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KDE Rebrands, Introduces KDE Plasma Desktop
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's postitioning-for-clarity deptartment:
Jiilik Oiolosse writes "The KDE community has killed the term K Desktop Environment (previously the Kool Desktop Environment). 'KDE' had previously ambiguously referred to both the community, and the complete set of programs and tools produced by the KDE community which together formed a desktop user interface. This set of tools, including the window manager, panels and configuration utilities, which KDE terms a 'workspace,' will now be shipped under the term 'KDE Plasma Desktop.' This allows KDE to ship a separate workspace called 'Plasma Netbook,' and independently market the various KDE applications as usable in any workspace, whether it be the Plasma Desktop, Windows, or XFCE."

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Astronomers Invent "Galaxy Game"
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's like-a-visit-to-the-optometrist deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that astronomers have invented a game to help uncover the basis of galactic collisions, showing players images of colliding galaxies and asking them to match those to simulations. These galactic mergers could be the key to why the Universe contains a mixture of different galaxies — some with trailing spiral arms, others more like compact balls of stars and astronomers say that humans are 'much better than computers' at spotting the patterns and similarities. 'The strength of the game is that it takes results from many people,' says Dr Chris Lintott from Oxford University, one of the members of the Galaxy Zoo team. The developers describe the game as a 'cosmic fruit machine.' The game shows players one real galaxy image and, on command, eight randomly selected simulations pop into the "slots" surrounding that image. The aim is for players to choose the simulations that look most similar to the real galaxy and take those through to the 'next round' to examine them further. The simulated images show the different aspects of galaxy formation, so as people play, they will generate data that will help astronomers' understand these collisions. 'These collisions take millions of years to unfold,' says Anthony Holincheck, a graduate student at George Mason University and another member of the team. 'All we get from the Universe is a single snapshot of each one. [With] simulations, we will be able to watch each cosmic car crash unfold in the computer.'"

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Man Pleads Guilty To Selling Fake Chips To US Navy
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's vinegar-was-ersatz-too deptartment:
itwbennett writes "Neil Felahy of Newport Coast, California, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and counterfeit-goods trafficking for his role in a chip-counterfeiting scam. Felahy, along with his wife and her brother, operated several microchip brokerage companies under a variety of names, including MVP Micro, Red Hat Distributors, Force-One Electronics and Pentagon Components. 'They would buy counterfeit chips from China or else take legitimate chips, sand off the brand markings and melt the plastic casings with acid to make them appear to be of higher quality or a different brand,' the US Department of Justice said in a press release. The chips were then sold to Naval Sea Systems Command, the Washington, D.C., group responsible for maintaining the US Navy's ships and systems, as well as an unnamed vacuum-cleaner manufacturer in the Midwest."

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Magento Beginner's Guide
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
coder4hire writes "The shopping cart systems that power online stores have evolved from simple homebrew solutions in the CGI era to far more powerful open source packages, such as osCommerce. But even the later systems are frequently criticized as suffering from poorly-written code and inadequate documentation — as well as for being difficult to install and administer, and nearly impossible to enhance with new functionality and improved site styling, at least without hiring outside help. These problems alone would explain the rapidly growing interest in the latest generation of shopping cart systems, such as Magento, purported to be outpacing all others in adoption. In turn, technical publishers are making available books to help developers and site owners get started with this e-commerce alternative, such as Magento: Beginner's Guide, written by William Rice." Read on for the rest of Michael's review.

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Australian Govt. Proposes Internet "Panic Button" For Kids
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's panic-panic-panic deptartment:
CuteSteveJobs writes "Children who feel they are being bullied, harassed or groomed online could call for help instantly using a 'panic button' on their PCs under a plan by the Australian Government's cyber-safety working group. The button shall look like a 'friendly dolphin,' who will connect the child victim instantly to police or child protection groups. Australian Internet Censorship Advocate Hetty 'Save the Children' Johnson says the Internet needs something like 000 or 911. Will this be another scheme wasting taxpayer dollars in lieu of parental supervison, or could it actually work? Are 1 in 4 children really sexually abused by the Internet? Can flaming and trolling be classified as bullying?"

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Jetman Attempts Intercontinental Flight
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-jetwing-and-a-prayer deptartment:
Last year we ran the story of Yves Rossy and his DIY jetwings. Yves spent $190,000 and countless hours building a set of jet-powered wings which he used to cross the English Channel. Rossy's next goal is to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, from Tangier in Morocco and Tarifa on the southwestern tip of Spain. From the article: "Using a four-cylinder jet pack and carbon fibre wings spanning over 8ft, he will jump out of a plane at 6,500 ft and cruise at 130 mph until he reaches the Spanish coast, when he will parachute to earth."

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Contributors Leaving Wikipedia In Record Numbers
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 09:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's three-phases-of-web-sites deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "CNET reports that the volunteers who create Wikipedia's pages, check facts and adapt the site are abandoning Wikipedia in unprecedented numbers with tens of thousands of editors going “dead” — no longer actively contributing and updating the site — a trend many experts believe could threaten Wikipedia’s future. In the first three months of 2009 the English-language version of Wikipedia suffered a net loss of 49,000 contributors, compared with a loss of about 4,900 during the same period in 2008. “If you don’t have enough people to take care of the project it could vanish quickly," says Felipe Ortega at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid who created a computer system to analyze the editing history of more than three million active Wikipedia contributors in ten different languages. "We’re not in that situation yet. But eventually, if the negative trends follow, we could be in that situation.” Contributors are becoming disenchanted with the process of adding to the site which is becoming increasingly difficult says Andrew Dalby, author of The World and Wikipedia: How We are Editing Reality and a regular editor of the site. “There is an increase of bureaucracy and rules. Wikipedia grew because of the lack of rules. That has been forgotten. The rules are regarded as irritating and useless by many contributors.” Arguments over various articles have also taken their toll. "Many people are getting burnt out when they have to debate about the contents of certain articles again and again," adds Ortega."

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STEREO Satellites Spot Solar Flare Tsunami
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 08:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's gonna-need-more-spf deptartment:
westtxfun writes "The STEREO satellites recently confirmed the existence of solar mega-tsunamis when they captured height data after a sunspot recently erupted. The scale of this tsunami literally dwarfs the Earth's diameter — it was 62,000 miles high and raced across the surface at 560,000 mph! STEREO A and B orbit 90 degrees apart and luckily, one was overhead while the other saw the eruption on the limb. This gave NASA scientists enough data to confirm the tsunami wasn't a shadow, solving a modern solar mystery. The images are simply stunning, to boot."

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Moving Decimal Bug Loses Money
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 07:30 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's test-your-code-people deptartment:
mario.m7 writes "Poste Italiane, the Italian postal service, suffered yesterday from an abnormal computation in ATM and credit card operations, since the decimal comma was not taken into account. The whole sum was therefore multiplied by 100, resulting in a 115,00 Euro transaction being debited as 11.500 Euro! Thousands of accounts are deep in the red and locked (link pumped through translator), so that no more operations are possible. Poste Italiane is gradually recovering the problem, fixing the error and re-crediting the sum debited in excess. Consumer associations have offered support to clients in case this lasts longer and cause damage."

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Wikileaks Publishes 500,000 9/11 Pager Messages
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 07:00 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's hindsight-and-voyeurism deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Wikileaks is preparing to release 500,000 intercepted pager messages from a 24-hour period encompassing the September 11 terrorist attacks. The messages show emergency services springing into action and computer systems sending automated messages as buildings collapse. Wikileaks implies this data came from an organised collection effort."

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Where Are Your Contact Lens Displays?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 06:15 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's we'll-use-them-as-huds-in-our-flying-cars deptartment:
destinyland writes "'We already see a future in which the humble contact lens becomes a real platform, like the iPhone is today,' argues researcher Babak Parvis, 'with lots of developers contributing their ideas and inventions.' He provides an update on the contact lens with transparent circuitry that's being developed at the University of Washington. (Its components will eventually include hundreds of LEDs which form images in front of the eye such as charts and photographs). They've already developed a lens-with-LED prototype that's powered by 330 microwatts of wireless radio-frequency power, and believe the lenses could also be used as biosensors to deliver body chemistry readings (including blood sugar levels). But 'What we've done so far barely hints at what will soon be possible with this technology,' says Dr. Parviz."

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Senators Ask EC To Let Oracle-Sun Deal Go Through
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 05:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's sun-is-setting-fast deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The European Union has managed to do something that US Presidents often find difficult: to make 59 US Senators from both sides of the aisle agree on something. A group led by John Kerry (D) and Orrin Hatch (R) has sent a letter to the European Union, asking it to wrap up the investigation of the Oracle-Sun merger and let the deal go through. Interestingly, the letter emphasizes the damage the delay and uncertainty are doing to Sun." The article paraphrases a Gartner analyst, who points out that the Senators' letter "comes from a US point of view and doesn't take into account how the EU operates."

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Ubuntu Reaching Out To 16,000 Anime Lovers
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's place-holder deptartment:
shadowmage13 writes "After months of planning, I am happy to announce finally that the Ubuntu Massachusetts Local Community Team will be preparing a booth at the upcoming 2010 Anime Boston convention. We need support from the community to secure a booth and print materials, including copies of the Ubunchu! manga. I really believe the Anime fandom is a perfect match for Ubuntu, as they are by nature very much in line with open source and remix culture."

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US Air Force Buying Another 2,200 PS3s
Posted by News Fetcher on November 25 '09 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's quick-who-knows-a-good-ps3-flight-sim deptartment:
bleedingpegasus sends word that the US Air Force will be grabbing up 2,200 new PlayStation 3 consoles for research into supercomputing. They already have a cluster made from 336 of the old-style (non-Slim) consoles, which they've used for a variety of purposes, including "processing multiple radar images into higher resolution composite images (known as synthetic aperture radar image formation), high-def video processing, and 'neuromorphic computing.'" According to the Justification Review Document (DOC), "Once the hardware configuration is implemented, software code will be developed in-house for cluster implementation utilizing a Linux-based operating software."

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Inkscape 0.47 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 11:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's drawing-not-quartering deptartment:
derrida writes "After over a year of intensive development and refactoring, Inkscape 0.47 is out. This version of the SVG-based vector graphics editor brings improved performance and tons of new features, including: timed autosave, Spiro splines, auto-smooth nodes, Eraser tool, new modes in Tweak tool, snapping options toolbar & greater snapping abilities, new live path effects (including Envelope), over 200 preset SVG filters, new Cairo-based PS and EPS export, spell checker, many new extensions, optimized SVG code options, and much more. Additionally, it would be wrong to not mention the hundreds of bug fixes. Check out the full release notes for more information about what has changed, enjoy the screenshots, or just jump right to downloading your package for Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X." We've been following the progress of Inkscape for years (2006, 2005, 2004).

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Computer Games and Traditional CS Courses
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 10:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's terrible-terrible-games deptartment:
drroman22 writes "Schools are working to put real-world relevance into computer science education by integrating video game development into traditional CS courses. Quoting: 'Many CS educators recognized and took advantage of younger generations' familiarity and interests for computer video games and integrate related contents into their introductory programming courses. Because these are the first courses students encounter, they build excitement and enthusiasm for our discipline. ... Much of this work reported resounding successes with drastically increased enrollments and student successes. Based on these results, it is well recognized that integrating computer gaming into CS1 and CS2 (CS1/2) courses, the first programming courses students encounter, is a promising strategy for recruiting and retaining potential students." While a focus on games may help stir interest, it seems as though game development studios are as yet unimpressed by most game-related college courses. To those who have taken such courses or considered hiring those who have: what has your experience been?

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Shedding Your Identity In the Digital Age
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 08:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's under-the-radar-sonar-and-lidar deptartment:
newscloud writes "Writer Evan Ratliff tells how he managed to hide from crowdsourced searchers for 27 days. The first person to find him and photograph him would claim a $5,000 prize. In addition to hiding out as a roadie with indy band 'The Hermit Thrushes' for a week, Ratliff donned a variety of increasingly impressive disguises. It's an interesting read on how to disappear in the digital age: 'August 13, 6:40 PM: I'm driving East out of San Francisco on I-80, fleeing my life under the cover of dusk. Having come to the interstate by a circuitous route, full of quick turns and double backs, I'm reasonably sure that no one is following me. I keep checking the rearview mirror anyway. From this point on, there's no such thing as sure. Being too sure will get me caught. About 25 minutes later, as the California Department of Transportation database will record, my green 1999 Honda Civic, California plates 4MUN509, passes through the tollbooth on the far side of the Carquinez Bridge, setting off the FasTrak toll device, and continues east toward Lake Tahoe. What the digital trail will not reflect is that a few miles past the bridge I pull off the road, detach the FasTrak, and stuff it into the duffle bag in my trunk, where its signal can't be detected. There will be no digital record that at 4 AM I hit Primm, Nevada, a sad little gambling town about 40 minutes from Vegas, where $15 cash gets me a room with a view of a gravel pile...' Spoiler alert: We previously discussed the denouement of the contest."

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Two Senators Call For ACTA Transparency
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 06:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's we-got-more-senators-than-that deptartment:
angry tapir writes "Two US senators have asked President Barack Obama's administration to allow the public to review and comment on a controversial international copyright treaty being negotiated largely in secret. The public has a right to know what's being negotiated in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Senators Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, and Bernard Sanders, a Vermont Independent, argue in the letter."

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Brain Scans Used In Murder Sentencing
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 04:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's innocent-as-a-dead-salmon deptartment:
sciencehabit writes "For what may be the first time, fMRI scans of brain activity have been used as evidence in the sentencing phase of a murder trial. Defense lawyers for an Illinois man convicted of raping and killing a 10-year-old girl used the scans to argue that their client should be spared the death penalty because he has a brain disorder. Some experts say the scans are irrelevant because they were taken 20+ years after the crimes were committed. Others point out that the scans are only being considered because the sentencing phase of a trial has less stringent standards about evidence than those used to establish a defendant's innocence or guilt." In the Illinois case, the fMRI defense didn't help the defendant, whom a jury sentenced to death.

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Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child
Posted by News Fetcher on November 24 '09 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's snack-is-going-to-be-on-the-floor-today deptartment:
Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."

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