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Northrop Grumman Sues US Postal Service Over Automated Snail-mail Sort Contract
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 12:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's brought-to-you-by-fedex department:
McGruber writes "The Federal Times is reporting that Northrup Grumman has filed suit against the US Postal Service, accusing the USPS of violating the terms of the 2007 fixed-price ($875 million) contract to produce 100 massive automatic sorting systems, each capable of handling millions of magazines, catalogs and other pieces of flat mail. The Postal Service embarked on the project just as mail volume was beginning to nosedive, cutting into anticipated efficiency gains. The sorting machines' performance has been uneven, according to a series of reports by the Postal Service's inspector general."

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Kinect In the Operating Room
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's hands-off department:
colinneagle writes with an excerpt from Network World: "Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London began trials of a Kinect-driven camera last week that would sense body position, and by waving his or her hands, the surgeon can sift through medical images, such as CT scans or real-time X-rays, while in the middle of an operation. During surgery, a surgeon will stop and consult medical images anywhere from once an hour to every few minutes. So the surgeon doesn't have to leave the table, the doctor will work with assistants, but sometimes, if you want things done to your satisfaction, you have to do it yourself. Dr. Tom Carrell, a consultant vascular surgeon at Guy's and St Thomas', described an operation on a patient's aorta earlier this month to New Scientist. 'Up until now, I'd been calling out across the room to one of our technical assistants, asking them to manipulate the image, rotate one way, rotate the other, pan up, pan down, zoom in, zoom out.' With the Kinect, he says, 'I had very intuitive control.'"

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Sidestepping Tactical Nuclear Weapons Limits With Strategic Bombs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's comes-in-five-flavors department:
Lasrick writes "Benjamin Loehrke describes the rather odd definitions of what is a 'tactical' nuclear weapon and what isn't. 'There is enough ambiguity surrounding the capabilities of tactical and strategic nuclear weapons to render the term "tactical" all but useless for arms control purposes. As the United States and Russia pursue new arms control treaties, they should drop the tactical distinction and limit the total number of all nuclear weapons — strategic, tactical, or other.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Recommendations For a Laptop With a Keypad That Doesn't Suck
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's buckling-springs-for-a-better-tomorrow department:
PhunkySchtuff writes "I'm seeking the collective's recommendations on a laptop with a numeric keypad that doesn't suck. For practicality reasons, an external USB keypad is less convenient than a built-in one. A keypad is required for entry of lots of numbers, and using the alpha keys with the Fn key to turn them into a keypad is not acceptable. Looking at the larger manufacturers, it seems that none of their business grade laptops (e.g. Lenovo's T-Series or similar quality levels) have numeric keypads. Looking at their laptops that do have keypads, invariably they are cheap, plastic and flimsy. Looking at Lenovo's offering with a Keypad, whilst it's a 15" screen, the vertical resolution is just 768 pixels, and the build quality of it leaves a lot to be desired. I need to find something that is built to the quality of a 'real' ThinkPad, or even a MacBook Pro, but has a full-sized keyboard with a numeric keypad and there doesn't seem to be anything like that on the market at the moment. This is a mystery to me as to why it would be the case as I'd imagine it's business users who need to use a keypad more than the average user, yet it is the consumer grade laptops that have keypads."

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Amazon Patents Pitching As-Seen-On-TV Products
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's it-slices-it-dices-it-edits-slashdot department:
theodp writes "Q. What do you get when you surround the image of Men in Black star Will Smith trying on sunglasses with a pitch for 'MIB Bill Smith Dark Shades'? A. U.S. Patent No. 8,180,688. 'Many people consume broadcast media such as television shows and movies for many hours a week,' Amazon explained to the USPTO in its patent application for a Computer-Readable Medium, System, and Method for Item Recommendations Based on Media Consumption. 'The consumed broadcast media may depict a variety of items during the course of the transmission, such as clothing, books, movies, accessories, electronics, and/or any other type of item.' So, does Amazon's spin on As Seen on TV advertising deserve a patent?"

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Apple Commits To 100% Renewable Energy Sources for NC Data Center
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's hippie-fired-power-plant department:
judgecorp writes "Stung by continued criticism from Greenpeace and protests at Apple's headquarters over its use of electricity from non-renewable sources, Apple has promised that its data center in Maiden, North Carolina will use 100 percent renewable electricity,, 60 percent of it generated by Apple itself. The update is possible because it is building a second giant solar array, and because its data center only needs 20MW at full capacity, instead of the 100MW which Greenpeace had estimated."

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Aero Glass UI No More On Windows 8
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's zombie-nextstep-will-eat-your-ui department:
New submitter closer2it writes with news of interface changes in Windows 8. From the article: "Microsoft has revealed that it has made some big changes to its desktop UI for Windows 8, which includes moving away from Aero Glass — the UI first introduced with Vista. According to the company, this means visual changes that include 'flattening surfaces, removing reflections, and scaling back distracting gradients.' Despite all of these changes with the interface, the company doesn't appear to be worried about the issue of 'learnability.' Instead, Microsoft believes that with a little help it won't take long for users to adapt to the new operating system."

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Falcon 9 Launch Aborted At Last Minute
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 05:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's timothy-camping-on-launchpad department:
ClockEndGooner writes "Sadly, SpaceX had to abort its launch of the Falcon 9 to the International Space Station this morning due to higher than expected pressure levels in one of its engine chambers. NASA and SpaceX have another launch window scheduled for early next week."

Probably better than an engine failing during launch; hopefully everything is worked out for Tuesday.

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Golden Age of Silicon Valley Is Over With Facebook IPO
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's what's-your-favorite-gravedancing-music? department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Steve Blank, a professor at Berkeley and Stanford and serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley, says that the the Facebook IPO is the beginning of the end for Silicon Valley as we know it. "Silicon Valley historically would invest in science, and technology, and, you know, actual silicon," says Blank. "If you were a good venture capitalist you could make $100 million." But there's a new pattern emerging created by two big ideas that will lead to the demise of Silicon Valley as we know it. The first is putting computer devices, mobile and tablet especially, in the hands of billions of people and the second is that we are moving all the social needs that we used to do face-to-face onto the computer and this trend has just begun. "If you think Facebook is the end, ask MySpace. Art, entertainment, everything you can imagine in life is moving to computers. Companies like Facebook for the first time can get total markets approaching the entire population." That's great for Facebook but it means Silicon Valley is screwed as a place for investing in advanced science. "If I have a choice of investing in a blockbuster cancer drug that will pay me nothing for ten years, at best, whereas social media will go big in two years, what do you think I'm going to pick?" concludes Blank. "The headline for me here is that Facebook's success has the unintended consequence of leading to the demise of Silicon Valley as a place where investors take big risks on advanced science and tech that helps the world. The golden age of Silicon valley is over and we're dancing on its grave.""

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UK Gov't Reneges On Open Source Promise For Cloudstore 2.0
Posted by News Fetcher on May 19 '12 at 01:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's promises-promises department:
DerekduPreez writes "The UK government has finally unveiled the second iteration of its Cloudstore after a number of delays, and has reneged on its pledge to make version 2.0 open source. Cloudstore is an online catalogue that the public sector can use to procure cloud services provided by suppliers signed up to the G-Cloud framework. The first version of the Cloudstore was unveiled in February. Computerworld UK spoke to former G-Cloud director Chris Chant shortly after the first release, who was at the time also overseeing the second iteration. He stated during his interview that Cloudstore 2.0 would be go live in April and it would be built using open source code. However, following weeks of delays, the Cabinet Office has now confirmed that the second iteration also isn't open source."

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Jaguar and Land Rover Angle For Production In China
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 10:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ya-go-where-the-action-is department:
First time accepted submitter ourlovecanlastforeve writes "Those of you still hanging on to Jaguar and Land Rover as the last vestiges of the truly British automobile in the States may find yourselves grasping at straws as Chery announces a nearly two billion dollar joint effort with the auto brand to move production to Changsu in China." Anyone still hanging on to that idea might also be interested to learn that Jaguar and Land Rover are subsidiaries of India's Tata, maker of the low-priced Nano.

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MIT Unveils Robotic Manipulator Filled With Coffee Grounds
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-creepy-robot-smells-delicious department:
An anonymous reader writes "MIT researchers have developed a highly articulated robotic manipulator based on soft materials that can harden to reposition the device. The technique is known as jamming, and it relies on pouches filled with granular material like coffee grounds; when air is removed from the pouches, they become rigid. The researchers combined jamming actuators with cables to build a manipulator resembling an elephant trunk. They say the device is low-cost, capable of grasping a variety of objects, and can remain in a hardened state for extended periods of time using little energy."

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With Mountain Lion's iCloud Integration, Apple Strengthens the Garden Wall
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 05:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's any-color-as-long-as-it's-apple department:
snydeq writes "With WWDC around the corner, iOS 6 rumors are taking center stage, but the real action for developers may be around iCloud. Forthcoming OS X Mountain Lion will integrate iCloud into the formal file system, making iCloud usage much easier and thus more common, and thanks to iCloud Documents, which lets apps open and save documents directly in iCloud, developers will be able to better tap iOS-to-OSX document syncing in their apps, a la iWork. But there is a downside to this opportunity: 'For developers, it further enmeshes you in the Apple ecosystem, almost in the way that America Online did in its heyday. Case in point: OS X apps can use the iCloud Documents APIs only if they are sold through the Mac App Store.'"

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India Lurches Toward Internet Censorship
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 05:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's history-of-the-world department:
First time accepted submitter ixarux writes "India is at a crucial crossroad at the moment. Internet censorship laws are getting stricter as it begins to ban file-sharing and video-sharing websites. It started with Indian courts allowing censorship of Google, Facebook, etc. It has now gone one step ahead and decided to ask ISPs to block file-sharing sites. It is the movie industry which is again at the forefront of this. Anonymous retaliated, and targeted the websites of various Indian government websites in protest. What India lacks at this crucial juncture are debates in the public domain about this and citizens actually organizing protests as seen in the West."

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Your Passwords Don't Suck — It's Your Policies
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-birthdays-all-the-time department:
First time accepted submitter eGuy writes "ZDNet sparked a debate about password policies when John Fontana wrote about my open source (LGPL) password policy project that rewards XKCD-like passwords. Steve Watts of SecurEnvoy replies that it is too little, too late. What think ye? Is there hope for passwords?"

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Flashback Click Fraud Campaign Was a Bust
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's peter-principle-for-black-hats department:
zarmanto writes "It seems the Flashback botnet has netted their creators nothing but frustration. Flashback was tagged early on by anti-virus vendors, who promptly sink-holed many of the command & control addresses, and essentially crippled the hacker's ability to control the vast majority of the Flashback botnet... but that's not the best part. The Flashback spawned click fraud campaign resulted in... nada! It seems that their pay-per-click affiliate may be on to their scheme, as they refused to pay out. Score one for the good guys, for once."

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Microsoft Wins US Import Ban On Motorola's Android Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sorry-about-your-luck department:
jbrodkin writes "The U.S. International Trade Commission today ordered an import ban on Motorola Mobility Android products, agreeing with Microsoft that the devices infringe a Microsoft patent on 'generating meeting requests' from a mobile device. The import ban stems from a December ruling that the Motorola Atrix, Droid, and Xoom (among 18 total devices) infringed the patent, which Microsoft says is related to Exchange ActiveSync technology. Today, the ITC said in a 'final determination of violation' (PDF) that 'the appropriate form of relief in this investigation is a limited exclusion order prohibiting the unlicensed entry for consumption of mobile devices, associated software and components thereof covered by ... United States Patent No. 6,370,566 and that are manufactured abroad by or on behalf of, or imported by or on behalf of, Motorola.' Motorola (which is being acquired by Google) was the last major Android device maker not to pay off Microsoft in a patent licensing deal. Microsoft has already responded to the decision, saying it hopes Motorola will now reconsider."

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Facebook Privacy Suit Seeks $15 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's timing-entirely-a-coincidence-i'm-sure department:
An anonymous reader writes "The folks at Facebook may be focusing on their IPO today, but a complaint filed in federal court has given them something else to think about. The filing consolidates 21 separate but similar cases and alleges Facebook invaded users privacy by tracking their browsing behavior even after they had logged out of the site. The claim seeks $15 billion in damages. 'If the claimants are successful in their case against Facebook, they could prevent Menlo Park from collecting the huge amount of data it collects about its users to serve ads back to them. Like the previous lawsuits, Facebook is once again being accused of violating the Federal Wiretap Act, which provides statutory damages per user of $100 per day per violation, up to a maximum per user of $10,000. The complaint also asserts claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, various California Statutes and California common law.'"

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Supervolcano Drilling Plan Gets Go-Ahead
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-could-possibly-go-wrong department:
sciencehabit writes "A project to drill deep into the heart of a 'supervolcano' in southern Italy has finally received the green light, despite claims that the drilling would put the population of Naples at risk of small earthquakes or an explosion. Yesterday, Italian news agency ANSA quoted project coordinator Giuseppe De Natale of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology as saying that the office of Naples mayor Luigi de Magistris has approved the drilling of a pilot hole 500 meters deep. The project’s organizers originally intended to bore a 4-kilometer-deep well in the area of the caldera late in 2009, but the plan was put on hold by then-mayor Rosa Russo Iervolino after scientists expressed concerns about the risks."

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EA To Provide Free Distribution To Kickstarter Games
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doing-it-right department:
New submitter The God of Code writes "EA has announced that they will be waiving all Origin distribution fees for crowd-funded games — like those from Kickstarter — for the first 90 days. 'The public support for crowd-funding creative game ideas coming from small developers today is nothing short of phenomenal,' Origin VP David DeMartini commented. 'It's also incredibly healthy for the gaming industry. Gamers around the world deserve a chance to play every great new game, and by waiving distribution fees on Origin we can help make that a reality for successfully crowd-funded developers.' The recently funded Wasteland 2 developer Brian Fargo applauds EA's move, saying, 'Having Origin waive their distribution fees for 90 days for fan funded games is a major economic bonus for small developers. We look forward to bringing Wasteland 2 to the Origin audience.'"

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