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The Murky Origins of Zork's Name
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's murky-enough-for-a-grue deptartment:
mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term 'zorch' from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed 'work' on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."

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Futuristic Sex Robots Now Just "Sex Robots"
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 05:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-fooling-anyone-you-know deptartment:
High-C writes "With apologies to Futuristic Sex Robotz, the future is here, and her name is Roxxxy. Truecompanion.com has revealed their answer to the Real Doll, and it looks nice. The site is short on details, pictures, pricing info, but wow." NOTE: some of the above links are not work-safe, for many values of work. I stopped by this exhibit today at the AVN Expo (not officially a part of CES, but by curious coincidence scheduled to coincide; the old saw that porn drives tech isn't without merit). Roxxxy, though, was rather unsexily posed on a couch, not moving a bit — downright creepy, in fact.

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OpenShot Video Editor Reaches Version 1.0
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 04:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's simpler-the-better deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "After only one year of development Jonathan Thomas has released version 1.0 of his impressive NLE for Linux. Based on the MLT Framework, OpenShot Video Editor has taken less time to reach this stage of development than any other Linux NLE. Dan Dennedy of Kino fame has also lent a helping hand ensuring that OpenShot has the stability and proven back-end that is needed in such a project."

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Why Programmers Need To Learn Statistics
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's because-they-suck-at-poker deptartment:
David Gerard writes "Zed Shaw writes an impassioned plea to programmers: Programmers Need To Learn Statistics Or I Will Kill Them All. Quoting: 'I go insane when I hear programmers talking about statistics like they know s*** when it's clearly obvious they do not. I've been studying it for years and years and still don't think I know anything. ... I have taken a bunch of math classes, studied statistics in grad school, learned the R language, and read tons of books on the subject. Despite all of this I'm not at all confident in my understanding of such a vast topic. What I can do is apply the techniques to common problems I encounter at work. My favorite problem to attack with the statistics wolverine is performance measurement and tuning. All of this leads to a curse since none of my colleagues have any clue about what they don't understand. I'll propose a measurement technique and they'll scoff at it. I try to show them how to properly graph a run chart and they're indignant. I question their metrics and they try to back it up with lame attempts at statistical reasoning. I really can't blame them since they were probably told in college that logic and reason are superior to evidence and observation.'"

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Psystar Activation Servers Down?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bad-news-bears deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "I purchased Rebel EFI in support of Psystar's crusade back in October. Just 3 short months later, I have no support. I found this out when I upgraded my hard drive and installed Snow Leopard using Rebel EFI. The program can no longer 'phone home' to activate or download/install drivers. This is a direct contradiction to Psystar's promise posted on their website: 'Psystar will continue to support all of its existing customers of hardware and software through this transitional period. Warranties on hardware will continue to be honored as long the customer has a valid warranty. Rebel EFI support for existing customers, as always, will remain exclusively available through email and the built-in ticket interface.' Has anyone else run into this issue? It has been 9 days with no response from Psystar by e-mail or phone."

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Tegra 2 Tablets/Slates Impress At CES
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-they-actually-exist deptartment:
MartinSchou writes "At this year's CES it seems that everybody and their cousin are talking about tablets, slates or smartbooks. This year, however, might be the year of Linux — if not on the desktop, then at least on your other computing devices. Amongst this years top contenders are slates running nVidia's Tegra 2 chipset, boasting 10+ hours worth of 1080p playback, with entries from Quanta, Mobinnova, ASUS, MSI and Boxee (though this is a media computer). Notion Ink have brought their Adam slate, complete with a Pixel Qi transreflective, multi-touch capable screen."

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Wireless Power Group Sees Standard Within 6 Months
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's spooky-power-at-a-distance deptartment:
alphadogg writes "The group developing a standard for wireless charging expects to complete its first specification within six months, opening the door for makers of cell phones, digital cameras and other devices to bring compatible products to market. Wireless charging lets consumers place gadgets on a mat that plugs into a wall outlet, and have the devices recharge automatically without needing to plug in each one. Apart from the gee-whiz factor, it's supposed to make life more convenient by letting people walk into their home or office, toss their gadgets onto a mat to recharge and forget about them."

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Google Seeking Patent On Ads For Street View
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's virtual-billboards-on-pictures-of-billboards deptartment:
theodp writes "CNET reports that Google is 'musing' about placing ads in Street View. The search giant reportedly floated the idea in a presentation to marketing and ad agency types in Europe a few months back. So will virtual billboards be popping up in Google Street View? A Google rep said the company had no current plans to put ads in Street View, but you might want to take that with a grain of salt. On Thursday, the USPTO revealed that Google is seeking patent protection for Claiming Real Estate in Panoramic or 3D Mapping Environments for Advertising. From the patent application: 'The street view display server can locate an ad image within the image database and overlay the region of interest with the associated ad image.' Connect the dots, and it sure sounds like a plan, doesn't it? Selling the Brooklyn Bridge is a pretty good scam — selling a view of it is even better!"

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Samsung Develops a Transparent OLED Laptop Screen
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's harder-to-hide-your-mmo-habit-from-the-boss deptartment:
Dyne09 writes "The Design blog has posted an entry on Samsung's new laptop with a transparent OLED screen. The photos show a dark-tinted and dimly-lit screen that is fully see-through. While the utility of a see-through laptop probably isn't that high for the average user, several medical and industrial industries could greatly augment design work or frame 3-D models over real life in real-time."

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The Gradual Erosion of the Right To Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-we-blame-all-the-world's-ills-on-social-media-yet deptartment:
PeteV writes "There is an interesting article on the BBC's website based around research carried out by Dr. Kieron O'Hara of Southampton University. He points out that under British law, an individual's right to privacy is being eroded by the behavior of those who have no qualms about broadcasting every intimate detail of their life online (via social networking sites) because the privacy law is predicated in part upon the concept of a 'reasonable expectation of privacy.' I think his request 'for people to be more aware of the impact on society of what they publish online' is likely to fall on deaf ears, but in effect what he is saying is that the changing habits of the world-wide community of social networkers is likely to have an effect upon English law and how it is interpreted. Given that the significant bulk of social networkers are American, this might mean 'American behavior' could cause changes in the interpretation of English law (which is not to say English people don't also post their intimate details on Facebook)."

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KIA Bringing News & Social Media To Your Car
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's prepare-to-be-run-over-by-a-tweeting-driver deptartment:
thecarchik writes "Earlier this week KIA made some major announcements about their future cars. They shed some light on the details of their new UVO system, which lets you answer and place phone calls, send and receive SMS text messages, and access music via voice commands. Moreover, their new widget-based system for the on-screen controls lets you include RSS news, financial information, and weather reports, along with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn updates. If there is one thing we can take away from this and Ford's recent announcement about the MyFord Touch system, it is that we'll see some heated internet technology battles between car manufacturers." The NY Times pointed out a few days ago that many companies are already turning their attention to dashboard computing, much to the dismay of those who warn against distracted driving.

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Scientists and Lawyers Argue For Open US DNA Database
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they-must-have-caught-an-episode-of-csi deptartment:
chrb writes "New Scientist has an article questioning the uniqueness of DNA profiles. 41 scientists and lawyers recently published a high-profile Nature article (sub. required) arguing that the FBI should release its complete CODIS database. The request follows research on the already released Arizona state DNA database (a subset of CODIS) which showed a surprisingly large number of matches between the profiles of different individuals, including one between a white man and a black man. The group states that the assumption that a DNA profile represents a unique individual, with only a minuscule probability of a secondary match, has never been independently verified on a large sample of DNA profiles. The new requests follow the FBI's rejection of similar previous requests."

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Why Oracle Can't Easily Kill PostgreSQL
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-will-rise-from-the-dead-to-feast-upon-the-living deptartment:
ruphus13 writes "Claiming that 'PostgreSQL is a FOSS alternative to MySQL and hence Oracle should be allowed to pursue MySQL' is a specious argument, according to Monty Widenius. He fears that Oracle, or someone else, can easily squash PostgreSQL by just 'buying out' the top 20 developers. The Postgre community has fired back, calling that claim ridiculous. According to the article, 'PostgreSQL as a project is pretty healthy, and shows how vulnerable projects like MySQL are to the winds of change. PostgreSQL could die tomorrow, if a huge group of its contributors dropped out for one reason or another and the remainder of the community didn't take up the slack. But that's exceedingly unlikely. The existing model for PostgreSQL development ensures that no single entity can control it, it can't be purchased, and if someone decides to fork the project, the odds are that the remaining community would be strong enough to continue without a serious glitch.'"

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Politicians Worldwide Asking Questions About ACTA
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's must-have-heard-about-the-death-panels deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Legislators around the world are demanding more information on the secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. US Senator Ron Wyden demanded answers in a letter to the USTR (PDF) this week, ACTA arose in the UK House of Commons yesterday, and French Deputy Nicolas Dupont-Aignan raised ACTA questions in the National Assembly late last year. All of this comes on top of earlier efforts from Swedish Member of the European Parliament Jens Holm, as well as New Zealand MP Clare Curran, who has repeatedly raised concerns about ACTA, and NDP MP Charlie Angus, who posed questions about ACTA in the Canadian House of Commons late last year."

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Duke Nukem Forever Not Dead? (Yes, This Again)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 03:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-didn't-think-it-was-over-did-you? deptartment:
kaychoro writes "There may be hope for Duke Nukem Forever (again). 'Jon St. John, better known as the voice of Duke Nukem, said some interesting words during a panel discussion at the Music and Games Festival (MAGFest) that took place January 1 – 4 in Alexandria, Virginia, according to Pixel Enemy. Answering a question from the crowd regarding DNF, St. John said: "... let me go ahead and tell you right now that I'm not allowed to talk about Duke Nukem Forever. No, no, don't be disappointed, read between the lines — why am I not allowed to talk about it?"'"

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NIST Investigating Mass Flash Drive Vulnerability
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 02:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's 123456-letmein deptartment:
Lucas123 writes with a followup to news we discussed earlier this week that the encryption on NIST-certified flash drives was cracked. "A number of leading manufacturers of encrypted flash drives have warned their customers of a security flaw uncovered by a German company. The devices in question use the AES 256-bit encryption algorithm and have been certified using the FIPS 140-2, but the flaw appears to circumvent the certification process by uncovering the password authentication code on host systems. The National Institute of Standards and Technology said it's investigating whether it needs to modify its standards to include password authentication software on host systems. Security specialist Bruce Schneier was blunt in his characterization of the flaw: 'It's a stupid crypto mistake and they screwed up and they should be rightfully embarrassed for making it.'"

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Blizzard Authenticators May Become Mandatory
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '10 at 12:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's gotta-take-off-your-shoes-too deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "WoW.com is reporting that a trusted source has informed them that Blizzard is giving serious consideration to making authenticators mandatory on all World of Warcraft accounts. The authenticators function the same as ones provided by most banks — in order to log in, you must generate a number on the external device. Blizzard already provides a free iPhone app that functions as an authenticator. The source stated, 'it is a virtually forgone conclusion that it will happen.' This comes after large spates of compromised accounts left Bizzard game masters severely backlogged by restoration requests."

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China Luring Scientists Back Home
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '10 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ooo-a-piece-of-candy deptartment:
blee37 writes "The NY Times reports that China is increasing incentives for Chinese students earning PhDs in the US to return home. One example is a prestigious Princeton microbiologist who returned to become a dean at Tsinghua, the Chinese MIT. In my experience as a grad student, Chinese students were often torn about returning home. The best science and the most intellectually stimulating jobs are in the US. Yet, surely they miss their families and their hometown. As alluded in the article, Chinese science remains far behind, especially because of rampant cronyism in academia as well as government. But, if more Chinese students go back, it could damage the US's technology lead. A large percentage of PhD students in the US are from China. Also, the typical PhD student has their tuition paid for and receives a salary. Does it make sense to invest in their training if they will do their major work elsewhere?"

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Golden Ratio Discovered In a Quantum World
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '10 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nanites-are-excellent-architects deptartment:
FiReaNGeL writes "Scientists have for the first time observed a nanoscale symmetry hidden in solid state matter. 'In order to study these nanoscale quantum effects, the researchers have focused on the magnetic material cobalt niobate. It consists of linked magnetic atoms, which form chains just like a very thin bar magnet, but only one atom wide.' By artificially introducing more quantum uncertainty, the researchers observed that the chain acts like a nanoscale guitar string. The first two notes show a perfect relationship with each other. Their frequencies (pitch) are in the ratio of 1.618, which is the golden ratio famous from art and architecture. The observed resonant states in cobalt niobate are a dramatic laboratory illustration of the way in which mathematical theories developed for particle physics may find application in nanoscale science and ultimately in future technology."

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Recession Turning Software Auditors Into Greedy Traffic Cops
Posted by News Fetcher on January 08 '10 at 07:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's twenty-six-in-a-twenty-five deptartment:
judgecorp writes "As the recession bites, software auditors are cracking down, and some are simply exploiting loopholes and technicalities to meet their targets, according to analyst Forrester. They may be within their rights, but they aren't endearing themselves to users; Steve Ballmer faced weary customers in London last year, and admitted Windows licenses have deliberate 'gotchas.'"

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