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Technology

Smart Ice Cubes Tell When You've Had Enough Alcohol 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the slow-down dept.
dstates writes "In just 6 weeks an MIT researcher created smart ice cubes that monitor your drinking. After an alcohol induced blackout motivated a bit of introspection (video), Dhairya Dand pulled together a coin cell battery, an ATtiny microcontroller, and an IR transceiver molded into gelatin to create self-aware glowing ice-cubes. The cubes glow and beat to the ambient music, but more importantly, they know how fast and how much you are drinking, and they change color from green to orange to finally red as you reach your safe limit. If things go too far, the ice cubes can connect to your smartphone and send a text message for a friend come get you. Of course, you have to remember not to swallow them."
Businesses

Warner Bros Secures Commercial Control of Superman 196

Posted by samzenpus
from the faster-than-a-speeding-cease-and-desist dept.
AliasMarlowe writes "Warner Bros have won an important legal victory over the heirs of one of the creators of Superman, giving it total commercial control of the superhero. An appeals panel unanimously ruled that Jerome Siegel's heirs must abide by a 2001 letter accepting Warner's offer for their 50% share of Superman. The letter was never formally turned into a contract, but the Judge considered that it represented an oral agreement, which was binding. Warner Brothers now owns 100% of the Superman franchise."
Businesses

Why Do Entrepreneurs Innovate Better Than Managers? 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the coffee-is-for-innovators! dept.
netbuzz writes "New research from MIT suggests that entrepreneurs innovate better than managers not because they try more often but rather because when they do try they apply more of their available brainpower to the task. 'We found, somewhat surprisingly, that managers and entrepreneurs did not differ in the probability with which they would undertake explorative (potentially innovative) courses of action. But when entrepreneurs did select explorative tasks, they used both the left and right sides of the frontal cortex of their brain whereas managers only used their left parts of the frontal cortex,' says the lead researcher, MIT Sloan School of Management Visiting Prof. Maurizio Zollo. This is an important difference, he notes, 'because the right side of the frontal cortex is associated with creative thinking, involving to a larger extent emotional processes, whereas the left side is associated with rational decision-making and logic.'"
Microsoft

Samsung Won't Release Windows RT Tablet In US 176

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-for-you dept.
New submitter sandoval88419 writes "During CES the U.S. head of Samsung Tablet business announced they won't release Windows RT devices in the U.S. Explanations are low demand, heavy investment to educate the consumer on the differences between windows RT and 8 and more importantly the effort to keep a low retail price with the Microsoft offering. "
Robotics

Telepresence Robot Rundown 51

Posted by samzenpus
from the compare-and-contrast dept.
DeviceGuru writes "A handful of innovative high-tech startups have recently emerged to create a new market: remote telepresence robots. With one of these robotic Avatars, you can wander around in the remote environment, chatting with coworkers and managers, attending meetings, and solving problems encountered through those interactions. InformationWeek's Telepresence Robot Smackdown compares five such bots — the MantaroBot TeleMe, VGo Communications VGo, Anybots QB, Suitable Technologies Beam, and Revolve Robotics Kubi — and includes short videos demonstrating each. As the article concludes, 'bear in mind that what we're witnessing here is the emergence of a new industry; and if Moore's Law applies here as it does to so many IT spheres, it won't be long before these gadgets are inexpensive, commonplace, and far more flexible and intelligent."
Crime

US Attorney Chided Swartz On Day of Suicide 656

Posted by samzenpus
from the rest-in-peace dept.
theodp writes "The e-mail that Defendant Swartz's supplemental memorandum (pdf) cites as paramount to his fifth motion to suppress [evidence against him] is relevant, but not nearly as important as he tries to make it out to be,' quipped United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz (pdf) in a court filing made on the same day Aaron Swartz committed suicide. In the 1-7-2011 e-mail Ortiz refers to, which was not produced for Swartz until Dec. 14th — almost two years after his 1-6-2011 arrest — a Secret Service agent reported to the Assistant U.S. Attorney that he was 'prepared to take custody anytime' of Swartz's laptop, although no one had yet sought a warrant to search the computer. In Prosecutor as Bully, Larry Lessig laments, 'They [JSTOR] declined to pursue their own action against Aaron, and they asked the government to drop its. MIT, to its great shame, was not as clear, and so the prosecutor had the excuse he needed to continue his war against the "criminal" who we who loved him knew as Aaron.' Swartz's family also had harsh words for MIT and prosecutors: 'Decisions made by officials in the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney's office and at MIT contributed to his death. The US Attorney's office pursued an exceptionally harsh array of charges, carrying potentially over 30 years in prison, to punish an alleged crime that had no victims. Meanwhile, unlike JSTOR, MIT refused to stand up for Aaron.' With MIT President Emeritus Charles M. Vest currently serving as a Trustee of JSTOR parent Ithaka as well as a Trustee of The MIT Corporation, one might have expected MIT to issue a statement similar to the let's-put-this-behind-us one JSTOR made on the Swartz case back in 2011."
Displays

Touchscreen Laptops, Whether You Like Them Or Not 398

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-the-people-what-they-may-or-may-not-want dept.
An anonymous reader writes "With CES all wrapped up, an article at CNET discusses a definite trend in the laptops on display from various manufacturers this year: touchscreens. Intel and Microsoft are leading the way, and attempting to grab the industry's reins as well: '... just to make sure the touch message was crystal clear, Intel issued an edict to PC partners during its CES keynote: all next-generation ultrabooks based on its "Haswell" chip must be touch.' With tablets and detachable/convertible computers coming into the mainstream, it seems the manufacturers have something to gain by condensing their production options. The article says, 'What does that mean to consumers? Your next laptop will likely be touch, whether you like it or not.'"
Games

Why You Shouldn't Design Games Through Analytics 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-you-are-bad-at-math dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Game designer Tadhg Kelly writes at TechCrunch about a trend many gamers have noticed over the past decade: designers increasingly relying on statistics — and only statistics — to inform their design decisions. You know the type; the ones who'll change the background color if they think it'll eke out a few more players, or the ones who'll scrap interesting game mechanics in favor of making the game more easily understandable to a broader market. Naturally, this leads to homogenization and boring games. Kelly says, 'Obsessed with measuring everything and therefore defining all of their problems in numerical terms, social game makers have come to believe that those numbers are all there is, and this is why they cannot permit themselves to invent. Like TV people, they are effectively in search of that one number that will explain fun to them. There must, they reason, be some combination of LTV and ARPU and DAU and so on that captures fun, like hunting for the Higgs boson. It must be out there somewhere. ... Unlike every other major game revolution (arcade, console, PC, casual, MMO, etc.), social game developers have proved consistently unable to understand that fun is dynamic in this way. ... They are hunting for the fun boson, but it does not exist.'"
Programming

Learn Basic Programming So You Aren't At the Mercy of Programmers 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-are-occasionally-benevolent-dictators dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Derek Sivers, creator of online indie music store CD Baby, has a post about why he thinks basic programming is a useful skill for everybody. He quotes a line from a musician he took guitar lessons from as a kid: "You need to learn to sing. Because if you don't, you're always going to be at the mercy of some a****** singer." Sivers recommends translating that to other areas of life. He says, 'The most common thing I hear from aspiring entrepreneurs is, "I have this idea for an app or site. But I'm not technical, so I need to find someone who can make it for me." I point them to my advice about how to hire a programmer, but as most of the good ones are already booked solid, it's a pretty helpless position to be in. If you heard someone say, "I have this idea for a song. But I'm not musical, so I need to find someone who will write, perform, and record it for me." — you'd probably advise them to just take some time to sit down with a guitar or piano and learn enough to turn their ideas into reality. And so comes my advice: Yes, learn some programming basics. Just some HTML, CSS, and JavaScript should be enough to start. ... You don't need to become an expert, just know the basics, so you're not helpless.'"
Power

Geothermal Power Advances 168

Posted by Soulskill
from the hot-rocks-level-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A group of geothermal power engineers have created three reservoirs from a single well in a place where none existed previously. This is a breakthrough for Enhanced Geothermal System technology — people who need power often can't choose a spot where there happens to be a geothermal reservoir, and EGS could allow us to create them where needed. 'Last fall, engineers pumped cold water into the ground, cracking open fissures in the deep rock, a process known as hydroshearing. They then sealed one reservoir from the other using a new technology. They injected ground-up recycled plastic bottles, which plugged up the cracks in one reservoir while millions of gallons of cold water were being pumped in to create another. Then the plastic diffused, leaving behind three reservoirs. ... The U.S. Department of Energy, which is covering half the $43.8 million cost of the Newberry project, says if the initial indications hold up, the Newberry project would mark the first time in the world that multiple geothermal reservoirs have been created on purpose from a single well in a new area.'"
Cellphones

Smartphones: Life's Remote Control 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-there-were-a-mute-button-for-other-people dept.
An anonymous reader writes "This year's Consumer Electronics Show has shown off more interconnected devices than I would know what to do with. Not only are existing devices I use getting modern, Internet-connected interfaces (cars, ovens, and security systems, for example), but companies are now putting out addons for smartphones that replace existing ones (blood pressure and glucose monitors, for instance. An article at the NY Times points out that the smartphone is quickly becoming life's remote control — a portal through with you'll soon be able to control far more of your electric devices than you might expect (or care to). 'For several years, technology companies have promised the dream of the connected home, the connected body and the connected car. Those connections have proved illusory. But in the last year app-powered accessories have provided the mechanism to actually make the connections. That is partly because smartphones have become the device people never put down. But it is also because wireless sensors have become smaller, cheaper and ubiquitous.'"
Australia

Australian Spy Agency Seeks Permission To Hack Third-Party Computers 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-are-doing-it-wrong dept.
New submitter LordLucless writes "ASIO, Australia's spy agency, is pushing for the ability to lawfully hijack peoples' computers — even if they are not under suspicion of any crime. They seek the ability to gain access to a third party's computer in order to facilitate gaining access to the real target — essentially using any person's personal computer as a proxy for their hacking attempts. The current legislation prohibits any action by ASIO that, among other things, interferes with a person's legitimate use of their computer. Conceivably, over-turning this restriction would give ASIO the ability to build their own bot-net of compromised machines. Perhaps inevitably, they say these changes are required to help them catch terrorists."
The Internet

Vietnam Admits Deploying Bloggers 93

Posted by Soulskill
from the propaganda-posters-were-much-cooler-than-blog-posts dept.
New submitter jespada writes "BBC News reports the Vietnamese Communist Party is approaching its internet image in a more sophisticated manner by hiring shill bloggers to argue its case. From the article: 'Hanoi Propaganda and Education Department head Ho Quang Loi said that the authorities had hired hundreds of so-called "internet polemists" in the fight against "online hostile forces." While the exact number of these activists is unknown, Mr Loi revealed that his organisation is running at least 400 online accounts and 20 microblogs. Regular visitors on popular social media networks in Vietnam such as Facebook have long noticed the existence of a number of pro-regime bloggers, who frequently post comments and articles supportive of the Communist Party. The bloggers also take part in online discussions, where they fiercely attack anybody who they see as critical of the regime.'"
Music

Amazon AutoRip — 14 Years Late 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-5113-dollars-short dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon just debuted a new service called Autorip, which grants you MP3 copies of music when you purchase the CD version. This is a technology people have been trying to introduce since 1999, but only recently have the record labels — and the courts — seen fit to allow it. 'Robertson's first company, MP3.com was one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley when it launched what we would now call a cloud music service, My.MP3.com, in 1999. The service included a feature called "Beam-It" that allowed users to instantly stock their online lockers with music from their personal CD collections. ... Licensed services like iTunes were still years in the future, largely because labels were skittish about selling music online. But Robertson believed he didn't need a license because the service was permitted by copyright's fair use doctrine. If a user can rip his legally purchased CD to his computer, why can't he also store a copy of it online? ... the labels simply weren't interested in Robertson's vision of convenient and flexible music lockers. So MP3.com was driven into bankruptcy, and the "buy a CD, get an MP3" concept fell by the wayside.'"
Open Source

Norway Tax Auditors Want To Open Source Cash Registers To Combat Fraud 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the open-source-the-cashiers-while-you're-at-it dept.
Qedward writes "The Norwegian Ministry of Finance seems to be taking a bit of stick at the moment. It wants all the existing cash registers in the country thrown out and replaced with new ones. Not surprisingly, this massive upgrade is not popular. But it is apparently being pushed through in an attempt to prevent cash registers' figures being massaged downwards in use so as to reduce tax. The Norwegian association of tax auditors said: 'The source code must be opened.' 'Without source code it is not possible to determine whether or "hidden" functionality exists or not. Just knowing that the tax authorities have access to the source code of the application, will reduce the effort to implement hidden functionality in the software.'"

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