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Making Sense of the Cellphone Landscape
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 11:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's handbags-at-dawn deptartment:
Charlie Stross has a blog post up that tries to make sense of the mobile phone market and where it's going: where Apple, Google, and the cellcos fit in, and what the point of Google's Nexus One may be. "Becoming a pure bandwidth provider is every cellco's nightmare: it levels the playing field and puts them in direct competition with their peers, a competition that can only be won by throwing huge amounts of capital infrastructure at their backbone network. So for the past five years or more, they've been doing their best not to get dragged into a game of beggar-my-neighbor, by expedients such as exclusive handset deals... [Google intends] to turn 3G data service (and subsequently, LTE) into a commodity, like Wi-Fi hotspot service only more widespread and cheaper to get at. They want to get consumers to buy unlocked SIM-free handsets and pick cheap data SIMs. They'd love to move everyone to cheap data SIMs rather than the hideously convoluted legacy voice stacks maintained by the telcos; then they could piggyback Google Voice on it, and ultimately do the Google thing to all your voice messages as well as your email and web access. (This is, needless to say, going to bring them into conflict with Apple. ... Apple are an implicit threat to Google because Google can't slap their ads all over [the App and iTunes stores]. So it's going to end in handbags at dawn... eventually.)"

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Nvidia Waiting In the Wings In FTC-Intel Dispute
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 08:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's let-the-chips-fall deptartment:
The NY Times has a Bits Blog piece speculating on some of the fallout if the FTC prevails in its anti-competition lawsuit against Intel. The Times picks out two among the 26 remedies proposed by the regulator, and concludes that they add up to Nvidia being able to license x86 technology. This could open up 3-way competition in the market for combined CPU-graphics chips. There is a good deal of circumstantial evidence pointing to the possibility that Nvidia has been working on x86 technology since 2007, including the presence on its employment rolls of more than 70 former Transmeta workers.

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Library Groups Ask DOJ To Oversee Google Books
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 06:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's monopoly-remedy deptartment:
adeelarshad82 writes "Three library associations have asked the Justice Department to oversee Google's plans to create a massive digital library, so as to prevent excessively high pricing for institutional subscriptions. They said that there was unlikely to be an effective competitor to Google's massive project in the near term. They also asked for academic author representation on the Registry board. Google's plan to digitize millions of books has been criticized by a variety of sources and has recently been shut down in France."

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Proposed NASA Mission Would Sail the Seas of Titan
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 03:30 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's can-the-sirens-be-far-behind deptartment:
The BBC has a report on a proposal that will be submitted to NASA for funding — a mission to Saturn's moon Titan that would deposit a lander of its hydrocarbon sea. (We recently discussed the widely circulated photo of sunlight glinting off one of Titan's seas.) "The scientific team behind the idea is targeting Ligeia Mare, a vast body of liquid methane sited in the high north of Saturn's largest moon. ... 'It is something that would really capture the imagination,' said Dr Ellen Stofan, from Proxemy Research, who leads the study team. 'The story of human exploration on Earth has been one of navigation and seafaring, and the idea that we could explore for the first time an extraterrestrial sea I think would be mind-blowing for most people,' she told BBC News. ... The Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) has already been under study for about two years. It is envisaged as a relatively low-cost endeavor — in the low $400m range. It could launch in January 2016, and make some flybys of Earth and Jupiter to pick up the gravitational energy it would need to head straight at the Saturnian moon for a splash down in June 2023."

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Carriers, Manufacturers Are Strangling Android
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 02:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's fate-of-cuckoo-chicks deptartment:
loconet writes "This article in Gizmodo claims that Android's fragmented model is harming it, but Google has the power to save it. The rumored Google Phone could be a ploy to upset the wireless industry, or it could be an expensive niche device. Either way, it would be a bid to take Android back from the companies that seem hell-bent on destroying it. '...once handset manufacturers (and carriers, through handset manufacturers) have built their own version of Android, they've effectively taken it out of the development stream. Updating it is their responsibility, which they have to choose to uphold. Or not! Who cares? The phones are already sold."

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Vimeo Sued For Audio Infringement
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 12:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's no-more-lip-dub-for-you deptartment:
USS_Natas writes "Capitol Records and other labels have sued Vimeo in federal court, charging that the site's emphasis on 'original works' only extends to videos, and that songs are widely used on Vimeo without a license. The plaintiffs hope to prove that Vimeo staffers know about the infringement, since they've been doing it themselves." NewTeeVee has a PDF of the court filing in a Scribd frame.

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Colliding Auroras Produce Explosions of Light
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pretty-pictures deptartment:
elyons writes "Another neat discovery has come from the lab of Larry Lyons at UCLA. As reported earlier on Slashdot, Lyons' group studies the dynamics of auroras. Their most recent discovery reveals for the first time the sequence of events leading to dramatic space-weather disturbances. Using a network of cameras deployed around the Arctic in support of NASA's THEMIS mission, they recorded over 200 instances of auroras colliding, causing brilliant displays of northern lights (see time 8:22 for such an example)."

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The State of Social Gaming On the iPhone
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mobile-tweet-hero deptartment:
This article at CNet takes a detailed look at the growth of social gaming through Apple's iPhone, a market many developers — and Apple themselves — are still struggling to figure out. The piece also speculates on how such games and networks will continue to evolve. Quoting: "While competition has spawned better features among these services, the future brings a growing need for a more unified network. Even if all these networks begin to become impossible to differentiate, users are eventually going to want a less-disjointed platform when jumping from game to game, and app to app. Thus far Facebook, and even Twitter to some degree have provided that constant, just by giving users a way to log in to these platforms. The unification can shake out in a number of ways though, the most likely of which is consolidation. Open Feint can continue to grow until it's snatched up by a larger company (like Apple). Or it can begin absorbing, or muscling out the other, less popular networks. As mentioned before, Apple plays a big part in this: not only in how it changes the hardware, but also how it continues to evolve the business of the App Store and information sharing between applications."

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Verizon Defends Doubling of Early Termination Fee
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we-decided-we-liked-money deptartment:
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Verizon is defending its decision to double its Early Termination Fee from $175 to $350 after being called to account by the FCC. They claim it's because the higher fees allow them to offer more expensive phones with a lower up-front cost (PDF), and they also say that because they pro-rate the fee depending on how much of your contract is left, they still lose money. Apparently doing something about the Verizon customer service horror stories isn't as good a way to retain customers as telling them that they have to pay several hundred dollars to leave."

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Insurgent Attacks Follow Mathematical Pattern
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's news-from-terminus deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Nature reports that data collected on the timing of attacks and number of casualties from more than 54,000 events across nine insurgent wars, including those fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2008 and in Sierra Leone between 1994 and 2003, suggest that insurgencies have a common underlying pattern that may allow the timing of attacks and the number of casualties to be predicted. By plotting the distribution of the frequency and size of events, the team found that insurgent wars follow an approximate power law, in which the frequency of attacks decreases with increasing attack size to the power of 2.5. This means that for any insurgent war, an attack with 10 casualties is 316 times more likely to occur than one with 100 casualties (316 is 10 to the power of 2.5). 'We found that the way in which humans do insurgent wars — that is, the number of casualties and the timing of events — is universal,' says team leader Neil Johnson, a physicist at the University of Miami in Florida. 'This changes the way we think insurgency works.' To explain what was driving this common pattern, the researchers created a mathematical model which assumes that insurgent groups form and fragment when they sense danger, and strike in well-timed bursts to maximize their media exposure. Johnson is now working to predict how the insurgency in Afghanistan might respond to the influx of foreign troops recently announced by US President Barack Obama. 'We do observe a complicated pattern that has to do with the way humans do violence in some collective way,' adds Johnson."

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Charities Upset Over Chase Facebook Contest
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 05:45 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's could-have-just-used-terms-and-conditions deptartment:
ssv03 writes "The New York Times is reporting that Chase Community Giving of Chase Bank recently held a contest on Facebook in which users were encouraged to vote for their favorite charities. At the end of the contest, the 100 charities with the most votes would win $25,000 and advance to the next round to have a chance to win $1 million. Initially, the vote counts for each organization were made public, but two days before voting ended they were hidden, and the final totals have still not been released. While Chase had no official leader board during the voting, several organizations were keeping track of projected winners. Those projections were almost identical to the final results, yet several organizations including Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Marijuana Policy Project and several anti-abortion groups were not finalists. They had been performing very well (some within the top 20) until the vote counters were removed. Chase Bank has so far refused to discuss the issue with the organizations. SSDP has spoken out in a press release (PDF) and is calling for a boycott."

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Alien Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, Dead At 63
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 03:00 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's fare-thee-well-nostromo deptartment:
Dave Knott writes "The notable science fiction screenwriter and director Dan O'Bannon has died at the age of 63. O'Bannon's career began with a writing credit for John Carpenter's Dark Star and he went on the write many enduring science fiction and horror films such as Blue Thunder, Lifeforce, Screamers and Total Recall. He was also an occasional director, whose credits include The Return Of The Living Dead, the campy horror film that made popular the zombie chant of 'braaiiiinnnsss.' However, he will be best remembered as the writer of Alien, one of the all-time classics of both the science fiction and horror genres. O'Bannon died after a 30 year battle with Crohn's disease and is survived by his wife, Diane, and son, Adam."

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Google Open Sources Etherpad, Piratepad Launches
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '09 at 12:15 AM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's fair-play deptartment:
Thomas Nybergh writes "The Etherpad code was released by Google under the Apache license a few hours ago. Google's initial plan, after acquiring the service, was to use Etherpad's tech with its new Wave collaboration platform and to shut down the original service entirely. Soon after the Etherpad code was released, the Swedish Pirate Party launched their instance of the service at piratepad.net. An announcement, which also mentions a new Tor node, is published on the party website (Google translation). The original Etherpad service had in a short time become a killer application for collaborative work within at least the Swedish, and according to my personal experience, in the Finnish Pirate Party as well. The Etherpad open source project is available at Google Code."

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Caltech Scientists Film Photons With Electrons
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '09 at 09:00 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's tiny-pictures deptartment:
al0ha writes "Techniques recently invented by researchers at the California Institute of Technology which allow the real-time, real-space visualization of fleeting changes in the structure of nanoscale matter have been used to image the evanescent electrical fields produced by the interaction of electrons and photons, and to track changes in atomic-scale structures."

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Psystar Not Closing Up Shop
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '09 at 05:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's but-i-don't-want-to-go-on-the-cart deptartment:
Despite several sources reporting that post-indefinite-injunction Psystar was closing their doors for good, the company's lawyer is claiming that the company plans on going forward with PC sales, just not pre-loaded with Apple's OS X. Psystar plans on selling systems pre-loaded with "other operating systems," including Windows as well as selling their "Rebel EFI software" that allows consumers to load OS X on generic PCs.

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Mandatory Use of Open Standards In Hungary
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '09 at 03:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's you'll-be-open-and-like-it deptartment:
qpeter writes "Hungarian Parliament has made the use of open standards mandatory by law in the intercommunication between public administration offices, public utility companies, citizens and voluntarily joining private companies, conducted via the central governmental system. The Open Standards Alliance initiating the amendment aims to promote the spread of monopoly-free markets that foster the development of interchangeable and interoperable products generated by open standards, and, consequently, broad competition markets, regardless of whether the IT systems of interconnecting organizations and individuals use open or closed source software. In the near future, in spite of EU tendencies the Alliance seeks to make its approach – interoperability based on publicly defined open standards – the EU norm under the Hungarian presidency of the European Union in 2011. To that end, it will promote public collaboration – possibly between every interested party, civil and political organization in the European Union. What do you think: what would be the best way to cooperate?"

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First Look at Latest Ion-Infused Asus Eee PC
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '09 at 03:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's its-got-what-plants-crave deptartment:
MojoKid writes "Atom-based netbooks have come a long way since they were first introduced. 7 and 8-inch netbooks are no longer the norm, and availability of 12-inch netbooks is on the rise. The newest member of the Asus Eee PC lineup is the Eee PC 1201N, and it really stands out in the crowd of netbook in terms of specifications. The machine features a 12.1" HD display, new dual-core Atom 330 CPU, 2GB of DDR2 RAM, Windows 7 Home Premium, an HDMI output and NVIDIA's Ion chipset with integrated GPU. HotHardware was able to demo the system's ability to handle more advanced benchmarks, thanks in part to the Ion GPU. It's also the first netbook they tested that could actually play older 3D titles respectably. You won't get Crysis running but lighter duty titles can be played back nicely if you tone the details down and lower the resolution. It the 1201N also played back 720p and 1080p content without stuttering, and the dual-core CPU allowed enough headroom to multitask while videos were playing."

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Google In Talks To Buy Yelp
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '09 at 02:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's new-corporate-overlords deptartment:
There have been many rumors floating around surrounding a possible buyout of Yelp by Google, but it appears that at least a few details have escaped painting this as a much more serious possibility. Pointing the needle to something north of $500 million, the acquisition would mean a substantial step into localized business for Google. "Google has been showing greater interest in the local business market in the United States. It has expanded its profile pages for local businesses, which include location and hours, maps and reviews from other Web sites. In June, Google gave local businesses the ability to manage what people see on their profile pages, similar to what Yelp does. Google has been reaching out to local businesses with simpler ways to advertise on the search engine. It is also distributing stickers that businesses post in their windows and passers-by can scan with cellphones to get coupons or information about the business. The deal between Google and Yelp could still unravel, one person said, particularly if another acquirer comes forward now that details have leaked."

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$25,000 of Communications Gear In a $500 Car
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '09 at 02:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's idle-hands deptartment:
In perhaps one of the finest displays of technological excess in automotive communications gear, one "enthusiast" has managed to cram over $25,000 worth of gear into a $500 car. The car is rigged for just about every conceivable communications band including FM, UHF, VHF, HF, and WTF. What other amazing displays of technological excess have others seen? "The equipment seems to cover an amazing array of technologies, many of which seem to be redundant. For instance, just how many handheld 144 MHz radios do you need? It seems like the owner of the Ham Car is capable of listening to every police/fire/ems/military channel in the world. Simultaneously. There's a laptop and we assume there's some form of cellular or satellite communication setup for that, too."

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Google Found Guilty of French Copyright Infringement
Posted by News Fetcher on December 18 '09 at 12:30 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's slap-on-the-wrist deptartment:
adeelarshad82 writes "A Paris court on Friday found Google guilty of violating copyright by digitizing books and putting extracts online, following a legal challenge by major French publishers. The court found against Google after the La Martiniere group, which controls the highbrow Editions du Seuil publishing house, argued that publishers and authors were losing out in the latest stage of the digital revolution."

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