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Robotics

Self-Assembling Robots Using Flying Drones 33

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the air-support dept.
mikejuk writes with an excerpt from I Programmer on a neat swarm of robots that use flying drones to build a map of their environment: "How can a swarm of robots get a global picture of its environment? Easy it simply sends up a drone. We are used to thinking of drones as being used for surveillance by humans operating on the ground, but what is good for humans is good for robots too. The drone can view the overall terrain and run simulations of what configurations of robots could best traverse the slopes. Once it has worked out how to assemble the robots into a single machine the drone has to communicate the plan to the swarm using a protocol based on the colored lights they all have. The ground robots adopt a random color and the drone selects the one it wants to communicate with by displaying the same color. They then repeat the process until only one robot has been selected i.e the drone follows the color changes of the selected robot. Of course if you don't like the idea of human drones flying over your head you may not be happy about robots getting in on the act as well..." Original paper
Technology

Nokia "Suspends" Its Free Developer Program 136

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the only-the-best-fart-app-developers-need-apply dept.
jbernardo writes "Nokia has put in deep freeze its free developer program, the launchpad. Now, in the Developer Programs page, one can only see a pitch for a paid 'Nokia Premium Developer Program,' and below, in the Nokia Developer Pro and Developer Launchpad box, there is a text merely stating that Nokia are not currently accepting new applications for Nokia Developer Launchpad and Nokia Developer Pro programs. With most (if not all) Launchpad memberships already expired, seems like Nokia no longer is interested in the developer community, which once was one of the mainstays of its domination of the smartphone market. Of course, that domination was destroyed by Elop and its 'burning platforms' memo, together with the failed bet on Windows Phone 7, so maybe giving up on developers would also be expectable."
Politics

Actual Final Third Party Debate Tonight 204

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the all-was-quiet-election-eve dept.
Separate from the debate moderated by Ralph Nader last night, Free and Equal is hosting a final third party debate tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST (pre-debate coverage began at 8:00 p.m. EST). As a follow up to the October 23rd debate, only Jill Stein (Green) and Gary Johnson (Libertarian) will be facing each other for ninety minutes of questions primarily focusing on foreign policy. It appears that this one isn't being picked up by C-SPAN, but it is being broadcast on RT America on a few cable networks as well as on YouTube (which should work if you have an HTML5 browser, or via the XBMC YouTube plugin). Discuss.
The Courts

Apple Suit Against Motorola Over FRAND Licensing Rates Dismissed 249

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the stop-wasting-our-time dept.
chill writes "A suit by Apple claiming that Motorola Mobility, now owned by Google, is seeking unreasonably high license fees for the use of patents on wireless technology has been thrown out by a judge in Madison, Wisconsin. Last week, Apple told the court it would pay up to $1 per device for a license to Motorola patents covering cellular and Wi-Fi technologies. Motorola Mobility was arguing for a royalty payment of 2.25 percent on each device." From the article: "'At the final pretrial conference, I asked Apple to explain why it believed the court should determine a FRAND rate even though the rate may not resolve the parties' licensing or infringement disputes,' Crabb wrote in an order on Friday. 'I questioned whether it was appropriate for a court to undertake the complex task of determining a FRAND rate if the end result would be simply a suggestion that could be used later as a bargaining chip between the parties.'"
Privacy

Some Smart Meters Broadcast Readings in the Clear 138

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the find-out-who-hates-the-planet dept.
alphadogg writes "University of South Carolina have discovered that some types of electricity meter are broadcasting unencrypted information that, with the right software, would enable eavesdroppers to determine whether you're at home. The meters, called AMR (automatic meter reading) in the utility industry, are a first-generation smart meter technology and they are installed in one third of American homes and businesses. They are intended to make it easy for utilities to collect meter readings. Instead of requiring access to your home, workers need simply drive or walk by a house with a handheld terminal and the current meter reading can be received." Perhaps more distressing, given trends in 4th amendment interpretation, I bet the transmissions are open game for law enforcement.
Microsoft

Microsoft-Built Smartphone Could Irritate Hardware Partners, Harm Nokia 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the upsetting-the-balance dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Rumors have circulated for weeks that Microsoft intends to release a smartphone of its own design and manufacture, embracing the strategy that drove Apple's iPhone to such enormous success over the past few years. While releasing a branded smartphone offers several potential benefits—look at the revenue and brand recognition Apple's earned as a result of the iPhone—such a strategy also carries significant risks for Microsoft. First, it could alienate smartphone partners such as Nokia, which would find itself competing against a high-end device backed by Microsoft's sizable marketing dollars. (Given the Finnish phone-maker's already perilous situation, that could prove ruinous.) But a branded smartphone could also convince hardware manufacturers that Microsoft really is 'all in' on building its own devices, which could lead to all sorts of drama."
Biotech

A Piezoelectric Pacemaker That Is Powered By Your Heartbeat 84

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-batteries-required dept.
MrSeb writes "Engineers at the University of Michigan have created a pacemaker that is powered by the beating of your heart — no batteries required. The technology behind this new infinite-duration pacemaker is piezoelectricity. Piezoelectricity is is literally 'pressure electricity,' and it relates to certain materials that generate tiny amounts of electricity when deformed by an external force — which, in the case of the perpetual pacemaker, the vibrations in your chest as your heart pumps blood around your body. Piezoelectric devices generate very small amounts of power — on the order of tens of milliwatts — but it turns out that pacemakers require very little power. In testing, the researchers' energy harvester generated 10 times the required the power to keep a pacemaker firing. Currently, pacemakers are battery powered — and the battery generally need to be replaced every few years, which requires surgery. According M. Amin Karami, the lead researcher, 'Many of the patients are children who live with pacemakers for many years,' he said. 'You can imagine how many operations they are spared if this new technology is implemented.' This piezoelectric energy harvester is about half the size of a conventional battery, too, which is presumably a good thing."
Programming

What's the Shelf Life of a Programmer? 388

Posted by samzenpus
from the ending-the-game dept.
Esther Schindler writes "Why is it that young developers imagine that older programmers can't program in a modern environment? Too many of us of a 'certain age' are facing an IT work environment that is hostile to older workers. Lately, Steven Vaughan-Nichols has been been noticing that the old meme about how grandpa can't understand iPhones, Linux, or the cloud is showing up more often even as it's becoming increasingly irrelevant. The truth is: Many older developers are every bit as good as young programmers, and he cites plenty of example of still-relevant geeks to prove it. And he writes, 'Sadly, while that should have put an end to the idea that long hours are a fact of IT life, this remnant of our factory-line past lingers both in high tech and in other industries. But what really matters is who's productive and who's not.'"
Earth

Singapore Builds First Vertical Vegetable Farm 141

Posted by samzenpus
from the growing-on-up dept.
kkleiner writes "Short on arable land? One solution would be to plan up. Singapore, a small country that imports most of its food, has now begun selling vegetables from its first vertical farm. And even while they're more expensive the vegetables are already selling faster than they can be grown. If the farms prove sustainable – both technologically and economically – they could provide a much desired supplement to Singapore's locally grown food and serve as a model for farming in other land-challenged areas."
Microsoft

Software Uses Almost 1/2 the Storage On 32GB Surface Tablet 471

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-used-up dept.
First time accepted submitter jigamo writes "Microsoft's newly released Surface tablets are available in 32 and 64 GB capacities. The company has disclosed how much of that space is available to the user. After taking into account Windows RT, Microsoft Office, built-in apps, and Windows recovery tools, nearly 13 GB of the available space is eliminated from user accessible storage. Microsoft's recommendations for adding additional capacity are to use cloud storage, a memory card, or a USB storage device."
HP

HP Becomes a Platinum Member of the Linux Foundation 64

Posted by samzenpus
from the money-buys-everything dept.
who_stole_my_kidneys writes in about how HP has gained a seat on the Linux Foundation's board of directors. "Snagging a first-class upgrade might empty out the contents of your wallet, but be glad you're not trying to buy your way to the Linux Foundation's top table. With a strategic investment of $500,000, Hewlett Packard has just become a platinum member of the body, alongside companies like Intel, Qualcomm and Samsung. In exchange for all that cash, HP gets a seat on the Foundation's board of directors and will have a say in how to advance the foundation's aims — and hopefully give Open webOS a gentle push, too."
Education

Phil Shapiro: Slashdot Reader, FOSS Activist, and Library Computer Guy (Video) 30

Posted by Roblimo
from the not-all-important-people-are-famous dept.
Phil Shapiro isn't famous, but he's a pretty good writer whose work appears regularly at opensource.com. He makes his living as the tech support person (he calls it "public nerd") at the Takoma Park Maryland Library. He has also -- see the link to his bio page above -- lived in New Delhi, India; Copenhagen, Denmark; Paris, France; and Scarsdale, New York. He got started with Linux as a "social justice" thing; because Linux and FOSS helped make it possible for people of modest means (we used to just call them "poor") to learn about computers and get on the Internet. He's still a big "computer for the masses" advocate and computer rehab volunteer. What's especially interesting about this interview (which is slightly out of sound/visual synch; you may prefer reading the transcript) is the amount of credit Phil gives Slashdot for spurring him on and getting him excited about FOSS. He also sees Slashdot as instrumental in helping start the Maker subculture. Do you agree? If so, should influencing the future of technology be Slashdot's main mission? Also: If so, how do you suggest we do it? And more specifically, do you know any other non-famous Slashdot readers (or people in general) we should talk to because they are doing interesting things?
Data Storage

Intel DC S3700 SSD Features New Proprietary Controller 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
crookedvulture writes "For the first time in more than four years, Intel is rolling out a new SSD controller. The chip is featured in the DC S3700 solid-state drive, an enterprise-oriented offering that's 40% cheaper than the previous generation. The S3700 has 6Gbps SATA connectivity, end-to-end data protection, LBA tag validation, 256-bit AES encryption, and ECC throughout. It also includes onboard capacitors to prevent against data loss due to power failure; if problems with those capacitors are detected by the drive's self-check mechanism, it can disable the write cache. Intel's own high-endurance MLC NAND can be found in the drive, which is rated for 10 full disk writes per day for five years. Prices start at $235 for the 100GB model, and capacities are available up to 800GB. In addition to 2.5" models, there are also a couple of 1.8" ones for blade servers. The DC S3700 is sampling now, with mass production scheduled for the first quarter of 2013."
Businesses

Should Hacked Companies Disclose Their Losses? 68

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-did-you-lose? dept.
derekmead writes "By law, US companies don't have to say a word about hacker attacks, regardless of how much it might've cost their bottom line. Comment, the group of Chinese hackers suspected in the recent-reported Coke breach, also broke into the computers of the world's largest steel company, ArcelorMittal. ArcelorMittal doesn't know exactly how much was stolen and didn't think it was relevant to share news of the attack with its shareholders. Same goes for Lockheed Martin who fended off a 'significant and tenacious' attack last May but failed to disclose the details to investors and the Securities Exchange Commission. Dupont got hit twice by Chinese hackers in 2009 and 2010 and didn't say a word. Former U.S. counterintelligence chief Joel Brenner recently said that over 2,000 companies, ISPs and research centers had been hit by Chinese hackers in the past decade and few of them told their shareholders about it. This is even after the SEC has made multiple requests for companies to come clean about cyber security breaches in their quarterly or annual earnings reports. Because the potential losses, do hacked companies have a responsibility to report security breaches to investors?"
Transportation

Massachusetts "Right To Repair" Initiative On Ballot, May Override Compromise 238

Posted by samzenpus
from the fix-it-yourself dept.
skids writes "MA voters face a complex technical and economic question Tuesday about just how open automobile makers should be with their repair and diagnostic interfaces. A legislative compromise struck in July may not be strong enough for consumer's tastes. Proponents of the measure had joined opponents in asking voters to skip the question once the legislature, seeking to avoid legislation by ballot, struck the deal. Weeks before the election they have reversed course and are again urging voters to pass the measure. Now voters have to decide whether the differences between the ballot language and the new law are too hard on manufacturers, or essential consumer protections. At stake is a mandated standard for diagnostic channels in a significant market."

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