An anonymous reader writes with news of a company suing Microsoft for infringing upon a patent for tiles with live content. From the article: "SurfCast, in a complaint filed yesterday in a U.S. District Court in Maine, said Microsoft infringes one of its four patents — No. 6,724,403 — by 'making, using, selling, and offering to sell devices and software products' covered by SurfCast's patent. That includes mobile devices using the Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 operating systems as well as PCs using Windows 8/RT."
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sciencehabit writes with this excerpt from Science: "The dungeon is pitch black — until the dungeon master blazes a torch, confirming your worst fears. A Beholder monster lurches at you, its eyeballs wriggling on tentacular stems. As you prepare to wield your Vorpal sword, where do you focus your gaze: at the monster's head or at its tentacle eyes? Such a quandary from the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons may seem like a meaningless trifle, but it holds within it the answer to a tricky scientific question: Do people focus their gaze on another person's eyes or on the center of the head? In fact, a father-son team has used D&D monsters to show that most people will look to another creature's eyes, even if they're not attached to a head."
In development for the better part of the last decade, the 0.17 release of the Enlightenment window manager is slated for November 5th. Leading up to this, the H has an enlightening interview with project lead Rasterman on what to expect. From the article: "Today Enlightenment offers most of what you get from GNOME and KDE, and probably the same if not a bit more than XFCE. It just doesn't try and ship a suite of apps with it. It is the desktop (Window manager, settings, file manager, application launching and management) minus the apps. ... The biggest thing E17 brings to the table is universal compositing. This means you can use a composited desktop without any GPU acceleration at all, and use it nicely. We don't rely on software fallback implementations of OpenGL. We literally have a specific software engine that is so fast that some developers spent weeks using it accidentally, not realizing they had software compositing on their setup."
An anonymous reader writes "Google announces a new Voter Information Tool which, as its name implies, can be used by voters to find relevant information such as where you can vote and for whom. The search giant is releasing the new feature just over a week in advance of the US Presidential Election on November 6. This raises the question: can Google influence the elections even more than it already does via lobbying?" I've found Ballotpedia useful as well.
Zothecula writes "NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has completed its first soil analysis of the Red Planet. The unmanned explorer used an advanced, miniaturized X-ray diffraction instrument that is part of the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument (CheMin) of its internal laboratory. The soil, collected at a site designated 'Rocknest' in Gale Crater, reveals that Martian soil is a weathered volcanic type similar to soils found in the Hawaiian Islands." And, of course, a shot of the area because it looks cool.
concealment writes "As the U.S. launched what's expected to be the world's fastest supercomputer at 20 petaflops, China is building a machine that is intended to be five times faster when it is deployed in 2015. China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer will run at 100 petaflops (quadrillion floating-point calculations per second), according to the Guangzhou Supercomputing Center, where the machine will be housed. Tianhe-2 could help keep China competitive with the future supercomputers of other countries, as industry experts estimate machines will start reaching 1,000-petaflop performance by 2018." And, naturally, it's planned to use a domestically developed MIPS processor
Dupple writes with a quote from the BBC about more testing of Predator drones in U.S. air space: "Tests have been carried out to see whether military drones can mix safely in the air with passenger planes. The tests involved a Predator B drone fitted with radio location systems found on domestic aircraft that help them spot and avoid other planes. The tests will help to pave the way for greater use of drones in America's domestic airspace."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Vaccines for most diseases typically work for years or decades but with the flu, next fall it will be time to get another dose. Now Carl Zimmer writes that a flurry of recent studies on the virus has brought some hope for a change as flu experts foresee a time when seasonal flu shots are a thing of the past, replaced by long-lasting vaccines. 'That's the goal: two shots when you're young, and then boosters later in life' says Dr. Gary Nabel, predicting that scientists would reach that goal before long: 'in our lifetime, for sure, unless you're 90 years old.' Today's flu vaccines protect people from the virus by letting them make antibodies in advance but a traditional flu vaccine can protect against only flu viruses with a matching hemagglutinin protein. If a virus evolves a different shape, the antibodies cannot latch on, and it escapes destruction. Scientists have long wondered whether they could escape this evolutionary cycle with a universal flu vaccine that would to attack a part of the virus that changes little from year to year so now researchers are focusing on target antigens which are highly conserved between different influenza A virus subtypes. 'Universal vaccination with universal vaccines would put an end to the threat of global disaster that pandemic influenza can cause,' says Dr. Sara Gilbert."
sgunhouse writes "Wired is running an article on a Supreme Court challenge (well, actually two of them) to the use of drug-sniffing dogs. The first case discussed involved Florida police using a drug-sniffing dog as a basis for searching a suspected drug dealer's home. The court in Florida excluded the evidence obtained from the search, saying a warrant should be required for that sort of use of a dog. Personally, I agree — police have no right to parade a dog around on private property on a 'fishing expedition', same as they need a warrant to use a thermal imaging device to search for grow houses. I have no use for recreational drugs, but they had better have a warrant if they want to bring a dog onto my property."
rtfa-troll writes "The collapse of the PC market has had much discussion on Slashdot with a common opinion that, now that Apple is the largest personal computer manufacturer, a loss of sales combined with Apple's iPad will completely eliminate most of them. Now Asustek's most recent results show that there may be a way out for those that can move away from their standard markets. Concentrating on Android tablet devices, the Google Nexus 7, with a help from ASUS transformer tablets has driven the company to massive $230 million profits. Asus gross revenue also climbed 9 percent to around $3.8 billion. We have discussed related issues recently: Where companies like HTC have lost their focus on open Android devices and suffered from devastating collapses, ASUS has managed to differentiate it's tablets by providing the most open tablet experience possible via with Google's Nexus program and branding."
An anonymous reader writes "BBC News claims that a feature in Borderlands 2 that can only be activated in modded XBox 360s has a bug that can cause characters to be permanently deleted when they die- even if they weren't the ones who activated the feature. 'The hidden option within the game, known as "badass" or "hardcore", is turned off by default but can be enabled by those that have modified or hacked their console. [..] When a player with an unmodded console joins a Borderlands 2 multiplayer game in which there is a character running in badass mode it too gets kicked into that mode. [..] Gamers who play alongside people who have modded their console "contract" the bug which deletes their character if they die during play.'"
MojoKid writes "ARM debuted its new 64-bit microarchitecture today and announced the upcoming launch of a new set of Cortex processors, due in 2014. The two new chip architectures, dubbed the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57, are the most advanced CPUs the British company has ever built, and are integral to AMD's plans to drive dense server applications beginning in 2014. The new ARMv8 architecture adds 64-bit memory addressing, increases the number of general purpose registers to 30, and increases the size of the vector registers for NEON/SIMD operations. The Cortex-A57 and A-53 are both aimed at the mobile market. Partners that've already signed on to build ARMv8-based hardware include Samsung, AMD, Broadcom, Calxeda, and STMicro." The 64-bit ARM ISA is pretty interesting: it's more of wholesale overhaul than a set of additions to the 32-bit ISA.
antdude writes "Pumpktris is a fully playable version of Tetris built into a pumpkin, with 128 Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for the display and the stem serving as a game controller."
OverTheGeicoE writes "TSA has had a preferred traveler program, PreCheck, for a while now. Frequent fliers and other individuals with prior approval from DHS can avoid some minor annoyances of airport security, like removing shoes and light jackets, but not all of the time. TSA likes to be random and unpredictable, so PreCheck participants don't always get the full benefits of PreCheck. Apparently the decision about PreCheck is made when the boarding pass is printed, and a traveler's PreCheck authorization is encoded, unencrypted, on the boarding pass barcode. In theory, one could use a barcode-reading Web site (like this one, perhaps) to translate a barcode into text to determine your screening level before a flight. One might even be able to modify the boarding pass using PhotoShop or the GIMP to, for example, get the screening level of your choice. I haven't been able to verify this information, but I bet Slashdot can. Is TSA's PreCheck system really that easy to game? If you have an old boarding pass lying around, can you read the barcode and verify that the information in TFA is correct?"