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Robotics

Scientists Invent Urine-Powered Robots 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the bathroom-bot dept.
Lucas123 writes "Researchers have already built robots that can use microorganisms to digest waste material, such as rotten fruit and vegetables, and generate electricity from it. This time, a group of scientists has taken that concept to a strange, new place: urine-powered robots. The scientists from the University of the West of England, Bristol and the University of Bristol constructed a system in robots that functions like the human heart, except it's designed to pump urine into the robot's 'engine room,' converting the waste into electricity and enabling the robot to function completely on its own. The researchers hope the system, which can hold 24.5 ml of urine, could be used to power future generations of robots, or what they're calling EcoBots. 'In the city environment, they could re-charge using urine from urinals in public lavatories,' said Peter Walters, a researcher with the University of the West of England. 'In rural environments, liquid waste effluent could be collected from farms.'"
Ubuntu

Mark Shuttleworth Apologizes for Trademark Action Against Fix Ubuntu 196

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the great-start-to-your-career dept.
A few days ago, the operator of Fix Ubuntu received a threatening letter from Canonical commanding him to cease using the Ubuntu name or logo. Last night, Mark Shuttleworth posted an update noting that it shouldn't have happened, and also apologizing for calling opponents of Mir the open source tea party. "In order to make the amount of [trademark related] correspondence manageable, we have a range of standard templates for correspondence. They range from the 'we see you, what you are doing is fine, here is a license to use the name and logo which you need to have, no need for further correspondence,' through 'please make sure you state you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the company or the product,' to the 'please do not use the logo without permission, which we are not granting unless you actually certify those machines,' and 'please do not use Ubuntu in that domain to pretend you are part of the project when you are not.' Last week, the less-than-a-month-at-Canonical new guy sent out the toughest template letter to the folks behind a “sucks” site. Now, that was not a decision based on policy or guidance; as I said, Canonical’s trademark policy is unusually generous relative to corporate norms in explicitly allowing for this sort of usage. It was a mistake, and there is no question that the various people in the line of responsibility know and agree that it was a mistake. It was no different, however, than a bug in a line of code, which I think most developers would agree happens to the best of us. It just happened to be, in that analogy, a zero-day remote root bug. ... On another, more personal note, I made a mistake myself when I used the label “open source tea party” to refer to the vocal non-technical critics of work that Canonical does. That was unnecessary and quite possibly equally offensive to members of the real Tea Party (hi there!) and the people with vocal non-technical criticism of work that Canonical does (hello there!)."
Networking

Chinese Professor Builds Li-Fi System With Retail Parts 155

Posted by timothy
from the shine-on-crazy-diamond dept.
alphadogg writes "The equipment is big and expensive, with the research costs at almost $500,000. But by just using retail components, Chinese professor Chi Nan has built her own Li-Fi wireless system that can use LED lights to send and receive Internet data. "I bought the lights from Taobao," she said, referring to the Chinese e-commerce site. The professor from Fudan University showed off the technology on Tuesday at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai. Unlike traditional Wi-Fi routers that use radio signals, Chi's system relies on light to send and receive data wirelessly. Others scientists, especially in the U.K., have also been researching the technology, and dubbed it "Li-Fi". But rather than develop specialized hardware, Chi bought off-the-shelf retail parts to create her system."
United States

Health Exchange Sites Crushed By Demand; Shutdown Blanks Other Gov't Sites 565

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-a-good-day-for-uptime dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The launch of a national health exchange site was marred by overloaded servers in several states around the country. In a White House press conference, President Obama said that by 7 a.m., there were over a million users, and he likened the capacity problems to the glitches that Apple experienced after discovering bugs in their rlease of iOS 7. 'I don't remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads, or threatening to shut down company if they didn't,' the president argued." Meanwhile, a number government websites went blank as a result of the shutdown, instead of simply lying dormant until personnel could return. The National Science Foundation, NASA, the FCC, and the Library of Congress are a few examples.
The Internet

CERN Launches Line Mode Browser Emulator 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the out-with-the-new-in-with-the-old dept.
itwbennett writes "As part of the project to preserve the world's first website and all of the accompanying technology, CERN last week launched a line mode browser emulator. To make the browser experience authentic, the developers recreated how terminals would draw one character at a time by covering the page in black and then revealing each character by erasing a character-sized rectangle from that cover, one-by-one, line-by-line. They also recreated the sound of typing on older keyboards, specifically an IBM RS/6000 keyboard, by using HTML5 audio elements."
Cellphones

Moscow Subway To Use Special Devices To Read Data On Passengers' Phones 163

Posted by Soulskill
from the they'll-know-how-much-time-you-waste-on-bejeweled dept.
dryriver writes "'The head of police for Moscow's subway system has said stations will soon be equipped with devices that can read the data on the mobile telephones of passengers. In the July 29 edition of Izvestia, Moscow Metro police chief Andrei Mokhov said the device would be used to help locate stolen mobile phones. Mokhov said the devices have a range of about 5 meters and can read the SIM card. If the card is on the list of stolen phones, the system automatically sends information to the police. The time and place of the alert can be matched to closed-circuit TV in stations. Izvestia reported that 'according to experts, the devices can be used more widely to follow all passengers without exception.' Mokhov said it was illegal to track a person without permission from the authorities, but that there was no law against tracking the property of a company, such as a SIM card.' What is this all about? Is it really about detecting stolen phones/SIM cards, or is that a convenient 'cover story' for eavesdropping on people's private smartphone data while they wait to ride the subway? Also — if this scheme goes ahead, how long will it be before the U.S., Europe and other territories employ devices that do this, too?"

Comment: Re:PREY (Score 1) 253

by jaymemaurice (#44220133) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Tracking Solutions For Linux Laptop?

The point you are missing is that the laptop must be usable in it's freshly stolen form for software tracking to be of any use - or else why would someone leave it powered on.

And often the person who steals the laptop doesn't hold onto it... they flip it... often as a laptop they "forgot the password to, just go to a computer shop to have it reset"

Comment: Re:PREY (Score 1) 253

by jaymemaurice (#44220031) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good Tracking Solutions For Linux Laptop?

Once a computer store came to me to reset a BIOS password on a laptop for one of their customers. I reset the password and noticed the windows installation was configured to join to a domain... so I reset the local account, recovered the outlook PST file and called the former user of the laptop. It was a corporate laptop that was stolen from his garage a week prior. The police came to my work and I was summoned to show up in court as a witness to a stupid possession of stolen property charge in another city. I had to take time off for it and everything.

That said, the "useless security" was enough to get the laptop to the point where a number of people who had the technical ability to do the right thing could...

Mind you, it was an inconvenience to me to do so.

Comment: Re:It's all about thought control (Score 1) 122

by jaymemaurice (#44028443) Attached to: Saudi Arabia Set To Ban WhatsApp, Skype

Just FYI, the main law is being broken is that the VoIP providers are unlicensed telecommunications providers.

In order to be a licensed telecommunications provider, your company must meet certain ownership requirements and comply with government oversight.
Part of the government oversight is the tariffs charged. Part of the ownership requirements ensures profit for the country.

Since the infrastructure to provide the internet is subsidized by international minutes (remember where the content, and where Saudi is) VoIP in its most common form is used as rate/toll bypass telecommunications fraud. Same like reconfiguring someone's voice mail to forward to an international number.

There is no technical reason why VoIP can be cheaper than what the telecommunications providers can provide. They could provide VoIP too or terminate the call through TDMoIP, lower codec quality etc... but this is whole thing is not about the COST of the call. It's about the margins and ownership. The telecommunications companies employ thousands of Saudi nationals. The Saudi nationals do not care about VoIP. This mostly does not effect them, it effects the expatriates. And even then, it only effects the expatriates who came to Saudi on contracts that don't pay them enough to make phone calls.

Skype has been typically allowed to operate in many middle eastern countries but only for PC to PC video calling. Skype-in and Skype-out services as well as access to the website to download and market the client was typically blocked.

Yes, the NSA scandal probably has some impact on the recent re-evaluation of Skype.

Science

ROVs Discover Deep Sea Trash 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the washing-it-away dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Deep beneath the ocean's waves, strange creatures such as rockfish and gorgonian coral thrive in the icy depths. Yet there's something else you'll find if you go searching beneath the sea: trash, and lots of it. Researchers have discovered that our trash is accumulating in the deep sea, particularly in Monterey Canyon off of the coast of California. Scientists knew that trash was affecting shallower depths--about 1,000 feet beneath the water. Yet they were unsure whether the effects extended to the truly deep parts of the ocean that reached up to 13,000 feet. They decided that there was only one way to find out: look for themselves."
United States

NHTSA and DOT Want Your Car To Be Able To Disable Your Cellphone Functions 405

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
savuporo writes "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Department of Transportation are considering technological solutions for people to stop using their cellphones while driving. Proximity detectors or requiring physical link with the car are the solutions under the scope. From the article: 'NHTSA wants automakers to make it impossible to enter text for messaging and internet browsing while the car is in motion, disable any kind of video functionality and prevent text-based information such as social media content or text messages from being displayed.' Obviously these regulations would need to go beyond cellphones, as laptop, tablet or any other gadget with a 3G data connection or even on a wi-fi hotspot made by your phone would be equally distracting."

(1) Never draw what you can copy. (2) Never copy what you can trace. (3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.

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