TechCrunch is one of the many outlets to report that Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet computer sold out on its first day of wide availability. Business Insider points to Reddit threads complaining that "selling out" was largely a product of not having all that many in stock to begin with, in some cases not even enough to cover pre-ordered devices.
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
The WSJ reports that Apple is "experimenting with designs for a watch-like device that would perform some functions of a smartphone, according to people briefed on the effort." An excerpt: The company has discussed such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., one of these people said, as part of explorations of potentially large product categories beyond the smartphone and tablet. Apple's efforts come as companies have introduced various kinds of wearable gadgets, mainly designed to measure physical activity. More sophisticated devices face big technical challenges, but also are attracting investments from large technology companies. Foxconn, as Hon Hai is also known, has been working on a spate of technologies that could be used in wearable devices, one of these people said. In particular, the Taiwan-based company has been working to address the challenges of making displays more power-efficient and working with chip manufacturers to strip down their products."
drdread66 writes "A nationwide corn shortage brought on by last year's drought has started to curtail ethanol production. While this shouldn't be surprising to anyone, it raises public policy issues regarding ethanol usage requirements in motor fuel. Given that the energy efficiency of ethanol fuel is questionable at best, is it time to lift the mandate for ethanol in our gasoline?"
First time accepted submitter CarlosF writes "Does Lunar New Year belong alongside those other red-letter days? Efforts to recognize Lunar New Year at the state and local level have been afoot for years. In 1994, San Francisco decided to close public schools on Lunar New Year, but this was largely a response to demographic reality rather than political pressure."
hypnosec writes "The ozone layer seems to be on a road to recovery over Antarctica; according to Europe's MetOp weather satellite, which is monitoring atmospheric ozone, the hole over the South Pole in 2012 was the smallest it's been in the last 10 years. The decrease in size of the hole is probably the result of reduction in the concentration of CFCs, especially since the mid-1990s, because of international agreements like the Montreal Protocol."
Bomarc writes "Twice now I've been advised to 'flash the BIOS to the latest,' once by a (major) hard drive controller maker (RAID); once by an OEM (who listed the update as 'critical,' and has removed older versions of the BIOS). Both times, the update has bricked an expensive piece of equipment. Both times, the response after the failed flash was 'It's not our problem, it's out of warranty.' Given that they recommended / advised that the unit be upgraded, shouldn't they shoulder the responsibility of BIOS upgrade failure? Also, if their design had sockets rather than soldering on parts, one could R/R the faulty part (BIOS chip), rather than going to eBay and praying. Am I the only one that has experienced this type of problem? Have you been advised to upgrade a BIOS (firmware); and the upgrade bricked the part or system? If so, what did you do? Should I name the companies?"
An anonymous reader writes "Ars is reporting that the patent-holding company, along with the heirs of Dutch programmer, Joannes Jozef Everardus Van Der Meer (deceased 2004), have filed suit against Facebook for violating two patents relating to social media web sites. The two patents in question were filed for back in 1998, a full four years before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg first entered university at Harvard. Among the claims made in the lawsuit is that Facebook's "Like" button violates one of Van Der Meer's patents. Facebook even cited one of Van Der Meer's patents in one of their own filings later on. The suit seeks unspecified damages."
An anonymous reader writes "Hurd, the GNU micro-kernel project that was founded by Richard Stallman in 1983, may finally be catching up with Linux on the desktop... Plans were shared by its developers to finally bring in some modern functionality by working on support for Serial ATA drives, USB support, and sound cards. There are also ambitions to provide x86-64 CPU architecture support. GNU Hurd developers will be doing an unofficial Debian GNU/Hurd 'Wheezy' release this year but they hope for the Debian 'Jessie' release their micro-kernel in Debian will make it as part of some official CDs."
McGruber writes "The Federal Times, a weekly print newspaper published by Gamnett Government Media Corp, is reporting that the Rapiscan Systems 'backscatter' passenger screening machines used by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration will likely be redeployed to federal buildings. Rapiscan System's backscatter machines have exposed passengers to radiation since they were first installed. As previously reported on Slashdot, TSA decided last month to stop using the machines because the manufacturer was unable to make changes to the machines that were mandated by Congress. Now TSA is attempting to sucker another federal agency into taking the nude-o-scopes."
An anonymous reader writes "Like the Roomba and other hackable consumer electronics, the Brookstone Rover 2.0 looks like a great value for hackers and robotics experimenters. Check out this teardown and another link within for lots of pics and info."
walterbyrd writes "Microsoft scored a victory against Google-owned Motorola Mobility this week after a judge scrapped 13 of the latter party's patent claims in a years-long dispute over H.264-related royalties. Waged in U.S. and German courts, the battle involves three patents (7,310,374, 7,310,375, and 7,310,376) that Motorola licenses to Microsoft for several products, including the Xbox 360, Windows and Windows Phone. PJ is commenting on the case over at Groklaw.net."
First time accepted submitter g01d4 writes "Who was John E. Karlin? 'He was the one who introduced the notion that behavioral sciences could answer some questions about telephone design,' according to Ed Israelski, an engineer who worked under Mr. Karlin at Bell Labs in the 1970s. And you thought Steve Jobs was cool. An interesting obituary in the NYT."
An anonymous reader writes "Slate provides the first-person account of a CEO who received an e-mail with several business documents attached threatening to distribute them to competitors and business partners unless the CEO paid $150,000. 'Experts I consulted told me that the hacking probably came from government monitors who wanted extra cash,' writes the CEO, who successfully ended the extortion with an e-mail from the law firm from the bank of his financial partner, refusing payment and adding that the authorities had been notified. According to the article, IT providers routinely receive phone calls from their service providers if they detect any downtime on the monitors of network traffic installed by the Chinese government, similar to the alerts provided to telecom providers about VoIP fraud on their IP-PBX switches. 'Hundreds of millions of Chinese operate on the Internet without any real sense of privacy, fully aware that a massive eavesdropping apparatus tracks their every communication and move...' writes the CEO. 'With China's world and ours intersecting online, I expect we'll eventually wonder how we could have been so naive to have assumed that privacy was normal- or that breaches of it were news.'"