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SOPA Creator In TV/Film/Music Industry's Pocket
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '11 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-I-repeat-myself department:
First time accepted submitter en4bz writes "Representative Lamar Smith, the creator of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), has been consistently receiving donations averaging $50 000 from the TV/Film/Music industry for each of his re-election campaigns for the past ten years. Smith has received roughly half a million dollars from the TV/Film/Music lobby over the past ten years according to opensecrets.org. Check out the source link for a full breakdown of donors to Smith's campaigns."
Speaking of SOPA, new submitter DarkStar1O9 submits this "explanation in simple terms of why this dangerous new bill in congress could result in the extinction of sites that are based on user-generated content like YouTube, Reddit, and StumbleUpon."

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Ask Slashdot: Entry-Level Robotics Kits For Young Teenagers?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '11 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's old-teenagers-much-grumpier department:
An anonymous reader writes "So, it's that wonderful time of year again. Instead of buying the latest, greatest whiz-bang, overpriced fad toy of the year, I thought I might try my hand at corrupting my nieces (ages 12 and 14) in a nerdier direction with some sort of introductory robotics kit. They have no programming experience, and part of my idea is that it would be encouraging for them to see interactions of their code that they write with the real-world by being able to control some actuators and read sensors. The first thing that comes to mind is Lego Mindstorms, but I find them a bit on the pricey side of things. My budget falls between $40 and $100, and the ideal kit would focus more on the software side than on soldering together circuits. I'd be looking for a kit that provides an easy to learn API and development tools that will work with a standard Windows PC. I don't mind spending a few afternoons helping them out with the basics, but I'd like for them to be able to be able to explore on their own after grasping the initial concepts. Has anybody gotten their younger relations into programming through robotics, and what kits might you recommend?"

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Google Outlines AI-Based Number Reading For Street View Photos
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '11 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's may-not-combine-with-remote-detonation department:
mikejuk writes "A recent Google research paper outlines how it might use AI to read digits in natural images — specifically Street View photos. The idea is to automatically extract the number of each house as captured by Street View and then use this to improve the geocoding data returned by Google. When you next ask for directions to a particular address the new data could be used to show you a street view looking directly at the house you specified."

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Philosopher Patrick Lin On the Ethics of Military Robotics
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '11 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's computer-generated-fog-of-war department:
Runaway1956 writes "Last month, philosopher Patrick Lin delivered this briefing about the ethics of drones at an event hosted by In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture-capital arm. It's a thorough and unnerving survey of what it might mean for the intelligence service to deploy different kinds of robots. This story is very definitely not like Asimov's robotic laws! As fine a mind as Isaac Asimov had, his Robot stories seem a bit naive, in view of where we are headed with robotics."

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Canonical To Remove Sun Java From Repositories, Users' Machines
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '11 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-mean-you-keep-it-networked? department:
New submitter an_orphan writes "Apparently, Oracle's 'Operating System Distributor License for Java' is expired, causing Ubuntu to not only remove sun-java from the partner repository, but from user's machines."

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The Painkiller That Saves Money But Costs Lives
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '11 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's while-poppies-burn-in-afghanistan department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Over 2,000 patients have died since 2003 in Washington State alone by accidentally overdosing on a commonly prescribed narcotic painkiller that costs less than a dollar a dose and the deaths are clustered predominately in places with lower incomes because Washington state has steered people with state-subsidized health care — Medicaid patients, injured workers and state employees — to methadone because the drug is cheap. Methadone belongs to a class of narcotic painkillers, called opioids, that includes OxyContin, fentanyl and morphine. Within that group, methadone accounts for less than 10 percent of the drugs prescribed — but more than half of the deaths and although Methadone works wonders for some patients, relieving chronic pain from throbbing backs to inflamed joints, the drug's unique properties make it unforgiving and sometimes lethal. 'Most painkillers, such as OxyContin, dissipate from the body within hours. Methadone can linger for days, pooling to a toxic reservoir that depresses the respiratory system,' write Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong. 'With little warning, patients fall asleep and don't wake up. Doctors call it the silent death.'"

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Sony's Next-Generation Portable Is Out, In Japan
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '11 at 04:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's people-used-to-wait-in-line-for-concerts department:
A few months before it's due to arrive in the U.S., Sony's PlayStation Vita, successor to the PlayStation Portable, has been released in Japan. Says the linked Associated Press article: "For the Tokyo-based electronics and entertainment giant, the Vita is the biggest product launch since the PlayStation 3 console five years ago. It's also accompanied by two dozen software products — the largest number of launch titles in PlayStation history.
The Vita has front and back cameras, a touchscreen in front, a touch pad on the back and two knob-like joysticks. It will enable gamers to play against each other using PlayStation 3 consoles over the Internet-based PlayStation Network, a system that was hit with a massive hacking attack earlier this year."

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Munich's Move To Linux Exceeds Target
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '11 at 01:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's unterpromise-ueberdeliver department:
jrepin writes "In May 2003, Munich's city council resolved to migrate municipal workstations from Windows to Linux and open source. Munich's LiMux project has announced that it has exceeded its annual target for migrating the city's PCs to its LiMux client. To date in 2011, the project has migrated 9,000 systems; it had originally planned to migrate 8,500 of the 12,000-15,000 PC workstations used by city officials in Munich."

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Comet Lovejoy Plunges Into the Sun and Survives
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's part-of-brian-aker's-career-path department:
boldie writes with a link to NASA's account of comet Lovejoy's close encounter with the sun. Excerpting: "This morning, an armada of spacecraft witnessed something that many experts thought impossible. Comet Lovejoy flew through the hot atmosphere of the sun and emerged intact. ... The comet's close encounter was recorded by at least five spacecraft: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and twin STEREO probes, Europe's Proba2 microsatellite, and the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. The most dramatic footage so far comes from SDO, which saw the comet go in (movie) and then come back out again (movie)."

Here are larger QuickTime versions of the comet's entrance (22MB) and exit (26MB).

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Kazakhstan Disables the Internet , Telecomix Restores
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's for-make-benefit-glorious-nation department:
bs0d3 writes "In the face of oil protests on their 20th independence day, Kazakhstan has blocked the internet and disabled cellphone towers in the city of Zhanaozen. As with previous internet blackouts, hactivist group telecomix is putting together free dial-up servers for people blacked out in this region."

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Chrome 15 Overtakes IE 8 For Top Browser Spot
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ooh-shiny department:
An anonymous reader writes "If you're reading this on Chrome, you're part of a wave that has ditched Internet Explorer or Firefox and helped vault Google's browser to the top Web browser spot worldwide." Are you reading this on Chrome? (I'm using Chromium right now, but that's pretty close.)

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Spectrum Fragmentation Means Pricier Mobile Networking
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-not-just-include-a-decoder-ring department:
alphadogg writes "The plethora of spectrum bands used for LTE will result in more expensive devices, and also make the ability to roam globally using the technology less likely, according to industry organization GSM Association's research arm. Wireless Intelligence predicts there will be 38 different spectrum frequency combinations used in LTE deployments by 2015, thanks to ongoing spectrum auctions, license renewals and reallocation initiatives across a wide range of frequency bands. The number of combinations means economies of scale won't be as good and prices won't come down as much as they could if fewer spectrum bands were used as volumes increase, Joss Gillet, a senior analyst for Wireless Intelligence."

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Apple Outsources A5 Chip Manufacture ... To Texas
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's texas-visitor's-guide-free-on-request department:
Lindan9 writes "In a 9 billion dollar investment, Apple's A5 chips will now be produced in Austin, TX, in a new Samsung factory that is apparently 'the largest-ever foreign investment in Texas.'" According to the article, the factory's been churning out chips since the beginning of this month.

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Innovative Use of Plastics Could Cheaply Double Solar Cell Output
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hot-photon-on-plastic-action department:
doug141 writes "In standard solar cells, much energy is lost (as heat) from photons mismatched to the capability of silicon to capture them. A new technique uses a pentacene layer to down-convert each hot (un-captureable) electron to two electrons that can be captured by standard silicon cells." You can read more at the University of Texas research group's web page.

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How Does the CIA Keep Its IT Staff Honest?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's vogonic-control department:
Tootech points out this story for anyone who's been curious about getting that top-secret clearance and the promise of a cushy pension from the CIA, as a reward for decades of blood-curdling, heart-pounding, knuckle-whitening IT service: "Be prepared to go through a lot of scrutiny if you want to work in the Central Intelligence Agency's IT department, says chief information officer Al Tarasiuk. And it doesn't stop after you get your top secret clearance. 'Once you're in, there are frequent reinvestigations, but it's just part of process here,' says Tarasiuk, who also gets polygraphed regularly, though he won't be more specific. For those senior IT managers who are the 'privileged users,' meaning system administrators, 'there is certainly more scrutiny on you,' Tarasiuk says. 'It's interesting: there's so much scrutiny that a normal person might not want to put up with that. But it's part of the mission.'"

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GPL, Copyleft Use Declining Fast
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's taking-great-liberties department:
itwbennett writes "Use of the GPL, LGPL, and AGPL set of licenses is declining at an accelerating rate, according to new analysis by the 451 Group's Matthew Aslett. In fact, the 451 Group projects that GPL usage will hit 50% by September 2012. Instead, developers are licensing projects under permissive licenses such as the MIT, Apache (ASL), BSD, and Ms-PL. The shift started in 2007 and has been gathering momentum ever since. Blogger Brian Proffitt posits that 'the creation of the GPLv3 and the sometimes contentious discussion that led up to it' may be partly responsible for the move away from the GPL."

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Ask Slashdot: Most Efficient, Worthwhile Charity?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cato-institute-of-course department:
New submitter yanom writes "I'm thinking about making a holiday donation to a charity, but I'm not sure where to give it. I've looked at organizations such as the Red Cross and Village Reach that promote disaster relief and health in the developing world. I want my money to have the biggest possible impact, so where should I send it?"

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YouTube Says UMG Had No 'Right' To Take Down Megaupload Video
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's layered-agreements department:
An anonymous reader writes "Contrary to a previous story, Google played no part in the Megaupload takedown. From Wired: 'YouTube said Friday that Universal Music abused the video-sharing site's piracy filters when it employed them to take down a controversial video of celebrities and pop superstars singing and praising the notorious file-sharing service Megaupload.'"

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Smallest Known Black Hole Found
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's minor-suckage department:
smitty777 writes "Adding to the recent black hole discoveries of gas clouds and a quasar accretion disc, Forbes is reporting on a recent discovery by NASA's Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) on the smallest known black hole. From the article: 'If the astronomers' calculations are correct, this black hole is located about 16,000 to 56,000 light years away from Earth (a more precise distance hasn't yet been determined). The black hole itself is only about three times the mass of the Sun, which means that the original star was just barely big enough to form a black hole.'"

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PCMCIA Computer Project Aims Even Higher (and Cheaper) Than Raspberry Pi
Posted by News Fetcher on December 17 '11 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's concept-that-can-be-turned-into-an-idea department:
lkcl writes "An initiative by a Community Interest Company Rhombus Tech aims to provide Software (Libre) Developers with a PCMCIA-sized modular computer that could end up in mass-volume products. The reference design mass-volume pricing guide from the SoC manufacturer, for a device with similar capability to the Raspberry Pi, is around $15: 40% less than the $25 Raspberry Pi but for a device with an ARM Cortex A8 CPU 3x times faster than the 700mhz ARM11 used in the Raspberry Pi. GPL Kernel source code is available. A page for community ideas for motherboard designs has also been created. The overall goal is to bring more mass-volume products to market which Software (Libre) Developers have actually been involved in, reversing the trend of endemic GPL violations surrounding ARM-based mass-produced hardware. The Preorder pledge registration is now open (account creation required)." Of course, the Raspberry Pi is not only only much further along, but has recently announced an expansion module (the Gertboard).

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