New submitter jzoetewey writes "An author I know (MCA Hogarth) recently had her book Spots the Space Marine taken off Amazon because Games Workshop claimed it violated their trademark. The interesting thing? Their trademark doesn't include ebooks or novels. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the money to fight them. Plus, the idea of a space marine was around long before they were: 'In their last email to me, Games Workshop stated that they believe that their recent entrée into the e-book market gives them the common law trademark for the term “space marine” in all formats. If they choose to proceed on that belief, science fiction will lose a term that’s been a part of its canon since its inception.' Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing also made this important point: 'Amazon didn't have to honor the takedown notice. Takedown notices are a copyright thing, a creature of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. They don't apply to trademark claims. This is Amazon taking voluntary steps that are in no way required in law.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Kwyj1b0 writes "The Whitehouse plans to open up the APIs to its 'We the People' initiative. The first set of Read APIs (allowing anyone to read data on petitions) will be released in March 2013. In addition, selected people will be invited to attend the White House Open Data Day Hackathon on February 22nd. Write APIs will follow, allowing people to extend petition capabilities to their own sites. Privacy, of course, should be an important concern that needs to be addressed."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Postal Service has been losing billions of dollars each year as Americans increasingly rely on online communications that drive down mail volumes. Now, Reuters reports that the Postal Service plans to drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail by August, saving $2 billion per year. 'The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits,' says Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. But the Postal Service is already facing some pushback for moving forward with delivery schedule changes. 'Today's announcement by Postmaster General Donahoe to eliminate six-day delivery is yet another death knell for the quality service provided by the U.S. Postal Service,' says Jeanette Dwyer, president of the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association. 'To erode this service will undermine the Postal Service's core mission and is completely unacceptable.' Package deliveries will continue under the new plan and were a bright spot in a bleak 2012 fiscal year, with package revenue rising 8.7 percent during the year. Donahoe says the changes would allow the Postal Service to continue benefiting from rising package deliveries as Americans order more products from sites such as eBay Inc and Amazon.com Inc."
astroengine writes "Extrapolating from findings by NASA's planet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope, scientists on Wednesday said roughly six percent of so-called red dwarf stars have Earth-sized planets properly positioned around their parent stars so that liquid water could exist on their surfaces. The team looked at 95 candidate planets circling red dwarf stars observed by Kepler and found that at least 60 percent have planets smaller than Neptune. Most were not the right size or temperature to be Earth-like, but three were found to be both warm and approximately Earth-sized. Statistically that would mean six percent of all red dwarf stars should have a Earth-sized planet. Since 75 percent of the closest stars are red dwarfs, the nearest Earth-like world may be just 13 light-years away."
First time accepted submitter ios and web coder writes "From the article: 'A dizzying story that involves falsified medical research, plagiarism, and legal threats came to light via a DMCA takedown notice today. Retraction Watch, a site that followed (among many other issues) the implosion of a Duke cancer researcher's career, found all of its articles on the topic pulled by WordPress, its host. The reason? A small site based in India apparently copied all of the posts, claimed them as their own, then filed a DMCA takedown notice to get the originals pulled from their source. As of now, the originals are still missing as their actual owners seek to have them restored.' This is extremely worrying. Even though the original story is careful not to make accusations, I will. This sure smells like a 'Reputation Defense' dirty trick."
After many months of effort, today we've brought the new mobile site out of beta. Featuring an interface optimized for touch devices, we think it's a huge improvement over the old mobile interface. You'll find comments easier to navigate, the most popular stories highlighted at the top of the page, and a surprisingly pleasant interface for navigating old polls. We've also spiffed up user profiles, resurrecting and improving the friend/foe system in the process. And that's not all: we're pleased to announce that you can login to Slashdot in general using various social media accounts, so if you use Facebook or Google+ there's no excuse not to enjoy the benefits of being a registered user, without the hassle of creating yet another account. Our weblog has a few more details. As always, if you encounter any issues let us know by mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
sfcrazy writes "The KDE team has announced the 4.10 releases of KDE Plasma Workspaces, Applications and Development Platform. It brings many improvements, features and polishes the UI even further, which already is one of the most polished, stable and mature desktop environments. With 4.10 KDE users can experience a much more sane global-menu like implementation without interrupting their workflow. A list of improvements is available here." This release makes major steps toward further Qt Quick/QML integration (more plasmoids are written using QML, you can create animated desktops using QML, etc.). KWin's configuration applet also supports fetching extensions from KDE Look. Perhaps the best improvement is a new indexer for Nepomuk, with claims that the semantic desktop is finally usably fast (after suffering through a multi-week indexing on my laptop, I have to say Nepomuk is really cool, but having an unusable system for that long is not so I for one welcome our new indexing overlords).
An anonymous reader writes "The lima driver project, the open source reverse engineered graphics driver for the ARM Mali, now has Quake 3 Arena timedemo running 2% faster than the ARM Binary driver." There's a video showing it off. Naturally, a few caveats apply; the major one is that they don't have a Free shader compiler and are forced to rely on the proprietary one from ARM, for now.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Reuters reports that a pair of bulbous, helium-filled 'aerostats', each 243 feet long, will be moored to the ground and fly as high as 10,000 feet, as part of a high-tech shield designed to protect the Washington D.C. area from an air attack like the one that took place on September 11, 2001. One of the aerostats carries a powerful long-range surveillance radar with a 360-degree look-around capability that can reach out to 340 miles. The other carries a radar used for targeting. Operating for up to 30 days at a time, JLENS is meant to give the military more time to detect and react to threats (PDF), including cruise missiles and manned and unmanned aircraft, compared with ground-based radar and is also designed to defend against tactical ballistic missiles, large caliber rockets and moving vehicles that could be used for attacks, including boats, cars and trucks. 'We're trying to determine how the surveillance radar information from the JLENS platforms can be integrated with existing systems in the National Capital Region,' says Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Washington is currently guarded by an air-defense system that includes Federal Aviation Administration radars and Department of Homeland Security helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft on alert at Reagan National Airport to intercept slow, low-flying aircraft."
The release date is approaching for Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet, and reviews for the new device have started appearing. The Surface Pro differs from the Surface in that it runs a full version of Windows 8 Pro, rather than the tablet-centric Windows RT. It also has much beefier hardware specs: 4GB RAM, an Intel Core i5 CPU, and a full HD display with 10-point multitouch. Ars describes it as having the expected good performance at the expected costs of heat, noise, and battery life. "This is not an all-day machine. Surface RT probably is. But Surface Pro is not." The review praises the screen and the stylus, but points out some odd scaling issues as well. The Verge's review also mentions the scaling, and notes the strangeness of dealing with issues inherent to a Windows desktop OS — like antivirus — on a tablet. BGR looks at the big picture, calling the Surface Pro Microsoft's "declaration of war" on its hardware partners. All three reviews dwell on how the Surface Pro exists at the intersection of laptop and tablet, and doesn't quite fulfill either role. Ars says, "From the tablet perspective, Surface Pro is not acceptable. It gets too hot for a hand-held device, its battery life is woefully inadequate, and it's too thick and heavy to be comfortable to hand hold for long sessions. ... From a laptop perspective, Surface Pro falls down too. The traditional laptop has a stiff hinge to hold the screen at an angle of your choosing. ... In practice, the Surface RT and Surface Pro have a bigger footprint on my lap even than my old 15-inch MacBook Pro. And if I move a little, whomp, the screen drops off the back of my knees and folds out of sight." The Verge adds, "The real dealbreaker for me was that it's just unusable in my most common position — sitting on my couch, feet on the coffee table, with the computer on my lap."
Layzej writes "Last summer a paper investigating the link between conspiratorial thinking and the rejection of climate science provoked a response on blogs skeptical of the scientific consensus that appeared to illustrate the very cognitive processes at the center of the research. This generated data for a new paper titled 'Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation (PDF).' The researchers reviewed the reactions for evidence of conspiratorial thinking, including the presumption of nefarious intent, perception of persecution, the tendency to detect meaning in random events, and the ability to interpret contrary evidence as evidence that the conspiracy is even greater in scope that was originally believed. Some of the hypotheses promoted to dismiss the findings of the original paper ultimately grew in scope to include actors beyond the authors, such as university executives, a media organization, and the Australian government. It is not clear whether the response to this paper will itself provide data for further research, or how far down this recursion could progress. I fear the answer may be 'all the way.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Decapping chips and recovering code or data is nothing new, but the old problem of recovering Masked ROM through visual inspection (binary '0' and '1' can be distinguished within the images) is normally done by crowd sourcing a manual typing effort. Now a tool that semi-automates this process and then recovers the data automatically has been released."
itwbennett writes "DARPA (the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has awarded $3 million to software provider Continuum Analytics to help fund the development of Python's data processing and visualization capabilities for big data jobs. The money will go toward developing new techniques for data analysis and for visually portraying large, multi-dimensional data sets. The work aims to extend beyond the capabilities offered by the NumPy and SciPy Python libraries, which are widely used by programmers for mathematical and scientific calculations, respectively. The work is part of DARPA's XData research program, a four-year, $100 million effort to give the Defense Department and other U.S. government agencies tools to work with large amounts of sensor data and other forms of big data."
An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood has a post on his Coding Horror weblog about his latest project, Discourse, 'a next-generation, 100% open source discussion platform built for the next decade of the Internet.' Along with Coding Horror, Jeff is most well-known for his work on Stack Exchange and its family of related sites. In the same way that he tried to improve Q&A sites, he hopes to make forum/discussion software better with a team of folks he's pulled together for the task. They're using the 'Wordpress model' of offering both open source software and commercial offerings. The software interface is an in-browser app via Ember.js, with a Ruby on Rails and Postgres backend. I wonder if it will ever have an NNTP gateway."