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Submission + - Earth's upper atmosphere collapses. None know why (

An anonymous reader writes: An upper layer of Earth's atmosphere recently collapsed in an unexpectedly large contraction, the sheer size of which has scientists scratching their heads, NASA announced Thursday.
The layer of gas – called the thermosphere – is now rebounding again. This type of collapse is not rare, but its magnitude shocked scientists.

"This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years," said John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab, lead author of a paper announcing the finding in the June 19 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "It's a Space Age record."

The collapse occurred during a period of relative solar inactivity – called a solar minimum from 2008 to 2009. These minimums are known to cool and contract the thermosphere, however, the recent collapse was two to three times greater than low solar activity could explain.


Submission + - Supreme Court to Bilski: Your claims are invalid (

reebmmm writes: The Supreme Court just decided the long-awaited case against Bernard Bilski: Federal Circuit Affirmed Unsurprisingly, the Court found Bilski's claims invalid because they were ineligible subject matter under Section 101 of the patent law. In a decision (with a concurrences by Breyer and Stevens), Justice Kennedy wrote of Bilski's claims: "petitioners' claims are not patentable processes because they are attempts to patent abstract ideas. Indeed, all members of the Court agree that the patent application at issue here falls out-side of 101 because it claims an abstract idea." The Court rejected the Federal Circuit's "machine or transformation test" as the sole test for patent eligibility. The Court made clear the while the machine or transformation test may be a useful tool, it is not the only test. The Court noted that the patent law does not exclude business methods. The Court declined to render all software patents invalid.

It is important to emphasize that the Court today is not commenting on the patentability of any particular invention, let alone holding that any of the above-mentioned technologies from the Information Age should or should not receive patent protection. This Age puts the possibility of innovation in the hands of more people and raises new difficulties for the patent law. With ever more people trying to innovate and thus seeking patent protections for their inventions, the patent law faces a great challenge in striking the balance between protecting inventors and not granting monopolies over procedures that others would discover by independent, creative application of general principles. Nothing in this opinion should be read to take a position on where that balance ought to be struck.

Slashdot take home: software patents may still be valid.

Submission + - Kagan against porn and "hate speech" (

DesScorp writes: "SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan hasn't left much of a paper trail during her legal career, which may make gauging her ideas and opionions somewhat difficult. But there are some positions she has made clear statements on, among them, pornography and "hate speech". In a 1993 University of Chicago seminar on the subject, Kagan argued that the government wasn't doing enough about the spread of porn or hate speech. She argued that new approaches were needed to fight their spread, as well as taking a fresh look at old approaches, such as obscenity laws. Kagan included herself among"“those of us who favor some form of pornography and hate speech regulation” and told participants that “a great deal can be done very usefully” to crack down on such evils.
Kagan steadfastly argued that pornography was a threat to women as it contributed to sexual violence, and on that basis could be prosecuted to some degree. "“Statutes may be crafted in ways that prohibit the worst of hate speech and pornography, language that goes to sexual violence. Such statutes may still be constitutional,” Kagan assured the meeting. She pressed for “new and harsher penalties against the kinds of violence against women that takes place in producing pornography, the use of pandering statutes and pimp statutes against pornographersperhaps the initiation—the enactment of new statutes prohibiting the hiring of women for commercial purposes to engage in sexual activities.”"

Submission + - Internet goes down in Miami

An anonymous reader writes: Today in Miami there was a internet outage that seemed to affect at least 2 different ISP and one of the largest data centers in the world. At 7:41 PM EST I got a SMS from a coworker that the office internet was down (Hotwire ISP). At the same time my home ISP was down but 5 minutes earlier it was working. Within a minute I started receiving alerts on my phone that our servers were down which were hosted at the NAP of the Americas. This lasted for about 10 minutes before service on all three ISP/locations were restored. I'm curious what other ISP were affected (was Comcast and AT&T) so please comment on that if they were.

Submission + - In THIS house... FTL fields and currents. Really! (

fyngyrz writes: So you think of electrons like dominoes in a wire. Push on the one in the end, the others react one after another. Pretty vanilla physics. Further, because the electrons are moving, you get magnetic effects, radio, etc. Good stuff. So. What if you move all the "dominos" at once? Put your virtual hand on all of them, and push them over. They're not moving sequentially any longer. They move together. At any speed you can make them go. Well, that's what these researchers are doing — "pushing" all along a conductor at once, able to make a signal go — ready? — FTL. Fascinating stuff. And it may explain pulsars.

Submission + - Airplanes Unexpectedly Modify Weather (

reillymj writes: Commercial airliners have a strange ability to create rain and snow when they fly through certain clouds. Scientists have known for some time that planes can make outlandish "hole-punch" and "canal" features in clouds. A new study has found that these odd formations are in fact evidence that planes are seeding clouds and changing local weather patterns as they fly through. In one case, researchers noted that a plane triggered several inches of snowfall directly beneath its flight path.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Centralized Management of iPads

yubb writes: I work with many school districts where Windows is only server and desktop OS in sight. We build networks this way so we have a centralized place for deploying apps, applying security policies and for ease of management.

With the release of the iPad, everyone suddenly realized that they needed tablets. With this "realization" comes another layer of management. I just lost all of the tools I had previously used to manage the network and its devices. There is LDAP integration for iPad, but it seems limited to mail/contacts. Without LDAP integration I lose the ability to easily give users access to their network shares and other network resources.

Another major hurdle is authenticating the iPad users with our content filter so they get the same policies as they're accustomed to on their desktop. Our content filter utilizes Active Directory and since the iPads don't login to AD, they don't get the right filtering policy.

The administrators in the school districts seem set on the iPad and not really open to any alternatives like the Archos netbook/tablet: Although they claim that they want to explore the iPad because it will revolutionize education, not being open to other options seems to indicate otherwise. It seems Apple's slick advertising and the public wanting the next new thing is playing a part here as well. But for something to be able to work well for the end user it needs to be easily manageable from the IT staff side, which is why I would prefer a Windows-based tablet (remember, we're an all-Windows network).

Is there anything I can do to alleviate this management nightmare? My belief is that a Windows-based tablet is the best answer; however, I'm not so sure I'll be able to convince the decision-makers of that.

Submission + - How Linux Saved a Fast Food Giant (

An anonymous reader writes: I am a Windows guy. I have always used Windows at home, work, school, everywhere with the exception of my phone (iPhone now Nexus One) and one Linux class at FIU. I have an A+ and MCTS in Windows Vista. Soon I will have my MCITP. I drink the kool-aid. But Linux saved me and the company I sub contract to, a large fast food giant, from near-total disaster. Last month McAfee posted a virus definition update that flagged SVCHOST.EXE as a virus. This is my story of what happened.
The Internet

Submission + - The Broadband Net Neutrality Debate Continues (

nj_peeps writes: As the FCC tries to re-classify broadband, and the USF Bill gets debated in the House. Republicans are now seeking to block the FCC from "regulating the internet"

Cliff Stearns (Fla.), the ranking Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee's Internet subcommittee, introduced a bill on Tuesday that would require the FCC to provide Congress with evidence of a market failure in the Internet service sector before enacting any form of regulations governing how ISPs manage their networks.

"I see no reason for Internet regulation," Stearns said in a statement. "Yet, if there is ever a cause for regulation, it is a decision to be made by Congress — not the FCC."


Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How to teach your kid chess?

Amarantine writes: As a new parent, i'd like to teach my kids the beautiful game of chess, once they have reached the right age for it (which is still a few years from now, but i like to be prepared). I was 7 or 8 myself when a friend of my father's taught me the basic moves of each piece (i'm 34 now). Altough i have played very often against friends, and a few times in a chess club, i never got above average. I know all the rules, including en passant, the 50-rule move, all that stuff, but i'm just not good at thinking further ahead than 1 move. Fortunately, this game is fun as long as the opponents are of equal skill, so it doesn't matter how bad you suck, as long as your opponent does it too (stop sniggering in the back). Having said this, i feel i could have been a better chess player if my foundation was laid out a bit better, back when i was 8. I started out with the rules, got the hang of "cornering the king", and just started to move pieces around, just waiting to see what would happen, without really thinking ahead. Recently, i realized i still basically play like that, altough i know just a little bit more about opening moves now, and finishing easy endgames like king+rook against king.

Moving on to the present, i'd like to avoid that mistake with my kids. I'd like them to learn the game, i think it's a great way to train logical thinking, abstract thinking, and because it's just a very good game. But i want them to learn it the right way, and preferrably by myself. If these crucial first steps are wrong, i'm sure it's hard to get rid of the old habits later on in their lives.

Altough i'm sure there are computer programs around to teach chess, i see chess as a social game, and i'd like to encourage playing against people, not computers. Also, most programs are in English, while we are Dutch, and something tells me it'll be easier for kids to learn a game than to learn a new language.

I'm sure that more of you have kids and know chess, and perhaps have thought about this before. Any ideas on how to go on?

Submission + - EA's Online Pass just the beginning (

evergeek writes: Shaun Conlin takes a look at EA's fresh used games initiative, which locks out the online components of pre-played games unless the bargain shopper ponies up another $10. The author predicts "that by 2013, the Online Pass will be the norm for all EA games, not the exception — other publishers will likely offer something similar, too. Furthermore, the actual game disc-in-a-box will be cheap, say $25 (retailers still need something to mark up, after all), and carry no date demarcation like NHL 2013, but instead just "NHL Core" or whatever, which you buy once and keep for years, never trade in or sell used. The Online Pass will cost $30 or $40 per year and include all the usual roster updates, new stats and league re-jiggery, even tweaks to gameplay mechanics "as consumers demand" in sports games, entirely new adventures, weapons, characters, vehicles, etc. in non-sport games. EA will call this "premium online content;" consumer will call it "the online stuff we've come to expect without having to pony up $60 every year."
The Military

Submission + - Pentagon trying to define rules of cyber warfare (

crimeandpunishment writes: When it comes to battling cyber warfare, the Pentagon is still struggling with the questions of what to do and when to do it. While the defense department is understandably close-lipped about its security plans, a top leader admitted Wednesday they may never have a direct answer on when to fire back against a computer-based attack. The Pentagon is working through multiple scenarios and trying to address a wide range of policy questions. Critics say the uncertain nature of the cyber warfare policies could lead to them being used too quickly or in the wrong way during a crisis.

Submission + - Stanford Robot Car Nails Amazing Parking Maneuver ( 1

kkleiner writes: Stanford’s Junior, the robot car that took second place at DARPA’s Grand Challenge in 2007, has learned how to perform a tire squealing 180 degree spin into a skin-tight parking space. Similar to a James Bond action scene, the maneuver is impressive and would be extremely difficult for a human to pull off. We won't be handing the keys over to robot cars anytime soon, but Stanford shows us that at least for some driving tasks robot cars can already meet or even exceed human ability.

Submission + - Telco's Secret Anti-net Neutrality Strategy (

NoMoreHelio writes: The political blog ThinkProgress obtained a secret PowerPoint presentation from a telecommunications industry front group that lays out the industry strategy for defending against regulatory attempts by the Federal Communications Commission. The industry plans to partner with well known conservative "astroturfing" groups, best known for their work seeding the Tea Party movement. Today's revelation from ThinkProgress comes as Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) joined various telecom funded front groups to unveil an anti-Net Neutrality bill.
GNU is Not Unix

Submission + - Can Employer Usurp Copyright On GPL-derived Work? 4

An anonymous reader writes: I am a recent graduate, and I've been working on my own on a project that uses GPL-licensed libraries. Later a university department hired me to develop this project into a solution that they needed, on a part-time basis. The project's size increased over time and soliciting help from the open source community seemed like the natural way to go, however when I suggested this, my boss was not interested, and it was made clear to me that the department's position was that copyright of the whole thing belonged to them. Indeed by default work created for an employer belongs to the employer, so I may have found myself in the same trap as described in this story: "". Even though I want to release my code to the public I don't know whether I have the legal right to do so, and many people are likely in the same position, working for a university without realizing that their work may not belong to them.

I am wondering whether there is room for hope, since
(1) I started the project on my own, and since no written or verbal agreement was ever made to transfer copyright over to my employer I question whether they can claim that they now own the extended version of the project.
(2) The whole project relies on GPL libraries, since from the start I intended to release it under GPL, and without those libraries it would be useless. Can they still claim copyright and prevent me from publishing the source code even though it is derived from GPL software?

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.