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Slashback: Dry Mars, Wet Doc, Keyboard Teaser 159

Slashback tonight brings some corrections, clarifications, and updates to previous Slashdot stories, including a possible release date for the long awaited Optimus keyboard, yet another extension in the Blackberry court case, lakebed theory on Mars possibly all wet, US-CERT statistics perhaps not all they are cracked up to be, stem cell investigation reveals papers were faked, the FTC objects to the Netflix settlement, and a new Crossover Office fixes the WMF exploit among other things. Read on for details.

Optimus keyboard may have a real release date? Jacket writes to tell us that the much talked about Optimus keyboard has a suggestive message on their website. With "Good things come in small packages February 1, 2006" could it be possible that this holy grail (for some) keyboard could be available in our near future?

Yet another delay for Blackberry court case. ahsile writes " is reporting that 'NTP Inc., the company suing Research in Motion Ltd over the Blackberry e-mail service, wants more time to respond to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's preliminary rejections of its patents.'

Lakebed theory on Mars all wet? Sensible Clod writes "The Meridiani Planum region on Mars, long believed to have been covered with water millions of years ago, may not have been so wet after all, according to a new study from the University of Colorado at Boulder. From the article: 'The new study indicates chemical signatures in the bedrock, evidence for widespread, intermittent water at Mars' surface, may have instead been created by the reaction of sulfur-bearing steam vapors moving up through volcanic ash deposits. Known as Meridiani Planum, the region may have been more geologically similar to volcanic regions in parts of North America, Hawaii or Europe.'"

US-CERT statistics not all they are cracked up to be? jtshaw writes "Tectonic has an interesting article about the latest US-CERT stats. The actual vulnerabilities for a hand full of OS's after wading through the data: Microsoft Windows - 44, Apple Mac OS X - 21, IBM AIX - 21, HP-UX - 15, SCO Unix - 9, Red Hat Linux - 7, Suse Linux - 12, Debian Linux - 10, Gentoo Linux - 5, FreeBSD - 13, NetBSD - 2. It appears to me that commercial unix systems and open source *nix systems did pretty well compared to Windows on the vulnerability front."

Stem cell papers, confirmed fakes. An anonymous reader writes "The committee created to investigate stem cell researcher Hwang Woo Suk has confirmed that his first and second papers were faked. 'dashing hopes that his work is a breakthrough in treatments for diabetes and Parkinson's disease. [...] The panel backed Hwang's claim that he cloned the world's first dog.'"

FTC objects to Netflix settlement. AtariDatacenter writes "Although some question the validity of a recent lawsuit against Netflix, many users were up in arms about the terms of the settlement, which seemed like more of a marketing gimmick. Today, we learned that The Federal Trade Commission agreed, and asked the judge to reject the terms of the settlement."

New Crossover Office fixes,among other things, WMF exploit. ubuntuincleelum writes "Just on the heels of the announcement of new WMF security vulnerabilities Codeweavers is releasing Crossover Office 5.0.1. A bugfix release, this release features a fix for the original WMF bug. Among the changes in this release: Improved support for Gnome, improvements in Debian packaging and improvements in general for operability on Debian and Debian Derivatives."

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Slashback: Dry Mars, Wet Doc, Keyboard Teaser

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  • Optimus (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iMaple ( 769378 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @08:09PM (#14450272)
    Optimus keyboard may have a real release date

    Its highly unlikely that they will release a product by 1 Feb (a a resonable price , say $500). The price of high res OLED displays (required for each key!) is simple too expensive even now. Maybe we will see that in 2007. Notice that their site does not have a clear release date (which it would to hype up the launch).
  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <> on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @08:19PM (#14450327) Homepage
    With those buttons, it's going to be expensive. And everybody how most keyboards are nowadays: after a year or two of intense use, they're ruined. So, this Optimus better have mechanical keyswitches, or even hall effect sensors; or else, it'd be a waste of a good idea.
  • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @08:32PM (#14450410) Homepage Journal
    I had a dog long before this guy cloned one.

    Perhaps the submitted meant "the first to sucessfully clone a dog"

    Talking of dogs, you can sponsor the poor beggers here [] (after looking at the one I sponsor)

  • I dont see it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TwentyQuestions ( 945020 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @08:43PM (#14450467)
    I dont see that keyboard happening this year, maybe not at all.

    They obviously dont even have a protype worth photographing because all their pictures are CG.

    The whole thing makes me suspicious.

    It says "It will cost less than a good mobile phone". I really cant see that happening. The displays will cost alot, but the microcontrollers to make this thing be "OS-independent" would put it over $200-$300 alone I think.

    "It will most likely use the OLED technology (e-paper is sooo slow)."
    Its just a keyboard...If E-Ink is good enough and cheap enough for everything from Wristwatches( 63/2/ []) to EBook readers( -announce-us-e-book-reader/ []), I think it can do the job for a fairly static keyboard(less power usage too).

    Above of all to me the silliness on their answers page("Moscow is the capital of Russia." etc..) shows they arent very serious.
  • Re:Optimus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim Browse ( 9263 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @08:58PM (#14450556)
    It will most likely use the OLED technology (e-paper is sooo slow).

    Yeah, because I know I demand my keytop displays to be locked to a 60fps update, otherwise it breaks the illusion.

  • Re:I dont see it (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @09:19PM (#14450664)
    Above of all to me the silliness on their answers page("Moscow is the capital of Russia." etc..) shows they arent very serious.

    [ironic remark]yeah, i know what you mean... just like winamp... [] [/ ironic remark]
  • Re:Optimus (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Crudely_Indecent ( 739699 ) * on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @09:21PM (#14450674) Journal
    OK, 1 joke and 2 serious notes.

    Has anyone considered the ramifications of the "BLUE KEYBOARD OF DEATH" scenario when Windows halts with a BSOD.

    My first serious note is; Why hasn't Apple jumped on this like stink-on-poo. This seems like an item that would be right up their alley.

    Second; Depending on the SDK, of course, imagine writing applications that can modify the keyboard based on available program options.

    Scenario: Using `less`, the left and right keys are dimmed while the up arrow is red (indicating that you're at the top of the document) and the down arrow is flashing green with a number (indicating the number of rows remain in the document.) As you scroll down, the remaining lines decrease.

    If this gets popular, how long 'til spam infiltrates your keyboard? Where's my backspace key.....what the... \/1@6®/\
  • Re:Optimus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joshki ( 152061 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @11:46PM (#14451389)
    Does anyone actually look at their keyboard?? I can't remember the last time I even saw mine! Anyone who seriously uses a computer should be able to touch type, and I don't remember the last time I used an "email shortcut" key or anything like that. In all honesty, I can't even tell you what that key does in Linux at the moment -- I've never pressed it or any of the keys in that row. They're just detritus that I completely ignore. It sounds like your idea would be a neat toy, or maybe a training aide for someone who doesn't know emacs (though the tab key works pretty well to find the command you're looking for once you hit meta), but for a serious user I simply can't see any value added whatsoever. A keyboard is a simple tool designed to do a simple job -- input characters to the operating system. You start going beyond that and in my opinion, you wind up decreasing its usefulness.
  • Re:Optimus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shaka ( 13165 ) on Wednesday January 11, 2006 @11:55PM (#14451421)
    Well, I'm sure you are a great touch-typist. I'm pretty good, too. However, I'm talking about the other stuff you're able to use your keyboard for. In Photoshop, for instance, all those keys actually are shortcuts right now, but since most people - even someone like my ex-girlfriend who is a photographer and has spent years in school and work using Photoshop - don't know a fraction of the shortcuts available, they bring the mouse and wander away in the menus.

    The same thing with me and Eclipse or IntelliJ Idea - there are hundreds of shortcuts. Most of them are very valuable. But it's so damn hard to learn them because they are so many, most of them go unnoticed - to me anyway. Maybe you are different, but if I can use my keyboard for more, and my mouse for less, I will be a happy guy.

    And that thing about Emacs was a joke. I use vi.
  • by Losifer ( 49469 ) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @12:43AM (#14451625) Homepage

    It's not for typing.

    There are several applications that use an incredible number of essential [] keyboard shortcuts.

    I work at a video editing firm, and every Avid suite has a custom, color-coded keyboard. This sort of thing is very useful in non-typing situations. If it was context-sensitive, and would display the new commands when you go into, say, After Effects, your work would get done faster.

    This is for the video editor who switches between Avid and Final Cut Pro. Or the 3d animator who switches between 3DS Max and Lightwave. Or the photographer using both Photoshop and Aperture. Or one person using more than one of these programs.

  • by aduzik ( 705453 ) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @03:02AM (#14452139) Homepage
    That's true; a keyboard like this won't be of much use to someone who only uses a keyboard to type. However, certain applications exploit the keyboard so that the user won't have to move the mouse to choose tools and commands. Two good examples of this are Photoshop and Final Cut Pro. While I don't use FCP, I do use Photoshop and I know that not knowing the keyboard shortcuts really slows me down. It would be nice to be able to see what key to hit to switch tools or even to see what the modifier keys will do to the current tool.

    A friend of mine who does use FCP has a neat modified Apple Pro keyboard called the Logic Keyboard that replaces a number of the standard keycaps with color-coded keys labelled with icons from the program. Also, I could see gamers really latching onto this. The more complex games get, the more likely it is that you'll need a richer set of commands which are most easily accessed from the keyboard. Even the picture from the website shows the keyboard relabelled for Doom. If you play a lot of games this would be a godsend.

  • Re:Optimus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheCRAIGGERS ( 909877 ) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @10:30AM (#14453839)
    In Photoshop, for instance, all those keys actually are shortcuts right now, but since most people - even someone like my ex-girlfriend who is a photographer and has spent years in school and work using Photoshop - don't know a fraction of the shortcuts available, they bring the mouse and wander away in the menus.

    I don't see how this will help. Have you ever watched somebody new to computing do the "hunt and peck" when they're looking for the 'J' key? Just think, if they can't even see the 'J' key, which is ALWAYS in the same place, what are they going to do when their keys are all glowing shortcut icons that may change from app to app? Either they push the mouse through menus looking for the right command in photoshop, or their eyes glaze over looking for the right button on their keyboard.

    It *might* save time for people like your ex, who may be a power user, but just never took the time to learn the shortcuts... but I doubt it would be worth the price this keyboard is going to cost.

Happiness is twin floppies.