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Biotech

+ - 195 Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two to Six Millennia Ago-> 1

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn (898314) writes "Professor Gerald "Jerry" Crabtree of Stanford's Crabtree Laboratory published a paper (PDF warning) that has appeared in two parts in "Trends in Genetics." The paper opens with a very controversial suggestion, 'I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions' and from there speculates we're on the decline of human intelligence and we have been for at least a couple millennia. His argument seems to suggest that agriculture and, following from that, cities have allowed us to break free of such environmental forces on competitive genetic mutations — a la Mike Judge's theory. However, the conclusion of the paper urges humans to keep calm and carry on as any attempt to fix this genetic trend would almost certainly be futile and disturbing."
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Robotics

+ - 162 1 million robots to replace 1 million humans at Foxconn->

Submitted by
kkleiner
kkleiner writes "Foxconn, the Chinese electronics manufacturer that builds numerous mobile devices and gaming consoles, previously said the company would be aiming to replace 1 million Foxconn workers with robots within 3 years. It appears as if Foxconn has started the ball in motion. Since the announcement, a first batch of 10,000 robots — aptly named Foxbots — appear to have made their way into at least one factory, and by the end of 2012, another 20,000 more will be installed"
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Programming

+ - 229 Ask Slashdot: How to catch Photoshop plagiarism 4

Submitted by jemenake
jemenake (595948) writes "A friend of mine teaches electronic media (Photoshop, Premiere, etc.) at a local high-school. Right now, they're doing Photoshop, and each chapter in the book starts with an "end result" file which shows what they're going to construct in that chapter, and then, given the basic graphical assets (background textures, photos, etc.), the students need to duplicate the same look in the final-result file.

The problem, of course, is that some students just grab the final-result file and rename it and turn it in. Some are a little less brazen and they rename a few layers, maybe alter the colors on a few images, etc. So, it becomes time-consuming for her to open each file alongside the final-result file to see if it's "too perfect".

When I first discovered that she was doing this, my first reaction was that there's got to be some automated way of catching the cheaters. Of course, my first idea of just doing MD5 hashes of each file won't work, since most kids alter the file a little bit.

A second idea I had was to alter the final-result file in a way that isn't obvious, like removing someone's shoelace, mis-spelling a word in the background, or removing/adding some dust-specks. (I know map publishers and music transcribers use this trick to catch copiers). But this still requires that she look for the alteration in each file. I'd think that Photoshop, after all these years, would have some kind of scripting language which also supports some digital watermarking, but I've just never dabbled in that realm.

And, of course, I guess another solution would be for her to not provide the end-result file in Photoshop format, but to export it as a flat image. But I'm still intrigued by the notion of being able to "fuzzily" compare two photoshop files or images to find the ones which are too similar in certain aspects (color histograms, where the edges are, level of noise, whatever).

Anybody else have any clever ideas for this?"
Robotics

+ - 202 Mind-Controlled Robot Avatars Inch Towards Reality->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Researchers at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (a collaboration between France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) are developing software that allows a person to drive a robot with their thoughts alone. The technology could one day give a paralyzed patient greater autonomy through a robotic agent or avatar."
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Google

+ - 155 Acer C7 Chromebooks Expand Chrome OS Market->

Submitted by
Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google is following up last month’s Samsung Chromebooks with a new, lower-priced one developed by Acer. Retailing for $199, the 11.6-inch Acer C7 Chromebook features an Intel Celeron 847 processor, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB hard drive, three USB 2.0 ports and an HDMI port for various cords and auxiliary devices. It’s designed for portability, weighing 3.05 pounds and measuring an inch thick. Boot time is reportedly less than 18 seconds.

If the new Chromebook has a weakness, it’s the advertised 3.5 hours of battery life. That’s less than the MacBook Air (which features anywhere from 5-7 hours’ battery life, depending on specs) and many of the Windows-backed Ultrabooks, some of which claim up to 11 hours of battery life depending on usage. It’s also far less than the posted battery life for tablets such as Apple’s iPad and Google’s Nexus 7, which are widely viewed as the most prominent competition to laptops in the extra-portable category."

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Businesses

+ - 163 Here come the humanoids. There go U.S. jobs-> 1

Submitted by
concealment
concealment writes "Rethink Robotics founder Rodney Brooks took to the stage at the Techonomy conference here to talk about the wonders of his new robot, Baxter, which is designed to work on factory floors doing dull and necessary tasks. He costs just $25,000 and works for what amounts to $4 an hour.

Baxter is a step forward in robotics with mass potential. It has a face and sensors to tell it when people are near. It's about as close to a humanoid robot as we can get, and Brooks said it's just the beginning.

"Within 10 years, we're going to see humanoid robots," said Brooks, who was a co-founder of iRobot, maker of iRoomba, the vacuum cleaner robot."

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Businesses

+ - 269 Mark Cuban: Facebook Is Driving Away Brands - Starting With Mine->

Submitted by
concealment
concealment writes "Tech billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he is fed up with Facebook and will take his business elsewhere. He's sick of getting hit with huge fees to send messages to his team's fans and followers.

Two weeks ago Cuban tweeted out a screen grab of an offer he'd received from Facebook. The social network wanted to charge him $3,000 to reach 1 million people. Along with the screen grab, Cuban wrote, "FB is blowing it? This is the first step. The Mavs are considering moving to Tumblr or to new MySpace as primary site.""

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Music

+ - 193 Why dissonant music sounds 'wrong'-> 1

Submitted by
ananyo
ananyo writes "Many people dislike the clashing dissonances of modernist composers such as Arnold Schoenberg. But what’s our problem with dissonance?
There has long been thought to be a physiological reason why at least some kinds of dissonance sound jarring. Two tones close in frequency interfere to produce 'beating': what we hear is just a single tone rising and falling in loudness. If the difference in frequency is within a certain range, rapid beats create a rattling sound called roughness. An aversion to roughness has seemed consistent with the common dislike of intervals such as minor seconds.
Yet when cognitive neuroscientist Marion Cousineau of the University of Montreal in Quebec and her colleagues asked amusic subjects (who cannot distinguish between different musical tones). to rate the pleasantness of a whole series of intervals, they showed no distinctions between any of the intervals but disliked beating as much as people with normal hearing.
Instead the researchers propose that harmonicity is the key. Notes contain many overtones — frequencies that are whole-number multiples of the basic frequency in the note. For consonant 'pleasant sounding' intervals the overtones of the two notes tend to coincide as whole-number multiples, whereas for dissonant intervals this is no longer the case.
The work suggests that harmonicity is more important than beating for dissonance aversion in normal hearers (abstract)."

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Oracle

+ - 253 Oracle makes Red Hat kernel changes available as broken-out patches->

Submitted by Artefacto
Artefacto (1207766) writes "The Ksplice team has made available a git repository with the changes Red Hat made to the kernel broken down. They are calling this project RedPatch.

This comes in response to a policy change Red Hat had operated in early 2011 with the goal of undercutting Oracle and other vendor's strategy of poaching RedHat's customers. The Ksplice team says they've doing the work they're now making available since the policy was implemented; they claim to be now making it public because they "feel everyone in the Linux community can benefit from the work".

For Ksplice, we build individual updates for each change and rely on source patches that are broken-out, not a giant tarball. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to take the right patches to create individual updates for each fix, and to skip over the noise — like a change that speeds up bootup — which is unnecessary for an already-running system. We’ve been taking the monolithic Red Hat patch tarball and breaking it into smaller commits internally ever since they introduced this change.

At Oracle, we feel everyone in the Linux community can benefit from the work we already do to get our jobs done, so now we’re sharing these broken-out patches publicly.

"

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Google

+ - 167 Flash Player Update Forces Installation of Google Toolbar-> 4

Submitted by
breakpoint8088
breakpoint8088 writes "Flash users who don't want the Google Toolbar should avoid updating Flash, at least on 64-bit Windows 7. I finally relented and allowed Adobe Flash to update on my Windows 7 box, and my security solution caught it trying to install the Google Toolbar-- without asking. Other people are seeing this as well. Adobe has not yet commented."
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+ - 141 15 year jail sentence for pirating movies.-> 1

Submitted by
Xpo3
Xpo3 writes ""The RIAA has welcomed a mind-boggling jail sentence handed to a man who sold pirated movies and music. The 37-year-old man pleaded guilty to six felony counts of selling counterfeit media after he sold five movies and one music CD to an undercover investigator without the permission of copyright holders. As a result he will go to jail in Mississippi for 15 years to be followed by three years of supervised release." -TorrentFreak"
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Crime

+ - 264 In Mississippi: 15 Year Jail Sentence For Movie and Music Copyright Infringement->

Submitted by patella.whack
patella.whack (2630677) writes "A guilty plea for six counts of selling counterfeit media gets a defendant 15 years in Mississippi. An undercover reporter from the Attorney General’s Intellectual Property Theft Task Force managed to buy a total of five copied movies and one music CD from the defendant who had 10,500 pirated discs at home and 2 prior convictions: one for assaulting a police officer 17 years ago and one for CD piracy that got him a year under house arrest.

          Says the RIAA: "[This] highlights the fact that the individuals engaging in these activities are frequently serial criminals for whom IP theft is simply the most convenient and profitable way they could steal from others."

          Frequently serial criminals? 15 years? I wonder how much of his sentence can be attributed to his priors rather than to other factors..."

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+ - 142 Africa makers get energy from pee->

Submitted by aglider
aglider (2435074) writes "A few sources is reporting about this technology breakthrough.
A group of African students built a small generator where with

1 Liter of urine gives you 6 hours of electricity.

It's not 100% clear how much energy you can get out of that liter (you insensitive Imperial clod) though.
It's also not 100% clear whether the main aim of the setup is to purify water or to generate energy thanks to electrolysis.
In any case either aim would be a great thing in a continent like Africa. And the whole world as well."

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Businesses

+ - 160 Cyber Weapon Friendly Fire: Chevron Hit by Stuxnet->

Submitted by
CowboyRobot
CowboyRobot writes "The pioneering Stuxnet computer virus, which was designed to attack a single Iranian uranium enrichment facility, went on to infect PCs around the world. Security experts have identified thousands of resulting Stuxnet infections. On Monday, multinational energy giant Chevron became the first U.S. company to admit that it, too, was infected by Stuxnet.

"'Escaped' continues to be a puzzling term when applied to a virus that relied on numerous Microsoft zero-day vulnerabilities and propagation vectors," said Sean McBride, the director of analysis for Critical Intelligence, in a SANS newsletter. "On the other hand, if your system was not the single underground facility in Iran that Stuxnet was intended to disrupt, the infection was benign. Such collateral damage is part of the price industry gets to pay for — what was then — two more years of Iran [being] without a nuclear weapon.""

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Microsoft

+ - 270 Windows Chief Steven Sinofsky Leaves Microsoft->

Submitted by
CWmike
CWmike writes "Steven Sinofsky, the executive in charge of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system and the driving force behind the new OS, is leaving the company effective immediately, Microsoft announced late Monday. Sinofsky was also the public face for Windows 8 and its new Metro interface, posting constant updates in a Windows 8 blog that charted its development. His last post, fittingly, was entitled 'Updating Windows 8 for General Availability.' The OS was officially launched at the end of last month. According to the All Things D blog, there was growing tension between Sinofsky and other members of the Microsoft executive team, who didn't see him as enough of a team player. But Microsoft's official position is that the decision was a mutual one. Sinofsky had only good things to say about his former employer."
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