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Submission + - AI learns to tell "that's what she said" jokes (

reillymj writes: The Office's Michael Scott is replaceable after all — with a computer. A new piece of software studies the relationships between words to figure out when a sentence or phrase could be the beginning of a "that's what she said" joke. Got the word "wet", "rod", or "hard" in a sentence? Watch out: immature AI humor is bound to follow.

Submission + - New Angle on the War on Terror (

TaoPhoenix writes: The celebrations are slowing down. But Yahoo cautiously introduces an entirely new direction for the official discourse — "Frenemies". The rumblings for years "there's no way Bin Laden lasted this long without serious help" are true. The article asks the key question: "Why can't the United States just declare Pakistan a hostile enemy?" Then it treads lightly on the answer: "...(they have) the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world and a bitter ongoing fixation on the ambitions of neighboring rival India."

However, Bin Laden was the figurehead of the US decade long theme of "The Post 9-11 World". Are the reasons given enough to justify the costs, open and hidden, of that colossally expensive "War on Terror" campaign?


Submission + - Nexus S Phone Floats to Edge of Space (

reillymj writes: A bunch of Google engineers and grad students gathered in California's Central Valley to to launch the Nexus S phone to the edge of space using weather balloons. While up there, the phones ran Google Map, SkyMaps, and a bunch of other apps, to see how the phones would fare in a freezing cold, near vacuum. The stunt was just for fun — the latest in a recent fad of launching DIY smartphone 'stratellites' — but one of the Nexus S product managers hinted that big G is talking with a European space contractor about building small "commodity" satellites around the phone's core processing unit.

'Exploding Lake' Provides Electricity For Rwanda 102

reillymj writes "There are three known 'exploding lakes' in the world, where volcanic gases build up near the lake bottom until they suddenly fizz over, suffocating people with huge amounts of carbon dioxide. But the lakes also hold methane and one of them, Rwanda's Lake Kivu, is being actively tapped as a source of natural gas to fuel a power plant on the lake's shore. The government hopes that within two years, the plant will be covering a third of the country's needs. By siphoning off the gas, engineers simultaneously defuse a ticking time bomb in the lake and provide power to local communities."

Submission + - Exploding Lake Provides Electricity for Rwanda (

reillymj writes: There are three known "exploding lakes" in the world, where volcanic gases build up near the lake bottom until they suddenly fizz over, suffocating people with huge amounts of carbon dioxide. But the lakes also hold methane and one of them, Rwanda's Lake Kivu, is being actively tapped as a source of natural gas to fuel a power plant on the lake's shores. The government hopes that within two years, the plant will be covering a third of the country's needs. By siphoning off the gas, engineers simultaneously defuse a ticking time bomb in the lake and provide power to local communities.

Submission + - 8+hrs battery life other than Macs and netbooks ? 5

razwiss writes: Good morning Slashdot!

I'm searching the web for laptops that could last about a day on the battery. The main reason is that I'm going to University this fall and, with those large rooms, I may not have access to power outlets.

The main uses of this laptop will be:

-Note taking (anything better than Microsoft Onenote yet ?)
-Web developing (Anything running Wamp and netbeans is fine)
-[Optional] Gaming

What I'm looking for:

-Strong battery life (8hrs plus)
-Reasonable screen size (11" or higher), but still portable (16" is starting to get big to hang around)
-Reasonable weight, same reason as screen
-[Optional] Sub $1500
-[Optional] A graphic card with discrete memory that doesn't destroy battery life (is affordable Optimus technology possible ?), to go along with Gaming

I've been checking the Macs since they have a whopping 8++ hrs battery life (or so they say). The heck is that I largely prefer to encourage ANY other computer dealer or Operating System manufacturer, mostly because of Apple's recent allegations towards Google, Adobe, their mobile developers [...].

I bow for your knowledge Slashdot, help me make the right nerdy choice !

Submission + - Building a traffic radar system with speed capture

cbraescu1 writes: I live in a multi-million city (someplace in the Middle East, the country is not important) and I am mad as hell. The car traffic is going from bad to worse and I'm sick of all the car accidents that keep happening (one of the biggest accidents and mortality rates per km/mile of road or per 1,000 vehicles). It seems like there is no way of stopping the kamikaze drivers. I just witnessed a car accident a few hours ago, and in the last months I've given first aid to 2 other car accidents, all happening within 500 meters / 1,600 feet from each other. Today's victims escaped alive but the motorcycle (who was responsible) just run away and the police wasn't equipped with radiostations to catch them. There are laws but not much willingness to enforce them, no traffic lights at all.

After speaking with some of my friends we decided to take the issue in our hands: build a traffic radar system with speed capture, install it on our own expense, and share the generated penalties with the city government (all subject of their approval, of course). We want to start on the main avenue (more than 15 km / 9.3 miles) and to "roll" the income from the penalties into covering new streets (so that perpetrators will basically finance the system). We're not rich and we will not ask for our money back. We just need to make the system start and we're confident the penalty fees will cover its spread.

So, I'm asking Slashdot: what would be a workable way to build such system? It must withstand drivers claiming the system is cheating, and it must withstand high temperatures, high levels of humidity, and crappy electricity. Please help. This is about technology saving lives — literally.

Submission + - NASA Set to Launch Solar NanoSail into Space (

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year the Japanese space agency successfully deployed and used a solar sail to propel its spacecraft Ikaros, and now NASA announced plans this week for its own solar sail mission. This fall it will launch the NanoSail-D into orbit 400 miles up with a Minotaur IV rocket. Once deployed, it will orbit for 17 weeks, proving the technology and allowing astronomers to snap lots of photos.

Submission + - 1978 Cryptosystem Resists Quantum Attack ( 1

KentuckyFC writes: In 1978, the CalTech mathematician Robert McEliece developed a cryptosystem based on the (then) new idea of using asymmetric mathematical functions to create different keys for encrypting and decrypting information. The security of these systems relies on mathematical steps that are easy to make in one direction but hard to do in the other. The most famous example is multiplication. It is easy to multiply two numbers together to get a third but hard to start with the third number and work out which two generated it, a process called factorisation. Today, popular encryption systems such as the RSA algorithm use exactly this idea. But in 1994, the mathematician Peter Shor dreamt up a quantum algorithm that could factorise much faster than any classical counterpart and so can break these codes. As soon as the first decent-sized quantum computer is switched on, these codes will become breakable. Since then, cryptographers have been hunting for encryption systems that will be safe in the post quantum world. Now a group of mathematicians have shown that the McEliece encryption system is safe against attack by Shor's algorithm and all other known quantum algorithms. That's because it does not depend on factorisation but gets its security from another asymmetric conundrum known as the hidden subgroup problem which they show is immune to all known quantum attacks (although the work says nothing about its safety against new quantum (or classical) attacks).

Submission + - Sun's 'quiet period' explained (

Arvisp writes: Solar physicists may have discovered why the Sun recently experienced a prolonged period of weak activity.
The most recent so-called "solar minimum" occurred in December 2008.
Its drawn-out nature extended the total length of the last solar cycle — the repeating cycle of the Sun's activity — to 12.6 years, making it the longest in almost 200 years. The new research suggests that the longer-than-expected period of weak activity may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun.

Submission + - Ocean Color Can Steer Hurricanes (

reillymj writes: Microscopic plankton are ubiquitous, turning Earth's blue oceans green with chlorophyll. Now it turns out their tint has a huge effect on the formation, intensity, and path of hurricanes. How do the tiny critters do it? The greener the ocean, the more sunlight gets trapped in shallow waters. The extra heat makes for warm, hurricane-friendly waters that help storms spin up and wander north or south from their equatorial breeding grounds.
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Dual-core smartphones on the horizon (

alphadogg writes: Smartphones are on the verge of becoming more powerful, with chip makers readying dual-core chips that could accelerate multimedia and application performance on handheld devices.

Most smartphones are only capable of 720p video and come with processors touching speeds of around 1GHz, but users are demanding more performance, analysts said. A new generation of dual-core processors could allow users to watch full 1080p high-definition video and run more demanding applications.

Phone makers haven't officially announced plans to put dual-core chips in smartphones, but the chip makers are getting ready. Qualcomm has already shipped its first dual-core processor, the MSM8660, and is due to start sampling a faster dual-core chip, the QSD8672, later this year. Texas Instruments is scheduled to ship a dual-core chip, the OMAP4430, later this year, and it could reach devices early next year.


Pentagon Demands Return of Leaked Afghanistan Documents 523

Multiple news agencies are reporting that the Pentagon has demanded the return of WikiLeaks' collection of secret documents relating to the war in Afghanistan. Defense Department spokesman Geoff Morrell said, "The only acceptable course is for WikiLeaks to take steps immediately to return all versions of all of these documents to the US government and permanently delete them from its website, computers and records." According to the BBC, Morrell also "acknowledged the already-leaked documents' viral spread across the internet made it unlikely they could ever be quashed," but hopes to prevent the dissemination of a further 15,000 documents WikiLeaks is reportedly in the process of redacting. "We're looking to have a conversation about how to get these perilous documents off the website as soon as possible, return them to their rightful owners and expunge them from their records." WikiLeaks, predictably, shows no sign of cooperating.

Apple Mines App Store Submissions For Patent Ideas 307

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Apple has started filing a bunch of patents on mobile applications. That might not be so interesting in and of itself, but if you look closely at the figures in one of the patents, you can see that it's a copy of the third-party Where To? application, which has been on the App Store since at least 2008. There's also a side-by-side comparison which should make it clear that the diagram was copied directly from their app. Even though it's true that the figures are just illustrations of a possible UI and not a part of the claimed invention, it's hard to see how they didn't get some of their ideas from Where To? It might also be the case that Apple isn't looking through the App Store submissions in order to patent other people's ideas, but it's difficult to explain some of these patents if they're not. And with the other patents listed, it's hard to see how old ideas where 'on the internet' has been replaced with the phrase 'on a mobile device' can promote the progress of science and useful arts. This seems like a good time to use Peer to Patent."

Use the Force, Luke.