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Ubisoft DRM Causing More Problems
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '10 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's there's-a-lesson-here-that-nobody-will-learn deptartment:
Joe Helfrich writes "Ubisoft's Settlers 7 servers have been causing problems for over a week for users worldwide, and Australian gamers are hardly able to connect at all. 'The problem reportedly strikes after the game has already confirmed an active Internet connection, and prevents the user from playing even the single-player campaign, returning the error "server not available." But they are available, because other people are logged into them and merrily playing away.' Wonder how they're going to describe this one as an attack."

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Twins' DNA Foils Police
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-i-wish-i-had-a-twin deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that James and John Parr were both arrested after watches worth £10,000 were stolen from a shopping center. Police found blood on a piece of glass at the scene of the crime and traced it back to the 25-year-old identical twins through DNA tests. But James and John both denied the theft and, because they have identical DNA, it has been impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt which twin is responsible. 'The police told us that they knew it was one of us, but we both denied it,' says James. 'I definitely know I didn't do anything wrong. I was watching my daughter that night.' Now the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has concluded that it cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt who was responsible. 'Unless further evidence becomes available, we are unable to authorize any charge at this time,' says CPS spokesman Rob Pett. 'This is certainly not something that we regularly encounter.' Identical twins have hindered police investigations a number of times since the advent of DNA testing. In Malaysia last year, a man suspected of drug-smuggling and sentenced to death was released when the court could not prove whether it was he or his twin brother who committed the crime."

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iPad Launches, FCC Teardown Leaked
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '10 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-full-of-magic-elves deptartment:
Apple's much-awaited iPad officially launched today, and iFixit has gotten their hands on photos from the FCC teardown. They've done an analysis of the internals and provided directions on doing it yourself, if you're so inclined. Predictably, it's a hot topic in the media. Cory Doctorow wrote about why he won't be getting an iPad, complaining about the closed, hacker-unfriendly design and what he calls the "Wal-martization of the software channel." Daring Fireball's John Gruber disagrees, pointing out that enthusiasts — even kids exercising their curiosity — are still quite capable of playing around with the iPad through app creation, and with much more of a chance to compete with big companies than in the Apple ][ days. Similarly, others are referring to it as the "bedtime computer" — technology that has a reasonable shot at expanding into completely new areas of use, like bedtime reading for kids. Such a device was predicted in 1972 by Alan Kay, the PARC scientist credited with the epigram "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." His hypothetical DynaBook bears striking similarity to what Apple finally came up with. So, those of you who have picked up or received an iPad already: how do you like it?

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US Mobile Data Traffic Usage Exceeds Voice
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's talking-is-overrated deptartment:
MojoKid writes "A report just released states that total mobile data traffic topped mobile voice traffic in the United States last year, for the first time. In fact, globally, data traffic topped voice traffic on a monthly basis last year, and the total traffic across the world exceeded an exabyte for the first time in 2009. Apparently, North America and Western Europe's mobile data markets are growing so rapidly they each should exceed an exabyte sometime in 2010. Interestingly, the nations with the largest data service revenues were: the US, Japan, China, the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, Spain and Korea, respectively."

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The Short Arm of the Law
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '10 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's think-of-them-as-rough-guidelines deptartment:
mindbrane writes "CNN takes a look at when companies are too big for the legal system to handle. Quoting: 'Prosecutors said that excluding Pfizer would most likely lead to Pfizer's collapse, with collateral consequences: disrupting the flow of Pfizer products to Medicare and Medicaid recipients, causing the loss of jobs including those of Pfizer employees who were not involved in the fraud, and causing significant losses for Pfizer shareholders. ... So Pfizer and the feds cut a deal. Instead of charging Pfizer with a crime, prosecutors would charge a Pfizer subsidiary, Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. Inc. ... As a result, Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. Inc., the subsidiary, was excluded from Medicare without ever having sold so much as a single pill. And Pfizer was free to sell its products to federally funded health programs.' IBM may have cast the mold for this sort of thing in its 1970s antitrust case, but the recurrence of similar cases speaks to ongoing concerns for legal systems."

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Amazon Caves To Publishers On eBook Pricing
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '10 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bowing-to-ipressure deptartment:
AusPublishingWorker writes "With the iPad arriving on the scene, it seems that Amazon is feeling the pressure on eBook pricing from publishers. ITNews reports that Amazon has agreed to deals with both Harper Collins and Simon and Schuster which would allow the companies to select their own prices rather than the default US$9.99 price tag. Given the recent deal with Macmillan, it seems likely that we'll be seeing eBook prices moving up towards $14.99 in the near future."

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New AI Challenge Is All About Wanton Destruction
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '10 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's losers-are-made-into-wanton-soup deptartment:
togelius writes "Previous years have seen a number of car racing competitions where neural nets, rule-based systems and other fancy AI techniques have been put to the test by letting them drive on a track and seeing who gets the best lap time. Recognizing that finding the Michael Schumacher of AI is not enough, a team of researchers from University of Wuerzburg now wants to find the Mad Max of AI. Their new competition is called 'Demolition Derby' and the goal is to 'wreck all opponent cars by crashing into them without getting wrecked yourself.' For this, they use the open-source TORCS game and a custom AI interface, allowing all and any AI researchers and enthusiasts (including you!) to submit their best and most aggressive controllers." (There's a competition for conventional racing, too; competitors can enter either or both.)

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Clues That Apple's Bought Another Processor Design House
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '10 at 01:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's unless-that-was-an-april-fool's-prank deptartment:
According to Ars Technica: "Apple's gigantic bankroll may be burning a hole in its pocket. Almost two years after purchasing PowerPC designer P.A. Semi, Apple appears to have snapped up ARM design house Intrinsity. According to a report that first appeared on electronista, a number of engineers at the company have indicated that they are now or soon will be employed by Apple. Some of them have even gone as far as to change their LinkedIn profiles, with one reverting itpossibly out of fear of drawing the wrath of his new, secretive employer."

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First Weather Satellite Launched 50 Years Ago
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 11:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's al-gore-was-riding-it-paul-bunyan-like deptartment:
stinkbomb writes "Fifty years ago today, the world's first weather satellite lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and opened a new and exciting dimension in weather forecasting. Top leaders from NOAA and NASA hailed the milestone as an example of their agencies' strong partnership and commitment to flying the best satellites today and beyond."

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Navy Wants Cyber Weapons That Shoot Data Beams
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-your-base-all-your-base-all-your-base deptartment:
ectotherm writes "By 2018, the US Navy hopes to enable their fighter jets with the ability to shoot data streams containing 'specialized waveforms and algorithms,' useful in an electronic attack or cyber-invasion. A few non-classified details here."

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The Struggle To Keep Java Relevant
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's onions-on-your-belt deptartment:
snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister questions Oracle's ability to revive interest in Java in the wake of Oracle VP Jeet Kaul's announcement at EclipseCon that he would 'like to see people with piercings doing Java programming.' 'If Kaul is hoping Java will once again attract youthful, cutting-edge developers, as it did when it debuted in 1995, [Kaul] may be in for a long wait,' McAllister writes. 'Java has evolved from a groundbreaking, revolutionary language platform to something closer to a modern-day version of Cobol.' And, as McAllister sees it, 'Nothing screams "get off my lawn" like a language controlled by Oracle, the world's largest enterprise software vendor. The chances that Java can attract the mohawks-and-tattoos set today seem slimmer than ever.'"

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PARC Builds iPod-Sized HIV Detector
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 05:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's use-the-y-jack deptartment:
MikeChino writes "Right now it's difficult, if not impossible, to quickly detect HIV in patients living in impoverished countries. That may all change soon, though — researchers at a California outfit called the Palo Alto Research Center have built an iPod-sized handheld device that can provide an immune check-up in under 10 minutes — all with a prick of the finger. With millions of people around the world without access to a full-size laboratory, PARC's device could revolutionize the detection and treatment of HIV."

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Federal Appeals Court Says Sex Offender's Computer Ban Unfair
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 04:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-prison-or-out-should-be-the-rule deptartment:
crimeandpunishment writes "A federal appeals court says a 30-year computer restriction for a convicted sex offender was too stiff a punishment. The man, who was caught in an internet sex sting, had been ordered not to own or even use a computer." The D.C. Circuit Court's opinion is available in the case against Mark Wayne Russel is available as a PDF; slightly longer coverage from the Courthouse News Service.

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Seeking Competitive Advantage, For Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-jerkfaces-compete-you-lose deptartment:
jc_chgo writes "Brian Krebs over at the must-read KrebsOnSecurity.com writes about the rivalry between two competing authors of nasty credential-stealing malware. The newer (SpyEye) can remove the older (Zeus) on any system it infects. Meanwhile, Zeus is so successful prices have gone way up for the new version. These 'crimeware kits' are freely available for purchase, and have enabled millions of dollars in thefts. The buyers of the kits prey primarily on small businesses by using wire transfers out of bank accounts. This is a problem that is only going to get bigger over time."

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Flash Builder 4 — Defective By Design?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's mote-in-your-eye deptartment:
ApolloX writes "Adobe has released its new version of the Flex Builder, now renamed Flash Builder 4. This version is radically different from previous versions of Flex, introducing the new Spark architecture and theme support. While I am pleased Adobe has finally added support for Eclipse 3.5, I am disappointed with some of the new architecture changes that make doing simple things, such as skinning a button, now quite cumbersome."

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White House Issues New Gas Mileage Standards
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it's-not-easy-being-green deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "NPR reports that the Obama administration has signed off on the nation's first rules on greenhouse gas emissions and set new fuel standards to meet a fleet-wide average of 35.5 mpg that will raise current standards by nearly 10 mpg by the 2016 model year. Although the new requirements would add an estimated $434 per vehicle in the 2012 model year and $926 per vehicle by 2016, drivers could save as much as $3,000 over the life of a vehicle through better gas mileage, according to a government statement. 'We will be helping American motorists save money at the pump, while putting less pollution in the air,' says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Dave McCurdy, leader of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group representing 11 automakers, says the industry supports a single national standard for future vehicles. 'Today, the federal government has laid out a course of action through 2016, and now we need to work on 2017 and beyond.' As the auto industry seeks to emerge from ashes, many manufacturers already are trying for the right mix of approaches, experts say. Some will try to sell more hybrids. Others are introducing not-so-gas-guzzling SUVs. They may also push slightly downsized and small cars, such as the Ford Fiesta."

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David/Goliath Story Brewing Between Apple and iControlPad Makers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's iprior-iart deptartment:
relliker writes "Apple has just patented a design for an iPhone gaming add-on after admitting that the iPhone is somewhat hard to use as a games machine. The catch is that the design is not theirs. It was designed by a team of gaming aficionados, one member of which, Craig 'craigix' Rothwell of OpenPandora fame, is already twittering like mad about the shot just fired by Apple in their direction. The iControlPad team are in contact with their IP lawyer, since their design is already in production. Will Apple still try to steamroll right through them?"

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Finland To Try Scanning Snail Mail
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's neither-rain-nor-sleet-nor-wicked-lag deptartment:
will_die writes "In an effort to cut carbon emissions and reduce costs, Finland's postal company, Itella, has begun a pilot program wherein snail-mail letters are converted into PDFs and made viewable online by their addressees, instead or in advance of physical delivery. The effort is volunteer only — a little over 100 people and around 20 business as of last month — but it has already sparked concerns in Finland about privacy and government overreach. The volunteers will have images of all their letters viewable on a computer or phone. The postman will still arrive twice a week to deliver the scanned letters, as well as any packages or attachments. Additionally, the postal service will filter out junk mail."

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Berkeley Gets Willow Garage Robot To Fold Towels
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's thanks-rosie deptartment:
kkleiner writes "Researchers at UC Berkeley used Willow Garage's PR2 robot to fold towels. The UCB programming used some innovative visual scanning techniques, allowing the PR2 to pick up a towel, find its corners, and fold it on a table perfectly. According to the paper presented at the 2010 ICRA (PDF), the robot successfully completed 50 out of 50 attempts to fold a single towel, and also folded 5 out of 5 towels when they were presented in a group. Is watching a robot do laundry really that exciting? Hell yes — wait until you see the video! UC Berkeley used a Willow Garage robot to develop their own sophisticated robotics program. That validates the whole premise of the PR2 — faster development by letting researchers use a common platform. Score one for open source robotics!"

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Spitzer Telescope Sheds Light On Colony of Baby Stars
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '10 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's orion's-baby-pictures deptartment:
astroengine writes "NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope had the unprecedented opportunity to observe the heart of the Orion Nebula for 40 days, returning 80 images of the star-forming region. In doing so, the observatory has been keeping track of 1,500 young stars as they undergo rapid variations in brightness, caused by large 'cool spots' on the surface of the stars and obscuring dust. However, the high resolution images Spitzer is returning take center-stage, showing a tight cluster of stellar birth amid the nebulous clouds of dust. This is an incredible achievement considering its primary mission is over (after using up all of its liquid helium coolant in May 2009) and only two instruments are still working."

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