Earth

Engineers Devise a Way To Harvest Wind Energy From Trees (vice.com) 17

derekmead writes: Harvesting electrical power from vibrations or other mechanical stress is pretty easy. Turns out all it really takes is a bit of crystal or ceramic material and a couple of wires and, there you go, piezoelectricity. As stress is applied to the material, charge accumulates, which can then be shuttled away to do useful work. The classic example is an electric lighter, in which a spring-loaded hammer smacks a crystal, producing a spark. Another example is described in a new paper in the Journal of Sound and Vibration, courtesy of engineers at Ohio State's Laboratory of Sound and Vibration Research. The basic idea behind the energy harvesting platform: exploit the natural internal resonances of trees within tiny artificial forests capable of generating enough voltage to power sensors and structural monitoring systems.
The Courts

SCO vs. IBM Battle Over Linux May Finally Be Over (networkworld.com) 57

JG0LD writes with this news from Network World: A breach-of-contract and copyright lawsuit filed nearly 13 years ago by a successor company to business Linux vendor Caldera International against IBM may be drawing to a close at last, after a U.S. District Court judge issued an order in favor of the latter company earlier this week.
Here's the decision itself (PDF). Also at The Register.
Networking

Facebook Developing Radio Wave Mesh To Connect Offline Areas (thestack.com) 28

An anonymous reader writes: As part of its wider Internet.org initiative to deliver connectivity to poor and rural communities, Facebook is actively developing a new network technology which uses millimetre wave bands to transmit data. Facebook engineer Sanjai Kohli filed two patents which outlined a 'next generation' data system, which would make use of millimetre wave technology deployed as mesh networks. Kohli's patents detailed a type of centralised, cloud-based routing system which 'dynamically adjusts route and frequency channel assignments, transmit power, modulation, coding, and symbol rate to maximize network capacity and probability of packet delivery, rather than trying to maximize the capacity of any one link.'
Open Source

LibreOffice 5.1 Officially Released 95

prisoninmate writes: After being in development for the last three months or so, LibreOffice 5.1 comes today to a desktop environment near you with some of the most attractive features you've ever seen in an open-source office suite software product, no matter the operating system used. The release highlights of LibreOffice 5.1 include a redesigned user interface for improved ease of use, better interoperability with OOXML files, support for reading and writing files on cloud servers, enhanced support for the ODF 1.2 file format, as well as additional Spreadsheet functions and features. Yesterday, even with the previous version, I was able to successfully use a moderately complex docx template without a hitch — the kind of thing that would have been a pipe-dream not too long ago.
Government

FAA Eases Drone Restrictions Around Washington, DC (roboticstrends.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes with a link to Robotics Trends, which reports that: After doubling the radius of the "no-drone zone" from 15 miles to 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C. in 2015, the FAA announced drones can now fly in the "outer ring" of the Special Flight Rules Area. This means drones can operate between a 15- to 30-mile radius outside of the nation's capitol. Drones that fly between the 15- to 30-mile radius still have to operate under specific conditions: drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, be registered and marked, fly under 400 feet, stay in the operator's line of sight, only fly in clear conditions, and avoid other aircraft.
Graphics

First Steps Towards Network Transparency For Wayland (phoronix.com) 67

munwin99 writes: For the longest time, when bringing up Wayland a recurring question was 'what about network transparency?!' Well, Samsung's Derek Foreman has today published the set of Wayland patches for providing Wayland network transparency by pushing the Wayland protocol over TCP/IP.
Programming

AWS Terms of Service Offer a Break If Zombie Apocalypse Occurs (windowsitpro.com) 42

v3rgEz writes: Running at over 50 sections and hundreds of subsections, Amazon AWS's terms of service are somewhat exhaustive, but there's one paragraph that might catch your eye. As of yesterday's update, Amazon has added a section that nullifies restrictions on the use of their Lumberyard game platform in the event of a zombie outbreak. Pre-apocalypse, the terms of service prohibit the use of the engine to manage life-or-death situations, but being able to spin up a zombie firefight simulator at a moment's notice might come in handy. You do have to wonder, though: Does Jeff Bezos know something we don't? Lawyers typically don't approve of Easter Eggs in legal documents.
Intel

Dell Packs Xeon and Quadro GPU In 4lb Laptop (hothardware.com) 57

MojoKid writes: To look at the Dell Precision 15 5510, you wouldn't know that it sits in the middle of Dell's workstation lineup. The laptop is thinner and sleeker than you might expect a workstation-class laptop to be and the premium carbon fiber palm rest gives the system a decidedly high-end vibe. Not to mention, like the XPS 15, Dell equipped this machine with its 4K IGZO Infinity Edge display that has almost no bezel on three of its sides. However, the Precision 15 5510 is actually Dell's mid-range mobile workstation that also supports Intel Xeon E3 processors and NVIDIA's Quadro M1000 series GPUs. It's essentially a mobile workstation version of Dell's XPS 15 line but along with an NVMe PCIe Solid State Drive, delivers professional grade performance and the pro app certifications that go with it. Compared to Lenovo's ThinkPad W550 line, the Precision 15 is a more sleek, stylish machine and in testing it packs more punch as well. Lenovo may already have their Skylake Xeon refresh in the works for the ThinkPad W series, however.
Security

Trane Takes 2 Years To Remove Hard-Coded Root Passwords From IoT Thermostat (softpedia.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: It took 22 months for Trane to patch three security bugs in its ComfortLink II XL950 smart Wi-Fi thermostat product, the ComfortLink II XL950, a modern IoT device along the lines of Google Nest, which offers a simple way to manage your apartment's or building's internal temperature. Researchers contacted Trane about their three issues in April 2014, the company fixed the RCE flaws in April 2015 and recently released a firmware update at the end of January to fix the last issue. During all this time, the company barely answered emails and continued to sell an exposed product.
Programming

Women Get Pull Requests Accepted More (Except When You Know They're Women) (peerj.com) 205

An anonymous reader writes: In the largest study of gender bias [in programming] to date, researchers found that women tend to have their pull requests accepted at a higher rate than men, across a variety of programming languages. This, despite the finding that their pull requests are larger and less likely to serve an immediate project need. At the same time, when the gender of the women is identifiable (as opposed to hidden), their pull requests are accepted less often than men's.
Twitter

Twitter's Timeline Option Puts Important Tweets Up Top (engadget.com) 41

Twitter is doing its best to make sure you see the best content in your timeline (at least thats what its hoping its doing with today's announcement of a new timeline option). The new feature drops what Twitter determines are the best tweets at the top of a user's timeline. For now, this feature is optional, so users can opt-in to see this timeline. In the coming weeks, it will slowly be rolled out to all users.
Open Source

DjangoCon 2016 To Be Held In Philadelphia In July (defna.org) 19

New submitter FlipperPA writes: It has just been announced that the 2016 vintage of DjangoCon US will be held in Philadelphia at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania from July 17th through 22nd. DjangoCon US is a 6-day international community conference for the community by the community, held each year in North America, about the Django web framework. From its humble beginnings in a newsroom in Lawrence, KS, Django now powers some of the better known web sites on the planet, including The Washington Post, Mozilla, Instagram, Disqus, and Pinterest. Considered by many to be the "batteries included" web framework for Python, Django continues to attract new developers across the globe.
Government

Identity Thieves Obtain 100,000 Electronic Filing PINs From IRS System (csoonline.com) 79

itwbennett writes: In January attackers targeted an IRS Web application in an attempt to obtain E-file PINs corresponding to 464,000 previously stolen social security numbers (SSNs) and other taxpayer data. The automated bot was blocked by the IRS after obtaining 100,000 PINs. The IRS said in a statement Tuesday that the SSNs were not stolen from the agency and that the agency would be notifying affected taxpayers.
Government

Putin's Internet Czar Wants To Ban Windows On Government PCs 260

SmartAboutThings writes: The Russian government is allegedly looking to ban Microsoft's Windows operating system, increase taxes on foreign technology companies, develop its homegrown OS and encourage local tech companies to grow. All these proposals comes from German Klimenko, Vladimir Putin's new 'internet czar, as Bloomberg describes him. In a 90-minute interview, Klimenko said forcing Google and Apple to pay more taxes and banning Microsoft Windows from government computers are necessary measures, as he is trying to raise taxes on U.S. companies, thus helping local Russian competitors such as Yandex and Mail.ru.

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