WrongSizeGlass writes "Ars is reporting that the 'inventor' of the concept of 'providing individual online presences for each of a plurality of members of a group of members,' claims that four million Facebook business account holders, including at least three major presidential candidates, are guilty of infringing his patent. He's suing Facebook for infringing on his patent as well as the three candidates. A Patent Office examiner rejected the patent claims, but the rejections have been appealed."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Hugh Pickens writes "Every year around 17,000 people are injured and over 200 die in backover accidents involving cars, trucks and SUVs. Now the Chicago Tribune reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will send Congress a proposal mandating a rearview camera for all passenger vehicles starting in 2014. 'Adoption of this proposal would significantly reduce fatalities and injuries caused by backover crashes involving children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and other pedestrians,' says NHTSA in its proposal. But the technology won't come cheap. In its study, the NHTSA found that adding a backup camera to a vehicle without an existing visual display screen will probably cost $159 to $203 per vehicle, shrinking to between $58 and $88 for vehicles that already use display screens. Toyota of Albany Sales manager Kelvin Walker says he believes making backup cameras standard on cars made after 2014 is a good idea. 'If you want to get a backup camera with a mirror in it now, it may cost you $700 to $800 as an additional dealer option or you have to purchase a navigation which is about $1,500 to $1,600. So $1,600 compared to $200? You do the math.'"
PatPending writes with this excerpt from CNet: "With just 2 percent of the Smithsonian's archive of 137 million items available to the public at any one time, an effort is under way at the world's largest museum and research institution to adopt 3D tools to expand its reach around the country. CNET has learned that the Smithsonian has a new initiative to create a series of 3D-printed models, exhibits, and scientific replicas — as well as to generate a new digital archive of 3D models of many of the physical objects in its collection. ... They've got technology on their side — with minimally invasive laser scanners they can capture the geometry of just about any object or site with accuracy down to the micron level."
MojoKid writes "There's been no new Star Trek TV series since Enterprise limped off screens in 2005, but the huge success of the 2009 Star Trek movie and the gradual growth of Blu-ray has caught CBS' attention (CBS acquired ownership of the Star Trek franchise in 2006). The broadcast company is preparing to release Star Trek: The Next Generation on Blu-ray with substantial improvements (article contains comparison image shots). The DVD boxed sets that exist today were created from the taped broadcasts that were shown in the early 90s. Rather than repackaging that material, CBS has gone back to the original film stock and started from scratch. The difference is enormous. CBS has released a preview Blu-ray titled Star Trek: The Next Generation — The Next Level with three updated episodes; the show's pilot (Encounter at Farpoint), Sins of the Father and The Inner Light."
jfruh writes "You'd think that, of all events, security conferences would have tight security. But one anonymous human pen tester managed to sneak into the RSA conference without credentials, using tried and true techniques like waving a badge from another conference at security guards and slipping in through exits."
zacharye writes "AT&T on Monday announced a new plan that will let developers pay for the data used by their apps and services. The data consumed by apps that make use of this new feature would not apply toward a user's data cap. The new service was pitched as a way for content providers to ease customers' growing concerns over wireless data usage, however one public interest group sees the feature as a slap in the face to AT&T subscribers. 'This new plan is unfortunate because it shows how fraudulent the AT&T data cap is, and calls into question the whole rationale of the data caps,' Harold Feld, legal director of Public Knowledge, said in a statement. 'Apparently it has nothing to do with network management. It's a tool to get more revenue from developers and customers.'"
compumike writes "CircuitLab today released a browser-based schematic editor and circuit simulator for the online electronics community. SPICE-like device models and mixed-mode simulation support allows engineers and hobbyists to tackle a wide range of board-level design problems. While most EDA software is Windows-only, CircuitLab is 100% web-based, Windows/Mac/Linux cross-platform, and requires no installation or plug-ins. Instead of today's typical forum posts with static screenshots from different desktop tools, the online electronics community can now use CircuitLab to share useful URLs (as well as PNGs and PDFs) which link directly to interactive, editable, runnable schematics. In just a few clicks, another designer can open that circuit, make a change, simulate it, and post the new version back to the community."
hey! writes "On February 18 of this year, global giant payment processor PayPal sent eBook publisher Smashwords an ultimatum: if Smashwords didn't remove all eBooks with certain erotic content from its catalog in the next several days, PayPal would immediately stop handling payments. Smashword's TOS already precluded child pornography, but now PayPal wants them to also censor depictions of consenting, non-related adults acting out incest fantasies. Likewise, fantasy novels in which human characters transform into non-humans are affected if those characters have sex. ZDNet has a summary of the impact of these changes, which would among other things ban Vladmir Nabokov's Lolita. As outrage mounts, finger pointing is in full swing. Smashwords blames PayPal, and PayPal blames the banks it deals with. The crux seems to be that erotica buyers have a higher rate of 'chargebacks' — customers who buy stuff then demand their money back. Fair enough, but is a customer really more likely to return a book because it depicts one kind of fantasy between consenting adults vs. another? Perhaps the problem is just the quality of writing." Note: as you can probably tell from the summary, the linked articles (while factual in nature) discuss subjects that may not be suitable for workplace reading.
coondoggie writes "Natural gas has never been much of an option for U.S. car drivers, and it's going to take a lot of effort by the government and auto manufacturers to make it a viable alternative to gas. But that's just what a $10 million program from the Department of Energy's advanced project development group The Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E) aims to start anyway. ARPA-E's Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program wants to develop a system 'that could enable natural gas vehicles with on-board storage and at-home refueling with a five-year payback or upfront cost differential of $2,000, which excludes the balance of system and installation costs.'"
pigrabbitbear writes "Google is boasting that more than 90 million people have signed up for its Google+. Those are pretty impressive numbers. I mean, if you had 90 million people at your disposal, you could do anything. You'd rule the Internet. Except there's one little problem: No one is using the site. The Wall Street Journal has the hard, unfiltered truth: According to comScore numbers, users spent an average of 3 minutes on G+ in the entire month of January. Facebook users spent 405 minutes, or nearly 7 hours, on the site. People managed to find 17 minutes to spare to add connections on LinkedIn. Heck, even Myspace users — many of whom are probably ghost accounts — surfed for eight minutes over the month."
ananyo writes "NASA has said it will re-design its Mars exploration program, and that the new architecture would include input — and money — from the human program as well as the space technology division. Orlando Figueroa, the former deputy director for space and technology at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is to head up a seven or eight person committee, and to start developing mission concepts in the next month. One of those concepts would be a possible $700 million mission launching in 2018. The news offers a grain of comfort to a community still reeling from massive cuts to the Mars program."
PatPending writes with news that Google will be offering up to $1 million for the discovery of new exploits in their Chrome browser. This comes as part of the CanSecWest security conference, and the rewards will be broken down into categories: $60,000 for an exploit using only Chrome bugs, $40,000 for an exploit using a Chrome bug in conjunction with other bugs, and $20,000 for exploits that affect Chrome (and other browsers) but are due to bugs in other software, like Flash, Windows, or drivers. Google had originally planned to offer rewards through the Pwn2Own competition, but they were concerned by the contest rules: "Unfortunately, we decided to withdraw our sponsorship when we discovered that contestants are permitted to enter Pwn2Own without having to reveal full exploits (or even all of the bugs used!) to vendors. Full exploits have been handed over in previous years, but it’s an explicit non-requirement in this year’s contest, and that’s worrisome. ... We guarantee to send non-Chrome bugs to the appropriate vendor immediately."
New submitter Stowie101 writes "British master engineer Ian Shepherd is ripping Apple's Mastered for iTunes service, saying it is pure marketing hype and isn't different than a standard AAC file in iTunes. Shepherd compared three digital music files, including a Red Hot Chili Peppers song downloaded in the Mastered for iTunes format with a CD version of the same song, and said there were no differences. Apple or someone else needs to step it up here and offer some true 'CD quality downloads.'"
dstates writes "A recent article in in BMJ Open reports a strong association between the use of prescription sleeping pills and mortality. The study used electronic health records for 2.5 million people covered by the Geisinger Health System to find 12 thousand who had been prescribed sleeping pills and a matched set of controls. Death rates were much higher in the patients taking sleeping pills and the risk increases with age. Kudos to the authors for publishing this in an open access journal."
Hugh Pickens writes "The LA Times reports that Rick Santorum defended his robocalls urging Democrats in Michigan to vote in today's critical primary, a tactic that has come under withering criticism from rival Mitt Romney as a 'terrible dirty trick' and a 'new low for his campaign.' Santorum says he reached out to Democratic voters, who can vote in the primary, to show that 'we can attract voters we need to win states like Michigan,' and noted that the former Massachusetts governor has wooed Democrats in the past and used Santorum's own words endorsing him in the 2008 race on a robocall of his own. 'I didn't complain about it. I don't complain. You know what, I'm a big guy. I can take it.' Romney crossed party lines himself to vote for Paul Tsongas in the 1992 Democratic primary over Bill Clinton in order to cause mischief for the general election. 'In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary,' said Romney, who until he made an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1994 had spent his adult life as a registered independent."