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Technology

Dubai's Climate-Controlled Dome City Is a Dystopia Waiting To Happen 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the looking-forward-to-the-reality-tv-show dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes: Dubai is building "the world's first climate-controlled city" — it's a 4.3 mile pedestrian mall that will be covered with a retractable dome to provide its shoppers with air conditioning in the summer heat. The Mall of the World, as it's called, will become the sort of spectacular, over-the-top attraction Dubai is known for. Shortly after, it will probably become an equally spectacular real-world dystopia.

By sectioning off a 3-million-square-foot portion of the city with an air conditioned dome, Dubai is dropping one of the most tangible partitions between the haves and the have nots of the modern era—the 100 hotels and apartment complexes inside the attraction will be cool, comfortable, and nestled into a entertainment-filled, if macabre, consumer paradise."
Medicine

A Box of Forgotten Smallpox Vials Was Just Found In an FDA Closet 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-for-making-me-feel-safe dept.
Jason Koebler writes: The last remaining strains of smallpox are kept in highly protected government laboratories in Russia and at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. And, apparently, in a dusty cardboard box in an old storage room in Maryland. The CDC said today that government workers had found six freeze-dried vials of the Variola virus, which causes smallpox, in a storage room at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland last week. Each test tube had a label on it that said "variola," which was a tip-off, but the agency did genetic testing to confirm that the viruses were, in fact, smallpox.
Microsoft

Microsoft Backs Open Source For the Internet of Things 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the free-and-open dept.
dcblogs writes Microsoft has joined a Linux Foundation effort to create an open platform for the Internet of Things. The AllSeen Alliance is an effort to standardize device communications. The code that it champions, called AllJoyn, was initially developed by Qualcomm but was subsequently made open source. Big vendors have been recruited to support it, and the AllSeen Alliance now includes LG, Panasonic, Sharp and Haier, among others. Its Xbox gaming platform is seen as a potential hub or control center for home devices. Microsoft's leadership in computing "and its significant Xbox business make it a potentially important contributor to the AllSeen ecosystem," said said Andy Castonguay, an analyst at Machina Research, a Reading, England-based research firm focusing on machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things.

Comment: Re:Software Patents Are Just Wrong (Score 1) 43

If software patents were around back in the 80's

They were. Commodore used a character set which contained an inverse-video duplicate set to avoid a software patent on the use of exclusive-OR to draw a cursor. Specifically, some drafting company back in the late 70's patented the idea of using XOR to draw a crosshairs, so in the VIC20, C64, and others, the cursor was implemented by periodically alternating the target location between the character located there and its counterpart in the inverse-video half of the character set. Apple avoided this patent by alternating between the character on the screen and a little checkerboard cursor.

Comment: Re:Key Point Missing (Score 2) 34

by NewYorkCountryLawyer (#47234405) Attached to: Appeals Court Finds Scanning To Be Fair Use

The summary misses a key point. Yes they scan and store the entire book, but they are _NOT_ making the entire book available to everyone. For the most part they are just making it searchable.

Agreed that it's not in the summary, but as you correctly note, it's just a "summary". Anyone who reads the underlying blog post will read this among the facts on which the court based its opinion: "The public was allowed to search by keyword. The search results showed only the page numbers for the search term and the number of times it appeared; none of the text was visible."

So those readers who RTFA will be in the know.

+ - Appeals Court finds scanning to be fair use in Authors Guild v Hathitrust

Submitted by NewYorkCountryLawyer
NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) writes "In Authors Guild v Hathitrust, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has found that scanning whole books and making them searchable for research use is a fair use. In reaching its conclusion, the 3-judge panel reasoned, in its 34-page opinion (PDF), that the creation of a searchable, full text database is a "quintessentially transformative use", that it was "reasonably necessary" to make use of the entire works, that maintaining maintain 4 copies of the database was reasonably necessary as well, and that the research library did not impair the market for the originals. Needless to say, this ruling augurs well for Google in Authors Guild v. Google, which likewise involves full text scanning of whole books for research."

+ - Councilman/Open Source Developer submits Open Source bill->

Submitted by NewYorkCountryLawyer
NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) writes "New York City Council Member Ben Kallos (KallosEsq), who also happens to be a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) developer, just introduced legislation to mandate a government preference for FOSS and creating a Civic Commons website to facilitate collaborative purchasing of software. He argues that NYC could save millions of dollars with the Free and Open Source Software Preferences Act 2014, pointing out that the city currently has a $67 million Microsoft ELA. Kallos said: "It is time for government to modernize and start appreciating the same cost savings as everyone else.""
Link to Original Source

Comment: A little late, but welcome (Score 1) 136

by NewYorkCountryLawyer (#47119749) Attached to: Federal Court Pulls Plug On Porn Copyright Shakedown
A cynic might argue that the key difference in this case was that, for a change, the ISP's, and not merely defendants, were challenging the subpoenas; but of course we all know that justice is 'blind'.

An ingrate might bemoan the Court's failure to address the key underlying fallacy in the "John Doe" cases, that because someone pays the bill for an internet account that automatically makes them a copyright infringer; but who's complaining over that slight omission?

A malcontent like myself might be a little unhappy that it took the courts ten (10) years to finally come to grips with the personal jurisdiction issue, which would have been obvious to 9 out of 10 second year law students from the get go, and I personally have been pointing it out and writing about it since 2005; but at least they finally did get there.

And a philosopher might wonder how much suffering might have been spared had the courts followed the law back in 2004 when the John Doe madness started; but of course I'm a lawyer, not a philosopher. :)

Bottom line, though: this is a good thing, a very good thing. Ten (10) years late in coming, but good nonetheless. - R.B. )
Supercomputing

Stanford Bioengineers Develop 'Neurocore' Chips 9,000 Times Faster Than a PC 209

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
kelk1 sends this article from the Stanford News Service: "Stanford bioengineers have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain – 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC (abstract). Kwabena Boahen and his team have developed Neurogrid, a circuit board consisting of 16 custom-designed 'Neurocore' chips. Together these 16 chips can simulate 1 million neurons and billions of synaptic connections. The team designed these chips with power efficiency in mind. Their strategy was to enable certain synapses to share hardware circuits. ... But much work lies ahead. Each of the current million-neuron Neurogrid circuit boards cost about $40,000. (...) Neurogrid is based on 16 Neurocores, each of which supports 65,536 neurons. Those chips were made using 15-year-old fabrication technologies. By switching to modern manufacturing processes and fabricating the chips in large volumes, he could cut a Neurocore's cost 100-fold – suggesting a million-neuron board for $400 a copy."

Comment: Re:Now it's the grid engineers' problem to solve.. (Score 1) 227

by VanessaE (#46685693) Attached to: Nanodot-Based Smartphone Battery Recharges In 30 Seconds

So put a big, obvious indicator on the charging station that shows a color-coded load level. After a while, EV owners will come to understand it at least enough to know that a high reading means their car will charge slower.

If consumers can figure out those little pinch-the-ends-to-read charge indicators in some batteries, and what a regular traffic signal means at an intersection, they can figure out "green means fast, red means slow" at the charge station and charge up or go elsewhere accordingly.

Stations can even display their capacity reading on their main sign under the price, if they're proud of it anyway.

Facebook

Minecraft Creator Halts Plans For Oculus Version Following Facebook Acquisition 300

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the rash-decisions dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Not one hour after the announcement of the the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook yesterday, Markus 'Notch' Persson has announced that he has ceased all discussions about bringing it to Oculus Rift. 'I don't want to work with social, I want to work with games. ... Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.' Persson has stated that he made this decision despite initially investing $10,000 in Oculus' Kickstarter."
Transportation

Mazda Says Its Upcoming Gas-Powered Cars Will Emit Less CO2 Than Electric Cars 330

Posted by Soulskill
from the extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-evidence dept.
cartechboy writes: "One of the arguments for electric cars is that we are reducing greenhouse gases and emitting less CO2 than vehicles with an internal combustion engine. But Mazda says its next-generation SkyActiv engines will be so efficient, they'll emit less CO2 than an electric car. In fact, the automaker goes so far as to say these new engines will be cleaner to run than electric cars. Is it possible? Yes, but it's all about the details. It'll depend on the test cycles for each region. Vehicles are tested differently in Europe than in the U.S., and that variation could make all the difference when it comes to these types of claims. At the end of the day whether future Mazdas with gasoline-powered engines are cleaner than electric cars or not, every little bit in the effort to reduce our carbon emissions per mile is a step in the right direction, right?"

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.

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