An anonymous reader writes "Sony claims that both the new 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch models of its Haswell-equipped Vaio Pro ultrabooks are the world's lightest. The 11.6-inch model weighs in at 1.9lb (0.87k , where as the 13.3-incher is a little heavier at just 2.33lb (1.06kg). But it's the battery life on offer here that really makes the new Pros stand out. The 11.6-inch Vaio Pro offers 11 hours of battery life as standard, while the 13.3-inch achieves 8 hours. However, Sony is also offering a sheet battery you can connect to the base of the ultrabooks. On the 13.3-inch Pro that increases battery life to 18 hours, but on the 11.6-inch you get a true day-long amount of juice with 25 hours of battery life claimed."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
ColdWetDog writes "The LA Times has a quick article on a newly named giant lizard: 'An ancient plant eating lizard that looked like an iguana but was closer in size to a German shepherd has been named after Jim Morrison, the late troubled and charismatic lead singer of the Doors.The lizard's name was chosen by Jason Head, a paleontologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a hard-core Doors fan since college.' Hunter S. Thompson, who hallucinated presumably somewhat more carnivorous lounge lizards, was also considered for the honor."
coondoggie writes "NASA today said it would team up with Lego to offer a competition to see who can build the coolest models of future airplanes and spacecraft. The 'NASA's Missions: Imagine and Build' competition is open now with an entry deadline of July 31. Winners in each category will be selected by a panel of NASA and LEGO officials and announced Sept. 1."
An anonymous reader writes "This is a new one, twitter as a form of historical reenactment: 'Israel's army is giving a "live" blow-by-blow account of the 1967 Six Day War, tweeting each air strike at the exact time it occurred 46 years ago ... @IDF1967 "is an official Israel Defence Forces account that is aimed at re-tweeting the events of the Six Day War in live time", ... The account was tweeting key events in the battle against the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria that took place from June 5 to 10, 1967 and includes pictures and videos, the army said. The tweets are mostly in Hebrew, with some translated into English. "In response to repeated provocations by Egypt, the State of Israel and the IDF are going to war. We will not sit idly as the enemy forces tighten the noose around our necks," the opening tweet said around 8.00am (1500 AEST) on Wednesday when Israel landed its first preemptive air strike 46 years ago.'"
New submitter lemur3 writes "After multiple months of discussing possible changes to the prohibited items list, the Transportation Security Administration in the United States has determined that it is best to go ahead without any changes to the list of items passengers may have in their carry-on baggage when traveling by air. Under the proposed change (discussed previously on Slashdot) pocket knives and other items, such as hockey sticks and ski poles, would have been allowed."
An anonymous reader writes "This article discusses a recently-released U.N. Scientific Committee report which examined the health effects of the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Their conclusion: 'Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers. ... No radiation-related deaths or acute effects have been observed among nearly 25,000 workers involved at the accident site. Given the small number of highly exposed workers, it is unlikely that excess cases of thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure would be detectable.' The article even sums up the exposure levels for the workers who were closest to the reactor: 'Of 167 exposed to more than the industry's recommended five-year limit of 100 mSv (a CT scan exposes patients to up to 10 mSv), 23 recorded 150-200 mSv, three 200-250 mSv and six up to 678 mSv, still short of the 1000 mSv single dosage that causes radiation sickness, or the accumulated exposure estimated to cause a fatal cancer years later in 5 per cent of people.' The report also highlights the minute effect it's had on the environment: 'The exposures on both marine and terrestrial non-human biota were too low for observable acute effects.'"
ananyo writes "Electrical engineers have used lasers to create a cloak that can hide communications in a 'time hole', so that it seems as if they were never sent. The method is the first that can cloak data streams sent at the rapid rates typically seen in telecommunications systems. It opens the door to ultra-secure transmission schemes, and may also provide a way to better shield information from noise corruption (abstract). The researchers manipulated laser light in time to create regular periods with zero light intensity (a Talbot carpet) in which to hide data. Unfortunately, the current set up erases the data-adding event entirely from history. Though they are confident that future modifications will allow them, or others, to send secret messages successfully, the more immediate use of the technology will be to cut down crosstalk when multiple data streams share the same fibre." Also at Slash Datacenter.
curtwoodward writes "Amazon has been delivering groceries to people in its hometown of Seattle for a half-dozen years, but the experiment has never spread any further. But this year, rumors about Amazon Fresh expanding to new cities are coming out every month — Reuters just reported that Amazon could start the service in L.A. within a week, and in San Francisco in the coming months. What gives? Why expand now? Look no further than Amazon's long-running battle with state and federal governments over sales tax policy. After more than a decade of resistance, Amazon has spent the last two years cutting deals to collect sales taxes in states all over the country. And it's pushing for a national online sales-tax system, which appears to be within reach. That's the last obstacle to Amazon getting into the grocery-delivery game — a step that should worry not only grocers, but UPS and FedEx, too."
WheezyJoe writes "The Today Show had a piece this morning showing video of thieves apparently using a small device to open and enter cars equipped with keyless entry. Electronic key fobs, which are supposed to be secure, are replacing keys in more and more new cars, but the evidence suggests that a device has been developed which effortlessly bypasses this security (at least on certain makes and models). 'Adding to the mystery, police say the device works on some cars but not others. Other surveillance videos show thieves trying to open a Ford SUV and a Cadillac, with no luck. But an Acura SUV and sedan pop right open. And they always seem to strike on the passenger side. Investigators don't know why.' Police and security experts say they are 'stumped.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla is planning a major design overhaul of its flagship browser with the release of Firefox 25, slated to arrive in October. The company makes a point to discuss its plans for changes openly, and this upcoming new version is by no means an exception. In fact, even though Firefox 22 is in the Beta channel, Firefox 23 is in the Aurora channel, and Firefox 24 is in the Nightly channel, Mozilla has set up a special Nightly UX channel for Firefox 25. Grab it here."
Peter Wayner is no stranger to Slashdot. Not only that, he's written a bunch of books, plus articles for InfoWorld, PC World, the New York Times, and many other publications. Now he's working on a book about Autonomous Cars. Last year Peter wrote an article for Car & Driver about the privacy implications of vehicle recorders. Driverless cars will bring us a whole new set of problems, questions, and -- no doubt -- legislation. We're hoping to have more conversations on this topic (and others) with Peter in the future, so with any luck this video will be the first of a long series. With all that said, take it away, interviewer Timothy Lord... Update: 06/05 21:56 GMT by T : Peter's book is still in progress, but it's got a website, if you'd like an early glance.
coop0030 writes "Thanks to the affordable Raspberry Pi and some clever software, anyone can re-create the classic arcade experience at home. Adafruit brings the genuine 'clicky' arcade controls, you bring the game files and a little crafting skill to build it. Classic game emulation used to require a well-specced PC and specialized adapters for the controls, so it's exciting to see this trickle down to a $40 system. Also, a video of the game system is on YouTube."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Monsanto is more infamous for growing its genetically modified crops than its use of software, but a series of corporate acquisitions and a new emphasis on tech solutions has transformed it into a firm that acts more like an innovative IT vendor than an agribusiness giant. Jim McCarter (the Entrepreneur in Residence for Monsanto) recently detailed for an audience in St. Louis how the company's IT efforts are expanding. Monsanto's core projects generate huge amounts of bits, especially its genomic efforts, which are the focus of so much public attention. Other big data gobblers are the phenotypes of millions of DNA structures that describe the various biological properties of each plant, and the photographic imagery of crop fields. (All told, there are several tens of petabytes that need storage and analysis, a number that's doubling roughly every 16 months.) With all that tech muscle, the company has launched IT-based initiatives such as its FieldScripts software, which uses proprietary algorithms (fed with data from the FieldScripts Testing Network and Monsanto research) to recommend where to best plant corn hybrids. 'Just like Amazon has its recommendation engine for what book to buy, we will have our recommendations of what and how a grower should plant a particular crop,' said McCarter. 'All fields aren't uniform and shouldn't be planted uniformly either.' Despite its increasingly sophisticated use of data analytics in the name of greater crop yields, however, Monsanto faces pushback from various groups with an aversion to genetically modified food; a current ballot initiative in Washington State, for example, could result in genetically modified foods needing a label in order to go on sale here. The company has also inspired a 'March Against Monsanto,' which has been much in the news lately."
Etherwalk writes "Huang Chengqing, China's top internet security official, alleged that cyberattacks on China from people in the U.S. are as serious as those from China on the U.S. 'We have mountains of data, if we wanted to accuse the U.S., but it's not helpful in solving the problem.' Huang, however, does not necessarily attribute them to the U.S. government just because they came from U.S. soil, and he thinks Washington should extend the same courtesy. 'They advocated cases that they never let us know about. Some cases can be addressed if they had talked to us, why not let us know? It is not a constructive train of thought to solve problems.' In response to the recent theft of U.S. military designs, he replied with an observation whose obviousness is worthy of Captain Hammer: 'Even following the general principle of secret-keeping, it should not have been linked to the Internet.'" A few experts think China's more cooperative attitude has come about precisely because the U.S. government has gone public with hacking allegations.
DavidGilbert99 writes "In a surprising move, the special committee set up to decide which buyout offer was best for Dell has chosen to back the bid from founder Michael Dell, which promises the shareholders a smaller payday and will see him remain the head of the company." Their SEC filing on the matter indicates they are not confident that Icahn's counter-offer would actually provide the promised $12/share dividend.
Yesterday, Georgia Power announced that they successfully lifted the first part of the Vogtle Unit 3 containment vessel into place. From World Nuclear News: "The component — measuring almost 40 meters wide, 12 meters tall and weighing over 900 tons — was assembled on-site from pre-fabricated steel plates. The cradle for the containment vessel was put in place on the unit's nuclear island in April. The completed bottom head was raised by a heavy lift derrick and placed on the cradle on 1 June, Georgia Power announced." Georgia Power has a pretty cool gallery of high resolution construction photos (the bottom head is the background on my XBMC machine). Below the fold there is a video of the crane moving the bottom head into place.
MojoKid writes "AMD recently unveiled a handful of mobile Elite A-Series APUs, formerly codenamed Richland. Those products built upon the company's existing Trinity-based products but offered additional power and frequency optimizations designed to enhance overall performance and increase battery life. Today AMD is launching a handful of new Richland APUs for desktops and small form factor PCs. The additional power and thermal headroom afforded by desktop form factors has allowed AMD to crank things up a few notches further on both the CPU and GPU sides. The highest-end parts feature quad-CPU cores with 384 Radeon cores and 4MB of total cache. The top end APUs have GPU cores clocked at 844MHz (a 44MHz increase over Trinity) with CPU core boost clocks that top out at lofty 4.4GHz. In addition, AMD's top-end part, the A10-6800K, has been validated for use with DDR3-2133MHz memory. The rest of the APUs max out at with a 1866MHz DDR memory interface." As with the last few APUs, the conclusion is that the new A10 chips beat Intel's Haswell graphics solidly, but lag a bit in CPU performance and power consumption.
trendspotter writes with news of research indicating that impact events might be responsible for seeding the Earth with reactive forms of the precursors to amino acids. From the article: "Early Earth was not very hospitable when it came to jump starting life. In fact, new research shows that life on Earth may have come from out of this world. Lawrence Livermore scientist Nir Goldman and University of Ontario Institute of Technology colleague Isaac Tamblyn (a former LLNL postdoc) found that icy comets that crashed into Earth millions of years ago could have produced life building organic compounds, including the building blocks of proteins and nucleobases pairs of DNA and RNA. Comets contain a variety of simple molecules, such as water, ammonia, methanol and carbon dioxide, and an impact event with a planetary surface would provide an abundant supply of energy to drive chemical reactions." The paper (PDF).
dcollins writes "Facebook has a 'Download Info' capability that I've used regularly since 2010 to archive, backup, and search all the information that I've written and shared there (called 'wall posts'). But I've discovered that sometime in the last few months, Facebook silently removed this largest component from the Downloaded Info, locking up all of your posted information internally where it can no longer be exported or digitally searched. Will they reverse course if this is publicized and they're pressured on the matter?" It does appear that the archive of your wall posts is now only available through the not-very-useful Activity Log.
theodp writes "Q. What do Chris Brown and Steve Ballmer have in common? A. They both want you to Beg for It. GeekWire reports that Microsoft is touting its new Chip In program, a crowdfunding platform that allows students to 'beg' for select Windows 8 PCs and tablets that they can't afford on their own. Blair Hanley Frank explains, 'Students go to the Chip In website and choose one of the 20 computers and tablets that have been pre-selected by Microsoft. Microsoft chips in 10% of the price right off the bat, and then students are given a link to a "giving page" to send out to anyone they think might give them money. Once their computer is fully funded, Microsoft ships it to them.' Hey, what could go wrong?"
mask.of.sanity writes "Vulnerabilities in Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV television sets have been found that allow viewers' home networks to be hacked, the programs they watched spied on, and even for TV sets to be turned into Bitcoin miners. The laboratory attacks took take advantage of the rich web features enabled in smart TVs running on the HbbTV network, a system loaded with online streaming content and apps which is used by more than 20 million viewers in Europe."
ananyo writes "A toy quadcopter can be steered through an obstacle course by thought alone. The aircraft's pilot operates it remotely using a cap of electrodes to detect brainwaves that are translated into commands. Ultimately, the developers of the mind-controlled copter hope to adapt their technology for directing artificial robotic limbs and other medical devices." From the paper (PDF) abstract: "... we report a novel experiment of BCI controlling a robotic quadcopter in three-dimensional (3D) physical space using noninvasive scalp electroencephalogram (EEG) in human subjects. We then quantify the performance of this system using metrics suitable for asynchronous BCI. Lastly, we examine the impact that the operation of a real world device has on subjects’ control in comparison to a 2D virtual cursor task. Approach. ... Individual subjects were able to accurately acquire up to 90.5% of all valid targets presented while traveling at an average straight-line speed of 0.69 m s^(1)." This also appears to be the first time a Brain-Computer Interface was used to operate a flying device in 3D space. Also, there are several additional videos showing people operating the quadcopter.
An anonymous reader points out a report in Wired of an American woman at a "renowned academic institution" who received targeted malware from what was most likely a foreign government. "... analysis of [the downloader] showed that it was the same downloader that has been used in the past to install Remote Control System (RCS), a spy tool made by the Italian company Hacking Team and sold to governments." What's significant about this malware is that it is made by an Italian firm who claims they sell it only to government and law enforcement bodies, and it isn't of much use to your standard botnet operator. "The RCS tool, also known as DaVinci, records text and audio conversations from Skype, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk and MSN Messenger, among other communication applications. It also steals Web browsing history and can turn on a computer’s microphone and webcam to record conversations in a room and take photos. The tool relies on an extensive infrastructure to operate and therefore is not easily copied and passed to non-government actors outside that infrastructure to use for their own personal spy purposes, according to a Hacking Team spokesman." There's no solid proof indicating who is responsible, but the malware email contained a link to a website in Turkey. "Turkey is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance. If authorities there were behind the hack attack, it would mean that a NATO ally had attempted to spy on a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, presumably without the knowledge or approval of U.S. authorities, and for reasons that don't appear to be related to a criminal or counter-terrorism investigation."
Lasrick tips this report from Reuters: "Despite the more than $50 billion that U.S. pharmaceutical companies have spent every year since the mid-2000s to discover new medications, drugmakers have barely improved on old standbys developed decades ago. Research published on Monday showed that the effectiveness of new drugs, as measured by comparing the response of patients on those treatments to those taking a placebo, has plummeted since the 1970s. 'While experts agree that tougher trials and similar factors explain some of the decline in drugs' reported effectiveness, something real is going on here,' said Olfson. 'Physicians keep saying that many of the new things just aren't working as well,' and therefore prescribe antidepressant drugs called tricyclics (developed in the 1950s) instead of SSRIs (from the 1980s), or diuretics (invented in the 1920s) for high blood pressure instead of newer anti-hypertensives.'"
hansamurai writes with an update to a story we've been following for a while. Jeffrey Feldman is at the center of an ongoing case about whether or not crime suspects can be forced to decrypt their own hard drives. (Feldman is accused of having child pornography on his hard drives.) After initially having a federal judge say Feldman was protected by the Fifth Amendment, law enforcement officials were able to break the encyption on one of his many seized storage devices. The decrypted contents contained child pornography, so a different judge said the direct evidence of criminal activity meant Feldman was not protected anymore by the Fifth Amendment. Now, a third judge has granted the defense attorney's emergency motion to rescind that decision, saying Feldman is once again (still?) protected by the Fifth Amendment. Feldman's lawyer said, "I will move heaven and earth to make sure that the war on the infinitesimal amount of child pornography that recirculates on the Internet does not eradicate the Fifth Amendment the way the war on drugs has eviscerated the Fourth Amendment. This case is going to go many rounds. Regardless of who wins the next round, the other side will appeal, invariably landing in the lap of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and quite possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. The grim reality facing our country today is one where we currently have a percentage of our population behind bars that surpasses even the heights of the gulags in Stalinist Russia. On too many days criminal lawyers lose all rounds. But for today: The Shellow Group: 1, Government: 0."
Bismillah writes "Following the example of the Dutch, who enacted laws supporting network neutrality, the European Union is now looking at doing the same. They are pushing for an end to the throttling and blocking of services such as Skype and Whatsapp by providers hoping to drive users to their own competing services. The EU also wants a service transparency requirement for ISPs, so people know what they're buying — like minimum speed. It'll be interesting to see how this pans out."
Bent Spoke writes "The U.S. trade agency has banned the import of older Apple iPhone and iPad models due to the violation of a patent held by Samsung (PDF). 'The president can overturn the import ban on public-policy grounds, though that rarely happens. Apple can keep selling the devices during the 60-day review period. ... Apple pledged to appeal the ITC decision. The underlying findings will be reviewed by a U.S. appeals court specializing in patent cases. ... The decision could mean fewer choices for AT&T and T-Mobile customers who want to get an iPhone without paying the higher cost of the iPhone 5. Samsung told the commission that Cupertino, California-based Apple could drop the price of the iPhone 5 if it was worried about losing potential customers. All of the iPhones are made in Asia.' It's getting so complicated we need a scorecard to keep track of who's winning these offensive patent battles in the smartphone coliseum."
An anonymous reader writes "City of London Police inform TorrentFreak that they have begun targeting sites that provide access to unauthorized content for 'criminal gain.' The initiative is part of a collaboration with Hollywood studios represented by FACT and the major recording labels of the BPI. In letters being sent out now, police accuse site operators of committing offenses under the Serious Crime Act. The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau further warns that the crimes carry a jail sentence of 10 years."