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Apple Patents Alternative To NFC 171

another random user sends word that a set of newly-granted Apple patents published by the USPTO includes an alternative to the near field communication (NFC) technology that has begun to pop up in mobile devices. From the article: "Apple has received a Granted Patent relating to techniques for triggering a process within a portable electronic device that identifies itself for purposes of establishing communications with another device that is in proximity. At the moment, NFC is the technology that's getting all of the attention lately in respect to making it easier for two mobile devices to share information. While Apple is likewise doing research with NFC, they're also working with an alternate methodology for which they've now gained a patent for. In accordance with Apple's newly granted patent, a method for network device discovery monitors a compass output in a portable electronic device. As the portable device and an external device come closer to each other, a magnetic field signature is computed based on the monitored compass output. A determination is then made as to whether the computed signature could be associated with or implies that a previously defined type of electronic device (with which a network device discovery process can be conducted) is in close proximity. In other words, as the two devices come closer to each other, their respective magnetic characteristics cause the compass output to change in a way that implies that a network device discovery process should be initiated between the two devices."

Comment Re:Horsecrap indeed (Score 1) 273

While I like your cornfield metaphor, I'm not sure it captures the truth. There are many talented lawyers working in the class action field, and arbitration agreements are almost universally accepted as a 'pro-business' stance that courts have made over the past decade: the courts realize that unless you create a forum that is favorable to corporate interests (Arbitration Companies) and allow contract offerors to funnel disputes into them, the companies that handily pay gross receipts tax to states will have less money, and the courts will have less money after devoting more of their time to cases that will get removed to federal court anyway. So in the end, it's politics, not legal skills, that are the determinant here.

Comment uh... (Score 2) 20

Isn't this article the same one that came out to accompany google's "ngrams" ( lab? I don't think these guys are trying to make generalizations about culture in general; they are only raising the possibility that, even with a small (4% of the total published) sample, interesting queries and surveys of human (although in this case Anglophone) culture can be made.

Comment exaggerations sell newspapers (Score 1) 530

Apple et. al. will do with the carriers just what they did with the music licensing companies: pay them off. Consumers will need to be taught that an iPad with 4g connectivity is actually worth $1500 instead of $500, but they are a docile sort, ready to accept any script Jobs reads. The real danger is that the American consumer will not have the money when the time comes to pay up; but that's a non-start.

"Road Trains" Ready To Roll 318

clickclickdrone writes to mention that "road trains," a system linking vehicles together via wireless sensors, could soon be rolled out in Europe. The system is designed primarily for cutting fuel consumption, travel time, and congestion. "Funded under the European Commission's Framework 7 research plan, Sartre (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) is aimed at commuters in cars who travel long distances to work every day but will also look at ways to involve commercial vehicles. Tom Robinson, project co-ordinator at engineering firm Ricardo, said the idea was to use off-the-shelf components to make it possible for cars, buses and trucks to join the road train."

Warner Music Pulls Videos Off YouTube 237

iammani writes with this excerpt from Reuters: "Warner Music Group ordered YouTube on Saturday to remove all music videos by its artists from the popular online video-sharing site after contract negotiations broke down. ... The talks fell apart early on Saturday because Warner wants a bigger share of the huge revenue potential of YouTube's massive visitor traffic. There were no reports on what Warner was seeking. 'We simply cannot accept terms that fail to appropriately and fairly compensate recording artists, songwriters, labels and publishers for the value they provide,' Warner said in a statement." Warner's deal with YouTube to make those videos available came just prior to YouTube's acquisition by Google.

Plasma Plants Vaporize Trash While Creating Energy 618

Jason Sahler writes "Recently St. Lucie County in Florida announced that it has teamed up with Geoplasma to develop the United States' first plasma gasification plant. The plant will use super-hot 10,000 degree Fahrenheit plasma to effectively vaporize 1,500 tons of trash each day, which in turn spins turbines to generate 60MW of electricity — enough to power 50,000 homes!"

Philosophy and Computer Science Revisited 204

Soren Kierkegaard writes "While reading the two-and-a-half-year-old Slashdot post on Does Philosophy have a role in Computer Science, it occurred to me that over these past few years Philosophy has a more prominent role in Computer Science then ever before. Cognitive Science and Computer Ethics are more established disciplines in universities, and the numbers of philosophy graduates double majoring in computer science and information systems are climbing. Is a merger of Philosophy, a discipline steeped in history and intelligent thought, and Computer Science, a discipline that looks to the future, the best of both worlds?"

Cell Phone For the Blind? 141

brigc writes "Here's one that's got me stumped. A friend of mine who is blind asked me for help tracking down a cell phone for him. He's interested in a flip phone with well-defined separations between the keys, and as much voice control as possible. Battery life is the only other thing he mentioned. Preferably something that would work on AT&T's network in the US. We spent part of the afternoon in a local AT&T store checking out all the flip phones they had and didn't find one he really loved. Anyone have any ideas?" There was a story some months back about a phone that would read to you by interpreting pictures from the built-in camera, but it doesn't have much information about usability. I'm sure it'd be handy to have some sort of text-to-speech option for common cell phone features like caller ID and text messaging, or even just reading menu names.

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