mikejuk writes "PHP 5.4 has been released, along with a new version of Zend Framework. It has a number of optimizations that make it faster and smaller (early estimates say 10-20% faster), a built-in webserver for testing purposes, and features that had been destined for PHP 6.0. The big addition from the now-crashed PHP 6.0 project is Traits, which are sort of a cross between a class and an interface, bringing some of the advantages of multiple inheritance to PHP. The full changelog and download page are both available."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
theodp writes "Apple, which is currently waging IP war on Android vendors, is no stranger to patent trolling. Citing the Steve Jobs bio, Forbes' Eric Jackson recalls how Steve Jobs used patents to get Bill Gates to make a 1997 investment in Apple. Recalled Jobs: 'Microsoft was walking over Apple's patents. I said [to Gates], "If we kept up our lawsuits, a few years from now we could win a billion-dollar patent suit. You know it, and I know it. But Apple's not going to survive that long if we're at war. I know that. So let's figure out how to settle this right away. All I need is a commitment that Microsoft will keep developing for the Mac and an investment by Microsoft in Apple so it has a stake in our success.' Next thing you know, BillG was lording over Jobs at Macworld Boston, as the pair announced the $150 million investment that breathed new life into then-struggling Apple. So, does Gates deserve any credit for helping create the world's most valuable company?"
mayberry42 writes "Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope are mystified by a merging galaxy cluster known as Abell 520 in which concentrations of visible matter and dark matter have apparently come unglued. A report on the Hubble observations, published in the Astrophysical Journal, raises more questions than answers about a cosmic pile-up that's occurring 2.4 billion light-years away. 'According to our current theory,' says Arif Babul, the study team's senior theorist, 'galaxies and dark matter are expected to stay together, even through a collision. But that's not what's happening in Abell 520. Here, the dark matter appears to have pooled to form the dark core, but most of the associated galaxies seem to have moved on.'"
New submitter dr_blurb writes "After reading about last year's hoax report 'Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage' I realized I was in fact already running a real live experiment measuring number skills: a site were you can solve Calcudoku number puzzles. I analyzed two years' worth of data, consisting of over 1 million solved puzzles. This included puzzles solved 'against the clock,' of three different sizes. For each size, Chrome users were the fastest solvers, Firefox users came second, and IE users were the slowest. The number of abandoned puzzles (started but never finished) was also significantly higher for IE users. Analysis shows that the differences are statistically significant: in other words, they did not happen by chance. I put up more details and some graphs, and also wrote a paper about it (PDF)."
dsinc sends this quote from a Symantec report: "In 2011, dozens of Anonymous members who participated in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in support of Anonymous hacktivism causes were arrested. In these DDoS attacks, supporters using the Low Orbit Ion Cannon denial-of-service (DoS) tool would voluntarily include their computer in a botnet for attacks in support of Anonymous. In the wake Anonymous member arrests this week, it is worth highlighting how Anonymous supporters have been deceived into installing Zeus botnet clients purportedly for the purpose of DoS attacks. The Zeus client does perform DoS attacks, but it doesn’t stop there. It also steals the users' online banking credentials, webmail credentials, and cookies. The deception of Anonymous supporters began on January 20, 2012, the day of the FBI Megaupload raid."
An anonymous reader writes "'Private companies could take responsibility for investigating crimes, patrolling neighborhoods and even detaining suspects under a radical privatization plan,' The Guardian reports. 'The contract is the largest on police privatization so far, with a potential value of £1.5bn over seven years, rising to a possible £3.5bn depending on how many other forces get involved.' A worrying development in a country with an ever-increasing culture of surveillance and intrusive policing."
dtmos writes "The world's tallest free-standing broadcast tower has been completed, in Tokyo (video). Rising to 634.0 metres (2,080 ft), it is the second-tallest structure in the world, after the Burj Khalifa. Completion was delayed two months due to the effects of the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami."
An anonymous reader writes "While there is now the possibility of using 3D in the browser over WebGL, it is still hard for regular web developers to get 3D content into websites without being hardcore graphics programmers. XML3D, a project at the Intel Visual Computing Institute, tries to tackle that problem by having a very easy-to-use language as an extension of HTML5. The goal is to standardize it with the W3C. There are already modified Firefox and Chrome browsers that support XML3D natively. At Intel's Research Blog you can find a video on what shopping at an online store could soon look like. In the example, the user purchases a DSLR that can be fully interacted with in 3D, including attaching various lenses and an external flash."
paxcoder writes "Contrary to earlier analyses that predicted a decline of copyleft software share to as little as 50% this year, John Sullivan, the executive director of the Free Software Foundation, claims the opposite has happened: In his talk at FOSDEM 2012 titled 'Is Copyleft Being Framed?,' Sullivan presented evidence (PDF) of a consistent increase of usage of copyleft licenses in relation to the usage of permissive licenses in free software projects over the past few years. Using publicly available package information provided by the Debian project, his study showed that the number of packages using the GPL family in that distribution this year reached a share of 93% of all packages with (L)GPLv3 usage rising 400% between the last two Debian versions."
An anonymous reader writes "This article at the Verge claims that Valve is currently working on a way to bring Steam to the living room with its own gaming console. Quoting: 'According to sources, the company has been working on a hardware spec and associated software which would make up the backbone of a "Steam Box." The actual devices may be made by a variety of partners, and the software would be readily available to any company that wants to get in the game. Adding fuel to that fire is a rumor that the Alienware X51 may have been designed with an early spec of the system in mind, and will be retroactively upgradable to the software. Apparently meetings were held during CES to demo a hand-built version of the device to potential partners. We're told that the basic specs of the Steam Box include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. The devices will be able to run any standard PC titles, and will also allow for rival gaming services (like EA's Origin) to be loaded up. Part of the goal of establishing a baseline for hardware, we're told, is that it will give developers a clear lifecycle for their products, with changes possibly coming every three to four years. Additionally, there won't be a required devkit, and there will be no licensing fees to create software for the platform.'"
ananyo writes "The Virgina Supreme Court on Friday tossed out an investigation by the state's conservative attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, into Michael Mann, the former University of Virginia climatologist whose work on the now-famous hockey-stick graph has become a lightning rod for climate skeptics. 'In a dense and conflicted 26-page ruling (PDF) covering a century and a half of case law — including references to kings as well as modern "functional incongruities" that divided the judges themselves — Virginia’s high court ruled that the university is not a "person" and thus is not subject to Cuccinelli’s demands under the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.' The 'climategate' scientist has been cleared of wrongdoing by a number of investigations."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Hill reports that GM has announced to employees at one of its facilities that it is suspending production of the Chevy Volt for five weeks and temporarily laying off 1,300 employees. Back when GM launched the beleaguered electric car, it boldly targeted sales of 10,000 in 2011 and 60,000 in 2012 but GM only sold 7,671 Volts in 2011 and just 1,626 so far this year. 'We needed to maintain proper inventory and make sure that we continued to meet market demand,' says GM spokesman Chris Lee. 'We see positive trends, but we needed to make this market adjustment.' Although President Obama promised he would buy a Volt 'five years from now, when I'm not president anymore,' the Volt has come under criticism from Republicans in Congress because of reports of its batteries catching on fire during testing. Ironically, the shutdown comes as gas prices are soaring, exactly the time when an electric car should be an easy sell." If it's still true that GM was taking a loss on every Volt sold, perhaps this is a blessing in disguise.
schwit1 writes "A Cook County judge Friday ruled the state's controversial eavesdropping law unconstitutional. The law makes it a felony offense to make audio recordings of police officers without their consent even when they're performing their public duties. Judge Stanley Sacks, who is assigned to the Criminal Courts Building, found the eavesdropping law unconstitutional because it potentially criminalizes 'wholly innocent conduct.' The decision came in the case of Christopher Drew, an artist who was arrested in December 2009 for selling art on a Loop street without a permit. Drew was charged with a felony violation of the eavesdropping law after he used an audio recorder in his pocket to capture his conversations with police during his arrest."
spuguli writes "VALO-CD is an open source software collection similar to The Open CD. Version 8 is now available in English. The open source collection has been available in Finnish for several years, but now it has been translated into English and is available internationally as well. The collection contains pretty much everything a typical end user would need: LibreOffice, Inkscape, Firefox, Audacity and many other programs. The main goal is to increase knowledge about open source software. The programs are for Windows since most Linux distributions already contain most of the programs, and Linux users obviously are already aware of open source. The CD is developed collaboratively in a wiki. It is freely available as a torrent download."
An anonymous reader writes "As Slashdot readers know Intel's research project on ray tracing for games has recently been shown at 1080p, using eight Knights Ferry cards with Intel's 'Many Integrated Core' architecture. Now a white paper goes into more detail, documenting near-linear scaling for the cloud setup with 8 cards, and gives details on the implementation of 'smart anti-aliasing.' It will be interesting to see how many instances of Intel's next MIC iteration — dubbed Knights Corner, with 50+ cores — will be required for the same workload."