Today Canonical announced Ubuntu for phones. The new operating system is designed to provide easier access to apps and content than is provided by current mobile OSes. They do this by relying on swipe gestures from the edges of the phone's screen. "Every edge of the phone is used, letting you move faster between apps, settings and content. A short swipe from the left edge of the screen is all it takes to reveal your favourite apps. Page either left or right from the home screen to see the content you use most. A full left-to-right swipe reveals a screen showing all your open apps, while a swipe from the right brings you instantly to the last app you were using. ... A swipe from the right edge takes you back to the last app you were using; another swipe takes you back to the app you used before that. It’s natural to keep many apps open at once, which is why Ubuntu was designed for multi-tasking. ... Swiping up from the bottom edge of the phone reveals app controls." The Ubuntu phone OS is built to work well on low-powered devices. Canonical will be at CES next week working on raising interest from manufacturers. As far as software goes, they have this to say: "Web apps are first class citizens on Ubuntu, with APIs that provide deep integration into the interface. HTML5 apps written for other platforms can be adapted to Ubuntu with ease, and we’re targeting standard cross-platform web app development frameworks like PhoneGap to make Ubuntu ‘just work’ for apps that use them." (In the attached video, the phone OS discussion starts at about 6:37.)
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
hazeii writes "Einstein@home, the distributed computing project searching for the gravitational waves predicted to exist by Albert Einstein, looks set to breach the 1 Petaflops barrier around midnight UTC tonight. Put into context, if it was in the Top500 Supercomputers list, it would be in at number 24. I'm sure there are plenty of Slashdot readers who can contribute enough CPU and GPU cycles to push them well over 1,000 teraflops — and maybe even discover a pulsar in the process." From their forums: "At 14:45 we had 989.2 TFLOPS with an increase of 1.3 TFLOPS/h. In principle that's enough to reach 1001.1 TFLOPS at midnight (UTC) but very often, like yesterday, between 22:45 and 22:50 there occurs a drop of about 5 TFLOPS. So we will have very likely hit 1 PFLOPS in the early morning tomorrow. "
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Alex Knapp reports that research by a team at the Rochester Medical Center suggests that exposure to the radiation of outer space could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's disease in astronauts. 'Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts... Exposure to ... equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease' says M. Kerry O'Banio. Researchers exposed mice with known timeframes for developing Alzheimer's to the type of low-level radiation that astronauts would be exposed to over time on a long space journey. The mice were then put through tests that measured their memory and cognitive ability and the mice exposed to radiation showed significant cognitive impairment. It's not going to be an easy problem to solve, either. The radiation the researchers used in their testing is composed of highly charged iron particles, which are relatively common in space. 'Because iron particles pack a bigger wallop it is extremely difficult from an engineering perspective to effectively shield against them,' says O'Banion. 'One would have to essentially wrap a spacecraft in a six-foot block of lead or concrete.'"
A growing number of colleges are providing graduating students tools to improve their online image. The services arrange for positive results on search engine inquiries by pushing your party pictures, and other snapshots of your lapsed judgement off the first page. Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins are among the schools that are offering such services free of charge. From the article: "Samantha Grossman wasn't always thrilled with the impression that emerged when people Googled her name. 'It wasn't anything too horrible,' she said. 'I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren't of me, things I wouldn't want associated with me.' So before she graduated from Syracuse University last spring, the school provided her with a tool that allowed her to put her best Web foot forward. Now when people Google her, they go straight to a positive image — professional photo, cum laude degree and credentials — that she credits with helping her land a digital advertising job in New York."
An anonymous reader writes with reports that TSMC is preparing to do a first test run of Apple's A6X chipset currently manufactured by Samsung. The TSMC manufactured chips will feature a process shrink from 32nm to 28nm, and there's a good chance Apple will grant them the contract for the next generation A7 chip. From SlashGear: "The test will kick off in Q1 2013, The China Times reports, with TSMC producing a new, 28nm version of the existing 32nm A6X that Samsung has been producing for the full-sized iPad 4th-gen; the smaller chip, which will likely be more power efficient as well, will debut in a new iPad 5th-gen and iPad mini 2."
sfcrazy writes with this excerpt from Muktware: "Samsung, which became a market leader thanks to Android, is reportedly working on a smartphone powered by Linux-based Tizen operating system. The company is working with NTT Docomo to create a Tizen powered smartphone. ... Samsung already has its Bada operating system which it uses in some devices. Samsung was expected to merge Bada efforts with Tizen but there has been no attempt in that regards. How Samsung, the Android market leader, positions this phone and creates an app ecosystem around it will be interesting to watch."
cylonlover writes "Robot hedgehogs on the moons of Mars may sound like the title of a B-grade sci-fi movie, but that is what Stanford University is working on. Marco Pavone, an assistant professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and his team are developing spherical robots called 'hedgehogs' that are about half a meter (1.6 ft) wide and covered in spikes to better cope with rolling and hopping across the surface of the Martian moon Phobos with its very low gravity."
Hugh Pickens writes "Nicole Perlroth reports in the NY Times that the antivirus industry has a dirty little secret: antivirus products are not very good at stopping new viruses. Researchers collected and analyzed 82 new computer viruses and put them up against more than 40 antivirus products, made by top companies like Microsoft, Symantec, McAfee and Kaspersky Lab and found that the initial detection rate was less than 5 percent (PDF). 'The bad guys are always trying to be a step ahead,' says Matthew D. Howard, who previously set up the security strategy at Cisco Systems. 'And it doesn't take a lot to be a step ahead.' Part of the problem is that antivirus products are inherently reactive. Just as medical researchers have to study a virus before they can create a vaccine, antivirus makers must capture a computer virus, take it apart and identify its 'signature' — unique signs in its code — before they can write a program that removes it. That process can take as little as a few hours or as long as several years. In May, researchers at Kaspersky Lab discovered Flame, a complex piece of malware that had been stealing data from computers for an estimated five years. 'The traditional signature-based method of detecting malware is not keeping up,' says Phil Hochmuth. Now the thinking goes that if it is no longer possible to block everything that is bad, then the security companies of the future will be the ones whose software can spot unusual behavior and clean up systems once they have been breached. 'The bad guys are getting worse,' says Howard. 'Antivirus helps filter down the problem, but the next big security company will be the one that offers a comprehensive solution.'"
Dexter Herbivore sends this quote from the Washington Post: "Scientists analyzing Australian rocks have discovered traces of bacteria that lived a record-breaking 3.49 billion years ago, a mere billion years after Earth formed. If the find withstands the scrutiny that inevitably faces claims of fossils this old, it could move scientists one step closer to understanding the first chapters of life on Earth. The discovery could also spur the search for ancient life on other planets. These traces of bacteria 'are the oldest fossils ever described. Those are our oldest ancestors,' said Nora Noffke, a biogeochemist at Old Dominion University in Norfolk who was part of the group that made the find and presented it last month at a meeting of the Geological Society of America."
rtfa-troll writes "Amazon's latest table of the top selling laptops will be a surprise for many on Slashdot whose first reaction when we discussed this before was 'so what,' with pundits describing it as 'an enterprise contender.' Given the recent launch and huge advertising campaign, you might expect that the top selling consumer laptop would be based on Win8. If you read recent discussions about Microsoft's troubled new system you might expect a Mac to be leading, but Google's Chromebook topping the sales chart on a consumer site without any major advertising campaign is a major surprise. We've discussed before that apart from its web based ChromeOS, Chromebooks are also very fast running Ubuntu Linux and have several other distributions already ported."
An anonymous reader writes "PC Gamer has put together a huge list of PC games that are due to come out in 2013. They've broken out the lists by genre, and each list is pretty long. It looks like a good starting point for finding the games you want to keep an eye on. Here are some highlights: Star Wars 1313: 'Early glimpses suggest the game will ignore lightsabers and force powers in favor of gadgetry and guns, and the claims are for a more grounded and gritty fiction, instead of the fruity pan-galactic melodrama to which we are accustomed.' The Elder Scrolls Online: 'The real reason to watch The Elder Scrolls Online is the talent behind it – the ex-Mythic developers responsible for the innovative Warhammer: Age of Reckoning and, before that, Dark Age of Camelot. Don't write off the old-school MMO just yet.' Mars: War Logs: 'Say it with me: a cyberpunk RPG set on Mars. That's all you need to know.' Ring Runner: 'Missions challenge you to escape exploding trenches, battle bosses bigger than your screen, race against NPC pilots and engage in spectacular space skirmishes in an engine modeled on the laws of Newtonian physics.' There will also be new installments of Dragon Age, SimCity, Grand Theft Auto, StarCraft, Command & Conquer, and Everquest."
When the local movie theater in Oakhurst, California went out of business, residents were stuck without a way to watch films on the big screen without driving for at least an hour beforehand. Now, three men are trying to resurrect the theater with one major change: instead of relying solely on ticket sales, their business model revolves around subscriptions. From the article: 'They ran models of Nelson's subscription-based theater idea, showing that to break even they would need 3,000 people, or 15% of the mountain communities, to sign up. For $19.95 per month, a member would be able to see each movie one time and buy individual tickets for friends. Non-members could buy a $16 day pass. While researching the theater business, Nelson learned that studios are transitioning to digital distribution. Thousands of independent theaters that couldn't afford equipment upgrades have closed over the last 10 years, according to industry experts. Hundreds of others — which, like the Met, still show print films — remain on the brink. The subscription business model could pay for the new equipment.'
An article at Space.com forecasts an important year for private space companies in 2013. SpaceX is working on a new version of its Dragon capsule that is quite different from the current model. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said that the first iteration looked similar to other space capsules because the SpaceX team was learning as they went. Now, they're drawing on the expertise they've gained to tailor the new capsule to their needs. "Musk described Dragon version 2 as having 'legs that pop out' and added that it uses parachutes and its eight SuperDraco thrusters for a 'propulsive landing.'" The capsule will hold up to seven people, and they hope to win a crew transportation contract for getting NASA astronauts up to the ISS. The bidding for that contract starts in the second half of 2013. Commercial space planes are also set to reach new heights in 2013. XCOR Aerospace will be building its Lynx I rocket plane, and a spokesman said, "we’ll be doing test fights throughout the year from early 2013 and then go into commercial flights." Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo will also undergo its first rocket-powered flight this year.
An anonymous reader writes "According to data from the American Automobile Association, the average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. was higher in 2012 than in any year before it. Nationwide, gas averaged $3.60/gallon, up from $3.51/gallon in 2011. 'The states with the most expensive annual averages for 2012 included Hawaii ($4.31), Alaska ($4.09), California ($4.03), New York ($3.90) and Connecticut ($3.90). The states with the least-expensive annual averages included South Carolina ($3.35), Missouri ($3.38), Mississippi ($3.39), Tennessee ($3.40) and Oklahoma ($3.41). The highest daily statewide average of the year was $4.67 in Calif. on Oct. 9, while the lowest daily statewide average was $2.91 a gallon in South Carolina on July 3.' Bloomberg reports that fuel consumption is down 3.6% compared to last year, while U.S. oil production reached almost 7 million barrels a day recently, a level that hasn't been reached since 1993. AAA predicts gas prices will be cheaper in 2013."
An anonymous reader writes "Joerg Sprave is at it again. This time, in order to bring in the New Year, he's got something with a bit more bang to it: a firecracker-launching slingshot. Being German, Joerg has built a slingshot that will accommodate the largest legal firecracker in that country. '2 grams of black powder in a tight cardboard "cigar" make a pretty loud bang! In order to make these bangs more spectacular, it is desirable to shoot them as high into the air as possible. A special slingshot crossbow has been designed, chambered for the strongest legal firecrackers. The weapon is a breech loader, and an integrated storm lighter allows the shooter to light the fuse when the weapon is all ready for the shot. The weapon launches the firecracker with tremendous force. The blunt object easily crashes through a moving card board box, and — equipped with a wooden tip — even goes in all the way into a block of ballistic gelatin.' His two videos are available on YouTube: part 1, part 2." This is the same gentleman who made a slingshot that launches machetes.