Geek Stuff

The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

Slashdot -

StartsWithABang writes If you can reach the fabled "breakeven point" of nuclear fusion, you'll have opened up an entire new source of clean, reliable, safe, renewable and abundant energy. You will change the world. At present, fusion is one of those things we can make happen through a variety of methods, but — unless you're the Sun — we don't have a way to ignite and sustain that reaction without needing to input more energy than we can extract in a usable fashion from the fusion that occurs. One alternative approach to the norm is, rather than try and up the energy released in a sustained, hot fusion reaction, to instead lower the energy inputted, and try to make fusion happen under "cold" conditions. If you listen in the right (wrong?) places, you'll hear periodic reports that cold fusion is happening, even though those reports have always crumbled under scrutiny. Here's why, most likely, they always will.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Kickstarter Cancels Anonabox Funding Campaign

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, the controversy surrounding Anonabox reached its zenith with Kickstarter officially canceling the project's funding campaign. Anonabox began with a modest goal of $7,500, but quickly reached its goal 82 times over. Then funders and interested parties began to scrutinize the project's claims, and that's when the project ran into trouble. From hardware that wasn't actually custom-made to software that didn't actually fulfill promises of privacy-focused routing on the internet, the facts regarding Anonabox proved that it was in blatant violation of Kickstarter's rules against false advertising. This project clearly failed, but if the support it initially garnered is any indication, the public is hungry for easy-to-use technology that encrypts and anonymizes all personal internet traffic.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

South Korean ID System To Be Rebuilt From Scratch After Massive Leaks

Slashdot -

AmiMoJo writes: South Korea's national identity card system may need a complete overhaul following huge data thefts dating back to 2004. The government is considering issuing new ID numbers to every citizen over age 17, costing billions of dollars. The ID numbers and personal details of an estimated 80% of the country's 50 million people have been stolen from banks and other targets. Some 20 million people, including President Park Geun-hye, have been victims of a data theft. Citizens are unable to change their credentials, which are used in many different sectors, making them an attractive target for hackers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Releases Android 5.0 Lollipop SDK and Nexus Preview Images

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: As promised, Google today released the full Android 5.0 Lollipop SDK, along with updated developer images for Nexus 5, Nexus 7 (2013), ADT-1, and the Android emulator. The latest version of Android isn't available just yet, but the company is giving developers a head start (about two weeks), so they can test their apps on the new platform. To get the latest Android 5.0 SDK, fire up Android SDK Manager and head to the Tools section, followed by latest SDK Tools, SDK Platform-tools, and SDK Build-tools. Select everything under the Android 5.0 section, hit "Install packages...", accept the licensing agreement, and finally click Install. Google also rolled out updated resources for their Material Design guidelines.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

High-Tech Walkers Could Help Japan's Elderly Stay Independent

Slashdot -

jfruh writes: You may have heard that Japan will deal with its aging population by relying more on robots. Osaka startup RT Works is showing what that might mean in practice: not humanoid robotic caregivers, but tech-enhanced versions of traditional tools like walkers. RT Works's walker automatically adjusts to help its user deal with hilly terrain, and can call for help if it moves outside a predefined range.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

EFF Response to FBI Director Comey's Speech on Encryption

EFF's Deeplinks -

FBI Director James Comey gave a speech yesterday reiterating the FBI's nearly twenty-year-old talking points about why it wants to reduce the security in your devices, rather than help you increase it. Here's EFF's response:

The FBI should not be in the business of trying to convince companies to offer less security to their customers. It should be doing just the opposite. But that's what Comey is proposing—undoing a clear legal protection we fought hard for in the 1990s.1 The law specifically ensures that a company is not required to essentially become an agent of the FBI rather than serving your security and privacy interests. Congress rightly decided that companies (and free and open source projects and anyone else building our tools) should be allowed to provide us with the tools to lock our digital information up just as strongly as we can lock up our physical goods. That's what Comey wants to undo.

It's telling that his remarks echo so closely the arguments of that era. Compare them, for example, with this comment from former FBI Director Louis Freeh in May of 1995, now nearly twenty years ago:

[W]e're in favor of strong encryption, robust encryption. The country needs it, industry needs it. We just want to make sure we have a trap door and key under some judge's authority where we can get there if somebody is planning a crime.

Now just as then, the FBI is trying to convince the world that some fantasy version of security is possible—where "good guys" can have a back door or extra key to your home but bad guys could never use it. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of security can tell you that's just not true. So the "debate" Comey calls for is phony, and we suspect he knows it. Instead, Comey wants everybody to have weak security, so that when the FBI decides somebody is a "bad guy," it has no problem collecting personal data.

That's bad science, it's bad law, it's bad for companies serving a global marketplace that may not think the FBI is always a "good guy," and it's bad for every person who wants to be sure that their data is as protected as possible—whether from ordinary criminals hacking into their email provider, rogue governments tracking them for politically organizing, or competing companies looking for their trade secrets. 

Perhaps Comey's speech is saber rattling. Maybe it's an attempt to persuade the American people that we've undertaken significant reforms in light of the Snowden revelations—the U.S. government has not—and that it's time for the "pendulum" to swing back. Or maybe by putting this issue in play, the FBI may hope to draw our eyes away from, say, its attempt to water down the National Security Letter reform that Congress is considering. It's difficult to tell.

But if the FBI gets its way and convinces Congress to change the law, or even if it convinces companies like Apple that make our tools and hold our data to weaken the security they offer to us, we'll all end up less secure and enjoying less privacy. Or as the Fourth Amendment puts it: we'll be be less "secure in our papers and effects."

For more on EFF's coverage of the "new" Crypto Wars, read this article focusing on the security issues we wrote last week in Vice. And going back even earlier, a broader update to a piece we wrote in 2010, which itself was was based on our fights in the 90s. If the FBI wants to try to resurrect this old debate, EFF will be in strong opposition, just as we were 20 years ago. That's because—just like 20 years ago—the Internet needs more, not less, strong encryption.

  • 1. Here's the relevant part of CALEA that Comey wants to effectively undo: "47 USC 1002(b)(3): A telecommunications carrier shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt, any communication encrypted by a subscriber or customer, unless the encryption was provided by the carrier and the carrier possesses the information necessary to decrypt the communication." Also from the CALEA legislative history: "Finally, telecommunications carriers have no responsibility to decrypt encrypted communications that are the subject of court-ordered wiretaps, unless the carrier provided the encryption and can decrypt it. This obligation is consistent with the obligation to furnish all necessary assistance under 18 U.S.C. Section 2518(4). Nothing in this paragraph would prohibit a carrier from deploying an encryption service for which it does not retain the ability to decrypt communications for law enforcement access ... Nothing in the bill is intended to limit or otherwise prevent the use of any type of encryption within the United States. Nor does the Committee intend this bill to be in any way a precursor to any kind of ban or limitation on encryption technology. To the contrary, section 2602 protects the right to use encryption." H/T Chris Soghoian:
Related Issues: PrivacyCALEAEncrypting the WebLaw Enforcement AccessNational Security LettersSecurityRelated Cases: Bernstein v. US Department of Justice
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New ODNI Report Doesn’t Address Mass Surveillance, Provides "Flexibility" to Skirt Privacy Commitments

EFF's Deeplinks -

Earlier today, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released an optimistically titled report Safeguarding the Personal Information of all People. This is basically a status update from ODNI on how they are doing in implementing Presidential Policy Directive 28, which among other things was supposed to better recognize the privacy rights of people worldwide.

Today’s report from the ODNI is disappointing, though not surprising. This is in part because PPD 28 was pretty limited in the first place. When Obama first announced his surveillance reforms and PPD 28, we rated him on 12 criteria for effective surveillance reform—and found his proposal only met only 3.5 of those criteria. We saw an example of the limitations of PPD 28 in its 5th footnote, which begins, "The limitations contained in this section do not apply to signals intelligence data that is temporarily acquired to facilitate targeted collection." That seems to say that they can seize a haystack so long as they intend to look for needles.  

Here are a few choice sections from our initial read of today's report:

To that end, PPD-28 states that personal information of non-U.S. persons shall be retained and disseminated only if the retention and dissemination "of comparable information concerning U.S. persons would be permitted under section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333."

We are disheartened to see ODNI pinning its privacy protections to Executive Order 12333. EO 12333 is a poorly-understood Reagan-era authority; one former State Department chief said:

 …Section 215 permits the bulk collection only of U.S. telephone metadata — lists of incoming and outgoing phone numbers — but not audio of the calls.

Executive Order 12333 contains no such protections for U.S. persons if the collection occurs outside U.S. borders. Issued by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to authorize foreign intelligence investigations, 12333 is not a statute and has never been subject to meaningful oversight from Congress or any court. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has said that the committee has not been able to “sufficiently” oversee activities conducted under 12333.

The ODNI report itself highlights (Section D) one massive flaw in EO 12333, noting that "if read literally," it places no limits whatsoever on retention or dissemination of any information about any foreign person. One wonders if any element of the intelligence community has ever acted in accordance with this reading. 

In short, Executive Order 12333 is a weak privacy standard—at least what we know of it, because its implementation has had little oversight from the public or even Congress. This is not the standard we want to adopt for protecting the rights of individuals worldwide who have not been suspected of a crime.

What might be a better standard? EFF along with intentional human rights groups and scholars worldwide developed 13 principles for protection human rights when engaging in communications surveillance. That’s a much better starting point for crafting protections for privacy of people worldwide. 

Another disappointment (though again not a surprise) in today’s report was the failure to address or rein in mass collection of digital data:

Section 2 of PPD-28 acknowledges the importance of collecting SIGINT in bulk to help identify new and emerging threats or other vital national security information. At the same time, the United States recognizes that collecting information in bulk may not result in the collection of information about persons whose activities are not of interest to the Intelligence Community. PPD-228 therefore places limitations on the use of SIGINT collected in bulk.....PPD-28 also states that in no event may SIGINT be used for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent….

Basically, ODNI is reaffirming that it will continue to vacuum up data from people not suspected of a crime and is merely outlining methods of limiting the use and dissemination of that data.

It’s particularly disheartening to see ODNI talking about how data collected in bulk will not be used for the purpose of suppressing or burdening criticism or dissent. This is a cognitive dissonance: mass surveillance by its nature creates a chilling effect on free speech. More than 500 authors, including 5 Nobel laureates, have written that:

A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights much apply in virtual as in real space. Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion.            

The ODNI deludes itself into believing that you can have surveillance without suppressing or burdening dissent. In fact, it is the very nature of mass surveillance to chill criticism and dissent. That is the very basis for our lawsuit against the NSA phone record collection program.

Finally, all of the commitments to civil liberties and privacy in ODNI’s report come with a rather alarmingly large loophole:

N. Intelligence Community Elements Must Have the Flexibility to Deviate from their PPD-28 Implementing Procedures After Receiving Senior Level Approval.

It is important that elements have the ability to deviate from their procedures when national security requires doing so, but only with approval at a senior level within the Intelligence Community element and notice to the DNI and Attorney General. 

Regardless of what procedures are put into place to safeguard individual privacy, the intelligence community gives itself a loophole for “national security” concerns. National security, unfortunately, remains undefined in the document.

We’re still reviewing the report and may have more thoughts in the coming days, but these are our initial impressions. 

Read the entire report. Take action against mass surveillance.

Related Issues: PrivacyNSA SpyingRelated Cases: First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles v. NSA
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Pre-orders begin for Google Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player

Liliputing -

Pre-orders are now open for Google’s latest Nexus devices including the company’s 2014 Nexus phone, tablet, and TV box. The Nexus Player and Nexus 6 are available from the Google Play Store, with $99 and $649 prices, respectively. You can also opt for a 64GB version of the Nexus 6 for $699. The Nexus 9 […]

Pre-orders begin for Google Nexus 6, Nexus 9, and Nexus Player is a post from: Liliputing

Fusion and Fission/LFTR: Let's Do Both, Smartly

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TheRealHocusLocus writes: Disaster preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none," which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent "we're still making progress" reminder. I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a groundswell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" However, fusion doesn't need to be the only solution, and it's not entirely without drawbacks. All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were "100% clean." A low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it. Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. LFTR is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. There is plenty of cross-over: LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial-scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

EFF to Patent Office: There’s Nothing Wrong With Throwing Out Bad Patents

EFF's Deeplinks -

Earlier this year, Randall Rader, then Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, called a group of administrative patent judges “death squads.” What had these judges done to deserve such savage criticism? They had done exactly what Congress intended: found some bad patents invalid. This week EFF filed comments with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) supporting the work of its administrative trial judges and urging the agency to make review of issued patents as affordable and efficient as possible.

When Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA) in 2011, we predicted that the law would not be enough to stop the rampant abuse of patent trolls. We were right. But the AIA did include some good provisions allowing the challenge of bad patents before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) at the PTO. These administrative proceedings (known as covered business method review, inter partes review, and post grant review) are important because fighting a patent in court is ruinously expensive. For smaller companies, an administrative proceeding may be the only way it can afford to contest a patent. Indeed, with help from our supporters, EFF filed an inter partes review to challenge Personal Audio’s podcasting patent.

In our comments to the PTO, we make a number of suggestions about how to improve trials before the PTAB. For example, we urge the PTO to lower application fees for small businesses. Currently, fees for an instituted inter partes review are at least $23,000. This is far too high for many of the small businesses that have been targeted by patent trolls. We also argue that the PTAB should continue to construe patents broadly when comparing them to the prior art. The public notice function of patents is best served by applying the broadest reasonable construction. If a patent owner is concerned that his or her patent will be found invalid under a broad construction, he or she can add narrowing language to the claims. This protects the interests of both the patentee and the public by promoting clearer claim language.

We also respond to the hyperbolic criticism of the PTAB from Rader and others. The PTAB should not be vilified for doing its job. Congress intended for it be a place where companies could efficiently remove bad patents from the system. Since companies have a choice about whether to spend money on a challenge, it is no surprise that they have tended to challenge the worst patents. This explains why the PTAB has found so many patents invalid. Blaming the PTAB for invalidating patents that should be invalidated is like blaming critical care for having the sickest patients in a hospital.

On the whole, the PTO has done a reasonable job managing the new trial procedures created by the AIA. These procedures don’t solve all problems with the patent system, but they at least provide a cheaper alternative to litigation. We hope the PTO will continue to make administrative review effective and do even more to make it accessible.

Files:  eff_comments_on_trial_proceedings_under_the_aia.pdfRelated Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalancePatentsInnovation
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Cyber-Espionage and Trade Agreements: An Ill-Fitting and Dangerous Combination

EFF's Deeplinks -

Yesterday's leak of a May 2014 draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement revealed the addition of new text criminalizing the misuse of trade secrets through "computer systems", as mentioned in our previous post about the leak. This is a significant revelation, because we also know that trade secrets are planned for inclusion in the EU-US free trade agreement, TTIP (the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The revelation of the proposed text in the TPP provides a good indication that the same kind of language will likely also appear in TTIP. Frighteningly, this text contains no protections to safeguard the public interest.

Today we delve into this provision and its background in more depth.

Why Trade Secrets, and Why Now?

The US Trade Representative's sudden interest in trade secret protection arises largely from reports of widespread cyber-espionage against US companies emanating from China. This has also led to domestic proposals such as this year's Defend Trade Secrets Act, introduced in the Senate in April, and its companion House bill, the Trade Secrets Protection Act, which would create a new federal private right of action for trade secret theft.

In August this year, 31 law professors wrote a joint letter opposing these bills on a number of grounds, including that they are unbalanced, risking that they could be used for anti-competitive purposes, and that they have potential ancillary negative impacts on access to information. The professors write:

Labeling information as a trade secret has become a common way to prevent public and even regulatory access to important information ranging from the composition of hydraulic fracturing fluids to the code inside of voting machines, all of which have compelling (but not uncontroversial) reasons for public access in a democracy.

Even if these new US bills pass, their enforceability against foreigners will be, in practical terms, rather limited. The introduction of new language on trade secrets into both TTP and TTIP—which may become the United States' two largest trade agreements—is therefore a parallel tactic to address cyber-espionage on the global stage.

(Observant readers might have spotted an apparent flaw in this plan, given that China will not be a party to either of these agreements. But the reasoning is that if enough other countries agree on new global standards, diplomatic pressure can be applied on China to also comply. As the Europeans have put it, “The EU and the US also have a common interest in pursuing protection of trade secrets against misappropriation in third countries”.)

Paragraph 1—Trade Secrets

The language in the TPP, however, doesn't much resemble either of the current Congressional bills. This is because if the TPP is agreed, it will create an obligation on the US to ensure that it accords with domestic law, and the US Trade Representative is unable to guarantee that the bills currently in Congress will pass. Instead, the first paragraph is drawn from TRIPS, the multilateral treaty that sets a global minimum standard for so-called intellectual property protection, and the second and third paragraphs are brand new, but share lineage with both the Economic Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).

This is where things get complicated—because the legal theories, methods and objectives of those two sources are actually quite different.

So beginning with paragraph 1: it very closely mirrors the language that TRIPS members (including all the TPP negotiating countries) have already agreed. It requires them to offer the means to prevent trade secrets from being disclosed to, acquired by, or used by others without consent in a manner contrary to honest commercial practices. This generally, as in the US, involves a private cause of action to be litigated in a civil court.

Paragraphs 2 and 3—Computer Espionage

Next, let's turn to paragraphs 2 and 3, which are worth setting out in full:

  1. Each Party shall provide for criminal [VN propose: or administrative] procedures and penalties for one or more of the following:
    1. the unauthorized, willful access to a trade secret held in a computer system;
    2. the unauthorized, willful misappropriation of a trade secret, including by means of a computer system; or
    3. the fraudulent {or unauthorized} disclosure of a trade secret, including by means of a computer system.
  2. A Party may, where appropriate, limit the availability of such criminal procedures or limit the level of penalties available in respect of the aforementioned activity to one or more of the following conditions:
    1. for purposes of commercial advantage or financial gain;
    2. related to a product or service in national or international commerce;
    3. intended to injure the owner of such trade secret;
    4. directed by or for the benefit of or in association with a foreign economic entity; or
    5. detrimental to a Party's economic interests, international relations, or national defense or national security.

These provisions are quite different from the first, because they make trade secret misappropriation a criminal offence. As noted above, these provisions partly draw on the US Economic Espionage Act. But they go considerably further, in that the offense is not required to be limited to cases where the owner is harmed and where someone else benefits from the trade secret misappropriation, both of which are conditions of the offense under current US law.

They also add a new offense of unauthorized, willful access to a trade secret held in a computer system, regardless of whether the trade secret is copied or disclosed. This provision has more in common with the CFAA which criminalizes anyone who “intentionally accesses a computer without authorization…and thereby obtains…information from any protected computer”—one of the provisions under which Aaron Swartz was charged.

So in sum, these provisions go further than current US law, potentially criminalizing anyone who gains access to secret information of commercial value. There are no safeguards to protect investigative journalists, security researchers or whistleblowers, who may obtain access to information without criminal or commercial intent. The inevitable result will be to chill the speech of those who might otherwise have a valid public interest justification for releasing information that had been kept secret.

The TPP and TTIP are, supposedly, free trade agreements; they are not the Cybercrime Convention. If this text were accepted, it would be the first time that a trade agreement would be used to criminalize those who obtain access to secret information held online, regardless of their motivation and without any public interest defenses. Like the rest of the IP chapter—but if anything, even more so—this goes far beyond the appropriate scope for an agreement that is being negotiated behind closed doors and away from public oversight.

We don't know for sure that these paragraphs are included in the current TPP text, as the leaked text is several months old. It also contains the disclaimer, “Parties are still reflecting on the new formulation for paragraphs 2 and 3.” As such a spokesperson for the US Trade Representative has had the gall yesterday to “strongly caution anyone from drawing premature conclusions of any kind based on supposed leaked text from unsubstantiated, unnamed sources”, as if we had any more official source of information on which to draw.

All we can say is that we had all better hope that these provisions don't make it into the final agreement, because they are amongst the most atrocious, overreaching and human-rights infringing provisions in the entire text of the TPP.

Related Issues: Fair Use and Intellectual Property: Defending the BalanceInternationalTrans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
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Lead Mir Developer: 'Mir More Relevant Than Wayland In Two Years'

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M-Saunders writes Canonical courted plenty of controversy with it announced Mir, its home-grown display server. But why did the company choose to go it alone, and not collaborate with the Wayland project? Linux Voice has an interview with Thomas Voss, Mir's lead developer. Voss explains how Mir came into being, what it offers, and why he believes it will outlast Wayland.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tesla Teardown Reveals Driver-facing Electronics Built By iPhone 6 Suppliers

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Lucas123 writes: The Tesla Model S gets attention because it's an EV that can go from from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.2 seconds and can travel 265 miles on a single charge. But, a teardown of the vehicle by IHS Technology has also revealed that Elon Musk avoided third-party design and build routes used traditionally by auto makers and spared no expense on the instrument cluster and infotainment (head unit) system, which is powered by two 1.4Ghz, quad-core NVIDIA Tegra processors. IHS called the Tesla's head unit the most sophisticated it's ever seen, with 1,000 more components than any it has previously analyzed. A bill of materials for the virtual instrument cluster and the premium media control unit is also roughly twice the cost of the highest-end infotainment unit examined by IHS.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Python-LMDB In a High-Performance Environment

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lkcl writes: In an open letter to the core developers behind OpenLDAP (Howard Chu) and Python-LMDB (David Wilson) is a story of a successful creation of a high-performance task scheduling engine written (perplexingly) in Python. With only partial optimization allowing tasks to be executed in parallel at a phenomenal rate of 240,000 per second, the choice to use Python-LMDB for the per-task database store based on its benchmarks, as well as its well-researched design criteria, turned out to be the right decision. Part of the success was also due to earlier architectural advice gratefully received here on Slashdot. What is puzzling, though, is that LMDB on Wikipedia is being constantly deleted, despite its "notability" by way of being used in a seriously-long list of prominent software libre projects, which has been, in part, motivated by the Oracle-driven BerkeleyDB license change. It would appear that the original complaint about notability came from an Oracle employee as well.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Deals of the Day (10-17-2014)

Liliputing -

A new HP Chromebook 14 with an Intel Celeron 2955U processor sells for around $300. Refurbished models usually sell for a little less — but today Woot is offering one of the best prices I’ve seen. You can pick up a refurbished Chromebook 14 for just $170. There’s one small catch: ther’s no branding on the […]

Deals of the Day (10-17-2014) is a post from: Liliputing

Google releases Android 5.0 SDK and Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 preview images

Liliputing -

The first phones, tablets, and TV boxes with Android 5.0 software should begin shipping in a few weeks, and Google will begin rolling out Android 5.0 as an over-the-air updates to owners of recent Nexus devices soon. To help developers get their apps ready, Google has released the software developer kit for Android 5.0 Lollipop. […]

Google releases Android 5.0 SDK and Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 preview images is a post from: Liliputing

How Curved Spacetime Can Be Created In a Quantum Optics Lab

Slashdot -

KentuckyFC writes: One way to explore the link between quantum mechanics and general relativity is to study the physics that occurs on a small scale in highly curved spacetimes. However, these conditions only occur in the most extreme environments such as at the edge of black holes or in the instants after the Big Bang. But now one physicist has described how it is possible to create curved spacetime in an ordinary quantum optics lab. The idea is based on optical lattices, which form when a pair of lasers interfere to create an eggbox-like interference pattern. When ultracold atoms are dropped into the lattice, they become trapped like ping pong balls in an eggbox. This optical trapping technique is common in labs all over the world. However, the ultracold atoms do not stay at a fixed location in the lattice because they can tunnel from one location to another. This tunneling is a form of movement through the lattice and can be controlled by changing the laser parameters to make tunneling easier or more difficult. Now, a physicist has shown that on a large scale, the tunneling motion of atoms through the lattice is mathematically equivalent to the motion of atoms in a quantum field in a flat spacetime. And that means it is possible to create a formal analogue of a curved spacetime by changing the laser parameters across the lattice. Varying the laser parameters over time even simulates the behavior of gravitational waves. Creating this kind of curved spacetime in the lab won't reveal any new physics but it will allow researchers to study the behavior of existing laws under these conditions for the first time. That's not been possible even in theory because the equations that describe these behaviors are so complex that they can only be solved in the simplest circumstances.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Acer’s cheap Iconia One 7 Android tablet specs bumped up to Bay Trail

Liliputing -

Acer offers a line of low-cost Android tablets with 7 inch screens. While there are a few different models, Acer confusingly sells all these tablets under Iconia One name. Go figure. Anyway, there are a few Iconia One 7 models with Intel Atom Z2560 Clover Trail+ dual-core processors and prices ranging from $90 to $140. Now it looks […]

Acer’s cheap Iconia One 7 Android tablet specs bumped up to Bay Trail is a post from: Liliputing

Debian Talks About Systemd Once Again

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes: A couple of months ago the technical committee for Debian decided in favor of systemd. This is now a subject for discussion once again, and Ian Jackson says he wants a general resolution, so every developer within the Debian project can decide. After a short time, the required amount of supporters was reached, and the discussion can start once again.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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