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Supreme Court Limits Patents Based On Laws of Nature
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's there-goes-my-falling-off-a-bridge-patent department:
New submitter sed quid in infernos writes "The Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion yesterday holding that 'to transform an unpatentable law of nature into a patent-eligible application of such a law, a patent must do more than simply state the law of nature while adding the words "apply it."' The Court invalidated a patent on the process of adjusting medication dosage based on the levels of specific metabolites in the patient's blood. The opinion sets forth a process for determining patent eligibility for patent claims that include a law of nature. The court wrote that the "additional features" that show an application of the law must "provide practical assurance that the [claimed] process is more than a drafting effort." This language suggests that the burden will be on the patentee to prove that its limitations are more than patent attorney tricks.'"

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Microsoft Demos Metro UI For Enterprise Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's it-looks-pretty-but-does-it-work department:
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft has demoed a working prototype of Microsoft Dynamics GP (an ERP package) running on Windows 8, with a full Metro UI. This is the first example of an enterprise app for the Windows 8 metro 'wall'. The one hour keynote is available online behind a short registration form ... (demos start around 40 minutes in). Screenshots available at source."

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Former Nokia Exec: Windows Phone Strategy Doomed
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's iceberg-ahead department:
itwbennett writes "Slashdot readers will recall that back in January, Nokia CEO Steven Elop blamed the company's Windows Phone woes on commission-minded salespeople, who pushed phones they thought would actually sell. Now, ex-Nokia exec Tomi Ahonen, is calling the Nokia's Windows Phone strategy 'a certain road to death.' He bases this grim assessment on UK market shares from Kantar Worldpanel: 'When Nokia shifted from "the obsolete" Symbian to "the awesome" Windows Phone, Nokia lost a third of its customers! In just one quarter!' Can MeeGo or Tizen save Nokia now?"

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Researchers Create Chemically Powered Robotic Jellyfish
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's robot-sea-monsters department:
pigrabbitbear writes with an excerpt from an article at Motherboard: "Earlier last week we heard about the strange blob-bot, an amoeba-mimicking, pulsating, little horror of a robot. But that's nothing in the face of news that engineers at Virginia Tech have built a robotic jellyfish. As if the threat of the oceans being taken over by deadly stinging jelly cyborgs isn't scary enough, there's this: the researchers claim that, because their Robojelly is powered by a hydrogen-based catalytic reaction, rather than electricity, it could 'theoretically' power itself indefinitely. When you consider our best options for powering underwater craft are currently batteries, nuclear reactors, or tethers to the surface, a chemically-powered propulsion system is groundbreaking (and, well, a bit nerve-wracking)."

The full paper is available for free (at least for 30 days; registration required).

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Nokia Applies For Vibrating Tattoo Patent
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's everything-has-been-invented department:
New submitter CanHasDIY writes "Tired of waiting for the Pip-Boy or Omni-Tool to be invented? Never fear! Nokia is developing the basic technology needed to make your dreams a reality: haptic-feedback tattoos. According to the patent application, Nokia is proposing 'a material attachable to skin, the material capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field.' Basically, the process is the same as for normal tattooing; the difference is in the ferromagnetic ink. Kind of brings new meaning to the term 'embedded device,' doesn't it?"

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NSA Chief Denies Claims of Domestic Spying
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 07:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's doubleplus-ungood department:
AstroPhilosopher writes "Recently Wired, USA Today and other news outlets reported on a new spy center being built to store intercepted communications (even American citizens'). Tuesday, Gen. Keith Alexander testified in front of Congress refuting the articles. Alexander even went so far as to claim the NSA lacks the authority to monitor American citizens. It's an authority that was given to the NSA through the FISA Amendments Act signed into law by Bush and still supported today by Obama."

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Austin Case Modders Take Their Exotic PCs and a Giant LAN Party to SXSW (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's loving-the-blinkenlights department:
As a nexus of both computer programmers and other creative builder and maker types, SXSW (and Austin generally) is a great place to witness the overlap. John Zitterkopf and his pal Red, while helping to run the giant (and charitable!) LANFest at this year's event, had on hand for display a few of their own modded computer cases. John and Red are both part of Austin Modders, which helps Austinites swap tools and ideas (in-person, and via forums) for creating the kind of enclosures that computer makers simply can't — they're too time-intensive and too personalized for that. It's especially fun to see the effects that the newly widespread availability of laser cutters makes possible. (C'mon, O'Reilly, isn't it time for another Austin Maker Faire?)

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New York Times Halves Monthly Free Article Views To Ten
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 06:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's nine-after-reading-this department:
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times has announced that, starting in April, visitors to NYTimes.com will only be able to access 10 free articles a month, down from 20 articles currently. The NYTimes paywall was put into effect last year, and seems to have been a success, with nearly half a million digital subscriptions to all of Times Co.'s websites; this despite the fact that the paywall is trivial to circumvent (for example, by deleting all cookies from nytimes.com)."

The submitter included a link to the WSJ article on the change, which appears to also be paywalled.

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3D Printer Models For Universal Construction Toy Connectors
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's you-would-pirate-a-car-wouldn't-you department:
dangle writes "F.A.T. Lab and Sy-Lab have officially released their Free Universal Construction Kit, allowing builders to freely interconnect parts from Lego, K'Nex, Fischertechnik, and other common building sets. ZomeTool and Zoob patterns will be available after related patents expire. The makers have also spent considerable effort investigating and anticipating legal complaints from manufacturers, using an Inverse Think of The Children Argument: Some may express concern that the Free Universal Construction Kit infringes such corporate prerogatives as copyright, design right, trade dress, trademarks or patents of the supported toy systems. We encourage those eager to enforce these rights to please think of the children — and we assert that the home printing of the Free Universal Construction Kit constitutes protected fair use."

Model files are available over at Thingiverse. The designs are all covered by the CC BY-SA 3.0.

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Senator Wyden Demands ACTA Goes Before Congress
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's i-thought-riders-were-bad department:
Fluffeh writes "As recently covered here, EU countries are starting to drop ACTA support, now long-time opponent of the secretly negotiated Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, Sen. Ron Wyden introduced an amendment to a Senate 'jobs bill' that would force ACTA to come before Congress for approval. His second amendment tries to force a change (PDF) in how the whole process around such treaties is handled. Right now, the U.S. attempts to keep its negotiating positions a secret. What vital national security interests could be at stake if the public knew USTR was promoting 'graduated response' laws or proposing changes in ISP liability? Wyden doesn't believe there are any."

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HP To Combine PC, Printer Divisions
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-at-first-you-don't-succeed-something-something department:
itwbennett writes "Apotheker wanted to sell off HP's PC division, Whitman vowed not to, and now HP is combining the PC division with the printer division in an effort to cut costs, unnamed sources told the All Things D blog. Given that both divisions reported declining sales last quarter, is HP hoping that two wrongs make a right?"

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Why Linux Can't 'Sell' On the Desktop
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everybody-knows-tuxes-are-expensive department:
New submitter VoyagerRadio writes "Recently I found myself struggling with a question I should easily have been able to answer: Why would anyone want to use Linux as their everyday desktop (or laptop) operating system? It's a fair question, and asked often of Linux, but I'm finding it to be a question I can no longer answer with the conviction necessary to 'sell' the platform. In fact, I kind of feel like a car salesman who realizes he no longer believes in the product he's been pitching. It's not that I don't find Linux worthy; I simply don't understand how it's ever going to succeed on the desktop with voluntary marketing efforts. What do Linux users need to do to replicate the marketing efforts of Apple and Microsoft and other corporate operating system vendors? To me, it seems you don't sell Linux at all because there isn't supposed to be one dominant distribution that stands out from the rest. Without a specific product to put on the shelf to sell, what in the world do you focus your efforts on selling? An idea?"

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Clever Clues Clobber Crossword Computer
Posted by News Fetcher on March 21 '12 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's blithe-banter-bamboozles-brainy-bots department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Steve Lohr reports that an impressive crossword-solving computer program called Dr. Fill matched its digital wits against 600 of the nation's best human crossword-solvers, finishing only 141st at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in New York. 'I wish it had done better,' says Dr. Matthew Ginsberg, the creator of Dr. Fill and an expert in artificial intelligence. Dr. Fill typically thrives on conventional crosswords, even ones with arcane clues and answers; it solved one of the most difficult puzzles at the tournament perfectly. But the computer does poorly with clever clues based on puns or jokes, because humans and machines solve the crosswords very differently. Humans recognize patterns based on accumulated knowledge and experience, while computers make endless calculations to determine the most statistically probable answer. The computer program is literal minded, and tends to struggle on puzzles with humor, and puzzles with unusual themes or letter arrangements. Take this clue from a 2010 puzzle in The Times: Apollo 11 and 12 (180 degrees). The answer is SNOISSIWNOOW, seemingly gibberish. A clever human could eventually figure out that those letters, when rotated 180 degrees, spell MOON MISSIONS. Humans get the joke, while a literal-minded computer does not. 'Occasionally, Dr. Fill just doesn't get it,' says Ginsberg. 'That's my nightmare.'"

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Humble Bundle For Android 2 Goes Live
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 11:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-day-another-bundle department:
spidweb writes "The latest Humble Bundle has gone live, with five new games for Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and Android. It consists of Zen Bound 2, Avadon: The Black Fortress, Canabalt, and Cogs, with Swords & Soldiers thrown in for anyone who pays at least the average. As always, the games are pay-what-you-want and DRM-free, and this is the initial Linux and Android release for many of them. Of course, as is the tradition with Humble Bundles, other games are likely to be added on later."

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The Numbers Behind the Copyright Math
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's each-song-is-worth-all-the-songs department:
TheUnknownCoder writes "The MPAA claims $58 billion in actual U.S. economic losses and 373,000 lost jobs due to piracy. Where are these numbers coming from? Rob Reid puts these numbers into perspective in this TED Talk, leaving us even more puzzled about the math behind copyright laws. 'Ignoring improbabilities like pirated steaks and daffodils, I looked at actual employment and headcount in actual content industries, and found nothing approaching the claimed losses. There are definitely concrete and quantifiable piracy-related losses in the American music industry. The Recording Industry Association’s website has a robust and credible database that details industry sales going back to 1973, which any researcher can access for a few bucks (and annoying as I’ve found the RIAA to be on certain occasions, I applaud them for making this data available). I used it to compare the industry’s revenues in 1999 (when Napster debuted) to 2010 (the most recent available data). Sales plunged from $14.6 billion down to $6.8 billion — a drop that I rounded to $8 billion in my talk. This number is broadly supported by other sources, and I find it to be entirely credible. But this pattern just isn’t echoed in other major content industries.'"

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AMD Releases Open-Source Radeon HD 7000 Driver
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's still-waiting-on-the-open-source-sand-wedge department:
An anonymous reader writes "AMD has publicly released the open-source code to the Radeon HD 7000 series 'Southern Islands' graphics cards for Linux users. This allows users of AMD's latest-generation of Radeon graphics cards to use the open-source Linux driver rather than Catalyst, plus there's also early support for AMD's next-generation Fusion APUs."

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$1.5 Billion: the Cost of Cutting London-Tokyo Latency By 60ms
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's aussies-still-jealous department:
MrSeb writes "Starting this summer, and thanks to the continuing withdrawal of Arctic sea ice, a convoy of ice breakers and specially-adapted polar ice-rated cable laying ships will begin to lay the first ever trans-Arctic Ocean submarine fiber optic cables. Two of these cables, called Artic Fibre and Arctic Link, will cross the Northwest Passage, which runs through the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. A third cable, the Russian Optical Trans-Arctic Submarine Cable System (ROTACS), will skirt the north coast of Scandinavia and Russia. All three cables will connect the United Kingdom to Japan, with a smattering of branches that will provide high-speed internet access to a handful of Arctic Circle communities. The completed cables are estimated to cost between $600 million and $1.5 billion each. As it stands, it takes roughly 230 milliseconds for a packet to go from London to Tokyo; the new cables will reduce this by 30% to 170ms. The latency drop will mainly benefit algorithmic stock market traders, but other areas like education, telemedicine, and POTS will also enjoy the speed-up. Perhaps more importantly, almost every cable that lands in Asia goes through a choke point in the Middle East or the Luzon Strait between the Philippine and South China seas. If a ship were to drag an anchor across the wrong patch of seabed, billions of people could wake up to find themselves either completely disconnected from the internet or surfing with dial-up-like speeds. The three new cables will all come down from the north of Japan, through the relatively-empty Bering Sea. In addition, the Arctic Ocean, where each of the cables will run for more than 5,000 miles, is one of the least-trafficked parts of the world. That said, the cables will still have to be laid hundreds of meters below the surface to avoid the tails of roving icebergs."

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Possible Supernova In Nearby Spiral Galaxy
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sorry-about-your-luck-aliens department:
New submitter Zburatorul writes "In an electronic telegram to the IAU, an Italian astronomer reports his discovery of a possible supernova (magnitude R = 15) near spiral galaxy M95 on images taken March 16th. Many more independent and confirming observations are trickling in. The Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, has a more layman-friendly article about it. The bad news: it won't be visible with the naked eye. The good news: it's not going to kill us."

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Will Mobile Wallets Replace Their Traditional Counterparts?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 06:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's my-wallet-is-pretty-mobile-already department:
Cara_Latham writes "Mobile wallets are all the rage. But legitimate questions remain as to whether they will ever truly replace their leathery counterparts. Mobile wallets, which use NFC-based technology to allow customers to make contactless payments at the point of sale, already have begun to make their presence felt. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google launched a digital wallet this past fall. The search giant has agreements with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover to make the Google Wallet available to the card companies' account holders, and there even are some NFC-enabled terminals in use across the U.S. that can accept it, including at many mass transit stations. And mobile wallet ventures are cropping up around the globe, as well. Telecom companies including Vodafone and Telefonica announced this year wallet initiatives in Africa and Latin America. But mobile wallets still face many hurdles before they can gain widespread adoption, experts say, including the rather difficult task of getting consumers to change long-held habits."

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Michael Bay To Remake TMNT As Aliens
Posted by News Fetcher on March 20 '12 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stop-assassinating-my-childhood department:
Nidi62 writes "We all know that Michael Bay loves to put 86 minutes of explosions into a 90-minute movie. But it appears that he has found a new way to screw up a movie. He is directing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot in which the turtles are not created with ooze: they are 'from an alien race, and they are going to be tough, edgy, funny and completely loveable.' No word yet on whether he's consulting with George Lucas on how to totally destroy the origin and essence of a classic story."
Responding to criticism, Bay thoughtfully explained that fans need to "chill."

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