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Pixel Qi Introduces a DIY Kit
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 03:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's good-reason-to-void-the-warranty deptartment:
jones_supa writes "Pixel Qi has just revealed their DIY kit for netbooks, planned to be out 'near the end of Q2 — sounds like June. This makes it possible to retrofit a screen to one fully readable in direct sunlight. In her blog, Mary Lou Jepsen says: 'It’s only slightly more difficult than changing a lightbulb: it’s basically 6 screws, pulling off a bezel, unconnecting the old screen and plugging this one in. That’s it. It’s a 5 minute operation.' She also talks about the 'laptop hospital,' a service depot started by kids in Africa."

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Correcting Poor Typing Technique?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 02:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's quick-brown-fix deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "When beginning to use keyboards I did not pay much attention to touch typing technique. Instead, I eventually achieved decent rates by simply doing what felt natural to me. These days my qwerty typing speed is in the range of 90-110 WPM, probably more toward the lower end. While this isn't too shabby, I feel some awkwardness in my technique (such as not using my little and ring fingers when I really should). Has anyone been in a similar situation, wanted to fix it, and actually done so? What do you reckon is the best way to fix half-broken typing? Touch training sessions? Should I switch to Dvorak and pretty much learn typing from scratch, but properly this time?"

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Algebra In Wonderland
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 01:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's you-are-sad-said-the-knight deptartment:
theodp writes "As Tim Burton's 'Alice in Wonderland' shatters 3-D and IMAX records en route to a $116.3 million opening, the NY Times offers a rather cerebral op-ed arguing that Alice's search for a beautiful garden can be neatly interpreted as a mishmash of satire directed at the advances taking place in mid-19th century math. Charles Dodgson, who penned 'Alice' under the name Lewis Carroll, was a tutor in mathematics at Christ Church in Oxford who found the radical new math illogical and lacking in intellectual rigor. Op-ed writer Melanie Bayley explains: 'Chapter 6, "Pig and Pepper," parodies the principle of continuity, a bizarre concept from projective geometry, which was introduced in the mid-19th century from France. This principle (now an important aspect of modern topology) involves the idea that one shape can bend and stretch into another, provided it retains the same basic properties — a circle is the same as an ellipse or a parabola (the curve of the Cheshire cat's grin). Taking the notion to its extreme, what works for a circle should also work for a baby. So, when Alice takes the Duchess's baby outside, it turns into a pig. The Cheshire Cat says, "I thought it would."'"

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Herschel Space Observatory Finds Precursors of Life In Orion
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 11:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's but-not-as-we-know-it deptartment:
ogre7299 recommends an announcement out of Cal Tech on a milestone for HIFI, the Herschel Space Observatory's Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared. "The Herschel Space Observatory has revealed the chemical fingerprints of potential life-enabling organic molecules in the Orion Nebula, a nearby stellar nursery in our Milky Way galaxy. ... This detailed-spectrum, obtained with the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) — one of Herschel's three innovative instruments — demonstrates the gold mine of information that Herschel-HIFI will provide on how organic molecules form in space. The spectrum, one of the first to be obtained with HIFI since it returned to full health in January 2010 following technical difficulties, clearly demonstrates that the instrument is working well. ... [The HIFI instrument had previously been offline since] August 2009 when HIFI experienced an unexpected voltage spike in the electronic system, probably caused by a high-energy cosmic particle, resulting in the instrument shutting down. On 14 January 2010, HIFI was successfully switched back on using its spare electronics, with science observations commencing on 28 February."

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ABC Pulls Channels From Cablevision
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mickey-mouse-is-playing-hardball deptartment:
wkurzius writes "Cablevision and ABC have failed to come to an agreement after two years of negotiations, and as a result ABC has pulled all their channels from the Cablevision lineup. The dispute is over $40 million in new retransmission fees that Cablevision says they won't give to ABC. On the other side, Cablevision has been accused of not being fair to their customers despite pocketing $8 billion last year. 'The companies immediately published press releases Sunday morning, blaming each other for failing to reach a deal. Cablevision subscribers on Twitter expressed their frustration, saying they shouldn't be deprived of ABC shows, including the Oscars on Sunday, because of a multi-million-dollar deal gone awry. Competitors such as Verizon Communications took advantage of the dispute. The company launched television, newspaper, and online ads offering Cablevision customers speedy installs to subscribe to its FiOS television service along with $75 gift cards, highlighting a fierce war for subscribers in the valuable New York market.'"

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Microsoft Demos Three Platforms Running the Same Game
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pick-up-and-play deptartment:
suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from Engadget:"Microsoft's Eric Rudder, speaking at TechEd Middle East, showed off a game developed in Visual Studio as a singular project (with 90% shared code) that plays on Windows with a keyboard, a Windows Phone 7 Series prototype device with accelerometer and touch controls, and the Xbox 360 with the Xbox gamepad. Interestingly, not only is the development cross-platform friendly, but the game itself (a simple Indiana Jones platformer was demoed) saves its place and lets you resume from that spot on whichever platform you happen to pick up."

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New "Hairy" Material Is Almost Perfectly Hydrophobic
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's water-the-chances deptartment:
drewsup writes "Wolfgang Sigmund, a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Florida, has created a material modeled after spider hairs that acts as a nearly perfect water-repelling surface. Quoting Science Daily: 'A paper about the surface, which works equally well with hot or cold water, appears in this month's edition of the journal Langmuir. Spiders use their water-repelling hairs to stay dry or avoid drowning, with water spiders capturing air bubbles and toting them underwater to breathe. Potential applications for UF's ultra-water-repellent surfaces are many, Sigmund said. When water scampers off the surface, it picks up and carries dirt with it, in effect making the surface self-cleaning. As such, it is ideal for some food packaging, or windows, or solar cells that must stay clean to gather sunlight, he said. Boat designers might coat hulls with it, making boats faster and more efficient.' Hairy glass, anyone?"

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Toyota's Engineering Process and the General Public
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's try-explaining-software-bug-hunting-to-your-grandma deptartment:
Doofus writes "The Washington Post has published in today's paper an article titled 'Why it's so hard for Toyota to find out what's wrong' by Frank Ahrens on the Toyota situation and the difficulties of adequately conveying to Senators and Representatives — most of whom are non-technical — the debugging process. Ahrens interviews Giorgio Rizzoni, an 'expert in failure analysis' at Ohio State, who describes the iterations of testing that NHTSA will likely inflict on the Toyota sample cars they have purchased, and then moves into the realm of software and systems verification: 'He explained that each vehicle contains "layers of computer code that may be added from one model year to next" that control nearly every system, from acceleration to braking to stability. Rizzoni said this software is rigorously tested, but he added: "It is well-known in our community that there is no scientific, firm way of actually completely verifying and validating software."' Ahrens ends the piece with a quote from a 2009 LA Times interview with former UCLA psychology professor Richard Schmidt about how user reports are often unreliable: 'When the driver says they have their foot on the brake, they are just plain wrong. The human motor system is not perfect, and it doesn't always do what it is told.'"Toyota is currently planning an event to challenge evidence presented by professor David W. Gilbert that called into question Toyota's electronic throttle system.

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Why Broadband In North America Is Not That Slow
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's aside-from-the-throttling deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "The Globe & Mail has an article written in response to a recent study done by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard about how far behind the rest of the world the US and Canada are with regard to broadband internet. The refutation basically tears apart Harvard's analysis and shows why the US and Canada are actually far ahead of most European countries. 'Canada has a true broadband penetration rate of close to 70 per cent of households. And North Americans use the Internet somewhat more intensively than do Europeans, according to Cisco Systems data on Internet traffic. Further, business Internet traffic in North America appears to be at levels substantially higher than elsewhere in the world. Sadly, there is little systematic effort by international agencies to measure the intensity of Internet usage. Instead, we see comparisons of advertised speeds and "price per advertised megabit," which are especially misleading. Advertised broadband speeds vary from actual speeds. In North America, this is largely a result of "network overhead," and is quite modest. In Europe, however, the variation is often dramatic.'"

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Ars Technica Inveighs Against Ad Blocking
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 05:30 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's paying-the-piper deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica recently conducted a 12-hour experiment in which story content was hidden from users of popular ad blocking tools. Explaining the experiment, Ken Fisher appealed to Ars's readership: 'My argument is simple: blocking ads can be devastating to the sites you love. I am not making an argument that blocking ads is a form of stealing, or is immoral, or unethical, or makes someone the son of the devil. It can result in people losing their jobs, it can result in less content on any given site, and it definitely can affect the quality of content. It can also put sites into a real advertising death spin. As ad revenues go down, many sites are lured into running advertising of a truly questionable nature. We've all seen it happen. I am very proud of the fact that we routinely talk to you guys in our feedback forum about the quality of our ads. I have proven over 12 years that we will fight on the behalf of readers whenever we can. Does that mean that there are the occasional intrusive ads, expanding this way and that? Yes, sometimes we have to accept those ads. But any of you reading this site for any significant period of time know that these are few and far between. We turn down offers every month for advertising like that out of respect for you guys. We simply ask that you return the favor and not block ads.'"

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Sumo Wrestler Steals Cash Machine From Moscow Shop
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 03:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's you-want-fries-with-that? deptartment:
timothy writes "Anyone skeevy and devious enough can buy online an ATM skimmer from some underhanded maker of same, but why not cut out the middleman, and just take the cash directly? (Also, if you're going to attempt to stop him, can I have your watch when you are dead?)"

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Lessons of a $618,616 Death
Posted by News Fetcher on March 07 '10 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's hundred-twenty-four-bucks-a-page deptartment:
theodp writes "Two years after her husband's death, Amanda Bennett examines the costs and complex questions of keeping one man alive. The bills for his seven-year battle with cancer totaled $618,616, almost two-thirds of which was for his final 24 months. No one can say for sure if the treatments helped extend his life, and she's left with a question she still can't answer: When is it time to quit?"

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A Balanced Look At Cellphone Radiation
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '10 at 11:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's who-you-callin'-sensitive deptartment:
A month back we discussed an article in GQ on the alarmist side of the cellphone-radiation question. Now reader pgn674 passes along a PopSci feature article looking at the current state of cellphone radiation research. It profiles people who claim to be electro-hypersensitive, "who are reluctant to subject themselves to hours in an electronics-laden facility" for studies. The limited research on that condition is still showing that sufferers, in blind tests, are unable to detect radiation at levels better than chance. The article also touches on the the relationship of non-ionizing radiation to cancer. The conclusion is that while it seems unlikely that high-frequency fields in consumer devices directly cause cancer, they might promote it, and might also indirectly cause other health deficits beyond simply heating nearby tissue — though one skeptical researcher cautions, "The gap between a biological effect and an adverse health effect is a big one."

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Whatever Happened To Programming?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '10 at 08:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's you-had-zeros? deptartment:
Mirk writes "In a recent interview, Don Knuth wrote: 'The way a lot of programming goes today isn't any fun because it's just plugging in magic incantations — combine somebody else's software and start it up.' The Reinvigorated Programmer laments how much of our 'programming' time is spent pasting not-quite-compatible libraries together and patching around the edges." This 3-day-old article has sparked lively discussions at Reddit and at Hacker News, and the author has responded with a followup and summation.

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Amateur Records the "Sound" of Mars Express
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '10 at 07:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's music-of-the-artificial-irregular-shapes deptartment:
gyrogeerloose writes "A French amateur radio operator who built his own ground station using equipment from an abandoned telecom uplink site has listened in on the ESA's Mars Express space probe. While his antenna is too small to allow him to download actual data, he was able to record and convert the signal of the probe's X-Band transmitter into an audio file."

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Coping With 1 Million SSH Authentication Failures?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '10 at 05:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's some-definitions-of-managed deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "I own a small Web development studio that specializes in open source software, primarily Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla for small businesses. Our production servers, which host about 50 sites and generate ~20K hits/week, are managed by a 3rd party that I'm sure many on Slashdot would recognize. Earlier today I was researching some problems on one of our sites and found that there have been over 1 million SSH authentication failures from ~1200 IP addresses on one of our servers over the last year. I contacted the ISP, who had promised me that server security would be actively managed, and their recommendation was, 'change the SSH port!' Of course this makes sense and may help to an extent, but it still doesn't solve the problem I'm facing: how do you manage server security on a tight budget with literally no system admin (except for me and I know I'm a n00b)? User passwords are randomly generated, we use a non-standard SSH port, and do not use any unencrypted services such as FTP. Is there a server monitoring program you would recommend? Is there an ISP or Web-based service that specializes in this?"

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Some Newegg Customers Received Fake Intel Core i7s
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '10 at 03:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's zero-gigahertz deptartment:
Several readers have mentioned the strange goods that some customers received from Newegg in place of the Intel Core i7 920 processor they ordered. Word on the problem first surfaced on TribalWar on Thursday evening. Newegg still hasn't commented on this. It's not known whether it happened as a result fraud by another Newegg customer, in shipping, or where. The "processors" are made of aluminum, and the "fans" are some kind of synthetic molded material. The "factory seal" was printed onto the box; the holographic stickers on the boxes were also faked. The first part of this video shows the bogus goods. At this writing Google News lists a handful of blogs mentioning the fakes.

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Popular Science Frees Its 137-Year Archives
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '10 at 02:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's whole-lotta-rocket-ships deptartment:
DesScorp writes "Popular Science magazine has scanned every issue they've ever produced, and posted the archives at their website, at no charge. 'We've partnered with Google to offer our entire 137-year archive for free browsing. Each issue appears just as it did at its original time of publication, complete with period advertisements. It's an amazing resource that beautifully encapsulates our ongoing fascination with the future, and science and technology's incredible potential to improve our lives. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.'" First search: the history of the flying car.

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Why Wikipedia Articles Vary So Much In Quality
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '10 at 01:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's shoulder-to-shoulder deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "A new study shows that the patterns of collaboration among Wikipedia contributors directly affect the quality of an article. 'These collaboration patterns either help increase quality or are detrimental to data quality,' says Sudha Ram at the University of Arizona. Wikipedia has an internal quality rating system for entries, with featured articles at the top, followed by A, B, and C-level entries. Ram and graduate student Jun Liu randomly collected 400 articles at each quality level. 'We used data mining techniques and identified various patterns of collaboration based on the provenance or, more specifically, who does what to Wikipedia articles,' says Ram. The researchers identified seven specific roles that Wikipedia contributors play (PDF starting on page 175): Casual Contributor, Starter, Cleaner, Copy Editor, Content Justifier, Watchdog, and All-round Editor. Starters, for example, create sentences but seldom engage in other actions. Content justifiers create sentences and justify them with resources and links. The all-round contributors perform many different functions. 'We then clustered the articles based on these roles and examined the collaboration patterns within each cluster to see what kind of quality resulted,' says Ram. 'We found that all-round contributors dominated the best-quality entries. In the entries with the lowest quality, starters and casual contributors dominated.'"

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PayPal Freezes Cryptome's Account
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '10 at 12:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's gov-com-business-model deptartment:
grimwell sends in the news that after Cryptome's little run-in with Microsoft and NetSol, the activist site has now had its funds frozen by PayPal. Cryptome founder John Young notes, "Google lists thousands of instances of this asymmetrical high-handedness." "We have reviewed your PayPal Account, and due to the excessive risk involved, we would like to begin parting ways in a manner that is least disruptive to your business."

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