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Technology

Festo's Drone Dragonfly Takes To the Air 45

yyzmcleod writes "Building on the work of last year's bionic creation, the Smart Bird, Festo announced that it will literally launch its latest creation, the BionicOpter, at Hannover Messe in April. With a wingspan of 63 cm and weighing in at 175 grams, the robotic dragonfly mimics all forms of flight as its natural counterpart, including hover, glide and maneuvering in all directions. This is made possible, the company says, by the BionicOpter's ability to move each of its four wings independently, as well as control their amplitude, frequency and angle of attack. Including its actuated head and body, the robot exhibits 13 degrees of freedom, which allows it to rapidly accelerate, decelerate, turn and fly backwards."
GNOME

GNOME 3.8 Released Featuring New "Classic" Mode 267

Hot on the heels of the Gtk+ 3.8 release comes GNOME 3.8. There are a few general UI improvements, but the highlight for many is the new Classic mode that replaces fallback. Instead of using code based on the old GNOME panel, Classic emulates the feel of GNOME 2 through Shell extensions (just like Linux Mint's Cinnamon interface). From the release notes: "Classic mode is a new feature for those people who prefer a more traditional desktop experience. Built entirely from GNOME 3 technologies, it adds a number of features such as an application menu, a places menu and a window switcher along the bottom of the screen. Each of these features can be used individually or in combination with other GNOME extensions."
Google

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.

Comment OSM bugs isn't as useful as actual nodes (Score 2) 58

Contributing to OSM is not hard. It's like a wiki, you register and you can edit everything. Even if your neighborhood is mapped, you can still work on adding amenities like restaurants, parking spots, post boxes and all the stuff a person that doesn't know the neighborhood would find useful. I personally keep business cards of the good restaurants i visit and post them on OSM regularly.

If you use flash, there's a web-builtin editor called Potlach that's really good. If not, you use jOSM that's shipped with all major distributions and which is also very good (my favorite, even if Java</troll>).

Comment the real game changer: 4G (Score 3, Interesting) 158

The game changer here is that US cell phone companies have finally figured out that 4 layers of NAT isn't exactly a great way to manage a growing network, and are switching to IPv6 for their 4G networks. That is millions of customers right there, using IPv6 without even knowing about it.

Pieces are falling into place, it's just a matter of time now. And if you lobby your ISP instead of complaining about it, you may get it native too soon enough.

BTW: for those worried about the switch, let me just mention that both ipv6.google.com and www.kame.net (common test IPv6 addresses) are reachable in *less* latency and *less* hops than their ipv4 counterparts. IPv6 rocks.

Comment gcstar did the job for me (Score 3, Interesting) 230

I did the inventory of my 500+ book collection here and while it took a few days, the upkeep is minimal, and gcstar allows me to also keep track of people I lend the book to. The interface is awful, but it does connect to Amazon and so on to get book details, including cover pictures, if you have an ISBN. If you don't, then it's likely that Amazon doesn't carry it and you'll have to enter the details by hand anyways, but that's still fairly easy.

I do not label the books with stickers, RFID or bar codes of any kind. I simply rely on the book name for reference, and since I have very few duplicate books, this usually works. Duplicates can usually be told apart by printing dates or something similar. The library itself is physically arranged by loosely defined categories - I did *not* bother with Dewey.

I have written a complete article about this that may be useful to you. You may also want to contribute to that wiki page which compares different software offering.

Piracy

Colocation Provider PRQ Raided; Wikileaks and Many Torrent Sites Offline 138

An anonymous reader writes with some chilling news about PRQ, the infamous colo founded by two Pirate Bay founders. From the article: "Stockholm police raided the free-speech focused firm (PRQ) Monday and took four of its servers, the company's owner Mikael Viborg told the Swedish news outlet Nyheter24. While a number of bittorrent-based filesharing sites including PRQ's most notorious client, the Pirate Bay, have been down for most of Monday as well as PRQ's own website, Viborg told the Swedish news site that the site outages were the result of a technical issue, rather than the police's seizure of servers." Torrentfreak is reporting that the Pirate Bay isn't using PRQ for anything important (if at all), and that their downtime is due to a faulty PDU that happened to fail as a coincidence.

Comment Re:Trust us, we have root (Score 1) 255

They don't need root access, but in a way, you are giving them the right to run any code on your machine if you accept the updates coming in without review. As we have learned throughout the Microsoft Windows, Apple iTunes and others updates, the upstream can ship software that users sometimes disagree with and while it's not equivalent of giving them "root", it does mean that, once you accept the update, code you don't like will run on your computer.

There are of course alternatives: switching operating systems, refusing updates or removing the malicious software, all three which have been suggested elsewhere in the discussions here.

Comment Re:Trust us, we have root (Score 1) 255

I beg to differ, and request that you explain what "begging the question" is, since I obviously seem to misunderstand it. On the site which I refer to, they define it as:

You presented a circular argument in which the conclusion was included in the premise.

This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it's not very good.

Example: The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in The Great and Infallible Book of Zorbo's Best and Most Truest Things that are Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be Questioned.

I definitely see a parallel in the above explanation and the reasoning behind the "we have root" argument.

Say the question is: "why should we trust Canonical or Ubuntu to have a peek at our personal search results?" The answer from Shuttleworth seems to be, "because we have root, it means you trust us". In other words, the response to the question of trust is trust, posed as a premise.

Also, the additional argument you are describing, we can summarize as "you can trust us with X because you trust us with X-1", which may be better presented as a slippery slope fallacy.

Then again, you are accusing me of misunderstanding logical fallacies, something at which I cannot respond to other than asking you to clarify how I misunderstand, or explain your accusation as a poorly articulated ad hominem attack, as opposed as demonstrating my argument as wrong.

Thank you for your comment and have a nice day.

Comment Re:Trust us, we have root (Score 1) 255

I understand that point. The issue I see with it is that it is taken as an argument to justify what I consider to be a privacy issue. Saying "you should trust us with our data" needs a commitment, a show of *ethics* that actually makes us believe and understand they will be careful with it. Instead, we are presented with "well, you should trust us because... you already trust us, because we are root". It's a fallacy, more specifically begging the question.

I could also construe the whole intervention of Shuttleworth as an appeal to authority, but that would be pushing it a little since, as I said, the Benevolent Dictator doesn't even *need* to appeal to a higher authority. He is, in effect, your root and overlord, and is asserting his power without any shame or guilt. Whee. Also, to be fair, he is making a point that they should think about their responsibilities as admins of all those machines, I just happen to disagree with the path they are taking.

Comment Trust us, we have root (Score 4, Insightful) 255

Apart from what's already been mentioned here, one bit particularly troubles me:

We are not telling Amazon what you are searching for. Your anonymity is preserved because we handle the query on your behalf. Don’t trust us? Erm, we have root. You do trust us with your data already.

I don't equate having root with having people's data, personally. I happen to adhere to a Ethics Code (SAGE's) that *keeps* me from peeking over people's personal data, *especially* for my own interests. Adding a snitch that report back not only the machine's existence (you get that through APT automated updates) but also personal search requests to Canonical headquarters by default does seem like a major privacy breach.

That the dictator of Ubuntu and Canonical brushes his responsibilities aside like this is downright scary if you ask me, especially given the argument is "we have root, we 0wn you already, sorry bud".

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