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How Ford Will Upgrade Owners' Display Screens
Posted by News Fetcher on November 19 '11 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's changing-focus department:
gManZboy writes "'Sometime early next year, Ford will mail USB sticks to about 250,000 owners of vehicles with its advanced touchscreen control panel. The stick will contain a major upgrade to the software for that screen. With it, Ford breaks the model in which the technology in a car essentially stayed unchanged from assembly line to junk yard' — and Ford becomes a software company. This shift created a hot new tech job at Ford: human-machine interface engineers — people who come from a range of backgrounds, from software development to mechanical engineers, and who can live in the worlds of art and science at once."

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Controlling a Robot From a Smartphone's Headphone Jack
Posted by News Fetcher on November 19 '11 at 03:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hypnotic-control department:
RedEaredSlider passes along this excerpt about what looks like a smart advance in controlling hobbyist robots:"The concept is quite simple: put a wheeled chassis on a smart phone or iPod Touch that allows for using the device as the 'brain.' But that simplicity is what makes the robot, called Romo, powerful. Since the controls are contained entirely within the phone, they can be downloaded as apps. One can add new physical capabilities to Romo -– a claw, or a scoop -– but that doesn't require any new additions to the phone. Also, the controls are through the headphone jack. That simplifies the design and means that the robot doesn't need to be linked with only one brand of smart phone."

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Climate Panel Says To Prepare For Weird Weather
Posted by News Fetcher on November 19 '11 at 12:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-the-ostrich-mukluks-then department:
Layzej writes "Extreme weather, such as the 2010 Russian heat wave or the drought in the horn of Africa, will become more frequent and severe as the planet warms, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns in a report released today. Some areas could become 'increasingly marginal as places to live in,' the report concludes. Critics of the report note that 'Governments have in the past considerably weakened the language of IPCC summaries for policymakers,' and that the IPCC process tends to water down even the most obvious conclusions."

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US Gives Raytheon $10.5M For 'Serious Games'
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 07:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's recruit-from-wow-raids department:
coondoggie writes "These aren't your basic video gaming systems here. The U.S. government gave Raytheon BBN Technologies $10.5 million today to develop what it called 'serious games' that feature an international detective theme developed by game designers, cognitive psychologists and experts in intelligence analysis."

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Ask Slashdot: Good, Useful Free Software For Gifts?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's lump-of-coal-doesn't-fit department:
First time accepted submitter Jeng writes "I'm planning on sending flash drives to friends and family as stocking stuffers. Rather than just send a blank drive, I'm looking for what good useful free software that I can load on it — from system utilities and encryption software to fun little games." We've asked similar questions before, but software keeps getting better, and so do the prices on flash drives. So what would you give as a gift this holiday season?

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Two Porn Companies Take ICANN and .xxx Registrar To Court
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's acourtin'-we-will-go department:
SharkLaser writes "Two of the largest porn companies on the internet, Manwin and Digital Playground, yesterday sued both ICANN and ICM Registry, which runs the .xxx TLD, over extorting defensive registrations with ICANN's blessing. 'The complaint focuses on ICM's recently concluded "sunrise" period, during which porn companies, for about $200, could apply to own a .xxx address matching their trademark or .com domain.' Schools also felt the same way, and had to reserve domains under their name so that no porn content could be put up on them. The .xxx TLD has also previously been subject to criticism by both religious groups and adult industry, but for different reasons. Religious groups believe the .xxx TLD legitimizes pornography, while the adult industry believes it could lead to censorship."

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LHC Research May Help Explain the Universe's Matter/Antimatter Imbalance
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's level-up-your-sigma department:
suraj.sun sends this excerpt from the BBC:
"Particles called D-mesons seem to decay slightly differently from their antiparticles, LHCb physicist Matthew Charles told the HCP 2011 meeting on Monday. The result may help explain why we see so much more matter than antimatter. The team stresses that further analysis will be needed to shore up the result. At the moment, they are claiming a statistical certainty of '3.5 sigma' — suggesting that there is less than a 0.05% chance that the result they see is down to chance. The team has nearly double the amount of data that they have analyzed so far, so time will tell whether the result reaches the 'five-sigma' level that qualifies it for a formal discovery."

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Nintendo Releases The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's break-pots-steal-rupees department:
mayberry42 writes "Finally, the wait is over — for European fans, anyway. After months (well, over a year) of delays, the latest adventure of Link is finally out. Reviews for the game are consistently favorable. Famitsu magazine has given it a perfect score. IGN says it's 'the greatest Zelda game ever created,' and even the best game for the Wii. Of course, some of you may have already known this, given that it has already been hacked to run on an emulator (and yes, it looks even better in HD). I would love to hear the opinions of you Europeans who've played it. Is it as good as they say?"
(Skyward Sword doesn't come out in the U.S. until Sunday, and not until next week for Japan and Australia.) While still complimentary, Giant Bomb's review goes into a bit more depth on the game's shortcomings.

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Inside Newegg's East Coast Distribution Center
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pick-me-up-a-new-psu-while-you're-there department:
MrSeb writes "Did you know that Newegg is the second largest e-tailer in the U.S., after Amazon? Perhaps building your own computer isn't dead yet! Matthew Murray was recently invited to take a tour of the Newegg east coast distribution center and see what goes on behind the scenes. 'The 350,000-square-foot Edison warehouse not only houses some 15,000 SKUs of products, it also ships as many as 15,000 packages a day ... All of the different products the company carries are sorted both by category and how easy they are to move: Obviously, HDTVs are more cumbersome and difficult to remove safely than processors. Some mobile equipment, such as laptops, netbooks, and tablets, are stored in a special “high-value” area behind a chain-link fence that’s been erected within the warehouse itself.'"

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Sand Dunes On Mars In Motion
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's spice-must-flow department:
TheNextCorner writes with news that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected ripples and shifts in the sand dunes on Mars, which means the surface of the planet is more dynamic than previously thought. Planetary scientist Nathan Bridges said, "Mars either has more gusts of wind than we knew about before, or the winds are capable of transporting more sand. We used to think of the sand on Mars as relatively immobile, so these new observations are changing our whole perspective." The article explains, "The air on Mars is thin, so stronger gusts of wind are needed to push a grain of sand. Wind-tunnel experiments have shown that a patch of sand would take winds of about 80 mph to move on Mars compared with only 10 mph on Earth. Measurements from the meteorology experiments on NASA's Viking landers in the 1970s and early 1980s, in addition to climate models, showed such winds should be rare on Mars."

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Dual-Core Android PC Now Comes On a USB Stick
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's soon-computers-will-fit-inside-your-teeth department:
absolut.evil writes "FXI Technologies has taken a dual core smartphone-esque computer and put it into a little USB stick. Neat. This allows you to plug into anything with a screen, USB port, and input device and run your own instance of Android. It weighs 21 grams and contains 'a dual-core 1.2-GHz Samsung Exynos ARM CPU (same as in the Galaxy S II), 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI-out and a microSD card slot for memory.'"

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Of Mice and Cancer
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's paging-doctor-nicodemus department:
Maximum Prophet points out a series of articles in Slate about the role of mice and rats in the fight against cancer. The first article discusses the problem of using the same type of animal for many tests; the reactions may be consistent, but they can also be different from the reactions a human has to the same treatment. "The inbred, factory-farmed rodents in use today—raised by the millions in germ-free barrier rooms, overfed and understimulated and in some cases pumped through with antibiotics—may be placing unseen constraints on what we know and learn." The second article focuses on one particular type of mouse, bred specifically for consistency and for its suitability to labwork, which has come to dominate biological testing. The final piece examines what researchers are trying to learn from the naked mole rat, a species that doesn't seem to get cancer on its own, and is resistant to attempts to induce cancer. "Buffenstein and her students tried one of these shortcuts. They placed some mole rats in a gamma chamber and blasted their pale, pink bodies with ionizing rays. The animals were unimpressed."

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Messaging Apps, VoIP Already Eating Into Carrier Revenue
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you're-gonna-get-net-neutralized department:
An anonymous reader writes "A new breed of messaging services and mobile Voice over IP clients like Skype are already eating into carrier revenues according to a new study. '... one-third of carriers are already seeing voice traffic and SMS revenue decline as a result of the increased popularity of third-party solutions. ... For years, Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Messenger service has been one of the top features consumers and enterprise users loved about BlackBerry devices. It took much longer than some expected, but other vendors and third-party developers have finally come out in full force with competing services that provide SMS-like messaging over data networks at little or not cost to the user."

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Feds Investigating Water Utility Pump Failure As Possible Cyberattack
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's water-the-chances department:
SpuriousLogic writes with this quote from CNN:
"Federal officials confirmed they are investigating whether a cyber attack may have been responsible for the failure of a water pump at a public water district in Illinois last week. But they cautioned that no conclusions had been reached, and they disputed one cyber security expert's statements that other utilities are vulnerable to a similar attack. Joe Weiss, a noted cyber security expert, disclosed the possible cyber attack on his blog Thursday. Weiss said he had obtained a state government report, dated Nov. 10 and titled 'Public Water District Cyber Intrusion,' which gave details of the alleged cyber attack culminating in the 'burn out of a water pump.' According to Weiss, the report says water district workers noted 'glitches' in the systems for about two months. On Nov. 8, a water district employee noticed problems with the industrial control systems, and a computer repair company checked logs and determined that the computer had been hacked. Weiss said the report says the cyber attacker hacked into the water utility using passwords stolen from a control system vendor and that he had stolen other user names and passwords."

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B&N Pummels Microsoft Patent Claims With Prior Art
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's beware-the-wrath-of-patent-attornies department:
itwbennett writes "As Slashdot readers will recall, Barnes & Noble is being particularly noisy about the patents Microsoft is leveraging against the Nook. Now the bookseller has filed a supplemental notice of prior art that contains a 43-page list of examples it believes counters Microsoft's claim that Nook violates five of Microsoft's patents. 'The list of prior art for the five patents that Microsoft claims the Nook infringes is very much a walk down memory lane,' says Brian Proffitt. 'The first group of prior art evidence presented by Barnes & Noble for U.S. Patent No. 5,778,372 alone lists 172 pieces of prior art' and 'made reference to a lot of technology and people from the early days of the public Internet... like Mosaic, the NCSA, and (I kid you not) the Arena web browser. The list was like old home week for the early World Wide Web.'"

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Study Says Quantum Wavefunction Is a Real Physical Object
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-trip-on-the-wavefunctions department:
cekerr writes with this excerpt from an article in Nature
"The wavefunction is a real physical object after all, say researchers. ... the new paper, by a trio of physicists led by Matthew Pusey at Imperial College London, presents a theorem showing that if a quantum wavefunction were purely a statistical tool, then even quantum states that are unconnected across space and time would be able to communicate with each other. As that seems very unlikely to be true, the researchers conclude that the wavefunction must be physically real after all. David Wallace, a philosopher of physics at the University of Oxford, UK, says that the theorem is the most important result in the foundations of quantum mechanics that he has seen in his 15-year professional career. 'This strips away obscurity and shows you can't have an interpretation of a quantum state as probabilistic,' he says."

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Google Upgrades WebP To Challenge PNG Image Format
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's more-cat-pictures-per-gigabyte department:
New submitter more writes with news that Google has added to its WebP image format the ability to losslessly compress images, and to do so with a substantial reduction in file size compared to the PNG format. Quoting:
"Our main focus for lossless mode has been in compression density and simplicity in decoding. On average, we get a 45% reduction in size when starting with PNGs found on the web, and a 28% reduction in size compared to PNGs that are re-compressed with pngcrush and pngout. Smaller images on the page mean faster page loads."

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Engineers Create World's Lightest Material
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's less-filling-tastes-great department:
ackthpt writes "A team of engineers claims to have created the world's lightest material. Made from a lattice of hollow metallic tubes, the material is less dense than aerogels and metallic foams, yet retains strength due to the small size of the lattice structure (abstract). The material's density is 0.9 milligrams per cubic centimeter. Among other things, it's potentially useful for insulation, battery electrodes, and sound dampening."

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China Using Net Censorship As a Trade Weapon?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nobody-likes-censorship department:
angry tapir writes "The Chinese government is using Internet censorship as a trade weapon against U.S. tech companies trying to do business there. China's ongoing censorship of the Internet is applied unevenly, with foreign companies often facing stricter rules than their Chinese counterparts, said Ed Black, president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China. (Of course, a lot of countries aren't thrilled by U.S. net censorship efforts.)"

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US Army Completes First Test Flight of Mach 6 Weapon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '11 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-warmaking-on-the-go department:
Stirling Newberry writes "In a terse press release, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the first test of the the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon, which launches on a staged rocket and then glides to its target, in a manner similar to the Space Shuttle's re-entry. Earlier, ABC News posted a story with a video animation of the concept. Over at DefenseTech, they argue that the trajectory being different from an ICBM is meant to show that it is not a first strike device, but even the commenters don't think that explanation flies. The speed of deployment and the ability to strike targets without going high enough to be seen by many advance warning radars makes it a precision surprise attack weapon, a kind of super-cruise-missile for surprise, asymmetric attacks."

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