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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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+ - SpaceX's Challenge Against Blue Origins' Patent Fails to Take Off->

Submitted by speedplane
speedplane (552872) writes "As was previously discussed on Slashdot, back in September SpaceX challenged a patent owned by Blue Origin. The technology concerned landing rockets at sea. Yesterday, the judges in the case issued their opinion stating that they are unable to initiate review of the patent on the grounds brought by SpaceX.

Although at first glance this would appear to be a Blue Origin win, looking closer, the judges explained that Blue Origin's patent lacks sufficient disclosure, effectively stating that the patent is invalid, but not on the specific grounds brought by SpaceX:

Because claim 14 lacks adequate structural support for some of the means-plus-function limitations, it is not amenable to construction. And without ascertaining the breadth of claim 14, we cannot undertake the necessary factual inquiry for evaluating obviousness with respect to differences between the claimed subject matter and the prior art.

If SpaceX wants to move forward against Blue Origin, this opinion bodes well for them, but they will need to take their case in front of a different court."
Link to Original Source

+ - Former MLB Pitcher Doxes Internet Trolls, Delivers Real-World Consequences

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "When Twitter trolls began posting obscene, sexually explicit comments about his teenage daughter, former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling responded by recording their comments and gathering personal information readily available to the public. He then doxxed two of them on his blog, resulting in one being suspended from his community college and the other being fired from his part-time job as a ticket seller for the New York Yankees. There were seven others in Curt's crosshairs, all college athletes, but although he hasn't publicly doxxed those individuals he hints, 'I found it rather funny at how quickly tone changed when I heard via email from a few athletes who’d been suspended by their coaches. Gone was the tough guy tweeter, replaced by the "I’m so sorry apology used by those only sorry because they got caught.'"

+ - Dropping the TSA: A Growing Trend->

Submitted by tiberus
tiberus (258517) writes "Amid a growing number of customer service complaints and delays, over a dozen airports have dropped TSA screeners in favor of cheaper and friendlier private screeners.

Tired of long lines at TSA airport checkpoints? Today, the Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) began a transition to private security screeners rather than Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners in a change that promises more efficient security measures.

"

Link to Original Source

+ - Why I'm Saying Goodbye to Apple, Google and Microsoft->

Submitted by DrJimbo
DrJimbo (594231) writes "Dan Gillmore says; "When I became a technology columnist in the mid-1990s, the public Internet was just beginning its first big surge. Back then, I advised my readers to avoid the semi-political, even religious battles that advocates of this or that technology platform seemed to enjoy. Appreciate technology, I urged, for what it is—a tool—and use what works best.

So why am I typing this on a laptop running GNU/Linux, the free software operating system, not an Apple or Windows machine? And why are my phones and tablets running a privacy-enhanced offshoot of Android called Cyanogenmod, not Apple’s iOS or standard Android?""

Link to Original Source

+ - You Might Be Surprised By The Tabs Your Smartphone Keeps On You

Submitted by Deathspawner
Deathspawner (1037894) writes "It should come as a surprise to no one that the amount of data scraped from our digital lives each and every day is immense. But could there still be room to be wowed — or even a little concerned? At reddit, user FallenMyst claimed that everything we've ever spoken to our phones, either via Siri, Cortana, or what-have-you, has been recorded — and in some cases, we can go back and listen to it. Techgage went on to investigate, and found proof of that claim. Further, it was also discovered that Google could be tracking a lot more data than you were even aware of, such as where you were a couple of years ago. Fortunately, this tracking can be turned off, but there's something to be said about the fact that it's on by default, and is so incredibly subtle."

+ - Solar eclipse puts Europe's power supplies at risk

Submitted by mrvan
mrvan (973822) writes "An eclipse of the sun next month could disrupt Europe’s power supplies because so many countries now use solar energy, electricity system operators have warned. “The risk of incident cannot be completely ruled out,” the European Network Transmission System Operators for Electricity said on Monday, adding the eclipse on March 20 would be “an unprecedented test for Europe’s electricity system”.

Normally, it is generally cloudy in some parts or Europe while the sun shines in other parts: “Within 30 minutes the solar power production would decrease from 17.5 gigawatts to 6.2GW and then increase again up to 24.6GW. This means that within 30 minutes the system will have to adapt to a load change of -10GW to +15GW,” if it is a sunny day and all solar power stations were producing at full load. Solar power covered just 0.1 per cent of all the electricity produced in Europe from renewable energy sources around the time of the last large solar eclipse in Europe in 1999, according to the network, known as ENTSO-E. But since then solar power generation has soared to at least 10.5 per cent, as countries subsidise green power to meet EU renewable energy targets."

+ - Martian explorer robot might get drafted into US Navy as bomb-droid->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The US Navy is trialling the military potential of a spherical robot originally conceived for exploration on Mars. 'GuardBot' is a 63-pound drone capable of moving on a variety of terrains, and is also amphibious. Resembling a large tyre, the robot employs a patented nine-axis internal pendulum-motion stabilisation technology to maintain balance, and has been used for sports promotions, and tested as a security guard and a life-guard after its initial disappointment in the space program."
Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists in China predict pentagonal graphene

Submitted by TechkNighT_1337
TechkNighT_1337 (739420) writes "Chinese scientists made calculations and predict that a new 2D allotrope of carbon based in a pentagonal form resembling an common pavement in the streets of cairo can be synthesized, they call this new form penta-graphene from the announcement in the Chemistry World they say: "The team found that not only should a pentagon-containing version of graphene be fairly stable, it should also be stronger than conventional graphene and be able to withstand higher temperatures, up to 730C. It would also be a natural semiconductor, unlike conventional graphene, which is a highly efficient conductor and has to be chemically modified to turn it into a semiconductor.""

+ - Peak Google: The Company's Time at the Top May Be Nearing Its End

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Farhad Manjoo writes at the NYT that at first glance Google looks plenty healthy, but growth in Google’s primary business, search advertising, has flattened out at about 20 percent a year for the last few years and although Google has spent considerable resources inventing technologies for the future, it has failed to turn many of its innovations into new moneymakers. According to Manjoo as smartphones eclipse laptop and desktop computers to become the planet’s most important computing devices, the digital ad business is rapidly changing and Facebook, Google’s archrival for advertising dollars, has been quick to profit from the shift. Here’s why: The advertising business is split, roughly, into two. On one side are direct-response ads meant to induce an immediate purchase: Think classifieds, the Yellow Pages, catalogs or Google's own text-based ads running alongside its search results. But the bulk of the ad industry is devoted to something called brand ads, the ads you see on television and print magazines that work on your emotions in the belief that, in time, your dollars will follow. “Google doesn’t create immersive experiences that you get lost in,” says Ben Thompson. “Google creates transactional services. You go to Google to search, or for maps, or with something else in mind. And those are the types of ads they have. But brand advertising isn’t about that kind of destination. It’s about an experience.” According to Thompson the future of online advertising looks increasingly like the business of television and is likely to be dominated by services like Facebook, Snapchat or Pinterest that keep people engaged for long periods of time and whose ads are proving to be massively more effective and engaging than banner advertisements.

In less than five years, Facebook has also built an enviable ad-technology infrastructure, a huge sales team that aims to persuade marketers of the benefits of Facebook ads over TV ads, and new ways for brands to measure how well their ads are doing. These efforts have paid off quickly: In 2014 Facebook sold $11.5 billion in ads, up 65 percent over 2013. Google will still make a lot of money if it doesn’t dominate online ads the way it does now. But it will need to find other businesses to keep growing. This is why Google is spending on projects like a self-driving car, Google Glass, fiber-optic lines in American cities, space exploration, and other audacious innovations that have a slim chance of succeeding but might revolutionize the world if they do. But the far-out projects remind Thompson of Microsoft, which has also invested heavily in research and development, and has seen little return on its investments. “To me the Microsoft comparison can’t be more clear. This is the price of being so successful — what you’re seeing is that when a company becomes dominant, its dominance precludes it from dominating the next thing. It’s almost like a natural law of business.”"

+ - Facebook Launches ThreatExchange To Let Companies Share Threat Info

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook today launched ThreatExchange, described as “an API-based clearinghouse for security threat information.” It’s really a social platform, which Facebook naturally excels at building, which allows companies to share with each other details about malware and phishing attacks. Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, and Yahoo participated in ThreatExchange and gave feedback as Facebook was developing it. New contributors Bitly and Dropbox have also recently joined, bringing the initial participant list to seven major tech companies."

+ - Russia seeking to ban Tor, VPNs and other anonymising tools-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Three separate Russian authorities have spoken out in favour of banning online anonymising tools since February 5th, with particular emphasis on Tor, which — despite its popularity with whistle-blowers such as Edward Snowden and with online activists — Russia's Safe Internet League describes as an 'Anonymous network used primarily to commit crimes'. The three authorities involved are the Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications, powerful Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor and the Safe Internet League, comprising the country's top three network providers, including state telecoms provider Rostelecom. Roskomnadzor's press secretary Vadim Roskomnadzora Ampelonsky describes the obstacles to identifying and blocking Tor and VPN traffic as 'difficult, but solvable'."
Link to Original Source

+ - The Dark Web Still Thrives After Silk Road

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Russell Berman writes at The Atlantic that the government may have won its case against Silk Road's Ross Ulbricht, but the high-profile trial gave a lot of publicity to the dark web, and both the number of sites and the volume of people using them have increased since Silk Road was shuttered. “Just as on the rest of the internet, users on the dark net are very quick to move on to new things and move away from those products and websites that seem stale and old,” says Adam Benson. The cat-and-mouse game between users of the dark web and law enforcement appears to be shifting as well. Newer dark sites (two major ones are Agora and Evolution) are likely to protect their servers by basing them in countries "hostile to U.S. law enforcement," says Nicholas Weaver. "The markets will keep moving overseas, but law enforcement will keep going after the dealers," Weaver says, referring to the people who actually ship and deliver the drugs sold online.

Evolution Marketplace is a much different animal than Silk Road, according to Dan Palumbo. Evolution sells "weapons, stolen credit cards, and more nefarious items that were forbidden on both versions of Silk Road. Silk Road sold a lot of dangerous things, but operators drew the line at their version of ‘victimless crimes,’ i.e. no child pornography, weapons, or identity theft. Now, four of the top five DarkNet Marketplaces sell weapons while three of the top five sell stolen financial data." This is a darker DarkNet and it speaks to the challenge facing law enforcement as they knock one set of bad actors offline, another comes along with bigger and bolder intentions."

+ - Wasp virus turns ladybugs into zombie babysitters->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The green-eyed wasp Dinocampus coccinellae turns ladybugs into zombie babysitters. Three weeks after a wasp lays its egg inside the hapless beetle, a wasp larva bursts from her belly and weaves itself a cocoon between her legs. The ladybug doesn’t die, but becomes paralyzed, involuntarily twitching her spotted red carapace to ward off predators until the adult wasp emerges a week later. How D. coccinellae enslaves its host at just the right time had been a mystery, but now researchers believe the insect has an accomplice: a newly identified virus that attacks the beetle’s brain. The findings raise questions about whether other parasites also use viruses as neurological weapons."
Link to Original Source

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