved programming a base group of 50 simulated 'brains' which were required to participate one of two classical game theory dilemmas — the Prisoner's Dilemma or the Snowdrift game. Upon completion of either game, each 'brain' produced 'offspring' asexually, with 'brains' that made more advantageous choices during the games programmed to have a better chance to reproduce. A potential random mutation during each generation changed the 'brain's structure, number of neurons, or the strengths of the connections between those neurons,' simulating the evolution of the social brain. After 50,000 generations, the model showed that as cooperation increased, so did the intelligence of the programmed brains."

The full paper is available.

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Tennessee "Teaching the Controversy" Bill Becomes Law
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's tennessee-legislators-evolved-from-trogdolytes department:
MrKevvy writes "The Tennessee 'Teaching the Controversy' bill was passed into law today. 'A law to allow public school teachers to challenge the scientific consensus on issues like climate change and evolution will soon take effect in Tennessee. State governor Bill Haslam allowed the bill — passed by the state House and Senate — to become law without signing it, saying he did not believe the legislation "changes the scientific standards that are taught in our schools."'"

The governor adds: "However, I also don’t believe that it accomplishes anything that isn’t already acceptable in our schools."

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DoJ Files Suit Against Apple, Ebook Publishers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 08:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's project-gutenberg-accused-of-price-fixing department:
forkfail writes "The Department of Justice has filed suit against Apple and a number of book publishers, including Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, claiming that they worked in collusion to artificially rig prices on eBooks."

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Mosh: Modernizing SSH With IP Roaming, Instant Local Echo
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 07:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's udp-reunion-tour department:
An anonymous reader writes "Launched in 1995, SSH quickly became the king of network login tools, supplanting the old insecure mainstays TELNET and RLOGIN. But 17 years later, a group of MIT hackers have come out with "mosh", which claims to modernize the most annoying parts of SSH. Mosh keeps its connection alive when clients roam among WiFi networks or switch to 3G, and gives instant feedback on typing (and deleting). No more annoying network lag on typing, the MIT boffins say, citing Bufferbloat, which has been increasing latencies."

The folks involved have a pre-press research paper with the gritty details (to be presented at USENIX later this year). Mosh itself is not particularly exciting; the new State Synchronization Protocol it is based upon might be: "This is accomplished using a new protocol called the State Synchronization Protocol, for which Mosh is the first application. SSP runs over UDP, synchronizing the state of any object from one host to another. Datagrams are encrypted and authenticated using AES-128 in OCB mode. While SSP takes care of the networking protocol, it is the implementation of the object being synchronized that defines the ultimate semantics of the protocol."

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MIT Fusion Researchers Answer Your Questions
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-are-awesome department:
You recently got the chance to ask a group of MIT researchers questions about fusion power, and they've now finished writing some incredibly detailed answers. They discuss the things we've learned about fusion in the past decade, how long it's likely to take for fusion to power your home, the biggest problems fusion researchers are working to solve, and why it's important to continue funding fusion projects. They also delve into the specifics of tokamak operation, like dealing with disruption events and the limitations on reactor size, and provide some insight into fusion as a career. Hit the link below for a wealth of information about fusion.

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Sony Projects Record Losses of $6.4 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 06:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's crash-and-burn department:
redletterdave writes "Not 24 hours after Sony announced it would slash about 10,000 jobs by the end of the year, the Japanese electronics maker announced on Tuesday that it has again doubled its annual net loss to a record $6.4 billion. The new annual estimate is Sony's fourth revision of its original forecast. The company had already more than doubled its loss forecast for fiscal 2011 on April 5 to $2.9 billion, blaming floods in Thailand, poor foreign exchange rates, and a failed partnership with Samsung... Kazuo Hirai, the company's new president and CEO hired 10 days ago, will take 'painful steps' to revive Sony, and will unveil a 'revival strategy' at a Thursday press briefing."

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Apple Developing Tool To Remove Flashback
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's macs-can't-get-viruses department:
Trailrunner7 writes, quoting Threatpost: "Apple is planning to release a software fix that will find and remove the Flashback malware that has been >a haunting Mac users for several months now. ... Apple said on Tuesday that it was in the process of developing a tool that would detect and remove Flashback, but the company did not specify when the fix would be available. Security researchers and customers have been questioning why Apple hasn't yet provided a fix for the malware even though Flashback has been around in one form or another for more than six months now."

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SKA Might Be Split Between South Africa and Australia
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's two-times-half-not-better-than-one department:
gbrumfiel writes "The Square Kilometre Array will be the world's most powerful telescope, assuming the nations involved can agree on where to build it. A scientific panel recently backed South Africa over Australia to host the project, but neither side has conceded defeat. Rather than splitting the partners, project leaders are now thinking about splitting the telescope between the two countries. There's little scientific advantage, but the thinking is that a split telescope would be better than no telescope."

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Interview With TSA Screener Reveals 'Fatal Flaws'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's my-toothpaste-is-not-a-deadly-weapon-you-jerks department:
OverTheGeicoE writes "Jonathan Corbett, creator of the video showing that TSA's body scanners can't see metal objects on our sides, has a new video out. This time he's interviewing an experienced TSA screener identified only as 'Jennifer,' and her allegations point to 'fatal flaws' in TSA and its procedures. Worse, TSA's screeners are well aware of these flaws. According to Jennifer, body scanners frequently fail to detect objects on passengers, and this flaw is well known to the screeners on the job. People with visible items in their pockets can pass through scanners without detection, even when the items are simulated weapons or explosives. Jennifer also alleges that training for screeners is severely lacking. Screeners are directed to operate body scanners, even the X-ray scanners, without any training whatsoever. The manual of standard operating procedures often can't be found at the checkpoints, let alone read. Jennifer was so alarmed by what she experienced that she wrote her congressional representative to complain. She was ultimately fired as a result, effective yesterday."

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Statistical Analysis Raises Civil War Death Count By 20%
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's violence-of-math department:
Hugh Pickens writes "For more than a century, it has been accepted that about 620,000 Americans died in the the bloodiest, most devastating conflict in American history. But now, BBC reports that historian J. David Hacker has used sophisticated statistical software to determine the war's death toll and found that civil war dead may have been undercounted by as many as 130,000. Hacker began by taking digitized samples from the decennial census counts taken from 1850-1880. Using statistical package SPSS, Hacker counted the number of native-born white men of military age in 1860 and determined how many of that group were still alive in 1870 and compared that survival rate with the survival rates of the men of the same ages from 1850-1860, and from 1870-1880 — the 10-year census periods before and after the Civil War. The calculations yielded the number of 'excess' deaths of military-age men between 1860-1870 — the number who died in the war or in the five subsequent years from causes related to the war. Hacker's findings, published in the December 2011 issue of Civil War History, have been endorsed by some of the leading historians of the conflict. 'The difference between the two estimates is large enough to change the way we look at the war,' writes Hacker. 'The war touched more lives and communities more deeply than we thought, and thus shaped the course of the ensuing decades of American history in ways we have not yet fully grasped. True, the war was terrible in either case. But just how terrible, and just how extensive its consequences, can only be known when we have a better count of the Civil War dead.'"

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Ask Slashdot: At What Point Has a Kickstarter Project Failed?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '12 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's when-people-get-angry-on-the-internet department:
skywiseguy writes "I have only used Kickstarter to back a single project so far, but one of the backers of that project pointed us to a project promising video capable glasses which was once one of the top 10 highest funded projects in Kickstarter history. After reading through the comments, it is obvious that the project has not met its expected deadline of 'Winter 2011,' but the project team rarely gives any updates with concrete information. All emails sent to them by backers get a form letter in reply, they routinely delete negative comments from their Facebook page, and apparently very soon after the project was funded, they posted pictures of themselves on a tropical beach with the tagline, 'We are not on a beach in Thailand.' Their early promotions were featured on Engadget and other tech sites but since the project was funded they've rarely, if ever, communicated in more than a form letter. So at what point can a project like this be considered to have failed? And if you had backed a project with this kind of lack of communication from the project team, what would you consider to be the best course of action? Disclaimer: I have not backed this project, but I am very interested in funding Kickstarter projects and I do not want to get caught sending money to a less than reputable project. According to the above project's backers, Kickstarter claims to have no mechanism for refunding money to backers of failed projects and no way to hold the project team accountable to their backers. This does not seem like a healthy environment for someone who is averse to giving their money to scam artists."

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OLPC Australia Pushes Boundaries of Education
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '12 at 11:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's xo-also-serves-as-a-kangaroo-defense-mechanism department:
angry tapir writes "Slashdot recently discussed some of the problems with the One Laptop Per Child program in Peru, where, in general, teachers did not make creative use of the technology by just regarding the laptops as an end in themselves. In Australia, the local OLPC organization is attempting to address similar issues by creating an educational framework around the laptops that involves training students how to teach others about the technology and even conduct hardware repairs on the XOs. Some of the early results at XO-equipped schools, which in Australia are generally in remote and disadvantaged schools, have been impressive."

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SpaceX Is Studying Site For 'Commercial Cape Canaveral' Near Brownsville, Texas
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '12 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-that's-in-texas department:
New submitter RealTime writes "SpaceX filed a notice with the FAA (PDF) that it is preparing an environmental impact study in consideration of a site in Texas for use as a commercial spaceport. 'The site in question is in the southern tip of the state of Texas, just outside Brownsville in Cameron County, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, over which SpaceX's launches would fly.' The proposed site would handle up to 12 commercial launches per year. 'There's plenty of red tape associated with Kennedy Space Center, and the center is often reserved for large blocks of time by other launchers. If SpaceX had its own pad, it wouldn't have to share.'"

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US Government Licenses Unreal Game Engine To Train FBI Agents and Army Medics
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '12 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's when-the-patient-starts-losing-red-pixels,-apply-pressure department:
cylonlover writes "While games like Batman: Arkham City and Gears of War are certainly entertaining, virtually beating up thugs and fighting subterranean creatures doesn't exactly translate into real world skills. However, a new agreement with teaching software developer Virtual Heroes could see Epic's Unreal Engine platform used to create more practical experiences and train medical staff and law enforcement officers to handle high-stress situations. By using Epic's Unreal Engine 3, some United States government agencies like the FBI and U.S. Army are hoping to give their employees tools for virtually practicing their skills in a more realistic environment and better prepare them to save lives."

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New Zealand Developers Building Open Source Code For Electric Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '12 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's free-and-open-source-wheelin' department:
MatthewVD writes "New Zealand electric racecar developer Greenstage is close to finishing an open source project called 'Tumanako,' which would allow owners of electric cars and motorcycles to tweak the code in their vehicles. Electric vehicle gearheads grouse about proprietary code that keeps current, torque and speed within very conservative limits. 'In racing, you need the system to push all those parameters to the limits. You only need the system to survive until just past the finish line,' says Bill Dube, the owner of the record-setting KillaCycle. Open source code could also be used to build any type of electric vehicle, from cars and submarines to motor-launched aerial gliders, from scratch. It's like Linux for your Chevy Volt."

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Multicore Chips As 'Mini-Internets'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '12 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-perhaps-minternets department:
An anonymous reader writes "Today, a typical chip might have six or eight cores, all communicating with each other over a single bundle of wires, called a bus. With a bus, only one pair of cores can talk at a time, which would be a serious limitation in chips with hundreds or even thousands of cores. Researchers at MIT say cores should instead communicate the same way computers hooked to the Internet do: by bundling the information they transmit into 'packets.' Each core would have its own router, which could send a packet down any of several paths, depending on the condition of the network as a whole."

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Maryland Bans Employers From Asking For Facebook Passwords
Posted by News Fetcher on April 10 '12 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's state-bird-tweets-a-lot department:
Freddybear writes with news that yesterday Maryland passed a bill through both houses of the state legislature that would forbid employers from requiring job applicants or employees to provide access to social media accounts. The bill now awaits only the signature of governor Martin O'Malley. "The bill is the first of its kind in the country, and has shined a spotlight on the practice of employers demanding personal social media passwords from potential hires, [said Melissa Goemann of the ACLU]." Similar legislation is being developed in California, Illinois and Michigan, according to the Washington Post.

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