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India's $35 Tablet Computer
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '10 at 06:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's take-that-olpc deptartment:
NotBornYesterday was one of many readers sending in news that the Indian government has announced it is helping to develop a $35 tablet computer running Linux. "India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011. The government plans to subsidize the tablets so the cost to students could be $20; and eventually, they hope the cost will fall to $10 per unit. India's human resource development minister Kapil Sibal says: 'The motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything.' Using a memory card instead of a hard drive, and running a Linux OS, the designers have managed to keep the price low, and are now looking for manufacturing partners. The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, Web browsing, and video conferencing. It has a solar power option too, which is important in India's less developed areas, though that add-on costs extra."

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Darth Vader Robs Long Island Bank
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '10 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-find-our-lack-of-funds-disturbing deptartment:
Apparently the destruction of the second Death Star has stretched the Galactic Empire's coffers so thin that Lord Vader himself is robbing banks. From the article: "Impotent Rebel Alliance security forces tell Newsday (paywall) that Vader marched into a Chase bank in Setauket around 11:30 a.m. today. Brandishing a completely unnecessary handgun—as he had the power to choke the oxygen out every teller's throat—the fallen Jedi demanded cash."

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The Scalability of Linus
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '10 at 05:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's single-point deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Katherine Noyes writes at LinuxInsider that it may be time for Linus Torvalds to share more of the responsibility for Linux that he's been shouldering. 'If Linux wants to keep up with the competition there is much work to do, more than even a man of Linus's skill [can] accomplish,' argues one user. The 'scalability of Linus' is the subject of a post by Jonathan Corbet wondering if there might there be a Linus scalability crunch point coming. 'The Linux kernel development process stands out in a number of ways; one of those is the fact that there is exactly one person who can commit code to the "official" repository,' Corbet writes. A problem with that scenario is the potential for repeats of what Corbet calls 'the famous "Linus burnout" episode of 1998' when everything stopped for a while until Linus rested a bit, came back, and started merging patches again. 'If Linus is to retain his central position in Linux kernel development, the community as a whole needs to ensure that the process scales and does not overwhelm him,' Corbet adds. But many don't agree. 'Don't be fooled that Linus has to scale — he has to work hard, but he is the team captain and doorman. He has thousands doing most of the work for him. He just has to open the door at the appropriate moment,' writes Robert Pogson, adding that Linus 'has had lots of practice and still has fire in his belly.'"

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Managing the Remotest Data Center In the World
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '10 at 05:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's talk-about-latency deptartment:
blackbearnh writes "Imagine that your data center was in the most geographically remote location in the world. Now imagine that you can only get to it 4 months of the year. Just for fun, add in some of the most extreme weather conditions in the world. That's the challenge that faces John Jacobsen, one of the people responsible for making sure that the data from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory makes it all the way from the South Pole to researchers across the world. In an interview recorded at OSCON, Jacobsen talks about the problems that he has to face (video), which includes (surprisingly) keeping the data center cool. If you're ever gripped because you had to haul yourself across town in the middle of the night to fix a server crash, this interview should put things in perspective."

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Microsoft Says No To Paying Bug Bounties
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '10 at 04:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's like-mel-gibson-in-ransom deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "In the wake of both Mozilla and Google significantly increasing their bug bounties to the $3,000 range, there have been persistent rumors in the security community that Microsoft soon would follow suit and start paying bounties as well. However, a company official said on Thursday that Microsoft was not interested in paying bounties. 'We value the researcher ecosystem, and show that in a variety of ways, but we don't think paying a per-vuln bounty is the best way. Especially when across the researcher community the motivations aren't always financial. It is well-known that we acknowledge researcher's contributions in our bulletins when a researcher has coordinated the release of vulnerability details with the release of a security update,' Microsoft's Jerry Bryant said."

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Buckyballs Detected In Space
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '10 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-may-know-his-work-from-epcot-center deptartment:
Rhodin writes "Fullerenes, also known as buckminsterfullerenes or 'buckyballs,' were detected about 6,500 light years from Earth in the cosmic dust of Tc 1 (PDF; abstract), an object known as a planetary nebula. 'We found what are now the largest molecules known to exist in space,' said astronomer Jan Cami of the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif. 'We are particularly excited because they have unique properties that make them important players for all sorts of physical and chemical processes going on in space.'" (More, below.)

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Digital Distribution Numbers Speak To Health of PC Game Industry
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-demand-a-recount deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with this quote from PC Authority: "Over the years many voices have declared PC gaming dead. We have seen developers abandon the platform for consoles, citing piracy as the cause. Game stores have slowly relegated PC games from prime shelf position to one tucked away in the back corner — even Microsoft dumped AAA PC game developers from the company. It seems, though, that the demise of the PC as a games platform has been exaggerated, because until very recently sales data ignored digital distribution, with the latest data released by US company NPD revealing that 48% of PC unit sales in the US in 2009 were digital. That translates to 21.3 million games downloaded in the US. Interestingly, although 48% of games were sold online, it only worked out as 36% of the revenue. This highlights the fact that it isn't just convenience that has PC gamers shopping online; it is also that games are generally cheaper than in stores."

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World's First Molten-Salt Solar Plant Opens
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 10:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's entire-mountain-is-covered-with-snow deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Sicily has just announced the opening of the world's first concentrated solar power (CSP) facility that uses molten salt as a heat collection medium. Since molten salt is able to reach very high temperatures (over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit) and can hold more heat than the synthetic oil used in other CSP plants, the plant is able to continue to produce electricity long after the sun has gone down. The Archimede plant has a capacity of 5 megawatts with a field of 30,000 square meters of mirrors and more than 3 miles of heat collecting piping for the molten salt. The cost for this initial plant was around 60 million Euros."

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Alien Swarm Can Be Played As a Terrifying FPS
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's sounds-icky deptartment:
AndrewGOO9 writes "With a few simple commands from the developer console, Alien Swarm can go from being played as an isometric top-down shooter to a first-person perspective. Surprisingly easy, it does make the game, which was released for free via Steam earlier this week, a lot more terrifying. But, anyone who is at home playing games like Modern Warfare or Halo should have no problem slaughtering their way through wave after wave of creatures. In fact, it poses the potential to make the game easier for people who would've otherwise struggled with the overhead view."

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SFLC Wants To Avoid Death by Code
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's me-too-me-too deptartment:
foregather writes "The Software Freedom Law Center has released some independent research on the safety of software close to our hearts, that inside of implantable medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps. It turns out that nobody is minding the store at the regulatory level and patients and doctors are blocked from examining the source code keeping them alive. From the article: 'The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for evaluating the risks of new devices and monitoring the safety and efficacy of those currently on market. However, the agency is unlikely to scrutinize the software operating on devices during any phase of the regulatory process unless a model that has already been surgically implanted repeatedly malfunctions or is recalled. ... Despite the crucial importance of these devices and the absence of comprehensive federal oversight, medical device software is considered the exclusive property of its manufacturers, meaning neither patients nor their doctors are permitted to access their IMD's source code or test its security.'"

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Sony's Blue-Violet Laser the Future Blu-ray?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ever-more-bits deptartment:
JoshuaInNippon writes "Japanese researchers from Sony and Tohoku University announced the development of a 'blue-violet ultrafast pulsed semiconductor laser,' which Sony is aiming to use for optical disks. The new technology, with 'a laser wavelength of 405 nanometers in the blue-violet region' and a power out put 'more than a hundred times the world's highest output value for conventional blue-violet pulse semiconductor lasers,' is believed to be capable of holding more than 20 times the information of current Blu-ray technology, while retaining a practical size. Japanese news reports have speculated that one blue-violet disk could be capable of holding more than 50 high-quality movie titles, easily fitting entire seasons of popular TV shows like 24. When the technology may hit markets was not indicated."

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Feds Bust Chinese Firm's Hybrid Car Data Heist
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's pesky-agents-of-the-f-b-i deptartment:
coondoggie writes "An FBI investigation has led a Michigan couple to be charged with stealing hybrid car information from GM to use in a Chinese auto outfit. A federal indictment charged Yu Qin, aka Yu Chin, 49, and his wife, Shanshan Du, aka Shannon Du, 51, of Troy, Michigan with conspiracy to possess trade secrets without authorization, unauthorized possession of trade secrets, and wire fraud. One of the individuals was also charged with obstruction of justice, said Barbara McQuade, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in a statement. GM estimates that the value of the stolen documents is over $40 million."

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Safari Privacy Bug May Be Leaking Your Data
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's problem-with-software-is-that-it-sucks deptartment:
richi writes "If you use Safari, your browser may be leaking your private information to any website you visit. Jeremiah Grossman, the CTO of WhiteHat Security, has discovered some Very Bad News. I have some analysis and other reactions over at my Computerworld blog. The potential for spam and phishing is huge. A determined attacker might even be able to steal previously-entered customer data." In short, autofill for Web forms is enabled by default in Safari 4 / 5 (and remotely exploitable), and the data that this feature has access to includes the user's local address book — even if the information has never been entered into a Web form.

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Why Designers Hate Crowdsourcing
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-I-almost-coulda-done-that deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Since Wired's Jeff Howe coined the term in 2006, 'crowdsourcing' has been a buzzword in the tech industry, and a business model on the rise. 99designs.com is a site that hosts design contests for small businesses requiring relatively smaller design projects. Anyone can submit their near finished pieces of work to the contests, but only one winner gets paid. Forbes covers just why established graphic designers are so angry at this business model's catching on."

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WordPress Creator GPL Says WP Template Must Be GPL'd
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's several-sticky-wickets deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Matt Mullenweg (the creator of open source blog software WordPress), after review by various legal experts, is sticking to his guns that themes and plugins that 'extend' WordPress violate the GPL if they are not themselves distributed under the GPL. Matt has gone so far as to post this on Twitter. According to Matt, the premium template called Thesis should be under the GPL and the owner is not happy about it. WordPress is willing to sue the maker of Thesis theme for not following GPL licensing. The webmasters and Thesis owners are also confused with new development. Mark Jaquith wrote an excellent technical analysis of why WordPress themes inherit the GPL. This is why even if Thesis hadn't copy-and-pasted large swathes of code from WordPress (and GPL plugins) its PHP would still need to be under the GPL."

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Open Source OCR That Makes Searchable PDFs
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's word-of-advice deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "In my job all of our multifunction copiers scan to PDF but many of our users want and expect those PDFs to be text searchable. I looked around for software that would create text searchable pdfs but most are very expensive and I couldn't find any that were open source (free). I did find some open source packages like CuneiForm and Exactimage that could in theory do the job, but they were hard to install and difficult to set up and use over a network. Then I stumbled upon WatchOCR. This is a Live CD distro that can easily create a server on your network that provides an OCR service using watched folders. Now all my scanners scan to a watched folder, WatchOCR picks up those files and OCRs them, and then spits them out into another folder. It uses CuneiForm and ExactImage but it is all configured and ready to deploy. It can even be remotely managed via the Web interface. Hope this proves helpful to someone else who has this same situation."

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Microsoft Makes Major Shift In Disclosure Policy
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's tread-water-faster deptartment:
Trailrunner7 writes "Microsoft is changing the way in which it handles vulnerability disclosures, now moving to a model it calls coordinated vulnerability disclosure, in which the researcher and the vendor work together to verify a vulnerability and allow ample time for a patch. However, the new philosophy also recognizes that if there are attacks already happening, it may be necessary to release details of the flaw even before a patch is ready. The new CVD strategy relies on researchers to report vulnerabilities either directly to a vendor or to a trusted third party, such as a CERT-CC, who will then report it to the vendor. The finder and the vendor would then try to agree on a disclosure timeline and work from there." Here's Microsoft's announcement of the new strategy.

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The World's Strongest, Most Expensive Beer Served Inside a Squirrel
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it-still-beats-toe-drinks deptartment:
If you have $765 burning a hole in your pocket, and a penchant for drinking alcohol out of a taxidermied animal, the good folks at BrewDog have just the drink for you. Their latest creation, called The End of History, is a 110 proof beer that comes packaged in a variety of small stuffed animals.

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Brain Scans May Help Guide Career Choice
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's can't-see-past-my-metal-plate deptartment:
GisG writes "General aptitude tests and specific mental ability tests are important tools for vocational guidance. Researchers are now asking whether performance on such tests is based on differences in brain structure, and if so, can brain scans be helpful in choosing a career? In a first step, researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Research Notes have investigated how well eight tests used in vocational guidance correlate to gray matter in areas throughout the brain." The researcher's (provisional) paper is available as a PDF.

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Contextual Ads Based On Images
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '10 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-picture-and-a-thousand-nerds deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review reports on efforts to enable web ads to be targeted based on the content of online images, not text. All those user-generated photos on Facebook and Picasa could apparently be worth much more if it was possible to display adverts for pet food next to your snaps of your dog. Machine vision can apparently make that possible."

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