MrSeb writes "Back in the olden days, when WiFi and Bluetooth were just a glimmer in the eye of IEEE, another short-range wireless communications technology ruled supreme: Infrared Data Association, or IrDA for short. IrDA was awful; early versions were only capable of kilobit-per-second speeds, and only over a distance of a few feet. Trying to get my laptop and mobile phone to link up via IrDA was, to date, one of the worst tech experiences I've ever had. There's a lot to be said for light-based communications, though. For a start, visible (and invisible) light has a frequency of between 400 and 800THz (800 and 375nm), which is unlicensed spectrum worldwide. Second, in cases where you really don't want radio interference, such as hospitals, airplanes, and other sensitive environments, visible light communication (VLC), or free-space optical communication, is really rather desirable. Now researchers at the National Taipei University of Technology in Taiwan have transmitted data using lasers — not high-powered, laboratory-dwelling lasers; handheld, AAA-battery laser pointers. A red and green laser pointer were used, each transmitting a stream of data at 500Mbps, which is then multiplexed at the receiver for a grand total of 1Gbps."
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angry tapir writes "Nokia has filed claims in the U.S. and Germany saying that products from HTC, Research In Motion (RIM) and ViewSonic infringe a number of the company's patents. Nokia has filed actions against all three companies in Mannheim's and Munich's respective regional courts. Nokia has also filed complaints against HTC before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the Federal District Court of Delaware and the regional court in Düsseldorf. RIM will also have to dispatch its lawyers to Düsseldorf for a Nokia lawsuit filed there, while ViewSonic's legal team have to defend the company against a suit in Delaware."
itwbennett writes "The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that the functionality of a computer program and the programming language it is written in cannot be protected by copyright. In its ruling on a case brought by SAS Institute against World Programming Limited (WPL), the court said that 'the purchaser of a license for a program is entitled, as a rule, to observe, study or test its functioning so as to determine the ideas and principles which underlie that program.'"
nachiketas writes "Oxford University researchers David Porter and Fujia Chen examine the structure of silkworm cocoons, which are extremely light and tough, with properties that could inspire advanced materials for use in protective helmets and light-weight armour. 'Silkworm cocoons have evolved a remarkable range of optimal structures and properties to protect moth pupae from many different natural threats,' Porter and Chen said in their paper. These structures are lightweight, strong and porous and therefore 'ideal for the development of bio-inspired composite materials.' Their research could lead to lightweight armour that dissipates rather than deflects the particular components of a blast that do the most damage to the human body — much like crumple zones in modern cars or sound-absorbing sonar tiles that make submarines harder to detect."
JeepFanatic writes "I've never been one to read comic books, but I've always enjoyed superheroes. My 3-year-old son is really into superheroes (especially Spider-man) and I thought it would be a fun thing to do together to start reading comics to him. Any suggestions on comics that would be more appropriate to start him out with?"
The Bad Astronomer writes "A star in a galaxy 2.7 billion light years away wandered too close to a supermassive black hole and suffered the ultimate fate: it was literally torn apart by the black hole's gravity. The event was seen as a flash of ultraviolet light flaring 350 times brighter than the galaxy itself, slowly fading over time. Astronomers were able to determine that some of the star's material was eaten by the black hole, and some flung off into space. Although rare, this is the second time such a thing has been seen; the other was just last year."
betterunixthanunix writes "The New York City Department of Education has issued rules covering student-teacher interactions on social networking websites. Following numerous inappropriate relationships between students and teachers that began on social networking sites, the rules prohibit teachers from communicating with students using their 'personal' accounts, and requires parental consent before students can participate in social networking for educational purposes. The rules also state that teachers have no expectation of privacy online, and that principals and other officials will inspect teachers' profiles. Oddly, the rules do not address communication involving cell phones, which the Department of Education's own investigations have shown to be even more problematic."
First time accepted submitter ElectronicHouseGrant writes "Freshman Derek Low rigged up his Berkeley dorm room with something he calls B.R.A.D., which is short for 'Berkeley Ridiculously Automated Dorm.' The room includes automated lighting, drapes, music, motion detection, and more. He can control everything through voice recognition, but a wireless remote, his iPhone and his iPad are also in on the control party. Derek started the install on February 4 and finished just a few days ago."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Mozilla has taken a public stand against the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, saying that it has a 'broad and alarming reach' that 'infringes on our privacy.' That makes it the first major tech firm to speak out against CISPA. Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Oracle and Symantec are all included among the companies that support the bill, which passed the House late last month and is now being considered in the Senate. Google has so far declined to take a stand supporting or opposing the bill."
daveschroeder writes "After a marathon debate over a pair of studies that show how the avian H5N1 influenza virus could become transmissible in mammals, and an unprecedented recommendation by the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication, and its subsequent reversal, a study by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin–Madison was finally and fully published today. 'Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets' appears in the journal Nature."
redletterdave writes "The IPO on everyone's minds for the past few years — and possibly the biggest one in history — is upon us: Facebook will finally make its Wall Street debut on Friday, May 18, 2012. Sources also say Facebook will begin its IPO roadshow on Monday, May 7, and will eventually list its shares on the Nasdaq (not NYSE) with the ticker symbol 'FB.' Facebook looks to raise anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion during its roadshow to achieve a $100 billion valuation, which would make it one of the biggest IPOs of all-time."
Freshly Exhumed writes in with a Wired story about a nerd/super-villian dream come true. "Marine biologist-cum-TV personality Luke Tipple attached a 50-milliwatt green laser to a lemon shark off the coast of the Bahamas in late April. The escapade was sponsored by Wicked Lasers, a consumer-focused laser manufacturer based in Hong Kong that produces some of the most brilliant — and potentially dangerous — handheld lasers in the world. 'This was definitely a world first,' Tipple told Wired. 'Initially, I told them no. I thought it was a frivolous stunt. But then I considered that it would give us an opportunity to test our clips and attachments, and whatever is attached to that clip, I really don't care. It was a low-powered laser that couldn't be dangerous to anyone, and there's actually useful applications in having a laser attached to the animal.'"
dcblogs writes "IBM is offering employees who are nearing retirement — and may be worried about a layoff — a one-time voluntary program that would ensure their employment through Dec. 31, 2013. The program, described in a letter addressed to IBM managers, 'offers participants 70% of their pay for working 60% of their schedule.' Participating employees would receive 'the same benefits they do today, most at a full-time level, including health benefits and 401(k) Plus Plan automatic company contributions.' In 2006, IBM employed about 127,000 in U.S. The Alliance@IBM, a CWA local, now estimates the U.S. workforce at around 95,000. How far IBM will go in cutting is up for debate, including one radical estimate."
hypnosec writes "When you're the President of the United States, sometimes certain activities you're involved in can be hard to keep secret — and yesterday was no exception, after Twitter let it slip that Obama was secretly in Kabul. On Tuesday, the White House released a fabricated itinerary — consisting of all-day meetings in the Oval Office to cover up the fact that Obama was secretly flying to Afghanistan. Whilst only a few US journalists were aware of this event, by mid-morning, a lot more people were suddenly in on the revelation courtesy of Twitter. The first tweet to let the virtual cat out of the bag was Afghanistan news site TOLOnews which reported: 'United States President Barack Obama has arrived in Kabul to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai.'"
New submitter schlesingerj writes in with news about a six legged robot "The Artisans Asylum hackerspace in Somerville, MA is building a monster rideable hexapod named 'Stompy', with fully articulated legs (18 hydraulics actuators in total), powered by a humongous propane forklift engine. This is being built as a class, lead by a team of expert roboticists with an impressive background, including DEKA, Boston Dynamics and Barret Technologies and is expected to be finished by the end of the summer. I for one welcome our new robot overlords."