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The F-35 Story
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's trying-too-hard-and-not-hard-enough department:
New submitter phyzz writes "The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program aimed to replace several aircraft from three major military services with a fifth-generation model capable of short-takeoff and vertical-landing while maintaining the capability of sustained supersonic flight — all while staying affordable. The project has finally gotten some test points validated, but after a decade in development and numerous cost and schedule overruns, it faces an uphill fight against budget reductions. Bloomberg has an interesting story about the program's troubled past. Quoting: 'Ten years and $66 billion later, the aircraft is still in development, five years behind schedule and 64 percent over cost estimates. The Obama administration may cancel some models and also cut the Pentagon’s orders. The plane, envisioned as the affordable stealth fighter for the U.S. and allies, has turned into a budget target. "I’d blame the program’s setbacks on the fact that we lived in a rich man’s world," said Jacques Gansler, a former Pentagon chief weapons buyer in the Clinton administration and now a professor at the University of Maryland at College Park. "There has been less emphasis on cost over the past 10 years," he said.'"

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Derek Deville Answers Your Questions on Rocketry
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-just-a-weekend-thing department:
After his amateur rocket flight in the desert (to 121,000 feet!), you asked rocket enthusiast Derek Deville about the project. Derek's responded to a selection of the best of those questions; read on below for his replies.

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B&N Releases Nook Tablet To Rival Amazon Fire
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's more-options department:
jfruhlinger writes "It looks like there's competition in the low-cost media tablet space — and that Barnes & Noble is determined not to go the way of Borders. Barnes & Noble today announced the Nook Tablet, an Android-based tablet with better specs than the Kindle Fire (though it's also $50 pricier). The Nook Tablet will allow Hulu and Netflix streaming and sideloading of content, but won't have access to the general-purpose Android App Store."

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Gecko-Inspired Tape Can Be Reused Thousands of Times
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's future-of-sticky department:
Zothecula writes "As is so often the case these days for those searching for a better way to stick stuff together, researchers from the Zoological Institute at the University of Kiel in Germany have turned to the biology of gravity-defying ceiling walkers, such as geckos and insects. These creatures served as inspiration for a new dry adhesive tape that not only boasts impressive bonding strength, but can also be attached and detached thousands of times without losing its adhesive properties."

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One Tenth of China's Farmland Polluted With Heavy Metals
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 08:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's progress-marches-on department:
eldavojohn writes "A report form China's Environmental Ministry reveals that one tenth of China's 1.22 million square kilometers of farmland are polluted with heavy metals and other toxins. The AFP lists 'lead, mercury and cancer-causing cadmium' and points to the rapid pace of China's industrialization as well as factories and their operators flouting regulations and laws. Cheap batteries and lead refineries are slowly turning China into a land where whole villages are poisoned (11 incidents so far this year). According to Human Rights Watch the government's response to this scourge is laughable. The poisoned are denied treatment and China's Environmental Ministry offers no possible help: 'The report documents how local authorities in contaminated areas have imposed arbitrary limits on access to blood lead testing, for example by permitting only people living within a small radius of a factory to be tested. When tests are conducted, results have often been contradictory or have been withheld from victims and their families. And children with elevated blood lead levels who require treatment according to national guidelines have been denied care or told simply to eat certain foods, including apples, garlic, milk, and eggs.'"

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White House Responds to ET/UFO Petitions
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's petitions-are-out-there department:
An anonymous reader writes "The White House has responded to two more We the People petitions. These new inquiries ask the government to acknowledge formally that aliens have visited Earth. The response from Phil Larson of the White House Office of Science and Technology is: 'The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.'" I'm glad that's cleared up. Now our government can get back to important work like developing caffeinated jerky.

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Help Rename the Department of Homeland Security
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's department-of-silly-claims department:
Hugh Pickens writes "James Fallows writes tongue in cheek that U.S. Department of Fear, led by Secretary of Fear Malcolm P. Stag III, is running a poll. What should we re-name the Department of Homeland Security? 'Possibilities include Department of ScaredyCatLand Security, reflecting the prevailing mentality of an era, and Department of Fatherland Security, to make us sound strong,' writes Fallows. 'There are many more to choose from, plus you can write in your own nominees. But act now, because the polls close Tuesday.'"

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RIAA Lawyer Complains DMCA May Need Revamp
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 07:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's still-not-enough department:
the simurgh writes "The DMCA is just not providing the kind of protection against online piracy that Congress intended, RIAA lawyer Jennifer Pariser says. The judge in Universal Music Group's copyright suit against Veoh as well as the judge in EMI vs. MP3tunes.com issued similar findings. The courts have now determined the burden of policing the web for infringing materials is the content owner and not the service provider. Content companies think it is unfair for them to be required to spend resources on scouring the Web when their pirated work helps service providers make money. What they complain about almost as much is that after they notify a service provider of an infringing song or movie clip and they're removed, new copies appear almost immediately. Basically they are complaining the the DMCA makes them responsible for policing their own content at their expense."

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Computer-Controlled Cyborg Yeast
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 06:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-your-bread-are-belong-to-us department:
MrSeb writes "With a slightly weird world first, scientists have formed a feedback loop between common, baking and brewing yeast, and a computer. The computer can trigger the yeast to produce a protein, and the yeast then feeds back to the computer how much of the protein is being produced — the computer has exact control over the yeast's production. This work, performed by scientists at the Automatic Control Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, is exceptional because of its simplicity: The computer turns the yeast on by flashing a red light, and it turns the yeast off by flashing a deeper red light. Connected to the yeast is a 'reporter' molecule that fluoresces when the protein is produced. The computer can see this fluorescence and alter the light it emits, thus creating a full feedback loop. The simplicity is significant because of the role of yeasts and bacteria in the production of antibiotics, biofuels, and more. The problem is controlling those organisms — so far, scientists have tried to genetically add synthetic control circuits, with limited success... and now the Swiss have shown that it can be done by simply shining a couple of lights."

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Linux Mint 12 to Blend GNOMEs 2 & 3
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's by-popular-demand department:
dartttt writes "Linux Mint 12 'Lisa' will come with its own customized desktop and it will be based on Gnome 3. The core desktop will be based on a series of Gnome Shell extensions called 'MGSE' (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions) that will provide a layer on top of Gnome 3. MGSE also includes additional extensions such as a media player indicator, and multiple enhancements to Gnome 3. Thus Linux Mint 12 will be more like a hybrid desktop balancing traditional desktop and new modern technologies."

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Apple Faces Temporary iPhone, iPad Ban In Germany
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's das-ist-verboten department:
An anonymous reader writes "A regional court has temporarily banned Apple from marketing or supplying iPhones and iPads in Germany, following a suit brought about by Motorola. However, Apple said that the judgement 'does not affect our ability to do business or sell products in Germany at this time.' This may have something to do with the respondent in the case being Apple Inc, the US parent company, and not Apple GmbH, the company's local subsidiary."

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FEMA, FCC Hope To Forestall Panic Over National Emergency Alert
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's awaiting-dhs-kickbacks department:
Ars Technica has a piece on the "first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS)," slated for this Wednesday at 2 p.m. EST. An excerpt:

"This national system will look and sound much like the current (and local) emergency warnings often seen on TV or heard on radio, but the scope is larger and it can be put under the direct control of the President. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Weather Service (NWS) will all coordinate the test, but it's FEMA that actually transmits the alert code. Concerned that such a test might alarm people, the agencies are going to extraordinary lengths to provide a heads-up. I first heard about the test in an e-mail newsletter from my city government, which told residents last week, 'Do not be alarmed when an emergency message will take over the airways... this is only a test.' The test will display a warning message on TV screens, though as my city helpfully noted, 'Due to some technical limitations, a visual message indicating that "this is a test" may not pop up on every TV channel, especially where people use cable to receive their television stations.'"

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Fujitsu Announces 16-core SPARC64 IXfx (and the Supercomputer It Powers)
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 03:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's soul-of-a-new-machine department:
First time accepted submitter A12m0v writes with a link to Fujitsu's announcement of its next generation of supercomputer, from which he pastes: "PRIMEHPC FX10 runs on the newly-developed SPARC64 IXfx processors, which offer a very significant boost in performance over the SPARC64 VIIIfx processor on which they are based and which power the K computer. Each processor has 16 cores and achieves world-class standalone performance levels of 236.5 gigaflops and performance per watt of over 2 gigaflops." Not that K is any slouch.

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Cringely's Lost Jobs Interview: Coming To a Theater Near You
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '11 at 12:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's no-1984-runners-allowed department:
A few weeks ago, Robert X. Cringely revealed that a long-lost, hour-long interview he conducted of Steve Jobs in 1995 had been found. Now, it seems the lost tape has found its calling: the movies. Says the linked Economic Times story: "The interview will be shown at Landmark theaters in 19 cities around the country beginning Nov 16."

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Bell Labs Builds Cheap Telepresence 'Robots'
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '11 at 09:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what's-your-avatar department:
schliz writes "Alcatel-Lucent's research arm, Bell Labs, is building low-cost robots that represent remote participants in meeting rooms. Researchers hope it will address the issue of the natural, non-verbal 'voting mechanism,' by which people determine who should speak based on who most people are looking at. The technology will likely be priced in the 'hundreds of dollars,' rather than the tens of thousands that the likes of Cisco and Polycom charge for high-end telepresence rooms."

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Google's Patent Lawyer On Why the Patent System Is Broken
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '11 at 06:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-that's-absurd department:
The San Francisco Chronicle features an interview with Google's patent counsel, Tim Porter, who argues that "... what many people can agree on is the current system is broken and there are a large number of software patents out there fueling litigation that resulted from a 10- or 15-year period when the issuance of software patents was too lax. Things that seemed obvious made it through the office until 2007, when the Supreme Court finally said that the patent examiners could use common sense. Patents were written in a way that was vague and overly broad. (Companies are) trying to claim something that's really an idea (which isn't patentable). There are only so many ways to describe a piston, but software patents are written by lawyers in a language that software engineers don't even understand. They're being used to hinder innovation or skim revenue off the top of a successful product." Porter is speaking in particular about the snarls that have faced (and still face) Android, based on Microsoft patents; he blames some of the mess on a patent regime where "you don't know what patents cover until courts declare that in litigation. What that means is people have to make decisions about whether to fight or whether to reach agreements."

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Hacked MIT Server Used To Stage Attacks
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '11 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's always-hurt-the-ones-you-love department:
wiredmikey writes "A compromised server at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been identified as being used as a vulnerability scanner and attack tool, probing the Web for unprotected domains and injecting code. According to researchers, the ongoing attacks appear to be related to the Blackhole Exploit Pack, a popular crime kit used by criminals online. The attacks started in June, and an estimated 100,000 domains could have been compromised. Judging by initial data, one MIT server (CSH-2.MIT.EDU) hosts a malicious script actively used by cyber-crooks to scan the web for vulnerable websites. These types of attacks are how BlackHat SEO scams are propagated, which target search results in order to spread rogue anti-virus or other malware. In addition, compromised hosts are also leveraged for other schemes, such as spam or botnet control."

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Mixed-Reality 3D Volumetric Projector
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '11 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's that's-a-lot-of-projectors department:
First time accepted submitter Gortu writes "We are describing and demonstrating a 3D Volumetric Projector (YouTube video); in short words: a device that enables mixed reality. The 3D projector has very poor quality, we just have 10 rotational voxels (as we are using only 10 regular LCD projectors), but is proof of concept for developing a commercial solution."

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Apple Security Chief Steps Down After iPhone Gaffe
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '11 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's don't-go-to-bars-any-more department:
Trailrunner7 writes "Apple's vice president of global security has reportedly stepped down, roughly two months after the surfacing of news reports that an iPhone prototype had gone missing for the second time in less than two years. John Theriault, who came to Apple from Pfizer and was a former FBI agent, has retired in the wake of controversy regarding the device's disappearance and the subsequent efforts to track it down. Apple did not return a request for comment. Nevertheless, Theriault's departure follows a public relations dustup that began when an Apple employee left the prototype at a bar in San Francisco."

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Mozilla Developers Testing Mobile OS
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '11 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's marketplace-of-ideas department:
MojoKid writes "Mozilla has been experimenting with an interesting idea called Boot 2 Gecko. Essentially, B2G (as it's called) is a mobile operating system based on the Web, as opposed to what the project's wiki calls 'proprietary, single-vendor stacks.' Mozilla has something here. Open Web technologies provide an intriguing platform for lots of things, mobile and otherwise. The B2G project is still pretty new, but according to the project roadmap, testing has already begun and will continue through the rest of 2011. Messaging, telephony, and battery management aspects of the OS are underway, and contacts, screen/power management, and settings are scheduled. A product demo is scheduled for sometime in the first quarter of 2012."

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