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Google Upgrades WebP To Challenge PNG Image Format
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's more-cat-pictures-per-gigabyte department:
New submitter more writes with news that Google has added to its WebP image format the ability to losslessly compress images, and to do so with a substantial reduction in file size compared to the PNG format. Quoting:
"Our main focus for lossless mode has been in compression density and simplicity in decoding. On average, we get a 45% reduction in size when starting with PNGs found on the web, and a 28% reduction in size compared to PNGs that are re-compressed with pngcrush and pngout. Smaller images on the page mean faster page loads."

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Engineers Create World's Lightest Material
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's less-filling-tastes-great department:
ackthpt writes "A team of engineers claims to have created the world's lightest material. Made from a lattice of hollow metallic tubes, the material is less dense than aerogels and metallic foams, yet retains strength due to the small size of the lattice structure (abstract). The material's density is 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter. Among other things, it's potentially useful for insulation, battery electrodes, and sound dampening."

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China Using Net Censorship As a Trade Weapon?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nobody-likes-censorship department:
angry tapir writes "The Chinese government is using Internet censorship as a trade weapon against U.S. tech companies trying to do business there. China's ongoing censorship of the Internet is applied unevenly, with foreign companies often facing stricter rules than their Chinese counterparts, said Ed Black, president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. (Of course, a lot of countries aren't thrilled by U.S. net censorship efforts.)"

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US Army Completes First Test Flight of Mach 6 Weapon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-warmaking-on-the-go department:
Stirling Newberry writes "In a terse press release, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the first test of the the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which launches on a staged rocket and then glides to its target, in a manner similar to the Space Shuttle's re-entry. Earlier, ABC News posted a story with a video animation of the concept. Over at DefenseTech, they argue that the trajectory being different from an ICBM is meant to show that it is not a first strike device, but even the commenters don't think that explanation flies. The speed of deployment and the ability to strike targets without going high enough to be seen by many advance warning radars makes it a precision surprise attack weapon, a kind of super-cruise-missile for surprise, asymmetric attacks."

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Microsoft Patent Aims To Curb Obnoxious Employee Behavior
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-cubicle-is-not-soundproof department:
theodp writes "GeekWire reports that a pending Microsoft patent for monitoring workplace behavior would do Dwight Schrute proud. Three Microsoft inventors propose curbing obnoxious workplace habits in an equally obnoxious fashion — using a computer device for monitoring and analyzing workers' interactions over video conferences, telephone, text messages and other forms of digital communication to look for patterns of negative and positive behavior, and assigning behavior scores to employees based on what the system finds. Bad behavior, Microsoft explains, might include wearing dark glasses in a video conference, wearing unacceptable clothing to a business meeting, cutting off others during conversation, prolonged monologues, and even how one nods one's head in agreement, shakes one's head indicating disagreement, and makes hand gestures."

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OPERA Group Repeats Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's looking-for-mistakes department:
gbrumfiel writes "Earlier this year, the OPERA experiment made the extraordinary claim that they had seen neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. The experiment, located at Gran Sasso in Italy, saw neutrinos arrive 60 nanoseconds earlier than expected from their starting point at CERN in Switzerland. Others have doubted OPERA's claim, but in a new paper, the group reaffirms its commitment to the measurement. 'It's slightly better than the previous result,' OPERA's physics coordinator Dario Autiero told Nature News. Most members of the collaboration who didn't sign the original paper out of skepticism have now come on board. But scientists outside the group still aren't sure. 'Independent checks are the way to go,' says Rob Plunkett, co-spokesman of a rival experiment called MINOS."

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High Resolution Global Topographic Map of Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's cheese-mountain department:
stuckinarut writes "NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has released the highest resolution near-global topographic map of the moon ever created. From the article: '"Our new topographic view of the moon provides the dataset that lunar scientists have waited for since the Apollo era," says Mark Robinson, Principal Investigator of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera from Arizona State University in Tempe. "We can now determine slopes of all major geologic terrains on the moon at 100 meter scale. Determine how the crust has deformed, better understand impact crater mechanics, investigate the nature of volcanic features, and better plan future robotic and human missions to the moon."'"

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Drug-Resistant Superbugs Sweeping Across Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 03:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's and-you-thought-the-old-nuclear-reactors-were-bad department:
Pierre Bezukhov writes "K. pneumoniae is a common cause of pneumonia, urinary tract, and bloodstream infections in hospital patients. The superbug form is resistant even to a class of medicines called carbapenems, the most powerful known antibiotics, which are usually reserved by doctors as a last line of defense. The ECDC said several EU member states were now reporting that between 15 and up to 50 percent of K. pneumoniae from bloodstream infections were resistant to carbapenems. To a large extent, antibiotic resistance is driven by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics, which encourages bacteria to develop new ways of overcoming them. Experts say primary care doctors are partly to blame for prescribing antibiotics for patients who demand them unnecessarily, and hospitals are also guilty of overuse."

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Why Do Companies Backup So Infrequently?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 12:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's save-your-work department:
Orome1 writes "Businesses are on average backing up to tape once a month, with one alarming statistic showing 10 percent were only backing up to tape once per year, according to a survey by Vanson Bourne. Although cloud backup solutions are becoming more common, still the majority of companies will do their backups in-house. Sometimes they will have dedicated IT staff to run them, but usually it's done in-house because they have always done it like that, and they have confidence in their own security and safekeeping of data."

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All French Nuclear Reactors Deemed Unsafe
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 10:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what's-the-worst-that-could-happen department:
hweimer writes "A new study by a French government agency, commissioned in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, found that all French nuclear power plants do not offer adequate safety when it comes to flooding, earthquakes, power outages, failure of the cooling systems and operational management of accidents. While there is no need for immediate shutdown, the agency presses for the problems to be fixed quickly. France gets about 80% of its power from nuclear energy and is a major exporter of nuclear technology."

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New Media Giants Take Out Print Ad Against SOPA
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 07:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's do-not-like department:
itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers will recall that the SOPA hearings earlier this week 'excluded any witnesses who advocate for civil rights. Google's Katherine Oyama was the only witness to object to the bill in a meaningful way.' So to get the attention of lawmakers, new media giants Google, Facebook, and Zynga turned to the only place they knew that politicians gather daily. They took out a full page ad in the New York Times. The irony of taking out a newspaper ad to protect the Web is certainly lost on no one."

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New Study Finds People Remember More Than They Think
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's remember-this? department:
An anonymous reader writes "A new study has shown that people subconsciously retain information about things they've seen even if they can't consciously remember. From the article: 'Luis Martinez of CSIC- Miguel Hernandez University in Spain and his team "read minds" with the Princess Card Trick, an act invented by magician Henry Hardin in 1905. Participants in the study mentally picked out a playing card from a group of six cards, which then disappeared. When a second group of cards appeared, the researchers had amazingly figured out which card a person had in mind and removed it. Very few people caught the trick: All of the cards in the second set were different, not just the card that people had chosen. This trick is well-known to confuse the masses, even via the Internet a magician's sleight of hand can make it seem as though he/she legitimately "read your mind" A few moments after viewing the two panels of cards, volunteers were asked which of two new cards was present in the first set of cards. None of the volunteers could actually recall which card was present. Despite claiming that they had no idea, when they were forced to choose, people got the right answer around 80 percent of the time. “People say they don’t know, but they do,” Martinez said. “The information is still there, and we can use it unconsciously if we are forced to.”'"

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Designers Build 35-Foot Robot Snake
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-gonna-need-a-bigger-robotic-mongoose department:
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian robotic design house eatArt has released a video of its latest project: the Titanoboa, a robotic snake based on a 50-foot long prehistoric serpent. The video pits the basilisk-like robot against the Mondo Spider, a walking machine large enough to hold a man, and there's obvious competition between the two. While eatArt showed a shorter version of the snake rollerblading at the Burning Man festival earlier this year, at 35 feet this is the largest version of the robot so far, with the team aiming to reach the full length in the next year or so."

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PayPal Launches Facebook App For Sending Money
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's like-this department:
angry tapir writes "PayPal has launched a Facebook application designed to let users of the social networking site send money to each other. The application, named Send Money, features a greeting card component for accompanying the money transfer with an e-card containing a message, photos and videos to mark occasions like birthdays and anniversaries."

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The $443 Million Smallpox Vaccine That Nobody Needs
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's always-be-prepared department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Once feared for its grotesque pustules and 30% death rate, smallpox was eradicated worldwide as of 1978 and is known to exist only in the locked freezers of a Russian scientific institute and the US government. There is no credible evidence that any other country or a terrorist group possesses smallpox, but if there were an attack, the government could draw on $1 billion worth of smallpox vaccine it already owns to inoculate the entire US population and quickly treat people exposed to the virus. The vaccine, which costs the government $3 per dose, can reliably prevent death when given within four days of exposure. David Williams writes that over the last year, the Obama administration has aggressively pushed a $433-million plan to buy an experimental smallpox drug, despite uncertainty over whether it is needed or will work. So why did the government award a "sole-source" procurement to Siga Technologies Inc., whose controlling shareholder is billionaire Ronald O. Perelman, a longtime Democratic Party donor, calling for Siga to deliver 1.7 million doses of the drug for the nation's biodefense stockpile at a price of approximately $255 per dose. 'We've got a vaccine that I hope we never have to use — how much more do we need?' says epidemiologist Dr. Donald A. Henderson who led the global eradication of smallpox for the WHO. 'The bottom line is, we've got a limited amount of money.'"

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Giant Chinese Desert Mystery Structure Solved
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that-settles-that department:
Velcroman1 writes "Slashdotters read Monday about strange symbols in the Gobi Desert recently imaged and indexed by Google Maps. Alien landing zones? Some military thingy? Bizarre art project? Nope. The grids of zigzagging white lines seen in two of the images — the strangest of the various desert structures — are spy satellite calibration targets, according to one NASA scientist."

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Ask Slashdot: Best Tools To Aid When "On Call"?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 03:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's hi-tech-wake-up-call department:
An anonymous reader writes "Since most readers of slashdot are IT'ers, I assume this is a familiar story: when working in IT, it often happens you need to be standby or 'on call' during a certain period. That may mean you can receive phone calls or text messages from a monitoring system in the middle of the night. I've been looking for a way to have those alerts wake me in the middle of the night but not my partner, who is sleeping right next to me. Are there hardware aids out there that can alert a person without troubling their close environment? I'm thinking armwrists, vibrating head pillows, ..."

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Toronto School Bans Hard Balls
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's watch-how-you-play department:
In an attempt to finally "think of the children," Earl Beatty Publid school has prohibited students from playing with balls after a "few serious incidents" in which students and staff were hit or almost hit by balls. From the article: "The happy days of kicking a ball around at recess ended Monday after students took home a letter advising that henceforth, no child could bring a soccer ball, football, volleyball or even tennis ball to the junior and senior school in the area of Coxwell and Danforth Aves." I assume all lunches will soon be taken via feeding tube to minimize choking hazards.

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EU Speaks Out Against US Censorship
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 02:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's play-nice department:
bs0d3 writes "The EU Parliament has adopted, 'by a large majority,' a statement warning the US to refrain 'from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names' due to the 'need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communications.' This resolution highlights both the practices prescribed in SOPA/PIPA... but also the actions of Homeland Security and ICE in seizing domain names. By adopting a resolution against domains seizures the European Parliament recognizes the dangerous precedent the pending SOPA legislation would set, and it wouldn't be a surprise if more foreign criticism follows. No country should have the ability to simply take over international domain names, and surely the US would feel the same if this plan was put in motion by a foreign country. Or as some 60 press freedom and human rights advocate groups put it in their letter to the US representatives: 'This is as unacceptable to the international community as it would be if a foreign country were to impose similar measures on the United States.'"

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Computing Pioneers Share Their First Tech Memories
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '11 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's back-in-the-day department:
An anonymous reader writes "Major names from the world of computing and technology such as Vint Cerf, William Gibson, Richard Stallman, Michael Dell and Hermann Hauser have shared their memories on their first computers and what inspired them to get involved with the computer. Highlight's include Cerf recalling his experience with the valve-based US air defense network Sage — as seen in Dr Strangelove — and Acorn co-founder Hauser building an eight bit computer out of marbles and a shoebox."

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