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The 10 Worst Tech Products of 2010
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '10 at 08:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's end-of-the-year-cliche deptartment:
Barence writes "PC Pro has a count down of the ten worst tech gadgets of the year. Included in its hall of shame are: iPad Made Simple "a book containing 704 pages of advice on how to use a device that's universally acknowledged as being ridiculously easy to use"; the Dell Inspiron Duo, "a tablet that leaves you longing to return to a keyboard and a touchpad"; and the £99 Next Tablet, the highlight of which was the "eight-page Quick Start Guide"."

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Lessons Learned From Skype’s Outage
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '10 at 07:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's don't-die-during-christmas deptartment:
aabelro writes "On December 22th, 1600 GMT, the Skype services started to become unavailable, in the beginning for a small part of the users, then for more and more, until the network was down for about 24 hours. A week later, Lars Rabbe, CIO at Skype, explained what happened in a post-mortem analysis of the outage."

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The Significant Decline of Spam
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '10 at 06:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's no-just-stop-it deptartment:
Orome1 writes "In October Commtouch reported an 18% drop in global spam levels (comparing September and October). This was largely attributed to the closure of Spamit around the end of September. Spamit is the organization allegedly behind a fair percentage of the worlds pharmacy spam. Analysis of the spam trends to date reveals a further drop in the amounts of spam sent during Q4 2010. December's daily average was around 30% less than September's. The average spam level for the quarter was 83% down from 88% in Q3 2010. The beginning of December saw a low of nearly 74%."

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Amazon Censorship Expands
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '10 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's seven-words-you-can-never-read deptartment:
Nom du Keyboard writes "Recently word leaked out about Amazon removing titles containing fictional incest. Surprisingly that ban didn't extend to the 10 titles of Science Fiction Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein that incorporate various themes of incest and pedophilia. Now, it seems that the censorship is expanding to m/m gay fiction if it contains the magic word 'rape' in the title. Just how far is this going to be allowed to proceed in relative silence, and who is pushing these sudden decisions on Amazon's part?"

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Should Colleges Ban Classroom Laptop Use?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 30 '10 at 01:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-farmville-for-you deptartment:
theodp writes "If you were a college prof, think you could successfully compete for the attention of a lecture hall of Mac-packing students? CS student Carolyn blogs that a debate has sprung up on her campus about whether it is acceptable to use a laptop in class. And her school is hardly alone when it comes to struggling with appropriate in-classroom laptop use (vendor/corporate trainers would no doubt commiserate). The problem, she says, is that the OCD Facebookers aren't just devaluing their own education — there's a certain distraction factor to worry about. 'Students,' she suggests, 'should also communicate with each other more and tell their classmates when their computer use bothers them. I'll admit it, when I'm trying to pay attention to the lecture, even someone's screensaver in the row ahead of me can be a major distraction.'"

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Periodic Table Etched Onto a Single Hair
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 11:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's because-they-can deptartment:
adeelarshad82 writes "The University of Nottingham's Nanotechnology Center decided to help Professor of chemistry, Martyn Poliakoff celebrate his special day by 'etching' a copy of a Periodic Table of Elements onto a single strand of the scientist's hair using a 'very sophisticated' electron ion beam microscope. The microscope creates a very fine etching of the periodic table only a few microns across by shooting a 'focused ion beam' of gallium ions at the hair. The technology here is nothing revolutionary, but it is inspiring to see a grown man get so giddy with the prospect of seeing science in action."

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OSI Refers Novell Patent Deal To Authorities
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 10:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's naming-names deptartment:
WebMink writes "Worried that the unholy alliance of Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and EMC — hardly known for their collaboration — is establishing a patent troll called CPTN to attack open source software, the Open Source Initiative has announced that they have referred the Novell deal over to the German competition authorities."

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Intel Intros 310 Series Mini SSDs
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 07:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's judge-them-by-their-size-do-you deptartment:
crookedvulture writes "Intel has added a couple of tiny 310 Series solid-state drives to its storage lineup. Measuring just 51 x 30 x 5.8mm, the mini-SATA SSDs are about a tenth the size of a standard notebook hard drive. Impressively, their performance ratings track with full-sized SSDs. Intel is pushing the 310 Series as a solution for dual-drive notebooks that combine solid-state and mechanical storage to give users the best of both worlds. Next-gen notebooks just got a little more interesting."

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Real-Life Frogger Ends In Hospital Visit
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 06:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's going-for-the-logs deptartment:
BigSes writes "A 23-year old man has been hospitalized after police in South Carolina say he was hit by an SUV while playing a real-life version of the video game Frogger. Authorities said the 23-year-old man was taken to a hospital in Anderson after he was struck Monday evening. Before he was hit, police say the man had been discussing the game with his friends. Chief Jimmy Dixon says the man yelled 'go' and darted into oncoming traffic in the four-lane highway. Has it come time to ban some of the classics before someone else goes out and breaks a few bricks with their heads after eating a large mushroom?"

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Nintendo Warns 3D Games Can Ruin Children's Eyes
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 05:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's don't-sit-so-close deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Fox News reports that Sony has posted a cautionary note on its Japanese website that 'vision of children under the age of six has been said [to be in the] developmental stage,' adding that 3D content 'delivers 3D images with different left and right images, [which] has a potential impact on the growth of children's eyes.' The notice went to say that Sony recommends that all viewers take regular breaks while watching 3D video or playing stereoscopic 3D games (google translation). Dr. Michael Ehrenhaus, an ophthalmologist with New York Cornea Consultants, thinks Nintendo and Sony may be getting ahead of themselves with these disclaimers. 'It's hard to say that it'll ruin development,' says Ehrenhaus."

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South Korea Launches First Electric Bus Fleet
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's whole-lot-of-batteries deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The Seoul Metropolitan Government just rolled out the world's first commercial all-electric bus service. The buses were designed to be as efficient as possible — each bus can run up to about 52 miles on a single charge and they have a maximum speed of about 62 miles per hour. The vehicles' lithium-ion battery packs can be fully charged in less than 30 minutes and they also feature regenerative braking systems that reuse energy from brakes when running downhill."

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Tales From the Tech Trenches
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's try-plugging-it-in deptartment:
GMGruman writes "Anyone in IT has a story or two involving stupid users, crazy co-workers, kludgy technology, and airhead managers. Lisa Blackwelder has collected top tales of the tech trenches, covering user antics, office politics, and unusual technical challenges that IT pros faced (usually) with aplomb, insight, and savvy."

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Solar Storms Could Bring Northern Lights South
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's wandering-borealis deptartment:
RedEaredSlider writes "Increased solar activity could give residents of the continental U.S., southern Europe and Japan the chance to see the northern lights for the first time in several years. The National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center says the sun is entering a period of high activity, marked by more sunspots and a greater chance of a coronal mass ejection, or CME, hitting the Earth. That would result in auroras being visible much further from the poles than they usually are."

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Wikileaks and Democracy In Zimbabwe
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's loose-ips deptartment:
OCatenac writes "The Atlantic has an interesting story on the collateral damage of exposing diplomatic communications in Zimbabwe. From the article: 'The reaction in Zimbabwe was swift. Zimbabwe's Mugabe-appointed attorney general announced he was investigating the Prime Minister on treason charges based exclusively on the contents of the leaked cable. While it's unlikely Tsvangirai could be convicted on the contents of the cable alone, the political damage has already been done. The cable provides Mugabe the opportunity to portray Tsvangirai as an agent of foreign governments working against the people of Zimbabwe. Furthermore, it could provide Mugabe with the pretense to abandon the coalition government that allowed Tsvangirai to become prime minister in 2009.' Undoubtedly there are lots of things that our governments hide from us which should not be hidden but it's a shame that no one from Wikileaks could be troubled to consider the potential repercussions of this particular exposure."

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Playstation 3 Code Signing Cracked For Good
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's forever-is-a-long-time deptartment:
ReportedlyWorking writes "It appears that Sony's PS3 has been fatally compromised. At the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin, a team named 'fail0verflow' revealed that they had calculated the Private Keys, which would let them or anyone else, generate signed software for the PS3. Additionally, they also claim to have a method of jailbreaking the PS3 without the use of a Dongle, which is the current method. If all these statements are true, this opens the door to custom firmware, and homebrew software. Assuming that Sony doesn't take radical action and invalidate their private keys, this could mean that Jailbreaking is viable on all PS3, regardless of their firmware! From the article: 'Approximately a half hour in, the team revealed their new PS3 secrets, the moment we all were waiting for. One of the major highlights here was, dongle-less jailbreaking by overflowing the bootup NOR flash, giving complete control over the system. The other major feat, was calculating the public private keys (due to botched security), giving users the ability to sign their own SELFs Following this, the team declared Sony's security to be EPIC FAIL!'"

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Court Rules Website Doesn't Have To Remove Defamatory Comments
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 12:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's set-in-stone deptartment:
DustyShadow writes "In the case of Blockowicz v. Williams, The US Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to force Ripoff Report to remove allegedly defamatory comments posted by a user. The Ripoff Report has a well-publicized no-takedown policy, even if the author wants to remove his/her post, so the Ripoff Report refused. The Blockowiczs then claimed that the Ripoff Report violated FRCP 65(d) because the Ripoff Report was 'in active concert or participation' with the initial posters by refusing the injunction's removal order. The district court (and the Court of Appeals) disagreed with the Blockowiczs. Absent the 'active concert or participation,' the website was outside the court's control. Ripoff Report has released a statement concerning this case: 'In keeping with our core mission of protecting speech to the fullest extent of the law, we decided that it was not just our right but also our duty to ask questions and dig deeper before we could comply with such an order. Other sites claim they support free speech, but when the going gets rough, they will usually protect their bottom line rather than the Constitutional rights and freedoms this country was founded upon. Unlike other sites, even when the speech involved is harsh or negative and even if our position sometimes generates negative press for us, we think that the First Amendment requires us to put our principles before our pocketbook and fight against censorship.'"

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Drupal 7 Module Development
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
Michael J. Ross writes "While it is possible to create a simple website using a base installation of Drupal, the real power of this content management system is achieved through the use of modules, which can be thought of as add-ons that extend the capabilities of Drupal in specific ways — oftentimes in conjunction with other modules. These modules are developed and contributed by PHP programmers who understand how to use one or more of the Drupal application programming interfaces (APIs) to access information stored in a Drupal database, such as content, user profiles, and theme settings. These APIs have changed with Drupal version 7, and thus Drupal coders could benefit from a book that explains how to create Drupal 7 contrib modules." Read on for the rest of Michael's review.

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Amazon Cloud Not Big Enough For Feds and WikiLeaks
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-out-of-town deptartment:
theodp writes "Dave Winer was already upset that Amazon Web Services (AWS) pulled the plug on WikiLeaks for posting classified U.S. government documents. So, he wasn't exactly thrilled to receive email three weeks later from an AWS PR flack boasting that 'the U.S. federal government continues to be one of our fastest growing customer segments'. Writes Winer: 'It makes perfect sense that the US government is a big customer of Amazon's web services. It also makes perfect sense that Amazon wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardize that business. There might not have even been a phone call, it might not have been necessary.' Amazon, which wowed the White House with its ability to scale video slideshow site Animoto, was able to get its foot in the Federal door as a Recovery.gov redesign subcontractor."

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German Kindergartens Ordered To Pay Copyright For Songs
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's easy-as-taking-music-from-a-baby deptartment:
BBird writes "Deutsche Welle reports: 'Up until this year, preschools could teach and produce any kind of song they wanted. But now they have to pay for a license if they want children to sing certain songs. A tightening of copyright rules means kindergartens now have to pay fees to Germany's music licensing agency, GEMA, to use songs that they reproduce and perform. The organization has begun notifying creches and other daycare facilities that if they reproduce music to be sung or performed, they must pay for a license.'"

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IBM Makes a Super Memory Breakthrough
Posted by News Fetcher on December 29 '10 at 10:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's thanks-for-asking deptartment:
adeelarshad82 writes "IBM says they have made a significant leap forward in the viability of "Racetrack memory," a new technology design which has the potential to exponentially increase computing power. This new tech could give devices the ability to store as much as 100 times more information than they do now, which would be accessed at far greater speeds while utilizing "much less" energy than today's designs. In the future, a single portable device might be able to hold as much memory as today's business-class servers and run on a single battery charge for weeks at a time. Racetrack memory works by storing data as magnetic regions (also called domains), which would be transported along nanowire "racetracks." Instead of forcing a computer to seek out the data it needs, as traditional computing systems do, the information would automatically slide along the racetrack to where it could be used."

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