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Amazon Granted Location Tracking Patent
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '11 at 06:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's think-of-the-incredible-deals department:
bizwriter writes "A new patent for Amazon just put the company squarely in the location tracking controversy. It covers a system to not only track, through mobile devices, where individuals or aggregated users have been, but to determine where they're likely to go next to better target ads, coupons, or other messages that could appear on a mobile phone or on displays that individuals are likely to see in their travels. The system could also use someone's identity to further tailor the marketing according to demographic information."

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Retina Implant Company Seeks FDA Trial Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '11 at 06:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's it's-all-fun-and-games-until department:
cyachallenge writes with an excerpt from an article in Scientific American: "Several technologies to restore sight to retina-damaged eyes are making headway — one seeks to begin human trials in the U.S. and another has already hit the market in Europe. ... There is no effective treatment for the condition [retinitis pigmentosa], but researchers are making great strides to remedy this through implants that stimulate still-active nerves in the retina, the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye. In mid-November Retina Implant AG got approval to extend the yearlong phase II human clinical trial of its retinal implant outside its native Tubingen, Germany, to five new sites — Oxford, London and Budapest, along with two additional locations in Germany."

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Sony, Universal and Fox Caught Pirating Through BitTorrent
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '11 at 05:16 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hand-in-cookie-jar department:
New submitter Bad_Feeling sends in a followup to the story we discussed on Monday about a new site that scanned a few popular torrent trackers and linked torrents to IP addresses. The folks at TorrentFreak decided to check IP addresses belonging to major companies in the entertainment industry and published lists of pirated files from several, including Fox, Sony, and NBC Universal. Of course, they used the information to make a slightly different point than the industry usually does:
"By highlighting the above our intention is not to get anyone into trouble, and for that reason we masked out the end of the IP addresses to avoid a witch hunt. An IP address is not a person, IP addresses can be shared among many people, and anyone can be behind a keyboard at any given time."

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What Microsoft Should and Shouldn't Do For the Xbox 720
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '11 at 03:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's forget-kinect-and-package-it-with-an-fmri department:
donniebaseball23 writes "Xbox 360 just came off a record November, with more than 1.7 million units sold in the U.S., but behind closed doors Microsoft is planning its next move for the successor to the popular console. Plenty of Xbox 720 rumors have surfaced in recent months, but veteran games journalist Chris Morris has filtered through them to provide a realistic take on what Microsoft should and shouldn't do with Xbox 360's successor. In particular, he notes that Microsoft should adopt the Blu-ray format from Sony. 'A DVD drive as a medium for storing larger and larger games is outdated – and it steps on the toes of a system that bills itself as the high definition leader,' Morris writes. 'Microsoft resisted the move to Blu-ray this generation without any ill effects. It even survived picking the losing side in the format battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD, but it can't rely on the DVD to take it into the next generation.'"

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Wikipedia Debates Strike Over SOPA
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '11 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-then-where-will-we-look-up-sopa department:
An anonymous reader writes "Jimbo Wales has suggested that English Wikipedia restrict its services for a period to protest against the anti-piracy SOPA bill in the United States. This follows a similar action by the Italian Wikipedia last month."
Reader fiannaFailMan points out another bit of Wikipedia news: they've taken the wraps off a prototype for a new visual editor. A sandbox is available to try out. The Wikimedia Foundation hopes easier, more intuitive editing will shore up waning contributor numbers.

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New Humble Indie Bundle Goes Live
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '11 at 01:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's keeping-humble-regular department:
Physicser writes "The latest Humble Indie Bundle has gone live, consisting of Super Meat Boy, Shank, Jamestown, Bit.Trip Runner, and NightSky. Also, if you beat the average price, you receive Cave Story+ and Gratuitous Space Battles. As always, the games are DRM-free, and this is the initial Linux release for all seven. I'm also curious to see what will be added later on, as has been the tradition of the Humble Bundles."

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NASA Developing Comet Harpoon For Sample Return
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's thar-she-blows department:
An anonymous reader writes "NASA appears to have decided that the best way to grab a sample of a rotating comet that is racing through the inner solar system at up to 150,000 miles per hour while spewing chunks of ice, rock and dust may be to avoid the risky business of landing on it. Instead, researchers want to send a spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, then fire a harpoon to rapidly acquire samples from specific locations with surgical precision while hovering above the target."

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Judge Orders Man To Delete Revenge Blog
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 09:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-you-take-requests-your-honor department:
nonprofiteer writes "A Minnesota man violated a restraining order obtained by his ex-girlfriend by blogging about her mental health and sexual issues, and sending links to posts on the blog to her family, friends, and co-workers. The judge then extended the restraining order by 50 years, ordered the guy never to write about his ex on the Internet and ordered him to delete the blog he created. Even though there was no evidence that what he had written was false, the judge said the ex-girlfriend's 'right to be free from harassment' outweighed the guy's 'right to free speech.' 'I believe it's rare, if not unprecedented, for a court to order an entire blog deleted,' says technology law professor Eric Goldman."

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Ask Slashdot: How To Get Non-Developers To Send Meaningful Bug Reports?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-broken-just-fix-it department:
DemonGenius writes "I'm in the midst of a major rollout of one of our primary internal applications at work and we have a beta version available for all the staff to use. The problem here is most of the staff don't know how to send reports meaningful enough to get us devs started on solving their problems without constant back and forth correspondence that wastes both developer time and theirs. Some common examples are: screenshots of the YSOD that don't include the page URL, scaled screenshots that are unreadable, the complaint that wants to be a bug report but is still just a complaint, etc. From the user's perspective, they just send an email, but that email registers in our tracking system. Any thoughts on how to get the non-devs sending us descriptive and/or meaningful reports? Does anyone here have an efficient and user-friendly bug tracking system/policy/standard at their workplace? How does it work?"

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Carrier IQ Responds To FBI Drama, EFF Wants More Information
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-was-the-one-armed-logging-software department:
New submitter realized writes "Yesterday Carrier IQ released a report (PDF) which tries to answer some questions about how their system operates. Also, after reports of the FBI using Carrier IQ data, the company responded by saying, 'Carrier IQ has never provided any data to the FBI. If approached by a law enforcement agency, we would refer them to the network operators.' Additionally, the EFF just released a report which says they believe keystroke data 'is in fact being inadvertently transmitted to some third parties,' but they would like to study carrier profiles to verify information."
Reader Trailrunner7 adds that Carrier IQ's report indicates "under some limited circumstances its software will log the contents of SMS messages sent to a user's phone, but that that the contents of those messages would not be human readable. Instead, they would be in an encoded form that could not be decoded without special software and the carriers don't have access to the contents of the messages either. The company said it has worked on a fix for the bug, which affected devices running the embedded version of the Carrier IQ agent."

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24-Year-Old Asks Facebook For His Data, Gets 1,200 PDFs
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ask-and-ye-shall-receive department:
chicksdaddy writes "Be careful of what you ask for. That's a lesson Max Schrems of Vienna, Austria learned the hard way when he sent a formal request to Facebook for a copy of every piece of personal information that the social network had collected on him, as required under European law. After a wait, the 24-year-old law student got what he was seeking: a CD with all his data stored on it — 1,222 files in all. The collection of PDFs was roughly the length of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, but told a more mundane story: a record of Schrems' years-long relationship with the world's largest social network, including reams of data he had deleted. Now Schrems is pushing Facebook to disclose even more of what it knows."

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Chinese Government Ramps Up Weather Control Efforts
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-stand-the-weather department:
formaggio writes "China's government is intervening with nature by rolling out four regional programs to artificially increase precipitation across the country by 10 percent before 2015. The program is anticipated to bring in an additional 230 billion cubic meters of precipitation per year by 2015. This is on top of the 50 billion cubic meters of precipitation China already artificially creates annually in the northeastern province of Jilin."

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Paul Allen Launches Commercial Spaceship Project
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fly-me-to-the-moon department:
smitty777 writes "The phrase 'Where do you want to go today?' takes on a whole new meaning as Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and the world's 57th richest man in the world, looks to create a new spaceship company. Stratolaunch Systems plans to bring 'airport like operations' to the world of private space travel. Partnering with Burt Rutan, the plan is to field a test within five years and commercially available flights within ten. Spacecraft will be air-launched from a giant, six-engined aircraft. There is more information available on the Stratolaunch homepage."

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-is-this-blank-text-field-for department:
PerlJedi writes "Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have conducted a very simple study, with some surprising (or at least amusing) results about how our short term memory works. Quoting: 'Sometimes, to get to the next object the participant simply walked across the room. Other times, they had to walk the same distance, but through a door into a new room. From time to time, the researchers gave them a pop quiz, asking which object was currently in their backpack. The quiz was timed so that when they walked through a doorway, they were tested right afterwards. As the title said, walking through doorways caused forgetting: Their responses were both slower and less accurate when they'd walked through a doorway into a new room than when they'd walked the same distance within the same room.'"

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Judge Dismisses 'Other OS' Class-Action Suit Against Sony
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's product-may-not-behave-as-advertised department:
An anonymous reader writes "You may recall that in early 2010, Sony decided to roll out an update that would remove the ability for PlayStation 3 owners to install a different operating system on the console, citing security concerns as the reason. Geeks and Linux enthusiasts were outraged at the move, particular since the "Other OS" functionality had been advertised as a feature of the PS3. A class-action lawsuit was soon brought against Sony. Many of the initial claims were thrown out, and now, a federal judge in California has granted Sony's motion to dismissed the lawsuit, saying, 'As a matter of providing customer satisfaction and building loyalty, it may have been questionable. As a legal matter, however, plaintiffs have failed to allege facts or articulate a theory on which Sony may be held liable.' Here's the full text of the order (PDF)."

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UK Police Test 'Temporarily Blinding' LASER
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-sufficiently-permanent-values-of-temporary department:
esocid writes "Called the SMU 100 it costs £25,000 and sends out a three-meter 'wall of light' that leaves anyone caught in it briefly unable to see. Designed by a former Royal Marine Commando, it was originally developed for use against pirates in Somalia. While tasers and CS gas work well over short distances the laser is said to be effective at up to 500 meters (1,640ft). Being targeted by the beam has been compared to staring into the sun before being forced to turn away. Paul Kerr, managing director of Clyde-based Photonic Security Systems, which came up with the design, said 'If you can't look at something you can't attack it.'"

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Russia Set To Extend Life of Nuclear Reactors Past Engineered Life Span
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tempting-fate department:
Harperdog writes "Yikes! Russia is extending the lifetime of nuclear power reactors beyond their engineered life span of 30 years, including the nation's oldest reactors: first-generation VVERs and RBMKs, the Chernobyl-type reactors. This goes against existing Russian law, because the projects have not undergone environmental assessments. 'Many of the country's experts and non-governmental organizations maintain that this decision is economically unjustifiable and environmentally dangerous — to say nothing of illegal. The Russian nuclear industry, however, argues that lifetime extensions are justified because the original estimate of a 30-year life span was conservative; the plants have been significantly upgraded; and extensions cost significantly less than constructing new reactors.'"

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NTSB Recommends Cell Phone Ban For Drivers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's text-your-disapproval-from-behind-the-wheel department:
ducomputergeek writes "According to this AP report, the National Transportation Safety Board says 'States should ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies.' 'The recommendation, unanimously agreed to by the five-member board, applies to both hands-free and hand-held phones and significantly exceeds any existing state laws restricting texting and cellphone use behind the wheel.' So what about all the cars today that come with built-in computers, navigation, internet capabilities, and cell phones?"

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Iran Wants To Clone Downed US Drone
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's come-fly-the-friendly-skies department:
PolygamousRanchKid sends this quote from the LA Times:
"The Obama administration has sent a formal diplomatic request asking Iran to return the radar-evading drone aircraft that crashed on a CIA spying mission this month, but U.S. officials say they don't expect Iran will comply. 'We have asked for it back,' Obama said Monday at a news conference in Washington with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. 'We'll see how the Iranians respond.' His comments marked the first public confirmation that the RQ-170 Sentinel drone now in Iranian hands is a U.S. aircraft, though U.S. officials privately acknowledged that in recent days. Iran has claimed it downed the stealthy surveillance drone, but U.S. officials say it malfunctioned. Capture of the futuristic-looking unmanned spy plane has provided Tehran with a propaganda windfall. The government announced that it planned to clone and mass produce the bat-winged craft for use against its enemies."
Iran has also demanded an apology from the U.S. for the drone flight in its airspace.

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Facebook Launches Suicide-Prevention Effort
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 10:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's d'ya-call-in-sick? department:
adeelarshad82 writes "Facebook launched an initiative that gives users who have expressed suicidal thoughts the option to connect directly with a crisis counselor via Facebook chat. Facebook doesn't troll the site in search of those who might be suicidal; with 800 million users who generate billions of posts, Facebook's algorithm could easily misinterpret comments. Instead, the new initiative is dependent on people speaking up when they feel a friend might be in danger."

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