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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Robotics

+ - 225 Water-Prospecting Polaris Lunar Rover Prototype Built->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spin-off company of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has debuted its full-size flight prototype of its Polaris lunar water-prospecting robot. Polaris is specially designed to work in the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon’s poles. Scheduled to be sent to the Moon using a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the solar-powered rover is a contender in the US$20 million Google Lunar X Prize and is tasked with seeking ice deposits that could be used by future colonists."
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Handhelds

+ - 114 Snes/Nes & Megadrive Perfect Gaming On a Handheld

Submitted by YokimaSun
YokimaSun (930294) writes "DCEmu have an article about a Handheld thats been released that will play original Nes, Snes and Megadrive(genesis) Carts. Instead of emulating on consoles such as the PSP or Nintendo Wii, you can play the games on original hardware but whilst on the go. The Handheld comes with 2 joypads and even connects to the TV. It has a decent 8 hours of battery usage and if your lucky enough to own a flash cart for either the Snes or Megadrive this could very much be the ultimate system for you."
Canada

+ - 156 Can Google base ads on e-mails sent to Gmail accounts?->

Submitted by
concealment
concealment writes "A new lawsuit targets Google for reading e-mails to target ads, according to TechCrunch. But the issue isn't that Google is reading e-mails from registered users; rather, the company is using e-mails sent from other services to Google users to target ads as well.

Google has gotten the side-eye a few times in the past for using e-mail content to serve context-based ads to its Gmail users. And for those Gmail users, Google's hide is covered: the terms of service explicitly state that users' e-mail content determines what ads they see."

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Hardware

+ - 149 How to add 5.5 petabytes and get banned from Costco during a hard drive crisis->

Submitted by
concealment
concealment writes "“We buy lots and lots of hard drives . . . . [They] are the single biggest cost in the entire company.”

Those are the words of Backblaze Founder and CEO Gleb Budman, whose company offers unlimited cloud backup for just $5 a month, and fills 50TB worth of new storage a day in its custom-built, open source pod architecture. So one might imagine the cloud storage startup was pretty upset when flooding in Thailand caused a global shortage on internal hard drives last year.

Backblaze details much the process in a Tuesday-morning blog post, including the hijinks that followed as the company got creative trying to figure out ways around the new hard drive limits. Maps were drawn, employees were cut off from purchasing hard drives at Costco — both in-person throughout Silicon Valley and online (despite some great efforts to avoid detection, such as paying for hard drives online using gift cards) — and friends and family across the country were conscripted into a hard-drive-buying army."

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Hardware

+ - 173 10 reasons why the desktop PC will live forever->

Submitted by
concealment
concealment writes "It's an intruiguing proposition, but don't count on mobile devices killing off your desktop PC any time soon. While mobile gear is certainly convenient when you're trying to conduct business on the go, it's nowhere near as convenient as a desktop when you're trying to complete serious work in an office environment.

Sure, your phone, tablet or even laptop might conveniently fit in your pocket or backpack, but all these devices are fraught with compromises, whether it's computing power, screen size, or, well, a really expensive price tag."

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Android

+ - 106 ZTE to launch Android-powered TV box->

Submitted by
SternisheFan
SternisheFan writes "Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE is planning to launch an Android-powered digital set-top box with 3D capabilities "in the near future". A Bloomberg report Monday said ZTE's set-top box support 3D television content as well as boast video-calling capabilities and HTML 5 for displaying Internet content. As part of its TV push, the company also announced it has reached an agreement with Nagra, the digital TV division of Kudelski Group. Nagra has 70 percent share of Europe's cable TV devices and 18 percent of the global market. With this partnership, ZTE will be able to sell set-top boxes to customers of Nagra, the report said. This is not ZTE's first foray into Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) services. In March, the company announced it had the third-largest share in the global IPTV set-top box market. It was second in IPTV middleware with 11 percent share, behind first-place Microsoft and its 22.9 percent share, it added."
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Google

+ - 125 Google doesn't support OpenDocument Format->

Submitted by
rysiek
rysiek writes "After killing off support for old Microsoft formats, Google apparently decided to turn against OpenDocument Format (used by LibreOffice, OpenOffice and many other office suites).

The support for ODF is lacking from Chromebooks, Android phones, Google Drive and QuickOffice. However, Microsoft's controversial OOXML seems to be supported well."

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Android

+ - 130 Why Is Google Killing The Open Document Formats?->

Submitted by sfcrazy
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "Google has zero support for Open Document Format across all its products including Android, Chrome OS, Google Drive and QuickOffice. You are forced to use Microsoft's OOXML. I am left with puzzling questions why is Google not supporting ODF and locking users into an incompatible and vendor-locked OOXML format? Will Google endorse open standards and Open Document Formats or its users will be forced to use Microsoft's OOXML? I"
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News

+ - 121 UK Begins GBP35m Research Into 5G Mobile Broadband->

Submitted by
Mark.JUK
Mark.JUK writes "The government of the United Kingdom has established a new £35 million partnership between international mobile phone operators, telecoms equipment makers and the University of Surrey (England) that looks set to help research and develop the 5th generation of ultrafast mobile broadband (5G) products and services.

At this stage it's still far too early to know precisely what any official 5G standard could end up looking like, although top transfer speeds of 10 to 100Gbps (Gigabits per second) are being debated."

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Microsoft

+ - 216 Microsoft Patents 1826 Choropleth Map Technique

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "A newly-granted Microsoft patent for Variable Formatting of Cells covers the use of 'variable formatting for cells in computer spreadsheets, tables, and other documents', such as using the spectrum from a first color to a second color to represent the values in or associated with each cell. Which is really not a heck of a lot different from how Baron Pierre Charles Dupin created what's believed to be the first choropleth map way back in 1826, when he used shadings from black to white to illustrate the distribution and intensity of illiteracy in France. BTW, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?"
Security

+ - 127 Civil Rights Captcha employs an empathy test to ward off spambots->

Submitted by cylonlover
cylonlover (1921924) writes "Loathe it as we do, the captcha goes a long way to preventing websites from being inundated with spam comments produced by nefarious software. However, there’s room for improvement, and rather than tasking a user with a series of random words which must be entered in order to be allowed to comment on a website, the Civil Rights Captcha employs an empathy test to measure whether you pass muster. The Civil Rights Captcha is the brainchild of Civil Rights Defenders, a Sweden-based international human rights organization. The organization states that it has created the new captcha in order to provide a simpler and more effective method of keeping websites spam-free, in addition to drawing attention to the importance of human rights."
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AMD

+ - 95 AMD's new tablet platform combines Radeon graphics, USB 3.0->

Submitted by
crookedvulture
crookedvulture writes "AMD has released a new APU designed specifically for tablets and hybrid devices. Dubbed the Z-60, this low-power offering uses the same microarchitecture as AMD's existing budget processors but cuts the thermal envelope by almost 25%, allowing the chip to slip into systems just 10 mm thick. In addition to dual CPU cores, the Z-60 features Radeon integrated graphics and a decoding block that's fully supported by Windows 8's video pipeline. The accompanying platform hub supports conventional Serial ATA drives and USB 3.0 devices, perks you won't find in Intel's equivalent Atom processor, and ones that seem particularly applicable to notebook/tablet hybrids."
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PC Games (Games)

+ - 99 What PC Gamers Think About PC Game Critics->

Submitted by DaneM
DaneM (810927) writes "Have you ever wondered why the Metacritic rating for a given "AAA" (high-budget) PC game is often the opposite of the "User" rating for that same game? In this (short) blog post, the "critic top 20" games are compared to the "user top 20" games, and observations are made on the contrasts therein. Do Slashdotters think this is basic ineptitude on the part of critics, sample bias, bribery, or something else? How many new games have you blown all your spare cash on at a critic's recommendation, only to find that it's utter crap?"
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Idle

+ - 136 Man dies after winning cockroach-eating contest-> 2

Submitted by inode_buddha
inode_buddha (576844) writes "This fellow must have been motivated, and had an iron stomach. He died of unknown causes after eating cockroaches in a contest to win a python. Yes, this was in a developed country — the USA --and the man was supposedly of average intelligence. How far would you go on a dare or a bet?"
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Medicine

+ - 170 Teenager Loses Stomach After Drinking Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Liquid nitrogen, which has a boiling point of -196C, is becoming increasingly common at top restaurants as a method for instantly freezing food and drinks, or creating an impressive cloud of vapor or fog when exposed to air. Now BBC reports that a teenager has had emergency surgery to remove her stomach after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen. "This girl is the victim of an irresponsible alcohol industry that's now competing on gimmicks," says Doctor John Ashton, director of public health for Cumbria. "Alcohol itself is a very dangerous thing if improperly handled and liquid nitrogen is a toxic chemical. It destroys human tissue." If swallowed, liquid nitrogen can cause cold burns to the mouth, throat and stomach, killing the tissue. As the frozen vapor hits the stomach it rapidly warms, releasing large volumes of air which can burst the stomach. Doctors performed emergency surgery to remove Gaby Scanlon's stomach, an operation known as a total gastrectomy where the stomach is cut out and the remaining two tubes, the oesophagus and the small bowel, are connected. Science writer and fellow at the Royal Society of Chemistry John Emsley thinks the liquefied gas is safe in the hands of top chefs, and trained bartenders may be able to use it to create "sensational effects", but says there needs to be a very strong warning not to play with it. "It can be a bit of a novelty in the hands of experts, but it would be a different territory in the hands of the general public. If you put your finger in liquid nitrogen, it would go rock solid and fall off.""
Security

+ - 202 Anatomy of a Brokerage IT Meltdown->

Submitted by
CowboyRobot
CowboyRobot writes "The story begins when GunnAllen, a financial company, outsourced all of its IT to The Revere Group. Before long, it was discovered that "A senior network engineer had disabled the company's WatchGuard firewalls and routed all of the broker-dealer's IP traffic--including trades and VoIP calls--through his home cable modem." In addition to the obvious security concerns of sending information such as bank routing information and driver's license numbers, the act violated SEC rules because the routed information was not being logged. Regardless of whether the cause was negligence, incompetance, or sabotage, the matter was swept under the rug for a time until unpaid SQL Server licenses meant threatening calls from Microsoft as well. The rest of the story is one of greed, mismanagement, and neglect, and ends with the SEC's first-ever fine for failure to protect customer data."
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Google

+ - 227 Google to buy a Russian bank and issue credit cards?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Tinkoff Credit Systems' founder and chairman, Oleg Tinkov told reporters that he is evaluating selling his Russian bank that specializes in credit cards to Google. Tinkov has previously stated that his bank is worth about 12-15 times net income (2012 estimated to be $120 million US dollars) that would put the acquisition price at about $1.5 to $1.8 billion US dollars. It would be the third or fourth largest acquisition for Google (Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, Double Click for $3.1 billion, Youtube for $1.65 billion). It would also be the largest acquisition by Google for a non-US based asset."
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