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Intuit Beats SSL Patent Troll That Defeated Newegg
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '14 at 06:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's better-late-than-never department:
Last fall, Newegg lost a case against patent troll TQP for using SSL with RC4, despite arguments from Diffie of Diffie-Hellman key exchange. Intuit was also targeted by a lawsuit for infringing the same patent, and they were found not to be infringing. mpicpp (3454017) sends this excerpt from Ars: U.S. Circuit Judge William Bryson, sitting "by designation" in the Eastern District of Texas, has found in a summary judgment ruling (PDF) that the patent, owned by TQP Development, is not infringed by the two defendants remaining in the case, Intuit Corp. and Hertz Corp. In a separate ruling (PDF), Bryson rejected Intuit's arguments that the patent was invalid.

Not a complete victory (a clearly bogus patent is still not invalidated), but it's a start.

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Hospitals Begin Data-Mining Patients
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '14 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's records-indicate-you-don't-deserve-care department:
schwit1 (797399) sends word of a new and exciting use for all of the data various entities are collecting about you. From the article: You may soon get a call from your doctor if you've let your gym membership lapse, made a habit of ordering out for pizza or begin shopping at plus-sized stores. That's because some hospitals are starting to use detailed consumer data to create profiles on current and potential patients to identify those most likely to get sick, so the hospitals can intervene before they do. Acxiom Corp. (ACXM) and LexisNexis are two of the largest data brokers who collect such information on individuals. They say their data are supposed to be used only for marketing, not for medical purposes or to be included in medical records. While both sell to health insurers, they said it's to help those companies offer better services to members.

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Neanderthals Ate Their Veggies
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '14 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's except-for-brussel-sprouts department:
sciencehabit (1205606) writes Scientists excavating an archaeological site in southern Spain have finally gotten the real poop on Neanderthals, finding that the Caveman Diet for these quintessential carnivores included substantial helpings of vegetables. Using the oldest published samples of human fecal matter, archaeologists have found the first direct evidence that Neanderthals in Europe cooked and ate plants about 50,000 years ago.

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Making an Autonomous Car On a Budget
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '14 at 04:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's computer-take-the-wheel department:
cartechboy writes Tired of waiting for self-driving cars from the automakers? If 2017 and 2020 just feel too far away there's now a solution it's called Cruise, and for $10,000 it'll turn your current ride into a self-driving car. Kyle Vogt started the company and recruited a team of engineers and roboticists from MIT to work on autonomous vehicles. Cruise plans to market the hardware as something that can be retrofitted to existing cars using roof-mounted sensors near the windshield, actuators to operate the controls, and a trunk-mounted computer that manages everything. The idea is that drivers can merge onto the highway and simply hit the "Cruise" button on the dashboard. This will engage the system and basically turns the car on autopilot. The system can use the steering, brakes, and throttle to keep the car in its lane. Currently the first system called RP-1 only works on current-generation Audi A4 and S4 models. RP-1 is currently available for pre-order with the launch set for near year.

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Australian Government Seeks To Boost Spy Agencies' Powers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 26 '14 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's help-us-to-help-you department:
angry tapir writes The Australian government has indicated it intends to seek a boost to the powers of Australia's spy agencies, particularly ASIO (the Australian Security Intelligence Organization). The attorney-general told the Senate today that the government would introduce legislation based on recommendations of a parliamentary committee that last year canvassed "reforms" including boosting ASIO's power to penetrate third party computer systems to intercept communications to and from a target. That report also covered other issues such as the possibility of introducing a mandatory data retention scheme for ISPs and telcos.

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Intel Offering 3-D Printed Robot Kits
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 11:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-don't-think-he-knows-I've-got-a-right-to-exist department:
jfruh writes Intel is developing a series of robot kits for hobbyists, ranging from "Jimmy", a $1,500 "social robot," to a more robust $16,000 model. The robots are powered by Intel x86 chips, are programmable, and can have exoskeletons parts produced at home by 3-D printers. From the article: "The two-legged Jimmy will be one in a line of robots that Intel hopes do-it-yourself enthusiasts will embrace, developing more functionality for the robots, which will be able to handle tasks such as turning on lights, picking up newspapers and even having conversations, researchers said at the Intel Future Showcase 2014 in New York City Tuesday. Intel and its robotics partners will sell kits with servo motors, batteries, boards, a frame and other internal parts. Using 3D printers, users can create robot designs and place them on the exoskeleton."

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Match.com, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 09:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's smart-in-love department:
mpicpp writes in with news about a new dating opportunity for Mensa members. It takes a special person to join Mensa. For one, the elite society only takes individuals with IQ scores in the 98th percentile, meaning just 1 in 50 Americans is eligible. This exclusivity — some might say snobbery — is part of Mensa's lore. Early Mensans in Britain walked around with yellow buttons, organizational publications once referred to non-Mensa members as "Densans," and last year, a top Mensa member and tester called anyone with an IQ of 60 a "carrot." In short, you don't always join Mensa because you think you're smart. You join to be set apart from most people, who are, as one member put it: "mundane." But a new partnership between American Mensa and online dating giant Match.com offers a new, enticing reason to join the society of geniuses: true love. Beginning this week, members of the brainiac group can connect through a separate, exclusive dating service called Mensa Match. In addition, Match.com members can add a special Mensa badge to their profiles, signaling a specific interest in connecting with a single person with a confirmed genius-level IQ score.

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What's Your STEM Degree Worth?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 06:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's doing-the-math department:
Jim_Austin writes A recent study by economist Douglas Webber calculates the lifetime earnings premium of college degrees in various broad areas, accounting for selection bias--that is, for the fact that people who already are likely to do well are also more likely to go to college. These premiums are not small. Science Careers got exclusive access to major-specific data, and published an article that tells how much more you can expect to earn because you got that college degree--for engineering, physics, computer science, chemistry, and biology majors.

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A Physicist Says He Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest With 1,000-Foot Walls
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 04:46 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's up-against-the-wall department:
meghan elizabeth writes University of Drexel physicist Rongjia Tao has a utopian proposal to build three massive, 1,000-foot high, 165-foot thick walls around the American Midwest, in order to keep the tornadoes out. Building three unfathomably massive anti-tornado walls would count as the infrastructure project of the decade, if not the century. It would be also be exceedingly expensive. "Building such walls are feasible," Tao says. "They are much easier than constructing a skyscraper. For example, in Philadelphia, the newly completed Comcast building has about 300 meter height. The wall with similar height as the Comcast building should be much easier to be constructed."

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Barnes & Noble To Spin Off Nook Media, Will Take It Public
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 04:16 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's split-up department:
Nate the greatest writes It looks like the recent rumors about B&N splitting up were true. Along with could-have-been-worse financial news, Barnes & Noble just announced that it's going to spin off its two year old ebook subsidiary into a new publicly traded company. The move won't be finalized until 2015, but when it happens the new company is expected to have both existing parts of Nook Media, including the less than successful ebook division and B&N College, which is still managing to turn a profit.

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Astronomers Discover Earth-Sized Diamond
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-going-to-need-a-bigger-setting department:
ygslash (893445) writes Astronomers at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory announced that they have discovered what appears to be the coolest white dwarf ever detected. The white dwarf is formerly a star similar to our own sun which, after expending all of its fuel, has cooled to less than a chilly 3000 degrees Kelvin and contracted to a size approximately the same as Earth. A white dwarf is composed mostly of carbon and oxygen, and the astronomers believe that at that temperature it would be mostly crystallized, forming something like a huge diamond.

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Ask Slashdot: What Would It Take For You To Buy a Smartwatch?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 02:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's a-third-wrist-to-carry-in-my-pocket department:
An anonymous reader writes: I don't wear a watch. I never have. So, to me, the push for smart watches has always been a non-starter. But I was discussing with friends some of the features of Android Wear that Google demonstrated at the I/O conference today, and it got me wondering: what set of features would be required for a smartwatch to become viable? Obviously, this is different for everybody — millions of people wear regular watches even though they could easily pull out their phone and check the time there. Any smartwatch can also tell time, but it has advantages (apps that do other things), and disadvantages (needs charging). Clearly, there are some functions for which it's useful to have an object strapped to your wrist, even if that function could be served by the device in your pocket. Telling time is one, and lots of people use sundry fitness doo-dads to measure exercise. It makes sense to me that checking the weather forecast would fall into this category, and perhaps checking notifications. (Conversely, other functions do not translate at all, like taking photos or playing games.) Thus, two questions: if you already wear a watch, what would it take for a smartwatch to replace it? If you don't wear a watch, what features would motivate you to get one?

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Building the Infinite Digital Universe of No Man's Sky
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 02:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-really-really-big-or-go-home department:
An anonymous reader writes: Hello Games is a small development studio, only employing 10 people. But they're building a game, No Man's Sky, that's enormous — effectively infinite. Its universe is procedurally generated, from the star systems down to individual species of plant and animal life. The engine running the game is impressively optimized. A planet's characteristics are not computed ahead of time — terrain and lifeforms are randomly generated on the fly as a player explores it. But, of course, that created a problem for the developers — how do they know their procedural generation algorithms don't create ridiculous life forms or geological formations? They solved that by writing AI bot software that explores the universe and captures brief videos, which are then converted to GIF format and posted on a feed the developers can review. The article goes into a bit more detail on how the procedural generation works, and how such a small studio can build such a big game.

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Google I/O 2014 Begins [updated]
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 02:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's hot-off-the-presses department:
Google I/O, the company's annual developer tracking^wdevelopers conference, has opened today in San Francisco. This year the company has reduced the number of conference sessions to 80, but also promised a broader approach than in previous years -- in other words, there may be a shift in focus a bit from Google's best known platforms (Chrome/Chrome OS and Android). Given its wide-ranging acquisitions and projects (like the recent purchase of Nest, which itself promptly bought Dropcam, the ever smarter fleet of self-driving cars, the growing number of Glass devices in the wild, and the announcement of a 3D scanning high end tablet quite unlike the Nexus line of tablets and phones), there's no shortage of edges to focus on.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Don't Want Google In Your House? Here Are a Few Home-Tech Startups To Watch
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 01:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's why-is-my-immersion-blender-tweeting-at-me department:
curtwoodward writes: Google bought Nest. Then Nest bought Dropcam. Then Nest opened up its platform to tech partners, including... Google. This may not creep everyone out, but for those who don't like the idea of Google's all-seeing eye owning their smart-home devices, there are some small, independent companies developing alternatives. Maybe they'll survive long enough to get acquired by a company that doesn't make 90 percent of its money from advertising — right?

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The Security Industry Is Failing Miserably At Fixing Underlying Dangers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's closing-the-barn-door department:
cgriffin21 writes: The security industry is adding layers of defensive technologies to protect systems rather than addressing the most substantial, underlying problems that sustain a sprawling cybercrime syndicate, according to an industry luminary who painted a bleak picture of the future of information security at a conference of hundreds of incident responders in Boston Tuesday. Eugene Spafford, a noted computer security expert and professor of computer science at Purdue University, said software makers continue to churn out products riddled with vulnerabilities, creating an incessant patching cycle for IT administrators that siphons resources from more critical areas.

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Mysterious X-ray Signal Hints At Dark Matter
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-the-light-from-the-death-star-explosion-finally-reached-us department:
Astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton have recorded an unusual emission of X-ray light from a remote cluster of galaxies which may turn out to be evidence of dark matter.
Astronomers think dark matter constitutes 85% of the matter in the Universe, but does not emit or absorb light like “normal” matter such as protons, neutrons and electrons that make up the familiar elements observed in planets, stars, and galaxies. Because of this, scientists must use indirect methods to search for clues about dark matter. he latest results from Chandra and XMM-Newton consist of an unidentified X-ray emission line, that is, a spike of intensity at a very specific wavelength of X-ray light. Astronomers detected this emission line in the Perseus galaxy cluster using both Chandra and XMM-Newton. They also found the line in a combined study of 73 other galaxy clusters with XMM-Newton. ... The authors suggest this emission line could be a signature from the decay of a "sterile neutrino." (Abstract.) Sterile neutrinos are a hypothetical type of neutrino that is predicted to interact with normal matter only via gravity. Some scientists have proposed that sterile neutrinos may at least partially explain dark matter.

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Toyota's Fuel Cell Car To Launch In Japan Next March
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's does-it-fly department:
puddingebola writes with news that Toyota will be bringing its first fuel-cell car to market in Japan next March. It's expected to cost about $68,700, and Toyota plans to bring it to the U.S. and European markets later that summer.
With two of Japan’s three biggest automakers going all in on fuel cells, the country’s long-term future as an automotive powerhouse could now hinge largely on the success of what they hope will be an important technology in the next few decades. ... Japan’s governing party is pushing for ample subsidies and tax breaks for consumers to bring the cost of a fuel-cell car down to about $20,000 by 2025. The government is also aiming to create 100 hydrogen fuel stations by the end of March 2016 in urban areas where the vehicles will be sold initially. ... Hydrogen vehicles can run five times longer than battery-operated electric cars, and their tanks can be filled in just a few minutes, compared with recharging times from 30 minutes up to several hours for electric cars.

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Why Software Builds Fail
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's failure-to-bribe-the-hamster department:
itwbennett writes: A group of researchers from Google, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the University of Nebraska undertook a study of over 26 million builds by 18,000 Google engineers from November 2012 through July 2013 to better understand what causes software builds to fail and, by extension, to improve developer productivity. And, while Google isn't representative of every developer everywhere, there are a few findings that stand out: Build frequency and developer (in)experience don't affect failure rates, most build errors are dependency-related, and C++ generates more build errors than Java (but they're easier to fix).

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Supreme Court Rules Cell Phones Can't Be Searched Without a Warrant
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '14 at 09:46 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's sanity-outbreak department:
New submitter CarlThansk (3713681) writes The courts have long debated on if cell phones can be searched during an arrest without a warrant. Today, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest. "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected (PDF) from routine inspection."

Phones may still be searched under limited circumstances (imminent threats), but this looks like a clear win for privacy. Quoting the decision: "We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. Cell phones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals. Privacy comes at a cost."

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