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+ - NASA's Kepler Mission Announces a Planet Bonanza, 715 New Worlds

Submitted by kc123
kc123 (3513107) writes "NASA's Kepler mission announced Wednesday the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system. Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune, which is almost four times the size of Earth. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system."

+ - "Patent troll" closes controversial podcast patent deal with SanDisk->

Submitted by wabrandsma
wabrandsma (2551008) writes "The patent company Personal Audio of James Logan has closed a licensing agreement with SanDisk. The company says that now "between a third and two thirds of all mp3 audio players" is made by the companies to which its patents have been licensed, including LG, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Blackberry and Amazon.

In the past Logan even went "into the lion's den," fielding a question-and-answer session at Slashdot.

The digital civil rights movement Electronic Frontier Foundation wants to fight Personal Audio's podcasting patent at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The money for the procedure, about 30,000 dollars, was brought in earlier this year through crowdfunding."

Link to Original Source

+ - German Government Warns Windows 8 is an Unacceptable Security Risk->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Die Zeit has access to leaked documents from the German government warning that Windows 8 is an unacceptable security risk for sensitive workloads. The story is written in German here: http://www.zeit.de/digital/datenschutz/2013-08/trusted-computing-microsoft-windows-8-nsa but automatic translators (such as Google Translate) do a readable job. Particularly of concern is the inability to opt out of TPM 2.0 usage."
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+ - Harlan: A language that simplifies GPU programming released-> 1

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec (2231454) writes "Harlan – a declarative programming language that simplifies development of applications running on GPU has been released by a researcher at Indian University. Erik Holk released his work publicly after working on it for two years. Harlan’s syntax is based on Scheme – a dialect of LISP programming language. The language aims to help developers make productive and efficient use of GPUs by enabling them to carry out their actual work while it takes care of the routine GPU programming tasks. The language has been designed to support GPU programming and it works much closer to the hardware."
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+ - The Lepsis is a Terrarium for Growing Edible Insects at Home->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A recent UN report suggested that people should be eating more insects, because they're much less harmful to the environment that traditional meat. In response, designer Mansour Ourasanah has created the Lepsis, a small insect breeder that could be used to grow and harvest grasshoppers in urban homes."
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+ - GMO Wheat Found Growing Wild in Oregon Wheat Field->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "From NPR: An Oregon wheat farmer found a patch of wheat growing where he did not plant. After RoundUp failed to kill the plants, he sent them to a lab for testing. Turns out the wheat in question if a GMO strain created by Monsanto but never sent to market. Oregon field trials for the wheat ended in 2001. The USDA is currently investigating and says there is no health-risk. Meanwhile, Monsanto has released a statement."
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+ - EU to criminalize nearly all seeds and plants->

Submitted by NSN A392-99-964-5927
NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) writes "A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.”

It’s called the Plant Reproductive Material Law, and it attempts to put the government in charge of virtually all plants and seeds. Home gardeners who grow their own plants from non-regulated seeds would be considered criminals under this law.

As you might suspect, this move is the “final solution” of Monsanto, DuPont and other seed-domination corporations who have long admitted their goal is the complete domination of all seeds and crops grown on the planet."

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Comment: My experiences (Score 4, Informative) 74

by xonen (#43206149) Attached to: Review: Make: Raspberry Pi Starter Kit

A friend got me a PI recently as little present, which was very welcome.

It's a great little device, though with some very odd design decisions.

For me personally, the graphics chip is simply not needed. Also, onboard is a DSP that's unfortunately undocumented and hence disfunctional.

The I/O pins are hardly protected - so if you want to experiment with electronics, best start by a simple circuit to protect them, with some transistors or an optocoupler. Also, the pens are 3.3V and provide no power more than a 10mA... Not really an issue, but also implies that you cannot drive a relais from it directly.

The biggest issue is in the power. The power supply i had was adequate (1.4A), but, the PI itself is not. Hotplugging the USB with any power hungry device - like a WLAN key, or a webcam, is likely to power-cycle the PI. It is known issue - but can come unexpected. Low power devices like mice and keyboards are likely to be hotplugged but, any sane person only uses those during installation process.

Software - What works, what not works. Firefox runs. This is really impressive, it actually works. Albeit, that even when idle, the FF process alone will take 60-80% of the CPU power.

What not works - mono. Well, mono works. But, there are issues - especially regarding floating points, and it typically shows when accessing databases. 'Conversion error in (system.sql.data.import or some - i'm not that good with mono).

Performance - it is said it 'feels' like a pentium 300. I agree, overal the performance is not very sluggish, and much what you'd expect from such device. However, when running benchmarks, things turn out different. For example stockfish, the chess program. With parameter 'bench' it'll perform a single-core benchmark.
Ubuntu-pc-32: 4900ms
Ubuntu-pc-32 / optimized build: 4500ms
Ubuntu-pc-64: 3300ms
Raspberry pi: 239.000ms
From this benchmark, the PI more runs like a pentium66. This is a cpu and integer intensive benchmark. I'm sure modern memory access will make up for it. However, it is very clear that the ARM instruction set is very very elegant, but also very inefficient.

As far as connectors etc go, i agree with the reviewer. It's soldered, but does not look very bullet proof. Best be handled with care, and unplug power by unplugging adapter from mains might be prefered. That being said, apart some installation quircks i did not have to powercycle it often.

Stability. On idle load, it is very stable. I installed 'motion' - the videocam 'guarding' software, and configured it. However, this software was not stable. I don't know if it's the software, the port, or the PI, but it will not run much longer than a day, when making repeated snapshots (like 1/second).

The basic distro's seem fine. When adding custom software, the debian package may well be present (very very much kudo's to those distro maintainers!). Compiling software yourself on the PI is going fine in most cases, though may take a while. On larger compiles it may suffer from low memory and break - so, if you want to compile a lot for your PI, best set up a crosscompiler. The biggest issue i had was in unforeseen instabilities, either when putting the PI under load, either when using not-too-well-tested software like mono. That being said, it is very impressive that almost anything in a standard debian distro just works.

On occasion, i had a process that could not be killed. Here, it shows the architectural differences between i386 and ARM i guess. On a pc, the kernel should be able to kill any process. On the PI arm, this seems not always to be the case. I'm not enough cpu guru to guess details on this, just i guess it has to do with ARM.

Wifi - i had a nice wifi stick. It works fine. However - again, not perfect stable in my view, it may loose connection. May be my adapter maybe the pi. If you have chance, just use ethernet - it will releive the pi's cpu on the fly, and you may need the cpu power for other things.

What's missing:
Audio-in. This is really a bummer. The pi would have been an excellent noise-free recording device.
A/D in or out - only logical IO. Tristate though for many pins.
Expansion for 2nd SD card - and why use SD and not microSD? They could have fitted like 2 microSD slots on the same place, still saving space.

So, my biggest critisism is in the power circuit. I really wish they had spent a few pennies more on that. I also suspect it being the major cause of instabilities. It is solvable by using a powered USB hub, though - but that kinda defeats the small form factor if you need a second case and second power supply.

* just a few random notes, there's more details but i'd encourage anyone to find out for themselves. overall the PI is great value for money.*

Comment: Re:Dvorak bad (Score 2) 307

by xonen (#42381431) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Typing Advice For a Guinness World Record Attempt?

Sais someone who obviously didn't take the time to learn him/herself Dvorak.

The only disadvantage i found - as Dvorak typer - is compatability with games. For any other purpose like typing text and programming, i like it and will never go back to qwerty. I'm not telling anyone they should learn Dvorak, i'm also not saying it's superior - it's a matter of personal taste. And yes, once you learn it you will notice it performs as promised. Also, these days Dvorak is thus widely accepted, that international keyboard layouts are supported on almost any platform. A thing to consider may be your native language, but my native language (dutch) has simular letter frequencies to english.

Having said that, for the sole purpose of breaking a record, it is definitively not worth to learn it. It will take you years to get the same accuracy and speed as you find yourself now using Qwerty. If any, i'd say, set the record, then learn Dvorak, and try again in 8 years. If you want to learn it, personal interest should be your motivation.

Games

+ - Unity 3D now targets Linux->

Submitted by xonen
xonen (774419) writes "It is now official — with the release of Unity3D version 4, Linux is an official target platform.

"Unity 4 Pro delivers the efficient and flexible workflow, graphical polish and power, smooth performance, fine tuned animations and creative control you need to make, ship and sell professional games."

The little catch here, is that Linux is not yet supported as host platform — you will still need a Windows or OSX computer to develop your games. However, we can expect a great deal of existing and new games to be released as Linux version too soon, especially since both the indie ('free') and pro versions of Unity3D support building for Linux target."

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Comment: International chaos (Score 1) 475

by xonen (#41929771) Attached to: On Daylight Savings Time:

The worst thing about DST, apart it being a silly invention, is that the moment clocks change is not internationally the same. Worse, it's not even in the same weekend.

While it's easy to say 'it hardly matters', i didn't expect it yet to me it already did, when we appointed a time to be online. Europe's CET was in wintertime already, america was not, so i was like 3/4 of an hour late. And with online activities gaining in importance, it'll only affect more people in the future.

I still don't understand why DST is needed at all, and find the drawbacks greater than the advantages, but while it's here, at least it ought to be switched internationally at rougly the same moment.

Comment: I'd love to.. but... (Score 2) 253

by xonen (#41826415) Attached to: EFF And Others Push For Open Wifi APs Everywhere

I'd love to do so. I've played with the thought many times. Why not just an open wifi. I have reasons to do so, like friends bringing a smartphone. Like other strangers, just looking for map directions or whatever they do online. Personally i'd love to if other private parties in our city did as well - as currently open wifi is only available near our library (during opening hours) and a single pub.

However. Legal obligations and practice, make me responsible what happens over my internet connection. So, to get a reasonable plausible deniability on that, i'd have to go to real investments like, for example, by sharing a FON spot. If FON was a pure software-based solution, i'd done so already. However, it requires hardware. That i'd have to pay for, admittingly, it's not much. But on the other hand, i do not need 2 wifi stations at my home. Or have a 3rd party in control over my connection.

If there was a _simple_ way of logging. Like, a prefab solution, preferably installable on my wifi dsl modeml/router, i'd do so to. But, to run my own server, surging 200W, just for the sake of providing free wifi services, with all more or less obliged logging just to warrant myself from legal stuff.. That's a bit too far stretched. Not in the last place because of electricity and mainterance costs.

So, i totally agree with the EFF. I'd really love to. I'm also all ears for a wifi 'mesh' network, etc. But the legal practice is that i'm responsible whatever goes over my internet connection. Wether being 'illegal' downloads, illegal porn or illegal messanging, current laws in my current country, and probably laws all over the world, tell me this is a very bad idea. Sooner or later it'll get me into trouble. Which makes generousity having a high price.

Concluding. It's both a legal and a software issue. If there was a reasonable easy software solution that would allow me to do so, i would. I hate telco's and their mobile rates. I totally believe that if i, and everyone, would just open wifi the world would be a nicer online place. But i admit. I'm just a coward.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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