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Patents

Patent Troll Goes After Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, IBM, Others 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
zaba writes "A company named PersonalWeb Technologies has decided to sue a host of heavy players in the tech industry, including Apple, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo! for patents it holds related to data processing. They have a previous suit against other big names like Amazon, Google and HP. Anyone care to guess where the company is based or where the suits were filed?" The company is also targeting GitHub, but seems to have accidentally sued Rackspace — GitHub's host — instead. Rackspace has responded, saying, "It’s apparent that the people filing the suit don’t understand the technology or the products enough to realize that Rackspace Cloud Servers and GitHub are completely different products from different companies."
Crime

Feds Add 9 Felony Charges Against Swartz For JSTOR Hack 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the seeing-what-sticks dept.
Last year Aaron Swartz was indicted on four felony counts for allegedly stealing millions of academic journal articles from JSTOR. Today, Federal prosecutors piled on nine additional felony charges. The charges (PDF) are mostly covered under the 1984 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and are likely to test the legislation's limits. According to Wired, "The indictment accuses Swartz of repeatedly spoofing the MAC address — an identifier that is usually static — of his computer after MIT blocked his computer based on that number. The grand jury indictment also notes that Swartz didn't provide a real e-mail address when registering on the network. Swartz also allegedly snuck an Acer laptop bought just for the downloading into a closet at MIT in order to get a persistent connection to the network. Swartz allegedly hid his face from surveillance cameras by holding his bike helmet up to his face and looking through the ventilation holes when going in to swap out an external drive used to store the documents. Swartz also allegedly named his guest account 'Gary Host,' with the nickname 'Ghost.'"
Businesses

MS Office 2013 Pushing Home Users Toward Subscriptions 349

Posted by Soulskill
from the deposit-a-nickel-for-every-word-you-type dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports that Microsoft has announced pricing plans for Office 2013 that include a subscription-based model for home users. There will be a $100/year Home version that can be shared by up to 5 users and a $150/year Small Business version. 'Subscription software of one form or another has proven popular in the enterprise (whether it be cloud services, like Office 365, or subscriptions to desktop software, such as Microsoft's Software Assurance scheme). But so far it's a rarity in the consumer space. Anti-virus software has tried to bully and cajole users into getting aboard the subscription train, but the large number of users with out-of-date anti-viral protection suggests users are resisting. ... As another incentive to subscribe, and one that might leave a bad taste in the mouth, the company says that subscribers will be given unspecified "updates" to add new features and capabilities over the life of their subscription. Perpetual licensees will only get bug fixes and security updates.'"
AT&T

AT&T Facing Net Neutrality Complaint Over FaceTime Restrictions 95

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-packets-can-only-be-of-a-certain-shape dept.
Today several public interest groups, including Public Knowledge, announced plans to file a net neutrality complaint with the FCC over AT&T's restriction of FaceTime on iPads and iPhones. Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, "AT&T’s decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn’t need is a clear violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules. It’s particularly outrageous that AT&T is requiring this for iPad users, given that this device isn’t even capable of making voice calls. AT&T's actions are incredibly harmful to all of its customers, including the deaf, immigrant families and others with relatives overseas, who depend on mobile video apps to communicate with friends and family." The groups have sent a letter (PDF) to AT&T asking them to reconsider their policy. The communications giant has previously responded to complaints by proclaiming their transparency and saying that charging more for being able to use FaceTime over mobile broadband is a "reasonable restriction."
Businesses

How Big Pharma Hooked America On Legal Heroin 499

Posted by Soulskill
from the wrapped-it-in-a-cheeseburger dept.
pigrabbitbear writes "The active ingredient in OxyContin, oxycodone, isn't a new compound. It was originally synthesized in Germany in 1916. The patent on the medication had expired well before Purdue Pharma, a Stamford, Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company and the industry leader in pain medication, released it under the brand name in 1996. The genius of Purdue's continued foray into pain-management medication – they had already produced versions of hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, and hydrocodone – was twofold. They not only created a drug from an already readily available compound, but they were able to essentially re-patent the active ingredient by introducing a time-release element. Prior to the 1990s, strong opioid medications were not routinely given for miscellaneous or chronic, moderately painful conditions; the strongest classes of drugs were often reserved for the dying. But Purdue parlayed their time-release system not only into the patent for OxyContin. They also went on a PR blitz, claiming their drug was unique because of the time-release element and implied that it was so difficult to abuse that the risk of addiction was 'under 1%.'"
Technology

More Evidence That Multitasking Reduces Productivity 133

Posted by Soulskill
from the rub-belly-pat-head dept.
bdking writes "A recent study by a Louisiana State University psychology professor adds more evidence to the argument that the human brain is incapable of performing numerous tasks without memory and productivity loss. 'In four separate experiments, both local second-graders and LSU psychology students were shown words on a computer screen and instructed to remember them in the correct sequence. As the participants read the words, they also sometimes heard unrelated words in the headphones all were wearing. Adults in the LSU study showed a word recall performance drop of 10% on average, while the second-graders’ performance diminished by up to 30% on average.'"
China

Why Aircraft Carriers Still Rule the Oceans 718

Posted by Soulskill
from the dolphins-are-slow-to-innovate dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite being created during World War I, the modern carrier has evolved to be the pinnacle of modern warfare's best and most visible symbols of power. Nothing says 'show the flag' more than a carrier off an enemy's coast. Some, though, have called the carrier a 21st-century version of a battleship — high on looks and weapons but vulnerable to modern weapons. Critics note air-power killed the battleship; people now suggest super-sonic 'carrier-killer' missiles will make the carrier a relic of the past. With their cost in the billions of dollars, some point to killing off carriers as an obvious cost saving measure. Carriers though still have a lot of uses. Many navies, like India and China, are adding them to their arsenal, and they are still feared by many. While carriers might be old, they are a symbol of power that no missile or submarine below the surface can match yet."
Power

Fusion Power Breakthrough Near At Sandia Labs? 358

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An achievement that would have extraordinary energy and defense implications might be near at Sandia National Laboratories. The lab is testing a concept called MagLIF (Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion), which uses magnetic fields and laser pre-heating in the quest for energetic fusion. A paper by Sandia researchers that was accepted for publication states that the Z-pinch driven MagLIF fusion could reach 'high-gain' fusion conditions, where the fusion energy released greatly exceeds (by more than 1,000 times) the energy supplied to the fuel."
Google

Google Bans Online Anonymity While Patenting It 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the best-of-both-worlds dept.
theodp writes "'It's important to use your common name,' Google explains in its Google+ ground rules, 'so that the people you want to connect with can find you.' Using a 'secondary online identity,' the search giant adds, is a big Google+ no-no. 'There are lots of places where you can be anonymous online,' Betanews' Joe Wilcox notes. 'Google+ isn't one of them.' Got it. But if online anonymity is so evil, then what's the deal with Google's newly-awarded patent for Social Computing Personas for Protecting Identity in Online Social Interactions? 'When users reveal their identities on the internet,' Google explained to the USPTO in its patent application, 'it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment.' So what's Google's solution? Providing anonymity to social networking users via an 'alter ego' and/or 'anonymous identity.' So does Google now believe that there's a genuine 'risk of disclosing a user's real identity'? Or is this just a case of Google's left hand not knowing what its right hand is patenting?"
Android

Programming a Wearable Android Device 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-geordi's-advice dept.
CowboyRobot writes "Dr. Dobb's reviews an alternative to Google Glass and goes through the steps of coding your own Android-based Heads-Up Display. 'By tucking their 428x240 pixel WQVGA heads-up display in the lower right corner of ski goggles, Recon has effectively created an unobtrusive HUD with a decent 600 MHz ARM Cortex A8 processor running Android 2.3.3 (Eclair). Network connections can be made via a Bluetooth-paired Android smartphone.'"
Education

Ask Slashdot: Teaching Typing With Limited Electricity, Computers? 325

Posted by timothy
from the muscle-memory dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I am tasked with developing a service project to teach students in a Bangladeshi village how to type. The school has about 500 students, 12 computers donated to them in 2006, and a limited electricity supply. The students will be given job placement opportunities at a local firm in the city once they reach a certain proficiency. Therefore, we are trying to teach as many of them typing skills as possible. The problem: limited electricity, limited computers, many kids. I have some additional funding collected through donations. Instead of buying more computers, I am looking for a cost effective way that does not need a steady flow of electricity. I realize that to teach typing, I do not need a computer. I could achieve the same using a keyboard connected to a display. A solar powered calculator is a perfect example of a cheap device which has a numpad for input and an LCD for display. But so far I have not come across a device that has a qwerty keyboard and an LCD to display what's typed. I know there are some gaming keyboards that have LCDs built in but they are quite expensive. I am aiming to build a device that cost below USD 50. I considered using typewriters but they are in limited supply on the market. I also considered OLPC but it is double my anticipated budget. Do you have other suggestions?" Considering that (at least in China) sub-$50 Android tablets with capacitive screens are already here, I wish the Alphasmart line was cheaper, but apparently it currently starts at $169.
Handhelds

Leak Hints Windows 8 Tablets May Be Dearer Than Makes Sense 365

Posted by timothy
from the boutique-prices dept.
MrSeb writes "If, like me, you thought Microsoft would price Windows RT competitively, you were wrong: A leaked slide from Asus says that its Vivo Tab RT, due to be released alongside Windows RT at the end of October, will start at $600. Unbelievably, this is $100 more than the iPad 3, and a full $200 more than the iPad 2 or Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. For $600, you would expect some sensational hardware specs — but alas, that's sadly not the case. The Vivo Tab RT has a low-res 10.1-inch 1366×768 IPS display, quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, 2GB of RAM, NFC, 8-megapixel camera and that's about it. Like its Androidesque cousin, the Transformer, the Vivo Tab RT can be plugged into a keyboard/battery dock — but it'll cost you another $200 for the pleasure. (Curiously, the Transformer's docking station only costs $150 — go figure.)"
Verizon

Verizon Offers Free Tethering Because It Has To 180

Posted by timothy
from the but-watch-them-brag-how-nice-they-are dept.
jfruh writes "Most U.S. wireless carriers are trying to have it both ways on tethering or smartphones-as-hotspots — moving people from unlimited data plans to plans where they pay by the gigabyte, but then also charging them extra if they want to share the gigabytes they've paid for with other devices. But on Android phones on Verizon, at least, you can still tether, not because Verizon is trying to be more consumer friendly, but because, according to an FCC ruling, they agreed to allow it when they bought formerly public spectrum."
Cloud

How Sensors and Software Turn Farms Into Data Mines 62

Posted by timothy
from the counting-lo-the-ears-of-corn dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes that business intelligence tools have come to agribusiness, with farmers and cattle ranchers using many of the same tools found in numerous corporate cubicles, but fed by sensors you won't find in cubeland. "Machines (such as this one from DeLaval) keep track of all kinds of data about each cow, including the chemical properties of its milk, and flag when a particular cow is having problems or could be sick. The software can compare current data with historical patterns for the entire herd, and relate to weather conditions and other seasonal variations. Now a farmer can track his herd on his iPad without having to get out of bed, or even from another state. And Farmeron attempts to aggregate all farm-related data in a single Web portal. The company was started by Matija Kopi, the CEO who calls himself the 'Main Cowboy in the Saddle' and Marko Dukmeni, the CTO who is their Chief Tractor Hacker. They offer monthly accounts (starting at 25 cents per animal per month) to track animal physical characteristics along with milk production, medical treatments, and even particular feeding group schedules."
Encryption

W3C Releases First Working Draft of Web Crypto API 63

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the who-do-you-trust dept.
From David Dahl's weblog: "Good news! With a lot of hard work – I want to tip my hat to Ryan Sleevi at Google – the W3C Web Crypto API First Public Working Draft has been published. If you have an interest in cryptography or DOM APIs and especially an interest in crypto-in-the-DOM, please read the draft and forward any commentary to the comments mailing list: public-webcrypto-comments@w3.org" This should be helpful in implementing the Cryptocat vision. Features include a secure random number generator, key generation and management primitives, and cipher primitives. The use cases section suggests multi-factor auth, protected document exchange, and secure (from the) cloud storage: "When storing data with remote service providers, users may wish to protect the confidentiality of their documents and data prior to uploading them. The Web Cryptography API allows an application to have a user select a private or secret key, to either derive encryption keys from the selected key or to directly encrypt documents using this key, and then to upload the transformed/encrypted data to the service provider using existing APIs." Update: 09/19 00:01 GMT by U L : daviddahl commented: "I have built a working extension that provides 'window.mozCrypto', which does SHA2 hash, RSA keygen, public key crypto and RSA signature/verification, see: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/domcrypt/ and source: https://github.com/daviddahl/domcrypt I plan on updating the extension once the Draft is more settled (after a first round of commentary & iteration)"

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