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Ubuntu

Submission + - Legal questions on the Ubuntu Shopping Lens (blogspot.com)

lads writes: Several developments have followed the announcement of the default inclusion of the Shopping Lens feature in Ubuntu 12.10. What seemed at first a surreptitious inclusion of adware in Ubuntu turned into a full blown row when Mark Shutleworth, founder of Canonical, the company that coordinates the Ubuntu development, lit afire the blogosphere claiming that the company had administrative access to every computer running Ubuntu. From there we got to know that even the users that could benefit from the feature are not happy, since the results can not be filtered or customised. A further consequence of this is the possibility of adult oriented products showing up in the results, which puts at risk Ubuntu's usage by children and in professional environments. Answering to all the backlash, Canonical has decided to include settings that allow the user to switch off the Shopping Lens, but it will still be switched on by default.

Actually, this may be just the tip of the iceberg. The inclusion of this commercial oriented feature, more over by default, has the potential to open an unheard of conflict in the FOSS universe.

Android

Submission + - Why Is Google Killing The Open Document Formats? (muktware.com)

sfcrazy writes: Google has zero support for Open Document Format across all its products including Android, Chrome OS, Google Drive and QuickOffice. You are forced to use Microsoft's OOXML. I am left with puzzling questions why is Google not supporting ODF and locking users into an incompatible and vendor-locked OOXML format? Will Google endorse open standards and Open Document Formats or its users will be forced to use Microsoft's OOXML? I
Security

Submission + - Civil Rights Captcha employs an empathy test to ward off spambots (gizmag.com)

cylonlover writes: Loathe it as we do, the captcha goes a long way to preventing websites from being inundated with spam comments produced by nefarious software. However, there’s room for improvement, and rather than tasking a user with a series of random words which must be entered in order to be allowed to comment on a website, the Civil Rights Captcha employs an empathy test to measure whether you pass muster. The Civil Rights Captcha is the brainchild of Civil Rights Defenders, a Sweden-based international human rights organization. The organization states that it has created the new captcha in order to provide a simpler and more effective method of keeping websites spam-free, in addition to drawing attention to the importance of human rights.
Google

Submission + - Google to buy a Russian bank and issue credit cards? (businessweek.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Tinkoff Credit Systems' founder and chairman, Oleg Tinkov told reporters that he is evaluating selling his Russian bank that specializes in credit cards to Google. Tinkov has previously stated that his bank is worth about 12-15 times net income (2012 estimated to be $120 million US dollars) that would put the acquisition price at about $1.5 to $1.8 billion US dollars. It would be the third or fourth largest acquisition for Google (Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, Double Click for $3.1 billion, Youtube for $1.65 billion). It would also be the largest acquisition by Google for a non-US based asset.
Social Networks

Submission + - Diaspora is dead! Long live diaspora! (joindiaspora.com)

Jalfro writes: Following premature rumours of it's demise, the Diaspora core team announce the release of 0.0.1.0. "It’s been a couple of exciting months for us as we’ve shifted over to a model of community governance. After switching over to SemVer for our versioning system, and plugging away at fixing code through our new unstable branch, we’re excited to make our first release beyond the Alpha/Beta labels."
Space

Submission + - SpaceX Launches First Commercial Flight (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: A new chapter has been written in the history of space exploration with the successful launch of the first commercial cargo flight to the International Space Station (ISS). The reusable unmanned freighter Dragon was lifted into orbit today at 8:35 PM EDT (September 8, 0135 GMT) by a Falcon 9 booster from the Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and is scheduled to rendezvous with the ISS on Tuesday. Carrying 905 kg (1,995 lbs) of cargo, this is the first of twelve contracted flights that Dragon is scheduled to make to the station.
Programming

Submission + - CAPTCHA With A Conscience (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: The new CAPTCHA system is from the Swedish activist organization Civil Rights Defenders and serves twin purposes: distinguishing humans from robots using their ability to feel empathy, a characteristic that is considered essentially human, and informing web users of global civil rights issues.The basic idea is that the user is presented with an emotive statement like “its good to torture people” and you have to pick words that describe how it makes you feel “infuriated, sad, encouraged”. The idea is that you can do it because you empathize but machines can’t because they don’t.
Can you spot the potential problems?
The first is — don’t underestimate simple machine learning techniques. The bots will soon have empathy down to Bayesian stats. Also what about us non-empaths?

Submission + - Netherlands first country in Europe with net neutrality (www.bof.nl)

TheGift73 writes: "On 8 May 2012 The Netherlands adopted crucial legislation to safeguard an open and secure internet in The Netherlands. It is the first country in Europe to implement net neutrality in the law. In addition, it adopted provisions protecting users against disconnection and wiretapping by providers. Digital rights movement Bits of Freedom calls upon other countries to follow the Dutch example."

Submission + - Russian Superjet 100 crashed during demo flight (bbc.co.uk)

Prokur writes: "A brand new Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner on a demonstration flight with 37 passengers (mostly future clients and journalists) and 8 Russian crew members on board went missing after it took off from airport in Jakarta. After an extensive search, rescuers concluded, based on the widespread debris field on the side of a ridge, that the aircraft directly impacted the rocky side of Mount Salak and there was "no chance of survival.""
Biotech

Submission + - Japanese scientists use particle accelerator to create salt-resistant rice (extremetech.com)

MrSeb writes: "An unfortunate and little reported side effect of last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami is that thousands of acres of farmland were contaminated with seawater. Rice is a staple crop in Japan, and it requires large amounts of water to grow. The salt in seawater, however, stunts or outright kills the plant. Researchers out of Riken Nishina Centre near Tokyo have been looking at the problem, and it just so happens they have a particle accelerator laying around. Mutations naturally accumulate over time (this is evolution), but this rate is far too slow for meaningful research. Past efforts in inducing mutations have relied on X-rays or gamma radiation to cause mutations in crops, but a particle accelerator should be able to accomplish the same thing much faster. Dr. Tomoko Abe is leading the research and hopes that the particle accelerator will prove superior to traditional methods. Initial results indicate this approach can produce 10-100 times more mutations. After bombarding 600 seeds in her particle accelerator, Dr. Abe has created 250 mutant strains that were able to grow in salt water and produce fertile seeds of their own. The next step is to replant the most successful specimens and begin sorting out the traits that make them grow so well. With enough testing, Dr. Abe hopes to be able to generate an edible strain of rice in four years that can grow in a high-salt environment. If this research is a success, the effects could reach much farther than northern Japan; there are many coastal locations around the world that could benefit from a more hearty strain of salt-resistant rice."
Technology

Submission + - Liliputian Portable Battery Promises 2 Weeks of Charging (techpp.com)

SmartAboutThings writes: "So what do you do if you are on a move? Pray to find an outlet and if not be stuck without the functionalities you signed up for. From now on, an alternative will be available. After more than 11 years of working on the project and spending $90 millions in the process, Lilliputian Systems is finally ready to release to the public its butane-driven portable battery charger. The portable battery charger is said to keep your smartphone charged for up to 2 weeks!"
Space

Submission + - 6U CubeSat Low Cost Space Missions Workshop (unsw.edu.au)

An anonymous reader writes: The first workshop in the world dedicated to the 6U CubeSat is planned for July 17-18 in Canberra, Australia. For 2012 the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative includes 6U CubeSat satellites. An 8 kg 6U CubeSat can be designed to perform some of the Earth observation missions of 100 kg microsatellites. The 6U CubeSat Low Cost Space Missions Workshop will explore the range of missions possible with a 6U CubeSat in the areas of: Astronomy, Atmospheric Science and other Planetary Science, Space Physics, Earth Observation, Biology, and Other. Technology Keynote: John W. Hines, Chief Technologist, NASA-Ames Research Center (To be confirmed). Science Keynote: Professor Harvey Butcher, Director Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Chair: Dr Steven Tsitas. Download the workshop poster here. Who should attend Scientists and engineers interested in payload and mission concepts that take advantage of the payload capacity of the 6U CubeSat. For examples of 6U CubeSat designs and payloads that perform some of the Earth observation missions of 100 kg microsatellites see "6U CubeSat Design for Earth Observation with 6.5 m GSD, 5 Spectral Bands and 14 Mbps downlink" and "6U CubeSat Commercial Applications". Reprints available upon request. Presentations are invited describing payloads and mission concepts for the 6U CubeSat. Presentations are also invited regarding 6U launch opportunities and 6U CubeSat standards. Abstracts due 26 June 2012.To register and for further information visit: www.acser.unsw.edu.au/events/cubesat.html
The Courts

Submission + - Now It's Switzerland's Turn To Call ACTA Into Question (techdirt.com)

TheGift73 writes: "Good news via Switzerland

When discussing ACTA, there's a natural tendency to concentrate on the bigger players — the US or the EU — but it's important to remember that there are many other countries involved. One of those is Switzerland, which has just joined the doubters' club by holding off from signing ACTA. Here's why (French original):

"Since the conclusion of the negotiations, the criticisms regarding ACTA have multiplied in various countries. The [Swiss] Federal Council takes these fears seriously since they concern fundamental liberties and important points of law."

As a result, Switzerland will not be signing ACTA for the moment. Instead:

"The Council will re-examine the question when new elements on which it can base its decision are available. These elements could include the deliberations of the five EU countries that have delayed signing ACTA, the results of the referral to the European Court of Justice by the European Commission, or the continuation of the EU's ratification procedure.""

Cellphones

EC Calls For End To Mobile Roaming Charges 173

An anonymous reader writes "European travellers who use their mobile phones abroad could soon see a dramatic reduction in their bills, after the European Commission announced plans to eradicate roaming charges by 2015. In a consultation paper launched yesterday, the EC invited consumers, businesses, telecom operators and public authorities to evaluate the EU's existing roaming rules, and to share their ideas on the best ways to boost competition in roaming services. 'Huge differences between domestic and roaming charges have no place in a true EU Single Market,' said vice-president of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes. 'We need to address the source of current problems, namely a lack of competition, and to find a durable solution. But we are keeping an open mind on exactly what solution would work.'"

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