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New Federal CIO Is Former Microsoft, FCC Exec
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 12:46 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's maybe-he's-just-civic-minded department:
msmoriarty writes "The second-ever federal CIO (the first, Vivek Kundra, resigned in June) will be Steven VanRoekel, who worked with Microsoft for 15 years, running the company's Web Services and Platform Strategy and Windows Server Solutions groups. He went to the FCC in 2009, where he then advocated for open government and open platforms. VanRoekel's title on his twitter feed has already been changed to 'United States Chief Information Officer.'" According to reader dcblogs, VanRoekel is also a hefty political donor, having given $50,000 toward Obama's inauguration festivities.

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Xamarin's First Mono Release - Proof of Life!
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's congratulations-to-miguel department:
mikejuk writes "After striking out on their own the former Mono team, now reconstituted as Xamarin, has just issued its first release of Mono. This is essentially a minor release with lots of bug fixes but it's proof of life for the Mono project after being dropped by Attachmate."

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NASA Announces Discovery of Salty Water On Mars ... Maybe
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-don't-they-just-taste-it? department:
Today's promised mystery announcement from NASA has finally been made: dotancohen writes "A NASA orbiter has found possible evidence for water on the surface of Mars that flows seasonally. The water likely would be salty, in keeping with the salty Martian environment."

Adds an anonymous reader: "Dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring, NASA says, and repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars' southern hemisphere."

You can find more on the claimed find at NASA TV.

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Rare Earth Deposit Discovered In US
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 11:01 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's go-west-young-man department:
s31523 writes "With China having 97% of the market share of rare earth elements, many countries are nervous about being able to get supplies of key elements needed for high tech gear. Quantum Rare Earths Developments Corp. has reported they have discovered a potential huge source of rare earth elements, right in the middle of the U.S. While the USGS reports that the U.S. has an estimated 13 million metric tonnes available for mining (about 1/3 of China's reserves), finding another regular source is crucial to global stability. The potential yield of the deposit, found in Nebraska, could be the world's largest source for Niobium and other rare earth elements. Could this be the next gold rush?"

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Saudi Arabia Constructing World's Tallest Building
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's perhaps-to-house-a-language-institute department:
kkleiner writes "1,000 meters, or 3,280 feet. That's two-thirds of a mile. When the Kingdom Tower is built on the outskirts of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia it will not only become the tallest building in the world, it will shatter the old record. The total cost for the tower is approximately $1.2 billion. It features a Four Seasons hotel, Four Seasons serviced apartments, luxury condominiums, top class office space and the world's highest observatory."

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The Story Behind Recent Patent Reform
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ain't-pretty-ain't-sufficient department:
rmstar writes "In an article titled 'The Spoilsmen: How Congress Corrupted Patent Reform,' Huffington Post reporter Zach Carter takes a look at the story behind the recent patent reform effort. It is an interesting and scary account of just how broken the legislative process is when it comes to intellectual property."

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NASA Sends Lego Figures to Jupiter
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 09:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's universal-toy department:
bLanark writes "NASA have teamed up with Lego and will send three specially crafted, minifigures towards Jupiter in a probe to be launched on an Atlas V rocket on Friday. The figures, representing Roman gods Jupiter and Juno, and astronomer Galileo, are machined from aluminum and are the normal size for Lego minifigures. From the article: 'This (until now) secret installation was initiated by NASA scientists, who love Lego as much as anyone and wanted to do something memorable for this mission. They approached Lego and the company loved the idea. It saw the project as a way to promote children’s education and STEM programs.'"

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Stanford 'Intro To AI' Course Offered Free Online
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 09:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's i'm-afraid-i-can't-let-you-do-that department:
An anonymous reader writes "IEEE Spectrum reports that Stanford's CS221 course 'Introduction to Artificial Intelligence' will be offered online for free. Anyone can sign up and take the course, along with several hundred Stanford undergrads. The instructors are Sebastian Thrun, known for his self-driving cars, and Peter Norvig, director of research at Google. Online students will actually have to do all the same work as the Stanford students. There will be at least 10 hours per week of studying, along with weekly graded homework assignments and midterm and final exams. The instructors, who will be available to answer questions, will issue a certificate for those who complete the course, along with a final grade that can be compared to the grades of the Stanford students. The course, which will last 10 weeks, starts on October 2nd, and online enrollment is now open."

When asked how they would deal with ten thousand students, Professor Thrun replied:

"We will use something akin to Google Moderator to make sure Peter and I answer the most pressing questions. Our hypothesis is that even in a class of 10,000, there will only be a fixed number of really interesting questions (like 15 per week). There exist tools to find them."

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Smart Power Grid Could Wreak Havoc On Itself
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's off-is-the-new-on department:
MrSeb writes "Smart power grid monitoring that lets you pick the exact cheapest time to run the dishwasher or recharge your electric car may put too much power (so to speak) in the hands of the consumer, according to a new study by MIT. Researchers say that users receiving minute-by-minute pricing information might cycle off-peak power use more rapidly than utilities can spool up their power plants. In other words, it's OK if you're the only person charging your Chevy Volt at 2am in the morning, but if a whole town does it exactly the same time... there will be issues."

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DOS, Backdoor, and Easter Egg Found In Siemens S7
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's punch-the-monkey department:
chicksdaddy writes with a post in Threat Post. From the article: "Dillon Beresford used a presentation at the Black Hat Briefings on Wednesday to detail more software vulnerabilities affecting industrial controllers from Siemens, including a serious remotely exploitable denial of service vulnerability, more hard-coded administrative passwords, and even an easter egg program buried in the code that runs industrial machinery around the globe. In an interview Tuesday evening, Beresford said he has reported 18 separate issues to Siemens and to officials at ICS CERT, the Computer Emergency Response Team for the Industrial Control Sector. Siemens said it is readying a patch for some of the holes, including one that would allow a remote attacker to gain administrative control over machinery controlled by certain models of its Step 7 industrial control software."

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Oracle's Java Polices Are Destroying the Community
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's shares-in-haskell-inc-up-ten-points department:
snydeq writes "Neil McAllister sees Oracle's buggy Java SE 7 release as only the latest misstep in a mounting litany of bad behavior. 'Who was the first to alert the Java community? The Apache Foundation. Oh, the irony. This is the same Apache Foundation that resigned from the Java Community Process executive committee in protest after Oracle repeatedly refused to give it access to the Java Technology Compatibility Kit,' McAllister writes. 'It seems as if Oracle would like nothing better than to stomp Apache and its open source Java efforts clean out of existence.'"

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NASA Briefing on New Mars Finding This Afternoon
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 06:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's mulder-found-exploring-face-of-mars department:
ipsender writes with a NASA announcement:

"NASA will host a news briefing on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 11 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. EDT) about a significant new Mars science finding. The briefing will be held at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The new finding is based on observations from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2006."

You can catch the briefing online at the NASA TV site.

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Former Nokia Engineers Fueling Finnish Startups
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's funeral-pyre department:
pbahra writes with an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. From the article: "A few weeks ago Microsoft's European chairman told TechEurope that the average amount of venture capital per head across Europe was just $7. ... Finnish blog ArcticStartup has extrapolated figures showing the total average VC investment per capita for the country was $46 in 2010... The question of why this country on the edge of the Arctic Circle should have such active entrepreneurs came up again in a conversation with Wilhelm Taht, the marketing director of Flowd... 'With Nokia changing gear there is a lot of technical know-how all of a sudden which wasn't available even two years ago,' said Mr.Taht, diplomatically, about the savage job cuts at the struggling mobile phone giant. 'There's a culture of technically savvy engineers. Finns are not necessarily very talkative people, but when it comes to what they know about computers and programming it's pretty staggering.'"

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Is Free Software Ready For E-publishing?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's information-wants-to-be-free department:
johanneswilm writes "Over more than 3 years I have been writing my PhD thesis on the politics of Nicaragua. Being the most professional system for PDF generation, I went with LaTeX, and, to make the text accessible for the editors, I used the LyX editor. Now that the publication date comes near, I found I had to spend considerable time creating a script to convert the manuscript to formats such as Epub as none of the available tools were quite ready to do it automatically. Is LaTeX only good for writers in the natural sciences? Is the open source community boycotting ebook formats, as Richard Stallman has proposed? Are there better tools to do the same?"

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Google Accuses Competitors of Abusing Patents Against Android
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 05:01 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's the-plot-thickens department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Bloomberg reports that Google has accused Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle of waging a 'hostile, organized campaign' against Android by purchasing patents to keep them out of Google's hands and to make it more expensive for handset makers to use Android. 'We thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we're determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it,' writes David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer . Android's success has resulted in a 'hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.'"

Microsoft has responded, saying they offered to bid jointly with Google on the Nortel patents, but Google refused. Some think Google is being hypocritical with their stance on patents changing now that Android appears to infringe on a bunch.

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Researcher's Tool Catches Net Neutrality Cheaters
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's why-so-slow? department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, researcher Dan Kaminsky announced he will release a free software tool for detecting when an Internet service provider is artificially slowing down or speeding up traffic to and from a website, a tool he is calling N00ter, or 'neutral router.' N00ter functions like a VPN, routing traffic through a proxy and disguising its source and destination. But instead of encrypting the traffic in both directions as VPNs do, it instead spoofs the traffic from a Web site to a user to make it seem to be coming from any Web site that the user wants to test. That traffic can be compared with a normal connection to the N00ter server without a spoofed IP address, to spot any artificial changes in speed."

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Study Links Game Piracy To Critics' Review Scores
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-you-pan-it-they-will-come department:
An anonymous reader writes "A new study (abstract) published at the annual ACM Foundations of Digital Games conference by researchers from Copenhagen Business School and the University of Waterloo explores the magnitude of game piracy on public BitTorrent trackers. The researchers tracked 173 new game releases over a three-month period and found that these were downloaded by 12.7 million unique peers. They further show that the number of downloads on BitTorrent can be predicted by the scores of game reviewers. Overall the current paper gives a seemingly robust overview of the state of game piracy on BitTorrent. Although the results may not be all that surprising, it's certainly refreshing to see a decent report on BitTorrent statistics every now and then."

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UK Health Service Fears Huge Legal Fight Over Unwanted Contracts
Posted by News Fetcher on August 04 '11 at 01:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-it-before-you-sign-it department:
DMandPenfold writes "The Department of Health is concerned that Fujitsu, CSC and BT would team up against it in a multibillion pound legal fight, should it decide to scrap the disastrous NHS National Program for IT. Fujitsu walked away from a £709 million contract in 2008, and remains locked in legal wrangling with the government over claims for the majority of the value. Today, MPs urged the government to seriously consider abandoning the program and therefore to consider terminating the remaining CSC and BT contracts, worth £3 billion and £1 billion respectively."

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London Could Soon Get Free Wi-Fi Everywhere
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '11 at 10:16 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's have-a-bit-of-internet department:
fangmcgee writes "London could soon be covered with a free public WiFi network as Virgin Media moves to challenge BT's Openzone network. Virgin Media's network would be freely available to anyone at 0.5Mbps, and to subscribers to its home broadband at speeds up to a blistering 10Mbps. The proposals would see WiFi routers installed in each of the company's street-side cabinets, which distribute its cable network to homes and businesses"

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Low Violence Red Orchestra 2 For Australia
Posted by News Fetcher on August 03 '11 at 08:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-like-low-violins-in-orchestras department:
dotarray writes "Even though an adult rating for video games has been approved in theory for Australia, it's still a little ways off – and will not come soon enough for Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad. Alan Wilison, VP with the company producing the game, said, 'We are hoping that they will take the same view as PEGI/BBFC and not go all silly on us. However, until we're sure, we putting LV up to be safe.'"

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