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Government

Ten States Pass Anti-Patent-Troll Laws, With More To Come 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-under-the-bridge dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With patent reform stalled in the Senate, many states have decided to take up the issue themselves. 'As states kicked off their legislative sessions this winter, lawmakers responded to the threats against small businesses by writing bills that would ban "bad faith patent assertions" as a violation of consumer-protection laws. The bills target a specific type of patent troll: the kind that sends out vaguely worded letters demanding licensing fees. The thousands of letters sent out by the "scanner trolls" at MPHJ Technology are often brought up as a case-in-point. The new laws allow trolls that break rules around letter-writing to be sued in state court, either by private companies they've approached for licensing fees, or by state authorities themselves.'"
Science

How Predictable Is Evolution? 209

Posted by samzenpus
from the step-by-step dept.
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "If the clock rewound, would organisms evolve the same way they did before? Humble stick insects may hold the answer to that long-running question in biology. Through studies of these bugs, whose bodies match the leaves the insects live on, researchers have found that although groups of the bug have evolved similar appearances, they achieved that mostly via different changes in their DNA. 'I think it says that repeatability of evolution is very low,' says Andrew Hendry, an evolutionary biologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who was not involved with the work."
The Almighty Buck

New Tech Super PACs Could Tap Into Google Riches 52

Posted by samzenpus
from the pot-of-gold dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A for-profit university bankrolled by prominent tech firms and co-founded by futurist Ray Kurzweil is behind four separate super PACs formed this week, according to interviews and documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. Randi Willis, an official at Singularity University, confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that leaders at her institution will later this year begin determining how to best use these new political committees, which could tap into the wealth of tech industry titans."
IBM

IBM Discovers New Class of Polymers 90

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
Charliemopps (1157495) writes "IBM Research has published a new paper to the journal Science which describes a newly discovered class of Industrial Polymers that promise to revolutionize the fields of transportation, aerospace, and microelectronics. These materials resist cracking, have strength higher than that of bone, the ability to self-heal, and are completely recyclable. 'Codenamed Titan and Hydro, both of which came from the same reaction. One is rigid; it could become part of the next generation of computers. The other is a gel, so it it could be included in water-soluble nail polish.'"
Transportation

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight 160

Posted by timothy
from the wake-me-when-it-can-do-austin-to-dallas dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The aviation industry has taken a tentative step toward electric power with the successful maiden flight of the Airbus E-Fan. The manufacturer known for the massive A380 jetliner began testing this small experimental aircraft last week, with the ultimate aim of lowering the huge carbon dioxide emissions from commercial flights. The E-FAN is powered by 120 lithium-polymer batteries, and can fly at speeds up to 136mph. Measuring just 19 feet from nose to tail, the compact aircraft show that Airbus probably isn't ready for commercial zero emissions flight just yet, but it does highlight the potential benefits."
Android

Apple's Revenge: iMessage Might Eat Your Texts If You Switch To Android 415

Posted by timothy
from the computer-says-no dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "When my best friend upgraded from an iPhone 4S to a Galaxy S4, I texted her hello. Unfortunately, she didn't get that text, nor any of the five I sent in the following three days. My iPhone didn't realize she was now an Android user and sent all my texts via iMessage. It wasn't until she called me about going to brunch that I realized she wasn't getting my text messages. What I thought was just a minor bug is actually a much larger problem. One that, apparently, Apple has no idea how to fix. Apple said the company is aware of the situation, but it's not sure how to solve it. One Apple support person said: 'This is a problem a lot of people are facing. The engineering team is working on it but is apparently clueless as to how to fix it. There are no reliable solutions right now — for some people the standard fixes work immediately; many others are in my boat.'"
Data Storage

OCZ RevoDrive 350 PCIe SSD Hits 1.8GB/sec With Standard Toshiba MLC NAND 113

Posted by timothy
from the and-this-time-next-year dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "OCZ was recently acquired by Toshiba and has been going through its product stack, revamping its SSD portfolio with fresh re-designs based on Toshiba NAND Flash memory for not only increased performance but better cost structure as well. OCZ has now replaced their RevoDrive family of PCIe SSD cards with an almost complete re-designed of the product. The RevoDrive 350 is based on the same OCZ VCA 2.0 (Virtualized Controller Architecture) technology as the previous generation but is now enabled with a PCI Express X8 card interface and up to 4 LSI SandForce SD-2282 SSD processors, along with 19nm Toshiba NAND Flash. The good news is, not only is the new RevoDrive 350 faster at 1.8GB/sec claimed bandwidth for sequential reads and 1.7GB/sec for sequential writes, but it's also significantly more affordable, at literally half the price of the previous gen RevoDrive 3 when it first launched. In the benchmarks, the new PCIe card excels at read throughput, regularly hitting its 1.8GB/sec claimed bandwidth, especially with sequential workloads. Write performance is solid as well and the drive competes with the likes of some higher-end and more expensive SLC NAND-based PCIe cards like LSI's WarpDrive and Intel's SSD 910."
Cloud

Don't Be a Server Hugger! (Video) 409

Posted by Roblimo
from the old-stewball-was-the-most-loyal-server-horse-we-ever-done-had dept.
Curtis Peterson says admins who hang onto their servers instead of moving into the cloud are 'Server Huggers,' a term he makes sound like 'Horse Huggers,' a phrase that once might have been used to describe hackney drivers who didn't want to give up their horse-pulled carriages in favor of gasoline-powered automobiles. Curtis is VP of Operations for RingCentral, a cloud-based VOIP company, so he's obviously made the jump to the cloud himself. And he has reassuring words for sysadmins who are afraid the move to cloud-based computing is going to throw them out of work. He says there are plenty of new cloud computing opportunities springing up for those who have enough initiative and savvy to grab onto them, by which he obviously means you, right?
Stats

You've Got Male: Amazon's Growth Impacting Seattle Dating Scene 315

Posted by timothy
from the truth-in-action dept.
reifman (786887) writes "San Francisco's gender imbalance is so bad that a startup recently proposed flying women in from New York City for dates. But, if you're a straight male thinking of moving to Seattle to work in technology, think again. Seattle's gender ratio is even more imbalanced and it's about to get much worse for men. Amazon is building out enough space to employ 5% of the city population and its workforce is 75 percent male. By the end of 2014, Seattle will have 130 single men for every 100 single women."
United States

Could High Bay-Area Prices Make Sacramento the Next Big Startup Hub? 190

Posted by timothy
from the cost-of-living-is-important dept.
waderoush (1271548) writes "Don't laugh. As the cost of housing spirals out of control on the San Francisco peninsula, neighboring metro regions like Sacramento are beginning to look more attractive to startup founders who prefer a Northern California lifestyle but haven't worked in the Silicon Valley gold mines long enough to become 1-percenters. Today Xconomy presents Part 1 of a two-part look at innovation in the Sacramento-Davis corridor and efforts to make the region more welcoming to high-tech entrepreneurs. In Sacramento's favor, there's a talented workforce fueled by a top-20 university (UC Davis), space for expansion, proximity to the ski mountains at Tahoe, and a far lower cost of living — the average house in Sacramento is selling for $237,000, compared to $909,000 in San Francisco. The downsides include a shortage of local investment dollars and a lower density of startups, meaning there's less opportunity for serendipitous collaboration. But locals say recent efforts to boost the local high-tech economy are working. 'I really feel like we are in a renaissance area,' says Eric Ullrich, co-founder of Hacker Lab, a Midtown Sacramento co-working space."
Databases

Ask Slashdot: Easy-To-Use Alternative To MS Access For a Charity's Database? 281

Posted by timothy
from the take-your-best-shot dept.
New submitter danzvash (447536) writes "I'm doing some volunteering for a street kids charity in Senegal, West Africa, and they need a new database to store all their information for the kids, and to help the funding organizations like UNICEF. The charity staff have a few computers running Windows 7. Being a die-hard OSS geek I'm more inclined to knock up a MySQL backend with a Django (or similar) front-end and run the whole thing from a reliable VPS. But it needs to be understandable by the non-geeks in the charity — there is no IT expertise here. Is there anything that can allow me to design and edit databases, tables, and forms but doesn't require an MS license?"
The Internet

FCC Votes To Consider Next Round of 'Net Neutrality' Rules 182

Posted by timothy
from the double-secret-prohibited dept.
As you may have watched live earlier today, the FCC in a protester-heavy hearing has voted to formally consider a net neutrality proposal. The linked L.A. Times story says the 3-2 vote of the commissioners represents a victory for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: 'A Democrat who took over in November, Wheeler triggered outrage among public interest groups, online activists and many liberals with a plan that would for the first time allow the possibility of so-called pay-for-priority deals. Wheeler said his plan has been misconstrued and that it would not allow broadband providers to block any legal content or slow down connections in a way that is commercially unreasonable.' As the Washington Post points out, the phrase "commercially unreasonable" is a loaded one. More good coverage at Ars Technica, too.
Hardware Hacking

Unlock Your Android Phone With Open Source Wearable NFC 81

Posted by timothy
from the now-attach-it-to-your-gun dept.
coop0030 (263345) writes "Becky Stern at Adafruit has created a guide on how to create an open source NFC ring or other wearable to mod and unlock your Android phone. From the tutorial: 'Unlock your phone by just picking it up! No more pesky password or gesture PIN, just scan an NFC tag! This guide covers creating an NFC ring, putting an NFC tag in your nail polish, modding your Android installation to read tags from the lockscreen, and creating an automation toolchain to unlock the phone when the desired tag is scanned.' There is also a video that demonstrates how it works."
Red Hat Software

Why Should Red Hat Support Competitors' Software? 111

Posted by timothy
from the just-for-fun-vs-bottom-line-reality dept.
colinneagle (2544914) writes "The Wall Street Journal recently reported that, based on documents it reviewed, Red Hat "has chosen not to provide support to its commercial Linux customers if they use rival versions of OpenStack." But the big question is: Why would customers have expected that in the first place? Gartner analyst Lydia Leong told Network World that Red Hat isn't really doing anything wrong here. Customers shouldn't have an expectation that Red Hat would support competitors' software. "The norm would be to expect that non-Red Hat software is treated like any other third-party software," Leong says. If Red Hat has done anything wrong, it's that it has not clearly articulated its positioning and support for non-Red Hat OpenStack distros. Red Hat did not immediately respond to a question asking for a clarification on its support policy. The complication in all this comes from the fact that OpenStack is an open source project and there are misconceived notions that all OpenStack clouds are interoperable with one another. But Leong says just because OpenStack is open source doesn't change the expectations around vendors supporting competitors' products."
Software

Adobe Creative Cloud Services Offline (Again?) 164

Posted by timothy
from the more-moving-parts-to-fail dept.
New submitter jvp (27996) writes "Adobe's authentication system for its Creative Cloud as well as its website services is down, and has been since Wednesday (14 May) afternoon. What this means: If you're a Creative Cloud subscriber, you can't log into your account via the desktop application. Online services such as the fonts are not available. Applications (eg: Photoshop, Premiere, etc) will continue to work. Softpedia has a nice article on it, but their time frames are off quite a bit." As of this writing, a message on the Adobe Creative Cloud page says "Creative Cloud is currently undergoing maintenance. Please check back later. Thank you for your patience." Even though I've come to like some remote-hosted software, like gmail, I don't think I'd want tools for manipulating local media tied even loosely to the uptime of a remote computer (or network connection).
Government

Watch the FCC Vote On Net Neutrality Live At 10:30am Eastern 90

Posted by timothy
from the now-now-now dept.
New submitter giltwist (1313107) writes "Very shortly, the FCC will begin its vote on proceeding 14-28 regarding Chairman Wheeler's highly contentious Net Neutrality proceeding. Senator Al Franken called Net Neutrality the free speech issue of our time. The vote begins at 10:30am Eastern time today. Make sure to watch it live at the FCC's live stream." "A particularly full agenda" is right; it's a rambunctious crowd, too.
Twitter

Data Mining Reveals How Wording Influences Tweet Propagation 21

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-never-believe-how-money-maker-#7-brings-tears-to-your-eyes dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "One of the most widely shared tweets in history is Obama's "Four more years", posted after his second presidential election victory and currently retweeted 775,000 times. But how would different wording have influenced this tweet's popularity and the way it spread? It's easy to imagine that there's no way of telling what might have been in such an alternative universe. But a surprising phenomenon on Twitter has allowed data scientists to study this kind of alternative reality and work out the factors that make one tweet more popular than another. It turns out that the twitter stream contains a surprisingly large number of tweets from the same authors, pointing to the same content but with different messages. That's a natural experiment in which factors such as the author, the URL, the number of followers and so on are all held constant while the message varies. By studying these pairs of tweets, researchers can measure how well each performs and then determine which factors contribute to their popularity. These turn out to be things like the amount of information the tweet contains, the language it uses and even whether it includes a request for a retweet. The team has developed an algorithm that predicts which of a pair of tweets is more likely to be successful with greater accuracy than humans. And they've even set up a website where anybody can test their tweet-rating ability and thereby improve their chances of writing the perfect tweet."
Privacy

IACR Finally Gets Around To Repudiating Mass Surveillance 20

Posted by timothy
from the hey-many-you're-making-us-look-bad dept.
First time accepted submitter TechyImmigrant (175943) writes "Following the focus on government mass surveillance resulting from the information revealed by Edward Snowden, many organizations involved in security and communications put out statements essentially repudiating that surveillance. As of yesterday (May 15th 2014) the IACR (International Association for Cryptologic Research) who one might expect to have a position on this, has finally one year after the anniversary of the leaks, got around to making a position statement. 'The membership of the IACR repudiates mass surveillance and the undermining of cryptographic solutions and standards. Population-wide surveillance threatens democracy and human dignity. We call for expediting research and deployment of effective techniques to protect personal privacy against governmental and corporate overreach.' So the crypto guys don't like it either. Now we know." They're not the only ones: reader Juha Saarinen (2822817) writes "Stung by concerns that the NSA may have introduced deliberately weakened crypto algorithms, NIST is embarking on a review of its existing standards and developments."
Cloud

Comcast Predicts Usage Cap Within 5 Years 475

Posted by timothy
from the hang-onto-your-bits dept.
finalcutmonstar (1862890) writes "With net neutrality dying a slow painful death, it is no surprise that in an investor call yesterday Comcast executive VP(and Darth Vader impersonator) David Cohen predicts bandwidth caps within the next 5 years. The cap would start at 300 GB and cost the customer subscriber an extra 10 USD for 50 GB. But, Cohen stated that 'I would also predict that the vast majority of our customers would never be caught in the buying the additional buckets of usage, that we will always want to say the basic level of usage at a sufficiently high level that the vast majority of our customers are not implicated by the usage-based billing plan.'" Update: 05/15 13:58 GMT by T : Correction: Cohen is actually talking about data transferred, rather than stored (as headline originally had it), as reader MAXOMENOS points out.
Open Source

Autodesk Unveils 3d Printer As It Aims To Become Industry's Android 85

Posted by samzenpus
from the spread-the-wealth dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "BBC reports that Autodesk — the leading 3D modelling software-maker — is going into hardware with its own 3D printer and in addition to selling the machine, Autodesk will also allow other manufacturers to make their own versions of the printer or power their own models off its software at no cost. 'The printer is a bona fide attempt to prove the interoperability and open source nature of Autodesk's platform,' says Pete Basiliere. 'And by sharing its design we could see a second wave of small start-ups creating stereolithography machines just as the makers did when the early material extrusion patents expired.' Chief executive Carl Bass likened the new printer to Google's first Nexus smartphone, a product meant to inspire other manufacturers to install Android on their handsets rather than become a bestseller itself. In Autodesk's case the idea is to drive the adoption of its new Spark software, a product it likens to being an 'operating system for 3D-printing'. Although Autodesk is giving away both Spark and the printer's design, the company should still profit because the move would drive demand for the firm's other products. 'If 3D printing succeeds we succeed, because the only way you can print is if you have a 3D model, and our customers are the largest makers of 3D models in the world.'

Instead of the extrusion technique most commonly used by existing budget printers, Autodesk's printer uses a laser to harden liquid plastic to create the objects delivering smoother, more complex and more detailed objects. 'We're making a printer that, rather than just being able to load in proprietary materials, you can load in any material you want. You can formulate your own polymers and experiment with those. That's an important next step because we think material science is a breakthrough that has to happen to make [the industry] go from low-volume 3D-printed stuff to where it really starts changing manufacturing.' Bass said, its printer is targeted at more professional users–for creating small objects like medical devices or jewelry–and will likely end up closer to the $5,000 range, though exact pricing has not been set."
United States

Air Force Prepares to Dismantle HAARP 178

Posted by samzenpus
from the so-long-farewell dept.
First time accepted submitter registrations_suck (1075251) writes in with news about the dismantling of the HAARP project. The U.S. Air Force gave official notice to Congress Wednesday that it intends to dismantle the $300 million High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Gakona this summer. The shutdown of HAARP, a project created by the late Sen. Ted Stevens when he wielded great control over the U.S. defense budget, will start after a final research experiment takes place in mid-June, the Air Force said in a letter to Congress Tuesday. While the University of Alaska has expressed interest in taking over the research site, which is off the Tok Cutoff, in an area where black spruce was cleared a quarter-century ago for the Air Force Backscatter radar project that was never completed. But the school has not volunteered to pay $5 million a year to run HAARP. Responding to questions from Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski during a Senate hearing Wednesday, David Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Science, Technology and Engineering, said this is 'not an area that we have any need for in the future' and it would not be a good use of Air Force research funds to keep HAARP going. 'We're moving on to other ways of managing the ionosphere, which the HAARP was really designed to do,' he said. 'To inject energy into the ionosphere to be able to actually control it. But that work has been completed.' Comments of that sort have given rise to endless conspiracy theories, portraying HAARP as a super weapon capable of mind control or weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes."
Canada

Orca Identified As 103 Years Old 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-goog-for-her-age dept.
guises (2423402) writes "The oldest known orca has recently been spotted off western Canada at an age of 103. A female nicknamed 'granny,' photos exist of her from the 1930s, where she can be identified by her distinctive saddle patch. The news has prompted calls for another evaluation of marine mammals in captivity — orcas in captivity usually don't live beyond their 20s."
Transportation

Are Glowing, Solar Smart Roads the Future? 193

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-drive-on dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "We were just talking about glow-in-the-dark roads and how they were having issues already. Now there's a company called Solar Roadways that's looking to make glowing, solar, smart roads. Back in 2009 the Department of Transportation awarded Solar Roadways $100,000 to prototype road systems with embedded digital signage and dividing lines, all powered by the sun. As it turns out, the company's prototype performed well — so well that Solar Roadways is now looking to go big-time, and it's asking for your help to do so. At the heart of the Solar Roadways project sit a vast number of hexagonal tiles. The bottom of those tiles consist of solar panels and circuit boards, covered with a thick sheet of tempered glass. The panels contain LED lights, which can be configured to mark traffic lanes, send messages, or fulfill other functions. The panels also have heating elements to help melt snow and ice during colder months. Are these smart roads the future, or just another pipe dream?"

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