enharmonix writes "I have a big decision to make. I am probably going to buy a laptop that I will primarily use for music. I would prefer an OEM distro so I don't need to install the OS myself (not that I mind), but I have no preference between open- and closed-source software as an end-user; I just care about the quality of the product. There are two applications that I absolutely must have: 1) a standard notation transcription program with quality auditioning (i.e., playback with quality sound fonts or something similar, better than your standard MIDI patches) that can also accept recorded audio in lieu of MIDI playback, and 2) a capable synthesizer (the more options, the better). If there's software out there that does both 1 and 2 in the same app, that's even better. I've played with some of Ubuntu's offerings for music a few years ago and some are very good, though not all of them are self-explanatory and the last time I checked, none of them really met my needs. I am not so worried about number 2 because I think I could pretty easily develop my own in .NET/Mono, which I think would be a fun project (which would be open source, of course). I am a Gnome fan so if I go with Linux, I will almost certainly go with standard Ubuntu over Kubuntu, but Gnome seems to rule out Rosegarden which was the best FOSS transcription software out there the last time I checked. The other solution I've thought of is to just shell out the $600 for Finale, which I'm more than willing to do, but I'm not so sure I want Windows 8 and I'm just not sure I can afford to go with a Mac on top of the $600 for Finale. I don't intend to put more than one OS on my laptop, either. Any slashdotters out there dabble in composing/recording, using MIDI, sound fonts, recorded audio, and/or synthesizers? What setup of hardware/OS/software works for you? Can FOSS music software compete with their pricier closed source competitors?" The KXStudio apps installed over Debian or Ubuntu tend to be pretty nice (better session handling that gladish provides at least).
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eggboard writes "Henk Rogers was a Dutchman who arrived in Japan in the 1980s following a girlfriend (later, his wife). An inveterate D&D player, he became enthralled with the NEC-8801, and nearly killed himself trying to create a D&D-like world that he released as The Black Onyx. No one initially knew what to make of it, and the game sold slowly at first. Through savvy pricing, packaging, and press attention, sales grew, and the game jumpstarted RPGs in Japan. Rogers got left behind, though, as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy hit a local nerve better than his efforts. 'I also realized that I didn't quite understand the Japanese aesthetic and way. These games were quite different to mine, and just struck a more effective cultural chord.' Rogers went on to license Tetris to Nintendo, though, so he did just fine."
An anonymous reader writes "Dell today announced a partnership with MakerBot to offer Replicator 3D printers and scanners to small and medium-sized businesses looking for faster and more affordable ways of prototyping. The products are slated to become available for purchase on February 20 in the U.S."
An anonymous reader writes "Using sensors to interface socially, the next generation of robots may not fit the classic idea of what a robot should be. Glen Martin writes: 'Equipped with two articulated arms, it can perform a multitude of tasks. It requires no application code to start up, and no expensive software to function. No specialists are required to program it; workers with minimal technical background can "teach" the robot right on the production line through a graphical user interface and arm manipulation.'"
cartechboy writes "Motorsports used to be about lots of horsepower, torque, and big engines. In recent years there's been a shift to downsizing engines, using less fuel, and even using alternative energy such as clean diesel and hybrid powertrains. Today Nissan unveiled a 400-horsepower 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine that weighs only 88 pounds. This engine will be part of the advanced plug-in hybrid drivetrain that will power the ZEOD RC electrified race car that will run in the 2015 LMP1 class during the race season. Nissan says the driver of the ZEOD RC will be able to switch between electric power and gasoline power with the batteries being recharged via regenerative braking. Even more impressive, according to Nissan, for every hour the ZEOD RC races, the car will be able to run one lap of the Le Mans' 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe on electric power alone. If true, that will make it the first race car in history to complete a lap during a formal race with absolutely zero emissions. If this all works, we could be witnessing the future of motorsports unfold before our eyes later this year when the ZEOD RC (video) makes its race debut at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours in June."
Capt.Albatross writes "At Slate, Chris Kirk presents a map of schools in the USA that both receive public funding and teach creationism. It also shows public schools in those states where they are allowed to teach creationism (without necessarily implying that creationism is taught in all public schools of those states). There is a brief outline of the regulations in those states where this occurs, but the amounts involved are not discussed."
schwit1 writes "New leaked NSA documents shed a new light on the agency's assault on the data controls of smartphone apps. Using app data permissions as a jumping off point, the documents show agency staffers building huge quantities of data, including 'intercepting Google Maps queries made on smartphones, and using them to collect large volumes of location information.' One slide lists capabilities for 'hot mic' recording, high precision geotracking, and file retrieval which would reach any content stored locally on the phone, including text messages, emails and calendar entries. As the slide notes in a parenthetical aside, 'if it's on the phone, we can get it.'"
eggboard writes "Public libraries are starting to build labs that let patrons experiment with new arts, crafts, and sciences, many of them associated with the maker movement. It's a way to bring this technology and training to those without the money or time to join makerspaces or buy gear themselves. It extends the mission of libraries to educate, inform, and enrich. Many are now experimenting with experimenting."
Lucas123 writes "Stratysis today announced it will be shipping this year a printer that can use hundreds of colors and polymers to create production-grade or prototype objects without the need for assembly. Previously, manufacturers could print multi-colored parts using many different materials and assemble them after completion. Stratasis' Objet500 Connex3 Color Multi-material 3D Printer features a triple-jet printer head that combines droplets of three base materials to produce parts with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible and transparent color materials in a single print run."
An anonymous reader writes "Charlie Shrem, the chief executive officer of bitcoin exchange BitInstant, has been arrested and charged with money laundering. 'In the federal criminal complaint, the Southern District of New York charges Shrem, the 24-year-old CEO of BitInstant, with three counts, including one count operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, one count of money laundering conspiracy and one count willful failure to file suspicious activity report. Robert Faiella, a Silk Road user who operated under the name “BTCKing,” was charged with one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count money laundering conspiracy.'"
sciencehabit writes "The earliest farmers may not have been built for the profession. They may have been unable to digest starch and milk, according to a new ancient DNA study of a nearly 8000-year-old human skeleton from Spain (a hunter-gatherer who had dark skin and blue eyes). But these pioneers did already possess immune defenses against some of the diseases that would later become the scourge of civilization. The findings are helping researchers understand what genetic and biological changes humans went through as they made the transition from hunting and gathering to farming."
An anonymous reader writes "Tor Mail was an anonymized email service run over Tor. It was operated by a company called Freedom Hosting, which was shut down by the FBI last August. The owner was arrested for 'enabling child porn,' and the Tor Mail servers suddenly began hosting FBI malware that attempted to de-anonymize users. Now, Wired reports on a new court filing which indicates that the FBI was also able to grab Tor Mail's entire email database. 'The filings show the FBI built its case in part by executing a search warrant on a Gmail account used by the counterfeiters, where they found that orders for forged cards were being sent to a TorMail e-mail account: "firstname.lastname@example.org." Acting on that lead in September, the FBI obtained a search warrant for the TorMail account, and then accessed it from the bureau's own copy of "data and information from the TorMail e-mail server, including the content of TorMail e-mail accounts," according to the complaint (PDF) sworn out by U.S. Postal Inspector Eric Malecki.'"
3-D printing is far from new, but a $499 3-D printer is new enough to get a bunch of people to write about it, including someone whose headline read, CES 2014: Could 3D printing change the world? XYZPrinting, the company behind the da Vinci 1.0 printer, has some happy-looking executives in the wake of CES. They won an award, and their booth got lots of attention. This is what trade shows are all about for small and/or new companies. Now the XYZprinting people can go home and pump out some product -- assuming they got a lot of orders (and not just attention) at CES.
Nerval's Lobster writes "U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made government whistleblower Edward Snowden a very peculiar offer last week: plead guilty, and the U.S. government would consider how to handle his criminal case. That seems an inverted way of doing things—in the United States, the discussions (if not the trial) usually come before the guilty plea—but Holder's statement hints yet again at the conundrum facing the government when it comes to Snowden, a former subcontractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) who leaked secrets about that group's intelligence operations to a number of newspapers, most notably The Guardian. It's unlikely that the U.S. government would ever consider giving full clemency to Snowden, but now it seems that various officials are willing to offer something other than locking him in a deep, dark cell and throwing away the key. If Snowden ever risked coming back to the United States (or if he was forced to return, thanks to the Russians kicking him out and no other country willing to give him asylum), and you were Holder and Obama, what sort of deal would you try to strike with everybody's favorite secrets-leaker?"
An anonymous reader writes "Google and Samsung have signed a global patent cross-licensing agreement aimed at reducing 'the potential for litigation' and enhancing innovation. The deal will cover 'a broad range of technologies and business areas' and apply to both existing patents and any filed over the next decade. The move is also expected to strengthen their position against rivals such as Apple, which has filed multiple lawsuits worth billions of dollars for alleged patent infringements."
dcblogs writes "Detroit, a city in bankruptcy and dealing with a shrinking population, hopes to turn itself around with the help of 50,000 employment-based green cards. In exchange for the visa, an immigrant would be required to 'live and work' in Detroit for an undetermined length of time. The visas would be made available under the EB-2 visa category, a visa for advanced degree professionals or those deemed with 'exceptional ability' in the sciences, arts and business. The proposal was made by Michigan's governor, Rick Snyder. Daniel Costa, an immigration policy analyst at Economic Policy Institute, said Snyder would have more credibility on the issue if he were doing more to help workers in Detroit. In 2011, the state cut jobless benefits by six weeks to 20. 'I also think the federal government should be offering people in the U.S. some money and land in Detroit if they'll move there,' said Costa, or 'just offer it to people across the country who have advanced degrees.'"
taikedz writes "A "mini-tornado" brought down trees, damaged property and even lifted cats in the air, an eyewitness has said. Shirley Blay, who keeps horses at the Jolly Blossom Stables on Station Road, Chobham, told BBC Surrey: 'It was a mini-tornado, I can't describe it as anything less. It started with very heavy rain, hailstones and very strong wind and all of a sudden, the wind was very, very strong, to the point of lifting roofs. We've got four feral cats in the yard and they were being lifted off the ground — about 6ft off the ground — they just went round like a big paper bag.' She said the people and animals who were caught up in the storm were uninjured. A spokesman from Valgrays Animal Rescue in Warlingham said: 'It was like something out of a Steven Spielberg film.'
jfruh writes "Baidu, a company that offers a search engine, a Wikipedia-style user-edited encyclopedia, and other online services, is a household name in China. Now the company is seeking to gain ground on Google in the rest of the world, opening local search sites (in local languages) for Thailand, Brazil, and Egypt."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Yale Law School professors Amy Chua, the self-proclaimed 'Tiger Mom,' and her husband Jed Rubenfeld write in the NYT that it may be taboo to say it, but certain ethnic, religious and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall and Chua and Rubenfeld claim to have identified the three factors that account some group's upward mobility. 'It turns out that for all their diversity, the strikingly successful groups in America today share three traits that, together, propel success,' write Chua and Rubenfeld. 'The first is a superiority complex — a deep-seated belief in their exceptionality. The second appears to be the opposite — insecurity, a feeling that you or what you've done is not good enough. The third is impulse control.' Ironically, each element of the Triple Package violates a core tenet of contemporary American thinking. For example, that insecurity should be a lever of success is anathema in American culture. Feelings of inadequacy are cause for concern or even therapy and parents deliberately instilling insecurity in their children is almost unthinkable. Yet insecurity runs deep in every one of America's rising groups; and consciously or unconsciously, they tend to instill it in their children. Being an outsider in a society — and America's most successful groups are all outsiders in one way or another — is a source of insecurity in itself. Immigrants worry about whether they can survive in a strange land, often communicating a sense of life's precariousness to their children. Hence the common credo: They can take away your home or business, but never your education, so study harder. 'The United States itself was born a Triple Package nation, with an outsized belief in its own exceptionality, a goading desire to prove itself to aristocratic Europe and a Puritan inheritance of impulse control,' conclude Chua and Rubenfeld adding that prosperity and power had their predictable effect, eroding the insecurity and self-restraint that led to them. 'Thus the trials of recent years — the unwon wars, the financial collapse, the rise of China — have, perversely, had a beneficial effect: the return of insecurity...America has always been at its best when it has had to overcome adversity and prove its mettle on the world stage. For better and worse, it has that opportunity again today.'"
Maow writes "Edward Snowden has been interviewed by a German TV network and stated that the NSA is involved in industrial espionage, which is outside the range of national security. He claims that Siemens is a prime example of a target for the data collection. I doubt this would surprise AirBus or other companies, but it shall remain to be seen what measures global industries take (if any) to prevent their internal secrets from falling into NSA's — and presumably American competitors' — hands." AirBus is a good example of a company that has experienced spying from both sides.
MojoKid writes "News from gaming insider Pete Doss is that Microsoft is mulling significant changes to the restrictions it places on developers regarding the Xbox One's GPU. Reportedly, some 10% of total GPU horsepower is reserved for the Kinect — 8% for video and 2% for voice processing. Microsoft is apparently planning changes that would free up that 8% video entirely, leaving just 2% of the system's GPU dedicated to voice input. If Microsoft makes this change, it could have a significant uplift on system frame rates — and it's not clear that developers would necessarily need to patch the architecture to take advantage of the difference."
TechCrunch reports that Google has acquired London-based artificial intelligence firm Deep Mind. TechCrunch notes that the purchase price, as reported by The Information, was somewhere north of $500 million, while a report at PC World puts the purchase price lower, at mere $400 million. Whatever the price, the acquisition means that Google has beaten out Facebook, which reportedly was also interested in Deep Mind. Exactly what the startup will bring to Google isn't clear, though it seems to fit well with the emphasis on AI that the company underscored with its hiring of futurist Ray Kurzweil: "DeepMind's site currently only has a landing page, which says that it is 'a cutting edge artificial intelligence company' to build general-purpose learning algorithms for simulations, e-commerce, and games. As of December, the startup had about 75 employees, reports The Information. In 2012, Carnegie Mellon professor Larry Wasserman wrote that the 'startup is trying to build a system that thinks. This was the original dream of AI. As Shane [Legg] explained to me, there has been huge progress in both neuroscience and ML and their goal is to bring these things together. I thought it sounded crazy until he told me the list of famous billionaires who have invested in the company.'"