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

Education

+ - 254 California Students Rank 47th In National Science Test->

Submitted by bonch
bonch (38532) writes "22 percent of California eighth-graders passed a national science test, ranking California among the worst in the U.S. according to the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The test measures knowledge in Earth and space sciences, biology, and basic physics. The states that fared worse than California were Mississippi, Alabama, and a tie between the District of Columbia and Hawaii."
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Biotech

+ - 246 Researchers Use Stem Cells To Grow New Teeth->

Submitted by bonch
bonch (38532) writes "Scientists from the College of Dental Medicine at Nova Southeastern University have successfully grown new teeth from stem cells. After extracting stem cells from existing oral tissue, the cells are molded into the shape of a tooth using a polymer scaffold. Using this method, teeth have already been successfully grown in mice and monkeys, with human clinical trials under way."
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Microsoft

+ - 168 Microsoft to bring full Internet Explorer browsing to Xbox 360 with Kinect contr->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "Microsoft is currently testing a modified version of Internet Explorer 9 on its Xbox 360 console, according to our sources. The Xbox 360 currently includes Bing voice search, but it's limited to media results. Microsoft's new Internet Explorer browser for Xbox will expand on this functionality to open up a full browser for the console. We are told that the browser will let Xbox users surf all parts of the web straight from their living rooms."
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The Internet

+ - 178 Nicholas Carr Foresees Brains Optimized for Browsing->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In the next decade, our brains are going to become optimized for information browsing, says best-selling author Nicholas Carr. According to Carr, while the genetic nature of our brains isn't being changed by the Internet at all, our brains are adapting "at a cellular level" and are weakening modes of thinking we no longer exercise. Therefore, in 10 years, if human beings are using the Internet even more than they do today, says Carr, "our brains will be even more optimized for information browsing, skimming and scanning, and multitasking — fast, scattered modes of thought — and even less capable of the kinds of more attentive, contemplative thinking that the net discourages.""
Link to Original Source

+ - 297 Netherlands cements Net Neutrality in Law->

Submitted by
Fluffeh
Fluffeh writes "A while back, Dutch Telcos started to sing the "We are losing money due to internet services!" song and floated new plans that would make consumers pay extra for data used by apps that comflicted with their own services — apps like Skype for example. The politicians stepped in however, and wrote laws forbidding this. Now, the legislation has finally passed through the senate and the Netherlands is an officially Net Neutral country, the second in the world — Chile did this a while back. That's not to say that Telcos aren't smarting from the new laws, they have been busy severly reducing data on plans and charging extra for their services while using the very same apps in their marketing campaigns — sorry, I should rephrase that to "adapting to the new marketplace"."
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Microsoft

+ - 150 Mozilla Claims 'IE only' on Windows 8 ARM->

Submitted by
Fluffeh
Fluffeh writes "Here we go again, it seems that sometimes Microsoft just can't learn old lessons. Mozilla has claimed that due to "technical restrictions" that Microsoft is putting on the Windows 8 ARM port, IE will be the only browser able to work. Unlike the x86 flavor, WOA (Windows on ARM) will not broadly support legacy applications. WOA will only run applications that are distributed through Microsoft’s application store. Third-party developers who bring their software to WOA will be confined to using the Windows Runtime stack and standard platform APIs. As Microsoft explained in a February blog post, the point of these restrictions are to maximize security, performance, and battery life for WOA users. The downside of this approach is that it makes it difficult to support certain kinds of highly complex third-party software, such as Web browsers, that require more capabilities than those provided by the standard API set."
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Security

+ - 156 Adobe introduces the paid security fix-> 1

Submitted by Nimey
Nimey (114278) writes "Adobe has posted a security bulletin for Photoshop CS5 for Windows and OSX. It seems there is a critical security hole that will allow attackers to execute arbitrary code in the context of the user running the affected application. Adobe's fix? You need to pay to upgrade to Photoshop CS6. For users who cannot upgrade to Adobe Photoshop CS6, Adobe recommends users follow security best practices and exercise caution when opening files from unknown or untrusted sources."
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Canada

+ - 236 Wear a Mask During a Protest in Canada: 10 Years in Jail-> 5

Submitted by Phrogman
Phrogman (80473) writes "The Conservative government of Steven Harper in Canada has proposed a new bill that would impose a jail term of 10 years for anyone wearing a mask while "participating in a riot or unlawful assembly". The conservative backbencher who proposed the bill makes it clear that he intended it to allow police to arrest anyone wearing a mask "before protests spiral out of control". Since this is the same government that arrested hundreds of protesters during the G8/G20 summit using a law that didn't actually exist, it raises the question as to how they will define "unlawful". This is the latest in a series of "tough on crime" legislation being promulgated by the Conservatives now that they have the power of a majority government. The 10 year penalty is more than double the penalty awarded to a person who murdered someone in a fit of "road-rage" recently."
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News

+ - 157 FDA cracking down on x-ray exposure for kids-> 1

Submitted by
ericjones12398
ericjones12398 writes "The Food and Drug Administration is proposing that manufacturers of X-ray machines and CT scanners do more to protect children from radiation exposure. If companies don't take steps to limit X-ray doses, the agency may require a label on their new equipment recommending it not be used on children.

X-rays and CT scans can provide doctors with lots of useful information. But the radiation that creates the helpful images also increases a person's risk for cancer. There's been an explosion in the use of imaging tests. And rising radiation doses, particularly from CT scans, have drawn concern.

The cancer risk increases with the dose of X-rays received during a person's lifetime, so kids' exposure is particularly important. It's also the case that children are more sensitive to X-ray damage.

The FDA is also telling parents to speak up. If a doctor orders a test or procedure that uses X-rays, parents shouldn't be afraid to ask if it's really necessary. Also, it doesn't hurt to ask if there's an acceptable alternative, such as ultrasound or MRI, that doesn't rely on X-rays.

Even so, the agency doesn't want people to forgo needed X-rays. "The risk from a medically necessary imaging exam is quite small when compared to the benefit of accurate diagnosis or intervention," Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, head of FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement. "There is no reason for patients who need these exams to avoid them."

The agency scheduled a public meeting in July to talk about the proposal.
The Medical Imaging & Techonology Alliance, a trade group, said it looks forward to commenting on the FDA's proposal and working with the agency."

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Businesses

+ - 163 Dozens of U.S. Companies Face Bribery Probes->

Submitted by bonch
bonch (38532) writes "Wal-mart, Deere, Hewlett-Packard, Las Vegas Sands, Qualcom and others are under investigation for violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Wal-mart is suspected of bribing Mexican officials to quickly obtain store permits, while former employees of HP are being investigated for alleged bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion to land a Russian IT contract for a former German subsidiary. Even U.S. movie studies are under investigation for using bribes to influence the Chinese entertainment industry. In total, at least 81 public companies are being probed by the SEC for FCPA violations."
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Science

+ - 197 Looting Leads Archaeologists to Oldest Known Mayan Calendar-> 1

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "A team of American researchers has discovered a small trove of ancient Maya texts in a surprising place. In a paper published online today in Science, researchers report finding Maya astronomical tables and other texts painted and incised on the walls of a 1200-year-old residential building at the site of Xultún in Guatemala. The newly discovered astronomical tables are at least 500 years older than those preserved in the Maya codices, giving researchers a new glimpse of science at the height of the Maya civilization. "I think we are all astonished by this find," says Stephen Houston, an archaeologist at Brown University who was not part of the team."
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Government

+ - 182 DVDs, Blu-Rays To Show 20-Second Unskippable Warnings->

Submitted by bonch
bonch (38532) writes "DVDs and Blu-Rays will begin displaying two unskippable anti-piracy screens, each 10 seconds long, shown back-to-back. Six studios have agreed to begin using the new notices. Of course, pirated versions won't contain these 20-second notices; however, an ICE spokesman says the intent isn't to deter piracy but to educate the public."
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Advertising

+ - 253 Dish Network Announces Prime Time TV with No Ads

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Forbes reports that Dish Network has announced a new feature called called Auto Hop for its satellite TV subscribers that will let you automatically skip all commercials for prime time television from the four major broadcast networks when you watch the day after the programs are first aired. “Viewers love to skip commercials,” says Vivek Khemka, vice president of DISH Product Management. “With the Auto Hop capability of the Hopper, watching your favorite shows commercial-free is easier than ever before." Craig Moffett says that its going to be hard for Dish to maintain good relationships with its programming affiliates when they start offering a feature intended to cut out the bulk of the affiliates’ revenues and adds that whether the auto-skip feature can withstand legal challenge remains to be seen. “Given the already long list of industry-unfriendly features promoted by Dish, one wonders if Auto Hop will be the final straw that provokes legal action from the broadcast networks,” says Moffett. "We suspect Auto Hop probably uses some sort of bookmarking insertion based on automated recognition of commercial inserts (called ‘fingerprinting’), which if true could certainly be argued to be a manipulation of the content stream by the distributor.”"
Security

+ - 164 Coming Soon: New .secure Internet Domain ->

Submitted by ancientribe
ancientribe (1057834) writes "ICANN is considering a new top-level domain (TLD), .secure, which could change the way website domains are secured. It will require fully encrypted HTTPS sessions and a comprehensive vetting process for websites and their operators. But critics say it doesn't solve website vulnerability problems."
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Businesses

+ - 178 Is Gamification a Good Motivator? -> 2

Submitted by
CowboyRobot
CowboyRobot writes "Growing up, many of our teachers used "gamification" techniques such as a gold star sticker on a test (essentially a "badge") or a public display of which students had completed a set of readings ("leaderboard"). These were intended to motivate students to strive to do better.

Now, these techniques are increasingly common in the workplace where the parallel with computer games is more intentional. A report by Gartner predicts that "by 2015, 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes". One example would be assigning badges for submitting work on time, another would be having a leaderboard in an office to show who completed a training module first.

The idea of using game mechanics in work or study environments is not new, but its ubiquity is. Educators can discuss how effective gamification is in classrooms, but how useful is it as a motivator in the workplace?"

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NASA

+ - 204 Vesta is a Baby Planet, Not an Asteroid->

Submitted by
astroengine
astroengine writes "Vesta, the second largest object in the main asteroid belt, has an iron core, a varied surface, layers of rock and possibly a magnetic field — all signs of a planet in the making, not an asteroid. This is the conclusion of an international team of scientists treated to a virtual front row seat at Vesta for the past 10 months, courtesy of NASA's Dawn robotic probe. Their findings were presented during a NASA press conference on Thursday. As to why Vesta never made it to full planethood, scientists point to Jupiter. When the giant gas planet formed, nearby bodies such as Vesta found their orbits perturbed. "Jupiter started to act like a spoon in a pot, stirring up the asteroid belt and the asteroids started bumping into one another," Dawn lead scientist Christopher Russell, with the University of California, Los Angeles, told Discovery News. "If they're just out there gently orbiting and everything is going smoothly, then without Jupiter in the picture, they would gather mass and get bigger and bigger and bigger. But with Jupiter there, stirring the pot, then the asteroids start bumping into one another and breaking apart, so nothing grew in that region, but started to shrink.""
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+ - 141 The Trouble With ACTA: Geist's Analysis of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this year, Canadian law professor Michael Geist appeared at the European Parliament's INTA Committee Workshop on ACTA and delivered a ten-minute takedown of the agreement. Geist's full report to the European Parliament has now been released. It conclues that ACTA's harm greatly exceeds its potential benefits and recommends rejecting the agreement in its current form."
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Privacy

+ - 161 Newt Gingrich loves spam-> 1

Submitted by
richi
richi writes "Newt Gingrich's Newt 2012 organization is aiding and abetting spammers. Hard to believe, I know, but it turns out his organization is offering targeted email addresses to spammers.

Now that Newt Gingrich has conceded defeat... ahem, sorry, suspended his campaign, Newt 2012 is thought to be at least $4,300,000 in the hole. So, in a bizarre twist of moral logic, it's selling its email lists to spammers."

Link to Original Source

+ - 206 Univ. of Minnesota compiles database of peer-reviewed, open-acces textbooks-> 1

Submitted by
BigVig209
BigVig209 writes "Univ. of MN is cataloging open-access textbooks and enticing faculty to review the texts by offering $500 per review. Despite the author calling the open-source rather than open-access, this may be the first time a land-grant, public university makes this kind of resource available to faculty and students."
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Google

+ - 179 University of Hawaii partnership wth Google being challenged->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A recent move by the University of Hawaii forcing all students and faculty to migrate their independent university email accounts to Google has raised serious questions, prompting one student to file a complaint with the US Dept. of Education, with senior faculty questioning both the implementation and scope of this partnership."
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IOS

+ - 170 Apple To Help Foxconn Improve Factories->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "in a welcome move, Apple has agreed to help share initial costs with Foxconn in improving the factories being used to manufacture iDevices. From the article:

Foxconn chief Terry Gou did not give a figure for the costs, but the group has been spending heavily to fight a perception its vast plants in China are sweatshops with poor conditions for its million-strong labor force. It regards the criticism as unfair. "We've discovered that this (improving factory conditions) is not a cost. It is a competitive strength," Gou told reporters on Thursday after the ground-breaking ceremony for a new China headquarters in Shanghai. "I believe Apple sees this as a competitive strength along with us, and so we will split the initial costs."

"

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Security

+ - 161 Apple Auto-Disables Old Flash Players In Mac OS X 10.7.4->

Submitted by wiredmikey
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "Just released, and coming in at 370 MB in size, the Mac OS X 10.7.4 update includes general OS fixes, and addresses more than 30 security vulnerabilities. But aside from typical security fixes, Apple has made an interesting move in an effort to protect users. Through this latest software update, Safari 5.1.7 will now automatically disable older — and typically more vulnerable — versions of the Adobe Flash player.

While many software vendors would prefer OS makers to keep their hands off their software, the move appears to be welcomed by Adobe, which has constantly battled vulnerabilities in its widely installed Flash Player.

While Apple has been criticized over its security practices and lack of cooperation and communication with security researchers, this is Apple's second action reaching across normal vendor boundaries after its recent auto-disabling Java release, in reaction to the now infamous Flashback Trojan that has been in the spotlight recently."

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NASA

+ - 138 ATK Liberty rocket to launch private space taxi by 2015 (video)->

Submitted by
wizardofoz99
wizardofoz99 writes "The aerospace company that built solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle announced it is developing its own private launch system, a spaceship and rocket that will fly astronauts to and from low Earth orbit. The first manned missions could launch in about three years.

ATK's Kent Rominger, vice president and program manager for Liberty has revealed plans for a complete launch system that uses the Liberty rocket, which includes a space capsule to carry passengers to low-Earth orbit and to the International Space Station (ISS).

"We are looking at space tourism," Rominger said. "Also other [space] stations, such as Bigelow — we can help build the station. We're also looking at other nations that aren't partners on the space station that would like to have stand-alone missions."

Liberty will use the original Ares 1 engine for the first stage and the European Astrium Ariane 5 rocket as the second. Liberty will be 300 feet (91 meters) tall."

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Science

+ - 170 Anything Can Be A Touch Screen Thanks To Disney Research

Submitted by surewouldoutlaw
surewouldoutlaw (2464980) writes "Remember that scene in Fantasia where Mickey turns all the brooms into an army of workers? Well, Disney isn't quite there, yet. But scientists with the company's research lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have been able to turn virtually any surface, including liquid water and the human body, into a multi-touch interface. The new system is called Touché, and it is as awesome as it sounds."
Hardware

+ - 154 Heathkit Educational Systems Closes Shop For Good->

Submitted by
scharkalvin
scharkalvin writes "For the second time since 1992, Heathkit Educational Services (HES) has shuttered its doors. Rumors of the legendary kit-building company’s demise were posted on QRZ.com, with several readers bringing the news to the attention of the ARRL. In August 2011, Heathkit announced it was returning to the kit building business, and in September, that it would once again be manufacturing Amateur Radio kits.

On LinkedIn, a popular networking site, HES Chief Executive Officer Lori Marciniak listed her employment ending at Heathkit as of March 2012. Likewise, Heathkit’s Marketing and Sales Director Ernie Wake listed his employment ending in April 2012. An unsubstantiated report on Wikipedia states that “[in] December 2011, Heathkit Educational Systems laid off most employees and in March 2012, the company indefinitely suspended operations.”

It looks like Heathkit is gone for good. Their plans on re-entering the kit market died with the current ecconomy."

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China

+ - 142 China Developing X-37B Copycat Plane->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "China is developing a smaller version of the American X-37B. The American X-37, "(could) also perform surveillance missions, resupply the International Space Station or even sneak up on and inspect spacecraft of other nations." The Chinese version is noted to be smaller. However, it is a strong sign demonstrating advances in Chinese aerospace design and technology."
Link to Original Source

+ - 143 Russian Superjet 100 crashed during demo flight->

Submitted by
Prokur
Prokur writes "A brand new Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner on a demonstration flight with 37 passengers (mostly future clients and journalists) and 8 Russian crew members on board went missing after it took off from airport in Jakarta. After an extensive search, rescuers concluded, based on the widespread debris field on the side of a ridge, that the aircraft directly impacted the rocky side of Mount Salak and there was "no chance of survival.""
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Technology

+ - 141 Liliputian Portable Battery Promises 2 Weeks of Charging->

Submitted by
SmartAboutThings
SmartAboutThings writes "So what do you do if you are on a move? Pray to find an outlet and if not be stuck without the functionalities you signed up for. From now on, an alternative will be available. After more than 11 years of working on the project and spending $90 millions in the process, Lilliputian Systems is finally ready to release to the public its butane-driven portable battery charger. The portable battery charger is said to keep your smartphone charged for up to 2 weeks!"
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Firefox

+ - 181 Mozilla: Microsoft blocking rival browsers in Windows RT -> 1

Submitted by
nk497
nk497 writes "Mozilla has accused Microsoft of trying to go back to the "digital dark ages" by limiting rival browsers in the ARM version of Windows 8. Third-party browsers won't work in the desktop mode, and Metro style browsers will be limited in what APIs they can use, Mozilla said, forcing users to move to IE instead. Mozilla said it was the first step toward a new platform lock-in that "restricts user choice, reduces competition and chills innovation", and pointed out that such browser control was exactly what upset EU and US regulators about IE in the first place. The Firefox-developer called on Microsoft to "reject the temptation to pursue a closed path," adding "the world doesn't need another closed proprietary environment"."
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The Courts

+ - 139 Now It's Switzerland's Turn To Call ACTA Into Question->

Submitted by
TheGift73
TheGift73 writes "Good news via Switzerland

When discussing ACTA, there's a natural tendency to concentrate on the bigger players — the US or the EU — but it's important to remember that there are many other countries involved. One of those is Switzerland, which has just joined the doubters' club by holding off from signing ACTA. Here's why (French original):

"Since the conclusion of the negotiations, the criticisms regarding ACTA have multiplied in various countries. The [Swiss] Federal Council takes these fears seriously since they concern fundamental liberties and important points of law."

As a result, Switzerland will not be signing ACTA for the moment. Instead:

"The Council will re-examine the question when new elements on which it can base its decision are available. These elements could include the deliberations of the five EU countries that have delayed signing ACTA, the results of the referral to the European Court of Justice by the European Commission, or the continuation of the EU's ratification procedure.""

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