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Google Acquires Online Image Editing Tool Picnik
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 03:30 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's google-shopping-spree deptartment:
Many different sources are writing to tell us about Google's acquisition of online image editing tool Picnik. "And all this leads us to today’s exciting news: we’ve just been acquired by Google! What does this mean for Picnik? It means we can think BIG. Google processes petabytes of data every day, and with their worldwide infrastructure and world-class team, it is truly the best home we could have found. Under the Google roof we’ll reach more people than ever before, impacting more lives and making more photos more awesome. What does this mean for you Picnikers? Nothing is changing right away, but Picnik now has more potential than ever before. The team that built Picnik from the grass up will continue making advanced and powerful photo-editing easier, more intuitive and more fun, so stay tuned to hear about all the cool new stuff we’re working on."

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US Military Surrenders To Social Media, Changes Access Restrictions
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 02:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's mcpon-needs-more-facebook-friends deptartment:
Thanks to a new policy by the Department of Defense, members of the US Military will now have limited access to social media sites. "According to the memorandum, members of military departments and all authorized users of the Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPRNET) can now use the publicly accessible capabilities of various social networking and user-generated content sites, instant messaging, forums, and e-mail. This includes YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and others. Access to porn, gambling, or hate crime sites will remain restricted, however, and commanders can cut down on social media use if they feel the need to 'preserve operations security.'"

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Another ACTA Leak Discloses Individual Country Data
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 02:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's forced-transparency deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "On the heels of the earlier leak of various country positions on ACTA transparency, today an even bigger leakhas hit the Internet. A new European Union document [PDF] prepared several weeks ago canvasses the Internet and Civil Enforcement chapters, disclosing in complete detail the proposals from the US, and the counter-proposals from the EU, Japan, and other ACTAparticipants. The 44-page document also highlights specific concerns of individual countries on a wide range of issues including ISP liability, anti-circumvention rules, and the scope of the treaty. This is probably the most significant leak to date since it goes beyond the transparency debate to include specific country positions and proposals."

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Another Study Attacks Violent Video Games, Claims To Be "Conclusive"
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 01:30 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's subjective-research-is-now-conclusive deptartment:
Killer Orca is one of many to tell us about a new study on the effects of violent video games on kids. The latest meta-study that analyzed research from 130 different reports claims to have "conclusively proven" that violent video games make more aggressive, less caring kids. "The team used meta-analytic procedures — the statistical methods used to analyze and combine results from previous, related literature -- to test the effects of violent video game play on the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings of the individuals, ranging from elementary school-aged children to college undergraduates. [...] Anderson says the new study may be his last meta-analysis on violent video games because of its definitive findings."

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New Type of Dinosaur Unearthed
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 12:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's everything-is-better-with-explosives deptartment:
MileHighScience writes to mention that a new type of sauropod has been discovered by scientists from Utah's Brigham Young University. Dubbed Abydosaurus mcintoshi, the new addition to the long necked dinosaur family was discovered at Dinosaur National Monument. "The circumstances of its discovery were both unusual and dramatic. The researchers stumbled on four skulls in a quarry at the preserve. Two were still intact. Sauropod skolls are rarely found in the fossil record because the soft tissue from which they are constructed is unlikely to be preserved after death. 'Their heads are built lighter than mammal skulls because they sit way out at the end of very long necks,' Brooks Britt, a BYU paleontologist said in a news release. 'Instead of thick bones fused together, sauropod skulls are made of thin bones bound together by soft tissue.' Of more than 120 known species of sauropods, there have been only eight instances in which scientists have been able to recover intact skulls."

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Microsoft Behind Google Complaints To EC
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 12:00 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's calling-the-whambulance deptartment:
justice4all writes to share that some of the recent complaints to the European Commission about Google have apparently been coming from Microsoft. "A lawyer for Microsoft confirmed that the software giant told the US Department of Justice and the European Commission how Google’s business practices may be harming publishers, advertisers and competition in search and online advertising. [...] 'Google’s algorithms learn less common search terms better than others because many more people are conducting searches on these terms on Google. These and other network effects make it hard for competing search engines to catch up. Microsoft’s well-received Bing search engine is addressing this challenge by offering innovations in areas that are less dependent on volume. But Bing needs to gain volume too, in order to increase the relevance of search results for less common search terms.'"

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Tracking Water Molecules Could Unlock Secrets
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 10:45 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's h-two-ohmygosh deptartment:
ScienceDaily is reporting that several new discoveries about the simple molecule of water have kicked off a surge in research that scientists believe could lead to solving some of the world's most tricky problems from agriculture to cancer. "Understanding how individual water molecules maneuver in a system to form fleeting tetrahedral structures and how changing physical conditions such as temperatures and pressures affect the amount of disorder each imparts on that system may help scientists understand why certain substances, like drugs used in chemotherapy, are soluble in water and why some are not. It could also help understand how this changing network of bonds and ordering of local tetrahedrality between water molecules changes the nature of protein folding and degradation. 'Understanding hydrophobicity, and how different conditions change it, is probably one of the most fundamental components in understanding how proteins fold in water and how different biomolecules remain stable in it,' says Kumar. 'And if we understand this, we will not only have a new way of thinking about physics and biology but also a new way to approach health and disease.'"

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Design and Evaluation of Central Control Room Operations
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 09:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
brothke writes "In aviation today, technically advanced airplanes present a unique paradox. Technically advanced airplanes, in theory, have more available safety, and the outcome should be that there are less accidents. But without proper training for their pilots, they could be less safe than airplanes with less available safety. The FAA found that without proper training for the pilots who fly them, technically advanced airplanes don't advance safety at all. The reason is that technically advanced airplanes present challenges that under-prepared pilots might not be equipped to handle." Read on for the rest of the review.

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US Government Begins Largest IT Consolidation in History
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 09:30 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's wtb-bofh deptartment:
miller60 writes "Saying 1,100 data centers is too many, the federal government has begun what looms as the largest IT consolidation in history. Federal CIO Vivek Kundra has directed federal agencies to inventory their assets by April 30 and prepare a plan to reduce the number of servers and data centers, with a focus on slashing energy costs (full memo). Kundra says some applications may be shifted to cloud computing platforms customized for government use."

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Touchpad Meets Morphing Keyboard
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 08:45 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's pure-awesome deptartment:
Several sources are reporting on the new offering from the British firm Pelikon which combines a touchpad and morphing keyboard into a unique little device. "this isn't just any old morphing keyboard, you see. Not only can the board be dynamically reconfigured by backlighting different portions of the keys -- the entire surface of the thing doubles as a touchpad, which you can probably imagine has virtually limitless utility in a mobile device where the space for a true touchpad simply doesn't exist. Pelikon already works with Toshiba on its domestic-market Biblio, but we'd love to see it hit devices around the world -- in fact, we wouldn't really mind if they just released this prototype they're showing as a Bluetooth accessory. diNovo Mini competitor, anyone?"

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Google Go Capturing Developer Interest
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 07:45 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's fear-the-behemoth deptartment:
angry tapir writes with news that Google Go seems to be cutting a wide swath through the programming community in just a short time since it's early, experimental release. While Google insists that Go is still a work in progress (like so many of their offerings) many developers are so intrigued by the feature set that they are already implementing many noncritical applications with it. What experiences, good or bad, have you had with Google Go, and how likely is it to really take over?

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LG's Windows Phone 7 Series Early Prototype
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 07:00 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's early-always-tastes-better deptartment:
suraj.sun writes to tell us that Engadget got an early look at the new Windows Phone 7 series early prototype (and included a video). " The QWERTY slider is the first branded Windows Phone 7 Series device the world's ever seen, and while the hardware and software are both obviously early, we can tell you a few things about it: it's just a hair thicker than an iPhone or Nexus One, there are dedicated hardware camera, volume, and power buttons in addition to the back, home, and search buttons dictated by Windows Phone 7 Series, and we noticed a five megapixel camera with a flash on the back, along with a headphone jack. Can't say much apart from that right now, since things are so early and everything is subject to change, but things are certainly moving along."

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How Do You Get Users To Read Error Messages?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 06:30 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's pain-stimuli deptartment:
A BOFH writes "The longer I do desktop support, the more it becomes obvious that my users don't read anything that appears on their screen. Instead, they memorize a series of buttons to press to get whatever result they want and if anything unexpected happens, they're completely lost. Error logs help a lot, but they have their limits. I've been toying with a few ideas, but I don't know if any of them will work and I was hoping my fellow Slashdotters could point me in the right direction. For example, I was thinking about creating icons or logos to identify specific errors. They might not remember that an error about "uninitialized data" but they might be more able to remember that they got the "puppy error" if I showed a puppy picture next to the error message. Or for times when finding images is too time consuming, you could create simple logos from letters, numbers, symbols, colors or shapes, so you could have the "red 5" error or "blue square" error (or any combination of those elements). I've even wondered if it would be possible to expand that to cover the other senses, for example, playing a unique sound with the error. Unfortunately, haptic and olfactory feedback aren't readily available. I like to think that my users would remember the error that caused them to get a swift kick in the balls. And if they forgot it anyhow, I could always help them reproduce it. Does anyone else have experience with ideas like these? Did it work?"

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An Exercise To Model a "Solar Radiation Katrina"
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 05:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's transformer-fires deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes in with an update on the warnings we discussed a year back about the dangers of a "solar Katrina." Now NPR is reporting on a tabletop exercise mounted in Boulder, Colorado by government workers attempting to model the effects of a worst-case solar electromagnetic storm. "...an exercise held in Boulder, Colorado, has investigated what might happen if the Earth were struck by a solar storm as intense as the huge storms that occurred in 1921 and 1859 — a sort of solar Katrina — and researchers found that the impact is likely to be far worse than in previous solar storms because of our growing dependence on satellites and other electronic devices that are vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation. 'In many ways, the impact of a major solar storm resembles that of a hurricane or an earthquake,' says FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, except that a solar Katrina would cause damage in a much larger area — power could be knocked out almost simultaneously in countries from Sweden to Canada and the US. In the exercise, the first sign of trouble came when radiation began disrupting radio signals and GPS devices, says Tom Bogdan, who directs the Space Weather Prediction Center. Ten or 20 minutes later electrically charged particles 'basically took out' most of the commercial satellites that transmit telephone conversations, TV shows, and huge amounts of data we depend on in our daily lives. But the worst damage came nearly a day later, when the solar storm began to induce electrical currents in high voltage power lines strong enough to destroy transformers around the globe, leaving millions of people in northern latitudes without power."

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Killer Apartment Vs. Persistent Microwave Exposure?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 03:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's will-it-fry-an-egg deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "I am considering buying a penthouse apartment in Manhattan that happens to be about twenty feet away from a pair of panel antennas belonging to a major cellular carrier. The antennas are on roughly the same plane as the apartment and point in its direction. I have sifted through a lot of information online about cell towers, most of which suggest that the radiation they emit is low-level and benign. Most of this information, however, seems to concern ground-level exposure at non-regular intervals. My question to Slashdot is: should the prospect of persistent exposure to microwave radiation from this pair of antennas sitting twenty feet from where I rest my head worry me? Am I just being a jackass? Can I, perhaps, line the walls of the place with a tight metal mesh and thereby deflect the radiation? My background is in computer engineering — I am not particularly knowledgeable about the physics of devices such as these. Please help me make an enlightened decision."

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Calendar Bug Disables Older PlayStation 3 Models
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '10 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's probably-just-ubisoft-drm-kicking-in deptartment:
JohnWilliams writes "The Sony PlayStation Network appears to be inaccessible to older ('phat') PS3 units. Players cannot play games that require a connection, even in single-player, offline mode, e.g. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Also, the system date resets to January 1, 2000. Sony is 'looking into it.' Speculation abounds that it is a bug related to 2010 being incorrectly flagged as a leap year. The newer PS3 Slim models seem to be working properly."

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Caltech Makes Flexible, 86% Efficient Solar Arrays
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '10 at 11:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's bend-me-shape-me deptartment:
strredwolf writes "Caltech has released a flexible solar array that converts 95% of single-wavelength incandescent light and 86% of all sunlight into electricity. Instead of being flat-panel, they stand thin silicon wires in a plastic substrate that scatters the light onto them. The total composition is 98% plastic, 2% wire — the amount of silicon used is 1/50th that of ordinary panels. o as soon as they can get these to market, solar could be very viable and cheap to produce."

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8-Year Fan-Made Game Project Shut Down By Activision
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '10 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's of-doors-and-ways-out deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Activision, after acquiring Vivendi, became the new copyright holder of the classic King's Quest series of adventure game. They have now issued a cease and desist order to a team which has worked for eight years on a fan-made project initially dubbed a sequel to the last official installment, King's Quest 8. This stands against the fact that Vivendi granted a non-commercial license to the team, subject to Vivendi's approval of the game after submission. After the acquisition, key team members had indicated on the game's forums (now stripped of their original content by order of Activision) that Activision had given the indication that it intended to keep its current fan-game licenses, but was not interested in issuing new ones."

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Banks Accept Dubai Assassins' Stolen IDs
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '10 at 07:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's beyond-naked-in-public deptartment:
schliz writes "Public scrutiny did more harm than good last week, after Australian police and the media released details of three stolen passports allegedly used in the assasination of a senior Hamas member in Dubai. As if having their identities stolen for an assassination wasn't enough, it turns out the victims' passports had not been cancelled by the government, so the details that were published by the media in fact could be used to open fraudulent bank accounts."

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The LHC Is Back Online
Posted by News Fetcher on February 28 '10 at 06:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's exercising-the-formula-one-around-town deptartment:
medea and several other readers noted that the LHC came back online early this morning. Here is the tweet from CERN announcing the milestone. As we discussed a few weeks ago, CERN plans to run the LHC at half power or less through 2011.

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