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Chevrolet Volt In a Gasoline-Only Scenario
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '10 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's sing-the-auto-electric deptartment:
s122604 sends in a performance review of the Chevy Volt, paying particular attention to what happens after the initial plug-in capacity has been depleted. This reader adds, "The review indicates that the performance is adequate, and perhaps better than anticipated. If the Volt can deliver technically, especially with the possibility that it could retail for less than expected (WSJ subscription may be required), does GM have a potential hit on its hands?" "How well will General Motors' Chevrolet Volt drive once it gets past its 40 mile all-electric driving range and starts to rely on power generated by its gasoline engine? That's been a question for both critics and fans of the Volt, and with just 11 months to go before this car hits the market, I got the answer."

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How To Judge Legal Risk When Making a Game Clone?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '10 at 01:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ask-a-lawye-oh-wait deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "I'm an indie game developer making a clone of a rather obscure old game. Gameplay in my clone is very similar to the old game, and my clone even has a very similar name because I want to attract fans of the original. The original game has no trademark or software patent associated with it, and my clone isn't infringing on the original's copyright in any way (all the programming and artwork is original), but nevertheless I'm still worried about the possibility of running afoul of a look and feel lawsuit or something similar. How do I make sure I'm legally in the clear without hiring an expensive lawyer that my indie developer budget can't afford?"

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Microsoft Pulls Office From Its Own Online Store
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 11:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's overtaken-by-the-deadline deptartment:
CWmike writes "Microsoft has pulled almost every version of Office from its own online store to comply with a court order requiring it to remove custom XML technology from its popular Word software that starts on Monday. As of mid-day, the only edition available from the Microsoft Store was Office Ultimate 2007, a $670 'full-version' suite. All other Windows editions, as well as Office 2008 for Mac, were accompanied by the message: 'This product is currently unavailable while we update versions on our site. We expect it to be available soon.' Microsoft confirmed that the disappearance of Office was related to the injunction that came out of a patent infringement case the company lost in 2009. 'We've taken steps to comply with the court's ruling and we're introducing the revised software into the US market," said Michael Croan, a senior marketing manager, in an e-mail. He also downplayed the move. 'This process will be imperceptible to the vast majority of customers, who will find both trial and purchase options readily available.'"

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City of Heroes Sr. Designer Talks Architect System
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's farming-made-easy deptartment:
Kheldon writes "The MMO Gamer sits down with Joe Morrissey, a Senior Designer at Paragon Studios, to discuss the inspiration behind, and current implementation of the Architect user-generated content system in City of Heroes. Quoting: 'Really for me, wanting tools so the rest of the team could actually come up with content was the idea. Because we have a lot of guys on the team that are hardcore players, they play the game all the time. Then they come to me like, "I’ve got this idea for this story, we should really do this arc with this guy!" And I’m like, "That’s great. I haven’t got time to do it. I’ve got plenty of other story arcs to work on." But, if we made the tools easy enough, then they could actually come up with the arcs, and we can put them out. Then somewhere along that road it dawned on me: Why stop with the rest of the team?'"

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Neural Nets Make Art While High
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 09:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's i'll-have-what-it's-having deptartment:
brilanon writes "Telepathic-critterdrug is a controversial fork of the open source artificial-life sim Critterding, a physics sandbox where blocky creatures evolve neural nets in a survival contest. What we've done is to give these animals an extra retina which is shared with the whole population. It's extended through time like a movie and they can write to it for communication or pleasure. Since this introduces the possibility of the creation of art, we decided to give them a selection of narcotics, stimulants and psychedelics. This is not in Critterding. The end result is a high-color cellular automaton running on a substrate that thinks and evolves, and may actually produce hallucinations in the user."

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Rudolph the Cadmium-Nosed Reindeer
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 07:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's unregulated-does-not-mean-safe deptartment:
theodp writes "Barred from using lead in children's jewelry because of its toxicity, some Chinese manufacturers have been substituting the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium in sparkling charm bracelets and shiny pendants being sold throughout the US, an AP investigation shows. Charms from 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' bracelets were measured at between 82 and 91 percent cadmium, and leached so much cadmium that they would have to be specially handled and disposed of under US environmental law if they were waste from manufacturing. Cadmium, a known carcinogen, can hinder brain development in the very young. 'There's nothing positive that you can say about this metal. It's a poison,' said the CDC's Bruce Fowler. On the CDC's priority list of 275 most hazardous substances in the environment, cadmium ranks No. 7. Jewelry industry veterans in China say cadmium has been used in domestic products there for years. Hey, at least it doesn't metabolize into GHB when the little tykes ingest it."

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Another Crumbling Reactor Springs a Tritium Leak
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 05:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's hey-the-half-life's-only-fifteen-years deptartment:
mdsolar writes "The decrepit nuclear reactor Vermont Yankee has sprung a radioactive leak similar to those at other poorly run reactors in Illinois (Braidwood, Byron and Dresden), Arizona (Palo Verde), and New York (Indian Point). Greenpeace noted 3 years ago that radioactive tritium leaks even threaten Champagne from France. Tritium and its decay product helium 3 are incredibly valuable and there is currently a shortage of helium 3. What, besides shutting down leaky old nuclear plants, could be done to better control release of tritium into the environment?"

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Airport Scanners Can Store and Transmit Images
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 04:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's naked-truth deptartment:
CNN is reporting on findings from a Freedom of Information request initiated by the Electronic Privacy Information Center that has revealed that, contrary to public statements by the Transportation Security Agency, full-body scanners can store and transmit images. "In the [FOIA] documents, obtained by the privacy group and provided to CNN, the TSA specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have the ability to store and send images when in 'test mode.' ... 'There is no way for someone in the airport environment to put the machine into the test mode,' [an anonymous] official said, adding that test mode can be enabled only in TSA test facilities. But the official declined to say whether activating test mode requires additional hardware, software or simply additional knowledge of how the machines operate."

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Jan. 11, 1902 — Popular Mechanics Is Born
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 03:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's a-star-is-born deptartment:
Today, back in 1902 Henry Haven Windsor published the first issue of Popular Mechanics, helping to empower geeks of future generations with straightforward explanations of scientific and mechanical advances. "The magazine has reported both the brilliant and ridiculous ideas of its times, depending on the writer, scientist or editor. It once published an article about a Philadelphia physician who supposedly used X-rays to turn blacks into whites: probably not a great editorial decision. Betting on blimps over planes for so long might not have been advisable, and hyping excessive consumption during the birth of the environmental movement in the 1960s also rates a demerit. But beyond those probable transgressions, Popular Mechanics paved the way for the people’s incursion into science’s once-exclusive domain. Its longevity argues that science and its sometimes inscrutable possibility have raw mass appeal — even if the subject is cars with steering wheels in the back seat or self-diagnosing appliances."

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Sponge-Like "Swelling Glass" Absorbs Toxins in Water
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 03:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's hungry-like-the-sponge deptartment:
MikeChino writes "A company called Absorbent Materials has created a new kind of 'swelling glass' that can clean up contaminated groundwater by soaking up volatile molecules like a sponge. Dubbed 'Obsorb,' the material can hold up to 8 times its weight in fuel, oil, and solvents without sucking up any of the water itself. Once the material is full it floats to the surface and the pollutants can be skimmed off."

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Facebook's Zuckerberg Says Forget Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 02:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's speak-for-yourself-not-your-users deptartment:
judgecorp writes "Privacy is no longer a social norm, according to the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg. Speaking at the Crunchie awards in San Francisco, the entrepreneur said that expectations had changed, and people now default to sharing online, not privacy. It's all right for him, but does he mean it's ok for bodies like the UK government to monitor all citizens' Internet use?"

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New "Wet Computer" To Mimic Neurons In the Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 01:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's not-so-hard-hardware deptartment:
A new type of "wet computer" that mimics the actions of neurons in the brain is slated to be built thanks to a €1.8M EU emerging technologies program. The goal of the project is to explore new computing environments rather than to build a computer that surpasses current performance of conventional computers. "The group's approach hinges on two critical ideas. First, individual 'cells' are surrounded by a wall made up of so-called lipids that spontaneously encapsulate the liquid innards of the cell. Recent work has shown that when two such lipid layers encounter each other as the cells come into contact, a protein can form a passage between them, allowing chemical signaling molecules to pass. Second, the cells' interiors will play host to what is known as a Belousov-Zhabotinsky or B-Z chemical reaction. Simply put, reactions of this type can be initiated by changing the concentration of the element bromine by a certain threshold amount."

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Asus Promises 12 Hour Battery Life In New High-End Laptop
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 01:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's or-until-the-battery-catches-fire deptartment:
Asus' new high end laptop could finally be the traveler's best accoutrement, touting twelve hour battery life thanks to intelligent, second-by-second, switching between the two GPUs and automatic on-the-fly re-clocking of the Intel Core i7 CPU. All this also comes in with a price tag of just over $1,000. "ASUS's solution is different because it's user-transparent; even a novice user will get the fullest possible benefit because the laptop itself is deciding when to switch. The same principle applies to the dynamic CPU clocking. ASUS includes a desktop widget to track CPU clock speed. While using the UL80JT, I could see it moving up and down with what I did; up with program openings and CPU-intensive processes, and way down at idle. Between the GPU switching, dynamic clocking, and ASUS's other power management features, the UL80JT manages to consume less than half as much power as the unibody Macbook while browsing."

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Firm To Drop Database, Web Server 0-Days
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 12:30 PM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's ready-for-impact deptartment:
krebsonsecurity writes "January promises to be a busy month for Web server and database administrators alike: A security research firm in Russia says it plans to release information about a slew of previously undocumented vulnerabilities in several widely-used commercial software products, including Mysql, Tivoli, IBM DB2, Sun Directory, and a host of others, writes krebsonsecurity.com. From the blog: 'After working with the vendors long enough, we've come to conclusion that, to put it simply, it is a waste of time. Now, we do not contact with vendors and do not support so-called "responsible disclosure" policy,' Legerov said."

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What SciFi Should Get the Reboot Treatment Next?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 11:45 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's so-much-firefly-love deptartment:
Not long ago Wired ran their own list of which SciFi (not SyFy!) shows were in need of another go 'round in this era of the reboot. Well, it looks like many fans had their own opinions resulting in another list of reboots including everything from Firefly (please?) to The Outer Limits. Which SciFi stories could use the breath of life, and which ones might actually succeed it getting it?

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CES Vendors Kicked Out of Hotels For Showcasing Wares in Room
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 11:00 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's sorry-we-changed-our-mind deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes to mention that a number of companies attempting to stretch their dollars by showing their new gear in hotel suites around Vegas during CES were kicked out of the rooms they paid for by CES organizers and hotel staff. According to sources as many as 30 small electronics companies may have been kicked out of The Venetian and The Palazzo on Thursday. One anonymous vendor claims they were coerced into paying $10,000 to the CEA lest they be kicked out of their (paid for) suite and barred from exhibiting or meeting with clients. 'States our source, "I asked the hotel staff if there were any limitations for using the suite. They said the only limitations were how many people were at our parties. They didn't say there were any limitations on displaying product. We set up our product on the first day. Then on Wednesday a cleaning person came in and reported what they saw to management. From there we got kicked out on Thursday."'"

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Here We Go Again — Video Standards War 2010
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 10:15 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's there-is-always-a-war-somewhere deptartment:
Andy Updegrove writes "Think of the words "standards war," and if you're of a certain age you're likely to think of the battle between the Betamax and VHS video tape formats. Fast forward, and you'll recall we just finished another video standards war between most of the same companies, this time between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Well, here we go again, except this time its the movie studios that are duking it out, and DRM issues is a big part of it. On the one side are five of the six major studios, dozens of cable, hardware, software, distribution and device vendors, and on the other side there's just Disney — and maybe Apple as well, and that's enough to have the other side worried."

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CES, Reporter Breaks "Unbreakable" Mobile Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what-has-been-done-cannot-be-undone deptartment:
ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "Reporter Dan Simmons from the BBC's technology show Click, managed to break a mobile phone marketed as 'unbreakable' (video), during a demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas." The phone can survive a 10 story fall, being submerged 20 feet for 30 mins, and you can use it to hammer a nail; but it's no match for a British journalist.

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Learning JQuery 1.3
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 08:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it deptartment:
Michael J. Ross writes "Of all Web technologies, JavaScript may have the most checkered past — first heralded as a powerful object-oriented language for jazzing up Web pages, but later condemned as a source of spammy pop-up windows and horrid animations polluting websites everywhere. Yet during the past several years, Web designers and developers are increasingly using JavaScript unobtrusively, for client-site interactivity — as a supplement to server-side functionality, not a replacement, and built upon standards-compliant (X)HTML and CSS. As a result, the once-derided language is now enjoying a true resurgence in interest and use. This has been bolstered by the proliferation of JavaScript libraries, of which jQuery is clearly the front runner. Web programmers seeking to get up to speed on this exciting resource, can turn to Learning jQuery 1.3: Better Interaction Design and Web Development with Simple JavaScript Techniques." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.

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Mozilla Starts To Follow a New Drumbeat
Posted by News Fetcher on January 11 '10 at 07:45 AM
By CmdrTaco from Slashdot's boom-snikt-snikt-boom deptartment:
ChiefMonkeyGrinder writes "Key, then, to the Drumbeat project is openness, specifically openness as applied to the Internet. That's fits in well with the original impulses behind Mozilla and Firefox. The former was about transforming the Netscape Communincator code into an open source browser, and the latter was about defending open standards from Microsoft's attempt to lock people into Internet Explorer 6 and its proprietary approaches. Both Mozilla and Firefox have succeeded, but the threats have now changed."

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