Esther Schindler writes "It's certainly fun to pretend to find work inspiration from our favorite SF films. That's what Carol Pinchefsky does in two posts, one about positive business lessons you can take away from SF films (such as 'agile thinking can save many a project (and project manager) in a crisis' from Robocop and team motivation lessons from Buffy), and the other, 5 Project Management Horror Stories Found in Sci-Fi Movies, with examples of the impact of poor documentation on Captain America."
KDE Community writes "The KDE Community is proud to announce the latest major updates to KDE software delivering new features and fixes. With Plasma Workspaces and the KDE Platform frozen and receiving only long term supportt, those teams are focusing on the technical transition to Frameworks 5. This release marks substantial improvements in the KDE PIM stack, giving much better performance and many new features. Kate added new features including initial Vim-macro support, and games and educational applications bring a variety of new features. The announcement for the KDE Applications 4.12 has more information. This release of KDE Platform 4.12 only includes bugfixes and minor optimizations and features. About 20 bugfixes as well as several optimizations have been made to various subsystems. A technology preview of the Next Generation KDE Platform, named KDE Frameworks 5, is coming this month."
sfcrazy writes "The newly formed company has opened the next chapter of its history by bagging $23 million financing from A16Z (Andreessen Horowitz). CyanogenMod was recently incorporated as a company after getting Benchmark Capital and Redpoint Ventures as partners and raising $7 million in funding."
cartechboy writes "Two guys have made a life-sized Lego car that runs on air. That's right, the 256-piston, air-powered Lego working vehicle built with half a million black and yellow Lego pieces can actually be driven up to 18 mph. It was designed and built by 20-year-old Romanian Raul Oaida in 20 months after he and his partner, Australia-based Steve Sammartino raised "tens of thousands" of crowdfunded dollars with their prospectus entitled quite simply: "Super Awesome Micro Project." The car was built in Romania and then moved to Melbourne, Australia (presumably not brick-by-brick.) In the video, the only visible non-Lego components are the gauges, wheel rims, and tires (though the wheels have Lego faces--literally.)"
An anonymous reader writes "Gates fulfilled a Reddit users wish-list by buying several items and donating to a listed charity organization, although he did pass on getting the iPad on the list. From the article: 'The true identity of Rachel's Secret Santa was finally revealed when she found a photo of Gates holding the stuffed animal and the signed donation sent to Heifer International. An inscription in the book with a "really nice message" and note from Gates wishing Rachel a Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday was the topper.'"
ckwu writes "The vast real estate of windows in office buildings and skyscrapers could be a fruitful field for harvesting solar energy—if lightweight solar cells could be made with a high enough conversion efficiency and appealing aesthetics. Now researchers at Oxford University report semitransparent solar cells that might do the trick. The team made solar cells using a perovskite, a class of mineral-like materials that have properties similar to inorganic semiconductors and show sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiencies of more than 15%. The team deposited a thin film of perovskite onto glass so that the material formed tiny crystalline islands. The islands absorb photons and convert them to electrons, while light striking the empty areas passes through. The result was a semitransparent solar cell with a grayish tint."
First time accepted submitter wallydallas writes "I'm close to a solution, but I wonder how other people block their many devices and operating systems from updating in working hours. For example: I'm the IT guy who blocks iPads from updating when school is in session because we are in a rural location. 3mbps is the best WAN we can buy. Devices can update after hours just fine. We do this with our router (DDWRT) by blocking MESU.APPLE.COM. Many guests bring in Windows 7 laptops, and I want to welcome them, but not their updates. How can I block updates on Android Phones and Linux Laptops? I have a 4G device at home, and I'd like to apply the same tricks 24 hours a day so that I don't use up the bandwith from my vendor. And my many home visitors should have their updates blocked."
McGruber writes "Walt Mossberg, principal technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, has written his last column after 22 years of reviewing consumer technology products for the newspaper. His final column discusses the dozen personal-technology products that were most influential over the past two decades."
alphadogg writes "Kill-switch technology that can render a lost or stolen smartphone useless would become mandatory in California under a new bill that will be proposed to the state legislature in January. The bill will be introduced by Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat representing San Francisco and neighboring towns, and George Gascón, the district attorney for San Francisco. Gascón has been spearheading a push by major law-enforcement agencies across the U.S. for more to be done to prevent smartphone theft. The proposed law could reach well beyond the borders of California. Because of the difficulty and added cost of producing handsets solely for sale in California, it could serve to make kill-switch technology a standard feature on phones sold across the U.S."
cartechboy writes "It looks like Elon Musk and Tesla Motors find themselves in another PR war over the cause of a fire involving a Tesla Model S. Authorities in Irvine, CA are currently investigating the reason for a fire in a garage that, yes, contained a Tesla Model S. While the actual cause of the fire remains unknown, Tesla Motors and the Orange County Fire Authority are already publicly disputing possible causes, thought to center around the Tesla charging system. Tesla says the fire was not caused by any part of the car nor its charging system, reports Reuters. For what its worth — we've seen a version of this movie before. In 2011, investigators determined that a garage fire that destroyed a Chevrolet Volt had started away from the car, later spreading to engulf and destroy the car."
Virtuix Omni "is an omnidirectional treadmill video game peripheral for virtual reality games currently in development by Virtuix," says Wikipedia. With this device and an Oculus Rift, Razer Hydra or a similar "immersive" headset, you can play games equipped to use these devices with your whole body moving in any direction you choose. If you think you saw this product on the Shark Tank TV show or a pitch for it at Kickstarter.com, you're right. You did. The Virtuix Omni people have been pushing their product hard, everywhere they can. Tim ran into their product manager, Colton Jacobs, at the recent AppsWorld conference in London. This video is Tim's record of their conversation.
judgecorp writes "A new remotely-programmable embedded SIM design from the GSMA operators' group means that devices can be operated on the Internet of things and won't have to be opened up to have their SIM card changed if they move to a different operator. The design could speed up embedded applications."
An anonymous reader writes "The Free Software Foundation announced today the first laptop they have been able to certify as-is that respects the user's freedoms. The laptop is free down to using Coreboot in place of a proprietary BIOS. The OS shipped on the laptop is Trisquel, the Ubuntu derived Linux OS that removes all traces of proprietary firmware, patented formats, etc. The only issue though for new customers is this endorsed laptop comes down to being a refurbished 2006 ThinkPad X60 with single or dual-core Intel CPU, 1GB+ of RAM, 60GB+ HDD, and a 1024x768 12.1-inch screen, while costing $320+ USD (200 GBP). The FSF-certified refurbished laptops are only offered for sale through the Gluglug UK shop. Are these outdated specs worth your privacy and freedom?"
First time accepted submitter jma05 writes "The UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a privacy resolution introduced by Brazil and Germany, against unlawful surveillance. 'The resolution affirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, including the right to privacy.' Under pressure from US lobbying, the clause that mass surveillance constitutes a human rights violation was dropped earlier."
waderoush writes "One of the problems that kept PR2, a two-armed humanoid robot developed by Menlo Park, CA-based Willow Garage, from succeeding commercially was its $400,000 price tag. But as it turned out, only a handful of the 40 or so universities that own PR2s ever developed applications that use both arms. That's one of the reasons why UBR-1, a mobile manipulator robot from Willow Garage spinoff Unbounded Robotics, has only one arm. And that, along with many other engineering decisions and technology improvements, will allow the startup to sell its robot for just $35,000 (it's designed for materials-handling tasks in places like warehouses, elder care facilities, and supermarkets). 'With robots, feature creep is so much more present than in some other fields,' says Unbounded co-founder and CEO Melonee Wise. 'There is always this desire to make a Swiss Army knife. But you have to make compromises, and those compromises directly impact the capabilities as well as the cost of the robot.' One roboticist told Unbounded: 'Your robot is so inexpensive that if I needed to have a second arm, I'd just buy a second robot.'"