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Biosecurity Board Recommends Full Publication of Bird Flu Studies
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '12 at 04:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's keeping-mum-about-the-zombies-though department:
An anonymous reader writes "Two controversial scientific papers on a mutant form of the H5N1 avian flu virus should be published in uncensored form after a review determined there would be no immediate threat from releasing the data, a U.S. biosecurity panel said, revising its earlier decision."

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Confidentiality Expires For 1940 Census Records
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '12 at 01:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's send-more-hard-drives department:

< article continued at Slashdot >

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UK Proposing Real-Time Monitoring of All Communications
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '12 at 12:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's good-day-to-bury-bad-news department:
An anonymous reader writes "In response to a plans to introduce real time monitoring of all UK Internet communications, a petition has been set up in opposition."

Previously covered here, El Reg chimes in with a bit of conspiracy theorizing and further analysis: "It would appear that the story is being managed: the government is looking to make sure that CCDP is an old news story well ahead of the Queen's Speech to Parliament on 9 May. Sundays — especially Sunday April the 1st — are good days to have potentially unpopular news reach the population at large."

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UK Police Investigate Alleged Phorm Lunch With Officer
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 10:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's no-crimes-committed-here department:
twoheadedboy writes "City of London Police are looking into claims one of its officers was given hospitality by Phorm months before the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decided to not take the company or BT, which was using the software, to court. BT was trialling Phorm, which uses uses cookies to build a profile of users' habits and interests based on websites they visit, in 2006 and 2007, attracting the scorn of privacy campaigners. After much back and forth, the CPS dropped the case in April 2011. Now, privacy campaigner Alex Hanff, who discovered a document appearing to show an officer had been taken to lunch by Phorm in 2010, wants the case to be reopened."

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Bill Introduced To Ban Sale of MA15+ Games To Anyone Under 18 in SA
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 08:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's did-i-say-fifteen-i-meant-eighteen department:
dotarray writes "The introduction of an R18+ rating for video games into Australia has been designed to bring game classification in line with the current system in place for films and other media. One state, however, would like to widen that gap."

This is being billed (by John Rau's office) as a saner approach than eliminating the MA15+ rating entirely.

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Oracle and Google Settlement Talks Falter; Trial Set for April 16
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 06:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's let-the-games-begin department:
Fluffeh writes "Recently, a Judge ordered Oracle and Google to have yet another sit down and chat, but these talks have come to an impasse: 'Despite their diligent efforts and those of their able counsel, the parties have reached an irreconcilable impasse in their settlement discussions,' Judge Paul Grewal of US District Court for the Northern California wrote Monday. 'No further conferences shall be convened. The parties should instead direct their entire attention to the preparation of their trial presentations. Good luck.'"

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Japanese Tsunami Ghost Ship Spotted Off Canadian Coast
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 04:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's fox-mulder-investigates-discovers-terrible-plot department:
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from an article in Inhabitat: "After Japan was hit with a devastating earthquake in March 2011, the Pacific nation was rocked by a massive tsunami that destroyed thousands of coastal houses, cars and boats and swept millions of tons of debris out into the ocean. Now, it looks like some of that debris could be approaching North America. Last week, an unmanned boat identified as a Japanese fishing vessel was spotted off the coast of Canada, indicating that after more than a year, some of that debris could still be on its way to American and Canadian shores."

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More Fuel For Facebook Censorship Advocates In India
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 03:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's censorship-makes-the-world-go-round department:
thodelu writes "Close on the heels of Friday's communal clashes in a town in India that were triggered by a Facebook post which contained morphed images apparently deriding a religious place of worship, there has been another incident. City police have removed images from another similar blog post citing 'cyber criminal' laws. There has been an ongoing effort in India to censor the web which would get more backing as a result of these events. Could we be seeing another Great Firewall of China?"

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Firefox Demos Prototype Metro Interface
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's still-not-completely-sold department:
In order to provide an alternative to IE on Windows 8, Firefox needs a Metro UI. Luckily, development of a Metro interface for Firefox is well underway. The current build reuses the Android interface XUL (by virtue of being based on Fennec). The latest test release features lots of platform integration support: "We have Metro snap working, you can snap another Metro app to the right or left of Firefox and continue browsing.
We also have HTML file input controls tied up to the Metro file picker. ... implemented the Windows 8 search contract, you can use the Search Charm from any screen on Windows 8. If you enter a URL, it will be loaded. If you enter anything else, it will be searched in your default search engine. We also implemented the Windows 8 share contract, you can use the Share Charm from any Firefox page to share that page to another application. Once you select the Share Charm it will list the applications you can share to, for example: Mail, Twitter, or Facebook." If you're interested in following development, the team has made a Mercurial repository available.

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Ask Slashdot: Why Aren't Schools Connected?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's because-blackboard-will-break-your-knees department:
rtobyr writes "We use the Internet — E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to communicate with colleagues, friends, and family. When I was in Iraq with the Marine Corps, we used e-mail (secured with encryption and stuff, but e-mail nonetheless) to communicate the commanding officer's order that a combat mission should be carried out. My third grade daughter produces her own YouTube videos, and can create public servers for her games with virtual private network technology. Yet here I am trusting a third grade girl to deliver memos to me about her educational requirements in an age in which I can't remember the last time I used paper. Teachers could have distribution lists of the parents. The kids' homework is printed. Therefore, it must have started as a computer file (I hope they're not still using mimeograph machines). Teachers could e-mail a summary of what's going on, and attach the homework files along with other notices about field trips or conferences that parents should be aware of. Teachers could have an easy way to post all these files to the Internet on blogs. With RSS, parents could subscribe to receive everything that teachers put online. If teachers want to add to the blog their own personal comments about how the school year is going, then all the parents would see that also, and perhaps have the opportunity to comment on the blog. It seems to me that with the right processes, the cost and additional workload would be insignificant. For example, instead of developing a syllabus in MS Word, use Wordpress. Have schools simply not paid attention to the past decade of technology, or is there a reason that these things aren't in place?"

It seems odd that primary schools in at least the U.S. don't use technology to communicate with students much. My younger sister went to a private school that made reasonable use of Blackboard, but that seems to be the exception.

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Despite Drop In Piracy, French Music Industry Still In Decline
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's everybody-loses department:
New submitter Hentes writes "France has one of the strictest anti-piracy laws. After 17 months of operation, Hadopi has released a report, claiming that illegal P2P downloads have been reduced significantly in the country: the studies they cite measured 43% and 66% decrease in copyright infringement. But that huge amount of 'lost revenue' doesn't seem to show up in the French recording industry, as the overall recorded music market has decreased by 3.9% in 2011. Even more interesting is that digital music sales have skyrocketed in France. Could it be that it's not piracy killing the traditional recording industry but digital distribution?"

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Rybka Solves the King's Gambit Chess Opening
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 01:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's big-blue-shall-crush-you department:
New submitter smarq2 writes "Chessbase reports that chess programmer IM Vasik Rajlich has solved the King's Gambit chess opening with technical means. 3000 processor cores, running for over four months, exhaustively analyzed all lines that follow after 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 and came to some extraordinary conclusions."

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Many Police Departments Engage in Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's are-they-watching-you? department:
alphadogg writes with a distressing bit of analysis of the training materials acquired by the ACLU last week. From the article: "Many law enforcement agencies across the U.S. track mobile phones as part of investigations, but only a minority ask for court-ordered warrants, according to a report released Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union. More than 90 law enforcement agencies said they track mobile phones during investigations, but only six reported receiving court-approved warrants after demonstrating that there's probable cause of a crime, according to an ACLU report based on public information requests filed by the group last year."

The ACLU has a handy page allowing you to see if your local PD engages in such practices.

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GNU/Linux Running On An 8-Bit Processor
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 12:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's some-people-have-lots-of-free-time department:
dartttt writes, quoting Ubuntu Vibe: "Dmitry Grinberg has successfully booted Ubuntu 9.04 on an 8 bit micro machine with 6.5 KHz CPU and 16 MB RAM. Grinberg did this experiment on a ATmega1284p, 8-bit RISC microcontroller clocked at 24MHz and equipped with 16KB of SRAM and 128KB of flash storage. Since the RAM was too low, he added 30-pin 16MB SIMM to the machine and a 1 GB SD card to host Ubuntu image. ... To get the world's slowest Linux Computer running, he had to write an ARMv5 emulator which supports a 32bit processor and MMU. A similar machine can be made very easily and everything should come in about $20."

There is source code available, but it's under a non-commercial use only license. Just how slow is it? "It takes about 2 hours to boot to bash prompt ('init=/bin/bash' kernel command line). Then 4 more hours to boot up the entire Ubuntu ('exec init' and then login). Starting X takes a lot longer. The effective emulated CPU speed is about 6.5KHz, which is on par with what you'd expect emulating a 32-bit CPU & MMU on a measly 8-bit micro. Curiously enough, once booted, the system is somewhat usable. You can type a command and get a reply within a minute." If you like watching a whole lot of nothing, there's a video of the boot process below the fold.

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Guile Scheme Emacs-Lisp Compatibility Matures
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 11:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's this-is-the-future-1999-promised-me department:
In a posting to the Guile developers list
today, it was announced that the Emacs-Lisp
compiler
for Guile has matured enough to run actual elisp
programs. The author included a screencast demoing
the new compiler running the Dunnet
dungeon crawler. It is still a bit hackish: you need a load file that fakes a few Emacs side functions. In theory, most batch mode programs that don't do buffer manipulation should now work. After a few previous attempts, things could be on track for GNU Emacs 25 based on Guile.

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Mobile Operators: Creating Artificial Demand For Capacity?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 11:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's so-that's-why-i-keep-paying-more-for-less department:
An anonymous reader writes with an excerpt from Broadband Convergent: "We all have been taught the basics of supply and demand since high school. If demand is high, prices rise. If demand is low, prices fall. Simple, but true; yet this concept can be manipulated artificially if, as seen with the latest projections of mobile operators, that higher demand means higher prices. Are the dire predictions being promoted by operator's a true demand, as we have been told, or capacity hoarding that will lead to artificially higher prices and more profits for the mobile industry?"

The gist seems to be: operators have no incentive to maintain good infrastructure because it costs money and the artificial scarcity of capacity allows them to charge more.

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Double-Helix Model of DNA Paper Published 59 Years Ago
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 10:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's still-awaiting-army-of-cloned-housecats department:
pigrabbitbear writes with musings on the anniversary of the groundbreaking paper on DNA structure by Watson and Crick. From the article: "Consider every organism that's ever lived on Earth. From dinosaurs to bacteria, the number is near infinite, and an overwhelming majority have their entire structures and lives dictated according to their DNA. The DNA molecule is life itself, and it's astonishing that we've only known what it looks like for less than a century. But it's true: In one of the most groundbreaking papers ever published, James D. Watson and Francis Crick described the double-helix structure of DNA in Nature, 59 years ago today."

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South Pole Telescope Data Places Better Limit on Neutronio Mass
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's billions-of-years-in-the-making department:
An anonymous reader writes an excerpt from a press release by the University of Chicago: "Analysis of data from the 10-meter South Pole Telescope is providing new support for the most widely accepted explanation of dark energy — the source of the mysterious force that is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe."

The research resulted in three papers involving new constraints on the mass of neutrinos, a measurement of the angular power spectrum of the CMB, and a catalog of newly discovered galaxy clusters. The data lends a bit more support to the cosmological constant theory of dark energy.

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Sawfish 1.9 RC1 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 09:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department:
Last Thursday, the Sawfish window manager project announced the availability of 1.8.92. The release brings several new features. Highlights include: support for MATE and Razor-Qt (along with better GNOME and KDE support), better edge action support, and improvements to the theming system. A new OS X style single window mode has been added, along with a really interesting shade stack feature:

"Added <tt>shade-stack</tt> feature. It provides an alternative to <tt>iconify-window</tt>. Instead of iconifying a window or minizing it to a tray, the windows get shaded and sorted in a stack starting from the top-left corner (the number of columns can be changed). Combined with auto-unshade this offers — possibly — a better way of interacting with windows which aren't required at the moment. Original code by Luke Gorrie. [Christopher Bratusek]"

This is the first release candidate for the new stable 1.9 series.

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Self-Sculpting "Sand" Can Allow Spontaneous Formation of Tools
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '12 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's shape-of-a-sand-tool department:
parallel_prankster writes "Researchers at MIT are developing tiny robots that can assemble themselves into products and then disassemble when no longer needed. 'A heap of smart sand would be analogous to the rough block of stone that a sculptor begins with. The individual grains would pass messages back and forth and selectively attach to each other to form a three-dimensional object; the grains not necessary to build that object would simply fall away. When the object had served its purpose, it would be returned to the heap. Its constituent grains would detach from each other, becoming free to participate in the formation of a new shape.' To attach to each other, to communicate and to share power, the cubes use 'electropermanent magnets,' materials whose magnetism can be switched on and off with jolts of electricity."

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