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[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 00:31:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Harlan Ellison Sues For "Star Trek" Episode

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Miracle Jones writes "The ever-quotable speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison has launched a lawsuit against Paramount and the Writer's Guild West for rights to residuals surrounding his famous and award winning 'City on the Edge of Forever' episode for the original Star Trek series. Ellison, recently featured in the documentary 'Dreams with Sharp Teeth,' said that 'The Trek fans who know my City screenplay understand just exactly why I'm bare-fangs-of-Adamantium about this.' Regarding his lawsuit, he had this to say: 'The arrogance, the pompous dismissive imperial manner of those who "have more important things to worry about," who'll have their assistant get back to you, who don't actually read or create, who merely "take" meetings, and shuffle papers — much of which is paper money denied to those who actually did the manual labor of creating those dreams — they refuse even to notice... until you jam a Federal lawsuit in their eye. To hell with all that obfuscation and phony flag-waving: they got my money. Pay me and pay off all the other writers from whom you've made hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars... from OUR labors... just so you can float your fat asses in warm Bahamian waters.'"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/Xt3p9R5e4G8/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 02:37:00 EDT from rss

Subject: 2.0 Beta Chrome On Windows, Chromium On Linux

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AlienRancher writes "Google launched this morning a new beta version of Chrome 2.0: 'The best thing about this new beta is speed — it's 25% faster on our V8 benchmark and 35% faster on the Sunspider benchmark than the current stable channel version and almost twice as fast when compared to our original beta version.' Other enhancements include user script support (greasemonkey-like) and form auto-fill." And reader Lee Mathews adds news of the open source version, Chromium, on Linux: "Not only has Chromium gotten easier to take for a test drive thanks to the personal package archive for Ubuntu Chrome daily build team, but development on the browser is also progressing nicely. Despite being a very early build, Chromium on Linux feels solid and boasts the same blazing speed the Windows users have been enjoying for months."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/qZaQi1ZVR30/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 04:41:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Card-Sniffing Malware On Diebold ATMs

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angry tapir writes "Diebold has released a security fix for its Opteva automated teller machines after cyber-criminals apparently broke into the systems at one or more businesses in Russia and installed malicious software. Diebold learned of the incident in January and sent out a global security update to its ATM customers using the Windows operating system. It is not releasing full details of what happened, including which businesses were affected, but said criminals had gained physical access to the machines to install their malicious program. Arrests have reportedly been made."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/8bcIQ0ntomE/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 06:45:00 EDT from rss

Subject: The Lightning Hybrid and the Inizio EV

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Mike writes "With auto show season hitting its stride, there's no shortage of incredible prototypes on display. First up is a brand new 100-mpg supercar by Lighting Hybrids. The biodiesel-fueled vehicle has its sights set on the automotive X prize and uses a hydraulic compression system to store energy from regenerative braking. Next, the Liv Inizio, a sleek fully-electric roadster that boasts a scorching top-speed of 150 mph and a 200-mile range, placing it in direct competition with the Tesla roadster."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/5qbFZT870n8/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 09:56:00 EDT from rss

Subject: UK Gov. Clueless About Own Internet Blacklist

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spge writes "Computer Shopper magazine has interviewed the UK Home Office about its relationship with the Internet Watch Foundation and discovered that the government doesn't actually know what the IWF does, although it still plans to force UK ISPs to subscribe to the IWF's blacklist. The main story makes for interesting reading, but the best bit is the full transcript of the interview. Short version: the IWF investigates suspected child porn websites and adds any it finds to a list that ISPs can use to block these sites; uk.gov wants ISPs to use this list; however, the IWF is not an official government organization, does not appear to have legal permission to view child pornography, and quite possibly is breaking the law by doing so."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/uu_9w3mFGVU/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 13:07:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Amazon Sued Over E-Book DRM Patent

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I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Discovery Communications, the parent company of the Discovery Channel, is alleging that Amazon's Kindle e-book reader infringes upon their patent for DRM-encumbered e-books (Discovery's complaint, PDF). The patent in question was filed back in 1999 and issued in 2007 — coincidentally one day after Kindle 1.0 went on the market — and has claims for DRM implemented with a great many particular symmetric key ciphers and key exchange algorithms, (the patent has 171 claims). Unlike most software patents, this one goes into quite a lot of detail about how the encryption is to be performed. But it will still be interesting to see if it can pass the 'machine or transformation' test now that In Re Bilski is being accepted as precedent. After all, it seems like all of these encryption and e-book distribution schemes could be run on a general-purpose PC, so is the 'invention' actually tied to a 'particular machine or apparatus' just because an e-book 'viewer' (not to mention 'home system', 'library', and 'kiosk') happens to be specified in the patent's claims? Or can the encryption of an e-book be claimed as some kind of 'transformation' when the law in that area is especially murky — when no one knows how In Re Bilski may affect the precedent of In Re Schrader?"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/EPFalAgjPHE/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 13:51:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Sun In Talks To Be Acquired By IBM

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gandhi_2 writes "Sun Microsystems soared in European trading after a report that it was in talks to be acquired by IBM. The Wall Street Journal, quoting "people familiar with the matter," reported Wednesday that International Business Machines was in talks to buy the company for at least $6.5 billion in cash, a premium of more than 100 percent over the company's closing share price Tuesday. Officials of Sun and IBM could not immediately be reached for comment."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/2g-zycOTk5o/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 14:29:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Did Bat Hitch a Ride To Space On Discovery?

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suraj.sun writes "A bat was seen clinging to the external fuel tank of the Space Shuttle Discovery before its launch on Sunday, apparently clung for dear life to the side of the tank as the spaceship lifted off. The shuttle accelerates to an orbital velocity of 17,500 milers per hour, which is 25 times faster than the speed of sound, in just over eight minutes. That's zero to 100 mph in 10 seconds. Did it make it into space? No one knows yet. But photos of Discovery as it cleared the launch tower showed a tiny speck on the side of the tank. When those photos were blown up, it became apparent that the speck was a bat."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/yKWE_KQZ7f0/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 15:15:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Internet-Caused Mistrials Are On the Rise

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The NYTimes is running a tip-of-the-iceberg story about how the age of Google is resulting in more mistrials as the traditional rules of evidence, honed over many centuries, collide with the always-on Internet. Especially when jurors carry the always-on Internet in their pockets. (We discussed one such case recently.) "The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges. ... Jurors are not supposed to seek information outside of the courtroom. They are required to reach a verdict based on only the facts the judge has decided are admissible, and they are not supposed to see evidence that has been excluded as prejudicial. But now, using their cellphones, they can look up the name of a defendant on the Web or examine an intersection using Google Maps, violating the legal system's complex rules of evidence."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/Wo1Fli3_E-M/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 15:57:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Believable Stupidity In Game AI

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Gamsutra is running a feature written by Mick West, co-founder of Neversoft, about creating game AI that is dumb enough to defeat, yet intelligent enough that its "mistakes" are similar to those a real player would make, thus preserving the illusion that the AI is not just throwing the game. "The simplest way to introduce stupidity into AI is to reduce the amount of computation that it's allowed to perform. Chess AI generally performs billions of calculations when deciding what move to make. ... The problem with this approach is that it decreases the realism of the AI player. When you reduce the amount of computation, the AI will begin to make incredibly stupid mistakes — mistakes that are so stupid, no human would ever make them. The artificial nature of the game will then become apparent, which destroys the illusion of playing against a real opponent. ... By reducing the amount of computation, we create an AI opponent that is trying to win, but has been crippled in a way that leads to unrealistic gameplay."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/EVljOTXxVvU/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 16:40:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional 2nd Ed

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r3lody writes "An extremely large amount of the information we get on a daily basis comes from what we see. Imagery is therefore very important to those who want to communicate with us. When computers had advanced enough to be able to process images in a digital fashion, the market opened up for programs that could manipulate them in many ways. While many professionals would opt for the paid programs, there is a free alternative: GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program). The only stumbling block is learning how to use it properly. That is where Beginning GIMP: From Novice to Professional, Second Edition by Akkana Peck comes in." Read below for the rest of Ray's review.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/z2oEeHcHY2w/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 17:20:00 EDT from rss

Subject: EPIC Urges FTC To Investigate Google Services

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snydeq writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a 15-page complaint asking the FTC to force Google to stop offering online services that collect data until the presence of adequate privacy safeguards is verified. The EPIC also wants Google to disclose all data loss or breach incidents, citing several incidents where data held by Google was at risk, the most recent of which occurred earlier this month with its Google Docs. The EPIC complaint [PDF] also listed other security flaws in Gmail and Google Desktop, a desktop indexing program, and urged Google to donate $5 million to a public fund that will support research into technologies such as encryption, data anonymization and mobile location privacy." EPIC has raised privacy concerns about Google before, and about Windows XP as well.

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/qfLAQoGedMk/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 18:03:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Flying Car Passes First Flight Test

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waderoush writes "Terrafugia — the Massachusetts company building a 'roadable aircraft' (that's flying car to you and me) — revealed at a press conference Wednesday that the Transition vehicle has been taken aloft for its maiden flight. The craft, which can fly up to 460 miles at 115 mph and then fold up its wings for 65-mph highway driving, was the subject of two hotly debated Slashdot posts on May 8 and May 13 of last year. The company said the first flight took place in Plattsburgh, NY; retired Air Force Colonel Phil Meteer was at the controls."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/PPQuWLtiRQE/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 18:41:00 EDT from rss

Subject: The Emerging Science of DNA Cryptography

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KentuckyFC writes "Since the mid 90s, researchers have been using DNA to carry out massively parallel calculations which threaten encryption schemes such as DES. Now one researcher says that if DNA can be used to attack encryption schemes, it can also protect data too. His idea is to exploit the way information is processed inside a cell to encrypt it. The information that DNA holds is processed in two stages in a cell. In the first stage, called transcription, a DNA segment that constitutes a gene is converted into messenger RNA (mRNA) which floats out of the nucleus and into the body of the cell. Crucially, this happens only after the noncoding parts of the gene have been removed and the remaining sequences spliced back together." (More below.)

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/M-U78t-E_HM/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 19:32:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Linux Foundation Asks Who Says "I'm Linux" Best

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An anonymous reader writes "Everyone has seen Apple's clever 'I'm a Mac' ads, and Microsoft's attempted responses, first with Jerry Seinfeld, and next with 'I'm a PC.' The Linux Foundation tries to fire back with its community-generated 'We're Linux' video contest: all of the eligible videos have now been submitted and are ready to be voted on. Thankfully, the quality of Linux is much higher than the quality of some of these entries: entries range from the hilarious but inappropriate, to the well-made but creepy, to the 'I'm sure it sounded good in your head.' Thankfully, there are one or two that could actually be real commercials."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/kiK7ctjOoqc/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 18:59:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Study Finds the Pious Fight Death Hardest

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Stanislav_J writes "A US study suggests that people with strong religious beliefs appear to want doctors to do everything they can to keep them alive as death approaches. The study, following 345 patients with terminal cancer, found that 'those who regularly prayed were more than three times more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care than those who relied least on religion.' At first blush, this appears paradoxical; one would think that a strong belief in an afterlife would lead to a more resigned acceptance of death than nonbelievers who view death as the end of existence, the annihilation of consciousness and the self. Perhaps the concept of a Judgment produces death-bed doubts? ('Am I really saved?') Or, given the Judeo-Christian abhorrence of suicide, and the belief that it is God who must ultimately decide when it is 'our time,' is it felt that refusing aggressive life support measures or resuscitation is tantamount to deliberately ending one's life prematurely?"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/-n4ffrUS1Ts/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 20:20:00 EDT from rss

Subject: UK Gov't May Track All Facebook Traffic

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Jack Spine writes "The UK government, which is becoming increasingly Orwellian, has said that it is considering snooping on all social networking traffic including Facebook, MySpace, and bebo. This supposedly anti-terrorist measure may be proposed as part of the Intercept Modernisation Programme according to minister Vernon Coaker, and is exactly the sort of deep packet inspection web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee warned about last week. The measure would get around the inconvenience for the government of not being able to snoop on all UK web traffic."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/oucIq4eB9lg/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 21:11:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Choruss Pitching Bait and Switch On P2P Music Tax

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An anonymous reader writes "A few months back, Warner Music Group started pitching universities on the idea of a new program where they would pay a chunk of money to an organization named Choruss to provide "covenants not to sue" those students for file sharing, leading many in the press to claim that the record labels are looking to license ISPs to let users file share. Even the EFF has called it a "promising new approach". However, the details are quite troubling and suggest that the plan is really a bait-and-switch idea." (More below.)

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/jK4SGi_M_Jg/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 22:00:00 EDT from rss

Subject: How To Get High-Schoolers Involved In Real Science?

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Wellington Grey writes "I'm a physics teacher and have been wondering what ways it's possible to get students to participate in or donate to real science projects. I encourage my students to help out with things like Galaxy Zoo (which has just released a new version) and to get them to install BOINC on their personal computers. Do Slashdotters out there have any other suggestions that would be appropriate for the 11-18 age range? Extra credit if you can think of a way that I can track their progress so that I can give them extra credit."

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/pFv1sgg9ulM/article.pl

[#] Wed Mar 18 2009 22:44:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Google Returns Chrome To Beta, Touts Speed Boost

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CWmike writes "Google yesterday reversed its decision to ditch the beta label from its Chrome browser, saying it is restoring the moniker to some builds to get faster feedback to developers. 'Since we took the 'beta' tag off Google Chrome in December, we've been updating two release channels: developer and stable,' said Brian Rakowski, a Chrome product manager, in a new blog Google kicked off on Tuesday. 'With our latest release, we're re-introducing the beta channel for some early feedback.' The first beta, Chrome 2.0.169.1, includes several new features, said Rakowski, and it boasts a significant speed increase over the current stable version of the browser, 1.0.154.48. According to Google's tests, the beta is 35% faster than the stable build when measured by the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark suite, and 25% faster on the company's own V8 tests."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/si6ZVgS_Syo/article.pl

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