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New Programming Languages Come From Designers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '12 at 02:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sprung-fully-formed-from-their-beards department:
eldavojohn writes "A very lengthy and somewhat meandering essay from Crista Videira Lopes has sparked off some discussion of where new programming languages come from. She's writing from the viewpoint of academia, under the premise that new languages don't come from academia. And they've been steadily progressing outside of large companies (with the exception of Java and .NET) into the bedrooms and hobbies of people she identifies as 'designers' or 'lone programmers' instead of groups of 'researchers.' Examples include PHP by Rasmus Lerdorf, JavaScript by Brenden Eich, Python by Guido van Rossum and — of course — Ruby by Yukihiro Matsumoto. The author notes that, as we escape our computational and memory bounds that once plagued programming languages in the past and marred them with ultra efficient syntax in the name of hardware, our new languages are coming from designers with seemingly little worry about the budget CPU being able to handle a large project in the new language. The piece is littered with interesting assertions like 'one striking commonality in all modern programming languages, especially the popular ones, is how little innovation there is in them!' and 'We require scientific evidence for the claimed value of experimental drugs. Should we require scientific evidence for the value of experimental software?' Is she right? Is the answer to studying modern programming languages to quantify their design as she attempts in this post? Given the response of Slashdot to Google's Dart it would appear that something is indeed missing in coercing developers that a modern language has valid offerings worthy of their time."

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NASA Rocket Barrage Will Light Up Mid-Atlantic Coast
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '12 at 12:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-in-a-good-way department:
coondoggie writes "NASA will this week detail a mission where it will launch five rockets in five minutes from its Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia that will light up the night sky for millions of folks in a swath between New York City and about Wilmington, NC. The five rocket blasts, which could occur between March 14 and April 4, are part of what the space agency calls the Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX), a Heliophysics sounding rocket mission that aims to gather data needed to better understand the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth, NASA said."
NASA will be hosting a teleconference at 1PM EST on Wednesday to discuss the mission. They also have brief PDF descriptions of the rockets involved: Terrier-Improved Orion, Terrier Oriole, and Terrier Malemute.

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Open Source Robotic Surgeon
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's with-many-eyes-all-bugs-are-still-potentially-lethal department:
GlobalEcho writes "Researchers have created a second version of the Raven robotic surgeon, with open-source control code. 'UW researchers also created software to work with the Robot Operating System, a popular open-source robotics code, so labs can easily connect the Raven to other devices and share ideas.' Unfortunately for them, according to The Economist, 'there is [a] legal problem. Intuitive Surgical, the company behind the da Vinci [robot], holds patents that could make launching a commercial competitor tricky — at least in the immediate future."

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The Ineffectiveness of TSA Body Scanners
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they're-expensive-therefore-they-work department:
TheNextCorner points out a video that lays bare a glaring flaw in the TSA body scanners used in airports to detect weapons and explosives. In such scans, citizens are depicted in light colors, while metallic objects show as very dark. The problem comes when you consider that the images are taken with a dark background. From the transcript:
"Yes that’s right, if you have a metallic object on your side, it will be the same color as the background and therefore completely invisible to both visual and automated inspection. It can’t possibly be that easy to beat the TSA’s billion dollar fleet of nude body scanners, right? The TSA can’t be that stupid, can they? Unfortunately, they can, and they are. To put it to the test, I bought a sewing kit from the dollar store, broke out my 8th grade home ec skills, and sewed a pocket directly on the side of a shirt. Then I took a random metallic object, in this case a heavy metal carrying case that would easily alarm any of the “old” metal detectors, and walked through a backscatter x-ray at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. On video, of course. While I’m not about to win any videography awards for my hidden camera footage, you can watch as I walk through the security line with the metal object in my new side pocket."

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The Mercedes-Benz 'Cloaking Device'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-least-it-can't-fire-while-cloaked department:
cold fjord writes "As part of its marketing campaign for the new hydrogen fuel cell powered F-Cell, Mercedes-Benz has equipped one with a cloaking device. They covered one side of an F-Cell with LEDs and used cameras on the other side to capture the view, which is then displayed on the LEDs to effectively remove the vehicle from the line of sight."

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UK Anti-Piracy Law Survives Court Challenge
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-setting-up-a-more-dramatic-fall department:
Grumbleduke writes "The UK's controversial Digital Economy Act survived its second court challenge today. Two ISPs had appealed last year's ruling that the measures included did not breach EU law and, for the most part, the Court of Appeal agreed, ruling in favor of the Government and the 10 unions and industry groups supporting the law in court. The decision was welcomed by the industry groups, but criticized by the UK's Pirate Party, whose leader pointed to the lack of evidence that the law would have any positive effects. A UK copyright specialist noted that the ISPs may still appeal the decision to the UK's Supreme Court, seeking a reference to the Courts of Justice of the European Union, and wondered if the law could now attract the same attention from the Internet as SOPA and ACTA. The law is still some way from being implemented, and the first notifications are not expected to be sent to alleged file-sharers before 2013, and the next steps could also be open to a legal challenge."

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Ask Slashdot: Good, Forgotten Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-ender's-game-does-not-count department:
jjp9999 writes "I've been looking for some good reading material, and have been delving into the realms of some great, but nearly forgotten authors — finding the likes of Lord Dunsany (The King of Elfland's Daughter) and E.R. Eddison (The Worm Ouroboros). I wanted to ask the community here: do you know of any other great fantasy or science fiction books that time has forgotten?"

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Google, Motorola Ordered To Provide Android Info To Apple
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-put-some-mustard-on-it department:
snydeq writes "A U.S. judge has ordered Motorola Mobility and Google to turn over information to Apple on Google's acquisition in 2005 of Android, its development of the Android OS and the proposed acquisition of Motorola. According to Motorola, the information Apple seeks regarding Google's acquisition of Motorola and Android is not relevant to any damages asserted in the case."
This comes alongside news that Apple has offered licensing deals to Motorola and Samsung that would resolve some of the patent litigation. Apple is reportedly asking for $5-$15 per device sold.

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What To Do About an Asteroid That Has a 1 In 625 Chance of Hitting Us In 2040?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ignore-it-until-2039-and-then-panic department:
The Bad Astronomer writes "The asteroid 2011 AG5 is 140 meters across: football-stadium-sized. Its orbit isn't nailed down well enough to say yet, but using what's currently known, there's a 1 in 625 chance it will impact the Earth in 2040. It's behind the Sun until September 2013, and more observations taken then will probably reduce the odds of impact to something close to 0. But does it make sense to wait until then to start investigating a mission to deflect it away our planet? Astronomers are debating this right now, and what they conclude may pave the way for how we deal with an asteroid threat in the future."

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Timberwolf (Firefox) Beta For AmigaOS
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 03:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's what-else-are-you-gonna-do department:
An anonymous reader writes "News from the world of AmigaOS that the Beta version of Timberwolf (a.k.a. Firefox) was made available last month."

Timberwolf is a port of Firefox to the AmigaOS (the name change is for similar reasons to Debian's use of Iceweasel name) and has been under development for quite some time. The AmigaBounty project page has screenshots and even more info for those interested. There's a video of the browser in action, but beware of the cheesy soundtrack.

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Exercise and Caffeine May Activate Metabolic Genes
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 03:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's fifty-cups-of-coffee-or-exercise-'tis-the-question department:
ananyo writes "A trip to the gym could mean not just losing pounds — but also chemical modifications from DNA in the form of methyl groups. The presence (or absence) of methyl groups at certain positions on DNA can affect gene expression. Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm looked at the methylation status of genes in small biopsies taken from the thigh muscles of healthy young adults before and after a stint on an exercise bike. They found that, for some genes involved in energy metabolism, the workout demethylated the promoter regions (stretches of DNA that facilitate the transcription of particular genes). Genes unrelated to metabolism remained methylated. Furthermore, similar demethylation could be seen when cultured muscle cells were given a massive (probably lethal) dose of caffeine."

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X-37B Space Plane Marks One Year In Space
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's retrofitted-with-lasers department:
S810 writes with an excerpt from an article on the X-37B in at Discovery News: "The military won't say what it has been doing with its experimental miniature space shuttle, but the pilotless spaceship, known as the X-37B, has been in orbit for a year now. The 29-foot robotic spacecraft, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV, was launched on March 5, 2011, on a follow-up flight to extend capabilities demonstrated by a sistership during a 244-day debut mission in 2010. 'We are very pleased with the results of ongoing X-37B experiments,' Tom McIntyre, with the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office..."

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Western Digital's Hitachi Storage Takeover Approved With Restrictions
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's trade-commission-regulating-trade-for-once department:
angry tapir writes "Western Digital's plan to buy Hitachi Global Storage has run into US FTC resistance: The U.S. FTC will require Western Digital to sell off assets used to manufacture desktop hard drives to a competitor as a condition of its US$4.5 billion acquisition of rival Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, the agency has announced."

It looks like Toshiba is the competitor receiving the manufacturing assets.

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Google Unifies Media, Apps Into Google Play
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's enslavement-was-never-so-much-fun department:
eldavojohn writes "Google has just announced Google Play to merge their existing solutions for music, movies, books and apps in the new cloud based storage system promising that you will never have to worry about losing or moving them across devices ever again. You'll be able to store 20,000 songs for free. The region breakdown is: 'In the U.S., music, movies, books and Android apps are available in Google Play. In Canada and the U.K., we'll offer movies, books and Android apps; in Australia, books and apps; and in Japan, movies and apps. Everywhere else, Google Play will be the new home for Android apps.'"

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Warner Bros: New Program To Digitize Your DVDs
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 12:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's more-drm-is-awesome department:
shoutingloudly writes "Warner Brothers has just announced a new 'Disc-to-Digital' program to convert your DVDs into digital files that you can play on your internet-connected computers. As the helpful Public Knowledge graphics demonstrate, all you have to do is find a participating store, drive there, pay again for your movie, wait while it's ripped for you, drive home, and hope it works. This will surely have tech-savvy movie fans saying, 'Brilliant! I've been looking for an excuse to uninstall this free, 1-step DVD ripper that I can use in the comfort of my own home. This is much better than DMCA reform.'"

In exchange for paying a bit more you might get a higher resolution copy (DRM encumbered and stored in "the cloud"). The launch process is absurdly cumbersome, but: "Later on, Internet retailers like Amazon.com will email customers to offer digital copies of DVDs they previously bought. Eventually, consumers will be able to put DVDs into PCs or certain Blu-ray players that will upload a copy, similar to the way people turn music CDs into MP3 files." Will the video distributors ever offer DRM-free files that you own? The music industry doesn't seem to be any worse off than they were when they insisted upon DRM.

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Intel Releases Sandy Bridge-based Xeon E5 Series
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 11:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's please-send-eight department:
crookedvulture writes "Desktop and notebook users have been enjoying chips based on Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture for more than a year. Now, workstations and servers can get in on the action with the Xeon E5-2600 series. These Sandy Bridge-EP Xeons offer up to eight cores, 20MB of cache, and a truly staggering amount of I/O bandwidth. Unlike their consumer-grade counterparts, the new chips feature more advanced power management and the ability to deposit incoming data packets directly into the CPU's cache rather than going through main memory. They also plug into LGA2011 sockets, requiring an upgrade to the new Romley-EP platform. No fewer than 17 models are available, with prices falling between $200 and $2000 and TDPs ranging from 60-150W."

The summary is slightly incorrect -- the Xeon E3 series has been out for the workstation market for quite a while (sporting graphics cores on the models ending in -XXX5 too).

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X Server Now Available For Android
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's x11-will-never-die department:
New submitter mkwan writes "The open-source X Server for Android has hit beta and is now available for download through the Android Market. On Australian networks at least, smartphones are assigned publicly-accessible IP addresses, so it should be possible to display many Linux applications on an Android smartphone simply by setting the <tt>DISPLAY</tt> environment variable to the phone's IP address followed by <tt>:0</tt>"

The source is available under the MIT license (or Apache; the project page and story disagree) over at Google Code. It doesn't support all of the X protocol and there's no Xlib implementation (i.e. no X11 apps on the device yet except via the NDK if you're lucky), but it is a reimplementation of the X server in Java for Android. You can run remote applications at least.

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Gate One Brings Text-mode Surfing To the Web, Quake-Style
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's terminal-illness department:
Riskable writes "As a follow-up to my previous Slashdot story, Gate One is now out of beta. Packages can be downloaded here. There's also a live demo: press the ESC key on this page to have a terminal running lynx drop into view, Quake-style! I've also posted a video overview and the documentation can be found here. Some pertinent changes since the beta: Added the ability display images inline within terminals, key-based SSH authentication, a WebSockets authentication API (for secure embedding), dramatically improved terminal emulation, an overhauled bookmark manager, support for international keyboard layouts, and a web-based log viewer that lets you export logs to self-contained HTML playback files."

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US Asserts Super-Jurisdiction Over Dot-Com, Dot-Net, and Dot-Org Domains
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's mother-may-I department:
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Geist reports that last week State of Maryland prosecutors were able to
obtain a warrant ordering Verisign, the company that manages the dot-com domain name registry, to redirect the website to a warning page
advising that it has been seized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The message from the case is clear: all dot-com, dot-net, and
dot-org domain names are subject to U.S. jurisdiction regardless of where they operate or where they were registered. This grants the U.S. a form of 'super-jurisdiction' over Internet activities, since most other
countries are limited to jurisdiction with a real and substantial
connection."


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Ask Slashdot: What Is an Acceptable Broadband Latency?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '12 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's insert-rant-about-3g-dongle-speeds department:
holmedog writes "A simple question with a lot of answers (I hope). I recently had issues with my DSL broadband at home, and after a month of no resolution, I was told 300ms latency (to their test servers) was the acceptable range for Centurylink 10.0Mbps. This got a shocked reaction out of me to say the least. I would think anything over 125ms to be in the unacceptable range. So, I have come to you to ask: What do you consider to be acceptable broadband latency and why?"

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