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Electric Bicycles Surging In Popularity
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 09:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's look-ma-no-feet deptartment:
gollum123 writes "An accidental transportation upheaval began in China, where an estimated 120 million electric bicycles now hum along the roads, up from a few thousand in the 1990s. They are replacing traditional bikes and motorcycles at a rapid clip and, in many cases, allowing people to put off the switch to cars. The booming Chinese electric-bike industry is spurring worldwide interest and impressive sales in India, Europe, and the US. China is exporting many bikes, and Western manufacturers are also copying the Chinese trend to produce models of their own. From virtually nothing a decade ago, electric bikes have become an $11 billion global industry. In the Netherlands, a third of the money spent on bicycles last year went to electric-powered models.Industry experts predict similar growth elsewhere in Europe, especially in Germany, France, and Italy, as rising interest in cycling coincides with an aging population. India had virtually no sales until two years ago, but its nascent market is fast expanding and could eclipse Europe's in the next year. In China, electric bicycles have evolved into bigger machines that resemble Vespa scooters. These larger models are causing headaches for global transportation planners. They cannot decide whether to embrace them as a green form of transportation, or ban them as a safety hazard. Some cities are studying the halfway measure of banning them from bicycle lanes while permitting them on streets."

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Botnet Targets Web Sites With Junk SSL Connections
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 07:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's look-over-there deptartment:
angry tapir writes "More than 300 Web sites are being pestered by infected computers that are part of the Pushdo botnet. The FBI, Twitter, and PayPal are among the sites being hit, although it doesn't appear the attacks are designed to knock the sites offline. Pusho appears to have been recently updated to cause computers infected with it to make SSL connections to various Web sites — the bots start to create an SSL connection, disconnect, and then repeat." SecureWorks's Joe Stewart theorizes that this behavior is designed to obscure Pushdo's command and control in a flurry of bogus SSL traffic.

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IE 8 Is Top Browser, Google Chrome Is Rising Fast
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 05:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's trend-is-your-friend deptartment:
An anonymous reader points out that the latest Net Applications numbers show that MSIE 8 has become the world's most-used browser, taking over from IE6, which has been hit by the decline in the use of Windows XP. PCMag.com emphasizes another angle on the numbers, which is that Chrome is the fastest-growing browser. Firefox's market share has stalled just below 25%. Chrome is now in third place, ahead of Safari. The Guardian's article reminds: "There's no guarantee that NetApps' numbers are accurate, and they are very unlikely to be correct to two decimal places. However, they do appear to be a good indicator of market trends."

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Military's Robotic Pack Mule Gets $32M Boost
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 04:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's now-to-develop-a-muffler deptartment:
coondoggie sends word that Boston Dynamics, maker of the BigDog robot we have been following for a while, has just been awarded a $32M DARPA contract to produce robotic "pack dogs" for the military. "What kind of robot will automatically follow a leader, carry 400 lbs. (182 kg) of military gear, walk 20 miles in all manner of weather, and go 24 hours without refueling? Well, we might soon find out as DARPA has awarded a $32 million contract to build its Legged Squad Support System (LS3) which uses sensors and a GPS to walk along with soldiers across all manner of terrain in any weather without pulling any muscles."

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AMD Publishes Open-Source "ATI Evergreen" Driver
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 03:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's still-watching-and-waiting deptartment:
Several readers have written to tell us that AMD has published their code to support the Radeon HD 5000 "Evergreen" graphics cards on Linux in an open-source driver. Unfortunately the driver isn't quite as complete as some might hope. The current offering doesn't promise 2D (EXA) acceleration or 3D support. "The DDX driver supports mode-setting on the Evergreen/R800 series GPUs with VGA and DVI connectors while the DisplayPort connectivity is still not working right, according to AMD's Alex Deucher who had written most of this code. These new AMD graphics cards have been around since September while there was no open-source support at that time. In December just before Christmas there was Evergreen Shader documentation that was made publicly available and around that time it was confirmed via our forums that initial VGA mode-setting was working with Evergreen internally on unreleased code. Since then the digital connector support has been added in and this code has finally cleared AMD's legal review. The revised target was to publish this code by FOSDEM, which is this weekend so AMD did hit the target this time."

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Using Windows 7 RC? Pay Up Or Auto Shutdown Warned
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 03:00 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-tests deptartment:
CWmike writes with a warning that free preview copies of Windows 7 in the wild will start nagging users to pay up in a couple of week until ultimately shutting down the PC altogether in a month. "Microsoft unveiled the schedule for Windows 7 Release Candidate's retirement in May 2009, when it issued the early look to the public. At the time, it said Windows 7 RC would expire June 1, 2010. Before that date, however, users are to receive warnings of the impending end. Starting on Feb. 15, Windows 7 RC will display notices every few hours that the machine will periodically shut down beginning on March 1. As of March 1, PCs running Windows 7 RC will automatically shut down every two hours. Those shutdowns will come without warning."

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"Calvin and Hobbes" Creator Bill Watterson Looks Back With No Regrets
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 02:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's memories-of-better-comics deptartment:
With fifteen years separating us from the last appearance of "Calvin and Hobbes" on the comic pages, reclusive artist Bill Watterson gave a rare interview reminiscing about his legacy. "The only part I understand is what went into the creation of the strip. What readers take away from it is up to them. Once the strip is published, readers bring their own experiences to it, and the work takes on a life of its own. Everyone responds differently to different parts. I just tried to write honestly, and I tried to make this little world fun to look at, so people would take the time to read it. That was the full extent of my concern. You mix a bunch of ingredients, and once in a great while, chemistry happens. I can't explain why the strip caught on the way it did, and I don't think I could ever duplicate it. A lot of things have to go right all at once."

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New Hearing Aid Uses Your Tooth To Transmit Sound
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 01:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's new-blue-tooth deptartment:
kkleiner writes to share a new device from Sonitus Medical that transmits sound to the inner ear via the teeth and jawbone. Dubbed "SoundBite," the device captures sound using a microphone in the ear and transmits to an in-the-mouth device that in turn sends the sounds through the jaw. "There are other hearing aid devices that utilize bone conduction. Most, however, use a titanium pin drilled into the jaw bone (or skull) to transmit sound to the cochlea. SoundBite seems to be the first non-surgical, non-invasive, easily removable device. While they are likely years from retail production, Sonitus Medical plans on having SoundBite ITMs fitted to each individual's upper back teeth and fabricated fairly quickly (1 to 2 weeks). A complete system is planned to include two ITMs, 1 BTE, and a charger. In the wider world of cochlear implants, SoundBite may only be fit for relatively specialized use. Still, the ability to easily upgrade or replace individual components makes the device competitive. A similar device could be adapted to provide audio for a personalized augmented reality system. Perhaps the Bluetooth headset of the future will involve actual teeth."

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Super Strong Metal Foam Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 12:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's body-armor-in-a-can deptartment:
MikeChino writes to tell us that a North Carolina State University researcher has discovered what appears to be the strongest metal foam yet, capable of compressing up to 80% of it's original size under load and still retain the original shape. The hope is that this amazing material could be used in cars, body armor, or even buildings to absorb the shock from earthquakes. "Metal foam is exactly what you might think – a cellular structure made from metal with tiny pockets of space inside. What makes Rabiei’s metal foam better than others is that she’s been able to make the tiny pockets of space more uniform. And that apparently is what gives it the strength as well as elasticity it needs in order to compress as much as it does without deformation. Many tests are being performed in the laboratory to determine its strength, but so far Rabiei says that the spongy material has 'a much higher strength-to-density ratio than any metal foam that has ever been reported.' Calculations also predict that in car accidents, when two pieces of her composite metal foam are inserted “behind the bumper of a car traveling at 28 mph, the impact would feel the same to passengers as an impact traveling at only 5 mph."

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Why Has No One Made a Great Gaming Phone?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 12:30 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's holding-an-xbox-to-your-ear deptartment:
andylim writes "According to Engadget, John Koller, Sony's head of PlayStation marketing, recently said that 'Apple's entrance into the portable gaming space has been a net positive for Sony. When people want a deeper, richer console, they start playing on a PSP.' What's odd though is that everyone knows that the mobile phone gaming market is a huge and yet neither Sony nor Nintendo has made a gaming phone yet. Recombu.com thinks that Nokia could enter the space with PSP-like devices and it has come up with a concept phone called the Ovi Orion, which would bridge the gap between phone and console, 'If the iPhone is Wii, then Ovi Orion would be Xbox and offer Xbox Live style features. A serious gaming phone for serious gamers.'"

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Will Your Super Bowl Party Anger the Copyright Gods?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 11:45 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's too-many-weekend-lawyers deptartment:
garg0yle writes "According to some folks, watching the Super Bowl on a television bigger than 55 inches is illegal. Is this true? Yes and no — long story short, if you're in a private residence you're probably okay, but if you're running a sports bar you may technically have to negotiate a license with the NFL. Just don't charge for food, or call it a 'Super Bowl' party, since the term itself is copyright."

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Sams Teach Yourself HTML and CSS In 24 Hours
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
r3lody writes "Sams Teach Yourself HTML and CSS in 24 Hours 8th edition, by Julie C. Meloni and Michael Morrison, provides the beginning and intermediate web designer with the tools needed to create standards-based web sites. The major focus of the book is XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2, but HTML 5 and some XHTML 1.0 are discussed. Overall, the presentation and content are very good. One small minus was that the publisher's site did not include downloadable examples from the book. I also found no errata until the latter parts of the book. Published in December of 2009, the 8th edition provides reasonably current information." Read on for Ray's review.

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Nokia N900 Linux Smartphone Running OS X
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 10:00 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's mr-johnson's-dog deptartment:
Rovaani writes "There is a video floating around of a Nokia N900 smartphone running the full desktop Mac OS X 10.3. From the author, Tomi Nikkanen: 'I believe this makes the N900 the first smartphone ever to run a full version of Mac OS X (at any speed, slow or otherwise). As you can see from the heavily edited video, it took almost 2 hours to reach the "About my Mac..." window. Keep your eye on the time display as that will give you an impression of just how uselessly slow it is.'"

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Review: Mass Effect 2
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that-was-a-joke deptartment:
Mass Effect debuted a little over two years ago to almost universal praise, getting high marks for the rich story, endless exploration options, and entertaining gameplay. Despite the game's success, BioWare listened closely to player feedback, promising to revamp the parts of the game that needed improvement while developing the sequel. They didn't hesitate to refine the elements they wanted to keep and do away with the ones they didn't. The result is a familiar, but much more streamlined experience. Rather than being a shooter with a great story added in, Mass Effect 2 a great story that often has you shoot things. Read on for the rest of my thoughts.

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Report Shows Patent Trolls Are Thriving
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 08:45 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's free-money deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "The 2009 Patent Litigation Study has been released by Price Waterhouse Coopers. It shows evidence that patent trolls are growing and doing quite well. Using a very conservative view of a non-practicing entity (referred to as NPE in the report), PWC noted that 'damage awards for NPEs have averaged more than double those for practicing entities since 1995' and 'certain federal district courts (particularly Virginia Eastern and Texas Eastern) continue to be more favorable to patent holders, with shorter time-to-trial, higher success rates, and higher median damages awards.' The report paints a dire picture of the state of patent lawsuits and especially those brought by NPEs and also shows that in the past eighteen years the number of patent cases filed yearly is on the rise significantly when normalized against the number of patents granted yearly."

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Cool NASA Tech That Will Never See Space
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 08:00 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's best-garage-sale-ever deptartment:
coondoggie writes to tell us that with the "new and improved" NASA budget on the way it looks like many of the cool projects NASA has in the works will never see the light of day, let alone space. The biggest cut looks to be the Ares heavy lift rocket but other cuts include a new composite spacecraft, deep space network, inflatable lunar habitat, and an electric moon-buggie.

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The Web Way To Learn a Language
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 07:00 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's camgirl-charges-were-educational-hunny deptartment:
theodp writes "Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee, you can now sit in your underwear in Omaha and learn French from a tutor in Paris. The NY Times has a round-up of ways to learn a language over the Web. 'We offer modern-day pen pals facilitated with voice over I.P.,' said Tom Adams, CEO of RosettaStone, whose learning options include RosettaStudio, a place where a user can talk to a native speaker via video chat. TellMeMore offers a speech recognition component that analyzes pronunciation, graphs your speech, and suggests how to perfect it. Free-as-in-beer offerings include BBC Languages, where you'll find varying levels of instruction for 36 languages, with features including audio and video playback and translation. Things have certainly come a long way since the PLATO Foreign Languages Project of the 70's."

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Breakthrough Grows Graphene On Silicon Substrate
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 06:30 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's graphene-farmers-unite deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "A new paper entitled Epitaxial Graphene on Silicon toward Graphene-Silicon Fusion Electronics published by a group of physicists at Tohoku University in Japan has demonstrated that they can grow graphene on a silicon substrate and pair that technique with conventional lithography to create a graphene-on-silicon field effect transistor. For quite sometime we've been discussing the supermaterial graphene being used like silicon improving everything from memory density to transistors. Given this demonstration, are we witnessing the start of a new era in electronics or are there more hurdles to clear before the manufacturers adopt this fabrication process and embrace graphene?"

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Students Failing Because of Poor Grammar
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's end-thats-inn-kanada deptartment:
innocent_white_lamb writes "30% of freshman university students fail a 'simple English test' at Waterloo University (up from 25% a few years ago. Academic papers are riddled with 'cuz' (in place of 'because') and even include little emoticon faces. One professor says that students 'think commas are sort of like parmesan cheese that you sprinkle on your words.' At Simon Fraser University, 10% of students are not qualified to take the mandatory writing courses."

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China Is Winning Global Race To Make Clean Energy
Posted by News Fetcher on February 01 '10 at 03:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's comparative-advantage-oh-noes deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that China vaulted past competitors in Denmark, Germany, Spain and the United States last year to become the world's largest maker of wind turbines, has leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, and is pushing equally hard to build nuclear reactors and the most efficient types of coal power plants. These efforts to dominate renewable energy technologies raise the prospect that the West may someday trade its dependence on oil from the Mideast for a reliance on solar panels, wind turbines and other gear manufactured in China."

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