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Patents

FTC Chairwoman Speaks On Growing US Patent Problem 87

ectoman writes "In a recent policy speech, Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez indicated that the FTC might be preparing to seriously address patent abuse in the United States. Mark Bohannon, Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat, has reviewed Ramirez's remarks, calling them 'some of the most direct and specific to date from a senior U.S. Government official regarding "harmful PAE [patent assertion entities] activities."' Bohannon writes that the FTC's proposed roadmap for patent reform 'is both ambitious and doable,' and he discusses how the agency could make its potential contributions to reforms most effective. The piece arrives one week after Bohannon analyzed other patent reform efforts currently ongoing in Washington—in a piece Slashdot readers have been discussing."

Comment I'd really like to add photos to OSM (Score 1) 108

A friend involved with the project pointed out that this is more complicated than it sounds, and I'm sure he's right, but it would be fun one day to be able to take a photo, tag it with coordinates, and at least have it stuffed in an online pigeonhole for later linking to a spot on OSM-based maps. Click on a map, have it show the nearest-tagged photo ... in some places, the nearest tagged photo might be many miles away, making it a sort of challenge to split the gap by taking another photo between the distant points.

 

Education

How Facial Analysis Software Could Help Struggling Students 90

moon_unit2 writes "Tech Review has a story on research showing that facial recognition software can accurately spot signs that programming students are struggling. NC State researchers tracked students learning java and used an open source facial-expression recognition engine to identify emotions such as frustration or confusion. The technique could be especially useful for Massive Open Online Courses — where many thousands of students are working remotely — but it could also help teachers identify students who need help in an ordinary classroom, experts say. That is, as long as those students don't object to being watched constantly by a camera."
Education

How Facial Analysis Software Could Help Struggling Students 90

moon_unit2 writes "Tech Review has a story on research showing that facial recognition software can accurately spot signs that programming students are struggling. NC State researchers tracked students learning java and used an open source facial-expression recognition engine to identify emotions such as frustration or confusion. The technique could be especially useful for Massive Open Online Courses — where many thousands of students are working remotely — but it could also help teachers identify students who need help in an ordinary classroom, experts say. That is, as long as those students don't object to being watched constantly by a camera."
Firefox

Firefox 23 Makes JavaScript Obligatory 778

mikejuk writes "It seems that Firefox 23, currently in beta, has removed the option to disable JavaScript. Is this good for programmers and web apps? Why has Mozilla decided that this is the right thing to do? The simple answer is that there is a growing movement to reduce user options that can break applications. The idea is that if you provide lots of user options then users will click them in ways that aren't particularly logical. The result is that users break the browser and then complain that it is broken. For example, there are websites that not only don't work without JavaScript, but they fail in complex ways — ways that worry the end user. Hence, once you remove the disable JavaScript option Firefox suddenly works on a lot of websites. Today there are a lot of programmers of the opinion that if the user has JavaScript off then its their own fault and consuming the page without JavaScript is as silly as trying to consume it without HTML."

Submission + - Ben Heck's plan to making gaming open to all (redbull.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Legendary DIY gaming guru Ben Heck has given a new interview in which he talks about the Access Controller, his modular controller for consoles that lets disabled gamers play with one hand, and how he plans to update it for the next generation of consoles: "I'm sure I will. At the very least people are going to want the accessibility controllers I build...People have already asked about them for the next-gen consoles, and that was at E3. When I was there, the thing I looked at the most was the controllers. The Xbox One looks pretty similar to what we have at the moment, but they finally fixed the D-pad."

Heck's not a huge fan of the new Xbox One console, and wasn't impressed with Microsoft's controversial used-disc policy, which it has now abandoned. "I think it was probably a game of chicken with two cars driving at each other, who's going to blink first? Microsoft probably assumed Sony was going to have a similar DRM [digital rights management], and I thought they were going to as well. And Sony didn't blink," he says. "The Xbox One has a lot of issues, but they should have predicted that. You don't have to be frickin' Nostradamus to predict the public would react like that."

The Almighty Buck

D.C. Awards Obamacare IT Work To Offshore Outsourcer 402

dcblogs writes "Infosys, an India-based offshore IT outsourcing firm, recently announced that it had won a $49.5 million contract to develop a health benefit exchange for the District of Columbia. The contract was awarded to a U.S.-based Infosys subsidiary, Infosys Public Services. That's one of the larger government contracts won by an offshore outsourcing firm, but it's unclear whether any of the work will be done overseas. The District isn't disclosing any contract details. An FOIA request for the contract has been submitted. Infosys is one of the largest users of H-1B visas, and has been under a grand jury investigation for its use of B1 visitor visas."
Firefox

Firefox OS Smartphones Launching, But Will Anyone Buy One? 127

Nerval's Lobster writes "Mozilla and its hardware partners have begun launching the first Firefox OS smartphones, starting with Spain's Telefonica releasing the ZTE Open later this week. A lightweight mobile OS based on HTML5, Firefox OS (once known as 'Boot to Gecko') offers a user interface instantly familiar to anyone who's used Google Android or Apple iOS: in addition to home-screens of individual apps arranged on a grid, features include messaging, email, built-in social-networking, maps, and the Firefox Web browser. There's also Firefox Marketplace, an online storefront of HTML5 apps; early apps include Twitter, Facebook, AccuWeather, and a handful of games. But can Firefox OS make any headway in a mobile-device crowded with options? At this February's Mobile World Congress, Mozilla claimed that some 17 operators around the world have committed to the Firefox OS initiative, including China Unicom, Sprint, MegaFon, and the Telecom Italia Group. But many of those operators released rather ambiguous statements about whether they would launch an actual Firefox OS smartphone. Tony Cripps, principal device analyst at Ovum, wrote in a research note earlier this year that 'the real acid test for Firefox OS and its long-term prospects is the quality of the software itself and the user and developer experiences that it fosters.' In other words, Mozilla and its partners need to produce some quality devices, paired with a variety of spectacular apps. Some early reviews of the ZTE Open weren't good, to put it mildly, with The Verge citing: 'unremarkable hardware' and a 'laggy' OS. But that doesn't mean future phones can't go toe-to-toe against anything else on the market, provided Mozilla and its partners provide solid support and marketing."

Submission + - Deep Brain Stimulation Eliminates Man's Tremors In Video (singularityhub.com)

kkleiner writes: A dramatic YouTube video demonstrates how tremors from Parkinson's Disease can be nullified by an implanted brain pacemaker. The video by 39-year-old Cyber-AJ (Andrew Johnson) shows the dramatic difference in his movements when the remote-controlled deep brain stimulation device is on and off. The technique may not be appropriate for all PD sufferers, but it's a clear sign that brain stimulation can have dramatic effects.
Medicine

Telescopic Contact Lens With Switchable Magnification To Help AMD Patients 68

cylonlover writes "Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the western world. Unfortunately, conventional optical aids provide little help for a retina which has lost the acuity of its central area. Now a team of multinational researchers led by University of California, San Diego Professor Joseph Ford has created a telescopic contact lens that can switch between normal and magnified vision to offer AMD patients a relatively unobtrusive way to enhance their vision."
United States

More Details Emerge On How the US Is Bugging Its European Allies 442

dryriver writes with this excerpt from the Guardian: "U.S. intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret U.S. National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as 'targets.' It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae. Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the E.U. missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. ... One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which, according to a 2007 document, is 'implanted on the Cryptofax at the E.U. embassy, DC' – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents note the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals."
United States

More Details Emerge On How the US Is Bugging Its European Allies 442

dryriver writes with this excerpt from the Guardian: "U.S. intelligence services are spying on the European Union mission in New York and its embassy in Washington, according to the latest top secret U.S. National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. One document lists 38 embassies and missions, describing them as 'targets.' It details an extraordinary range of spying methods used against each target, from bugs implanted in electronic communications gear to taps into cables to the collection of transmissions with specialised antennae. Along with traditional ideological adversaries and sensitive Middle Eastern countries, the list of targets includes the E.U. missions and the French, Italian and Greek embassies, as well as a number of other American allies, including Japan, Mexico, South Korea, India and Turkey. ... One of the bugging methods mentioned is codenamed Dropmire, which, according to a 2007 document, is 'implanted on the Cryptofax at the E.U. embassy, DC' – an apparent reference to a bug placed in a commercially available encrypted fax machine used at the mission. The NSA documents note the machine is used to send cables back to foreign affairs ministries in European capitals."
Windows

Windows 8 Passes Vista, Hits 5.1% Market Share 285

An anonymous reader writes "With the first half of 2013 now over, Windows 8 continues to grow its share steadily but slowly, while Windows XP and Vista decline. In fact, Windows 8 has now passed the 5 percent mark, as well as surpassed the market share of its predecessor's predecessor, Windows Vista. The latest market share data from Net Applications shows that June 2013 was an impressive one for Windows 8, which gained 0.83 percentage points (from 4.27 percent to 5.10 percent) while Windows 7 fell 0.48 percentage points (from 44.85 percent to 44.37 percent)."

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