An anonymous reader writes "Astronomer and gamer Scott Manley (more famous for his Kerbal Space program coverage) has created a fantastic video explaining the science behind building guns that could one day be used to launch payloads into space. It's not as easy as simply making a bigger gun, there's a whole host of unorthodox 'gun' designs which work around the limitations of garden variety propellants."
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
redletterdave writes "IBM's super-computer Watson briefly went from smart to smart ass with the help of the Urban Dictionary. According to Eric Brown, an IBM research assistant, he and his 35-person team wanted to get Watson to sound more like a real human. After teaching IBM's super-computer the entire Urban Dictionary, however, Watson simply couldn't distinguish polite discourse from profanity. Watson unfortunately learned all of the Urban Dictionary's bad habits, including throwing in overly-crass language at random points in its responses; in answering one question, Watson even reportedly used the word 'bullshit' within an answer to one researcher's question. In the end, Brown and his team were forced to remove the Urban Dictionary from Watson's vocabulary, and additionally developed a smart filter to keep Watson from swearing in the future."
Nerval's Lobster writes "During the fourth quarter of 2012, Nokia sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones—a significant rise from the previous quarter, which featured sales of 2.9 million Lumia devices. The Lumia line runs Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, which largely replaced Symbian as Nokia's smartphone software of choice. Despite that shift and Nokia's emphasis on Windows Phone, however, the company still sold 2.2 million Symbian smartphones during the quarter. The question remains whether Nokia should have gone with Windows Phone in the first place, or embraced an alternate platform such as Android; an anti-Elop camp has emerged in recent months, arguing that Symbian was still a viable platform before Elop consigned it to the dustbin of tech history. For now at least, both sides seem to be right: Symbian still sells despite Nokia's attempts to take it increasingly offline, and Lumia phones are selling well. It'll take more time—perhaps a lot more time—before the ramifications of Elop's bet become clear."
hypnosec writes "Anonymous has filed a petition with the U.S. Government asking the Obama administration to make Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks a legal form of protest. Anonymous has argued that because of advancements in internet technology, there is a need for new ways of protest. The hacking collective doesn't consider DDoS as a form of attack and equates it to hitting the 'refresh' button on a webpage. Comparing these attacks to the 'occupy' protests, Anonymous notes that instead of people occupying an area, it is their computers occupying a website for a particular period of time."
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, reports surfaced that the Windows RT operating system had been jailbroken to allow for the execution of unsigned ARM desktop applications. Microsoft quickly issued a statement saying it does not consider the findings to be part of a security vulnerability, and applauded the hacker for his ingenuity. Now, a Windows RT jailbreak tool has been released."
dcblogs writes "General Motors CIO Randy Mott Thursday said the automaker plans to have the 'best jobs in the IT industry' at its four 'IT Innovation Centers' in the U.S., as it announced its third one in Roswell, Ga., near Atlanta... As part of its effort to insource its IT work, GM recently hired 18 HP employees from its IT organization, who left 'en masse,' prompting HP to go to court to seek depositions from two former IT managers who left for GM. Mott, the CIO at HP before moving to GM last year, said HP's move is 'not the best use our legal system.' Mott called HP's court filing a 'fishing expedition' that 'feels very retaliatory and harassing to the individuals. I think talent will go where talent sees opportunity.' GM is building a tech staff of about 10,000. As part of it, HP is transferring over about 3,000 employees. HP is a longtime services provider for the automaker via its services unit, the former EDS."
New submitter Antoine.Stroll writes "Microsoft's concept of the living room's future doesn't include Master Chief apparently. In fact, it's starring several FOSS games including Red Eclipse and SuperTuxKart (video). Does FOSS just allow more possibilities for research and experimentation? SuperTuxKart had their 0.8 release last month. Go check out the website and download the game that Redmond's researchers couldn't resist. STK gets its Microsoft closeup at 48 seconds into the demonstration." This is the full room projection tech detailed in an earlier story about the patents Microsoft filed relating to it.
SomePgmr writes with a story about an online gambling site planning to use Bitcoin to sidestep U.S. regulations that effectively ban online gambling. From the article: "Michael Hajduk had sunk one year and about $20,000 into developing his online poker site, Infiniti Poker, when the U.S. online gambling market imploded. On April 15, 2011, a day now known in the industry as Black Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice shut down the three biggest poker sites accessible to players in the U.S., indicting 11 people on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. ... Infiniti Poker ... plans to accept Bitcoin when it launches later this month. The online currency may allow American gamblers to avoid running afoul of complex U.S. laws that prevent businesses from knowingly accepting money transfers for Internet gambling purposes. 'Because we're using Bitcoin, we're not using U.S. banks — it's all peer-to-peer,' Hajduk says. 'I don't believe we'll be doing anything wrong.'"
New submitter snooz_crash writes "An Ex-CIA analyst requests your assistance in IDing a base that he has been observing for quite a while. The base has been in existence for several years, but its shape and location do not lead to an immediate answer to the riddle of 'what the heck is it?'"
Trailrunner7 writes with news of the continuing poor state of security for industrial control systems. From the article: "Never underestimate what you can do with a healthy list of advanced operator search terms and a beer budget. That's mostly what comprises the arsenal of two critical infrastructure protection specialists who have spent close to nine months trying to paint a picture of the number of Internet-facing devices linked to critical infrastructure in the United States. It's not a pretty picture. The duo ... have with some help from the Department of Homeland Security (PDF) pared down an initial list of 500,000 devices to 7,200, many of which contain online login interfaces with little more than a default password standing between an attacker and potential havoc. DHS has done outreach to the affected asset owners, yet these tides turn slowly and progress has been slow in remedying many of those weaknesses. ...The pair found not only devices used for critical infrastructure such as energy, water and other utilities, but also SCADA devices for HVAC systems, building automation control systems, large mining trucks, traffic control systems, red-light cameras and even crematoriums."
bednarz writes "It's official: IBM has dominated the U.S. patent race for two decades. IBM earned 6,478 utility patents last year, topping the list of patent winners for the 20th year in a row, according to data published today from IFI CLAIMS Patent Services. Samsung was the second most prolific patent winner, with 5,081 patents received in 2012, followed by Canon (3,174), Sony (3,032), Panasonic (2,769), Microsoft (2,613), Toshiba (2,447), Hon Hai Precision Industry (2,013), GE (1,652), and LG Electronics (1,624). Earning its first appearance among the top 50, Google increased its 2012 patent count by 170% to 1,151 patents and landed at 21 in IFI's rankings, up from 65 in 2011. Google narrowly beat Apple, which earned 1,136 patents (an increase of 68%) and landed at 22 in the rankings."
Jeremy Allison - Sam writes "Interview Bruce Byfield did with me after the Samba 4.0 release. Discusses interactions with Microsoft, the future of the code and project, and many other things."
McGruber writes "ABC News/ESPN broke the story that a team of scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) analyzed the brain tissue of renowned NFL linebacker Junior Seau and have concluded that the football player suffered a debilitating brain disease likely caused by two decades worth of hits to the head. From the article: 'In May 2012, Seau, 43 — football's monster in the middle, a perennial all-star and defensive icon in the 1990s whose passionate hits made him a dominant figure in the NFL — shot himself in the chest at his home in Oceanside, Calif., leaving behind four children and many unanswered questions.' As Slashdot earlier reported, more than 30 NFL players have in recent years been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition once known as 'punch drunk' because it affected boxers who had taken multiple blows to the head."
Nerval's Lobster writes "One of the first servers used by notorious torrent tracker The Pirate Bay has ended up at the Computer Museum in Linköping. A picture of the exhibit sent to TorrentFreak shows the server in its original tower casing. The hardware will headline an exhibit on 50 years of file sharing. As the exhibit notes, The Pirate Bay is one of the focal points for the file-sharing phenomenon, used to share both copyrighted works (such as music and movies) and free-for-all material (open-source Linux distributions and the like). The sharing of the former has created a worldwide cat-and-mouse game, with governments doing their best to block file-sharing sites, capture their servers, and prosecute their operators. 'In less than ten years The Pirate Bay has become a contemporary historical phenomenon, due to its distinguished position in the file-sharing debate,' according to the museum exhibit. 'The discussions that have sprung from this simple computer server concerns serious subjects as freedom of speech, global democracy and of course the sole existence of copyright.'"