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Comment Impact of IP (Score 1) 368

Perhapps recent intelectual property protection process and corporate patent practices have served to stifle creativity or at least the promise of potential benefit for most individuals with a spirit of inginuity.

Submission + - Sen. Kerry: Online privacy bill coming soon (

GovTechGuy writes: The settlement announced Wednesday between Google and the Federal Trade Commission underscores the need for legislation that outlines how businesses can use consumer information collected online, according to a statement from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

“Baseline privacy protections in law remain common sense and this case proves it,” Kerry said. “Google has admitted error, but Google is far from alone in the collection, use, and distribution of immense amounts of our information.

Kerry, who heads the Senate Commerce Committee's Communications subcommittee, is currently working on a privacy bill that he has promised to deliver this year. The White House has signaled its support for online privacy legislation as well, while the FTC has recommended firms take voluntary measures to protect consumers, such as adding Do Not Track tools to Web browsers.


Submission + - Google Tightens Control of Android (

bonch writes: Google is tightening its control over Android, requiring 'non-fragmentation clauses' from licensees that give Google final approval over changes to the operating system. Sources claim that Verizon Android phones which use the rival search engine Bing are being obstructed by Google. Google also recently announced that it's withholding the source to Honeycomb for the foreseeable future for quality control reasons, drawing criticism from open source advocates. 'The premise of a true open software platform may be where Android started, but it's not where Android is going,' claims Stephen Elop, Nokia Chief Executive.

First Electric Cars Have Power Industry Worried 450

Hugh Pickens writes "Jonathan Fahey writes for AP that as the first mass-market electric cars go on sale next month, the power industry faces a huge growth opportunity, with SoCal Edison expecting to be charging 100,000 cars by 2015 and California setting a goal of 1 million electric vehicles by 2020. But utility executives are worried that the difficulty of keeping the lights on for the first crop of buyers — and their neighbors — could slow the growth of this industry because it's inevitable that electric utilities will suffer some difficulties early on. 'We are all going to be a lot smarter two years from now,' says Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan North America. When plugged into a home charging station the first Leafs and Volts will draw 3,300 Watts and take about 8 hours to deliver a full charge, but both carmakers may soon boost that to 6,600 Watts. The Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car with a huge battery, can draw 16,800 Watts. That means that adding an electric vehicle or two to a neighborhood can be like adding another house, and it can stress the equipment that services those houses. The problem is that transformers that distribute power from the electrical grid to homes are often designed to handle less than about 12,000 watts so the extra stress on a transformer from one or two electric vehicles could cause it to overheat and fail, knocking out power to the block."

Submission + - Can open source save democracy?

An anonymous reader writes: Political discussions frequently conclude that democracy is at best a symbol. It is widely understood that lawmakers and politicians generally serve special interests more than they serve the people. This is no secret: everyone knows about lobbyists, campaign contributions, kickbacks, pork, earmarks, and the classic "smoke filled room" where political deals are made in secret. All of these problems can be summed up in the simple phrase, "power corrupts," and empowered individuals are a necessary component of representation-style democracy. We have never had another means of instituting democracy as a broad and general system of governance because it has simply been impractical. But social internet tools change everything. There are now scores of projects building creative and diverse systems meant to apply the principles of open source to the procedures of lawmaking. Can we eventually create real democracy, instead of the cheap imitations we have had to date? Or will we forever be reliant on empowered leaders to guide and protect us?

Submission + - Hurd Being Considered for No. 2 Spot at Oracle (

Hugh Pickens writes: "The LA Times reports that Mark Hurd, recently ousted as chief executive of computer maker Hewlett-Packard after allegations of sexual harassment, is likely to serve under his longtime friend and sometime tennis partner Larry Ellison, the outspoken CEO of Oracle who blasted HP for the move. Hurd had been credited with nearly doubling HP's market value to $100 billion and surpassing IBM Corp. in annual revenue during his five-year term but his record became tarnished after a contractor working for HP filed claims of sexual harassment against him, and the company said he had falsified his expense reports. Since his resignation from HP, Hurd reportedly has received a numberY of job offers from public companies and private equity firms. Hurd would bring to the table knowledge of running a company that makes industrial-grade computers on which Oracle's business software runs, knowledge that may be particularly useful to Oracle, a company that this year finalized its $7.4-billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems."

The Proton Just Got Smaller 289

inflame writes "A new paper published in Nature has said that the proton may be smaller than we previously thought. The article states 'The difference is so infinitesimal that it might defy belief that anyone, even physicists, would care. But the new measurements could mean that there is a gap in existing theories of quantum mechanics. "It's a very serious discrepancy," says Ingo Sick, a physicist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, who has tried to reconcile the finding with four decades of previous measurements. "There is really something seriously wrong someplace."' Would this indicate new physics if proven?"

Submission + - Capitalism Meets Cannabis in Colorado Rockies 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "David Segal writes in the NY Times that one of the odder experiments in the recent history of American capitalism is unfolding in the Colorado Rockies where cannabis capitalists are free to pocket as much as they can — as long as they stay within the rules. One rule of business that sellers in Colorado are redicovering is that an essential strategy for success in the cannablis market is to grow your own — or in the language of business — vertically integrate to control your supply chain: a pound of marijuana can be sold at retail for somewhere between $5,500 and $7,500. To buy that quantity wholesale will cost about $4,000. Grow it yourself and the same pound will cost just $750 to $1,000. “It’s like any retail environment,” says Sean Fey, a co-owner of the Green Room. “Given overhead expenses, you’re not going to make a lot of money if your margins are 40 or 50 percent, which is what you’ll earn if you don’t grow your own marijuana. But you’ll get 70 to 80 percent margins if you do.” But things may be about to change again as investors enter the picture and horizontal integration becomes a model of how cannabis capitalism develops across the country in a growing market through the coming years. “We’re past the days when people call here to ask if marijuana will give men breasts,” says Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML. “Now, the calls are from angel investors, or REITs — people who are looking for ways to invest or offer their services.”"

Submission + - Cybersecurity overhaul looks likely to pass soon ( 5

GovTechGuy writes: A new bill from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee seems likely to pass the Senate this year, despite the White House's reluctance to express support. The bill would give the president new emergency authority to shut down or cut off service to private networks if he believes they are under attack.

The bill would also make the Department of Homeland Security responsible for protecting civilian networks, raising industry concerns about excess regulation. Privacy advocates are likely to raise concerns about the emergency provisions; the decision to house operational security at DHS will also likely meet with opposition. Critics point to Cyber Command chief Gen. Keith Alexander’s role as proof the intelligence community already has too much influence over cybersecurity.

Other measures in the bill include a sweeping overhaul of the Federal Information Security Management Act based on previous legislation introduced by Carper. The bill would shift the law’s focus from compliance to actively monitoring network threats.


Super-Earths Discovered Orbiting Nearby, Sun-Like Star 242

likuidkewl writes "Two super-earths, 5 and 7.5 times the size of our home, were found to be orbiting 61 Virginis a mere 28 light years away. 'These detections indicate that low-mass planets are quite common around nearby stars. The discovery of potentially habitable nearby worlds may be just a few years away,' said Steven Vogt, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Among hundreds of our nearest stellar neighbors, 61 Vir stands out as being the most nearly similar to the Sun in terms of age, mass, and other essential properties."

Does Your College Or University Support Linux? 835

yuna49 writes 'Lately I've been visiting colleges with my daughter, who is a senior in high school. Every school has proudly announced that they support both Windows and Macs, and most of these schools report having about a 50-50 split between the two. However we've been a Linux household for many years now, and my daughter routinely uses a laptop running Kubuntu 9.04. Sometimes I would ask the student tour guide if Linux was supported and was usually met with a blank stare. We're obviously not concerned about whether she can write papers using OpenOffice and Linux. Rather we've been wondering about using other computing services on campus like classroom applications, remote printing, VPNs, or Wi-Fi support (nearly all these campuses have ubiquitous Wi-Fi). Given the composition of Slashdot's readership, I thought I'd pose the question here. Does your school support Linux? Have you found it difficult or impossible to use Linux in concert with the school's computing services?'

The Myth of the Isolated Kernel Hacker 282

Ant writes "The Linux Foundation's report (PDF) on who writes Linux — "... Linux isn't written by lonely nerds hiding out in their parents' basements. It's written by people working for major companies — many of them businesses that you probably don't associate with Linux. To be exact, while 18.2% of Linux is written by people who aren't working for a company, and 7.6% is created by programmers who don't give a company affiliation, everything else is written by someone who's getting paid to create Linux. From top to bottom, of the companies that have contributed more than 1% of the current Linux kernel, the list looks like this: ..."

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