sfcrazy writes "The openSUSE team just announced the release of openSUSE 13.1. There are some core points which set openSUSE apart from the popular Ubuntu distro. While Ubuntu has become a more or less Canonical-owned project, openSUSE is becoming more and more community-driven. Looking at the recent controversies around Ubuntu and their move toward mobile platforms, openSUSE seems to be a great option for desktop users."
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An anonymous reader writes "TurboTax from Intuit and H&R Block's own tax package have been perennial mainstays for U.S. citizens trying to use software to figure out just how much they owe the country, without reading the tens of thousands of pages of IRS forms guidance. With tax season just around the corner, the new online platforms from both providers raise an interesting question: can you trust your return information any more or less to an online platform than you do to the equivalent software on your computer?"
mrspoonsi writes "The Xbox One controller went through many radical designs, including a built-in pico projector and a cartridge designed to release smell. Apparently, 'the core base didn't appreciate them,' so these wacky features were dropped in favor of a standard controller. According to VentureBeat, over $100 million worth of research went into the design they ended up using. 'Microsoft’s first tweaks for a new controller focused on the overall size and how it’d fit into hands, golden or otherwise. Using the Xbox 360 controller as a starting point, the engineers would make plastic-molded or 3D-printed prototypes that were each 1 millimeter wider or narrower than the last, testing a full range of up to plus or minus 8 millimeters. “That gave us the ability to test, with actual users including women and children, which width feels best,” said Morris. “We tested with more than 500 people throughout the course of the project. All ages, all abilities.” ... Morris and his team then looked at different thicknesses and shapes of the grips (or “lobes,” as he calls them), plus the angle of the triggers, different styles of analog sticks, and more.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Google has extended its proactive Patch Reward Program to include even more open-source software. Among them is the Android Open Source Project, which the company previously did not reveal was going to be added. Last month, Google started providing financial incentives (between $500 and $3,133.70) for proactive improvements to OSS that go beyond merely fixing a known security bug. Google said at the time it would be rolling out the program gradually, and hinted that more project types would be on the way."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Brad Lendon reports at CNN that 29 satellites, the most ever launched at one time, will be aboard a single Minotaur I rocket scheduled to lift off from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Tuesday night at 7:30 pm. The main payload will be the Air Force's Space Test Program Satellite-3, plus 28 tiny satellites called CubeSats about 4 inches on each side, weighing about 3 pounds and with a volume of about a quart. The cubesats will include Ho`oponopono-2 from the University of Hawaii to continue a long-existing radar calibration service for the 80 plus C-band radar tracking stations distributed around the world. It will also have CAPE-2 from the Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment, to give students at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette the opportunity to research, design, develop, and maintain a low earth orbiting satellite, and SwampSat from the University of Florida to advance the TRL (Technology Readiness Level) of CMGs (Control Moment Gyroscopes) appropriate for smallsats. Among the CubeSats is the TJ3Sat, the first satellite made by high-schoolers to go into space, built by the students of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. It will give students and other amateur radio users the opportunity to send and receive data from the satellite. Approved text strings will be transmitted to the satellite, and the resulting voice interpretation will be relayed back to Earth over an amateur radio frequency using the onboard Stensat radio. Orbital says the 29 satellites should achieve orbit in a little less than 12½ minutes after the rocket ignites. NASA says the launch may be visible from northern Florida to southern Canada and as far west as Indiana. Live coverage of the launch is available via UStream beginning at 6:30 p.m. EST on launch day."
jones_supa writes "During the first day of the latest virtual Ubuntu Developer Summit, Canonical developers finally plotted out the enabling of TRIM/DISCARD support by default for solid-state drives on Ubuntu 14.04. Ubuntu developers aren't looking to enable discard at the file-system level since it can slow down delete operations, so instead they're wanting to have their own cron job that routinely runs fstrim for TRIMing the system. In the past there has been talk about the TRIM implementation being unoptimized in the kernel. Around when Linux 3.0 was released, OpenSUSE noted that the kernel performs TRIM to a single range, instead of vectorized list of TRIM ranges, which is what the specification calls for. In some scenarios this results in lowered performance."
c0d3g33k writes "Glitch, a collaborative, web-based, massively multiplayer game developed by Tiny Speck, Inc. (tinyspeck.com) has been released under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal License. I'm not at all familiar with this game, but it is rare that both source code and all game assets are released into the public domain, which makes this announcement noteworthy. An excerpt from the announcement: 'The entire library of art assets from the game has been made freely available, dedicated to the public domain. Code from the game client is included to help developers work with the assets. All of it can be downloaded and used by anyone, for any purpose. (But: use it for good.)'"
Milverton Wallace (@milvy on Twitter) might seem an unlikely candidate to be setting up hackathons in the UK; his background is as a journalist, and he was born a few thousand miles away in Jamaica. Nonetheless, when I met up with him at last month’s AppsWorld in London, he was about to conduct another in a series of hackathons at Google’s London campus. He’s got some interesting things to say about the mechanics and reasons for putting a bunch of programmers (and/or kids who aren’t yet programmers per se) into a room, and giving them a good environment for creativity. He has some harsh words for the UK school system’s approach to computer education (which sounds an awful lot like the U.S. approach in far too many schools), and praise for efforts (like the Raspberry Pi Foundation) to bring programming to British classrooms, both earlier and with more depth. The same ideas should apply world-wide.
kkleiner writes "With the cost of healthcare services increasing, it's welcome news that a recent deal between Walgreens and Theranos will bring rapid, accurate, low-cost blood testing to the local pharmacy. A pinprick of blood from a finger is enough to run any number of a la carte diagnostic tests with results in four hours or less. The automation of blood testing in one convenient machine may mean that the demand for clinical technicians may decline, but the benefits of making blood analysis more accessible to everyone is enormous."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from TechDirt: "One of the bizarre side notes to Hollywood's big lawsuit against the cyberlocker Hotfile was a countersuit against Warner Bros. by Hotfile, for using the easy takedown tool that Hotfile had provided, to take down a variety of content that was (a) non-infringing and (b) had nothing to do with Warner Bros. at all (i.e., the company did not hold the copyright on those files). In that case, WB admitted that it filed a bunch of false takedowns, but said it was no big deal because it was all done by a computer. Of course, it then came out that at least one work was taken down by a WB employee, and that employee had done so on purpose, annoyed that JDownloader could help possible infringers download more quickly."
SmartAboutThings writes "Chip maker AMD has announced that it's won 2 CES Innovation Awards for a gaming tablet the company plans to show off at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The device is called "Project Discovery" and will come with AMD's Mullins chip that is a 64-bit, x86-based chip, perfectly suitable for Windows 8.1. The low-power Mullins APU (accelerated processing unit) is AMD's answer to Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm, aimed at fanless tablets, ultrathin notebooks, and 2-in-1 devices. The 28nm processor is expected to consume as little as 2 watts of energy while in use. The obtained images show that the upcoming AMD tablet is quite similar to Razer Edge."
An anonymous reader writes "TechRepublic has the story behind Munich City Council's decision to ditch Microsoft Windows and Office in favor of open source software. The project leader talks about why the shift was primarily about freedom, in this case freeing itself from being tied into Microsoft's infrastructure and having control over the software it uses. He talks about how the council managed to keep such a large project on track, despite affecting 15,000 people and spanning nine years. He also warns against organizations justifying the shift to open source software on the grounds that it will save money, arguing this approach is always likely to fail."
An anonymous reader writes "Not a month goes by without security researchers finding new malicious apps on Google Play. According to BitDefender, more than one percent of 420,000+ analyzed apps offered on Google's official Android store are repackaged versions of legitimate apps. In the long run, their existence hurts the users, the legitimate developers, and Google's reputation in general. Google Play has recently surpassed the one million mark when it comes to the apps it offers, and the researchers have analyzed a good chunk of the total in order to discover just how many are hiding their true nature."
An anonymous reader writes "Version 2.7 of the Contiki operating system has been released. The open source Contiki OS is known for its minuscule IPv6 stack that allows the tiniest of Systems-on-a-Chips – microprocessors with built-in 2.4 GHz radios – to connect to the Internet. The 2.7 release improves the IPv6 mesh routing mechanism so that the Systems-on-a-Chip autonomously can form wireless networks."
cold fjord writes with this report from The Telegraph: "The original members of Monty Python will reunite more than 30 years after the comedy troupe last worked together. John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Michael Palin will officially announce their reformation at a London press conference on Thursday. The five surviving members have reportedly been in months of secret talks about getting the Flying Circus back on the road. The reunion comes after several failed attempts to reform by the group. However, according to The Sun, the surviving members realised 'it was now or never,' and had decided to embark upon 'a fully-fledged reunion.'" Related stories include this commentary, one take on the best of Python and this negative reaction, too.
Nerval's Lobster writes "A small handful of Tesla electric cars have caught fire, driving down the company's stock price, and finally prompting CEO Elon Musk to tackle the issue in a new blog posting. 'Since the Model S went into production last year, there have been more than a quarter million gasoline car fires in the United States alone, resulting in over 400 deaths and approximately 1,200 serious injuries (extrapolating 2012 NFPA data),' he wrote in that posting. 'However, the three Model S fires, which only occurred after very high-speed collisions and caused no serious injuries or deaths, received more national headlines than all 250,000+ gasoline fires combined.' Responsible journalism on the matter, he added, has been 'drowned out' by 'an onslaught of popular and financial media seeking to make a sensation out of something that a simple Google search would reveal to be false.' According to his own figures, Tesla suffers an average of one fire per 6,333 cars, versus a rate of one fire per 1,350 gasoline-powered cars. Every Tesla vehicle includes internal walls between the battery modules, in addition to a firewall between the battery pack and the passenger compartment — enough shielding, in the event of a fire, to prevent pens and papers in the glove compartment from combusting. 'Despite multiple high-speed accidents, there have been no deaths or serious injuries in a Model S of any kind ever,' Musk continued. 'Of course, at some point, the law of large numbers dictates that this, too, will change, but the record is long enough already for us to be extremely proud of this achievement.' Tesla is about to push an 'over-the-air update' to its vehicles' air suspension that will create more ground clearance at highway speeds. In theory, that could reduce the chances of impact damage to the underbody, should the vehicle roll over an object — and that, in turn, could lower the chances of fire."
jfruh writes "The new Chinese leadership released a document outlining its vision for the country Friday, and most of the attention was paid to reforms, like plans to loosen state control of the economy and end the one-child policy. But when it comes to the Internet, the Chinese Communist government is doubling down on its restrictive policies. The document notes that social networking and instant messaging tools can rapidly disseminate information and mobilize society; the government doesn't think those are good things, and plans to bolster its regulatory systems and increase the scope of their legal authority."
mrspoonsi writes "Nokia shareholders met today at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to vote on whether or not to accept the terms of the company's proposed sale of its devices and services business to Microsoft. The deal, which was first announced in September, is worth €5.44bn EUR ($7.35bn USD / £4.57bn GBP), and also includes provisions for Microsoft to license patents from the Finnish company. 78% of those eligible to vote had already voted before the EGM. Of those early votes, a staggering 99% had voted in favour of the sale to Microsoft."
KentuckyFC writes "The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence or SETI is one of the highest profile projects in science. And yet its biggest challenge is in generating the funds required to scour the skies for signs of intelligent life. Government funding agencies generally ignore SETI so most funding comes from wealthy patrons such as Paul Allen who has donated $30 million for the construction of a radio interferometer designed to scour the skies for signs of ET. But the lack of other donors means this facility is still incomplete and only partially operational. But one astrobiologist has a solution. Why not create a lottery bond that allows investors to buy shares that yield a fixed rate of interest but also generates enough cash to fund ongoing SETI projects? To add an element of spice, this bond is also a lottery: when the search finally succeeds, a subset of the shareholders will receive a payout from the kitty. This is a fund that is likely to have global appeal but will need a financial institution willing and capable of taking it on. Any suggestions?"
psychonaut writes "Blogger DoctorBeet discovered that his new LG television was surreptitiously sending information about his TV viewing habits, as well as the names of the files he watched on removable media, to LG's servers. There is an undocumented setting in the TV configuration which supposedly disables this behaviour, but an inspection of the network traffic between the TV and the Internet showed that the TV continues to send the data whether or not the setting is disabled. DoctorBeet contacted LG, but they shrugged the matter off, saying that it's a matter between him and the retailer he bought the TV from."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Boston Globe reports that the pending use of GPS tracking devices, slated to be installed in Boston police cruisers, has many officers worried that commanders will monitor their every move. Boston police administrators say the system gives dispatchers the ability to see where officers are, rather than wait for a radio response and supervisors insist the system will improve their response to emergencies. Using GPS, they say, accelerates their response to a call for a shooting or an armed robbery. 'We'll be moving forward as quickly as possible,' says former police commissioner Edward F. Davis. 'There are an enormous amount of benefits. . . . This is clearly an important enhancement and should lead to further reductions in crime.' But some officers said they worry that under such a system they will have to explain their every move and possibly compromise their ability to court street sources. 'No one likes it. Who wants to be followed all over the place?' said one officer who spoke anonymously because department rules forbid police from speaking to the media without authorization. 'If I take my cruiser and I meet [reluctant witnesses] to talk, eventually they can follow me and say why were you in a back dark street for 45 minutes? It's going to open up a can of worms that can't be closed.' Meanwhile civil libertarians are relishing the rank and file's own backlash. 'The irony of police objecting to GPS technology for privacy reasons is hard to miss in the aftermath of United States v. Jones,' says Woodrow Hartzog. 'But the officers' concerns about privacy illustrate just how revealing GPS technology can be. Departments are going to have to confront the chilling effect this surveillance might have on police behavior.'"
langelgjm writes "As /. reported, last Thursday Wikileaks released a draft text of the intellectual property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Since then, many commentators have raised alarm about its contents. But what happens when you mix the leaked text together with Perl regular expressions and R's network analysis packages? You get some neat visualizations showing just how isolated the United States is in pushing for extreme copyright and patent laws."
An anonymous reader writes "Users of Silverlight, Microsoft's answer to Adobe Flash, are in danger of having malware installed on their computers and being none the wiser, as an exploit for a critical vulnerability (CVE-2013-0634) in the app framework has been added to the Angler exploit kit. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution if an attacker hosts a website that contains a specially crafted Silverlight application that could exploit this vulnerability and then convinces a user to view the website. The attacker could also take advantage of compromised websites and websites that accept or host user-provided content or advertisements." You'd think something like Silverlight would automatically upgrade itself.
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Congress held its first-ever hearing on virtual currencies this afternoon, and it may have been the best PR boost bitcoin's had yet. The tone at the hearing held before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee was overwhelmingly positive as the panel weighed the risks of the technology that grew out of the criminal underbelly of the web, with the potential economic value of the now-booming futurist money. The prevailing sentiment over the two-hour deep dive into the pros and cons of the digital coins boils down to this: We need to uphold America's position as center of technical innovation by welcoming the new currency—but that that can't be done without government safeguards and regulations." SonicSpike wrote in with a link to another report in Bloomberg. The Federal Reserve has no plans to regulate Bitcoin (lacking regulatory authority), but the SEC chair wrote "Regardless of whether an underlying virtual currency is itself a security, interests issued by entities owning virtual currencies or providing returns based on assets such as virtual currencies likely would be securities and therefore subject to our regulation."