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Twitter Rejects Prosecutors' Subpoena For a User's Data Without Warrant
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-and-what-army department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "In defense of user privacy, Twitter filed a motion yesterday in a New York state court asking a judge to block a subpoena that would force the company to turn over the data of one of its users, Malcolm Harris. Harris was arrested in an Occupy Wall Street protest on the Brooklyn Bridge in October for 'disorderly conduct.' The company's lawyers claim that the subpoena violates the fourth amendment and Twitter's terms of service, which says that users' tweets belong to them and thus can't be handed over to law enforcement without their consent."

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The Wretched State of GPU Transcoding
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's things-that-should-work-better-in-2012 department:
MrSeb writes "This story began as an investigation into why Cyberlink's Media Espresso software produced video files of wildly varying quality and size depending on which GPU was used for the task. It then expanded into a comparison of several alternate solutions. Our goal was to find a program that would encode at a reasonably high quality level (~1GB per hour was the target) and require a minimal level of expertise from the user. The conclusion, after weeks of work and going blind staring at enlarged images, is that the state of 'consumer' GPU transcoding is still a long, long way from prime time use. In short, it's simply not worth using the GPU to accelerate your video transcodes; it's much better to simply use Handbrake, which uses your CPU."

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The Patent Mafia and What You Can Do To Break It Up
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's he-sends-one-of-yours-to-east-texas-you-send-one-of-his-to-norcal department:
colinneagle sends this quote from an article about the ever-growing patent racket in the tech industry:
"The lawsuits are raging all across the tech world. Oracle sues Google, Yahoo sues Facebook, they counter-sue. Others threaten, others buy more patents and the circle goes round and round. Don't be fooled by the lawsuits between these tech titans though. The real cost that the patent mafia extracts from the tech world is on the smaller companies who can't afford to battle the Apples and Microsofts of the world. Their choices are far simpler. They can abandon their innovations or they can choose to pay and allow the Mafiosos to wet their beaks. Also, don't be fooled about who the real losers are here. The the real losers are you and me. ... So what do do? Here is my opinion. I would make it just as expensive for the offensive patent prosecutors. Just as the government put in the RICO act to combat organized crime, I would put a similar law in place on patents. RICO calls for treble damages. I would have treble awards of costs and legal fees. If a patent holder sues another entity for patent violation and that suit fails, the plaintiff who brought the suit should pay treble damages to the defendant. Three times what the defendant paid to defend."

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Microsoft Makes Ambitious Carbon Neutral Pledge
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we-will-grow-a-rainforest-on-the-moon department:
Qedward writes "Chief operating officer Kevin Turner says Microsoft will be 'carbon neutral across all our direct operations including data centers, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings' from July 1, the start of the 2012 fiscal year. Turner added: 'We are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies, large and small, to look at what they can do to address this important issue."

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Apache OpenOffice Releases Version 3.4
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
An anonymous reader sends word that Apache OpenOffice 3.4 has been released (download). This is the first release since OpenOffice became a project at the Apache Software Foundation. The release notes list all of the improvements, the highlights of which The H has summarized:
"According to its developers, Apache OpenOffice (AOO) 3.4.0, the first update since OpenOffice.org 3.3.0 from January 2011, now starts up faster than its predecessor and introduces a number of new features such as support for documents secured using AES256 encryption. The Linear Programming solver in the Calc spreadsheet program has been replaced with the CoinMP C-API library from the Computational Infrastructure for Operations Research (COIN-OR) project. As in LibreOffice 3.4.0, the DataPilot functionality has been renamed to Pivot Table, and now supports an unlimited number of fields. A new 'Quote all text cells' CSV (Comma Separated Values) export option has been also added to Calc. Other changes include improved ODF 1.2 encryption and Unix Printing support and various enhancements to the Impress presentation and Draw sketching programs."

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Government Asks When It Can Shut Down Wireless Communications
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's right-after-we-vote-you-all-out-of-office department:
Fluffeh writes "Around nine months ago, BART Police asked to have wireless communications disabled (PDF) between Trans Bay Tube Portal and the Balboa Park Station. That was because they knew a public protest was to take place there — and the service to the underground communication system was disabled. This affected not only cellphone signals, but also the radio systems of Police, Fire and Ambulance crews (PDF) within the underground. This led to an even larger protest at a BART station and many folks filed complaints along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation. The FCC responded by launching a probe into the incident. The results were a mixed bag of 'To protect citizens!' and 'Only in extreme cases,' not to mention the classic 'Terrorists use wireless communications!' But even if the probe doesn't lead to a full proceeding and formal order, the findings may well be used as a guide for many years to come."

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TSA's mm-Wave Body Scanner Breaks Diabetic Teen's $10K Insulin Pump
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's terrorists-are-known-to-have-insulin department:
OverTheGeicoE writes "Savannah Barry, a Colorado teenager, was returning home from a conference in Salt Lake City. She is a diabetic and wears an insulin pump to control her insulin levels 24/7. She carries documentation of her condition to assist screeners, who usually give her a pat-down search. This time the screeners listened to her story, read her doctor's letter, and forced her to go through a millimeter-wave body scanner anyway. The insulin pump stopped working correctly, and of course, she was subjected to an invasive manual search. 'My life is pretty much in their hands when I go through a body scan with my insulin pump on,' she says. She wants TSA screeners to have more training. Was this a predictable outcome, considering that no one outside TSA has access to millimeter-wave scanners for testing? Would oversight from the FDA or FCC prevent similar incidents from happening in the future?"

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Tidal Heating Shrinks Goldilocks Zone Around Red Dwarfs
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-we-blame-newton-for-this department:
scibri writes "An overlooked factor could shrink the habitable zone for planets around M-class dwarf stars by as much as 50%. For these smaller, cooler stars, the habitable zone was thought to extend to relatively close orbits. But as you get closer to a star, the tidal force it exerts on a planet increases. Since planets do not have perfectly circular orbits, tidal forces cause the planet to flex and unflex each time it moves closer to or further from its star; kneading its interior to produce massive quantities of frictional heat — enough to scour the planet of any liquid water. Because M-class dwarf stars are the most numerous in the galaxy, and close-in planets are easier to spot than more distant ones, such stars have been a major target for planet hunters seeking Earth-like worlds. But now it seems we may have been looking in the wrong place for Earth's twin."

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The Avengers: Why Pirates Failed To Prevent a Box Office Record
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-wouldn't-download-an-angry-green-dude department:
TheGift73 sends this excerpt from TorrentFreak:
"Despite the widespread availability of pirated releases, The Avengers just scored a record-breaking $200 million opening weekend at the box office. While some are baffled to see that piracy failed to crush the movie's profits, it's really not that surprising. Claiming a camcorded copy of a movie seriously impacts box office attendance is the same as arguing that concert bootlegs stop people from seeing artists on stage. ... Of all the people who downloaded a pirate copy of the film about 20% came from the U.S. This means that roughly 100,000 Americans have downloaded a copy online through BitTorrent. Now, IF all these people bought a movie ticket instead then box office revenue would be just 0.5% higher. Not much of an impact, and even less when you consider that these 'pirates' do not all count as a lost sale."

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Ask Slashdot: Best Option For Printing Digital Photos?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's making-that-a-literal-ton department:
rrossman2 writes "With the birth of our son (who is now just over two), we have snapped and accumulated a ton of pictures — on Panoramio, Picasa, Facebook, etc. What is the best option for bulk printing the photos to a physical format? We all know how fast technology advances, as well as how fast sites come and go; I want a way to have these pictures for my son when he is older... just like my grandfather has photos of himself from World War II, my parents have photos of me when I was little, etc. Are there any affordable services that you can upload the photos to that print and deliver long-lasting pictures? How well do today's photo ink jets last, and what's the best type of paper? I do have a cheaper Samsung color laser printer, but color lasers don't make the most color-rich prints, and using normal photo paper you can find in big box stores doesn't work out too well, as the laser toner seems to peel off on the rollers and gum things up. (Is there a good long lasting paper that seems to work well with laser printers?) I can see what's going to happen in the future: all of the digital photos people take now are going to either end up on a website that won't be around in 20+ years, or get stuck on disks or flash memory that won't last, or for which interfacing with the media will become difficult or impossible."

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FDA May Let Patients Buy More Drugs Without Prescriptions
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-prescriptions-are-sacred-and-perfect department:
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration may soon permit Americans to obtain some drugs used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes without obtaining a prescription allowing patients to diagnose their ailments by answering questions online or at a pharmacy kiosk in order to buy current prescription-only drugs for conditions such as high cholesterol, certain infections, migraine headaches, asthma or allergies. Some pharmacists embrace the notion that they should be able to dole out medication for patients' chronic conditions without making them go through a doctor. 'This could eliminate the need for a physician visit for certain meds that may have been prescription prior to this change,' said Ronna Hauser, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs for the National Community Pharmacists Association. 'However, there may be circumstances when a patient might need a physician visit and diagnosis and original prescription to start therapy but could continue on that therapy with pharmacist refill authorization capabilities.'" (Read more, below.)

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DDR4 RAM To Hit Devices Next Year
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's wear-your-helmets department:
angry tapir writes "Micron has said that DDR4 memory — the successor to DDR3 DRAM — will reach computers next year, and that the company has started shipping samples of the upcoming DDR memory type. DDR4 is more power-efficient and faster than DDR3. New forms of DDR memory first make it into servers and desktops, and then into laptops. Micron said it hopes that DDR4 memory will also reach portable devices like tablets, which currently use forms of low-power DDR3 and DDR2 memory."

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Facebook Spammers Make $20M, Get $100K Fine
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bad-work-if-you-can-get-it department:
jfruh writes "Adscend Media, which has been making up to $20M a year from so-called "likejacking" spam on Facebook, has reached agreement with the Attorney General of Washington to stop those activities and pay $100,000 in court costs. Among other nefarious techniques, Adscend would overlay Facebook "like" buttons with provocative photos to spread links to ads from which Adscend would earn referral fees. Adscend also settled out of court with Facebook for an undisclosed amount."

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Why You Don't Want a $99 Xbox 360
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-it's-only-wafer-thin department:
itwbennett writes "Peter Smith has done the math on Microsoft's $99 Xbox 360 — 4GB model (no hard drive) and a Kinect sensor. Here's why it's a bad deal: 'You'll be paying $99 + $359.76 in monthly fees, or $458.76 over the course of two years. Compare that with (I'm using prices from Amazon that were accurate as of May 7th, 2012) $287.70 for an Xbox 360 4GB + Kinect bundle, and two 12-month Xbox Live Gold cards at $48.41 each, a total of $384.52. So you're paying almost $75 for the privilege of laying out small cash now.' And then there's the not insignificant matter of early termination fees."

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Undergrad Project Offers Site Privacy Information At a Glance
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's go-no-go department:
An anonymous reader writes "Not everyone can read legalese. Websites ought to have clearer, more transparent, and simpler privacy policies. One important step in this direction is a simple way of summarizing a privacy policy's features, to make it easy to see how a website will use and protect user data. Inspired by Creative Commons and the Mozilla Privacy Icon Project, we (a group of Yale undergrads) have designed a set of icons, as well as simple descriptions, to describe common features of privacy policies. Additionally, we have built a generator to make it easy for websites to add these icons to their own sites. To further encourage awareness, we have reviewed several popular websites' privacy policies, so that users can see for themselves how they fare." True to their word, the examples show some tiny but nicely scannable icons.

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Nearly 150 Companies Show Interest in the Tech Love Boat
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's sealand-with-engines department:
New submitter dandv writes with an story from VentureBeat about another entry in the race to escape national jurisdiction by offshoring work — literally offshoring, that is : "Blueseed is a Silicon Valley company that plans on launching a cruise ship 30 minutes from the coast of California, housing startup entrepreneurs from around the world. These startuppers won't need to bother with US visas, because the ship will be in international waters. They'll have to pay tax to whatever country they're incorporated in, though. So far, 146 startups said they'd like to come to the ship."

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20 Years of GSM and SMS
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's grudgingly-admit-sms-is-useful department:
udas writes "Two thirds of the world's population, 4 billion people, use cell phones today, and all of them have access to SMS. Groupe Spécial Mobile (GSM), set up in 1982, created the GSM standard, leading to a unified, open, standard-based mobile network. SMS, upto 160 7-bit character messages sent over control channels (when they aren't busy), was part of the original GSM specification itself. The first GSM handests were approved for sale in May 1992. But it was not until 1996, when pay-as-you-go SIM cards showed up, and the kids got their hands on it, that SMS gained popularity."

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Heartland Institute Learning To Troll On Billboards
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 04:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's tim-mcveigh-was-vegan-too department:
Fluffeh writes "The Heartland Institute is a lovely group of folks who take issue with mainstream climate science. They organize an annual get-together of like minded folk and talk trash about environmental change. 'The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society.' (That's from a press release!). Recently, when they were tricked by a researcher into sending him a lot of internal documents, they decided to go on the offensive and also get some more media attention. After all, any story is a good story, right? Launching a billboard with the Unabomber on it with the slogan 'I still believe in Global Warming. Do You?' was just the start, with the institute planning Fidel Castro, Charles Manson and possibly even Osama Bin Laden. That's when even their stout backers threatened to walk away, backing started to dry up — and it seems that common sense started to prevail — but only so far as to stop them from making their message too public."

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Scientists Solve Mystery of Ireland's Moving Boulders
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '12 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's sea-aliens-did-it department:
Hugh Pickens writes "How has a 78-ton boulder traveled 130 meters inland from the sea since 1991? Live Science reports that geologists have puzzled for years over the mysterious boulders that litter the desolate coastline of Ireland's Aran Islands that somehow move on their own when no one is looking. The sizes of the boulders in the formations range 'from merely impressive to mind-bogglingly stupendous,' writes geoscientist Rónadh Cox. While some researchers contend that only a tsunami could push these stones, new research finds that plain old ocean waves, with the help of some strong storms, do the job. Some boulders move inland at an average rate of nearly 3 meters per decade, with one rock moving 3.5 meters vertically and 69 meters horizontally in one year. The team compared modern high-altitude photos of the coastline to a set of meticulous maps from 1839 that identified the location of the boulders' ridges — nearly 100 years after the most recent tsunami to hit the region, which struck in 1755. The Aran cliffs rise nearly vertically out of the Atlantic (video), leaving very deep water close to the shore. As waves slam into the sheer cliff, that water is abruptly deflected back out toward the oncoming waves. This backflow may amplify subsequent waves resulting an occasional storm wave that is much larger than one would expect. 'There's a tendency to attribute the movement of large objects to tsunami,' says Cox. 'We're saying hold the phone. Big boulders are getting moved by storm waves.'"

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Exposure to Wide Variety of Microbes May Reduce Allergies
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '12 at 11:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's introducing-whole-foods-gammaproteobacteria-shake department:
sciencehabit writes "A new study reveals that people who grow up in more rural environments are less likely to develop allergies. The reason may be that environments rich with species harbor more friendly microbes, which colonize our bodies and protect against inflammatory disorders."

From the article: "To test whether or not biodiversity does indeed create a shield against such conditions, the team investigated the microbial diversity of 118 teenagers. The study participants, who had lived in the same houses their whole lives, were chosen at random from a 100-by-150-kilometer block in eastern Finland. Some kids lived on rural, isolated farms, while others lived in larger towns. ... surveyed all of the types of plants growing around the adolescents' homes. The participants were part of a separate long-term allergy study, so the researchers took advantage of that data to investigate the connection between biodiversity and allergies. ... Whether there is just something special about Finland's native plants or whether this finding can be applied around the world is still an open question, Hanski says. 'Many research groups worldwide could easily attain these data from their study populations, and then we'd know how general these results might be.'"

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