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Patents Google Bought From IBM Are "Weak"
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-patent-lawyers-taunt-each-other department:
holy_calamity writes "Slashdot noted in September that Google had bought 1023 patents from IBM. Now IP analytics firms IPVision says they're a 'mixed bag' of mostly unrelated patents that won't be much use in defending against competitors such as Microsoft or Apple. Patents are most useful when they are tightly linked into clusters by references, such that they cover every angle on an idea, something Google's new collection lacks."

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The Games Programmers Play
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nibbles-the-worm-doesn't-count department:
An anonymous reader writes "Cort Stratton, a developer who has worked on graphics code for many first-party PS3 games, wrote an article about the kinds of games that appeal to programmers. He covers coding-friendly games of varying depth, mentioning basics like RoboRally, RoboSport and Frozen Synapse before moving on to more complex options. Quoting: 'On the surface, SpaceChem has nothing to do with programming; it's merely a futuristic puzzle game in which you build factories that convert one or more input molecules into one or more output molecules. Each factory contains a pair of independent molecule manipulators (the game calls them "waldos") which follow a fixed path through the work area. Waldos can grab, drop, and rotate molecules, make and break chemical bonds between atoms, request new input molecules and submit output molecules. ... Don't be fooled! This isn't a game about chemistry; it's actually the closest thing I've ever seen to a low-level SPU programming simulator! Each factory is an SPU running a single task. The two waldos are the SPU's dual execution pipelines. Moving and editing molecules is analogous to reading, writing and operating on data in local store.'"

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Oldest Submerged City Visualized With CGI
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what's-old-is-new department:
Stirling Newberry writes "Nottingham University's Pavlopetri project spent months measuring a city that sank beneath the waves 3,000 years ago, perhaps in a tsunami. The result is a BBC documentary that features a detailed CGI reconstruction. 'The entire city – covering 20 acres – has been surveyed in ultra-high definition, with error margins of less than three centimeters. ... [T]he survey team has so far located scores of buildings, half a dozen major streets and even religious shrines and tombs.' eScience News chimes in about the oldest known submerged city, first inhabited 5,000 years ago and rediscovered in 1967. Of course, Slashdot readers will probably want to dig into the details of how stereo-vision mapping was used (PDF) to create the map in the first place."

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Looking Beyond Detroit For Engine Innovation
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-it's-such-a-nice-town department:
waderoush writes "Opposed-piston engines (with two pistons in the same cylinder) have been around since the 1920s, but have been used mainly in submarines and airplanes. Now, several startups are working to make these high-efficiency engines practical for cars, trucks, and light vehicles — but they're under no illusions that Detroit will adopt the idea. Silicon Valley startup Pinnacle Engines, which is backed by the world's largest venture fund, is looking to a scooter manufacturer in India as its first partner. 'This ought to be music to Detroit's ears, but to them I'm just some whacko in California,' says Monty Cleeves, Pinnacle's founder and CTO. 'This is Silicon Valley, and what does Silicon Valley know about making engines? Folks in Asia have almost zero "not-invented-here" issues, whereas it's pretty prevalent all over the U.S.'"

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EU Parliament Group Opposes Long Copyrights and Oppressive DRM
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-not-easy-being-green department:
the_arrow writes "Apparently there are some politicians who 'get it.' At least it seems that way after reading an entry on the blog of Rick Falkvinge (founder of the Swedish Pirate Party). He says the Green party group, fifth largest in the European Parliament, has officially adopted several of the Pirate Party's stances in a new position paper (PDF). The Greens say, 'the copyright monopoly does not extend to what an ordinary person can do with ordinary equipment in their home and spare time,' adding that a 20-year protection term is more reasonable than 70 years. They go on to say, 'Net Neutrality must be guaranteed,' and also mention DRM: 'It must always be legal to circumvent DRM restrictions, and we should consider introducing a ban in the consumer rights legislation on DRM technologies that restrict legal uses of a work.'

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Team Fortress 2 Running In a Web Browser Using WebGL
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hats-off-to-you department:
An anonymous reader writes "Unreal Engine now runs in Flash and Crytek is considering porting CryEngine to Flash, but perhaps the Source Engine could go a different route. A software developer who works for Motorola Mobility has managed to get the engine and a level from Team Fortress 2 running in a browser using WebGL. There are still a few features and effects missing, but he claims it achieves a solid 60fps and has a video to prove it. Hopefully this gives Valve ideas; it'd be cool if older Source games became playable in your favorite browser, or even directly in Steam."

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Mars Rover Curiosity Sealed Up For Launch
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-cats-were-harmed-in-the-making-of-this-rover department:
astroengine writes "On Oct. 5, less than two months before it will be launched, Mars Science Laboratory 'Curiosity' was sealed between its heat shield and back shell at Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. The next time the one-ton rover sees daylight will be on Aug. 6, 2012 as the heat shield separates after successful entry through the Martian atmosphere, shortly before Curiosity touches down inside Gale Crater."

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US Drone Fleet Hit By Computer Virus
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-could-possibly-go-wrong department:
New submitter Golgafrinchan passes along this quote from an article at Wired:
"A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America's Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots' every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones. The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military's Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech's computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military's most important weapons system.'"

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Google Apps Engine Gets SQL
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rows-and-columns department:
oker writes "Google has finally added SQL to its cloud platform offering, Apps Engine. Until now, developers had to use the Datastore service, which provides a vendor lock-in threat and isn't supported by most existing software and libraries. The SQL service should definitely improve Apps Engine adoption. It is currently in limited preview mode."

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Graphene Creates Electricity When Struck By Light
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-slices-it-dices department:
MrSeb writes with news out of MIT about another interesting and potentially useful property of graphene. Researchers have known for several years that graphene generates electricity when exposed to sunlight, but incorrectly attributed it to the photovoltaic effect. A new paper shows that the current is actually generated from the much more unusual 'hot-carrier' response. Quoting:
"The material’s electrons, which carry current, are heated by the light, but the lattice of carbon nuclei that forms graphene’s backbone remains cool. It’s this difference in temperature within the material that produces the flow of electricity. ... Such differential heating has been observed before, but only under very special circumstances: either at ultralow temperatures (measured in thousandths of a degree above absolute zero), or when materials are blasted with intense energy from a high-power laser. This response in graphene, by contrast, occurs across a broad range of temperatures all the way up to room temperature, and with light no more intense than ordinary sunlight."
It will take more work to determine what new applications are reasonable from an efficiency perspective, but it does broaden graphene's already-impressive capabilities.

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Hackers Buying IPv4 Blocks To Evade Detection
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's wasting-good-corners-on-bad-hot-dog-stands department:
Trailrunner7 writes "The number of IP addresses required for large scale botnets to operate effectively can be considerable, and finding large IP blocks to use for them can be difficult. If the botnet operators do find them, the IP addresses often are blacklisted quickly by reputation systems and are then useless for the attackers. Now, in one effort to get around these systems, some attackers are taking advantage of the lack of IPv4 space by either purchasing or renting blocks of IP space with good reputations that have been built up over the course of several years. A number of legitimate trading and auction sites appeared as the IPv4 space became scarcer, and the attackers have gotten involved as well, getting their hands on known good IP blocks and using them for C&C or hosting malware."

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LHC Gets Android App
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-responsible-for-black-holes-in-your-smartphone department:
An anonymous reader writes "It appears scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have made an app to visualize proton collisions at the largest of the four experiments, ATLAS. 'For the first time you can now grab live collision events from the underground detectors in Geneva, and beam them direct to your own device. As well as a variety of educational resources, the application allows you to interact with the collision events in full 3D graphics. You can also find out how the different parts of the detector work, learn how to identify different types of collision, and even put your new skills to the test by playing the "Hunt the Higgs" game.' It's free to download from the Android Market."

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Sprint Details Shift To LTE
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's anticipating-iphone-data-hogs department:
New submitter jmeboi writes "Engadget reports that Sprint has announced a rollover from WiMAX to LTE for its 4G needs. The company is 'converting its 1900MHz holdings and LightSquared's 1600MHz spectrum ("pending FCC approval") to LTE,' and also re-purposing the section of 800MHz spectrum that was set aside for the defunct iDEN push-to-talk network. 'The company plans for a rapid deployment of this new 4G, with the first LTE markets and handsets to hit in mid-2012 with the full rollout mostly completed by 2013. Current subscribers signed up for WiMAX plans won't have to worry, as their devices will continue to be supported throughout 2012.'"

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DHS Goes Ahead With 'Pre-Crime' Detection Project
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's somebody-warn-tom-cruise department:
suraj.sun tips news that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has begun testing its project to predict future crimes on members of the public. The Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) project is "designed to track and monitor, among other inputs, body movements, voice pitch changes, prosody changes (alterations in the rhythm and intonation of speech), eye movements, body heat changes, and breathing patterns." A field test was performed at a large venue earlier this year, and documents recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request indicate that testing is proceeding on other members of the public as well. "It's not clear whether these people were informed that they're participating in a FAST study."

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Ask Slashdot: Does Being 'Loyal' Pay As a Developer?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's looking-out-for-numero-uno department:
An anonymous reader writes "As a senior developer for a small IT company based in the UK that is about to release their flagship project, I know that if I were to leave the company now, it would cause them some very big problems. I'm currently training the other two 'junior' developers, trying to bring them up to speed with our products. Unfortunately, they are still a long way from grasping the technologies used – not to mention the 'interesting' job the outsourced developers managed to make of the code. Usually, I would never have considered leaving at such a crucial time; I've been at the company for several years and consider many of my colleagues, including higher management, to be friends. However, I have been approached by another company that is much bigger, and they have offered me a pay rise of £7k to do the same job, plus their office is practically outside my front door (as opposed to my current 45 minute commute each way). This would make a massive difference to my life. That said, I can't help but feel that to leave now would be betraying my friends and colleagues. Some friends have told me that I'm just being 'soft' – however I think I'm being loyal. Any advice?"

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FCC Wants To Shift Phone Subsidy Funds To Broadband
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-know-just-the-place department:
An anonymous reader writes "FCC chairman Julius Genachowski revealed plans yesterday to overhaul the U.S. phone subsidy program and shift its focus to providing broadband access. He said, 'Broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society. If we want the United States to be the world's leading market, we need to embrace the essential goal of universal broadband, and reform outdated programs.' According to BusinessWeek, the program currently 'supports phone service to schools, libraries, the poor and high-cost areas.' Last year it spent $4.3 billion to provide support to over 1,700 carriers in high-cost areas. Genachowski hopes the change will put the U.S. 'on the path to universal broadband service by the end of the decade.'"

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The Importance — and Limits — of Very Large Data Sets
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's libraries-of-congress-per-fortnight department:
New submitter kodiaktau writes "A recently presented paper discusses how large data sets can improve learning algorithms, but points out that researchers still need to account for bias and incompleteness before drawing conclusions. The paper also goes into the need for responsible business practices to manage these data sets. 'There's been the emergence of a philosophy that big data is all you need. We would suggest that, actually, numbers don't speak for themselves.' The full paper is available through SSRN. Of particular importance is their assertion that even huge data sets can and will be affected by filters or the analyst who is interpreting it. '[Study co-author Kate Crawford] notes that many big data sets — particularly social data — come from companies that have no obligation to support scientific inquiry. Getting access to the data might mean paying for it, or keeping the company happy by not performing certain types of studies.'"

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Sony In Talks To Buy Ericsson Out of Phone Venture
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shrinking-slice-of-the-pie department:
PolygamousRanchKid sends in this excerpt from a Reuters report:
"Sony Corp is in talks to buy out Ericsson's stake in their mobile phone joint venture, a source said, in a bid to catch up with rivals. The move could help Sony recoup ground in the battle against Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics, where it has been hampered by its disparate offerings of mobile gadgets and online content. The joint venture, formed in 2001, thrived after its breakthroughs with Walkman music phones and Cybershot cameraphones, both of which leveraged Sony's brands. But it lost out to bigger rivals Nokia and Samsung at the cheaper end of the market, and was late to react to Apple's entry into the high-end of the market. It has refocused its business to make smartphones using Google's Android platform, but has dropped to No. 9 in global cellphone rankings from No. 4 just a few years ago."

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HP To Introduce Flash Memory Replacement In 2013
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's move-it-on-over department:
Spy Hunter writes "Memristors are the basis of a new memory technology being developed by HP and Hynix. At the International Electronics Forum, Stan Williams, senior fellow at HP Labs, said, 'We're planning to put a replacement chip on the market to go up against flash within a year and a half. We're running hundreds of wafers through the fab, and we're way ahead of where we thought we would be at this moment in time.' They're not stopping at a flash replacement either, with Williams saying, 'In 2014 possibly, or certainly by 2015, we will have a competitor for DRAM and then we'll replace SRAM.' With a non-volatile replacement for DRAM and SRAM, will we soon see the end of the reboot entirely?"

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Microsoft-Skype Deal Poised To Win EU Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on October 07 '11 at 02:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-a-done-deal department:
Pigskin-Referee wrote in with a story about the EU's approval of Microsoft acquiring Skype. The article reads: "Microsoft's proposed $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype has earned the approval of the European Union, the Financial Times reported Thursday. The European Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia, is expected to rule that the acquisition won't harm competition or turn Skype into a Microsoft-exclusive platform. The decision ignores accusations that Microsoft is simply bundling services on Windows to drown out smaller competitors, as argued by Italian Skype rival Messagenet last week. Messagenet also urged the Commission to require Microsoft to unbundle Skype from its Windows Office Suite. The FT reports that Microsoft 'promised' the Commission it would keep Skype interoperable and supported on rival operating systems."

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