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Boxee 1.5 Will Be the Last Supported Desktop Version
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 05:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's buyxee-buy department:
DeviceGuru writes with excerpts from the article: "Boxee released [a beta of] version 1.5 of its free multimedia streaming software for Mac, Windows, and Linux desktops today, but simultaneously announced that it will cease offering the Boxee desktop software after January. Thereafter, the company will limit its focus to devices such as the D-Link Boxee Box, which faces stiff competition from multimedia streaming TV set-top-box products such as the Roku players, Google TV, and Apple TV. Hopefully, the XBMC project, on which Boxee's software is largely based, will carry the ball forward for desktop users. Speaking of which, the first preview release of XBMC 11.0 Eden was just released."

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Why Can't We Put a BASIC On the Phone?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 04:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's that's-make-it-too-easy department:
theodp writes "In the Sixties, we could put a man on the moon. Nowadays, laments jocastette, America's tech giants can't even put a BASIC on the phone. Woz managed to crank out a BASIC interpreter for the 6502 in the '70s. As did Bill Gates and Paul Allen. So, why — at a time when development has never been easier — can't Google, Apple, and Microsoft manage to support a free BASIC or other programming-for-the-masses development environment on desktops, laptops, tablets and phones?"

My limited experience with Android development showed using Java to be obtuse and downright obnoxious to do anything (at least without Eclipse, and even with it doing anything non-standard required digging through horrendous ant buildfiles). And, of course, with a REPL things were even more obnoxious. There is the android-scripting project, but it doesn't provide particularly exhaustive access to the platform.

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China's Parallel Online Universe
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's why-fight-the-media-when-you-can-fight-the-social department:
An anonymous reader writes "China is increasingly operating an online parallel universe where social media clones 'mimic the functions of the most popular, internationally recognized social media applications, such as Facebook and Twitter. The replicas, however, come with a major catch: they systematically comply with the Chinese Communist Party’s strict censorship requirements.' They are satisfying the growing demand of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens for social media tools, reducing incentives for them to circumvent the 'Great Firewall,' Freedom House warns. Testing by researchers found that a search for the names of seven prominent Chinese lawyers, activists, and journalists on Sina Weibo returned no results, only an Orwellian notice that 'According to related laws and policy, some of the results are not shown here.'"

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Report Condemns Japan's Response To Nuclear Accident
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's how-about-condemning-the-earthquake department:
mdsolar sends this quote from an article at the NY Times:
"From inspectors who abandoned the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as it succumbed to disaster to a delay in disclosing radiation leaks, Japan's response to the nuclear accident caused by the March tsunami fell tragically short, a government-appointed investigative panel said on Monday. ... In particular, an erroneous assumption that an emergency cooling system was working led to an hours-long delay in finding alternative ways to draw cooling water to the plant, the report said. All the while, the system was not working, and the uranium fuel rods at the cores were starting to melt."

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A Right To Bear Virtual Arms?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's preserving-xbox-live's-pristine-reputation department:
theodp writes "In the world of virtual goods, reports GeekWire's Todd Bishop, it looks like there's no such thing as a Second Amendment. According to a forum post by an Epic Games community manager, a new policy will remove 'gun-like' items from Microsoft's Xbox Live Avatar Marketplace on January 1. The policy reportedly applies to accessories for the avatars that represent Xbox Live users, not to games themselves, and owners of virtual weaponry like the Gears of War 3 Avatar Lancer purchased before the policy goes into effect will be permitted to continue to wield them."

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What If Babbage Had Succeeded?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's steampunk-personal-computing department:
mikejuk writes "It was on this day 220 years ago (December 26 1791) that Charles Babbage was born. The calculating machines he invented in the 19th century, although never fully realized in his lifetime, are rightly seen as the forerunners of modern programmable computers. What if he had succeeded? Babbage already had plans for game arcades, chess playing machines, sound generators and desktop publishing. A Victorian computer revolution was entirely possible."

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Warner Bros Sued For Pirating Louis Vuitton Trademark
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's snake-eating-its-own-tail department:
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "You have to love a case where Warner Brothers, copyright maximalist extraordinaire, gets sued for 'piracy,' in this case for using a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag in a recent movie. This lawsuit has been described as 'awkward' for Warner; I have to agree with that characterization. Louis Vuitton's 22-page complaint (PDF) alleges that Warner Bros. had knowledge that the bag was a knock-off, but went ahead and used it anyway. Apparently Warner Bros. takes IP rights seriously only when its own IP rights are involved."

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Israeli Spyware Sold To Iran
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's dollars-trump-diplomacy department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Bloomberg reports that Israeli trade, customs and defense officials say they didn't know that systems for performing 'deep- packet inspection' into Internet traffic, sold under the brand name NetEnforcer, had gone to a country whose leaders have called for the destruction of the Jewish state. Allot Communications Ltd., an Israel-based firm which reported $57 million in sales last year, sold its systems to a Randers, a Denmark-based technology distributor where workers at that company, RanTek A/S, repackaged the gear and shipped it to Iran. The sales skirted a strict Israeli ban that prohibits 'trading with the enemy,' including any shipments that reach Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Although Allot officials say they had no knowledge of their equipment going to Iran and are looking into RanTek's sales, three former sales employees for Allot say it was well known inside the Israeli company that the equipment was headed for Iran. 'Israel considers Iran quite possibly its greatest threat, and so the Israeli government would come down very strong against any company that exported to Iran,' says Ira Hoffman. 'Iran is also considered by the U.S. as one of its most strategic threats.' Israeli lawmaker Nachman Shai has called for a parliamentary investigation, and the country's Defense Ministry has begun to examine the report."

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Researchers Build TCP-Based Spam Detection
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's beans-without-spam department:
itwbennett writes "In a presentation at the Usenix LISA conference in Boston, researchers from the Naval Academy showed that signal analysis of factors such as timing, packet reordering, congestion and flow control can reveal the work of a spam-spewing botnet. The work 'advanced both the science of spam fighting and ... worked through all the engineering challenges of getting these techniques built into the most popular open-source spam filter,' said MIT computer science research affiliate Steve Bauer, who was not involved with the work. 'So this is both a clever bit of research and genuinely practical contribution to the persistent problem of fighting spam.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Is E-Learning a Viable Option?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 09:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-more-teachers-no-more-books department:
An anonymous reader writes "My spouse, who is an elementary school science teacher, has had some experience in e-learning, since her school gave iPads to all the students. She found that students used these devices, not for school purposes like note taking, but for gaming, etc. It got to the point that she banned them from her classroom. Do technology aids help, or hinder, education? Is the idea that students can be home-schooled electronically realistic, or absurd?"

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i-Device Manufacturing Unprofitable To China
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's spinning-your-wheels department:
N!NJA writes "One of my favorite facts of this past year was the proof that China makes almost nothing out of assembling Apple's iPads and iPhones. From the article: 'If you want lots of jobs and lots of high paying jobs then you’re not going to find them in manufacturing. They’re where the money is, in the design, the software and the retailing of the products, not the physical making of them. Manufacturing is just so, you know, 20th century.'"

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LAPD Surveillance Cameras Go Unused
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's unopened-mechanized-eye department:
First time accepted submitter Ethanol-fueled writes "Most of the surveillance cameras installed downtown and operated by the LAPD have not been working for two years, according to interviews and records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Many of those broke and were never repaired, and six cameras allocated to the Little Tokyo section weren't even plugged into the LAPD's monitoring bank. In one case, a 53-year-old man died after being stabbed and beaten in Skid Row — right below one of the malfunctioned cameras. It probably also didn't help that the cameras themselves were prone to being coated with pigeon droppings and the system backend being stored in a room so small that overheating was frequent. One LAPD Deputy Chief compared the situation to buying a used car without an extended warranty — 'We know the reasons it doesn't work. Now we're trying to make it work.'"

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Customers Gleefully Mock Best Buy's $1,095.99 HDMI
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 06:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's king-of-cables department:
First time accepted submitter Forthan Red writes "It may be a pricing bot run amok, or a ridiculously over-inflated sense of worth, but Best Buy has been offering an HDMI cable for a whopping $1,095.99 (currently sold out!). While Best Buy seems to be oblivious to the absurdity of this price for a digital cable, those posting customer reviews are not. Enjoy the mockery!" One of my favorites is: "saved a ton of money on a new TV on black Friday and decided to use the extra cash to get the best cable available. At a whopping 3.3 feet in length, this cable is no joke. When all my friends come over to watch football, they always say 'WOW what kind of HDMI cable do you have?' I proudly tell them about my audioquest diamond and its advanced features such as its Dark Gray/Black finish. It is a great conversation piece! Not to mention it fits into my dvd player and tv perfectly."

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Samsung Buys Sony's Stake In LCD Joint Venture
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-your-lcds-are-belong-to-us department:
First time accepted submitter rtoz writes "Samsung Electronics has decided to buy out Sony's entire stake in their Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) joint venture S-LCD Samsung will pay Sony 1.08 trillion won ($939m; £600m) in cash for Sony's entire stake (50% – 1 shares) in S-LCD Corp., a venture formed in 2004 to make TV panels. After acquisition, Samsung Electronics' stake in S-LCD will be 100%. The move comes as Sony has been restructuring its TV business, which has been making a loss for the past seven years."

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New Car Anti-Theft Device Profiles Your Rear End
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's top-to-bottom department:
Hugh Pickens writes "A car-seat identifier developed at Japan's Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology by Associate Professor Shigeomi Koshimizu can recognize a person by his or her rear end with 98 percent accuracy when the person takes a seat in his car. The bucket seat's lower section is lined with 360 pressure sensors that measure pressure on a scale from 0 to 256, sending information to a laptop, which aggregates the information, generates the key data and produces a precise map of the seated person's rear profile. Researchers say traditional biometric techniques such as iris scanners and fingerprint readers cause stress to people undergoing identity checks, while the simple act of getting seated carries less psychological baggage. Koshimizu wants to see his work available commercially as an anti-theft product in two to three years if automakers agree to collaborate. He sees possibilities of this device being used beyond auto-theft identity protection to a device for security identification in office settings, where users log on to their PCs as they sit down."

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Anti-Whaling Group Using Drones To Find Whalers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 26 '11 at 02:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's watching-the-yushin department:
FatLittleMonkey writes "Anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd is using aerial drones to find and the track factory ships used by Japanese whalers. The group claims the tactic shortened the Japanese whaling season last year by a month, saving 200 whales, and this year they've spotted the factory ship even earlier."

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The Chinese Town Where Old Christmas Lights Go
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '11 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's end-of-the-line department:
retroworks writes "Shanghai based reporter Adam Minter visits where recycled Christmas Tree lighting goes in China. Visiting Shijao, the town known as the Mecca for Christmas tree light recycling, he finds good news. The recycling practices in China have really cleaned up. Plastic casings, which were once burned, are now recycled into shoe soles in a wet process. Minter concludes that even if you try to recycle your wire in the U.S., the special equipment and processes for Christmas light recycling have been perfected in China 'to the benefit of the environment, and pocketbooks, in both countries.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Best Kit For a Home Media Server?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '11 at 08:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's serving-your-collection department:
First time accepted submitter parkejr writes "I started off building a media library a few years ago with an old PC running Ubuntu. Folders for photos, ogg vorbis music from my CD collection, and x264 encoded mkv movies. I have a high spec machine for encoding, but over the years I've moved the server to a bigger case, with 8 TB of disk capacity, and reverted back to Debian, but still running with the same AMD Sempron processor and 2GB RAM. It's working well, it's also the family mail server, and the kids are starting to use it for network storage, and it runs both link and twonkyserver, but my disks are almost full, and there are no more internal slots. The obvious option to me is to add in a couple of SATA PCI cards, to give me 4 more drives, and buy an externally powered enclosure, but that doesn't feel very elegant. I'm a bit of an amateur, so I'd like some advice. Should I start looking at a rack system? Something that can accommodate, say, 10 3.5" drives (I'm thinking long term, and some redundancy)? Also, what about location — I could run some cat6 to the garage and move it out of the house, in case noise is an issue. Finally, what about file format, file system, and OS/software? I'm currently running with ext3 and Debian Squeeze. Happy with my audio encoding choice, but not sure about x264 and mkv. I'd also consider different media server software, too. Any comments appreciated."

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Satellite Piece Crashes Through Man's Roof
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '11 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's return-to-sender department:
PolygamousRanchKid writes "A Siberian resident miraculously escaped serious injury or even death when a fragment of a Russian communication satellite crashed through the roof of his house. A Meridian satellite that was launched Friday from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia on board a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket crashed near the Siberian city of Tobolsk minutes after lift-off. A titanium ball of about five kg fell on to the roof of a house in Ordyn district."

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The Looming Library Lending Battle
Posted by News Fetcher on December 25 '11 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's price-of-lending department:
smitty777 writes "The NY Times is running a piece on the tug of war between publishers and libraries for e-book lending. With the In one corner are the publishers, who claim that unlimited lending of e-books 'without friction is not a sustainable business model for us.' For example, Harper Collins claims in this corporate statement that unlimited lending would lead to a decrease in royalties for both the publisher and the writers. The NTY author further states that 'To keep their overall revenue from taking a hit from lost sales to individuals, publishers need to reintroduce more inconvenience for the borrower or raise the price for the library purchaser.' Their current solution is to limit the number of readings to 26 before a book license must be renewed. In the other corner are the libraries, who are happy that e-books are luring people back to libraries, bringing with them desperately needed additional funding. With e-book sales going extremely well this year and the introduction of more capable e-readers, this debate is likely to get worse before it gets better. The Guardian also has an interesting related piece on the pricing practices of the Big Six publishers."

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