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AI

+ - 208 Getting Small UAVs to Imitate Human Pilots Flying through Dense Forests->

Submitted by
diabolicalrobot
diabolicalrobot writes "The Robotics Institute at CMU has been developing systems to learn from humans. Using a Machine Learning class of techniques called Imitation Learning our group has developed AI software for a small commercially available off-the-shelf ARdrone to autonomously fly through the dense trees for over 3.4 km in experimental runs. We are also developing methods to do longer range planning with such purely vision-guided UAVs. Such technology has a lot of potential impact for surveillance, search and rescue and allowing UAVs to safely share airspace with manned airspace."
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Android

+ - 190 Android's Alarming Worldwide 2012 3Q Numbers-> 2

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn (898314) writes "Gartner's released a report on Worldwide numbers of 2012 3Q phone sales and the staggering results posted from Android have caused people like IW's Eric Zeman to call for sanity. Keep in mind these are worldwide numbers which might be less surprising when you realize that the biggest growth market of them all is China who is more than 90% Android. It's time to face the facts and realize that Android now owns 73% of the worldwide smartphone market. While developers bicker over which platform is best for development and earnings, the people of the world may be making the choice based on just how inexpensive an Android smartphone can be. This same time last year, Gartner reported Android at 52.5% of market share and it now sits at 72.4% market share with over 122 million units sold worldwide. Only Q4 reports will tell if Android's momentum will finally begin to slow to save some chance of competition in the smartphone ecosystem or if the Quickening will be complete."
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The Military

+ - 188 Invisibility tech demonstration tomorrow in New York City->

Submitted by Velcroman1
Velcroman1 (1667895) writes "Invisibility cloaks and deflector shields, once a staple of popular science-fiction, are now the real deal, researchers say. But here on Earth, top researchers have been battling too, not over the fate of the empire but over whose tech will someday shield U.S. ships. Fractal Antenna Systems came out swinging Wednesday over a "perfected" invisibility cloak by researchers at Duke and Imperial College. Company CEO and inventor Nathan Cohen issued a scathingly critical press release throwing very visible zingers — and claiming he invented it first. “[Their tech] makes you more, not less, visible,” Cohen said. The company says a patent-pending deflector shield built off a variant of the technology can divert electromagnetic radiation around an object — and they plan to show it off Friday in New York City, at the Radio Club of America."
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Microsoft

+ - 150 Woz worries Microsoft is now more innovative than Apple-> 1

Submitted by yvajj
yvajj (970228) writes "According to a techcrunch interview, Woz believes that Microsoft is now more innovative than Apple. Per the interview, it seems as though Apple is now just doing newer versions of the Iphone, and are potentially headed into a rut. Another gem from Woz is the fact that he treats all new hardware as something new to learn from and does not approach it with any preconceptions (irrespective of who the manufacturer is / what OS etc.). A great short interview from Woz."
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Science

+ - 161 Good news about Deepwater Horizon: oysters didn't eat oil->

Submitted by LilaG
LilaG (2576095) writes "BP is about to shell out billions in the criminal case the U.S. brought against it for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. Some good news has also just come out about the spill's effects on the Gulf: oysters didn't consume much oil from the spill.

That's the conclusion of a study by researchers in Alabama who were already studying the region's oysters before the spill happened — giving them before, during, and after samples to test. Using isotopic ratios, the researchers found little evidence of oil in the oyster's flesh or shells."

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IBM

+ - 100 IBM kills Lotus brand, readies beta of Notes/Domino Social Edition ->

Submitted by
coondoggie
coondoggie writes "IBM is planning to release on Dec. 14 a public beta of Notes and Domino 9.0 Social Edition that will no longer use the Lotus brand. IBM has decided to offer a public beta, the first in a long time for Notes and Domino, because of the importance of the release, Ed Brill, director of product line management and in charge of IBM's Collaboration Solutions, said in a blog post."
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Crime

+ - 206 Crooks steal $1.5M in iPads from JFK->

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg (971356) writes "A pair of brazen crooks punched another hole in the lax JFK security when they stole a trove of new Apple iPad minis — worth $1.5 million — from the same cargo building that was the site of the 1978 Lufthansa heist featured in “GoodFellas,” according to the New York Post. The crooks struck shortly before midnight on Monday and used one of the airport’s own forklifts to load two pallets of the tablet computers into a truck, according to law-enforcement sources. It's been a crazy year for iPad/iPhone thefts in New York City and elsewhere. http://www.networkworld.com/news/2012/100812-iphone-ipad-thefts-263110.html"
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+ - 169 RIAA Data Shows P2P Users Spend Nearly 50% More on Music Than Non-P2P Users-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "File sharing of music has been part of the Internet landscape for well over a decade, but the debate over its economic impact continues to rage. The issue has come to fore once again in recent weeks after Columbia University's American Assembly released an excerpt of a report that found that peer-to-peer users purchase 31 percent more downloads than non-P2P users. Michael Geist now reports that the RIAA's response — through the NPD Group — contained basic math errors as it double counted sales data and significantly understated the spending difference between P2P users and non-P2P users."
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NASA

+ - 164 NASA to encrypt all of its laptops->

Submitted by pev
pev (2186) writes "After losing another laptop containing personal information, NASA wants to have all of its laptops encrypted within a months time with an intermediate ban of laptops containing sensitive information leaving its facilities. Between April 2009 and April 2011 it lost or had stolen 48 "mobile computing devices". I wonder how it will be before other large organisations start following suit as a sensible precaution?"
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Transportation

+ - 216 With Pot Legal, Police Worry About Traffic Safety 13

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "AP reports that with Pot soon legal under state laws in Washington and Colorado, officials in both states are trying to figure out how to keep stoned drivers off the road as law enforcement officials wonder about whether the ability to buy or possess marijuana legally will bring about an increase of marijuana users on the roads. "We've had decades of studies and experience with alcohol," says Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Coon. "Marijuana is new, so it's going to take some time to figure out how the courts and prosecutors are going to handle it. But the key is impairment: We will arrest drivers who drive impaired, whether it be drugs or alcohol." Marijuana can cause dizziness and slowed reaction time, and drivers are more likely to drift and swerve while they're high and Marijuana legalization activists agree people shouldn't smoke and drive. But setting a standard comparable to blood-alcohol limits has sparked intense disagreement because unlike portable breath tests for alcohol, there's no easily available way to determine whether someone is impaired from recent pot use. If scientists can't tell someone how much marijuana it will take for him or her to test over the threshold, how is the average pot user supposed to know? "A lot of effort has gone into the study of drugged driving and marijuana, because that is the most prevalent drug, but we are not nearly to the point where we are with alcohol," says Jeffrey P. Michael, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's impaired-driving director. "We don't know what level of marijuana impairs a driver.""

+ - 145 Amazon Payment Adds "No Class Action" Language to Terms Of Service

Submitted by wbr1
wbr1 (2538558) writes "I just received an email from Amazon Payments, the Amazon competitor to PayPal, stating among other things, that they were changing and simplifying their policies. It should be no surprise then, that similar to what PayPal and many others have already done, they have added language removing the right to class action lawsuits. See specifically section 11.3 (edited for brevity):

1.3 Disputes. Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your visit to the Site or Seller Central or to products or services sold or distributed by us or through the Site or Seller Central (including without limitation the Service) will be resolved by binding arbitration, rather than in court, except that you may assert claims in small claims court if your claims qualify. The Federal Arbitration Act and federal arbitration law apply to this agreement....
... You and we each agree that any dispute resolution proceedings will be conducted only on an individual basis and not in a class, consolidated, or representative action. If for any reason a claim proceeds in court rather than in arbitration you and we each waive any right to a jury trial. You and we also both agree that you or we may bring suit in court to enjoin infringement or other misuse of intellectual property rights.

This is becoming more and more common, and while the end user normally doesn't make out well in a class-action suit, large settlements do provide a punishment and deterrent to corporations that abuse their power. The question becomes, what do we do to fix this so that consumers are truly protected?"

Businesses

+ - 127 Why Microsoft Says the Patent System Is Peachy Keen->

Submitted by
concealment
concealment writes "In some cases, Microsoft will take calls from outside outfits interested in licensing its patents. RIM or Apple, say, will phone and ask to license Microsoft’s ActiveSync technology, a means of synchronizing email, contacts, and calendar entries across phones and other devices. “That’s a pretty friendly set of discussions,” Kaefer says.

But as he puts it, Microsoft will also “pro-actively” drive licensing deals. “We will go out and look for areas where we see a lot people who are probably using our technology in one form or another,” he says, “and we kinda ask ourselves whether it has risen to a level that we care about and we want to have some conversations.” Basically, this involves a Microsoft lawyer like Kaefer trying to convince lawyers at other companies that their technology infringes on Microsoft patents — and that they should pay to license those patents. According to Kaefer, these discussions can spans months — or even years."

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Censorship

+ - 158 In UK, Twitter, Facebook rants land some in jail->

Submitted by
concealment
concealment writes "In Britain, hundreds of people are prosecuted each year for posts, tweets, texts and emails deemed menacing, indecent, offensive or obscene, and the number is growing as our online lives expand. "Fifty years ago someone would have made a really offensive comment in a public space and it would have been heard by relatively few people," said Mike Harris of free-speech group Index on Censorship. People take it upon themselves to report this offensive material to police, and suddenly you've got the criminalization of offensive speech. Figures obtained by The Associated Press through a freedom of information request show a steadily rising tally of prosecutions in Britain for electronic communications — phone calls, emails and social media posts — that are grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character — from 1,263 in 2009 to 1,843 in 2011. Justice Igor Judge said in his judgment that the law should not prevent "satirical or iconoclastic or rude comment, the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, banter or humor, even if distasteful to some or painful to those subjected to it.""
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Books

+ - 124 Ask Slashdot: High-tech ways to manage your own library at home? 1

Submitted by DeptofDepartments
DeptofDepartments (2774577) writes "With Kindles and ebooks on everyone's lips (sc. hands) nowadays, this might come as a surprise to some, but besides being a techie, I have also amassed quite a collection of actual books (mostly hardcover and first editions) in my personal library. I have always been reluctant to lend them out and the collection has grown so large now that it has become difficult to keep track of all of them.

This is why I am looking for a modern solution to implement some professional-yet-still-home-sized library management. Ideally, this should include some cool features like RFID tags or NFC for keeping track of the books, finding and checking them out quickly, if I decide to lent one.

One problem seems to be the short lifetime of RFID tags (only 5-10 years). Given that many books will probably only be read or checked out once or twice in this period at best, the administrative effort seems very large.
I have also been largely unsuccessful in finding tags or solutions that go beyond the cheap 5 to 20 item "starter kits", yet still remain affordable and below the industrial scale.

Also, what would be suitable and affordable readers/writers for the tags in this context?

Finally, as many of the books are old folios or fairly precious first editions, everything must be non-destructive and should be removable without damage to the books if need be.

(Note: Scanning ISBN's with a hand-held barcode scanner is not an option, as many books are old (pre-ISBN) or special editions).

Software-wise, I would like to have a nice and modern-looking, easy-to-use software that can interface with the hardware side as described above. I do not necessarily need multi-user or networking capabilities at this point.

I hope the CSI (Combined Slashdot Intelligence) has some helpful ideas and pointers for me on this!"
The Internet

+ - 176 Kinected Browser - Kinect On The Web ->

Submitted by mikejuk
mikejuk (1801200) writes "The Kinect is well supported by a good and evolving SDK on the desktop, but until now using it in a browser wasn't easy. Now Microsoft Research has a free JavaScript API, Kinected Browser, that lets you integrate the Kinect with HTML. The bad news is that it only works on Windows 7 and 8 and in desktop mode only. In addition the browser has to be IE9 or IE 10. The good news is that more programmers know how to do HTML5 graphics than know how to work with DirectX or .NET. As a result this could lead to another burst of innovative Kinect applications."
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Piracy

+ - 319 A Free Internet, If You Can Keep It->

Submitted by
Kethinov
Kethinov writes "My Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, a prominent opponent of the infamous Stop Online Piracy Act, has introduced two bills to the U.S. House of Representatives designed to protect the free and open internet, expand the protections of the Fourth Amendment to digital communications, and protect against the introduction of any further SOPA-like bills. Since these are issues Slashdotters care deeply about, I wanted to open up the bills for discussion on Slashdot. Is my Congresswoman doing a good job? Is there room for improvement in the language of the bills? If you're as excited by her work as I am, please reach out to your representatives as well and as them to work with Rep. Lofgren. It will take a big coalition to beat the pro-RIAA/MPAA establishment politics on internet regulation."
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NASA

+ - 118 NASA Says Staff Information Was on Stolen Laptop->

Submitted by SternisheFan
SternisheFan (2529412) writes "By NICOLE PERLROTH, New York Times:
    NASA told its staff this week that a laptop containing sensitive personal information for a large number of employees and contractors was stolen two weeks ago from a locked vehicle. Although the laptop was password protected, the information had not been encrypted, which could give skilled hackers full access to the contents. In its notice to employees on Tuesday, the agency said:
  "On Oct. 31, 2012, a NASA laptop and official NASA documents issued to a headquarters employee were stolen from the employee’s locked vehicle. The laptop contained records of sensitive personally identifiable information for a large number of NASA employees, contractors and others. Although the laptop was password protected, it did not have whole disk encryption software, which means the information on the laptop could be accessible to unauthorized individuals. We are thoroughly assessing and investigating the incident and taking every possible action to mitigate the risk of harm or inconvenience to affected employees."
    This is not the first time NASA has suffered a serious breach. The agency has long been a target for cybercriminals looking to pilfer sensitive research. In 2004, computers at several NASA sites, including its Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., were breached. And as recently as March, the company reported a breach that was also caused by a stolen laptop. Given its history, it is unclear why the agency has not stepped up its security practices. Beth Dickey, a NASA spokeswoman, said that in this most recent case, the employee’s laptop had been for a security upgrade.
“The laptop was scheduled to receive encryption, as part of an ongoing, agency-wide effort to encrypt whole disks of all NASA computers,” Ms. Dickey said. “This one just hadn’t been done yet.”
    NASA has said it plans to have all of its laptops running whole-disk encryption software by Dec. 21."

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Google

+ - 116 Google engineers open source book scanner design->

Submitted by c0lo
c0lo (1497653) writes "Engineers from Google's Books team have released the design plans for a comparatively reasonably priced (about $1500) book scanner on Google Code.

Built using a scanner, a vacuum cleaner and various other components, the Linear Book Scanner was developed by engineers during the "20 percent time" that Google allocates for personal projects.

The license is highly permissive, thus it's possible the design and building costs can be improved. Any takers?"

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Software

+ - 174 The First Amendment and Software Speech->

Submitted by stanlrev
stanlrev (2774375) writes "When is software, or content generated by software, "speech" for First Amendment purposes? That is the question that Andrew Tutt seeks to answer in an article published today in the Stanford Law Review Online. He argues that the two approaches commentators and the Supreme Court have proposed are both incorrect. Software or software-generated content is not always speech simply because it conveys information. Nor is software only speech when it resembles traditional art forms. Instead, the courts should turn to the original purposes of the First Amendment to develop a new approach that answers this question more effectively."
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Hardware

+ - 131 Teaching robots new tricks without programming-> 1

Submitted by cylonlover
cylonlover (1921924) writes "Maya Cakmak, a researcher from Georgia Tech, spent the summer at Willow Garage creating a user-friendly system that teaches the PR2 robot simple tasks. The kicker is that it doesn't require any traditional programming skills whatsoever – it works by physically guiding the robot's arms while giving it verbal commands. After inviting regular people to give it a try, she found that with few instructions they were able to teach the PR2 how to retrieve medicine from a cabinet and fold a t-shirt."
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