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Submission + - 1/2 billion taxpayer $ gone as solar startup folds (cnn.com) 1

elrous0 writes: Solar panel maker Solyndra today said that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, after failing to successfully compete against lower-cost Chinese manufacturers. It is one of largest failures ever suffered by venture capitalists, and a major black eye for a U.S. Department of Energy that loaned the company more than $500 million.

Submission + - President Obama on Mythbusters tonight (wired.com)

elrous0 writes: As was previously reported, President Obama mentioned back in October that he would be appearing on a upcoming episode of the popular Discovery Channel series Mythbusters. Well, the episode is finally airing tonight. In the episode, the President helps Jamie and Adam test the "Archimedes Death Ray" myth for a 3rd time (the myth having been "busted" the first time, and that bust surviving a challenge from MIT students the second time out). Though the President only appears in a couple of brief scripted segments, the actual test (using 500 schoolkids doubling as mirror-bearing soldiers) is purportedly pretty interesting. Early reviews of the episode are positive. But then, even a bad Mythbusters episode is better than just about any of the other sludge passing for "reality" TV these days.

Submission + - "Bloatware" becoming a problem on Android Phones (wired.com)

elrous0 writes: According to a recent article in Wired, consumers of many new Android devices (including Samsung’s Vibrant and HTC's EVO) are complaining about the increasing presence of something that has plagued consumer PC's for years: Bloatware (or, to use the more kind euphemism, "Pre-installed software" that the computer manufacturer gets paid to include on a new PC). Unfortunately the bloatware (aka "crapware") that comes with these phones has a nasty quality not found on even the most bloated PC: it can't be removed. Many angry consumers have begun to complain openly about this disturbing trend. Is bloatware going to become a standard annoyance on our locked-down mobile devices, or will consumers ultimately revolt?

Submission + - NSA Warrantless Wiretapping Whistleblower Indicted (wired.com) 1

elrous0 writes: Thomas Andrews Drake, a former NSA official, was charged Thursday in the U.S. District Court of Maryland with allegedly leaking classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents to an unnamed reporter during his time with the agency. It is widely believed that Drake was one of the unnamed whistleblowers who revealed the NSA's secret (and illegal) warrantless wiretapping program to New York Times reporters in 2005 (along with Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm). “Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here — violating the government’s trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information — be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer in a statement.

Submission + - Why Flash isn't going anywhere (webmonkey.com)

elrous0 writes: Scott Gilbertson over at Monkey Bites recently pointed to flaws in the increasingly popular assumption that the lack of support for Flash in the iPad and the increasing buzz around HTML5 means that Flash is on its way out anytime soon:

While some proponents of the open web would have you believe that a viable replacement for Flash is already here — in the form of HTML5 –that’s not exactly the case. The HTML5 video tag does indeed allow you to embed videos in web pages without Flash, but it’s up to the browser to actually play that video. And that’s where the problem arises — what video codec should the browser use? Apple, with the iPad, iPhone and its desktop apps, is pushing the H.264 codec. But the H.264 video codec has licensing requirements and is not free in any sense of the word. Moving from the Flash plug-in to the H.264 codec is like moving backward — from Flash to a more expensive Flash. . . . Ogg Theora, which Mozilla has elected to support, is an alternative set of video codecs which might overcome some of the problems with H.264. But while Ogg is open source and free, there is some possibility that elements of it may be encumbered by patents.

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.