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Are Bad Economic Times Good for Free Software?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 10:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's how-many-gnus-for-a-soda department:
Dog's_Breakfast writes "In a declining economy, software licenses become a luxury. Linux and the BSDs offer free alternatives. As the USA toys with the possibility of defaulting on its national debt (and thus risking economic collapse), the author wonders if this might not, at last, lead to 'The Year of the Linux Desktop.'"

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Is Google+ a Cathedral Or a Bazaar?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 09:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's either-way-the-garden-is-walled department:
An anonymous reader writes "With its recent mass suspension of accounts, Google has highlighted its desire to create a social network that is very different to the way many (including those whose accounts were suspended) would want to see it. The metaphor of the Cathedral and the Bazaar used for software development can be applied to the two types of social networks being proposed by Google on the one hand and the pseudonym supporters on the other. Google's Cathedral model emphasizes order and control whilst the bazaar model supports users who can be anonymous, have multiple identities, interact with anyone they please, and remain unobserved."

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Telex Would Work, But Is It Overkill?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 09:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's kill-it-again department:
Slashdot regular contributor Bennett Haselton wrote in this week to say that "The proposed "Telex" anti-censorship system could technically work, but unless I'm missing something, it would more cost-effective to spend the same resources on fighting censorship using existing technologies." His essay on the subject follows.

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Missouri Law Says Students, Teachers Can't Be Facebook Friends
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 08:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's behind-the-times department:
An anonymous reader writes "Teachers can be friendly with their students, but they can't be their friends, at least when it comes to social networks such as Facebook. State Governor Jay Nixon has signed Senate Bill 54, which goes into effect on August 28, 2011 in the state of Missouri. In other words, later this month it will be illegal for students and teachers to be friends online."

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Microsoft Curbs Wi-Fi Location Database
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 07:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's neither-here-nor-there department:
suraj.sun writes "Microsoft has ceased publishing the estimated locations of millions of laptops, cell phones, and other devices with Wi-Fi connections around the world after a CNET article on Friday highlighted privacy concerns. The decision to rework Live.com's geolocation service comes following scrutiny of the way Microsoft made available its database assembled by both Windows Phone 7 phones and what the company calls "managed driving" by Street View-like vehicles that record Wi-Fi signals accessible from public roads. Every Wi-Fi device has a unique ID, sometimes called a MAC address, that cannot normally be changed."

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Use Your Car To Power Your House
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 06:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's because-you-can department:
itwbennett writes "Nissan has developed a system that allows a vehicle to supply electricity to power a house during a power outage or shortage. A prototype of the charging system running on a Nissan Leaf electric car was unveiled in Japan on Tuesday. A two-way charging device that would typically convert the household electricity supply to a voltage suitable for charging the car's battery can be reversed to feed power back into the household circuit."

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800Mbps Wireless Network Made With LED Light Bulbs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 05:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it department:
Mark.JUK writes "German scientists working at Berlin's Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications have set a new world record for Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology after they succeeded in using regular red, blue, green and white LED (Light-Emitting Diode) light bulbs as the basis for building a new 800Mbps (Megabits per second) capable ultrafast Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). Dr. Anagnostis Paraskevopoulos explained: 'With the aid of a special component, the modulator, we turn the LEDs off and on in very rapid succession and transfer the information as ones and zeros. The modulation of the light is imperceptible to the human eye. A simple photo diode on the laptop acts as a receiver. The diode catches the light, electronics decode the information and translate it into electrical impulses, meaning the language of the computer.'

The solution, which could be installed on ceilings and would cover approximately 10 square meters, would be ideal for HD video streaming and inside Hospitals or Aircraft where traditional Wi-Fi is often banned. However visible light signals can easily be blocked, such as when a hand is passed in front of the transmitter."


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Swede Arrested For Building Nuclear Reactor
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 05:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's now-you're-playing-with-power department:
An anonymous reader writes "A 31 year old Swedish male was arrested for trying to build a nuclear reactor in his apartment. He got hold of radioactive material thru mail-order purchases and from smoke detectors. Police raided his apartment after he had contacted the Swedish Radiation Authority (Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten) to inquire if it was legal to construct a nuclear reactor at home."

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Are We Seeing the End of Big Oil?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-wait-for-the-worldwide-famine-of-the-'70s department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Cyrus Sanati writes in Fortune Magazine that up until now, it has been widely accepted that being bigger was better for oil companies, but the announcement that ConocoPhillips plans to break up into two separately traded companies, separating its exploration and production unit from its refining and marketing units, took Wall Street by surprise, raising uncomfortable questions about the future of Big Oil. 'That's because the exploration side and the refining side of the oil business have little to do with one another,' writes Sanati. 'Contrary to popular belief, Big Oil has almost no control over the price of oil these days. That power squarely rests with oil-rich nations that hold most of the world's oil reserves and the Wall Street banks and hedge funds that speculate and make markets in the oil trading game. So even though ExxonMobil pumps oil, it can't guarantee that its refining unit will be able to profitably process a barrel into gasoline or heating oil.' ... 'If the ConocoPhillips story is a success for shareholders, there will be calls to break up Big Oil just in time for the annual meetings in the spring. So by this time next year, it is possible that Big Oil will go the way of Rockefeller's once gargantuan Standard Oil — with the markets, not the government, forcing a break up this time.'"

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Email In Oracle-Google Case Will Remain Public
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 03:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cannot-unring-that-bell department:
itwbennett writes "When last we left the Oracle/Google patent infringement saga, Oracle had been ordered by Judge William Alsup to lower its claim for damages to $100 million, give or take. Today Judge Alsup denied Google's attempt to get a potentially damaging e-mail redacted. 'What we've actually been asked to do by Larry and Sergey is to investigate what technology alternatives exist to Java for Android and Chrome,' Google engineer Tim Lindholm wrote in the Aug. 2010 e-mail. 'We've been over a hundred of these and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java.'"

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How To Ruin Your Game's PC Port
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-the-myriad-ways department:
An anonymous reader writes "An article at Ars goes through some of the biggest sins game publishers commit when porting a console game to the PC. At the top of the list, predictably, are annoying DRM and inconvenient game settings. From the article: 'PC gamers like to play with their mouse settings, adjust the amount of detail in the characters or environment, and change the audio mix between the music and the sound effects. We want to adjust the resolution, the aspect ratio, and even the field of view settings. The more options given to PC gamers, the better. While some engines support more options than others, there is a minimum amount of tweaking that should be available when we jump into the game. For an example of how badly PC gamers can get screwed on this issue, we can take a look at Bulletstorm when it was launched. Not only was mouse smoothing turned on as a default, but there was no way to turn it off. You had to find the configuration files, which were encrypted for some insane reason, and then install a third-party program to be able to turn off mouse smoothing and get the game feeling like it should on the PC."

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Middleboxes vs. the Internet's End-to-End Principle
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '11 at 12:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's I-love-saying-middleboxes department:
arglebargle_xiv writes "The Internet was designed around the end-to-end principle, which says that functionality should be provided by end hosts rather than in the network itself. A new study of the effect of vast numbers of middleboxes on the Internet (PDF) indicates that this is no longer the case, since far too many devices on the Internet interfere with traffic in some way. This has serious implications for network (protocol) neutrality (as well as future IPv6 deployment) since only the particular variations of TCP that they know about will pass through them."

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Making Graphics In Games '100,000 Times' Better?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 11:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's future-of-gaming-or-complete-bunk department:
trawg writes "A small Australian software company — backed by almost AUD$2 million in government assistance — is claiming they've developed a new technology which is '100,000 times better' for computer game graphics. It's not clear what exactly is getting multiplied, but they apparently 'make everything out of tiny little atoms instead of flat panels.' They've posted a video to YouTube which shows their new tech, which is apparently running at 20 FPS in software. It's (very) light on the technical details, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but they say an SDK is due in a few months — so stay tuned for more."
John Carmack had this to say about the company's claims: "No chance of a game on current gen systems, but maybe several years from now. Production issues will be challenging."

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Apple Blocks Sale of Galaxy Tab 10.1 In Australia
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 09:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's about-that-rent-we're-seeking department:
lukehopewell1 writes "Apple has obtained an injunction from an Australian court effectively blocking the sale of the new Android Honeycomb-powered Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v. Apple Australia claims that the unit infringes on 10 of the Cupertino, California-based company's patents including the slide to unlock functionality as well as the edge-bounce feature. Samsung will provide Apple Australia with three units for study in coming weeks to ascertain whether or not the Korean gadget maker did in fact infringe on Apple's patented intellectual property."

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Ground-Based GPS Mimic Is Inch Perfect
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 06:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's keep-to-the-left-for-8-inches department:
holy_calamity writes "For several years the U.S. Air Force has used WiFi-router-sized boxes on a New Mexico missile range to create a GPS-like service to track munitions to the nearest inch. Now the Australian company behind the technology is rolling it out for civilians. One gold mine is already using the tech and specifications are being released so that GPS receiver manufacturers can adopt the technology. Locata hopes that construction sites, factories and city governments will all want to install their own high accuracy 'location hotspots.'"

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Windows XP Market Share Finally Falls Below 50%
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 04:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-it-seems-only-yesterday department:
An anonymous reader writes "At the end of July 2011, Microsoft can say that Windows XP finally fell below the 50 percent mark. In other words, Redmond's decade-old operating system is now used by less than half of all Internet users."

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Using Brain Waves Can Shorten Braking Distance
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 04:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's using-your-brain-full-stop-can-too department:
cheros writes "A BBC article reports on work at the Berlin Institute of technology where brainwaves are used to trigger brakes. Apparently this cuts braking distance by more than 3m (10ft), but I have reservations about skull electrodes in any circumstances. I'll stick with radar, thanks."

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Ask Slashdot: Using Code With an Expired Patent?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 03:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's warm-up-the-mechanical-lawyer department:
kruhft writes "I was recently doing some research into Genetic Programming and found a library through a blog post that looks to be useful. After looking over the code and license, I found that this was the first piece of code I had seen that was protected by a patent, issued on June 19, 1990. I read that patents last for 20 years, meaning that the patent that this code refers to is expired. Is there any way for me to be sure that using this code is safe from any patent troll attacks if I choose to use it? Would rewriting the code keep me from violating any other patents that the author might have regarding the use of such an algorithm? Does the code pass into the public domain after the patent expires?" Note to Chrome users: the above link ("a library") works for me in Firefox, but not in Chrome on Linux; YMMV.

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Android Trojan Records Phone Calls
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 03:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's goodnight-snookums-wookums department:
jbrodkin writes "A new Android Trojan is capable of recording phone conversations, according to a CA security researcher. While a previous Trojan found by CA logged the details of incoming and outgoing phone calls and the call duration, new malware identified this week records the actual phone conversations in AMR format and stores the recordings on the device's SD card. The malware also 'drops a 'configuration' file that contains key information about the remote server and the parameters,' CA security researcher Dinesh Venkatesan writes, perhaps suggesting that the recorded calls can be uploaded to a server maintained by an attacker. Installation of the Trojan requires some user interaction, but the malware recreates the look and feel of the standard Android application installation process, and may fool some unsuspecting users."

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Judge Blasts Prosecution of Alleged NSA Leaker
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '11 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's be-less-bad department:
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that Judge Richard D. Bennett harshly criticized US prosecutor William M. Welch III for his treatment of a former spy agency official Thomas Drake, who was accused of leaking classified material. Bennett called the delays in the now-closed case 'unconscionable' and compared it to British tyranny in the colonial era. In 2007, FBI agents raided Drake's house, but it took over two years for officials to indict him. 'And then, over a year later, on the eve of trial, in June of 2011, the government says, "Whoops, we dropped the whole case,"' Bennett said. Drake was given a mild penalty for pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of exceeding authorized use of a computer: a year's probation and 240 hours of community service while all 10 felony counts were dropped. 'That's four years of hell that a citizen goes through,' Bennett said. 'It was not proper. It doesn't pass the smell test.' In contrast with his tough words for Welch, Bennett singled out for praise Drake's public defenders, James Wyda and Deborah L. Boardman, saying their work on behalf of Drake was 'at the highest level of professionalism.' Judge Welch said the matter was now closed and addressed Drake: 'I wish you the best of luck in the rest of your life.'"

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