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Airship Inflated To Create Monster 'Stratellite'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '10 at 07:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's now-thats-a-name deptartment:
yoderman94 writes "A huge inflatable vehicle as long as a 23-floor skyscraper is tall has become the world's largest airship in its bid to serve as a stratospheric satellite, or 'stratellite,' according to its developers."

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Why We Still Need OSI
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '10 at 06:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's both-sides-of-the-debate deptartment:
ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "In response to a comment on yesterday's blog, Simon Phipps writes about the old rivalry between the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Initiative (OSI). 'I have been (and in plenty of ways still am) a critic of OSI, as well as a firm supporter and advocate of the FSF. I believe OSI should be a member organisation with a representative leadership. ... But the OSI still plays a very important and relevant role in the world of software freedom.' For instance: Licence approvals have become a much more onerous process, with the emphasis on avoiding creation of new licences, updating old or flawed ones, and encouraging the retirement of redundant ones. It would be great to see the stewards of some of the (in retrospect) incorrectly approved licences ask for their retirement."

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Google Audits Street View Data Systems
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '10 at 06:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's we-meant-to-do-that deptartment:
schliz writes "Google's plans to upgrade to high-definition Street View in Australia are on hold until it completes a rigorous internal audit of the processes, it announced today. The company is currently being investigated by international regulators about possible privacy breeches when it became known that its street view vehicles were capturing not only publicly available SSIDs and MAC addresses, but also samples of payload data transmitted over these networks."

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Tabnapping Scams Around the Corner?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '10 at 05:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's well-thats-not-very-nice deptartment:
scamdetect writes "User Interface specialist and creative lead on Mozilla's Firefox browser Aza Raskin has outlined a brand new variant on 'phishing' attacks which he has christened 'tabnapping.' Traditionally, phishing has relied upon convincing users to click on a link in an email to take them to a fake website such as their bank, credit card issuer or email account. Once the user logs in to the fake site, their details are transmitted to the fraudster and the account is immediately compromised. Public awareness of phishing emails is now relatively high and most people know not to click on links in emails appearing to come from such organizations. Tabnapping relies on the user believing that it is impossible for the content of a tab to change while you're not looking. You may click on a link in Twitter, Facebook, or a 'sponsored link' in Google which will load a genuine webpage that delivers the content it promises. If you then click away from that site, leaving it open in a tab whilst viewing another website, the content of the original tab will change to a fake log-in page impersonating one of the websites you visit most often..."

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Patents On Synthetic Life "Exteremely Damaging"
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '10 at 04:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's that-gene-right-there-that-one's-mine deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Pioneer and veteran of genomics, Professor John Sulston, is extremely concerned about the patent applications on the first synthetic life-form. The patents were filed by the Venter Institute following the announcement of the first life-form to have a synthetic genome. Sulston claims the patent is excessively broad and would stifle research and development in the field by creating an effective monopoly on synthetic life and related molecular techniques. Prof. Sulston had previously locked horns ten years ago with Dr. Craig Venter over intellectual property issues surrounding the human genome project. Fortunately, Sulston won the last round and the HGP is freely accessible — Venter had wanted to charge for access, just as he now wishes to make 'synthetic life' proprietary."

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Adobe Founders On Flash and Internet Standards
Posted by News Fetcher on May 25 '10 at 01:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's where-wizards-go-to-bed-early deptartment:
An anonymous reader points out an 18-month-old interview with the founders of Adobe (and creators of PostScript) Charles Geschke and John Warnock, and highlights three interesting quotes from the book Masterminds of Programming that seem very timely now. "'It is so frustrating that this many years later we're still in an environment where someone says if you really want this to work you have to use Firefox. The whole point of the universality of the Web would be to not have those kind of distinctions, but we're still living with them. It's always fascinating to see how long it takes for certain pieces of historical antiquity to die away. The more you put them in the browsers you've codified them as eternal, and that's stupid. ... With Flash what we're trying to do is both beef it up and make it robust enough so that at least you can get one language that's platform-independent and will move from platform to platform without hitting you every time you turn around with different semantics. ... You can see why, to a certain extent, Apple and Microsoft view that as a challenge because they would like you to buy into their implementation of how the seamless integration with the Web goes. What we're saying is it really shouldn't matter. That cloud ought to be accessible by anybody's computer and through any sort of information sitting out on the Web."

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Emergency Dispatcher Fired For Facebook Drug Joke
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 11:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's thin-pretense deptartment:
kaptink writes "Dana Kuchler, a 21-year veteran of the West Allis' Dispatch Department, was fired from her job for making jokes on her Facebook page about taking drugs. She appealed to an arbitrator, claiming the Facebook post was a jok,e pointing out she had written 'ha' in it, and urine and hair samples tested negative for drugs. The arbitrator said she should be entitled to go back to work after a 30-day suspension, but the City of West Allis complained that was not appropriate. Is posting bad jokes on Facebook a justifiable reason to give someone the boot?"

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Random Hacks of Kindness
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 08:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's changing-the-world-requires-the-source-code deptartment:
Elizabeth Sabet writes "Google, Microsoft, NASA, The World Bank, and Yahoo! are unlikely partners, but they are bringing together the best and brightest in disaster relief management and the ever-growing hacker community in a progressive initiative called Random Hacks of Kindness. Its mission is to mobilize a world-wide community of technologists to solve real-world problems through technology. RHoK is gearing up for its first world-wide 'hackathon for humanity' on June 4-6, 2010. Following last year's inaugural event in Mountain View, California, which produced software solutions that were used on the ground during the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the partners have decided to take the effort global. RHoK engages volunteer software engineers, independent hackers, and students from around the world in a marathon weekend of hacking events and coding competitions to develop software solutions for problems posed by subject-matter experts. This first global Hackathon will feature sponsored events in Washington DC, Sydney, Nairobi, Jakarta and Sao Paulo." Here's where to go for more details or to register for the DC event.

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Citizen Scientists Help Explore the Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 06:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's given-enough-eyeballs-all-craters-are-shallow deptartment:
Pickens writes "NPR reports that NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is doing such a good job photographing every bit of the moon's surface that scientists can't keep up, so Oxford astrophysicist Chris Lintott is asking amateur astronomers to help review, measure, and classify tens of thousands of moon photos streaming to Earth using the website MoonZoo, where anyone can log on, get trained, and become a space explorer. 'We ask people to count the craters that they can see... and that tells us all sorts of things about the history and the age of that bit of surface,' says Lintott. Volunteers are also asked to identify boulders, measure the craters, and generally classify what is found in the images. If one person does the classification — even if they're an expert — then anything odd or interesting can be blamed on them. But with multiple independent classifications, the team can statistically calculate the confidence in the classification. That's a large part of the power of Moon Zoo. Lintott adds the British and American scientists heading up the LRO project have been randomly checking the amateur research being sent in and find it as good as you would get from an expert. 'There are a whole host of scientists... who are waiting for these results, who've already committed to using them in their own research.'"

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HP Explains Why Printer Ink Is So Expensive
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 05:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's megabucks-per-picoliter deptartment:
CWmike writes "'There's a perception that [printer] ink is one of the most expensive substances in the world,' says Thom Brown, marketing manager at HP. Well, yeah. One might get that feeling walking out of a store having spent $35 for a single ink cartridge that appears to contain fewer fluid ounces of product than a Heinz ketchup packet. Brown was ready to explain. He presented a series of PowerPoint slides aptly titled 'Why is printer ink so expensive?' I was ready for answers. The key point in a nutshell: Ink technology is expensive, and you pay for reliability and image quality. 'These liquids are completely different from a technology standpoint,' Brown says, adding that users concerned about cost per page can buy 'XL' ink cartridges from HP that last two to three times longer. (Competitors do the same). The message: You get value for the money. No getting around it though: Ink is still expensive, particularly if you have to use that inkjet printer for black-and-white text pages."

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Slackware 13.1 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 05:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's taking-up-the-slack deptartment:
Several readers made sure we are aware that Slackware 13.1 release is out. Here's the list of mirrors. "Slackware 13.1 brings many updates and enhancements, among which you'll find two of the most advanced desktop environments available today: Xfce 4.6.1, a fast and lightweight but visually appealing and easy to use desktop environment, and KDE 4.4.3, a recent stable release of the new 4.4.x series of the award-winning KDE desktop environment."

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Google PAC-MAN Cost 4.8M Person-Hours
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 03:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's stolen-moments deptartment:
The folks at Rescue-Time, who make software that helps you (and companies) figure out how you spend your online time, did a modest calculation based on their user base and concluded that Google's playable PAC-MAN doodle cost the world over 4.8 million person-hours of productivity last Friday. "Google PAC-MAN consumed 4,819,352 hours of time (beyond the 33.6M daily man hours of attention that Google Search gets in a given day). $120,483,800 is the dollar tally, If the average Google user has a COST of $25/hr. (note that cost is 1.3 – 2.0 X pay rate). For that same cost, you could hire all 19,835 Google employees, from Larry and Sergey down to their janitors, and get 6 weeks of their time." Also, Google made the doodle permanent.

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IT Infrastructure As a House of Cards
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-it-ain't-broke-it-will-be-soon-enough deptartment:
snydeq writes "Deep End's Paul Venezia takes up a topic many IT pros face: 'When you've attached enough Band-Aids to the corpus that it's more bandage than not, isn't it time to start over?' The constant need to apply temporary fixes that end up becoming permanent are fast pushing many IT infrastructures beyond repair. Much of the blame falls on the products IT has to deal with. 'As processors have become faster and RAM cheaper, the software vendors have opted to dress up new versions in eye candy and limited-use features rather than concentrate on the foundation of the application. To their credit, code that was written to run on a Pentium-II 300MHz CPU will fly on modern hardware, but that code was also written to interact with a completely different set of OS dependencies, problems, and libraries. Yes, it might function on modern hardware, but not without more than a few Band-Aids to attach it to modern operating systems,' Venezia writes. And yet breaking this 'vicious cycle of bad ideas and worse implementations' by wiping the slate clean is no easy task. Especially when the need for kludges isn't apparent until the software is in the process of being implemented. 'Generally it's too late to change course at that point.'"

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NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Killed By Ice
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's wonder-if-it-will-rise-again deptartment:
coondoggie writes "NASA officially ended its Phoenix Mars Lander operation today after a new image of the machine showed severe ice damage to its solar panels, and repeated attempts to contact the spacecraft had failed. 'Apparent changes in the shadows cast by the lander are consistent with predictions of how Phoenix could be damaged by harsh winter conditions. It was anticipated that the weight of a carbon-dioxide ice buildup could bend or break the lander's solar panels. [Michael Mellon of the University of Colorado] calculated hundreds of pounds of ice probably coated the lander in mid-winter.'"

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Killzone 3 Announced
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's more-zones-and-more-kill deptartment:
Sony has officially taken the wraps off of Killzone 3, providing a ton of information about the third installment in the popular FPS franchise. The game will pick up where Killzone 2 left off, the levels will be much larger than in the past, and it will contain support for 3-D mode. Eurogamer has a detailed hands-on report about the game. Quoting: "Encounters have lost much of their predictability. More open design gives the AI more options, as well as freeing the player from the necessity of hide and peek. This means that's it's now a much more viable option to get up close and personal with the Higs, unleashing the multi-stage and context sensitive CQC kills with rifle butts and the trusty knife. ... For stage three of the hands-on we're introduced to perhaps the most exciting piece of new hardware — the jetpack. Initially only coming attached to a Helghan shock trooper, this insectoid assault platform is a four-winged, one-man affair, complete with a unlimited supply of ammunition for the attached large-calibre machine gun. Fighting them from the ground puts you in a precarious situation, putting you on the backfoot as you balance the necessity of looking upwards with the dangers of the sheer ice-cliffs around you. ... From the ground the pack will propel you upwards to around 15 feet, with the glide period afterward giving you the freedom to traverse sizable gaps. There's a booster, too — squirting you forward in short bursts if you're falling just short of an edge. Controls are light and agile, with the disconcerting verticality soon becoming second nature. "

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Nero Files Antitrust Complaint Against MPEG-LA
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hot-topics-getting-hotter deptartment:
hkmwbz writes "German technology company Nero AG has filed an antitrust complaint against the MPEG-LA, the company that manages the H.264 patent pool. Nero claims that the MPEG-LA has violated the law and achieved and abused 100% market share, by, among other things, using 'independent experts' that weren't independent after all, not weeding out non-essential patents from the pool (in fact, it has grown from the original 53 to more than 1000), and retroactively changing previously-agreed-on license terms."

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Why Online Privacy Is Broken
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's too-many-people-who-don't-care deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "One of the more trite and oft-repeated maxims in the software industry goes something like this: We're not focusing on security because our customers aren't asking for it. They want features and functionality. When they ask for security, then we'll worry about it. Not only is this philosophy doomed to failure, it's now being repeated in the realm of privacy, with potentially disastrous effects. A quick search of recent news on the privacy front reveals that just about all of it is bad. Facebook is exposing users' live chat sessions and other data to third parties. Google is caught recording not only MAC address and SSID information from public Wi-Fi hotspots, but storing data from the networks as well. But the prevailing attitude among corporate executives in these cases seems to be summed up by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who famously said this not too long ago: 'If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.' If you look beyond the patent absurdity of Schmidt's statement for a minute, you'll find another old maxim hiding underneath: Blame the user. You want privacy? Don't use our search engine/photo software/email application/maps. That's our data now, thank you very much. Oh, you don't want your private chats exposed to the world? Sorry, you never told us that."

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Physicists Do What Einstein Thought Impossible
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-not-sure-he-cares-anymore deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Einstein worked on Brownian motion (the movement of small particles in a fluid as they collide with the fluid's molecules) in 1905, but said it would be 'impossible' to determine the speed and direction of a single particle during this dance. Now researchers have gone and done it, by suspending a dust-sized glass sphere in air (which slowed down its dance moves, since it had fewer collisions with spaced-out air molecules than it would have had with water molecules). The researchers held the sphere in place with 'laser chopsticks,' and then watched how the glass bead bounced around to determine its direction and speed (abstract)."

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Twitter To Block 3rd Party Paid Tweets
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cutting-spam-and-competition deptartment:
tekgoblin writes "Today Twitter announced on their blog an upcoming change to their Terms of Service. The change will not allow anyone to promote paid tweets through the Twitter API. Twitter had announced previously that they will be releasing a 'Promoted Tweets' platform for advertisers that will be non-intrusive and will always be relevant to the Twitter timeline. This action taken by Twitter could be a hard hit for small publishers that relied on the paid tweets that will be blocked shortly. Depending on how expensive the Twitter Promoted Tweets will be, this will show us whether or not Promoted Tweets will be good for the little guy."

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Stem Cell Patent Halts Hospital's Collection
Posted by News Fetcher on May 24 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's king-of-the-patent-trolls deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "It's a classic case that comes up when dealing with patents. A hospital's research on the donated brains of deceased children has been in limbo for three years because of a challenge from a patent holder. The double-edged sword of patents that spurred investment into the field will also cause chilling effects on research like the case of the Children's Hospital of Orange County. They've now been forced to shift the money from the lab to lawyers in order to deal with this ongoing patent dispute over a technique that was developed to extract stem cells at the Salk Institute. Unfortunately the Salk Institute failed to patent the technology, so a company named StemCells happily had it approved. The real disheartening news is that CHOC's Dr. Philip H. Schwartz — the doctor collecting the cells — was one of the original researchers who helped developed this technique at the Salk Institute. Now he can't even use the technique he helped create. Schwartz has since been instructed not to publicly discuss the case further. Research interests are clashing with commercial interests in a classic case that causes one to wonder if patents surrounding medical techniques like this stretch too far. As for the people that donated their dead child's brain to research, those valuable stem cell cultures have been kept in storage instead of being disseminated to research labs (who desperately need them) across the country."

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