another random user writes "Scientists in the Arctic have launched an urgent investigation into how solar storms can disrupt sat-nav. Studies have revealed how space weather can cut the accuracy of GPS by tens of metres. Flares from the Sun interact with the upper atmosphere and can distort the signals from global positioning satellites. The project is under way at a remote observatory on a windswept mountainside in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the High Arctic. The site was chosen for its isolation from electronic pollution and for its position in relation to the Earth's magnetic field which flows from space down towards the far North."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Tonight's debate between the two largest American political parties' candidates for vice president of the United States takes place at Danville, Kentucky's Centre College, starting at 9 p.m. Joe Biden and Paul Ryan will face each other on stage, and are expected to talk about issues "including the economy, foreign policy and the role of the Vice President," according to C-SPAN, which will feature a live streaming view of the event. (Criteria from the Commission on Presidential Debates means you won't hear tonight from other presidential candidates' running mates (like Cheri Honkala, Jim Clymer, and James Gray, of the Green, Constitution, and Libertarian party tickets, respectively). If you'll be watching the debate tonight, please add your commentary below. It would be helpful if you start your comment's title with a time-stamp (to the minute), too, for context. (Like this: "9:08: $Candidate just intentionally mis-repeated the Q on taxes.") And Yes, we're posting this here in a vain attempt to keep the political discussion out of other story threads tonight. Update: 10/12 01:18 GMT by U L : If you don't have flash, you can use rtmpdump and mplayer to watch (incantation duplicated below, in case the site is slashdotted).
sciencehabit writes "Four young boys with a rare, fatal brain condition have made it through a dangerous ordeal. Scientists have safely transplanted human neural stem cells into their brains. Twelve months after the surgeries, the boys have more myelin—a fatty insulating protein that coats nerve fibers and speeds up electric signals between neurons—and show improved brain function, a new study in Science Translational Medicine reports. The preliminary trial paves the way for future research into potential stem cell treatments for the disorder, which overlaps with more common diseases such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Hakeem Oluseyi, an astronomer at the Florida Institute of Technology and president of the African Astronomical Society, says his goal is to put one research telescope in every country, starting with African and Southern Hemisphere nations because there is now an amazing opportunity for small telescopes to discover and characterize new planetary systems, as well as measure the structure of the Milky Way. 'Astronomers are no longer looking at high-definition pictures but at HD movies, scanning for objects that change and for transient ones,' says Oluseyi. 'A 4-inch telescope was used to discover the first exoplanet by the transit method, where you watch the brightness vary.' Small telescopes capable to doing real science are a lot cheaper than people think. A 1-meter telescope costs $300,000 but reduce the size by 60 percent, and it falls to just $30,000. For example the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) uses hardware costing less than $75,000 to look at millions of very bright stars at once, over broad sections of sky, and at low resolution to see if the starlight dims just a little — an indication that a planet has crossed in front of the star. The KELT team has already discovered the existence of a very unusual faraway planet — KELT-1b, a super hot, super dense ball of metallic hydrogen so massive that it may better be described as a 'failed star' and located so close to its star that it whips through an entire 'yearly' orbit in a little over a day."
concealment writes "A judge has ruled that the libraries who have provided Google with their books to scan are protected by copyright's fair use doctrine. While the decision doesn't guarantee that Google will win—that's still to be decided in a separate lawsuit—the reasoning of this week's decision bodes well for Google's case. Most of the books Google scans for its book program come from libraries. After Google scans each book, it provides a digital image and a text version of the book to the library that owns the original. The libraries then contribute the digital files to a repository called the Hathitrust Digital Library, which uses them for three purposes: preservation, a full-text search engine, and electronic access for disabled patrons who cannot read the print copies of the books."
First time accepted submitter Gumbercules!! writes "Eric Schmidt said he believes there is a 'Gang of Four' technology platform leaders — Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook — Microsoft isn't one of them. I wrote about why I believe he's wrong and what it might say about Google's weaknesses. From the article: 'It's no secret that Microsoft have utterly failed to make significant roads into the mobile market place. Windows Phone 7 has approximately no marketshare (ok they have live 5% or so) and this has actually gone down over the last year. It's also no secret that Microsoft have failed to gain any semblance of "cool" and that they're also managing to drag Nokia down with them. It's not even a secret that nearly everyone who looks at the new Windows 8 interface-formally-known-as-Metro doesn't like it. However this isn't the whole story.'"
SternisheFan writes "Google Maps has been updated with what's described as the 'biggest ever" increase in Street View photography, with more than 250,000 miles of road around the world gaining street-level imagery. Street View coverage has been boosted in eleven countries, with new 'special collections' of photography, giving more insight into particular landmarks. Google has also sent its cameras inside some landmarks, so you can now step into Kronborg castle in Denmark, for instance. The search giant uses a combination of Street View photography cars, bikes, and even individually-work camera backpacks to gather its footage. Support for viewing Street View on mobile devices has been contentious in recent weeks, with Apple's decision to oust Google Maps from iOS 6 and replace it with its own Apple Maps app. Google re-added access by updating its webapp, however, and has promised a native version of Google Maps for iOS by the end of the year."
angry tapir writes "Lenovo has taken the crown from Hewlett-Packard to become the world's top seller of PCs, research firm Gartner said in a study released this week. Lenovo took the top spot during a quarter in which PC shipments dropped overall due to a weak economy and pressure from mobile devices. Of the top four PC vendors, only Lenovo was able to grow its shipments. Its PC sales increased by almost 10 percent to 13.77 million units, giving it 15.7 percent of the market, Gartner said." Not so fast, says analysis firm IDC. They say that HP is still in the lead but Lenovo is very close.
coondoggie writes "It's not a totally new concept, but the Air Force is testing the idea of flying gas-guzzling cargo aircraft inline allowing the trailing aircraft to utilize the cyclonic energy coming off the lead plane — a concept known as vortex surfing — over long distances to save large amounts of fuel. According to an Air force release, a series of recent test flights involving two aircraft at a time, let the trailing aircraft surf the vortex of the lead aircraft, positioning itself in the updraft to get additional lift without burning extra fuel."
Michael Ross writes "With the advent of graphical user interfaces (GUIs) decades ago, most of the commercially-available software transitioned from command-line usage to point-and-click interfaces, with the majority of these applications completely phasing out all command-line capabilities, or never implementing them in the first place. But for programmers — most of whom are comfortable working on the command line — performing administrative actions within a GUI can become tedious and time-consuming, and there is a growing movement toward adding command-line support back to software development applications. An example of this is Drush, which is a command-line interface for the Drupal content management system. Drush, whose name is derived from "Drupal shell," was originally developed six years ago, and is seeing a resurgence within the Drupal community. However, what appears to be the primary information resource for Drush, the community documentation, currently has a status of "incomplete." Fortunately, there is now a book available that provides more extensive coverage, Drush User's Guide, authored by Requena Juan Pablo Novillo ("juampy"). The book was released by Packt Publishing on 10 April 2012, under the ISBN 978-1849517980. The publisher's page offers descriptions of the book, its table of contents, a brief author biography, the known errata, the example code used in the book, and a free sample chapter (the third one, "Customizing Drush"). This review is based upon a print copy kindly furnished by the publisher; an e-book version is also available." Read below for the rest of Michael's review.
jfruh writes "The mobile patent wars continue, with two of the world's biggest tech companies about to blunder into direct conflict. Microsoft holds a number of patents that it claims give it rights over mobile map applications that overlay data from multiple databases (map info from one database and store location info from another, for instance). Many Android vendors already pay Redmond licensing fees for their mapping apps; now Redmond is going to court in Germany to sue one of the holdouts: Motorola Mobility, which is of course owned by Google."
DMA-BUF is a recent kernel feature that allows multiple GPUs to quickly copy data into each others' framebuffers. A use case would be the NVIDIA Optimus that pairs a fast GPU with an Intel integrated GPU, where the NVIDIA GPU writes into the Intel framebuffer when it is active. But, NVIDIA won't be able to use this infrastructure because it's GPL. Alan Cox replied on LKML to a request from one of their engineers to mark the API non-GPL: "NAK. This needs at the very least the approval of all rights holders for the files concerned and all code exposed by this change. Also I'd note if you are trying to do this for the purpose of combining it with proprietary code then you are still in my view as a (and the view of many other) rights holder to the kernel likely to be in breach of the GPL requirements for a derivative work. You may consider that formal notification of my viewpoint. Your corporate legal team can explain to you why the fact you are now aware of my view is important to them." The rest of the thread is worth a read (a guy from RedHat agrees that this code is GPL and cannot become non-GPL without relicensing from a major subset of graphics system contributors). This has a ripple effect: it means that all of the ARM SoC GPU drivers can't use it either, and it may prevent any proprietary drivers for the proposed DRI version 3.
pigrabbitbear writes "Mother Jones reports that, 'In recent weeks, a host of liberal types have complained that their Facebook accounts have erroneously "liked" Romney's page, and some are floating the theory that the Romney campaign has deployed a virus or used other nefarious means to inflate the candidate's online stature. This conspiratorial notion has spawned a Facebook community forum, and its own page: "Hacked By Mitt Romney" (cute url: facebook.com/MittYouDidntBuildThat)' So what's going on? Is the Romney campaign engaging in some tech wizardry to hijack Americans' Facebook pages? Seems unlikely, but Romney did somehow manage to acquire millions of fake Twitter followers. But it looks like the Romney campaign isn't behind this one — Facebook and its mobile app is."
First time accepted submitter Stiletto writes "I work for a traditional 'old school' software company that is trying to move into web services, now competing with smaller, nimbler 'Web 2.0' companies. Unfortunately our release process is still stuck in the '90s. Paperwork and forms, sign-off meetings, and documentation approvals make it impossible to do even minor deployments to production faster than once a month. Major releases go out a couple of times a year. I've heard from colleagues in Bay Area companies who release weekly or daily (or even multiple times a day), allowing them to adapt quickly. Slashdotters, how often do you push software changes into production, and what best practices allow you to maintain that deployment rate without chaos?"
mykepredko writes "C-30, Canada's version of SOPA, would grant the federal government and law enforcement agencies the power to obtain information about individuals who are online without having to apply for a warrant is dead in committee. 'I don't know whether it was because the Minister so screwed up the messaging, or whether they've had some other input saying they went too far or it just can't be salvaged,' Nathan Cullen, House Leader for the NDP, speculates."