Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - Devs at XDA sidestep signed boot-loader in B&N (

An anonymous reader writes: The saga of the signed boot-loader on the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet continues! In the beginning it was impossible to replace the kernel. Then it was possible if you took apart the tablet and soldered on a hardware modification. Now it appears that the Nook Tablet will be able to run unsigned kernels without requiring a hardware mod. This will allow the Nook Tablet to run custom ROMs including the popular CyanogenMod ROM.

Apparently this is not a flaw in Texas Instruments' M-Shield security hardware on the processor, but rather a flaw in B&N's use (or lack of use) of it. As is fairly common, the implementation of the security scheme fell short of the theoretical and expected security that the hardware could provide.


Submission + - Firefox for Enterprises Officially Announced 1

mvar writes: After a meeting held last Monday regarding Mozilla Firefox ESR (Enterprise Support Release), the new version was announced yesterday in a post on Mozilla's official blog: "We are pleased to announce that the proposal for an Extended Support Release (ESR) of Firefox is now a plan of action. The ESR version of Firefox is for use by enterprises, public institutions, universities and other organizations that centrally manage their Firefox deployments. Releases of the ESR will occur once a year, providing these organizations with a version of Firefox that receives security updates but does not make changes to the Web or Firefox Add-ons platform."

Submission + - Recent Discovery Shows Oldest Depiction of Tower o (

smitty777 writes: The recent discovery of the Tower of Babel stele by a team of scholars shows what might be the earliest depiction of the ancient Tower of Babel. The stele belongs to Martin Schøyen, who also owns a large number of pictographic and cuneiform tablets, some of the earliest known written documents. The tablet also contains a depiction of King Nebuchadnezzar II, a time when Babylon was a cultural leader in astronomy, mathematics, literature and medicine. It's also interesting to note the somewhat recent Slashdot article linking the common ancestry of languages to this area.

Submission + - 1903: Marconi hacked (

nbauman writes: In June 1903, Gugliemo Marconi and his partner Ambrose Flemming were about to give the first demonstration of long-range wireless communication at the Royal Institution in London, which, Marconi said, could be sent in complete confidentiality with no fear of the messages being hijacked. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a huge mysterious wireless pulse strong enough to take over the carbon-arc projector and make it sputter messages in morse code. First, it repeated the word "Rats" over and over again (abusive at that time). Then it tapped out, "There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily." Further rude epithets followed. It was Nevil Maskelyne, a stage musician and inventor who was annoyed because Marconi's patents prevented him from using wireless. It was the first hacking, to demonstrate an insecure system.

Submission + - HP reviving the 99$ Touch Pad on 11th December (

Frankie70 writes: Starting Sunday, December 11th at 6:00 p.m. Central time, 16GB and 32GB Touchpads will be available on HP's ebay store. A $79 accessory bundle will also be available, which includes a case, charging dock and wireless keyboard. The caveat with this deal is that these are refurbished TouchPads rather than the brand new models sold during the first firesale.

Submission + - EVGA Bans Users For Discussing Using Hybrid PhysX (

mykos writes: From the article:
As you may or may not know, Nvidia has robbed its customers by disabling the PhysX technology (GPU and PPU) anytime a Non-Nvidia GPU is present in the system (even IGPs) since the release of 186 GeForce drivers. As predicted, the community responded critically and eventually a user by name of GenL created a patch that removes the blockage and reclaims the feature. This patch is justifiable since we believe if a user bought a GeForce card, he unquestionably deserves access to all its features.

Now, it has come to our attention that EVGA is preventing users from discussing the PhysX mod on their forums. "Sorry guys, but this thread must be locked here. We've stated multiple times in the past that discussion of the PhysX mod is not permitted on these forums, as it is a violation of Nvidia's Intellectual Property rights. This is non-negotiable, and as a partner of Nvidia, we must also respect its rights. Next thread discussing the PhysX mod will earn a warning." said nordicjedi, a forum moderator on EVGA.


Do Gamers Want Simpler Games? 462

A recent GamePro article sums up a lesson that developers and publishers have been slowly learning over the last few years: gamers don't want as much from games as they say they do. Quoting: "Conventional gaming wisdom thus far has been 'bigger, better, MORE!' It's something affirmed by the vocal minority on forums, and by the vast majority of critics that praise games for ambition and scale. The problem is, in reality its almost completely wrong. ... How do we know this? Because an increasing number of games incorporate telemetry systems that track our every action. They measure the time we play, they watch where we get stuck, and they broadcast our behavior back to the people that make the games so they can tune the experience accordingly. Every studio I've spoken to that does this, to a fault, says that many of the games they've released are far too big and far too hard for most players' behavior. As a general rule, less than five percent of a game's audience plays a title through to completion. I've had several studios tell me that their general observation is that 'more than 90 percent' of a game's audience will play it for 'just four or five hours.'"

Submission + - Crowdsourcing HIV research

biolgeek writes: In recent years, HIV has been managed with a collection of therapies. However, the virus will likely evolve around these drugs, making it crucially important to get a better understanding of the virus itself. An important step in understanding the virus is to get a handle on its genetic blueprint. William Dampier of Drexler University is taking a novel approach to this research by crowdsourcing his problem. He is hosting a bioinformatics competition, which requires contestants to find markers in the HIV sequence that predict a change in the severity of the infection (as measured by viral load). So far the best entry comes from Fontanelles, an HIV research group, who has been able to predict a change in viral load with 66 per cent accuracy.

Submission + - Honeybees continue to disappear (

An anonymous reader writes: The 4-years old phenomena of vanishing honeybees continues to deepen despite previous attempts to isolate the causes. According to this CBS news article, "in 2006 a new concern, "colony collapse disorder," was blamed for large, inexplicable die-offs. The disorder, which causes adult bees to abandon their hives and fly off to die, is likely a combination of many causes, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition and pesticides". "Scientists are concerned because of the vital role bees play in our food supply. About one-third of the human diet is from plants that require pollination from honeybees, which means everything from apples to zucchini."

Submission + - Intel Unveils Next-Gen Atom For Handsets, Tablets (

MojoKid writes: "Intel has just taken the wraps off their first Atom processor and platform offering targeted specifically at the handset and tablet markets. Initially, the Atom Z6xx Series will consist of two parts, a derivative designed for smartphones, with a peak frequency of 1.5GHz and one targeted at tablets clocked at 1.9GHz. Additional specifications for the smartphone model include 100 micro-watt idle power, support for single-channel LPDDR1 memory at speeds up to 400MT/s, 24K data cache, 32K instruction cache, 512K L2 cache, Hyperthreading, and a 400MHz graphics core clock, with full support for up to 1080P video playback. In total, the new Atom platform, when paired to a Blackberry-esque 1500mAh battery, will offer roughly 11 days of standby time, about 2 days of music playback, roughly 5 hours of video playback and about 5 hours of web browsing with the 1.5GHz smartphone device."

Submission + - Why Our Civilization's Video Art and Culture is Th (

jrepin writes: "Eugenia from OSNews writes: "We've all heard how the h.264 is rolled over on patents and royalties. Even with these facts, I kept supporting the best-performing "delivery" codec in the market, which is h.264. "Let the best win", I kept thinking. But it wasn't until very recently when I was made aware that the problem is way deeper. No, my friends. It's not just a matter of just "picking Theora" to export a video to Youtube and be clear of any litigation. MPEG-LA's trick runs way deeper!""

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