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GPS Tracking of State Worker Raises Privacy Issues
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 01:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us department:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a Times Union article: "How far can state government go in keeping tabs on its employees? That's the question a mid-level appeals court will consider in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union against the state Labor Department, in the case of a fired state worker who was tracked with a GPS device that investigators secretly attached to his personal car. ... State officials tracked Cunningham's whereabouts by secretly attaching a GPS device to his BMW. The electronic tailing went beyond what would normally be termed Cunningham's work hours, since the device was on for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They even tracked him on a multi-day family vacation."

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Purdue Students Building Moon Lander Rocket
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 12:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's competition-for-carmack department:
tekgoblin sends words that a team of students at Purdue University are working on a project to build a rocket engine that could be used on a future Moon lander. Quoting:
"Graduate students Thomas Feldman and Andrew Rettenmaier are part of a team developing a thrust chamber for NASA's Project Morpheus, which includes research to develop new technologies for future trips to the moon, Mars or asteroids. The rocket must meet stringent design and performance specifications related to factors including efficiency, size and weight limits, thrust and the ability to dynamically throttle the rocket from 1,300-4,200 pounds of thrust, Feldman said. ... A development test chamber has been designed and is ready for testing. This heavily instrumented chamber is far bulkier than the eventual flight chamber, and data from upcoming tests will be used to refine the flight engine's design."

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River Trail — Intel's Parallel JavaScript
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 11:46 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's perpendicular-javascript-coming-soon department:
mikejuk writes "Intel has just announced River Trail, an extension of JavaScript that brings parallel programming into the browser. The code looks like JavaScript and it works with HTML5, including Canvas and WebGL, so 2D and 3D graphics are easy. A demo video shows an in-browser simulation going from 3 to 45 fps and using all eight cores of the processor. This is the sort of performance needed if 3D in-browser games are going to be practical. You can download River Trail as a Firefox add-on and start coding now. Who needs native code?"

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Modern Humans Bred With Evolutionary Predecessors In Africa
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's how-you-doin department:
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Based on a new analysis of old skulls, it now appears that modern humans may have interbred with some earlier hominid species, suggesting that human evolution took a more complex path than previously thought. The study opines that modern humans lived side by side with the older species. Paleontologists disagree over the meaning of the findings, or whether they have any substantial significance at all."

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Did HP Bilk Its Shareholders?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
jfruhlinger writes "About a month ago, HP announced that it was getting out of the PC, tablet, and mobile phone business to focus on software services, at which point, rather predictably, HP's stock plunged. Obviously, HP's leadership had been working on this plan for some time before it was announced, which leads to the question: did they deliberately mislead their stockholders by not being more transparent? That's what a shareholder lawsuit against the company alleges. How the courts treat the suit could have interesting implications for how transparent public corporations need to be about future strategy."

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Seismologist Manslaughter Trial Begins Next Week
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's defining-reasonable-prognostication department:
El Puerco Loco writes with a followup to a story we discussed in May about the manslaughter charges facing six seismologists and one government official in Italy after an earthquake there killed 309 people and destroyed 20,000 buildings. The case is going to trial next week, and an article at Nature provides an update on how things stand:
"The indictments have drawn global condemnation. The American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), both in Washington DC, issued statements in support of the Italian defendants. ... The view from L'Aquila, however, is quite different. Prosecutors and the families of victims alike say that the trial has nothing to do with the ability to predict earthquakes, and everything to do with the failure of government-appointed scientists serving on an advisory panel to adequately evaluate, and then communicate, the potential risk to the local population. ... [The charges allege that the defendants] provided 'incomplete, imprecise, and contradictory information' to a public that had been unnerved by months of persistent, low-level tremors. [Prosecutor Fabio Picuti] says that the commission was more interested in pacifying the local population than in giving clear advice about earthquake preparedness. 'I'm not crazy,' Picuti says. 'I know they can't predict earthquakes. The basis of the charges is not that they didn't predict the earthquake. As functionaries of the state, they had certain duties imposed by law: to evaluate and characterize the risks that were present in L'Aquila.'"

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Printing a Building
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you're-gonna-need-a-bigger-boat department:
RedEaredSlider writes "Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are trying to push 3-D printing technology even further. Their goals: create whole working machines and perhaps even buildings. Thus far, 3D printing has been used to make shapes of plastic or metal that can be assembled later. These folks want to change that. One idea is to use concrete in a novel way: 'Not only would it be possible to create fanciful, organic-looking shapes that would be difficult or impossible using molds, but the technique could also allow the properties of the concrete itself to vary continuously, producing structures that are both lighter and stronger than conventional concrete. To illustrate this, Keating uses the example of a palm tree compared to a typical structural column. In a concrete column, the properties of the material are constant, resulting in a very heavy structure. But a palm tree’s trunk varies: denser at the outside and lighter toward the center. As part of his thesis research, he has already made sections of concrete with the same kind of variations of density.'"

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Soyuz Capsule Return Marred By Mystery Communications Blackout
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's have-you-tried-turning-it-off-and-then-on-again department:
astroengine writes "An unexplained communications loss left flight controllers unable to speak with three space station crew returning to Earth over Kazakhstan during the last 15 minutes of their descent Thursday night. The first indication that the capsule survived its fiery plunge through the atmosphere was a series of beeps signaling components of the Soyuz had been jettisoned as planned. Later, ground controllers picked up signals that the Soyuz's parachutes had deployed, but it wasn't until a Russian recovery aircraft established two-way radio communications with the crew that flight controllers knew all was well."

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ToS Violations No Longer a Crime (On Their Own)
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 08:01 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-take-care-of-that-tag-on-your-pillow department:
nonprofiteer writes "The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act previously made 'unauthorized access to a computer system' a crime — meant to apply to hackers, it also criminalized violations of a website's ToS or of a workplace's computer policies. The law is being changed to make the crime a felony rather than a misdemeanor, which led some to worry about the potential for its abuse. However, Senators Franken and Grassley added an amendment (PDF) to exempt violations of ToS and employer policies from the lists of felony activity. w00t for common sense."

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Obama To Sign 'America Invents Act of 2011' Today
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's system-and-method-for-inhaling-oxygen department:
ideonexus writes "President Obama will be signing the 'America Invents Act of 2011' into law today at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. The bill will transition America from a 'first-to-invent" to a 'first-to-file" country, but critics argue that the bill fails to address the more important problem that 'nobody can tell what a patent covers until they've spent months or years working it out, often in the courts.'"

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British Schoolkids To Be Taught Computer Coding
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's how-to-program-politely department:
An anonymous reader writes "The UK government has finally decided to do something about the dire state of IT and computer science teaching in the country: it will create a new 'IT-centric' General Certificate of Secondary Education that will cover computational principles, systemic thinking, software development and logic. The current ICT GCSE has been lambasted for boring kids to death with lessons on using Word and Excel, rather than teaching computer programming."

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Microsoft: No Windows 8 ARM Support For x86 Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-buy-it-all-again-problem-solved department:
jcombel writes "It turns out Microsoft's app compatibility will be limited to one architecture or another. Yes, Windows 8 will run on your ARM tablet, but your x86 Office 2003 will not. In his explanation, Steven Sinofsky reasoned, 'If we allow the world of x86 application support like that, or based on what we call desktop apps in our start yesterday, then there are real challenges in some of the value propositions for system on a chip,' he said. 'You know, will battery life be as good, for example? Well, those applications aren't written to be really great in the face of limited battery constraints, which is a value proposition of the Metro style apps.'"

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Anonymous Kills Websites, Cartels Kill Bloggers
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's comittment-and-scope department:
An anonymous reader writes "While drug cartels in Mexico are disemboweling people they accuse of blogging about drug violence, Anonymous busies itself taking down Mexican government websites. With all the problems facing people in Mexico right now, including drug cartels extorting teachers for 50% of their pay and killing schoolchildren (thus shutting down the school system), Mexico's biggest oil field in terminal decline and drug cartels kidnapping busloads of people and forcing them into gladiator-style contests to the death, Anonymous' actions appear particularly petty."

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Intel's Thunderbolt With Fiber Optics Years Away
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sometime-down-the-road department:
CWmike writes "Intel's Thunderbolt high-speed interconnect technology could be years away from getting optical technology, an Intel executive said this week at IDF. Originally introduced in February on Macs, Thunderbolt was pitched as being optical technology but currently uses copper wires. Dadi Perlmutter of Intel's Architecture Group said copper wires are working much better than expected, and that fiber was expensive. 'It's going to be way out,' Perlmutter said. 'At the end of the day it's all about how much speed people need versus how much they would be willing to pay.'"

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Don't Study the Video Game, Study the Gamer
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 02:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's obvious-but-needs-to-be-said department:
rrossman2 writes with this quote from a USA Today article about research recently presented to the American Psychological Association: "Video games — especially violent ones — are constantly under scrutiny from parents concerned about negative effects. Now, research suggests that those worries should focus more on the player's personality rather than the content of the games. 'If you're worried about a video game turning your son or daughter into a killer, don't worry about that,' says psychologist Patrick Markey of Villanova (Pa.) University. 'But is your kid moody, impulsive, or are they unfriendly? It's probably not the best idea to have that child play violent video games.' ... Markey found slight increases in hostility for those with certain personality traits: extremely high on neuroticism and extremely low on agreeableness and conscientiousness. ... 'We found — irrespective of violent content — the two highly competitive games produced more aggressive behavior than the two less competitive games,' [Markey said.]"

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Microsoft Previews Compiler-as-a-Service Software
Posted by News Fetcher on September 16 '11 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's but-this-please department:
angry tapir writes "Microsoft will release a Community Technology Preview of a new type of compiler its researchers have been building — code-named Project Roslyn — a company executive announced Thursday. Roslyn is a compiler for C3 and Visual Basic with a set of APIs that developers can use to fine-tune their code. It resembles a model developed by the Mono Project, in which the information the compiler generates about a program can be reused as a library."

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Famous Wildlife Photographer Busted For Using Stock Images
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '11 at 10:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's the-all-look-the-same department:
Nobody knows better than Award-winning wildlife photographer Terje Helleso how hard it can be to get that perfect shot in an out-of-the-way location. That's why he used stock photos. The 47-year-old award photographer passed off hundreds of stock photos as his own over the course of several years. From the article: "On Wednesday, a deeply regretful Helleso spoke to local radio. He gave economic problems as a reason, but mostly it was about his own unreasonably high demands on himself to be successful, he said. 'I was under pressure, mostly from myself, and I gave in to temptation. Looking back, I’m surprised that I got away with it for so long, and that I managed to keep up appearances to my wife and everyone else,' he said."

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Smartphones Becoming Computer of Choice in Developing Countries
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '11 at 09:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's computer-of-the-people department:
An anonymous reader writes "The build-out of 3G networks in developing countries, plus ultra-low prices from the likes of Samsung, will make the smartphone the sole computer of millions of citizens worldwide. And by 2016, 97 percent of smartphones are expected to use touchscreens. Now, don't get me wrong — I carry an iPad and an iPod Touch in my backpack and love touchscreens — but I still like a phone that fits in my pocket. However, I'm going to be in the minority five years from now, when the majority of wireless communicators will be smartphones."

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Netflix To Lose 1 Million Subscribers
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '11 at 06:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's abandon-ship department:
tekgoblin writes "In light of the recent price increase at Netflix, it made quite a few subscribers mad. Netflix expects to lose around 1 million total subscribers in the short term after the price changes. Price changes that split the streaming and DVD costs separately when they were combined previously which inevitably increase the subscription prices. On top of the price increase Netflix will lose their contract with Starz in February which will cost them around 1,000 total streaming titles from their collection."

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Intel Experimental Processor Runs On Solar Power
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '11 at 04:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's heliotropic-computing department:
An anonymous reader writes "For the IDF keynote, Intel showed an experimental processor that is solar powered (incandescent light shining on solar panel). The whole computer itself still runs on regular power, only the processor itself is solar From the article: 'The concept processor, code-named Claremont, can run light workloads on solar power by dropping energy consumption to under 10 milliwatts, said Justin Rattner, chief technology officer at Intel, during a keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. That is low enough to keep a chip running on a solar cell the size of a stamp.'"

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