An anonymous reader writes "An article at MIT's Technology Review makes the case that the complexity of the design tools behind 3-D printing are what's holding it back from widespread adoption. Many of the devices are indeed prohibitively expensive, but the inability for your average person — or even your average tech hobbyist — to pick it up and start experimenting is an even bigger obstacle. 'That means software innovation could be more important to 3-D printing than gradual improvements in the underlying technology for shaping objects. That technology is already 30 years old and is widely used in industry to create prototypes, molds, and, in some cases, parts for airplanes. ... Although additive manufacturing allows for designs that can't be made easily in any other way — such as complex shapes with internal cavities — so far, companies have mostly used 3-D printing to create prototypes or models of familiar products.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "TorrentFreak reports on an internet piracy case from Finland, which saw four men found guilty and fined €45,000. During the trial, the defense attorney took note of inconsistencies in log files used as evidence against the men. An investigator for international recording industry organization IFPI revealed after questioning that the files had been tampered with. He said an MPAA executive was present when the evidence gathering took place, and altered the files to hide the identity of 'one of their spies.' 'No one from the MPAA informed the defense that the edits had been made and the tampering was revealed at the worst possible time – during the trial. This resulted in the prosecutor ordering a police investigation into the changes that had been made. "Police then proceeded by comparing the 'work copy' that the IFPI investigator produced with the material that police and the defending counsels had received. Police found out that the material had differences in over 10 files," Hietanen reveals.'"
New submitter hebbosome writes "Researchers at Georgia Tech have provided a glimpse of a future full of highly-sensitive robots. Their nanoelectronic pressure sensors, comparable in sensitivity to human skin, are made out of new type of vertical transistor (abstract). 'In Wang’s nanowire transistors, the gate traditionally used in electronics is eliminated. Instead, the current flowing through the nanowires is controlled by the electrical charge generated when strain or force applied is to the transistors.' 'The arrays include more than 8,000 functioning piezotronic transistors, each of which can independently produce an electronic controlling signal when placed under mechanical strain.' They could immediately be used in human-machine interfaces for capturing electronic signatures, and, down the road, in robots and prosthetics."
Lauren Weinstein writes "Are you ready for the imagery war — the war against personal photography and capturing of video? You'd better be. 'In some cities, like New York, the surveillance-industrial complex has its fangs deeply into government for the big bucks. It's there we heard the Police Commissioner — just hours ago, really — claim that "privacy is off the table." And of course, there's the rise of wearable cameras and microphones by law enforcement, generally bringing praise from people who assume they will reduce police misconduct, but also dangerously ignoring a host of critical questions. Will officers be able to choose when the video is running? How will the video be protected from tampering? How long will it be archived? Can it be demanded by courts? ... All of this and more is the gung-ho, government surveillance side of the equation. But what about the personal photography and video side? What of individual or corporate use of these technologies in public and private spaces? Will the same politicians promoting government surveillance in all its glory take a similar stance toward nongovernmental applications? Writing already on the wall suggests not. Inklings of the battles to come are already visible, if you know where to look."
CCP Games, creators of the successful space MMORPG EVE Online, have announced they will be harvesting stories from within the game to create comic books, a TV series, and possibly even films set in the EVE universe. EVE has never set records for the size of its userbase, but it's long been known as a game that generates some of the best emergent gameplay in the industry. From battles involving thousands of players to in-game confidence schemes involving currency worth tens of thousands of real dollars, it's likely you've heard about players' exploits even if you haven't played the game. CCP is now looking to bring the EVE universe to a wider audience, and rather than having a group of writers dictate all of the lore, they're letting the players take part. They've set up a site where users can share their tales and vote on those of others. CCP has partnered with Dark Horse Comics to make a comic book out of the stories, and with a production company to make a live-action TV show.
centre21 writes "Having been on Slashdot for several years, I've seen a lot of articles concerning DRM. What's most interesting to me are the number of comments condemning DRM outright and calling for the abolishing DRM with all due prejudice. The question I have for the community: is there ever a time when DRM is justified? My focus here is the aspect of how DRM protects the rights of content creators (aka, artists) and helps to prevent people freely distributing their works and with no compensation. How would those who are opposed to DRM ensure that artists will get just compensation for their works if there are no mechanisms to prevent someone from simply digitally copying a work (be it music, movie or book) and giving it away to anyone who wants it? Because, in my eyes, when people stop getting paid for what they do, they'll stop doing it. Many of my friends and family are in the arts, and let me assure you, one of the things they fear most isn't censorship, it's (in their words), 'Some kid freely distributing my stuff and eliminating my source of income.' And I can see their point. So I reiterate, to those who vehemently oppose DRM, is there ever a time where DRM can be a force for good, or can they offer an alternative that would prevent the above from happening?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Back in January, when Wolfram Alpha launched an updated version of its Personal Analytics for Facebook module, the self-billed 'computational knowledge engine' asked users to contribute their detailed Facebook data for research purposes. The researchers at Wolfram Alpha, having crunched all that information, are now offering some data on how users interact with Facebook. For starters, the median number of 'friends' is 342, with the average number of friends peaking for those in their late teens before declining at a steady rate. Younger people also have a tendency to largely add Facebook friends around their own age — for example, someone who's 20 might have lots of friends in the twenty-something range, and comparatively few in other decades of life—while middle-aged people tend to have friends across the age spectrum. Beyond that, the Wolfram Alpha blog offers up some interesting information about friend counts (and 'friend of friend' counts), how friends' networks tend to 'cluster' around life events such as school and sports teams, and even how peoples' postings tend to evolve as they get older — as people age, for example, they tend to talk less about video games and more about politics. 'It feels like we're starting to be able to train a serious "computational telescope" on the "social universe,"' the blog concluded. 'And it's letting us discover all sorts of phenomena.'"
theodp writes "Having fooled major news outlets with a heartwarming-but-entirely-faked video of a pig rescuing a drowning goat, Nathan Fielder turned his attention to texting. CNET reports on the great Twitter 'text-your-parents-you're-a-drug-dealer' experiment, in which the Fielder called on his Twitter followers to text their moms and dads and (accidentally) reveal a drug deal. Fielder's tweet read: 'Experiment: text your parents "got 2 grams for $40" then right after "Sorry ignore that txt. Not for you." Then tweet pic of their response.' The reactions are various and, sometimes, hilarious."
jrepin writes "KDE's integrated development environment KDevelop has just reached version 4.5. 'In this new version you will find brand new integration for Unit Tests, so that you can easily run and debug them while working on your projects. Furthermore, you'll find an iteration of our New Class wizard, many changes regarding polishing the UI in different places, better support for C++11 features and some other things you'll find along the way.'"
Following a conference on space debris, the European Space Agency has warned that the amount of space junk floating around in orbit is a problem that needs to be dealt with 'urgently.' They are calling for a number of test missions to examine different methods of controlling or removing the debris. "Our understanding of the growing space debris problem can be compared with our understanding of the need to address Earth’s changing climate some 20 years ago," said Heiner Klinkrad, head of the agency's Space Debris office. A couple years ago we discussed an idea for de-orbiting space junk by hitting it with a laser to change its momentum. An Australian company has now received funding from NASA and the Australian government to try just that. "We've been developing tracking systems using lasers for some years, so we can actually track very small objects with a laser rangefinder to very high accuracy. ... If you allow that velocity to change over a period of perhaps 24 hours, then you can get actually a 100-meter shift in the location of an object to deflect it from colliding with another space debris object." Other plans are in development as well, and there currently exists an international guideline saying that new hardware must de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere after 25 years of operation — but compliance is lagging. Meanwhile, collision events are becoming more common (PDF), and experts worry about the safety of the International Space Station and important satellites. "Their direct costs and the costs of losing them will by far exceed the cost of remedial activities."
Avantare writes "The first sci-fi novel I read was A Wrinkle in Time; the next was Dune. Why don't more people read these extraordinarily imaginative books? Delegate Ray Canterbury, who represents Greenbrier County in southern WV, wants to help with that. Canterbury introduced House Bill 2983, which reads, 'To stimulate interest in math and science among students in the public schools of this state, the State Board of Education shall prescribe minimum standards by which samples of grade-appropriate science fiction literature are integrated into the curriculum of existing reading, literature or other required courses for middle school and high school students.' For decades, walking around with a paperback sci-fi novel in your back pocket at school was the quickest way to find yourself permanently excluded from the cool-kid clique. But what if it wasn't just the geeks who read Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke? What if science fiction was mandatory reading for all students?"
symbolset writes "Up to 17,500 rural Vermont subscribers of vTel, a legacy copper telephone company, stand to get gigabit fiber to the home. Funded by a $95 million U.S. grant and $55 million in coinvestment from a utility for smart meters, the 1,200 mile fiber network will cost $8,500 per home — if every subscriber takes the gigabit Internet. Currently the company is doing its best to convince people this is a product they need, but have seen only 600 takers so far. The federal grant is part of $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus funds that seem to have accomplished very little."
reifman writes "The Seattle Times reports, 'For the first time in state history, the Washington state budget is being written by Microsofties,' Representative Ross Hunter has 'tamed his Microsoft-style head-butting with a politician's trust-building.' Senator Andy Hill is 'the first Senate budget chair ever to request Excel files instead of paper spreadsheets.' 'The two must find $1 billion in new money for the state's K-12 system.' Unfortunately, The Times neglects to mention that Hunter and Microsoft are among those behind the deficit and cutbacks in the first place. Hunter helped pass the amnesty bill for Microsoft's $1.5 billion Nevada tax dodge ($4.37 billion if you include impacts from its lobbying to reduce tax rates) that contributed to $4 billion in cuts to K-12 and higher education since 2008. The state has resorted to using Yelp to tax dancing to try to make up the shortfall (for real)."
An anonymous reader writes "The new Xbox is almost here and the details appear to strongly suggest 'always on' is the way forward. We all know that this is an artificial requirement and certainly there are plenty of people on all sides of the table. To paraphrase the user 'tuffy' who commented on this issue at Ars Technica recently; if you're trying to sell 'always online' as a feature of the future, there needs to be some benefit for me the customer. There is not one. Or, rather, there is no sign yet of any actual clearly compelling reason why any end user would support this limitation to their purchase. So, what's the best way to express this? Spend your money on an Ouya? Contact the Xbox team? These are all valid options but they also lack visibility. What we need is a way that could help actually quantify the levels of discontent in the gamer community. Maybe E3 attendees could turn their backs in protest like some did during Thatcher's funeral procession. Or gamers could sign some useless petition. What do Slashdotters think? Is the upcoming Steam box a reasonable plan? As a gamer, I'm of two minds about the whole thing. I really don't like it but I may roll over eventually and join the herd because I could get used to it. Then again part of me is rankled by this slow erosion of access to me and my data."
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have found a genetic mutation that causes mammalian neural tissue to expand and fold. When they mutated this gene in mice, the rodents developed brains that look more like ours (abstract). The discovery may help explain why humans evolved more elaborate brains than mice, and it could suggest ways to treat disorders such as autism and epilepsy that arise from abnormal neural development. The findings go against a common conception that 'dumber species will have different genes' for brain development than more intelligent species, Borrell says. He adds that the mechanism could help explain how New World monkeys, with their small, smooth brains, could have evolved from an ancestor with a bigger and more folded brain."
curtwoodward writes "Eric Schmidt came to Harvard this week to discuss his new book, but many students really wanted to know more about the implications for privacy and social interaction once Google Glass starts hitting the market. Schmidt cautioned against jumping to the worst conclusions, saying that society always tends to adapt to new technologies — and he's hoping for etiquette rather than government regulation. Of course, that's what you would say if you used to run a company that has been fined and paid settlements to regulators for the way it scoops up data and tracks users. But Schmidt also doesn't have much patience for critics: 'Criticisms are inevitably from people who are afraid of change, or who have not figured out that there will be an adaptation of society.'"