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Boston Dynamics Unveils AlphaDog Quadruped Robot
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '11 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-will-chase-you-in-your-nightmares department:
An anonymous reader writes "Boston Dynamics, the company that created the BigDog quadruped robot, has unveiled a new, bigger system called AlphaDog. AlphaDog, a DARPA-sponsored project, can carry a payload of 400 pounds for up to 20 miles without having to refuel, and it's also much quieter than BigDog. The robot is designed to assist humans in carrying heavy equipment over rough terrain, and Boston Dynamics' schedule has the first walk-out of AlphaDog taking place sometime in 2012, when U.S. Marines will begin to put the robot to the test for real."

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SpaceX Reveals Plans For Full Launch System Re-usability
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '11 at 05:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's waste-not-want-not department:
FleaPlus writes "During a talk at the National Press Club, SpaceX's Elon Musk revealed the company's plans for making their Falcon 9 rocket fully reusable. A rendering depicts the first stage, upper stage, and Dragon capsule all separately returning to the Earth's surface and making a controlled, rocket-powered landing. During the next few years SpaceX will be testing VTVL (Vertical Takeoff, Vertical Landing) maneuvers and re-usability with their Falcon 9-based 'Grasshopper' testbed, with up to 70 test launches per year. Musk stated that if reuse is successful, it would result in a 100x reduction in their already-low launch costs, a key step toward Musk's long-term aim of lowering the price of a ticket to Mars to $500K."

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How Adobe Flash Lost Its Way
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '11 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's wrong-turn department:
snydeq writes "Despite early successes on the Web, the latter years of Flash have been a tale of missed opportunities, writes Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister. 'The bigger picture — which I've touched on before — is that major platform vendors are increasingly encouraging developers to create rich applications not to be delivered via the browser, but as native, platform-based apps. That's long been the case on iOS and other smartphone platforms, and now it's starting to be the norm on Windows. Each step of the way, Adobe is getting left behind,' McAllister writes. 'Perhaps Adobe's biggest problem, however, is that it's something of a relic as developer-oriented vendors go. How many people have access to the Flash runtime is almost a moot point, because Adobe doesn't make any money from the runtime directly; it gives it away for free. Adobe makes its money from selling developer tools. Given the rich supply of free, open source developer tools available today, vendors like that are few and far between. Remember Borland? Or Watcom?'"

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How Google Drove Samsung Away
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '11 at 01:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's and-stay-out department:
itwbennett writes "The patent licensing agreement between Microsoft and Samsung this week set off a firestorm of childish tit-for-tat between Microsoft and Google. But more telling is what Samsung had to say about its relationship with Google: 'Samsung knows it can't rely on Google. We've decided to address Android IP issues on our own,' a Samsung official told The Korea Times. The only good news to come from all of this, says blogger Brian Proffitt, is that we may be headed for a courtroom showdown over just what patents Microsoft believes are in violation, which really is what should have happened to begin with."

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Top 1% of iOS Game Developers Make a Third of All Revenue
Posted by News Fetcher on September 30 '11 at 12:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fighting-for-scraps department:
donniebaseball23 writes "The top one percent of iOS game developers earn over a third of the gaming revenue made on the App Store, according to a new survey of iOS developers. The survey, set up by Canadian indie developer Owen Goss, found that the bottom 80 percent of iOS developers are splitting a mere three percent of all App Store game revenue."

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Pavegen To Tap Pedestrians For Power In the UK
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 10:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's electric-slide department:
An anonymous reader writes "Several years ago Laurence Kembell-Cook unveiled Pavegen floor tiles, which capture kinetic energy from footsteps and convert it to electricity. Now after two years of product testing and picking up a slew of awards across the U.K., Pavegen has received its first commercial order — to light up the new Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre."

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Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Destroy Hard Drives?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 08:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's burn-it-with-fire department:
First time accepted submitter THE_WELL_HUNG_OYSTER writes "I have 10-15 old hard drives I want to trash, some IDE and some SATA. Even if I still had IDE hardware, I don't want to wait several weeks to run DBAN on all of them. I could use a degausser, but they are prohibitively expensive. I could send them to a data destruction firm, but can they be trusted? What's the fastest, cheapest DIY solution?"

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The Inside Story of the Kelihos Takedown
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 05:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's with-a-little-help-from-my-friends department:
Trailrunner7 writes "Earlier this week, Microsoft released an announcement about the disruption of the Kelihos botnet that was responsible for spam messages, theft of sensitive financial information, pump-and-dump stock scams and distributed denial-of-service attacks. The botnet had a complex, multi-tiered architecture as well as a custom communication protocol and three-level encryption. Kaspersky Lab researchers did the heavy lifting, reversing the protocol and cracking the encryption and then sink-holing the botnet. The company worked closely with Microsoft's Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), sharing the relevant information and providing them with access to our live botnet tracking system."

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RIM Changes Stance On PlayBook's Android Support
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-changed-our-mind department:
hypnosec writes "It hasn't been long since the BlackBerry maker Research In Motion announced that its QNX based tablet device, the PlayBook, will be supporting Android implementation on it. However, it has been revealed now that a sizable portion of Android apps will be cut off from running on the moderately successful tablet device. The news, thus leads us to a situation where Android developers might not be interested anymore in coming up with new apps for the QNX powered gadget. The Android apps which won't be working in the QNX based tablet device includes, Android Live Wallpapers; apps that contain more than one activity tied to the launcher, the Android text-to-speech engine, Android cloud-to-device messaging service amongst a few others."

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2011 Ig Nobel Prizes
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's silly-science department:
alphadogg writes "The quirky Ig Nobel prizes honoring some of the world's funniest if not the most practical academic research will be handed out tonight at 7:30 EST at Harvard University. The theme this year is chemistry, but that doesn't really restrict which entries might win, judging from research that has claimed Ig Nobels in the past. For instance, last year the prize for medicine went to a Netherlands researcher who discovered that riding roller coasters alleviates asthma symptoms. The prize for engineering went to an international team 'for perfecting a method to collect whale snot using a remote-control helicopter.'" You can read more about this year's nominees and watch the live webcast here.

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Put On Your 3D Glasses — Class Is About To Start
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's smell-o-vision-also-very-valuable department:
First time accepted submitter sydneyhype writes "Seven schools across Europe have been testing the effectiveness of 3D learning tools — specifically 3D projections of body organs in biology class. A study found test results jumped up by 17%. Prof Bamford says, 'Children can see how things function. Instead of learning about the heart statically they can see it in a solid way, literally see blood passing through the valves, see exchange of oxygen, rotate it, tilt it and zoom in.'"

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Outlining a World Where Software Makers Are Liable For Flaws
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's mattress-has-a-pea-beneath department:
CowboyRobot writes with this piece at the ACM Queue, in which "Poul-Henning Kamp makes the argument for software liability laws. 'We have to do something that actually works, as opposed to accepting a security circus in the form of virus or malware scanners and other mathematically proven insufficient and inefficient efforts. We are approaching the point where people and organizations are falling back to pen and paper for keeping important secrets, because they no longer trust their computers to keep them safe.'"

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Mercury Turns Out To Be a Weird Little World
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-certainly-mercurial department:
sighted writes "The robotic spacecraft MESSENGER, now orbiting the first planet, has found new findings odd features on its surface, including unexplained, blueish 'hollows' that may be actively forming today. The findings will be published this week in Science. One scientist said, 'The conventional wisdom was that Mercury is just like the Moon. But from its vantage point in orbit, MESSENGER is showing us that Mercury is radically different from the Moon in just about every way we can measure.'" As you might expect, National Geographic has beautiful imagery to go along with the story.

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Chrome Set To Take No. 2 Spot From Firefox
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's who-does-number-two-work-for? department:
CWmike writes "Google's Chrome is on the brink of replacing Firefox as the second-most-popular browser, says the Web statistics firm StatCounter, which shows that Chrome will pass Firefox to take the No. 2 spot behind Microsoft's IE no later than December. As of Wednesday, Chrome's global average user share for September was 23.6%, while Firefox's stood at 26.8%. IE, meanwhile, was at 41.7%. The climb of Chrome during 2011 has been astonishing: It has gained eight percentage point since January 2011, representing a 50% increase. During that same period, Firefox has dropped almost four percentage points, a decline of about 13%, while IE has also fallen four points, a 9% dip. That means Chrome is essentially reaping all the defections from Firefox and IE."

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Why Chilies Are Hot and Yogurt Puts Out the Fire
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hence-the-kefir-in-the-spray-bottle department:
bazzalunatic writes "The hottest chili in the world was made by Australians earlier this year, but how did they get the chilies so hot? Seems that worm juice is the key to revving up the capsaicin. And milk and yogurt are best to douse the heat, as they have fats that can absorb the capsaicin — which actually hijacks the neurons that detect heat."

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Patent Trolls In Biotechnology
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-wait-'til-they-patent-mitosis department:
GNUman writes "A news story in this week's Nature Journal talks about patent trolls attacking biotech companies. They cite a case in which the U.S. federal court of appeals upheld 'a patent that covered the idea of trying to link infant vaccination with later immune disorders.' The news story also references an interesting article from researchers at Boston University School of Law (Bessen, James E. et al, 2011, 'The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls'), in which they analyze the effect of litigation on the wealth of the defendants via their stock's value before and after litigation, and given that such loss minimally translates into an increment in the wealth of the inventor, they determine that patent litigation harms society and removes incentives for innovation."

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Ask Slashdot: Best Long-Term Video/Picture Storage?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's y'tell-the-kids-that-today-they-don'-believe-ye department:
First time accepted submitter (and first-time parent — congratulations!) SoylentRed writes "I recently have had my first kid, a wonderful healthy daughter who is now just over 6 months old. As one can expect, we have an abundance of photos and videos, and have started to scratch our heads about the best way to store these files and back them up long-term. My parents have asked us (funny thing is it was my mom — the least tech-savvy person among our family) what our plan is to make sure these files are saved and available for her when she is older — which made me realize that we don't really have a good plan! We are currently using TimeMachine on my wife's MacBook Pro; for now we are doing OK with that as a back-up. But my parents have offered to help pay for something that might be a better solution. We could burn DVDs — but that is tedious and gets to be a pain as we would need to back those up (or recopy) them every year or so to be sure we aren't suffering from degrading DVDs. Is our best option right now to pick up two hard drives, back up all our pictures and videos to the first, and then use a 3rd party app to mirror that drive to the second just in case one of them craps out? Is there an online solution that would be better? We are still a few years away from being able to afford the DVDs/CDs that are the 100+ year discs. Is there a better solution I haven't thought of?"

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China Launches Space Station Laboratory Module
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-space-stations-must-charge-with-micro-usb department:
wisebabo writes with news from CNN that "China's first space laboratory module launched Thursday, according to state-run media, an important milestone in China's plan to build a space station." The module, known as Tiangong-1, features sleeping areas and exercise equipment. Writes wisebabo: "In another universe (Arthur C. Clarke's 2011), it would be on its way to Europa by now. Anyone know what orbital plane/altitude it's at? Can it be reached by NASA/Soyuz? Are the docking ports compatible? How about the air pressure/breathing mix?"

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Panasonic To Unveil New Helper Robots
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's with-the-help-of-unveiler-robots department:
cylonlover writes "With the aging of populations in many countries around the world, particularly Japan, there are ever increasing numbers of elderly to care for, but relatively fewer younger people to do the job. Robots have long been seen as a means of filling the gap and Panasonic is set to unveil its latest technology designed to do just that. The three robotic devices set to make their debut at the upcoming 38th International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition (H.C.R.2011) in Tokyo include a communication assistance robot and new models of the company's Hair-Washing Robot and RoboticBed."

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A Third of Sun-Like Stars May Have Warm Earth Analogs
Posted by News Fetcher on September 29 '11 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's where-do-you-think-the-off-world-colonies-are? department:
The Bad Astronomer writes "An astronomer studying data from the first 136 days of the Kepler observatory missions has calculated that as many as 34% of all Sun-like stars (abstract) may have Earth-sized planets orbiting in their habitable zones, where conditions are right for life as we know it. I have some reservations with his numbers, but they do match other studies. There may be 15 billion warm, Earth-sized worlds in our galaxy alone."

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