Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes with "a response to some of the objections raised to my last article, about a design for a distributed social networking protocol, which would allow for decentralized (and censorship-resistant) hosting of social networking accounts, while supporting all of the same features as sites like Facebook." Social networking is no longer new; whether you consider it to have started with online communities in the mid-90s or with the beginnings of sites many people still use today. As its popularity has surged, it has grown in limited ways; modern social networks have made communication between users easier, but they've also made users easier to market to advertisers as well. There's no question that the future of social networking holds more changes that can both help and harm users — perhaps something like what Bennett suggests could serve to mitigate that harm. Read on for the rest of his thoughts.
Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook
Hugh Pickens writes "An article by Ross Andersen makes note of Freeman Dyson's prediction in 1960 that every civilization in the Universe eventually runs out of energy on its home planet, a major hurdle in a civilization's evolution. Dyson argued that all those who leap over it do so in precisely the same way: they build a massive collector of starlight, a shell of solar panels to surround their home star. Last month astronomers began a two-year search for Dyson Spheres, a search that will span the Milky Way, along with millions of other galaxies. The search is funded by a sizable grant from the Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization that funds research on the 'big questions' that face humanity, questions relating to 'human purpose and ultimate reality.' Compared with SETI, a search for Dyson Spheres assumes that the larger the civilization, the more energy it uses and the more heat it re-radiates. If Dyson Spheres exist, they promise to give off a very particular kind of heat signature, a signature that we should be able to see through our infrared telescopes. 'A Dyson Sphere would appear very bright in the mid-infrared,' says project leader Jason Wright. 'Just like your body, which is invisible in the dark, but shines brightly in mid-infrared goggles.' A civilization that built a Dyson Sphere would have to go to great lengths to avoid detection, building massive radiators that give off heat so cool it would be undetectable, a solution that would involve building a sphere that was a hundred times larger than necessary. 'If a civilization wants to hide, it's certainly possible to hide,' says Wright, 'but it requires massive amounts of deliberate engineering across an entire civilization.'"
ananyo writes "Japanese researchers have coaxed mouse stem cells into becoming viable eggs that produce healthy offspring. Last year, the same team successfully used mouse stem cells to make functional sperm (other groups have produced sperm cells in vitro). The researchers used a cocktail of growth factors to transform stem cells into egg precursors. When they added these egg precursor cells to embryonic ovary tissue that did not contain sex cells, the mixture spontaneously formed ovary-like structures, which they then grafted onto natural ovaries in female mice. After four weeks, the stem-cell-derived cells had matured into oocytes. The team removed the oocytes from the ovaries, fertilized them and transplanted the embryos into foster mothers. The offspring that were produced grew up to be fertile themselves."
another random user writes with news of a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, which looked into the environmental impact of electric vehicles — not just how they do when driven, but how they are produced and by what means they are charged. The study pointed out that the production of EVs has twice as much of an environmental impact as the production of typical gas-powered cars, which must be taken into account when comparing the two. Also, they say it's important to consider the source of the electricity used to charge the vehicles. In places like Europe, where a good chunk of the electricity comes from renewable sources, EVs do indeed provide a benefit to the environment. However, "In regions where fossil fuels are the main sources of power, electric cars offer no benefits and may even cause more harm." The study says, "It is counterproductive to promote electric vehicles in regions where electricity is primarily produced from lignite, coal or even heavy oil combustion."
On the anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, reader SternisheFan sends in a story from CNN about how the Apple co-founder's legacy has changed since then. "... in the 12 months since, as high-profile books have probed Jobs' life and career, that reputation has evolved somewhat. Nobody has questioned Jobs' seismic impact on computing and our communication culture. But as writers have documented Jobs' often callous, controlling personality, a fuller portrait of the mercurial Apple CEO has emerged. 'Everyone knows that Steve had his "rough" side. That's partially because he really did have a rough side and partially because the rough Steve was a better news story than the human Steve,' said Ken Segall, author of Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success.' ... In Steve Jobs, Isaacson crafted a compelling narrative of how Jobs' co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak, got pushed out of the struggling company a decade later and then returned in the late 1990s to begin one of the most triumphant second acts in the annals of American business. But he also spent many pages chronicling the arrogant, cruel behavior of a complicated figure who could inspire people one minute and demean them the next. According to the book, Jobs would often berate employees whose work he didn't like. He was notoriously difficult to please and viewed people and products in black and white terms. They were either brilliant or 'sh-t.' 'Among Apple employees, I'd say his reputation hasn't changed one bit. If anything, it's probably grown because they've realized how central his contributions were,' Lashinsky said. 'History tends to forgive people's foibles and recognize their accomplishments. When Jobs died, he was compared to Edison and Henry Ford and to Disney. I don't know what his place will be in history 30, 40, 50 years from now. And one year is certainly not enough time (to judge).'" Apple has posted a tribute video on their homepage today.
cylonlover writes "NASA launched a strategic partnership with location-based social networking site foursquare in 2010 with the first-ever check-in from the International Space Station (ISS) by astronaut Doug Wheelock. Now the space agency has gone one better with the first check-in on another planet thanks to its Curiosity Mars rover. Since fellow foursquare users will have a hard time checking in on the Red Planet themselves, they'll instead be able to earn a Curiosity-themed badge for visiting locations relating to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The badge will be available later this year and is designed to spark the scientific curiosity of foursquare users by encouraging them to visit science centers, laboratories and museums."
An anonymous reader writes "Hitachi, in collaboration with Nippon Signal and the University of Yamanashi, have successfully prototyped a boarding gate with built-in explosives detection equipment as part of efforts to increase safety in public facilities such as airports. The prototype boarding gate efficiently collects minute particles which have affixed themselves to IC cards or portable devices used as boarding passes, and can detect within 1-2 seconds the presence of explosive compounds using internalized equipment. With this method, it is possible to inspect 1,200 passengers per hour."
First time accepted submitter bmxeroh writes "Remember the tragic maple syrup heist? Police have seized more than 600 barrels of maple syrup they say are related to the missing syrup. It was transported back to Quebec via a 16 tractor trailer, heavily guarded (and presumably heavily armed) convoy Wednesday."
An anonymous reader writes "Hundreds of cyber security experts from across the EU are testing their readiness to combat cyber-attacks in a day-long simulation across Europe today. In Cyber Europe 2012, 400 experts from major financial institutions, telecoms companies, internet service providers and local and national governments across Europe are facing more than 1200 separate cyber incidents (including more than 30 000 emails) during a simulated DDoS campaign. The exercise is testing how they would respond and co-operate in the event of sustained attacks against the public websites and computer systems of major European banks. If real, such an attack would cause massive disruption for millions of citizens and businesses across Europe, and millions of euros of damage to the EU economy."
judgecorp writes "Each generation of smartphones actually has more dropped calls and worse battery life than the last, because antenna design has fallen behind, says Edinburgh-based Sofant Technologies. The firm has made a tunable, steerable RF antenna using micro-electro-mechanical-system (MEMS) which it says will change all that. It's based on research from Edinburgh University and is designed to get the best out of LTE/4G."
assertation writes "A few weeks ago an article was posted to Slashdot referring to a Stanford Study stating that organic produce, contrary to popular belief is not more nutritious. According to Mark Bitman of The New York times the Stanford study was flawed. A spelling error skewed the results as well as the study ignoring several types of nutrients."
chicksdaddy writes "Google could tell you about its privacy practices except, well....they're private. That's the conclusion privacy advocates are drawing after the Federal Trade Commission took a black marker to an independent audit of the company's privacy practices before releasing it to the group EPIC in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Security Ledger is reporting that the FTC released a copy of a Price Waterhouse Coopers audit of Google that was mandated as part of a settlement with the FTC over complaints following a 2010 complaint by EPIC over privacy violations in Google Buzz, a now-defunct social networking experiment. However, the agency acceded to Google requests to redact descriptions of the search giant's internal procedures and the design of its privacy program."
An anonymous reader writes "The CIA's investment fund, In-Q-Tel, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have invested $30 million in a Canadian company that claims to build quantum computers, reports Technology Review in a detailed story on why that startup, D-Wave, appears to be attracting serious interest after years of skepticism from experts. A spokesman for In-Q-Tel says that intelligence agencies 'have many complex problems that tax classical computing architecture,' a feeling apparently strong enough to justify a bet on a radically different, and largely unproven, approach to computing."
Revotron writes "Readers of Entertainment Weekly might be shocked to find their magazine is a good bit heavier than normal this week. US-based broadcaster CW placed an ad in Entertainment Weekly which uses a fully-functional 3G Android device, a T-Mobile SIM card, and a specialized app to display short video advertisements along with the CW Twitter feed. Writers at Mashable were willing to geek out with a Swiss Army knife and a video camera to give us all the gory details as they tore it down piece-by-piece to discover the inner workings of CW's new ad."
Dr. Gamera writes "Maine state senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz plays World of Warcraft. The opposing party in Maine has issued a press release attacking her for her Level 85 Orc Assassination Rogue. From the article: 'In an unusual press release issued Thursday, the Maine GOP attacked Lachowicz for a “bizarre double life” in which she’s a devotee of the hugely popular online role-playing game World of Warcraft. In the game, she’s “Santiaga,” an "orc assassination rogue" with green skin, fangs, a Mohawk and pointy ears.' Her incumbent, much to his credit, rejects the attack as 'mudslinging politics.'"