An anonymous reader writes "Ok, fellow geeks... I have the luxury of finally building my dream home from scratch. It's going to be good sized (~4000 sq ft over 3 levels), and rather than run around at night to make sure my lights are off, doors are locked, garage is closed, etc, I really want to put in a home automation system. Since the walls aren't up, this is the time for complete flexibility as to my options. The last time I did a whole house, it was years ago, X10. Since then, lots of other protocols, both 'proprietary' and more general (like WiFi) have come on the market for devices — all better than what I've worked with in the past. What do you all have experience with and recommend as reliable, secure, and fairly easy to use? Something with a good chance for long term availability of parts and features would be a bonus."
NormalVisual writes "'It's a really tough time to be a patent owner', said Soverain Software, LLC president Katharine Wolanyk, after the Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit invalidated three of Soverain's shopping cart patents. Soverain had sued Newegg for allegedly infringing the patents in question, and had won in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Newegg later had the decision overturned on appeal, with the court ruling that the patents in question were obvious, and thus invalid."
Nerval's Lobster writes "A recent post on Reactive Programming triggered discussions about what is and isn't considered Reactive Logic. In fact, many have already discovered that Reactive Programming can help improve quality and transparency, reduce programming time and decrease maintenance. But for others, it raises questions like: How does Reactive differ from conventional event-oriented programming? Isn't Reactive just another form of triggers? What kind of an improvement in coding can you expect using Reactive and why? So to help clear things up, columnist and Espresso Logic CTO Val Huber offers a real-life example that he claims will show the power and long-term advantages Reactive offers. 'In this scenario, we'll compare what it takes to implement business logic using Reactive Programming versus two different conventional procedural Programming models: Java with Hibernate and MySQL triggers,' he writes. 'In conclusion, Reactive appears to be a very promising technology for reducing delivery times, while improving system quality. And no doubt this discussion may raise other questions on extensibility and performance for Reactive Programming.' Do you agree?"
darthcamaro writes "What follows in the footsteps of Heisenbug, Spherical Cow and Beefy Miracle? Apparently the answer is 'null' as is nothing. Fedora Linux 21 could well have no funky new name as its past predecessors have all had, thanks to a recent vote by the Fedora board to move away from the existing naming practices. Fedora 21 itself will not be out in the first half of 2014 either, instead the plan is now for a release sometime around August. A delayed release however doesn't mean something is wrong as Red Hat's community Linux distro aims to re-invent itself."
Portsmouth, Ohio, a company called Yost Engineering (YEI) Technology has quietly been making motion sensing devices for military, aerospace, industrial, robotics, and other commercial motion capture uses, including rotoscoping for the film/video industry. Now they want to bring this same technology to gaming. They tried a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, but only got a little less than 1/2 of their target amount pledged. They're going to do Kickstarter again, starting Feb. 14, 2014 -- and this time, they've been working on PR before asking for money. You can see what they're up to in gaming sensor development at www.priovr.com/. Or go to the main YEI Technology corporate site, which has a whole bunch of free downloads in addition to the usual product blurbs.
curtwoodward writes "Tony Hsieh made a fortune turning Zappos into a customer service-obsessed online shoe store. But as an investor, his newest obsession is ... robots? Welcome to the hardware boom, where startups making connected gadgets, smart vehicles, and drones are catching investors' eyes. A combination of cheaper components and crowdfunded pre-orders are behind the surge. But as the woman running Hsieh's hardware investments can tell you, getting those grand plans actually built overseas is the hard part."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Discovery Magazine reports that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has granted $100,000 to Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and Boston Medical Center (BMC) to develop a nanoparticle coating for condoms that will make them more comfortable and stronger while simultaneously keeping them thin to preserve – and increase – sensation in order to make them more appealing to use. According to the Gates Foundation, in the time that condoms have been in use, not much has changed: '[Condoms] have undergone very little technological improvement in the past 50 years. The primary improvement has been the use of latex as the primary material and quality-control measures, which allow for quality testing of each individual condom. Material science and our understanding of neurobiology has undergone revolutionary transformation in the last decade, yet that knowledge has not been applied to improve the product attributes of one of the most ubiquitous and potentially underutilized products on earth.' The nanotechnology that the Boston doctors intend to use for their improved condoms will be superhydrophillic nanoparticles that coat the condom and trap water to make them more resilient and easier to use. 'We believe that by altering the mechanical forces experienced by the condom, we may ultimately be able to make a thinner condom which reduces friction, thereby reducing discomfort associated with friction increases pleasure, thereby increasing condom use and decreases rates of unwanted pregnancy and infection transmission.'"
benrothke writes "With Adobe Flash, it's possible to quickly get a pretty web site up and running; something that many firms do. But if there is no content behind the flashy web page, it's unlikely anyone will return. In The Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web, author Ahava Leibtag does a fantastic job on showing how to ensure that your web site has what it takes to get visitors to return, namely great content." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
wiredmikey writes "According to Target Chairman and CEO Gregg Steinhafel, point-of-sale (POS) malware was used in the recent attack that compromised millions of credit and debit card account numbers of customers across the country. Steinfhafel told CNBC's Becky Quick in an interview that malware was used in attacks that compromised the company's point of sale registers. According to a report from Reuters, Target and Neiman Marcus may not be alone, as other popular U.S. retailers may have been breached during the busy the holiday shopping season. According sources who spoke to Reuters, attackers used RAM scraper, or Memory parser malware to steal sensitive data from Target and other retail victims. Visa issued alerts about attacks utilizing these types of malware in April 2013 and again in August 2013. Memory parser malware targets payment card data being processed 'in the clear' (unencrypted) in a system's random access memory (RAM). 'The malware is configured to hook into a payment application binary responsible for processing payment transactions and extracts the systems memory for full track data,' Visa explained in a security advisory."
carmendrahl writes "Last fall, MIT researchers made news for developing two bioinspired cocktail toppers-- a moving cocktail boat and a floral pipette-- in collaboration with James Beard Award-winning chef José Andrés. Both the boat and floral pipette operate by taking advantage of surface tension-- either to propel the boat forward or to keep small drops of liquid inside the flower's petals. Some of those early garnishes were nominally edible. But to make them worthy of a restaurant debut requires balancing of flavors, temperature, density, and alcohol content, among other factors. Here's a look inside Andrés' company ThinkFoodGroup to see how the project is coming along. The toppers aren't available to the public just yet."
Nerval's Lobster writes "A little over a year after Microsoft released Windows 8, and a mere three months after it pushed out a major update with Windows 8.1, rumors abound that Windows 9 is already on its way. According to Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows, Microsoft will begin discussing the next version of Windows (codenamed 'Threshold,' at least for the moment) at April's BUILD conference. 'Threshold is more important than any specific updates, he wrote. 'Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment.' Microsoft intends Threshold to clean up at least a portion of Windows 8's mess. Development on the latest operating system will supposedly begin in late April, which means developers who attend BUILD won't have access to an early alpha release—in fact, it could be quite some time before Microsoft locks down any new features, although it might double down on Windows 8's controversial 'Modern' (previously known as 'Metro') design interface. Yet if Thurrott's reporting proves correct, Microsoft isn't abandoning the new Windows interface that earned such a lackluster response—it's betting that the format, once tweaked, will somehow revive the operating system's fortunes. With Ballmer leaving the company and a major reorganization underway, it'll be the next Microsoft CEO's task to make sure that Windows 9 is a hit; in fact, considering that rumored 2015 release date, shepherding the OS could become that executive's first major test."
KentuckyFC writes "Back in 2008, Slashdot reported that researchers were developing ways of turning cellphones into radiation detectors. Since then a few apps have even appeared that claim to do this. However, convincing evidence that they work as advertised is hard to come by. Now government researchers at Idaho National Labs have created their own app that uses an ordinary smartphone as a gamma ray detector, put it through its paces in the lab and published the results. The pixels in smartphone cameras can detect gamma rays in the same way as they pick up visible light. So when the lens is covered, the image should reveal evidence of gamma ray exposure once other noise has been removed, such as that from heat and current leakage. These guys have tested several types of Android smartphone with a variety of gamma ray sources at various different doses. The researchers say the phones give a reasonable measure of radiation dose, can detect the direction of source (by comparing the measurements from the front and back cameras) and can even measure the energy of the gamma rays by measuring the length of the tracks that appear in the image. While the results do not match the quality of bespoke detectors, that may not matter since in many circumstances cellphones are likely to be the only sensors that are available. That could be useful for emergency services, air travelers wanting to monitor their extra radiation dose on routes over the arctic and people who live in areas with a higher than average background radiation level."
Bennett Haselton writes "Google created controversy by announcing that Google+ users will now be able to send email to Gmail users even without having those Gmail users' email addresses. I think this debate misses the point, because it's unlikely to create a deluge of unsolicited email to Gmail users, as long as Google can throttle outgoing messages from Google+ users and terminate abusive accounts. The real controversy should be over the fact that Google+ users can search a public database of the names of all Gmail users in the first place. And limiting the ability of Google+ users to write to those Gmail accounts, won't do anything to address that." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.
DavidGilbert99 writes "Two and a half years after he was arrested at his New York apartment by the FBI, LulzSEc member-turned-FBI informant Hector Monsegur (aka Sabu) is set to be sentenced in the South District of New York court at 4pm local time on Monday where he could face up to 124 years in jail. However, following his cooperation with the US authorities, Monsegur is likely to get a much reduced sentence and could avoid jail completely. His sentencing has been adjourned numerous times for unknown reasons, and if the FBI have any more use for him, then we could see it delayed again."
theodp writes "'You go to these charters,' gushed Bill Gates in 2010, 'and you sit and talk to these kids about how engaged they are with adults and how much they read and what they think about and how they do projects together.' Four years later, Gates is tapping his Foundation to bring charter schools to Washington State, doling out grants that included $4.25 million for HP CEO Meg Whitman's Summit Public Schools. So what's not to like? Plenty, according to Salon's The Truth About Charter Schools, in which Jeff Bryant delves into the dark side of the charter movement, including allegations of abuse, corruption, lousy instruction, and worse results. Also troubling Bryant is that the children of the charter world's biggest cheerleaders seem never to attend these schools ('A family like mine should not use up the inner-city capacity of these great schools,' was Bill Gates' excuse). Bryant also cites Rethinking Schools' Stan Karp, who argues that Charter Schools Are Undermining the Future of Public Education, functioning more like deregulated 'enterprise zones' than models of reform, providing subsidized spaces for a few at the expense of the many. 'Our country has already had more than enough experience with separate and unequal school systems,' Karp writes. 'The counterfeit claim that charter privatization is part of a new 'civil rights movement', addressing the deep and historic inequality that surrounds our schools, is belied by the real impact of rapid charter growth in cities across the country. At the level of state and federal education policy, charters are providing a reform cover for eroding the public school system and an investment opportunity for those who see education as a business rather than a fundamental institution of democratic civic life. It's time to put the brakes on charter expansion and refocus public policy on providing excellent public schools for all.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins has published results demonstrating that caffeine seems to boost long-term memory. In a double-blind study, participants were shown a series of images soon after taking either a caffeine pill or a placebo; 24 hours later they were tested on a similar, but not identical, series of images. Those who took the caffeine pill were more likely to correctly classify images as being different, identical, or similar to those seen the previous day; researchers refer to this as a 'pattern separation' test. The beneficial effect of caffeine on the long-term memory of honey bees was covered by Slashdot earlier."
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about how people's belief in climate change shifts with the temperature. "Last week's polar vortex weather event wasn't only hard on fingers, toes and heating bills. It also overpowered the ability of most people to make sound judgments about climate change, in the same way that heat waves do, according to a new study published in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers have known for some time that the acceptance of climate change depends on the day most people are asked. During unusually hot weather, people tend to accept global warming, and they swing against it during cold events."
An anonymous reader writes "NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped a series new images inside the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) – the third closest galaxy to the Milky Way. Hubble officials previously released images of the spidery nebula, however, this is the deepest view of the intriguing cosmic region full of star clusters yet."
An anonymous reader writes "It's been three years since the last recorded polio case in India and health officials hope to officially certify India polio free in the next few weeks. 'Hamid Jafari, director of the WHO's polio-eradication campaign, says the agency's ambitious quest to stop all polio transmission by the end of 2014 is now within reach. If that is achieved, and no new cases crop up for three years, polio—like smallpox—will be officially banished from the planet. "India was one of the most important sources" from where the virus spread to other countries, said Dr. Jafari.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Telegraph reports, 'Britain's spies are to be given a "licence to speed" for the first time, under changes to motoring laws. While James Bond would no doubt have scorned such niceties, officers in MI5 and MI6 are currently required to obey the rules of the road, even when national security is under threat. Now Robert Goodwill, the transport minister, intends to add the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service to the group of agencies with permission to break the speed limit.'"