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HP Wanted $1.2B For WebOS and Palm
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's is-that-in-monopoly-money department:
PolygamousRanchKid passes along this quote:
"As baffling as it may seem, HP was trying to rid itself of Palm without taking a loss on its purchase, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told [VentureBeat]. The company seemingly ignored that Palm's value had fallen significantly since HP purchased the smartphone pioneer in April 2010, thanks to the spectacular failure of the HP Touchpad tablet. And the fact that HP didn't make any progress with its new webOS phones, the Pre 3 and Veer, didn't help either. ... The $1.2 billion asking price shines some light on a story we heard from another source: At one point, HP's team tried to pitch the sale to Facebook but was practically laughed out of the room. And yes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was present at the meeting, although he apparently didn't say much (I'm sure whatever he was thinking at the time would have been gold)."

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Orangutans To Skype Between Zoos With iPads
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's 2011-in-a-nutshell department:
MrSeb writes "For the last six months, orangutans — those great, hairy, orange apes that go 'ook' a lot — at Milwaukee Zoo have been playing games and watching videos on Apple's iPad, but now their keepers and the charity Orangutan Outreach want to go one step further and enable ape-to-ape video chat via Skype or FaceTime. 'The orangutans loved seeing videos of themselves — so there is a little vanity going on — and they like seeing videos of the orangutans who are in the other end of the enclosure,' Richard Zimmerman of Orangutan Outreach said. 'So if we incorporate cameras, they can watch each other.' And thus the idea of WiFi video chat between orangutans — and eventually between zoos — was born. It might seem like folly, but putting (ruggedized!) iPads into the hands of apes could really revolutionize our understanding of great ape behavior."

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Where Would Earth-Like Planets Find Water?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-the-water-store-duh department:
astroengine writes "The term 'Earth-like worlds' is a vastly overused and hopelessly incorrect term that is popularly bandied about to explain some recent exoplanet discoveries. Although some of the distant small worlds being discovered by the Kepler space telescope may be of Earth-like size, orbiting their sun-like star in Earth-like orbits, calling those worlds 'Earth-like' gives the impression these alien planets are filled with liquid water. It turns out that we have only a vague idea as to where Earth got its water, and it will take a long time until we have any hint of this life-giving resource on worlds orbiting stars thousands of light-years away."

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Samoa and Tokelau Are Skipping December 30th
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's custom-week-crafting department:
ocean_soul writes "Starting January 1, 2012 Samoa and Tokelau will be in time zone +13 instead of -11. This means there will be no December 30, 2011 in these countries. The decision to switch time zone was based on the changing international business relations of Samoa. Samoa had adopted the -11 time zone to make business with the U.S. easier. However, currently Samoa's most important trading partners are Australia and New Zealand. By switching time zone the work-weeks and week-ends on Samoa and Tokelau will be synchronized with those in Australia and New Zealand."

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Malicious QR Code Use On the Rise
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's time-to-incorporate-rorschach-verification-tech department:
New submitter EliSowash writes "Malware developers are increasingly using QR Codes as an attack vector. 'The big problem is that the QR code to a human being is nothing more than "that little square with a bunch of strange blocks in it." There's no way to tell what is behind that QR code.' The advice we've always given to the computer user community is 'don't click a link in an email if you don't know who it's from or where it goes' — so how do we protect unsuspecting users from QR codes, where you can't see the destination at all?"

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2011: Record Year For Airline Safety
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tsa-rushes-to-take-credit department:
smitty777 writes "Unless something bad happens in the next two days, we are on track for having a new record for airline safety. The new record of one death for every 7.1 million passengers beats the 2004 record of one to every 6.4m. The WSJ also notes: 'Another low is the total number of passenger deaths; as of today that number stands at 401. Though it was lower in 2004, when 344 passengers were killed in commercial aviation accidents, that year saw 30% fewer passengers as well as far fewer flights. Western-built planes have fared best, with one major crash per 3 million flights, the best number since the International Air Transport Association began tracking crashes in the 1940s. When factoring in other types of airliners, the crash rate is about two per million flights. We are also in the midst of the longest period without a fatal airliner accident in modern aviation; nobody has died in an airliner since an Oct. 13 propeller plane crash in Papua New Guinea. The previous record was 61 days in 1985.' Russia, and counties linked to it, are the only areas that saw a drop. 2011 also seemed to break the record for unusual airline travel events as well."

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New Group Paves Way For 2012 Online Primary
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-sure-if-want department:
DJRumpy sends this excerpt from CNN:
"Americans Elect, which has raised $22 million so far, is harnessing the power of the Internet to conduct an unprecedented national online primary next spring. If all goes according to plan, the result will be a credible, nonpartisan ticket that pushes alternative centrist solutions to the growing problems America's current political leadership seems unwilling or unable to tackle. The theory: If you break the stranglehold that more ideologically extreme primary voters and established interests currently have over presidential nominations, you will push Washington to seriously address tough economic and other issues. Even if the group's ticket doesn't win, its impact will force Democrats and Republicans in the nation's capital to start bridging their cavernous ideological divide."

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Warrantless Wiretapping Decisions Issued By Ninth Circuit Court
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's win-some-lose-some department:
sunbird writes "The Ninth Circuit yesterday issued two decisions in the Electronic Frontier Foundation's lawsuits against the National Security Agency (Jewel v. NSA) and the telecommunications companies (Hepting v. AT&T). EFF had argued in Hepting that the retroactive immunity passed by Congress was unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit decision (PDF) upholds the immunity and the district court's dismissal of the case. Short of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, this effectively ends the suit against the telecoms. In much better news, the same panel issued a decision (PDF) reversing the dismissal of the lawsuit against the N.S.A. and remanded the case back to the lower court for more proceedings. These cases have been previously discussed here."

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Does 'Supersizing' Supershrink Your Brain?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's food-for-thought department:
Rambo Tribble writes "As reported by the BBC, the journal Neurology is set to release the findings of a study in Oregon on diet and brain shrinkage in Alzheimer's victims. The upshot is: a diet rich in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial; trans fat and fast food are detrimental."

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Copyright Claim Sets Back Cognitive Impairment Testing
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we-invented-the-question-mark department:
Kilrah_il writes "A recent New England Journal of Medicine editorial talks about the mini-mental state examination — a standardized screening test for cognitive impairment. After years of being widely used, the original authors claim to own copyright on the test and 'a licensed version of the MMSE can now be purchased [...] for $1.23 per test. The MMSE form is gradually disappearing from textbooks, Web sites, and clinical tool kits.' The article goes on to describe the working of copyright law and various alternative licenses, including GNU Free Documentation License, and ends with the following suggestion: 'We suggest that authors of widely used clinical tools provide explicit permissive licensing, ideally with a form of copyleft. Any new tool developed with public funds should be required to use a copyleft or similar license to guarantee the freedom to distribute and improve it, similar to the requirement for open-access publication of research funded by the National Institutes of Health.'"

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Open Source Increasingly Replaced By Open APIs
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's playing-with-somebody-else's-toys department:
SharkLaser writes "Open APIs might be the way to get rich in 2012. At the same time, it can also be what ultimately hinders open source development. A wide range of companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter, are building open APIs for other developers to use and build upon. Open APIs can be used by companies to grow their user base and introduce new, interesting features on top of their platform. Independent developers can utilize established services and their users to grow their own business. A perfect example of open APIs is Facebook Apps, which lets individuals and companies develop applications and games on top of the Facebook platform. Developers gain access to Facebook's established user base and Facebook gains new features and fun stuff to do on their site. Instead of open sourcing their platforms, companies like Google and Facebook are providing Open APIs and data access to outside developers. The actual source code for the services sits safely inside the company's network and never needs to be disclosed to outside parties, thus hindering open source development."

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Occupy Protesters Are Building a Facebook for the 99%
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's will-it-have-games? department:
hypnosec writes "In 2011, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook helped protesters to spread their cause and garner support across the world. What started out as a minor protest comprised of a handful of people turned into a worldwide protest thanks to the use of social media. According to Wired, after seeing the impact social media platforms have had on protests worldwide, several Occupy Wall Street protesters are creating their own social networking platform aimed at spreading awareness about particular causes and rallying people for protests."

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Attack Tool Released For WPS Setup Flaw
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '11 at 02:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's choose-your-weapon department:
Trailrunner7 writes "Just a day after security researcher Stefan Viehbock released details of a vulnerability in the WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) standard that enables attackers to recover the router PIN, a security firm has published an open-source tool capable of exploiting the vulnerability. The tool, known as Reaver, has the ability to find the WPS PIN on a given router and then recover the WPA passphrase for the router, as well. Tactical Network Solutions has released the tool as an open-source project on Google Code, but also is selling a more advanced commercial version."

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Transistor Made From Cotton Yarn
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '11 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's your-socks-want-more-ram department:
MrSeb writes "Altering the very fabric of technophilic society, a multinational team of material scientists have created electric circuits and transistors out of cotton fibers (abstract). Two kinds of transistor were created: a field-effect transistor (FET), much like the transistors found in your computer's CPU; and an electrochemical transistor, which is similar but capable of switching at lower voltages, and thus better suited for wearable computers. Cotton itself is an insulator, but by using various coatings, the team from Italy, France, and the United States was able to make conductor and semiconductor cotton 'wires' that retained most of their flexibility. The immediate use-cases are clothes with built-in sensors (think radiation or heartbeat monitors), but ultimately, think of how many thousands of interconnections are in every piece of cotton clothing — you could make a fairly powerful computer!"

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UK Ministry of Defense Improves War Games For Console Generation
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '11 at 08:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-war-you-can-relate-to department:
hypnosec writes "The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has begun updating its Battlespace2 and other simulations to bring them in line with commercial wargames like Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. Andrew Poulter heads up the technical team behind the war-game and said that while back in the 80s and 90s, military simulations were state of the art, today they have fallen far behind commercial alternatives in terms of graphics and plot. With that in mind, the MoD has been investing heavily in what's known as 'Project Kite' (knowledge information test environment), designed to bring the training software to the forefront of military shooters. Some of this is down to the current generation of new recruits having been raised on shooter titles from both the Call of Duty and Battlefield series. This means they've been used to high quality first person shooter games. Taking a step down in graphics and immersion is hardly a way to train a soldier how to react in certain situations."

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China Reveals Its Space Plans Up To 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '11 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's moving-on-up department:
PolygamousRanchKid writes "China plans to launch space labs and manned ships and prepare to build space stations over the next five years, according to a plan released Thursday that shows the country's space program is gathering momentum. China's space program has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in space technology and experience. The country will continue exploring the moon using probes, start gathering samples of the moon's surface, and 'push forward its exploration of planets, asteroids and the sun.' Some elements of China's program, notably the firing of a ground-based missile into one of its dead satellites four years ago, have alarmed American officials and others who say such moves could set off a race to militarize space. That the program is run by the military has made the U.S. reluctant to cooperate with China in space, even though the latter insists its program is purely for peaceful ends."

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Court Rules Website Immune From Suit For Defamatory Posting
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '11 at 04:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's people-say-the-craziest-things department:
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "RipoffReport.com contained an admittedly defamatory posting, by one of its users, about a person who operated a Florida corporation providing addiction treatment services. Although the site was asked by the poster herself to remove the post, it refused. A Florida appeals court has ruled that the site is absolutely immune from suit (pdf), and cannot even be directed to remove the offending post, since under the Communications Decency Act (27 USC 230) 'no cause of action may be brought' against a provider of an "interactive computer service" based upon information provided by a 3rd party."

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What's Wrong With the US Defense R&D Budget?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '11 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's loosest-sense department:
Harperdog writes "Here's an in-depth analysis of what constitutes defense R&D spending and how some of those projects are classified. From the article: 'But much of what transpires in the name of military research and development is not research in the sense that it produces scientific and technical knowledge widely applicable inside and outside the Defense Department. A large part of defense R&D activity revolves around building very expensive gadgets that are often based on unsound technology and frequently fail to perform as required.'"

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Ebert: I'll Tell You Why Movie Revenue Is Dropping
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '11 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's lets-all-stay-in-the-lobby department:
schwit1 writes in with a link to Roger Ebert's webpage where he gives his opinion on the decline of movie industry revenues."According to Ebert movie piracy isn't the problem. He contends that the industry needs to lower prices on tickets and popcorn, keep people off their cell phones, show a wider variety of films, and understand that movie streaming is here to stay. From the article: 'The message I get is that Americans love the movies as much as ever. It's the theaters that are losing their charm.
Proof: theaters thrive that police their audiences, show a variety of titles and emphasize value-added features. The rest of the industry can't depend forever on blockbusters to bail it out.'"


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Stephen Hawking Looking For Personal Techie
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '11 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's polish-up-the-resume department:
kaptink writes "One of the great grandmasters of space, time and the history of our existence is seeking an assistant to help develop and maintain the electronic speech system that allows him to communicate his vision of the universe. An informal job ad posted on Stephen's website said the assistant should be computer literate, ready to travel and able to repair electronic devices 'with no instruction manual or technical support.' He lost his real voice in a tracheotomy in 1985, but has something based on NeoSpeech's VoiceText speech synthesizer mounted on his wheelchair that helps synthesize speech by interpreting the twitches of his face. The synthesizer's robotic monotone has become nearly as famous as Hawking himself, but the computer — powered by batteries fastened to the back of Hawking's wheelchair — isn't just for speaking. It can connect to the internet over mobile phone networks and a universal infrared remote enables the physicist to switch on the lights, watch television, or open doors either at home or at the office. It's a complicated, tailor-made system, as the ad makes clear. A photograph of the back of Hawking's wheelchair, loaded with coiled wires and electronic equipment, is pictured under the words: 'Could you maintain this? If your answer is "yes", we'd like to hear from you!'. Hawking's website says that the job's salary is expected to be about $38,500 a year."

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