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Hints of Life Found On Saturn's Moon Titan
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's time-for-cassini-2 deptartment:
Calopteryx writes "New Scientist reports that in 2005, researchers predicted two potential signatures of life on Titan. Now, thanks to research done with the help of the Cassini spacecraft, both have been seen, although non-biological chemical reactions could also be behind the observations. NASA's writeup has further details: 'One key finding comes from a paper online now in the journal Icarus [abstract] that shows hydrogen molecules flowing down through Titan's atmosphere and disappearing at the surface. Another paper online now in the Journal of Geophysical Research maps hydrocarbons on the Titan surface and finds a lack of acetylene. This lack of acetylene is important because that chemical would likely be the best energy source for a methane-based life on Titan, said Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., who proposed a set of conditions necessary for this kind of methane-based life on Titan in 2005. One interpretation of the acetylene data is that the hydrocarbon is being consumed as food. But McKay said the flow of hydrogen is even more critical because all of their proposed mechanisms involved the consumption of hydrogen.'"

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J. P. Barlow — Internet Has Broken the Political System
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 09:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's citizenry-who-knew-too-much deptartment:
MexiCali59 recommends an account up at Hillicon Valley on a speech by John Perry Barlow to the Personal Democracy Forum in New York. "The deluge of information available on the Web has made the country ungovernable, according to EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow. 'The political system is broken partly because of Internet,' Barlow said. 'It's made it impossible to govern anything the size of the nation-state. We're going back to the city-state. The nation-state is ungovernably information-rich.' ...Barlow said there is too much going on at every level in Washington DC for the government to effectively handle everything on its plate. Instead, he advocated citizens organizing around the issues most important to them. 'There is a circle of fat around the Beltway that is incredibly thick. We can no longer try to run this country from the center. We've got to run it, just like the Internet, from the edges.' Barlow also said that President Barack Obama's election, driven largely by small donations, has fundamentally changed American politics. He said a similar bottom-up structure is needed for governing as well. 'It's not the second coming, everything won't get better overnight, but that made it possible to see a future where it wasn't simply a matter of money to define who won these things. The government could finally start belonging to people eventually.'"

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'Month of PHP Security' Finds 60 Bugs
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 08:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's new-mops-sweep-clean deptartment:
darthcamaro writes "More than 60 bugs were reported in PHP over the last 30 days by the Month of PHP Security project. Most of the flaws, however, are ones that developers themselves can protect against with proper coding practices, according to Andi Gutmans, CEO of commercial PHP vendor Zend. He argues that PHP security is a matter of setting expectations. In his view, PHP — like all development languages — is only as secure as the code developers write with it. 'People should not expect PHP to be able to enforce security boundaries on a developer [who] has permissions to run custom PHP code,' Gutmans said. 'It's an inherently flawed scenario — and it's the wrong layer to protect in. People must rely on properly configured OS-level permissions for securing against untrusted developers.' Gutmans also praised the MOPS effort for elevating the profile of PHP security throughout the community, and for responsibly alerting the PHP project first with the bugs they found."

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New Radar Device Helps Blind People 'See'
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 08:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's falling-scales deptartment:
greenrainbow writes "Students in Israel at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have developed new technology that allows blind people to 'see' objects around them through a simple radar system. The device consists of a computer, two video cameras, and a scanning light source; it audibly alerts the individual of objects that are in close proximity. The system scans surrounding objects and their distance from two points, much like the human eyes. Unlike current sensor canes, this new light scanning device is a hands-free system that can sense objects on the ground, overhead, and in the periphery."

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Giant Guatemalan 'Sinkhole' Is Worse Than We Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 07:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's series-of-pipes deptartment:
reillymj writes "Despite hundreds of media reports to the contrary, Sam Bonis, a geologist whose life work has been studying Guatemalan geology has plainly said that the dramatic 'sinkhole' in Guatemala City that opened over the weekend isn't a sinkhole at all. Instead, he called it a 'piping feature' and warned that because the country's capital city sits on a pile of loose volcanic ash, the over one million people living on top of the pile are in danger. 'I'd hate to have to be in the government right now,' Bonis, who worked for the Guatemalan government's Instituto Geografico Nacional for sixteen years, said. 'There is an excellent potential for this to happen again. It could happen almost anywhere in the city.'"

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New Handheld Computer Is 100% Open Source
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 07:00 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's small-wonder deptartment:
metasonix writes "While the rest of the industry has been babbling on about the iPad and imitations thereof, Qi Hardware is actually shipping a product that is completely open source and copyleft. Linux News reviews the Ben NanoNote (product page), a handheld computer apparently containing no proprietary technology. It uses a 366 MHz MIPS processor, 32MB RAM, 2 GB flash, a 320x240 pixel color display, and a Qwerty keyboard. No network built in, though it is claimed to accept SD-card WiFi or USB-Ethernet adapters. Included is a very simple Linux OS based on the OpenWrt distro installed in Linksys routers, with Busybox GUI. It's apparently intended primarily for hardware and software hackers, not as a general-audience handheld. The price is right, though: $99."

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New Gadget Tells You When To Take a Break
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 06:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's step-away-from-the-keyboard deptartment:
Kilrah_il writes "An Israeli company developed a gadget that measures your blood pressure and tells you when you are stressed and need to take a break from your computer. 'The user grasps two sensors shaped like computer mouses to measure the electric activity of the heart in minute detail. Software then combines the measurements with prerecorded personal details such as age and sex to calculate various indicators for stress and mood.' Looks like a must-have accessory for Slashdotters everywhere."

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AMD's Fusion Processor Combines CPU and GPU
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hence-the-name deptartment:
ElectricSteve writes "At Computex 2010 AMD gave the first public demonstration of its Fusion processor, which combines the Central Processing Unit (CPU) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) on a single chip. The AMD Fusion family of Accelerated Processing Units not only adds another acronym to the computer lexicon, but ushers is what AMD says is a significant shift in processor architecture and capabilities. Many of the improvements stem from eliminating the chip-to-chip linkage that adds latency to memory operations and consumes power — moving electrons across a chip takes less energy than moving these same electrons between two chips. The co-location of all key elements on one chip also allows a holistic approach to power management of the APU. Various parts of the chip can be powered up or down depending on workloads."

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Blizzard vs. Glider Battle Resumes Next Week
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-blame-blizzard-again deptartment:
trawg writes "You paid for it, you have the DVD in your drive and the box on the floor next to your desk, but do you own the game? That's the question the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule on next week in the case between Blizzard, publisher of World of Warcraft, and MDY, publisher of the Glider bot. The Glider bot plays World of Warcraft for you, but Blizzard frowns on this, saying it voids the license agreement — you don't own the game, you only have a license to use it, and bots like Glider invalidate the license. The EFF has a good summary of the case as well. The case is due to be resumed on Monday."

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The Rise of the Copyright Trolls
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 06:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's encouraging-champarty deptartment:
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In the new mass filesharing suit brought in Washington DC on behalf of a filmmaker, Achte/Neunte v Does 1-2094, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Citizen, and two ACLU organizations have filed an amicus curiae brief supporting a motion by Time Warner to quash the subpoena. EFF commented: 'We've long been concerned that some attorneys would attempt to create a business by cutting corners in mass copyright lawsuits against fans, shaking settlements out of people who aren't in a position to raise legitimate defenses and becoming a category of 'copyright trolls' to rival those seen in patent law.'" And reader ericgoldman notes a case that arguably falls under the same umbrella: "Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, wrote a blog post declaring 'Copyright theft: We're not taking it anymore.' Apparently upset that third-party websites are republishing its stories in full, the newspaper 'grubstaked and contracted with a company called Righthaven... a local technology company whose only job is to protect copyrighted content.' Righthaven has brought 'about 22' lawsuits on behalf of the newspaper, including lawsuits against marijuana- and gambling-related websites. Frederick hopes 'if Righthaven shows continued success, that it will find other clients looking for a solution to the theft of copyrighted material' and ends his 'editorial' (or is it an ad?) inviting other newspapers to become Righthaven customers. A couple of months back Wendy Davis of MediaPost deconstructed some of Frederick's logic gaps."

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Impact On Jupiter Observed By Amateur Astronomers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 06:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's mere-pimple deptartment:
Omomyid and other readers send in the news that the bright flash of an impact on Jupiter has been observed — and caught on film — by amateur astronomers. That WMV is from amateur Christopher Go. Here's Anthony Wesley's video (45 MB AVI; the site is already overloaded). In the larger video you can see the impact lasting for a couple of seconds, and a good deal of structure is visible. The amateurs report that no dark debris field developed around the impact site in the time before it rotated out of sight; this may indicate that the impactor burned up high in Jupiter's atmosphere. Soon professional astronomers, and possibly Hubble, will be on the job.

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Free Software Wins Court Battle in Quebec
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 06:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's one-judge-not-bought deptartment:
courteaudotbiz writes "In a court battle in the province of Quebec, Canada, initiated more than two years ago, free software activists 'Savoir Faire Linux' (translated 'Linux know-how') won the right to submit offers (Google translation; original French version) when the government takes public requests for submissions to replace its desktop operating systems and office suites. This opens the possibility in the future of replacing MS Windows and MS Office in favor of Linux and Open Office, or any other operating system and office productivity suite. In his judgement, the magistrate said that the government acted illegally when it discarded the proposal of Savoir Faire Linux for replacing Windows XP with a Linux distribution."

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PA Appeals Court Weighs Punishment For Students' Online Parodies
Posted by News Fetcher on June 04 '10 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-least-the-judges-aren't-ciavarella-or-conahan deptartment:
crimeandpunishment writes "Is it a student's right to free speech or a school's right to discipline? A US Appeals Court in Pennsylvania heard arguments Thursday on a case that could have far-reaching implications. The issue involves the suspension of two students, from two different Pennsylvania school districts, for web postings they made on their home computers. The students posted parody profiles on MySpace that mocked their principals. The American Civil Liberties Union argued on behalf of the students."

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Google Relents, Will Hand Over European Wi-Fi Data
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '10 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-least-we-know-the-govts-won't-abuse-it deptartment:
itwbennett writes "Having previously denied demands from Germany that the company turn over hard drives with data it secretly collected from open wireless networks over the past three years, Google has reversed course. A Google representative said that it will hand over the data to German, French and Spanish authorities within a matter of days, according to the Financial Times, which first reported this latest development on Wednesday. 'We screwed up. Let's be very clear about that,' Google CEO Eric Schmidt told the newspaper."

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Study Finds That "Extreme Gamers" Play 48 Hours a Week
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '10 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-blame-blizzard deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Think you're a big gamer? According to a new study from market research firm NPD Group, to be considered among the real hardcore you'll need to play an average of 48.5 hours a week — nearly seven hours a day. This group of gamers is, on average, '29 years old, and — perhaps surprisingly — one-third of them are female. They're more likely to play on consoles than on the PC, and on average they've purchased 24 titles in the past three months — a bill that could easily run over a thousand dollars. But dedicated though they may be, the Extreme Gamers are just a small minority: a mere 4% of the US's 174-million-strong gaming public. '"

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Jumbo Dual-Screen "Kno" Tablet Debuts At D8
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '10 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's maybe-don't-supersize-me-quite-so-hard deptartment:
itwbennett writes "The Microsoft Courier may be a dead project, but that doesn't mean you can't still have a dual-touchscreen e-reader. And a super-sized one at that, says blogger Peter Smith. The Kno, which debuted at All Things Digital's D8 conference yesterday has 'two 14.1 inch (1440 x 900) capacitive touch screens. Each screen has its own battery, giving the Kno 8-hours of battery life, but a hefty weight of 5.5 lbs. ... If Kno (the company) has its way, students will be carrying around a Kno (the device) rather than a stack of textbooks. That's the reason for the huge screens; most textbook pages can be shown 'full size' on a 14" screen.' Engadget, who got some hands-on time with the device, says 'the entire experience is essentially a WebKit instance.' Price is still up in the air but Ina Fried at CNET says the company is aiming for a price well under $1000."

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Traffic-Flow Algorithm Can Reduce Fuel Consumption
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '10 at 05:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-could-possibly-go-wrong deptartment:
thecarchik writes "New projects from German automakers Audi and BMW promise to ease congestion simply by looking at traffic signals and driving style, in an effort to smooth the flow of traffic. Through a test course in Munich, vehicles were able to post phenomenal fuel efficiency gains simply by adjusting the timing of traffic lights depending on traffic volume — to whatever speed provides a so-called 'green wave' of four or more synchronized signals."

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12th Internet Problem Solving Contest, This Sunday
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '10 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-about-that-durned-oil-spill deptartment:
misof writes "Roughly a thousand teams from all around the globe have already registered for IPSC 2010, which takes place on Sunday, June 6. $3,000 in prize money (courtesy of Facebook, Inc.) is waiting for the best few of them. Participation is free and the contest is open to everybody. IPSC is what you could call a programming contest with a twist. Over the years, the problems always push the boundary and go beyond the usual stuff you see in a programming contest. For example, in past few years the contestants have had to understand how arithmetic in computers differs from that in mathematics, produce a sequence of cache requests that generates many page faults, solve a logic puzzle given as a Flash game, and recognize images to evaluate a rock-paper-scissors game."

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Clashing Scores In the HTML5 Compatibility Test Wars
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '10 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's jake-the-explainer-steps-in-early deptartment:
Andreas(R) writes "Microsoft has published a set of HTML5 tests comparing Internet Explorer 9 to other web browsers. In Microsoft's own tests, IE9 performs 100% on all tests. However, the Internet Explorer 9 HTML5 Canvas Campaign has published results which show that Internet Explorer gets 0% on all their tests." The results reported here are selected with tongue-in-cheek: "Therefore, we'll also present shameless results from tests which have been carefully selected to give the results that the PR department has demanded."

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Man Emails AT&T's CEO, Gets Threatened With C&D Order
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '10 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's better-than-a-d-&-c-order deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "After their recent bait and switch, AT&T went ahead and threatened someone emailing their CEO about customer service concerns, namely with a query about tethering and eligibility rates. The email author also put up a voicemail recording of the company's response and how he managed to contact their CEO in the first place — through The Consumerist." As Engadget notes (as does the complaining customer's updated page), AT&T did at least offer an apology for the threat of legal action, which the company says was unauthorized.

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