New submitter WOOFYGOOFY writes "The most recent call for curtailing patents comes not just from an unexpected source, the St. Louis Fed, but also in its most basic form: total abolition of all patents. Via the Atlantic Monthly: a new working paper (PDF) from two members of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, Michele Boldrin and David Levine, in which they argue that while a weak patent system may mildly increase innovation with limited side-effects, such a system can never be contained and will inevitably lead to a stifling patent system such as that presently found in the U.S. They argue: '...strong patent systems retard innovation with many negative side-effects. ... the political demand for stronger patent protection comes from old and stagnant industries and firms, not from new and innovative ones. Hence the best solution is to abolish patents entirely through strong constitutional measures and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent-seeking.' They acknowledge that some industries could suffer under a such a system. They single out pharma, and suggest other legislative measures be found to foster innovation whenever there is clear evidence that laissez-faire under-supplies it."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
chicksdaddy writes "In the wake of Adobe's warning on Thursday about a high profile compromise on its network, security experts say the incident raises troubling questions about the extent of the breach at a company that makes software running on hundreds of millions of computers. Writing on Thursday, Brad Arkin, Adobe's Senior Director of Product Security And Privacy, reassured customers that the company's source code wasn't stolen, nor did the hackers have access to code for any of Adobe's core products like Adobe Reader or Flash. However, those with expertise in breaking into networks and cleaning up after hacks said the nature of the attack – which Adobe has described as having the characteristics of an 'APT' – or advanced persistent threat – make it difficult to know what attackers did or did not have access to and whether or not the threat has been removed. 'If you put yourself in the hacker's position you realize how much they must have known about Adobe internals to perform the hack they performed,' said Dave Aitel of Immunity Inc. 'If they had that kind of access it's very hard to say that they were limited in their access and are completely removed from the network.'"
cylonlover writes "Titan is Saturn's largest moon, and it's said to be one of the most Earth-like celestial bodies in the Solar System. It has a thick atmosphere, and is covered with a network of seas, lakes and rivers – albeit ones made up of liquid hydrocarbons instead of water. Now, a team of scientists are proposing sending a boat-like probe to Titan, that would travel across its largest lake. The probe, which is still in the concept stage, is known as TALISE – that stands for Titan Lake In-situ Sampling Propelled Explorer, although it's also an Iroquois word for 'beautiful water.' The plan calls for it to land in the middle of Ligeia Mare, which is near the moon's north pole. It would then set out on a six-month to one-year mission, taking scientific measurements and obtaining samples as it makes its way to the closest shore."
TrueSatan writes "Reminiscent of buggy whip manufacturers taking legal action against auto makers, the former U.S. Register of Copyrights, Ralph Oman, has given an amicus brief in the Aereo case (PDF) stating that all new content-delivery technology should be presumed illegal unless and until it is approved by Congress. He adds that providers of new technology should be forced to apply to Congress to prove they don't upset existing business models."
linjaaho writes "A group of Finnish mathematics researchers, teachers and students write an upper secondary mathematics textbook in a three-day booksprint. The event started on Friday 28th September at 9:00 (GMT+3) and the book will be (hopefully) ready on Sunday evening. The book is written in Finnish. The result — LaTeX source code and the PDF — is published with open CC-BY-license. As far as the authors know, this is the first time a course textbook is written in three-day hackathon. The hackathon approach has been used earlier mainly for coding open source software and writing manuals for open source software. The progress can be followed by visiting the repository at GitHub or the project Facebook page."
An anonymous reader writes "On September 26th the Blender Foundation released their fourth open source short movie called Tears of Steel. This time around, Blender, the fantastic open source 3d modeling/animation/shading/rendering package, was used to mix 3D digital content with live action (PDF). The short was produced using only open source software and the team did an outstanding job."
sciencehabit writes "Like all invisible things that are only partly understood, black holes evoke a sense of mystery. Astronomers know that the tremendous gravitational pull of a black hole sucks matter in, and that the material falling in causes powerful jets of particles to shoot out of the hole at nearly the speed of light. But how exactly this phenomenon occurs remains a matter of conjecture, because astronomers have never quite managed to observe the details – until now. Astrophysicists have taken the closest look to date at the region where matter swirls around a black hole. By measuring the size of the base of a jet shooting out of the supermassive black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy (abstract), the researchers conclude that the black hole must be spinning and that the material orbiting must also be swirling in the same direction. Some of the material from this orbiting 'accretion disk' is also falling into the black hole, like water swirling down a drain."
mcpublic writes "For years the Computer History Museum has been quietly collecting and displaying the computational relics of yesteryear. Now, finally the New York Times Arts Section shines the spotlight on this most nerdy of museums. Speak Steampunk? You can find a working replica of Babbage's Difference Engine in the lobby of the museum's Mountain View, California home. Of course, the vast majority of the collection is electronic, and though 'big iron' is king, that hasn't stopped dedicated volunteers from bringing back to life pioneering 'mini' computers like the 1960 PDP-1 and the first video game software ever: Spacewar!"
Hugh Pickens writes "Will Oremus reports that Fox News showed a grisly spectacle Friday afternoon during a live car chase when the suspect got out of his car, stumbled down a hillside, pulled a gun, and shot himself in the head. As the scene unfolded, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith grew increasingly apprehensive, then yelled 'get off it, get off it!,' belatedly urging the show's producers to stop the live feed as it became obvious the man was going to do something rash. Fox News cut awkwardly to a commercial just after showing his death and after Fox aired the on-air suicide, Smith apologized to viewers, saying, 'We really messed up.' However BuzzFeed immediately posted the footage on YouTube, where it garnered more than 1,000 'likes' in under an hour, sparking immediate blowback. 'Who's worse? @FoxNews for airing the suicide, or @BuzzFeed for re-posting the video just in case you missed it the first time?' posted the Columbia Journalism Review. Gawker's Hamilton Nolan called his site's decision to post the video 'ethical,' because 'it is news' but research suggests that graphic depictions of suicide in the media can spur copycat suicides, especially among young people, and the World Health Organization's guidelines warn against sensationalizing it. Virtually everyone who has studied it agrees that, at a minimum, suicides should be covered with a modicum of sensitivity and context (PDF). 'Of course it's news that Fox News accidentally aired the video. And you can make a good case that Fox was inviting this type of debacle with its habit of airing live car-chase feeds. But Fox couldn't have known that it was about to air a suicide. BuzzFeed, by contrast, knew exactly what it was doing,' writes Oremus. 'That might be good business for BuzzFeed, but it's hard to see the benefit for anyone else.'"
b1tbkt writes "I live at the corner of one of the busiest intersections in my city (pop. 350k). Although I've replaced all windows, insulated, and caulked every square inch of the place, the fire trucks and cars with obnoxious stereos still regularly intrude on my home office. Most of the noise comes in through the windows. I'm considering mounting an oblong parabolic reflector in the ceiling above the windows with a steady feed of white or brownian noise directed into it (e.g., via a small speaker placed within the reflector) to create a 'wall' of sound that would act as a buffer to the outside world. Active noise cancellation would be nice, too, but that's probably more than I want to take on. I don't see any products on the market for this sort of thing. Does anyone have any experiences to share with similar homebrew noise remediation efforts?"
An anonymous reader writes "After just over a month of release candidates, the final version of Python 3.3 launched today. This version includes new syntax, including the yield from expression for generator delegation; new library modules, including fault handler (for debugging crashes), ipaddress, and lzma (for data compression using the XZ/LZMA algorithm); a reworked OS and I/O exception hierarchy; the venv module for programmatic access to Python virtual environments; and a host of API changes. The full list of features and the change log are both available."
An anonymous reader writes "Real-world military conventions have had obvious effects on many sci-fi books, movies, and TV shows. But how does their fictional representation stack up against the evolving rules of high-tech warfare? In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, a naval analyst discusses some of the technological assumptions involved in transposing sea combat to space combat, and his amusement with the trope of 'aircraft carriers in space.' He says, 'Star Wars is probably the worst. There is no explanation for why X-Wings [fighters] do what they do, other than the source material is really Zeroes [Japanese fighter planes] from World War II. Lucas quite consciously copied World War II fighter combat. He basically has said they analyzed World War II movies and gun camera footage and recreated those shots. Battlestar Galactica has other issues. One thing I have never understood is why the humans didn't lose halfway through the first episode. If information moves at the speed of light, and one side has a tactically useful FTL [faster-than-light] drive to make very small jumps, then there is no reason why the Cylons couldn't jump close enough and go, "Oh, there the Colonials are three light minutes away, I can see where they are, but they won't see me for three minutes?"'"
MojoKid writes "The backlash against Windows 8 from various developers continues, but this time a game's creator isn't just expressing discontent. Notch, the developer behind smash hit Minecraft, has declared that he won't be working with Microsoft to certify Minecraft for Windows 8. Note that this doesn't mean Minecraft won't run on Windows 8. The certification process in question is Microsoft's mandatory rules for submitting content to the Windows game store. In order to be listed there, an application must be Metro-compatible and conform to a laundry list of other conditions. The real problem with Windows 8 is that it locks ARM users into a second class experience. If you buy an x86 tablet, you can download programs from SourceForge, GitHub, or any file mirror. If you're an ARM user, you can download programs from the Microsoft store and that's it. The bifurcated permission structure is the problem, and it makes WinRT tablets categorically impossible to recommend for anyone who values the ability to install whatever software they please."
First time accepted submitter Chris453 writes "A U.S. appeals court on Friday ruled that Google Inc's Motorola Mobility unit cannot enforce a patent injunction that it obtained against Microsoft Corp in Germany, diminishing Google's leverage in the ongoing smartphone patent wars. Motorola won an injunction against Microsoft in May using their H.264 patents. Apparently the U.S. federal justices in California have worldwide jurisdiction over all court cases — Who knew? Maybe that is why Apple keeps winning lawsuits..."