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Spain Codifies the "Right To Broadband"
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '09 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's don't-cut-me-off-bro deptartment:
Reader adeelarshad82 writes to lets us know that Spain has now codified a "Right to Broadband", thus following the lead of Finland. Spain's industry minister announced that citizens will have a legal right from 2011 to be able to buy broadband Internet access of at least 1 Mbp/sec at a regulated price wherever they live. The telecoms operator holding the so-called "universal service" contract would have to guarantee it could offer "reasonably" priced broadband throughout Spain.

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Former Microsoft CTO Builds Kitchen Laboratory
Posted by News Fetcher on November 18 '09 at 12:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what-do-you-want-to-eat-today deptartment:
circletimessquare writes "Nathan Myhrvold, former CTO of Microsoft, is self-publishing a cook book with scientific underpinnings. The man who presided over the original iterations of Windows has built a laboratory kitchen, hired 5 chefs, and plays with misplaced lab equipment: using an autoclave as a pressure cooker, using a 100-ton hydraulic press to make beef jerky, and using an ultrasonic welder for... he's not sure yet. The article includes a video on how to cryosear and cryorender duck. 'It's basically like a software project,' Dr. Myhrvold said. 'It's very much like a review we would do at Microsoft.' Is it possible to BSoD food?"

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AU Senator Calls Scientology a "Criminal Organization"
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 09:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's can't-do-that-here-either deptartment:
An anonymous reader passes along news that an Australian senator, Nick Xenophon, has denounced the Church of Scientology as "a criminal organization" from the floor of Parliament. "Senator Xenophon used a speech in Parliament last night to raise allegations of widespread criminal conduct within the church, saying he had received letters from former followers detailing claims of abuse, false imprisonment, and forced abortion. He says he has passed on the letters to the police and is calling for a Senate inquiry into the religion and its tax-exempt status." It wasn't that long ago that the CoS was calling for Net censorship in Australia; a month later the organization was convicted of fraud in France.

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Can We Really Tell Lossless From MP3?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 07:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's single-blind-testing deptartment:
EddieSpinola writes "Everyone knows that lossless codecs like FLAC produce better sounding music than lossy codecs like MP3. Well that's the theory anyway. The reality is that most of us can't tell the difference between MP3 and FLAC. In this quick and dirty test, a worrying preponderance of subjects rated the MP3 encodes higher than the FLAC files. Very interesting, if slightly disturbing reading!" Visiting with adblock and flashblock is highly recommended, lest you be blinded. The article is spread over 6 pages and there is no print version.

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Less Than Free
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 05:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's fine-price-point deptartment:
VC Bill Gurley has up an insightful piece on the strategy behind Google's releasing turn-by-turn mapping for free. He calls it the "Less Than Free" business model, and it is beyond disruptive. On the day that Google announced its new service, the stock in the two companies that had controlled the market for map data, Garmin and TomTom, dropped by 16% and 21%, respectively. (Those companies had bought Google's erstwhile map-data suppliers, Tele Atlas and NavTeq, in 2007.) "When I asked a mobile industry veteran why carriers were so willing to dance with Google, a company they once feared, he suggested that Google was the 'lesser of two evils.' With Blackberry and iPhone grabbing more and more subs, the carriers were losing control of the customer UI... With Android, carriers could re-claim their customer 'deck.' Additionally, because Google has created an open source version of Android, carriers believe they have an 'out' if they part ways with Google in the future. I then asked my friend, 'So why would they ever use the Google (non open source) license version?' ... Here was the big punch line — because Google will give you ad splits on search if you use that version! That's right; Google will pay you to use their mobile OS. I like to call this the 'less than free' business model. This is a remarkable card to play. Because of its dominance in search, Google has ad rates that blow away the competition. To compete at an equally 'less than free' price point, Symbian or Windows Mobile would need to subsidize." Gurley speculates that the company may broaden "less than free" to include the Google Chrome OS.

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T-Mobile UK Employees Sold Customers' Information
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 05:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's gone-rogue deptartment:
angry tapir writes "Workers at T-Mobile UK have been selling customer data to brokers who worked for the competition, according to T-Mobile and the UK's Information Commissioner's Office. Criminal charges are being prepared. 'Many thousands' of customers' account details, millions of records, were sold to several brokers for substantial amounts of money, the ICO said. In an announcement (PDF) from the ICO, the agency does not name the operator involved, but T-Mobile acknowledged that it had alerted ICO about the data breach. The BBC reports that after the other mobile operators said they were not the subject of the investigation, T-Mobile confirmed its involvement."

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Hackers Broke Into Brazil Grid Last Thursday
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 04:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's wolf-no-really-this-time-i-mean-it deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "A week ago, 60 Minutes had a story (we picked it up too) claiming that hackers had caused power outages in Brazil. While this assertion is now believed to be in error, hackers were inspired by the story actually to do what was claimed. Last Thursday, they broke into ONS, the operator of the grid (Google translation; Portuguese original). DarkReading has specific details on the SQL injection vulnerabilities the hackers probably used."

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Chinese Court Rules Microsoft Violated IP Rights
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 03:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's shut-down-the-pirated-versions-and-that-would-really-hurt deptartment:
angry tapir writes "A Beijing court has ruled that Microsoft violated a Chinese company's intellectual property rights in a case over fonts used in past Windows operating systems. The Beijing Number One Intermediate People's Court ordered Microsoft to stop selling versions of Windows that use the Chinese fonts, including Windows XP. Microsoft plans to appeal the case. Microsoft originally licensed Zhongyi's intellectual property more than a decade ago for use in the Chinese version of Windows 95, according to Zhongyi. Zhongyi argues that agreement applied only to Windows 95, but that Microsoft continued to use the intellectual property in eight versions of Windows from Windows 98 to Windows XP. Vista and Windows 7 are not involved."

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The Jet Fighter Laser Cannon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 02:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's back-of-the-shark-calculation deptartment:
fahrbot-bot sends in a Register piece about DARPA letting the penultimate contract for what is intended to be a jet-mounted laser cannon. The Reg outdoes itself in a BOTEC involving downsizing to shark scale. "The US military will shortly issue a brace of contracts for 'refrigerator sized' laser blaster cannons. One of the deals will see a full-power ground prototype built which will be the final stage prior to America's first raygun-equipped jet fighter. ... If it scales down far enough, this would seem to put handheld HELL-guns within an order of magnitude of the striking power offered by conventional small-arms. A 9mm pistol bullet has about 750 joules muzzle energy: a 5kg portable HELL-ray weapon would put out this much energy in a blast less than a second long. ... A dolphin can carry a human being weighing up to 100kg along for a ride. A thoroughbred shark in good training can surely match this. Thus, we seem to be looking at practicable head-[laser] output in the 20-kilowatt range."

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NASA Willing To Team With China; Rumors of a Budget Cut
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 02:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's let's-dance deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "2009 has been an interesting year for NASA — from a new strategy to even closer ties with an old enemy. So it's perhaps no surprise that NASA has publicly stated that they are ready to team up with China. NASA Chief Charles Bolden said, 'I am perfectly willing, if that's the direction that comes to me, to engage the Chinese in trying to make them a partner in any space endeavor. I think they're a very capable nation. They have demonstrated their capability to do something that only two other nations that have done — that is, to put humans in space. And I think that is an achievement you cannot ignore. They are a nation that is trying to really lead. If we could cooperate we would probably be better off than if we would not.' While the budget of the China National Space Administration is a fraction of NASA's, partnering with them has been considered since 2008. In possibly related news, rumors are circulating of the Obama administration cutting NASA's budget by ten percent for fiscal year 2011 despite the success of Monday's Atlantis launch. Considering the Augustine panel's recommendations, such a cut could halt US human space flight for a decade."

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NVIDIA Ships Decent DX10 Graphics Card For Under $100
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 01:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's stay-out-of-the-uncanny-valley deptartment:
MojoKid writes "NVIDIA is launching a new mainstream graphics card today, aimed at consumers in the market for a relatively low-cost upgrade from an integrated graphics solution or older entry-level GPU. The new GeForce GT 240, features a GPU with 96 processor cores, 8 ROP units, and 32 texture filtering units. The GPU is manufactured using a 40nm process, features a GDDR5 memory controller (that's also compatible with GDDR3), and unlike NVIDIA's current high-end GPUs, the GT 240 is DirectX 10.1 compatible. For $100 or less, what's perhaps most interesting is that this graphics card actually puts up respectable frame rates with AA turned on and no external power needed beyond what a standard PCIe slot provides."

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Calling B.S. On Amazon's Taxation Arguments
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 01:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's didn't-do-it-nobody-saw-me deptartment:
theodp writes "Over at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Michael Mazerov carefully picks apart Amazon's arguments against collecting sales taxes, arguing that they simply do not withstand scrutiny. While Amazon officials say collecting sales tax in every state would be excessively burdensome, Mazerov notes the e-tailer already collects sales tax in virtually every state for numerous other companies that sell on its website. Mazerov also finds it disingenuous for Amazon to argue that it should not have to help support public services in states in which it has no physical presence when the company fails to support public services in most of the states in which it does have a physical presence. Finally, Mazerov isn't buying Amazon's argument that its opposition to collecting sales tax is not driven by a desire to gain a price advantage over competitors, which he finds at odds with the company's own actions and SEC filings. By claiming sales-tax immunity, says Mazerov, Amazon has enjoyed an unfair 5%-10% price advantage over local retailers, while also depriving states and localities of hundreds of millions of dollars of legally due revenue each year."

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Engineered Bacteria Glows To Reveal Land Mines
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 11:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's lamp-unto-your-feet deptartment:
MikeChino writes "Sifting through minefields to remove hidden threats is a dangerous, tedious, and expensive process. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh recently announced that they have engineered a strain of bacteria that glows green in the presence of explosives, making mine detection a snap. The new strain of bacteria can be sprayed onto local affected areas or air-dropped over entire fields of mines. Within a few hours the bacteria strain begins to glow wherever traces of explosive chemicals are present."

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Fedora 12 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's new-hat-for-the-holidays deptartment:
AdamWill writes "The Fedora Project is pleased to announce the release of Fedora 12 today. With all the latest open source software and major improvements to graphics support, networking, virtualization and more, Fedora 12 is one of the most exciting releases so far. You can download it here. There's a one-page guide to the new release for those in a hurry. The full release announcement has details on the major features, and the release notes contain comprehensive information on changes in this new release. Known issues are documented on the common bugs page."

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NASA Attempts To Assuage 2012 Fears
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's nostalgia-for-y2k deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "The apocalyptic film 2012 has dominated the box office, taking in $65 million on opening weekend. But with all those uninformed eyeballs watching the film, NASA has found itself answering so many common questions that their Ask an Astrobiologist blog offers calming, professional reassurance that there is no planet Nibiru, nor will it collide with Earth (although I do recall a massive solar storm forecast). NASA's main site even offers a FAQ answering similar questions. NPR has more on NASA scientist David Morrison and his efforts to calm the ensuing public hysteria, but survivalists are already planning for the big one. Pretty funny, right? Not according to Morrison: 'I've had three from young people saying they were contemplating committing suicide. I've had two from women contemplating killing their children and themselves. I had one last week from a person who said, "I'm so scared, my only friend is my little dog. When should I put it to sleep so it won't suffer?" And I don't know how to answer those questions.'"

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Alternative Mobile Browsers Tested For Speed, Usability, JavaScript Rendering
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-can-it-run-slashdot deptartment:
CNETNate writes "Do Opera Mobile, Skyfire, or Mozilla's Fennec have the power to take down the BlackBerry browser, IE on Windows Mobile, or Safari on the iPhone? This lengthy test aimed to find out. Speed, Acid3 compliance, Javascript rendering capabilities, and general subjective usability were all tested and reviewed. So were Opera Mini and the default Symbian browser actually, but these two were unable to complete some of the tests and benchmarks."

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Cooling Bags Could Cut Server Cooling Costs By 93%
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-other-exact-number deptartment:
judgecorp writes "UK company Iceotope has launched liquid-cooling technology which it says surpasses what can be done with water or air-cooling and can cut data centre cooling costs by up to 93 percent. Announced at Supercomputing 2009 in Portland, Oregon, the 'modular Liquid-Immersion Cooled Server' technology wraps each server in a cool-bag-like device, which cools components inside a server, rather than cooling the whole data centre, or even a traditional 'hot aisle.' Earlier this year, IBM predicted that in ten years all data centre servers might be water-cooled." Adds reader 1sockchuck, "The Hot Aisle has additional photos and diagrams of the new system."

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CERN Physicist Warns About Uranium Shortage
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's switch-to-geraniums deptartment:
eldavojohn writes "Uranium mines provide us with 40,000 tons of uranium each year. Sounds like that ought to be enough for anyone, but it comes up about 25,000 tons short of what we consume yearly in our nuclear power plants. The difference is made up by stockpiles, reprocessed fuel and re-enriched uranium — which should be completely used up by 2013. And the problem with just opening more uranium mines is that nobody really knows where to go for the next big uranium lode. Dr. Michael Dittmar has been warning us for some time about the coming shortage (PDF) and has recently uploaded a four-part comprehensive report on the future of nuclear energy and how socioeconomic change is exacerbating the effect this coming shortage will have on our power consumption. Although not quite on par with zombie apocalypse, Dr. Dittmar's final conclusions paint a dire picture, stating that options like large-scale commercial fission breeder reactors are not an option by 2013 and 'no matter how far into the future we may look, nuclear fusion as an energy source is even less probable than large-scale breeder reactors, for the accumulated knowledge on this subject is already sufficient to say that commercial fusion power will never become a reality.'"

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What's Coming In KDE 4.4
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's starting-to-look-compelling deptartment:
buzzboy writes "If you're wondering what the folks over at KDE have been cooking up for the next major release, KDE 4.4, well, quite a bit as it turns out. In a lengthy interview, KDE core developer and spokesperson for the project Sebastian Kugler details the myriad changes that are coming with the 4.4 release — the fifth major release since KDE 4.0 debuted to much criticism nearly two years ago. The project has closed about 18,000 bugs over the past six months and the pace of development is snowballing. The 'heavy-lifting' in libraries and frameworks for 4.0 is now starting to pay off. Perhaps the biggest change is in the development of a semantic desktop. According to Kugler, 'If you tag an image in your image viewer, the tag becomes visible in your desktop search. That's how it should be, right?' There is also a picture gallery of KDE 4.4 (svn) screenshots so you can see what it will look like."

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Pirate Bay Shuts Down Tracker, Switches to Distributed Hash Table
Posted by News Fetcher on November 17 '09 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's look-at-our-semi-clean-hands deptartment:
think_nix writes "The Pirate Bay has shut down their BitTorrent tracker. Instead TPB is now using Distributed Hash Table to distribute the torrents. The Pirate Bay Blog states that DHT along with PEX (Peer Exchange) Technology is just as effective if not better for finding peers than a centralized service. The Local reports that shutting down the tracker and implementing DHT & PEX could be due to the latest court rulings in Sweden against 2 of TPB's owners, and may decide the outcome of the case."

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