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Obama Budget To Triple Nuclear Power Loan Guarantees
Posted by News Fetcher on January 31 '10 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sky's-the-limit deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "When President Obama said in his State of the Union address on Wednesday that the country should build 'a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants,' it was one of the few times he got bipartisan applause. Now the NY Times reports that administration officials have confirmed their 2011 federal budget request next week will raise potential loan guarantees for nuclear projects to more than $54 billion, from $18.5 billion, and a new Energy Department panel will examine a vastly expanded list of options for nuclear waste, including a new kind of nuclear reactor that would use some of it. The Energy Department appears to be getting close to offering its first nuclear loan guarantee. Earlier this week, Southern Co. Chief Executive David Ratcliffe said the company expects to finalize an application for a loan guarantee 'within the next couple months,' while Scana Corp., which has also applied, is 'a couple months behind Southern' and is hopeful of receiving a conditional award 'sometime in the next months.'"

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Facebook Rewrites PHP Runtime For Speed
Posted by News Fetcher on January 31 '10 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-not-this-then-something-else deptartment:
VonGuard writes "Facebook has gotten fed up with the speed of PHP. The company has been working on a skunkworks project to rewrite the PHP runtime, and on Tuesday of this week, they will be announcing the availability of their new PHP runtime as an open source project. The rumor around this began last week when the Facebook team invited some of the core PHP contributors to their campus to discuss some new open source project. I've written up everything I know about this story on the SD Times Blog."

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Chemistry Tasks For the Computer Lab?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 31 '10 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-the-basics deptartment:
soupman55 writes "I teach Chemistry to students completing their last two years of high school. Basically it's a 'teach and test' course with a few experiments thrown in. I want to jazz up the course using computer and internet resources. For instance, I could set some tasks that require Excel spreadsheet calculations. Or I could set some web quests where students search for information online. One of the decisions to be made is: Do I use computer/internet tasks to help the students grasp the material that is already in the course, or do I help them become aware of ideas that are extensions to their course? Also, when I compare Chemistry classes with Accounting classes, it strikes me that unlike Accounting where learning to use software like Quick Books is an integral part of the course, that there is no particular software that a chemistry student must learn to use. Or is there? What in terms of chemistry and computers worked for you? Or what is there computer-wise that wasn't in your high school chemistry course but should have been?"

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UK Gov't Says "No Evidence" IE Is Less Secure
Posted by News Fetcher on January 31 '10 at 03:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's maxwell-smart-elocution deptartment:
aliebrah writes "Lord Avebury tabled a parliamentary question in the UK regarding the security of Internet Explorer and whether the UK government would reconsider its use. He got an answer from the UK Home Office that's unlikely to please most Slashdot readers. The UK government contends that 'there is no evidence that moving from the latest fully patched versions of Internet Explorer to other browsers will make users more secure.'"

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Japan Will Start 3D TV Programming This Summer
Posted by News Fetcher on January 31 '10 at 12:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-that-takes-up-more-room deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Japan HD TV operator Sky Perfect will start 3D programming this summer, with focuses on live events and sports events. As more Hollywood movies are shot in 3D, and 3D TVs are expected to come onto the market in the very near future, Sky Perfect is hoping that people will switch to 3D TV just like people switched from black and white to color. How about 3D TV in other countries?"

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Give Space a Chance, Says Phil Plait
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 09:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's to-not-bless-is-not-to-negate deptartment:
The Bad Astronomer writes "A lot of pundits, scientists, and people who should know better are decrying the demise of NASA, saying that the President's budget cutting the Constellation program and the Ares rockets will sound the death knell of manned space exploration. This simply is not true.The budget will call for a new rocket design, and a lot of money will go toward private space companies, who may be able to launch people into orbit years ahead of Ares being ready anyway."

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US Dir. of Citizen Participation Patents the News
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 06:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's overlay-of-obvious deptartment:
theodp writes "Ex-Googler and now White House Director of Citizen Participation Katie Stanton is charged with promoting open public dialogues. Last Thursday, Stanton and Google snagged a patent on displaying financial news. Google explains that Stanton's invention — Interactive Financial Charting and Related News Correlation — will 'facilitate and encourage the user's use and understanding of financial information,' which does jibe nicely with Stanton's appointment to Obama's New Media Team. Too bad it'll be encumbered by a Google patent until 2027."

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7 of the Best Free Linux Calculators
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 05:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's open-in-tabs deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "One of the basic utilities supplied with any operating system is a desktop calculator. These are often simple utilities that are perfectly adequate for basic use. They typically include trigonometric functions, logarithms, factorials, parentheses and a memory function. However, the calculators featured in this article are significantly more sophisticated with the ability to process difficult mathematical functions, to plot graphs in 2D and 3D, and much more. Occasionally, the calculator tool provided with an operating system did not engender any confidence. The classic example being the calculator shipped with Windows 3.1 which could not even reliably subtract two numbers. Rest assured, the calculators listed below are of precision quality."

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Solutions For More Community At Work?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's buffet-followed-by-orgy deptartment:
CrunkCreeper writes "I work at a tier-2 hosting company (SAP, web servers, Citrix, databases, etc.). I started working at this location two years ago in January. The company had anywhere from 20-30 other employees, and now we are just over 100. People with all different IT experience are employed. At one end of the spectrum, you have accounting, billing, and sales. At the other end you have the help desk, analysts, and engineers. In the past we were hiring mainly people in their 20s, and now we're hiring more senior people in their 30s and 40s. Incidentally with our expanded demographic and recently aggressive hiring, people are not as familiar with each other as they used to be. This happens to some extent and will continue to happen more the larger our company grows, but I would like to curb the corporate feel a bit. I'm trying to bring family or community feel back to the company. The reason for this need is that great ideas are normally discussed in non-formal environments. Beside this fact, I want people to genuinely have more fun and decrease the sometimes uncomfortable discussions with 'that guy' from 'that department.' Being an IT company, I find it more natural for collaboration via computer, but welcome more traditional methods too. How does your company keep or build a community environment using technology?" Read on for some more on how it works at CrunkCreeper's workplace, and give suggestions for how to make things better.

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Boot Camp Finally Supports Windows 7 On Macs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-like-real-boot-camp-only-nicer-colors deptartment:
Dave Knott writes "After some delay Apple have updated Boot Camp to support Windows 7 on Macintosh computers. They have also provided an upgrade utility that facilitates transition to Windows 7 for Mac owners who have existing Vista installations. The new version of Boot Camp requires OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)."

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Firefox Mobile Reaches 1.0
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's how's-it-handle-baroque-javascript deptartment:
Majix writes "Firefox Mobile, the mobile browser developed by Mozilla based on the same engine as in the recently released Firefox 3.6, has finally hit version 1.0. The first device to be officially supported is the Nokia N900. With a long list of features, Firefox Mobile looks to be the most complete mobile browser to date. Highlights include the familiar Awesome Bar, Weave Sync for sharing your browser state between your PC and mobile, and of course tabbed browsing and Firefox add-ons. With the Nokia 900 and Firefox Mobile 1.0, even Flash content including the normal YouTube site is working, showing that a mobile browser does not have to equal a compromised Internet experience."

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Unofficial Qt Environment (and Suduko) For the Kindle
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's tablet-madness-never-ends deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "I've just posted packages for installing a Qt-based platform on the Kindle 2 and DX devices, and a Sudoku game to go along with it. The Qt-based platform includes plugins I wrote for the e-ink display, the keyboard, and the five-way joystick thing — so it's a fully interactive and usable environment now. Soon I'll be adding a sample app with source code to go along with it."

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1Gbps Optical Wireless Network Might Replace Wi-Fi
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's line-of-sight-and-bouncy-bouncy deptartment:
Mark.JUK writes "Pennsylvania State University has developed a new method of indoor Optical Wireless network that does not require a line-of-sight and runs at speeds of 1Gbps+. The system uses a high-powered laser diode — a device that converts electricity into light — as the optical transmitter and an avalanche photo diode — a device that converts light to electricity — as the receiver. The light bounces off the walls and is picked up by the receiver. Traditional radio frequency systems (Wi-Fi , WiMAX etc.) do not require line of sight transmission, but can pass through some substances and so present a security problem. Light, in a room without windows, will not escape the room, improving security."

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"Perpetual Motion DeLorean" Scammers Face $26M Judgment
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tanstaafl-my-friend deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Back in 2002, we discussed a story about the so-called 'Perpetual Motion DeLorean,' which could 'supposedly go "hundreds of miles" at speeds over 100MPH without stopping to recharge.' More than seven years later, the final shoe has dropped on this saga, with a $26 million judgment against Carl Tilley and his wife, who propagated this scam that ran for several years. Probably the height of its audacity was when Tilley told his shareholders in May of 2002 that GE had offered $2 billion 'sight unseen' to buy out the technology."

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Astronomers Discover the Coolest Known Sub-Stellar Body
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's miles-davis's-home-planet deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Science Daily reports that using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii, astronomers have discovered what may be the coolest sub-stellar body ever found outside our own solar system. Too small to be stars and with insufficient mass to maintain hydrogen-burning nuclear fusion reactions in their cores, 'brown dwarfs' have masses smaller than stars but larger than gas giant planets like Jupiter, with an upper limit in between 75 and 80 Jupiter masses. 'This looks like the fourth time in three years that the UKIRT has made a record breaking discovery of the coolest known brown dwarf, with an estimated temperature not far above 200 degrees Celsius,' says Dr. Philip Lucas at the University of Hertfordshire. Due to their low temperature these objects are very faint in visible light, and are detected by their glow at infrared wavelengths. The object known as SDSS1416+13B is in a wide orbit around a somewhat brighter and warmer brown dwarf, SDSS1416+13A, and the pair is located between 15 and 50 light years from the solar system, which is quite close in astronomical terms."

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Evolving Robots Learn To Prey On Each Other
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's this-can-only-end-well deptartment:
quaith writes "Dario Floreano and Laurent Keller report in PLoS ONE how their robots were able to rapidly evolve complex behaviors such as collision-free movement, homing, predator versus prey strategies, cooperation, and even altruism. A hundred generations of selection controlled by a simple neural network were sufficient to allow robots to evolve these behaviors. Their robots initially exhibited completely uncoordinated behavior, but as they evolved, the robots were able to orientate, escape predators, and even cooperate. The authors point out that this confirms a proposal by Alan Turing who suggested in the 1950s that building machines capable of adaptation and learning would be too difficult for a human designer and could instead be done using an evolutionary process. The robots aren't yet ready to compete in Robot Wars, but they're still pretty impressive."

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DRM Content Drives Availability On P2P Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's drm-p2p-mpaa-bbq deptartment:
jgreco writes "The music industry once feared that going DRM-free would drive a massive explosion of copyright-infringing music availability on P2P networks. Now, a new study seems to suggest otherwise. The answer is obvious: if you can easily get inexpensive DRM-free content that works on your devices through legitimate channels, most people won't bother with the headache of P2P networks. It appears that users largely turn to P2P to acquire DRM-free versions of content that is distributed with DRM. The MPAA, of course, will not come away from this with the obvious conclusion."

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Amazon Pulls Book Publisher's Listings; Ebook Wars Underway?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's grab-some-popcorn deptartment:
As of last night, Amazon stopped listing all books from Macmillan Publishers, referring searches to other sellers instead. According to the New York Times, this is because Macmillan is one of the companies that now has an agreement to sell ebooks through Apple's new iBooks store, and asked Amazon to raise the price of their ebooks from $9.99 to $15. An industry source told the Times that the de-listing is Amazon's way of "expressing its strong disagreement" with the idea of a price hike. Gizmodo suggests this is the first volley in an Apple-Amazon ebook war. Quoting: "It feels like a repeat of the same s*** Universal Music, and later, NBC Universal pulled with iTunes, trying to counter the leverage Apple had because of iTunes' insane marketshare. Same situation here, really: Content provider wants more money/control over their content, fights with the overwhelmingly dominant, embedded service that's selling the content. Last time, everybody compromised and walked away mostly happy: Universal and NBC got more flexible pricing, iTunes got DRM-free music and more TV shows for its catalog to sell. ... The difference in this fight is that Macmillan is one of the publishers signed to deliver books for Apple's iBooks store. They have somewhere to run. And credibly. That wasn't really the case with record labels, who tried to fuel alternatives to dilute iTunes power, and failed."

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Google To End Support For IE6
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's enough-is-enough deptartment:
itwbennett writes "Google announced Friday that it will be phasing out support for Internet Explorer 6, more than two weeks after the attacks on Google's servers that targeted a vulnerability in IE6. In a blog post, Rajen Sheth, Google Apps senior product manager, said that support for IE6 in Google Docs and Google Sites will end March 1. At that point, IE6 users who try to access Docs or Sites may find that 'key functionality' won't work properly. Sheth suggested that customers upgrade their browsers to pretty much anything else."

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Gun With Wireless Arming Signal Goes On Sale Soon
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '10 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-it's-common-sense-don'tcha-see deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Armatix has built a pistol that will disarm itself when it is taken away from a watch that sends it a wireless arming signal. The .22 caliber guns will go on sale in the US within months, and the initial price is 7,000 euro. Higher caliber models will follow. To activate the gun, users must enter a pin code on the wristwatch, and then keep it within roughly 20cm of the gun. If the person is disarmed, the gun can't be used against them. Also coming soon this year, civilians will also be able to buy three-shot Tasers, rubber bullets, as well as Heckler and Koch black rifles." This might not be good news for the citizens of New Jersey.

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