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Google Demonstrates Quantum Computer Image Search
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '09 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's superposition-of-evil-and-not-evil deptartment:
An anonymous reader sends along this quote from New Scientist: "Google's web services may be considered cutting edge, but they run in warehouses filled with conventional computers. Now the search giant has revealed it is investigating the use of quantum computers to run its next generation of faster applications. Writing on Google's research blog this week, Hartmut Neven, head of its image recognition team, reveals that the Californian firm has for three years been quietly developing a quantum computer that can identify particular objects in a database of stills or video (PDF). Google has been doing this, Neven says, with D-Wave, a Canadian firm that has developed an on-chip array of quantum bits — or qubits — encoded in magnetically coupled superconducting loops."

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EU Recommends Noise Limits On MP3 Players
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '09 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's protecting-you-from-yourself deptartment:
A story at the BBC notes increasing pressure from the European Commission to set standards that would limit the maximum volume on portable MP3 players. Their reasoning is that it would protect users from damaging their hearing after listening to loud music for extended periods. Quoting: "This follows a report last year warning that up to 10m people in the EU face permanent hearing loss from listening to loud music for prolonged periods. EU experts want the default maximum setting to be 85 decibels, according to BBC One's Politics Show. Users would be able to override this setting to reach a top limit of 100 decibels. ... Some personal players examined in testing facilities have been found to reach 120 decibels, the equivalent of a jet taking off, and no safety default level currently applies, although manufacturers are obliged to print information about risks in the instruction manuals. Modern personal players are seen as more dangerous than stationary players or old-fashioned cassette or disk players because they can store hours of music and are often listened to while in traffic with the volume very high to drown out outside noise."

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MySpace-Imeem Deal Leaves Indie Artists Unpaid
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '09 at 06:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's gladly-pay-you-tuesday deptartment:
azoblue writes with news that following MySpace's acquisition and shutdown of imeem, independent artists who sold their music through imeem's Snocap music storefronts (on MySpace and other sites) won't be paid what's owed them. More than 110,000 artists are believed to be affected. The crux of the problem is that MySpace acquired only a certain portion of the assets that were imeem — "the domain name and certain technology and trademarks" — and not imeem’s outstanding debts, including the money imeem owed to artists under the Snocap relationship. According to the article, some artists have been owed money for more than a year. "Napster creator Shawn Fanning co-founded Snocap in 2002 to let artists sell their music through an embeddable storefront widget. At one point, the service was marketed as the exclusive way for artists to sell music on MySpace. Imeem bought Snocap last summer. But because MySpace left most aspects of Snocap out of its acquisition of imeem’s assets, all 110,000 or so of those storefronts are gone. The server that hosts them is offline and so is the Snocap website."

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Mediterranean Might Have Filled In Months
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '09 at 02:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's white-water-to-die-for deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "A new model suggests that the Mediterranean Sea was filled in a gigantic flood some 5.3 million years ago. According to Daniel Garcia-Castellanos' paper in Nature, the sill at the Straight of Gibraltar gave way rather suddenly, with 40 cm of rock eroding and the water level rising by 10 m per day at its peak. They imagine a shallow, fast-moving stream of water (around 100 km/hr) several kilometers wide pouring into the basin with a flow greater than a thousand Amazon rivers — that's about 100,000,000 cubic meters per second." The flood would have dropped worldwide sea levels by 9.5 meters, probably triggering climate changes. In this model the Mediterranean filled in anywhere from a few months to two years at the outside.

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Google Releases Experimental Phone To Employees
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 11:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's it's-just-dogfood deptartment:
alphadogg, as is his wont, sends in a Network World piece on the resurgent rumors of a Google Phone. "Google has handed out a new mobile phone running its Android software to some employees, stirring another wave of speculation that the oft-rumored Google Phone is real. In a blog post on Saturday morning, Google said the phones are being distributed so that workers can experiment with new mobile features. It did not say the device will be a Google-branded phone. Since even before Google unveiled Android, onlookers have wondered whether the search giant will release its own phone. Instead, it released an open source operating system that other hardware vendors can use to make phones."

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US and Russia Open Talks On Limits To Cyberwar
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 09:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's you-put-down-yours-first deptartment:
andy1307 passes on this from the NY Times: "The United States has begun talks with Russia and a United Nations arms control committee about strengthening Internet security and limiting military use of cyberspace. American and Russian officials have different interpretations of the talks so far, but the mere fact that the United States is participating represents a significant policy shift after years of rejecting Russia's overtures. Officials familiar with the talks said the Obama administration realized that more nations were developing cyberweapons and that a new approach was needed to blunt an international arms race ... While the Russians have continued to focus on treaties that may restrict weapons development, the United States is hoping to use the talks to increase international cooperation in opposing Internet crime. Strengthening defenses against Internet criminals would also strengthen defenses against any military-directed cyberattacks, the United States maintains."

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The Limits To Skepticism
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 07:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's sometimes-you-just-gotta-say deptartment:
jamie found a long and painstaking piece up at The Economist asking and provisionally answering the question: "Does the spirit of scientific scepticism really require that I remain forever open-minded to denialist humbug until it's shown to be wrong?" The author, who is not named, spent sevaral hours picking apart the arguments of one Willis Eschenbach, AGW denialist, who on Dec. 8 published what he called the "smoking gun" — it was supposed to prove that the adjustments climate scientists make to historical temperature records are arbitrary to the point of intentional manipulation. The conclusion: "[H]ere's my solution to this problem: this is why we have peer review. Average guys with websites can do a lot of amazing things. One thing they cannot do is reveal statistical manipulation in climate-change studies that require a PhD in a related field to understand. So for the time being, my response to any and all further 'smoking gun' claims begins with: show me the peer-reviewed journal article demonstrating the error here. Otherwise, you're a crank and this is not a story. And then I'll probably go ahead and try to investigate the claim and write a blog post about it, because that's my job. Oh, and by the way: October was the hottest month on record in Darwin, Australia."

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WordPress.com Implements the Twitter API
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 04:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's what-comes-after-embrace-and-extend deptartment:
This morning Matt Mullenweg announced on his blog that WordPress.com has enabled posting and reading blogs via the Twitter API. Now any Twitter app that supports a custom API URL (Tweetie is one such) can be used to either post updates to a WordPress.com blog, or to read updates from blogs to which one has subscribed. Dave Winer calls the move by Automattic, WordPress.com's parent company, "deeply insidious," and notes that 10 years ago he did a similar thing in his Manila blogging platform when the Blogger API came out. Winer opines that Automattic's move has made the Twitter API into an open standard, due to WordPress.com's large base. Winer notes (in a comment on the above-linked post), "The fun starts if they [WordPress] relax some of the limits of the Twitter API and fix some of the glaring problems."

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Open Source Hardware Projects, 2009
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 03:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's hard-way deptartment:
ptorrone writes "MAKE's yearly open source hardware guide is now online with over 125 projects in 19 categories. The creators of all of these projects have decided to publish completely all the source, schematics, firmware, software, bill of materials, parts list, drawings, and 'board' files to recreate the hardware. They also allow any use, including commercial. In other words, you can make a business making and selling any of these objects. This is similar to open source software like Linux, but hardware-centric."

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Microsoft Invents Price-Gouging the Least Influential
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 01:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's free-to-ashton-kutcher deptartment:
theodp writes "In the world envisioned by Microsoft's just-published patent application for Social Marketing, monopolists will maximize revenue by charging prices inversely related to the perceived influence an individual has on others. Microsoft gives an example of a pricing model that charges different people $0, $5, $10, $20, or $25 for the identical item based on the influence the purchaser wields. A presentation describing the revenue optimization scheme earned one of the three inventors applause (MS-Research video), and the so-called 'influence and exploit' strategies were also featured at WWW 2008 (PDF). The invention jibes nicely with Bill Gates's pending patents for identifying influencers. Welcome to the brave new world of analytics."

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Copyright Industries Oppose Treaty For the Blind
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 12:45 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's see-it-my-way deptartment:
langelgjm sends in a piece from Wired, which details the background of a proposed treaty to allow cross-border sharing of books for the blind — a treaty which is opposed by an almost unified front of business interests in the US, with the exception of Google. "A broad swath of American enterprise ranging from major software makers to motion picture and music companies are joining forces to oppose a new international treaty that would make books more accessible to the blind. With the exception of Google, almost every major industry player has expressed disapproval of the treaty, which would allow cross-border sharing of digitized books accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Google's chief copyright counsel believes the industry-wide opposition is mainly due to 'opposition to a larger agenda of limitations and exceptions... We believe this is an unproductive approach to solving what is a discrete, long-standing problem that affects a group that needs and deserves the protections of the international community.'"

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Nanotech Ink Turns Paper Into a Low-Cost Battery
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 11:45 AM
By kdawson from Slashdot's power-your-wallet deptartment:
jangel writes "Stanford University researchers have demonstrated a way to turn ordinary paper into a battery, which may be crumpled or pressed into any form. It's said the technology promises greater durability, higher efficiency, and faster energy transfer than traditional batteries. The technique uses special ink made of carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires. Thanks to the small diameters of these materials, the ink sticks strongly to the fibrous paper, allowing the battery to be extremely durable. The paper battery could last through 40,000 charge-discharge cycles — at least an order of magnitude more than lithium batteries. According to the researchers, the paper batteries will be low-cost, may be crumpled or folded, and can even be soaked in acidic or basic solutions, yet their performance does not degrade. 'We just haven't tested what happens when you burn it,' one of the researchers quipped." This is the same Stanford research team, lead by Yi Cui, whose work with nanotechnology for battery applications we have discussed before. We've also delved into alternate routes to the holy grail of the ultra-thin battery.

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Fines Fail To Curb Cell Phone Usage While Driving
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's try-bullets-next-time deptartment:
andylim writes "An in-depth study of over 14,000 London drivers by the Transport Research Laboratory has found an increase in the number of London motorists making and taking calls using their handsets at the wheel between 2008 and 2009, even though harsher penalties were introduced in 2007. It seems that most people, at least in London, still don't respect the fact that there's a much higher risk of being involved in an accident if you're using your cell phone."

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ARM-Powered Laptops To Increase Linux Market Share
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's year-of-linux-on-the-arm deptartment:
Charbax writes "Last April, Microsoft argued that it controlled the netbook OS market for devices sold in certain Microsoft-friendly US retail stores, while ABI Research claims that Linux actually has 32% of the worldwide netbook market, and that its market-share is growing. At the recent Netbook World Summit in Paris France, Aaron J. Seigo, Community leader at the KDE Foundation, and Arnaud Laprévote, CTO at Mandriva Linux, give us their estimation for next year's Linux market share (video) in the consumer laptop market. Their estimation is that Linux will dominate in ARM-powered laptops and that those may take over a significant share of the overall laptop market by their significantly cheaper prices (as low as $80), longer battery life (as long as 20-40 hours on a small battery using the Pixel Qi screens), as well as lower size and weight. Running some of the Chromium OS builds for ARM available shortly and having a full browser experience on those cheaper and better ARM-powered Linux laptops could make it a significant mass market success to shake up the Intel and Microsoft consumer PC/laptop monopoly in its boots."

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House Outlaws Obama's NASA Intervention
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let's-argue-some-more deptartment:
TopSpin writes "NASA's Constellation Program and Ares rockets appear to have strong support in Congress. An appropriations bill passed by the House includes language that bars 'any efforts by NASA to cancel or change the current Constellation program without first seeking approval of Congress.' The Administration's appointed NASA leadership is being publicly hostile towards its traditional aerospace affiliations. As Charles Bolden put it to industry execs, 'We are going to be fighting and fussing over the coming year,' and 'Some of you are not going to like me because we are not going to do the same kind of things we've always done.'"

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Google and Microsoft Sued By Mini Music Label
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 07:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's blame-the-internet deptartment:
carre4 writes "Blue Destiny Records has sued both Google and Microsoft for allegedly 'facilitating and enabling' distribution of copyrighted songs illegally. The suit alleges that RapidShare runs 'a distribution center for unlawful copies of copyrighted works.' RapidShare is helped by Google and Microsoft, which benefit from the ad relationships, according to the suit. Blue Destiny has attempted to link to pages with RapidShare links to their music via DMCA takedown notices, and Google has, apparently, not complied, while Microsoft's Bing site has removed the links. RapidShare, for its part, is based outside of the US and does not accept DMCA notices."

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GNOME Developer Suggests Split From GNU Project
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's taking-their-toys-and-going-home deptartment:
blozza2070 writes "In a recent posting from Philip Van Hoof, he suggests that GNOME split off from the GNU Project and has proposed a vote. He was informed he will need 10% of members to agree for a vote to be put forth. At the same time, David Schlesinger (on the GNOME Advisory Board) has agreed on a vote. Stormy Peters said she doesn't agree with this, but then gave everyone instructions on how to proceed with a vote. She mentioned that roughly 20 members are needed to agree." The mailing list server is timing out as of this writing, but iTWire has the Cliff's notes

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White House Plans Open Access For Research
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nipping-climategate-part-two-in-the-bud deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "Currently, the National Institutes of Health require that research funded by its grants be made available to the public online at no charge within 12 months of publication. Now the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President is launching a 'Public Access Policy Forum' to determine whether this policy should be extended to other science agencies and, if so, how it should be implemented. 'The NIH model has a variety of features that can be evaluated, and there are other ways to offer the public enhanced access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications,' OSTP says in the request for information. 'The best models may [be] influenced by agency mission, the culture and rate of scientific development of the discipline, funding to develop archival capabilities, and research funding mechanisms.' The OSTP will conduct an interactive, online discussion that will focus on three major questions: Should this policy be extended to other science agencies and, if so, how it should be implemented? In what format should the data be submitted in order to make it easy to search and retrieve information? What are the best mechanisms to ensure compliance? 'It's very encouraging to see the Obama Administration focus on ensuring public access to the results of taxpayer-funded research [reg. required] as a key way to maximize our collective investment in science,' says Heather Joseph, executive director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition."

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Music While Programming?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '09 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's perl-jam deptartment:
BubbaDoom writes "In our cubicle-ville, we have programmers intermixed with accounting, customer support and marketing. As programmers, it is our habit to put on our headphones and listen to our portable music players to drown out all of the noise from everyone else. The boss recently sent an email just to the programmers demanding that we do not use our music players at work because he thinks it distracts us from our jobs and causes us to make mistakes. Of course, we've explained to him that prattle from the other people is much, much more distracting, but he insists his policy is the right one. What is the Slashdot community's experience with music at work for programmers?"

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Mars Express Captures Phobos and Deimos
Posted by News Fetcher on December 11 '09 at 11:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's holding-for-ransom deptartment:
westtxfun writes "The Mars Express Orbiter captured a very cool movie of Phobos and Deimos on Nov 5. Besides the 'wow factor,' the images will be used to refine models of the moons' orbits. The orbiter has also captured high resolution images of Phobos back in July. 'The images were acquired with the Super Resolution Channel (SRC) of the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). The camera took 130 images of the moons on 5 November at 9:14 CET in a span of 1.5 minutes at intervals of 1s, speeding up to 0.5-s intervals toward the end. The image resolution is 110 m/pixel for Phobos and 240 m/pixel for Deimos — Deimos was more than twice as far from the camera. '"

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