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Open Source

Dropbox Open Sources New Lossless Middle-Out Image Compression Algorithm (dropbox.com) 135

Dropbox announced on Thursday that it is releasing its image compression algorithm dubbed Lepton under an Apache open-source license on GitHub. Lepton, the company writes, can both compress and decompress files, and for the latter, it can work while streaming. Lepton offers a 22% savings reductions for existing JPEG images, and preserves the original file bit-for-bit perfectly. It compresses JPEG files at a rate of 5MB/s and decodes them back to the original bit at 15MB/s. The company says it has used Lepton to encode 16 billion images saved to Dropbox, and continues to utilize the technology to recode its older images. You can find more technical details here.
The Almighty Buck

Committee Lowers Nobel Prize Award 178

Snirt writes "The Nobel Committee has chosen to lower this year's Nobel prize winnings by two million kronor ($283,030) due to turbulence in the current economic climate. The prize now stands at 8 million kronor, down from the 10 million of 2011. 'The reason behind this decision is that the financial markets are really unstable and there are reasons to suspect that this turbulence will continue for a while still,' said Lars Heikensten, head of the Nobel Committee, to the TT news agency. 'Long term, we aim to raise the figure, even though we think that the Nobel Prize's value should lie in the prize itself and not the prize money,' he said. While Heikensten admits that it was a 'tough decision' to cut the prize money, he told the news agency that it's not the first time the prize sum has been altered, adding that it has been lowered and raised several times over the past few years."
Image

Controlled Quantum Levitation Used To Build Wipeout Track 162

First time accepted submitter gentryx writes "Researchers at the Japan Institute of Science and Technology have build a miniature Wipeout track (YouTube video) using high temperature superconductors and quantum levitation. Right now this is fundamental research, but in the future large scale transportation systems could be built with technology akin to this. I have a different vision: let Nintendo sell this as an accessory for the Wii U. I'd buy several of these tracks, let the gliders race through the whole house and track them on our TV!" Update: 01/05 22:08 GMT by S : As many readers have pointed out, this is CGI.
Slashdot.org

Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda Resigns From Slashdot 1521

After 14 years and over 15,000 stories posted, it's finally time for me to say Good-Bye to Slashdot. I created this place with my best friends in a run down house while still in college. Since then it has grown to be read by more than a million people, and has served Billions and Billions of Pages (yes, in my head I hear the voice). During my tenure I have done my best to keep Slashdot firmly grounded in its origins, but now it's time for someone else to come aboard and find the *future*. Personally I don't have any plans, but if you need to get ahold of me for any reason, you can find me as @cmdrtaco on twitter or Rob Malda on Google+. You could also update my mail address to be malda at cmdrtaco dot net. Hit the link below if you want to read some nostalgic saccharine crap that I need to get out of my system before I sign off for the last time.
NASA

NASA Discovers 7th Closest Star 137

Thorfinn.au says "Scientists using data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have discovered the coldest class of star-like bodies, with temperatures as cool as the human body. Astronomers hunted these dark orbs, termed Y dwarfs, for more than a decade without success. When viewed with a visible-light telescope, they are nearly impossible to see. WISE's infrared vision allowed the telescope to finally spot the faint glow of six Y dwarfs relatively close to our sun, within a distance of about 40 light-years. 'WISE scanned the entire sky for these and other objects, and was able to spot their feeble light with its highly sensitive infrared vision,' said Jon Morse, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington. 'They are 5,000 times brighter at the longer infrared wavelengths WISE observed from space than those observable from the ground.'"
Real Time Strategy (Games)

Sports Bars Changing Channels For Video Gamers 351

dtmos wrote in to say that "This summer, StarCraft II has become the newest bar room spectator sport. Fans organize so-called Barcraft events, taking over pubs and bistros from Honolulu to Florida and switching big-screen TV sets to Internet broadcasts of professional game matches. As they root for their on-screen superstars, StarCraft enthusiasts can sow confusion among regular patrons... But for sports-bar owners, StarCraft viewers represent a key new source of revenue from a demographic—self-described geeks—they hadn't attracted before."
Security

Researchers Report Spike In Boot Time Malware 132

wiredmikey writes "In their most recent intelligence report, Symantec researchers pointed out a massive increase in the amount of boot time malware striking users, noting there have already been as many new boot time malware threats detected in the first seven months of 2011 as there were in the previous three years. Also known as MBR (master boot record) threats, the malware infect an area of the hard disk that makes them one of the first things to be read and executed when a computer is turned on. This enables the threats to effectively dodge many security defenses."
Businesses

MakerBot Gets $10 Million Investment 160

First time accepted submitter chrisl456 writes "MakerBot Industries, makers (hah!) of 3D printers / personal fabrication devices, just got a big boost in the form of $10 million from an 'all-star lineup.' Replicators, here we come!"

Submission + - Facebook Data Collection Under Fire Again (computerworld.com)

JohnBert writes: "A German privacy protection authority is calling on organizations there to close their Facebook fan pages and remove the social networking site's "Like" button from their websites, arguing that Facebook harvests data in violation of German and European Union law.

The Independent Centre for Privacy Protection (ULD), the privacy protection agency for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, issued a news release on Friday saying Facebook builds a broad, individualized profile for people who view Facebook content on third-party websites.

Data is sent back to Facebook's servers in the U.S., which the agency alleges violates the German Telemedia Act, the German Federal Data Protection Act and the Data Protection Act of Schleswig-Holstein. The agency alleges the data is held by Facebook for two years, and wants website owners in the state to remove links to Facebook by the end of next month or possibly face a fine."

NASA

Humanoid Robot Wakes In Space, Tweets 91

DeviceGuru writes to note that "Robonaut 2 (aka R2), the first humanoid robot to become a permanent resident of the International Space Station (ISS), was awakened from stasis this week after six months in orbit. R2s first words? 'Those electrons feel GOOD!' The success of R2's activation on the ISS paves the way for putting R2 through its first movements in orbit on Sept. 1, when R2 will be sent commands for moving its arms and hands. Assuming these and other tests proceed without a hitch, R2 will start assisting the ISS crew with simple tasks in 2012. Coffee? Tea? Cigarettes?"
Robotics

Submission + - SD cards: the cheap way to boost laptop storage (pcpro.co.uk)

Barence writes: "Many modern laptops come with only a limited capacity SSD that cost hundreds of pounds to upgrade. PC Pro has investigated whether SD cards make a cheaper alternative to upgrading your SSD. The biggest problem is that SD cards have limited number of guaranteed write cycles before the card risks failing, so they’re best considered for storing files you don’t update often – a media collection, for example. Read and write speeds are also much slower than those available from SSDs. Nevertheless, "if you’re after only a quick boost in capacity for non-critical files, the sheer convenience of being able to leave an SD card in the laptop at all times makes it a great way to save money," PC Pro concludes."

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