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Should Science Rethink the Definition of "Life"?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's some-kind-of-high-powered-mutant-never-even-considered-for-mass-production department:
ambermichelle pointed out a story about the search for life on other planets, and the likelihood that it would be much different than what we find on Earth. With the increase of extremophile discovery in recent years perhaps it's time to reassess what the definition of "life" should be. "In November 2011, NASA launched its biggest, most ambitious mission to Mars. The $2.5 billion Mars Science Lab spacecraft will arrive in orbit around the Red Planet this August, releasing a lander that will use rockets to control a slow descent into the atmosphere. Equipped with a 'sky crane,' the lander will gently lower the one-ton Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. Curiosity, which weighs five times more than any previous Martian rover, will perform an unprecedented battery of tests for three months as it scoops up soil from the floor of the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater. Its mission, NASA says, will be to 'assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life.' For all the spectacular engineering that's gone into Curiosity, however, its goal is actually quite modest. When NASA says it wants to find out if Mars was ever suitable for life, they use a very circumscribed version of the word. They are looking for signs of liquid water, which all living things on Earth need. They are looking for organic carbon, which life on Earth produces and, in some cases, can feed on to survive. In other words, they're looking on Mars for the sorts of conditions that support life on Earth. But there's no good reason to assume that all life has to be like the life we're familiar with. In 2007, a board of scientists appointed by the National Academies of Science decided they couldn't rule out the possibility that life might be able to exist without water or carbon. If such weird life on Mars exists, Curiosity will probably miss it."

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IBM Tops "Most Patents List" For 19th Straight Year
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-number-one department:
bednarz writes "IBM retained its patent crown for 2011, topping the list of patent winners for the 19th year in a row. The only other U.S. company to make the top 10, Microsoft fell from third place to sixth place, according to IFI Claims Patent Services' list of the top 50 U.S. patent assignees. HP and Intel fell out of the top 10 and landed 14th and 16th, respectively. Apple moved up to No. 39 after breaking into the top 50 for the first time last year. Asian firms account for 25 of the top 50, and U.S. firms hold 17 slots."

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Victorinox Makes 1TB Swiss Army Knife
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's MacGyver-approved department:
judgecorp writes "The Swiss Army knife has been available with storage for some time — now there is a 1 terabyte version. It comes with two bodies, so the storage can be swapped out into a flight-safe version with no knife or scissors. The company left the price off its release, but sources suggest it is $3000."

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Book Review: Sams Teach Yourself HTML5 Mobile Application Development
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
Michael J. Ross writes "The last few years have seen the emergence of several significant advances in web technologies, including HTML5 and CSS3 — all impacting the development of traditional and mobile-centric web sites. In turn, various technical book publishers have released titles addressing one or more of these technologies. While one book may focus on HTML5 and the new JavaScript APIs, another might include extensive coverage of CSS3, with little mention of JavaScript. A recent title, Sams Teach Yourself HTML5 Mobile Application Development in 24 Hours, focuses on some of the more commonly employed elements introduced with HTML5, and how they can be used for creating mobile sites and applications." Read below for the rest of Michael's review. Sams Teach Yourself HTML5 Mobile Application Development in 24 Hours
author Jennifer Kyrnin
pages 496 pages
publisher Sams Publishing
rating 8/10
reviewer Michael J. Ross
ISBN 978-0672334405
summary A tutorial on building web sites and apps with HTML5.

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Microsoft Readying Massive Real Time Threat Intelligence Feed
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's dangers-of-the-day department:
chicksdaddy wrote in with a link to a story about a Microsoft project that will share security information in real time with customers and law enforcement. The article reads "Microsoft has proven that it can take down huge, global botnets like Kelihos, Rustock and Waldec. Now the company is ready to start making the data it acquires in those busts available to governments, law enforcement and customers as a real time threat intelligence feed. Representatives from the Redmond, Washington software maker told an audience at the International Conference on Cyber Security (ICCS) here that it was testing a new service to distribute threat data from captured botnets and other sources to partners, including foreign governments, Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and private corporations."

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Reddit Turning SOPA "Blackout" Into a "Learn-In"
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 01:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's in-today's-sopa-news department:
bdking writes "Reddit's planned 12-hour 'blackout' on January 18 sounds like an ineffectual, if not self-defeating, strategy for opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act. But the social news site actually will use that time not to 'go dark,' but to educate visitors about the ramifications of the House legislation that many fear will lead to widespread shutdowns of Internet sites."

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Nanosensors Could Help Reduce Laboratory Animal Testing
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 12:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-bunnies? department:
cylonlover writes "Animal testing is an area that elicits strong feelings on both sides of the argument for and against the practice. Supporters like the British Royal Society argue that virtually every medical breakthrough of the 20th century involved the use of animals in some way, while opponents say that it is not only cruel, but actually impedes medical progress by using misleading animal models. Whatever side of the argument researchers fall on, most would likely use an alternative to animal testing if it existed. And an alternative that reduces the need for animal testing is just what Fraunhofer researchers hope their new sensor nanoparticles will be."

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Doctor Warns of the Hidden Danger of Touchscreens
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 11:32 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's touch-too-much department:
snydeq writes "Dr. Franklin Tessler discusses the hidden stress-related injuries of touchscreen use, and how best to use smartphones, tablets, and touch PCs to avoid them. 'Touchscreen-oriented health hazards are even more insidious because most people aren't even aware that they exist. The potential for injury from using touchscreens will only go up ... as the rise of the touchscreen means both new kinds of health hazards and more usage in risky scenarios,' Tessler writes, providing tips for properly positioning touchscreens and ways to avoid repetitive stress injuries and eyestrain."

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Tracking Down the First Oxygen Users
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's primordial-home-health-care department:
sciencehabit writes "None of us would be here today if, billions of years ago, a tiny, single-celled organism hadn't started using oxygen to make a living. Researchers don't know exactly when this happened, or why, but a team of scientists has come closer than ever before to finding out. They've identified the earliest known example of aerobic metabolism, the process of using oxygen as fuel. The discovery may even provide clues as to where the oxygen came from in the first place."

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Who's Flying Those Drones? FAA Won't Say
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's speed-monitored-by-aircraft department:
netbuzz writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation nine months ago filed a Freedom of Information Act request to prompt the FAA to release the names of government agencies and private entities that have received permission to fly unmanned aircraft over our heads. Nine months later, the FAA has neither released the information nor explained why it hasn't. On Tuesday the EFF filed suit (PDF) to force the agency to do so. Says EFF staff attorney Jennifer Lynch: 'Drones give the government and other unmanned aircraft operators a powerful new surveillance tool to gather extensive and intrusive data on Americans' movements and activities. As the government begins to make policy decisions about the use of these aircraft, the public needs to know more about how and why these drones are being used to surveil United States citizens.'"

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Intel-Powered Smartphones Arriving Soon
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 09:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's pocket-heating-device department:
adeelarshad82 writes "After years of promises to enter the smartphone market, Intel has finally done so. During his keynote at CES, Intel's Chief executive Paul Otellini said that Intel has signed Lenovo and Motorola to contracts to use its Atom processors in smartphones. Unlike past launches, Intel has held Medfield back until its partners were ready to go to press as well. According to an early preview, Medfield pairs a 1.6GHz Atom CPU with an SGX540 GPU designed by PowerVR. This is the same GPU we've seen tip up in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Droid Razr, though Intel is clocking it higher, at 400MHz. Intel's new SoC encodes video at 720p at 30 fps, can playback 1080p at 30 fps, and supports 1920×1080 output via HDMI. The first smartphone to carry an Intel chip will debut on China Unicom during the second quarter."

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Dutch Court Forces ISPs To Block the Pirate Bay
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's censorship-is-hip department:
New submitter swinferno writes "After recent successes in Finland, Italy and Belgium, the Dutch Copyright protection organization BREIN has obtained a verdict that forces two major ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay domains and gives them the right to submit future domains/IP addresses to be blocked in the future without court order."

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Kodak Sues HTC and Apple
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's new-business-strategy department:
alphadogg writes "Here we go again with mobile industry patent lawsuits: 'Struggling Eastman Kodak is alleging that Apple's and HTC's smartphones and tablets infringe on its digital imaging technology, and has filed a complaint and lawsuits with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The complaint to the ITC claims that some of Apple's iPhones, iPads, and iPods, and HTC's smartphones and tablets, infringe Kodak patents related to technology for transmitting images. Kodak also alleges that HTC's smartphones infringe on a patent related to a method for previewing images, which is already the subject of pending actions against Apple.'"

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Facebook Adds Ads To News Feed
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 07:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's worse-than-mafia-wars department:
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from an article at ZDNet: "As expected, Facebook has started displaying ads in users' News Feeds. You may not be seeing them yet as the company is rolling them out gradually, like it does for all its changes. ... Last month, a Facebook spokesperson said the company hoped to 'show people no more than one Sponsored Story in their News Feeds per day.' This is no longer the case, as Facebook now says you may see more Featured stories 'if you visit your News Feed a lot.'"

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British Schoolchildren To Get Programming Lessons
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 06:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's cool-kids-code department:
judgecorp writes "The British Education Secretary Michael Gove has said that the school ICT curriculum will be scrapped and replaced with programming and real computer science. Britain's schoolchildren have had compulsory ICT (information and communications technology) lessons for some time, but they are hated by staff and pupils alike, amounting to little more than Power Point training, using the products rather than understanding the code. There is room for improvement — and the British-designed Raspberry Pi could be part of this, but can the new system break away from the old product-centric regime when it will apparently be sponsored by companies including Google and Microsoft?"

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Mozilla Announces Long Term Support Version of Firefox
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 06:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's can't-stop-until-version-73 department:
mvar writes "After a meeting held last Monday regarding Mozilla Firefox Extended Support Release, the new version was announced yesterday in a post on Mozilla's official blog: 'We are pleased to announce that the proposal for an Extended Support Release (ESR) of Firefox is now a plan of action. The ESR version of Firefox is for use by enterprises, public institutions, universities, and other organizations that centrally manage their Firefox deployments. Releases of the ESR will occur once a year, providing these organizations with a version of Firefox that receives security updates but does not make changes to the Web or Firefox Add-ons platform.'"

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Facebook Helps Give Hacking a Good Name Again
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that's-our-word department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Ira Winkler says whenever he sees another 'cyberchallenge' getting play in the press, he think our priorities are screwed up. 'People seem to think that organizing teams of people to hack into systems is a way to bring together the best computer talent to square off against each other,' writes Winkler. 'I look at it as a waste of that talent.' That's why Winkler supports Facebook's latest Hacker Cup, which has become one of the few tests of creative computer talent. Facebook is using the original definition of 'hacker,' referring not to someone who breaks into computer systems, but rather to an individual who 'enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities.' Facebook's contest consists of successive sets of increasingly difficult algorithmic problems. Scoring will be based on how accurately and quickly the programmers complete the puzzles. 'Meanwhile, the media effectively lionize groups like Anonymous by breathlessly reporting on their latest hacks,' writes Winkler. 'What we really should be doing is not to reward a handful of students to find problems, but to train all students, and inevitably the profession, to integrate security into their efforts from the start.'"

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The Bosses Do Everything Better (or So They Think)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '12 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's make-a-button-that-does-everything department:
theodp writes "Some people, writes Dave Winer, make the mistake of thinking that if the result of someone's work is easy to use, the work itself must be easy. Like the boss — or boss's boss's boss — who asks for your code so he can show you how to implement the features he wants instead of having to bother to explain things. Give the code to him, advises Winer. If he pulls it off, even poorly, at least you'll know what he was asking for. And if he fails, well, he might be more patient about explaining what exactly he wants, and perhaps even appreciate how hard your work is. Or — more likely — you may simply never hear from him again. Win-win-win. So, how do you handle an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better boss?"

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Kinect For Windows Releasing On February 1
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '12 at 11:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's press-any-key-or-flail-spastically-to-continue department:
clinko writes "Microsoft has announced that the new Kinect for Windows hardware and accompanying software will be available on February 1st, 2012 in 12 countries, at a suggested retail price of US $249 ($149 for edu). Microsoft has chosen a hardware-only business model for Kinect for Windows; they will not be charging for the SDK or the runtime. These will be available free to developers and end-users respectively."

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Twitter Comes Out Swinging Against Google's Personalized Search
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '12 at 09:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's social-networking-drama department:
Meshach writes "Google's release of the new 'Search Plus Your World' feature has elicited harsh words from Twitter's general counsel (who used to work with Google). He claims that the changes will make information harder to find for users and be bad news for news publishers. Some analysts are wondering if this is a prelude to a legal battle similar to Microsoft's bundling of IE."

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