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Sun Founders' Push For Open Source Education
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 03:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's network-is-the-textbook deptartment:
theodp writes "Unfortunately for textbook publishers, Scott McNealy has some extra time on his hands since Oracle acquired Sun and put him out of a job. The Sun co-founder has turned his attention to the problem of math textbooks, the price of which keeps rising while the core information inside of them stays the same. 'Ten plus 10 has been 20 for a long time,' McNealy quips. 'We are spending $8 billion to $15 billion per year on textbooks' in the US, he adds. 'It seems to me we could put that all online for free.' McNealy's Curriki is an online hub for free textbooks and other course material. Others hoping to bring elements of the Open Source model to the school textbook world include Vinod Khosla (who co-founded Sun with McNealy), whose wife Neeru heads up the CK-12 Foundation, which has already developed nine of the core textbooks for high school."

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NAMCO Takes Down Student Pac-man Project
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's chasing-ghosts deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The core of how people first learn to do stuff — programming, music, writing, etc. — is to imitate others. It's one of the best ways to learn. Apparently a bunch of students using MIT's educational Scratch programming language understand this. But not everyone else does. NAMCO Bandai sent a takedown notice to MIT because some kids had recreated Pac-man with Scratch. The NAMCO letter is pretty condescending as well, noting that it understands the educational purpose of Scratch, but 'part of their education should include concern for the intellectual property of others.'"

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Terry Childs Denied Motion For Retrial
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's out-of-options deptartment:
snydeq writes "The former San Francisco network administrator who refused to hand over passwords for one of the city's networks has been denied a new trial and is expected to be sentenced Aug. 6. Terry Childs had been due for sentencing Friday but the court instead heard two defense motions, one requesting a new trial and the other for arrested judgment — essentially to have his original conviction overturned. The motions were both denied but the court then ran out of time before the sentencing phase could be conducted."

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Boeing's Hybrid Electric Airliner of the Future
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's flying-rice-burner deptartment:
fergus07 writes "Borne out of the same NASA research program that gave birth to MIT's D 'double bubble,' Boeing's Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) Volt concept is a twin-engine aircraft design notable for its trussed, elongated wings and electric battery gas turbine hybrid propulsion system — a system designed to reduce fuel burn by more than 70 percent and total energy use by 55 percent. The goal of the NASA supersonic research program is to find aircraft designs that will significantly reduce noise, nitrogen oxide emissions, fuel burn and air traffic congestion by the year 2035."

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The Sun Unleashes Coronal Mass Ejection At Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's return-fire deptartment:
astroengine writes "Yesterday morning, at 08:55 UT, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a C3-class flare erupt inside a sunspot cluster. 100,000 kilometers away, deep within the solar atmosphere (the corona), an extended magnetic field filled with cool plasma forming a dark ribbon across the face of the sun (a feature known as a 'filament') erupted at the exact same time. It seems very likely that both eruptions were connected after a powerful shock wave produced by the flare destabilized the filament, causing the eruption. A second solar observatory, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, then spotted a huge coronal mass ejection blast into space, straight in the direction of Earth. Solar physicists have calculated that this magnetic bubble filled with energetic particles should hit Earth on August 3, so look out for some intense aurorae — a solar storm is coming."

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WikiLeaks 'a Clear and Present Danger,' Says WaPo
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rhetoric-reaching-critical-levels deptartment:
bedmison writes "In an op-ed in the Washington Post titled 'WikiLeaks must be stopped,' Marc A. Thiessen writes that 'WikiLeaks represents a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States,' and that the US has the authority to arrest its spokesman, Julian Assange, even if it has to contravene international law to do so. Thiessen also suggests that the new USCYBERCOM be unleashed to destroy WikiLeaks as an internet presence." Reader praps tips an interview with another WikiLeaks spokesman, Daniel Schmitt, who says they have no regrets about releasing the Afghanistan documents, and says WikiLeaks is "changing the game." Several other readers have pointed out that WikiLeaks posted a mysterious, encrypted "insurance" file on Thursday, which sent the media into a speculative frenzy over what it could possibly contain.

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Intuit Still Fighting Government Tax Software
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-public-option deptartment:
Back in January we discussed Intuit's opposition to California's free, convenient software to file tax returns. TechDirt noticed a recent article in the LA Times about Intuit's continued lobbying efforts to get rid of those programs. Quoting: "Most importantly, Intuit is offering nothing that California doesn't already have. The state has arranged with other tax software providers to do exactly what Intuit proposes: Help low-income folks fill in and file state and federal returns for free — although Intuit refuses to participate. It apparently only wants in on this deal if the state knocks out its free programs, thereby creating a larger potential paying customer base for TurboTax. Not surprisingly, Intuit has been greasing the wheels in order to try to sell its scheme in California. Since 2005, public filings indicate that Intuit has spent $1.25 million on lobbyists in the state. Over the same period, it contributed an additional $2.12 million to statewide campaigns, including more than $1 million to state Sen. Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks), a ReadyReturn foe who is running for state controller. In all, Intuit has doled out cash to nearly 120 politicians. The impact has been clear, even if Intuit hasn't gotten its way — yet. As documented in The Times, in 2009 California Republican legislators held back their votes on 20 bills in an attempt to do the corporation's bidding and force the abolition of ReadyReturn and CalFile. They didn't succeed in killing the tax programs, but they did kill funding for domestic violence shelters, police and fire departments, and prevention of swine flu outbreaks."

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Stanford's New Solar Tech Harnesses Heat, Light
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doubling-down deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a Stanford news release: "Stanford engineers have figured out how to simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity in a way that could make solar power production more than twice as efficient as existing methods and potentially cheap enough to compete with oil. Unlike photovoltaic technology currently used in solar panels — which becomes less efficient as the temperature rises — the new process excels at higher temperatures. ... 'This is really a conceptual breakthrough, a new energy conversion process, not just a new material or a slightly different tweak,' said Nick Melosh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, who led the research group. 'It is actually something fundamentally different about how you can harvest energy.' And the materials needed to build a device to make the process work are cheap and easily available, meaning the power that comes from it will be affordable." The abstract for the researchers' paper is available at Nature.

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Why Bad 3D, Not 3D Glasses, Gives You Headaches
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's subset-equal-to-set deptartment:
Barence writes "The most common complaint about 3D is that the glasses give you a headache, but that's not actually true, according to the man who teaches the pros how to make better 3D. Speaking at the BBC in London, Buzz Hays, chief instructor for the Sony 3D Technology Center in Culver City, California, explained: 'It's not the technology's fault, it's really the content that can cause these problems. It's easy to make 3D but it's hard to make it good — and by "good" I mean taking care to make sure that this isn't going to cause eyestrain.' He went on to detail some of the mistakes made by inexperienced 3D film makers, from poor composition of shots, through uncomfortable convergence settings, to overuse of on-set monitors without viewing their content on a big screen. But the biggest admission Buzz made was that not even the 'experts' know all the tricks yet, which is why 3D should only get better from here. In the same seminar, Buzz also explained why 3D glasses are here to stay — at least for the next few years."

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Beautiful Data
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Beautiful Data: The Stories Behind Elegant Data Solutions is an addition to six or so other books in the 'Beautiful' series that O'Reilly has put out. It is not a comprehensive guide on data but instead a glimpse into success stories about twenty different projects that succeeded in displaying data — oftentimes in areas where others have failed. While this provides, for the most part, disjointed stories, it is a very readable book compared to most technical books. Beautiful Data proves to be quite the cover-to-cover page turner for anyone involved in building interfaces for data or the statistician at a loss for the best way to intuitively and effectively relay knowledge when given voluminous amounts of raw data. That said, it took me almost two months to make it through this book, as each chapter revealed a data repository or tool I had no idea existed. I felt like a child with an attention deficit disorder trying my hand at nearly everything. While the book isn't designed to relay complete theory on data (like Tufte), it is a great series of short success stories revolving around the entire real world practice of consuming, aggregating, realizing and making beautiful data." Keep reading for the rest of eldavojohn's review.

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Obama Sets End of Iraq Combat For August 31st
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 09:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's end-of-an-era deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "President Barack Obama has announced that on August 31st the United States will cease all combat operations in Iraq, although 50,000 troops will remain until the end of 2011. It's been a long seven-and-a-half years, with no guarantee of this announcement actually signifying the end of violence. Pundits are already speculating on whether or not this withdrawal speech is 'Mission Accomplished 2.' It's possibly the most significant confirmation of and commitment to a withdrawal the world will hear from the United States in Iraq."

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Sex Boosts Brain Growth
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 08:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's do-it-for-my-brain-baby deptartment:
climenole writes "Sex apparently can help the brain grow, according to new findings in rats. Sexually active rodents also seemed less anxious than virgins, Princeton scientists discovered. Past findings had shown that stressful, unpleasant events could stifle brain cell growth in adults. To see if pleasant albeit stressful experiences could have the opposite effect, researchers studied the effects of sex in rats."

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Radioactive Boar On the Rise In Germany
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 08:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's stay-in-the-car-while-I-check-this-out deptartment:
Germans who go out in the woods today are sure of a big surprise, radioactive boars. A portion of the wild boar population in Germany was irradiated after the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, and the boars are thriving. In the last two years government payments to compensate hunters for radioactive boar have quadrupled. From the article: "According to the Environment Ministry in Berlin, almost €425,000 ($555,000) was paid out to hunters in 2009 in compensation for wild boar meat that was too contaminated by radiation to be sold for consumption. That total is more than four times higher than compensation payments made in 2007." I think the Germans are overlooking just how much money there is to be made from regenerating bacon.

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The Great Operating System Games
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 08:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's remember-.bas-files deptartment:
harrymcc writes "For decades, the simple little games that come with operating systems have been some of the most-used software on the planet. Legendary geeks such as Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and Andy Herzfeld have tried their hands at writing them. And yet they get no respect--or, actually, attention of any kind. Technologizer's Benj Edwards aimed to rectify that with a look at forty years' worth of bundled OS games, from 1971 Unix text-based ones to Woz's Little Brick Out to such Windows mainstays as Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Reversi." Article is an annoyingly long slide show (would it kill people to put a reasonable amount of content on pages?) but there's some fun stuff in there.

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Does Net Neutrality Violate the Fifth Amendment?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 07:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's constitution-guarantees-short-sleeve-shirts deptartment:
SonicSpike writes "A forthcoming paper from Boston College Law Professor Daniel Lyons offers an even stronger basis for challenge: The Fifth Amendment. Under Prof. Lyons's theory, net neutrality would run afoul of eminent domain. It would constitute a regulatory taking, requiring just compensation. Under US Supreme Court precedent, any governmental regulation that results in "permanent, physical occupation" of private property constitutes a per se taking. This is true even where the government itself is not doing the occupying. If the government grants access to other parties to freely traipse across private property, it's still a taking. In effect, the government has forced one party to give a permanent easement to another party, destroying the first's "right to exclude.""

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Indian Police Using Facebook to Catch Scofflaw Drivers
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's check-your-status deptartment:
New Delhi police have a new weapon in the battle against bad drivers, Facebook. Two months ago the police created a Facebook page that allowed people to inform on others breaking traffic laws, and upload pictures of the violations. The page has more than 17,000 fans, and 3,000 pictures currently. From the article: "The online rap sheet was impressive. There are photos of people on motorcycles without helmets, cars stopped in crosswalks, drivers on cellphones, drivers in the middle of illegal turns and improperly parked vehicles. Using the pictures, the Delhi Traffic Police have issued 665 tickets, using the license plate numbers shown in the photos to track vehicle owners, said the city’s joint commissioner of traffic, Satyendra Garg."

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Defeating Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 06:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's schrödinger's-cat-is-next deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "As we strive closer and closer to quantum computing, physics may need to be improved. A paper released in Nature Physics suggests that the limit defined by Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle can be beaten with quantum memory. From the article, 'The cadre of scientists behind the current paper realized that, by using the process of entanglement, it would be possible to essentially use two particles to figure out the complete state of one. They might even be able to measure incompatible variables like position and momentum. The measurements might not be perfectly precise, but the process could allow them to beat the limit of the uncertainty principle.' Will we find out that Heisenberg was shortsighted in limiting the power of quantum physics or will the scientists be surprised to find that such a theoretical scenario — once conducted — performs unexpectedly in Heisenberg's favor?"

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Is Starcraft II Killing Graphics Cards?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 05:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's wish-i-had-a-copy deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "One of the more curious trends emerging from last week's Starcraft II launch is people alleging that the game kills graphics cards.The between-mission scenes onboard Jim Raynor's ship aren't framerate capped. These are fairly static scenes, and don't take much work for the graphics card to display them. Because of this, the card renders the scene as quickly as possible, which then taxes your graphics card as it works to its full potential. As the pipelines within your graphics card work overtime, the card will heat up and if it can't cope with that heat it will crash."

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Browser-based Jailbreak For IPhone 4 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 05:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's oh-yeah-totally-secure deptartment:
WrongSizeGlass writes "Apple Insider is reporting on a browser-based 'jailbreak' for iPhone 4. Hackers on Sunday released the first "jailbreak" for the iPhone 4, a browser-based exploit that allows users to run unauthorized code. Unlike previous jailbreaks, which required users to run software on their Mac or PC and tether their iPhone to their computer, the latest hack is done entirely within the Safari browser. Users simply visit the URL to begin the process, which modifies the iOS mobile operating system found on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Some users have reported that the modification results in broken MMS and FaceTime functionality. This jailbreak does not work on iPads running iOS 3.2.1. "

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Equatorial Mounts For Budget Astrophotography?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 02 '10 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's rubber-band-and-hope deptartment:
Timoris writes "With the Perseids approaching rapidly, I am looking for a good beginner's motorized equatorial mount for astrophotography. I have seen a few for $150 to $200, but apparently the motor vibrations make for poor photographs. Orion makes good mounts, but are out of my price range ($350) and the motor is sold separately, adding to the price half over again. Does anyone have any good experience with any low- or mid-priced mounts?"

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