westlake writes "From Peoria, the WSJ a look at the giant trucks manufactured by Komatsu and Caterpillar. 'In certain areas — notably aircraft, industrial engines, excavators and railway and mining equipment — the U.S. exports far more than it imports. These industries produce relatively small numbers of very expensive goods, requiring specialized technology and labor. Their competitive advantage rests partly on expertise built by U.S. companies in making durable, high-tech weaponry and other equipment for the military — frequently applicable to other products.' It may surprise you to learn that Komatsu doesn't employee a single industrial robot. The quality of workmanship simply isn't there where it is needed."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
xclr8r writes "A technique to use fiber optics to adjust microscopic particles has been developed. 'Rather than an actual physical device that wraps around a cell or other microscopic particle to apply rotational force, the spanner (the British term for a wrench) is created when two laser beams — emitted by a pair of optical fibers — strike opposite sides of the microscopic object, trapping and holding it in place. By slightly offsetting the fibers, the beams can impart a small twisting force, causing the object to rotate in place. It is possible to create rotation along any axis and in any direction, depending on the positioning of the fibers.' Applications of this technology can be used in a number of ways, including cancer research. This technology could be used to actually manipulate DNA. Associate Professor of Physics Samarendra Mohanty states that macroscale applications are a possibility, including 'direct conversion of solar energy to mechanical energy,' or possibly using it to 'simulate an environment in which photons radiated from the sun could propel the reflective motors in solar sails, a promising future technology for deep-space travel.'"
dsinc sends this quote from Techdirt about the International Telecommunications Union's ongoing conference in Dubai that will have an effect on the internet everywhere: "One of the concerns is that decisions taken there may make the Internet less a medium that can be used to enhance personal freedom than a tool for state surveillance and oppression. The new Y.2770 standard is entitled 'Requirements for deep packet inspection in Next Generation Networks', and seeks to define an international standard for deep packet inspection (DPI). As the Center for Democracy & Technology points out, it is thoroughgoing in its desire to specify technologies that can be used to spy on people. One of the big issues surrounding WCIT and the ITU has been the lack of transparency — or even understanding what real transparency might be. So it will comes as no surprise that the new DPI standard was negotiated behind closed doors, with no drafts being made available."
snydeq writes "A growing trend faces business executives traveling to China: government or industry spooks stealing data from their laptops and installing spyware. 'While you were out to dinner that first night, someone entered your room (often a nominal hotel staffer), carefully examined the contents of your laptop, and installed spyware on the computer — without your having a clue. The result? Exposure of information, including customer data, product development documentation, countless emails, and other proprietary information of value to competitors and foreign governments. Perhaps even, thanks to the spyware, there's an ongoing infection in your corporate network that continually phones home key secrets for months or years afterward.'"
PolygamousRanchKid writes with news the Nokia is looking to generate some cash by selling its headquarters and leasing it back from the new owner. The sale price for the 48,000 sq. meter building is €170 million. "The struggling mobile phone company has operated in the glass and steel building in Espoo near Helsinki, known as Nokia House, since 1997. The sale is another step towards reducing costs and concentrating on its core business. Nokia has spent almost a third of its cash reserves in 12 months, and in October had about €3.6bn left in the bank to turn itself into a smartphone manufacturer capable of competing with Apple and Samsung."
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports on a fan-run project to build a full-scale replica of Han Solo's Millennium Falcon. The ship, 31 feet tall, 114 feet long, and 81.5 feet wide at its widest point, will be built on a plot of land in Tennessee. Since this project is obviously too big for any one fan, or even a small group, they're going to crowdsource some of the construction. Their website has continual updates about various parts of the build, with many, many pictures. For example, here are a couple shots of the Quad guns and cockpit console. Project leader Chris Lee says he bought the land in Tennessee, 88 acres, for this purpose. He says he'd like to 'develop it into more of a creative retreat, like a Maker camp ... where a school could send kids.' The Force is strong with this one!"
SternisheFan sends word of new research out of Ohio State University into the possibility of life arising in other star systems: "Scattered around the Milky Way are stars that resemble our own sun—but a new study is finding that any planets orbiting those stars may very well be hotter and more dynamic than Earth. That's because the interiors of any terrestrial planets in these systems are likely warmer than Earth—up to 25 percent warmer, which would make them more geologically active and more likely to retain enough liquid water to support life, at least in its microbial form. ... 'If it turns out that these planets are warmer than we previously thought, then we can effectively increase the size of the habitable zone around these stars by pushing the habitable zone farther from the host star, and consider more of those planets hospitable to microbial life,' said Unterborn, who presented the results at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week."
An anonymous reader writes "Several large movie studios have asked Google to take down legitimate pages related to their own films, including sites legally hosting, promoting, or discussing them. Victims of the takedown requests include sites where the content is hosted legally (Amazon, CBS, iTunes, Blockbuster, Verizon on demand, and Xfinity), newspapers discussing the content in question (the BBC, CNET, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The Mirror, The Daily Mail, and Wired) as well as official Facebook Pages for the movies and TV shows and even their Wikipedia entries. There are also a number of legitimate links that appear to be completely unrelated to the content that is supposedly being protected. The good news is that Google has so far left many of the links up."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google Android's dominance of the smartphone space has been reinforced by a new IDC study that places its market-share at 68.3 percent, well ahead of iOS at 18.8 percent. But which version of Android is most preferred by users? A new set of graphs on the Android Developers Website offers the answer to that question: 'Gingerbread,' or Android versions 2.3 through 2.3.7, dominates with 50.8 percent of the Android pie. 'Ice Cream Sandwich,' or versions 4.0.3 through 4.0.4, is second with 27.5 percent, with the latest 'Jelly Bean' build at 6.7 percent. As demonstrated by that graph on the Android Developers Website, there are a lot of devices running a lot of different versions of Android out there in the ecosystem, all with different capabilities. In turn, that could make it difficult for Google to deliver 'the latest and greatest' to any customer that wants it, and potentially irritates those customers who buy a smartphone (particularly a high-end one) expecting regular upgrades." Here's how Slashdot readers using Android break down: 31.0% Jelly Bean, 31.5% Ice Cream Sandwich, 0.7% Honeycomb, 22.8% Gingerbread, 4.3% Froyo, 1.1% Eclair, 0.05% Donut, 0.02% Cupcake, 8.5% unknown. Looks like you folks are ahead of the curve. iOS breaks down like this: 67% iOS 6, 28.6% iOS 5, 3.2% iOS 4, 0.5% iOS 3, 0.7% unknown. (These numbers include more than just phones, of course.) Overall, our iOS traffic (8.74%) is higher than our Android traffic (6.75%). Windows Phone and BlackBerry both clock in at about 0.2%.
Rambo Tribble writes "The Swiss spy agency, NDB, reports a disaffected employee walked out with drives containing terabytes of data shared by counter-terrorism agencies in Switzerland, the U.S. and Britain. It is not yet known if he was able to pass on any information before he was apprehended. 'A European security source said investigators now believe the suspect became disgruntled because he felt he was being ignored and his advice on operating the data systems was not being taken seriously.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "In the old days, traditional computer security centered around users. However, Bruce Schneier writes that now some of us have pledged our allegiance to Google (using Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and Android phones) while others have pledged allegiance to Apple (using Macintosh laptops, iPhones, iPads; and letting iCloud automatically synchronize and back up everything) while others of us let Microsoft do it all. 'These vendors are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals. We might refuse to pledge allegiance to all of them — or to a particular one we don't like. Or we can spread our allegiance around. But either way, it's becoming increasingly difficult to not pledge allegiance to at least one of them.' Classical medieval feudalism depended on overlapping, complex, hierarchical relationships. Today we users must trust the security of these hardware manufacturers, software vendors, and cloud providers and we choose to do it because of the convenience, redundancy, automation, and shareability. 'In this new world of computing, we give up a certain amount of control, and in exchange we trust that our lords will both treat us well and protect us from harm (PDF). Not only will our software be continually updated with the newest and coolest functionality, but we trust it will happen without our being overtaxed by fees and required upgrades.' In this system, we have no control over the security provided by our feudal lords. Like everything else in security, it's a trade-off. We need to balance that trade-off. 'In Europe, it was the rise of the centralized state and the rule of law that undermined the ad hoc feudal system; it provided more security and stability for both lords and vassals. But these days, government has largely abdicated its role in cyberspace, and the result is a return to the feudal relationships of yore,' concludes Schneier, adding that perhaps it's time for government to create the regulatory environments that protect us vassals. 'Otherwise, we really are just serfs.'"
Dainsanefh tips a CNET report about a number of law enforcement groups who have put forth a proposal to the U.S. Senate to require wireless providers to keep logs of subscriber text messages for a minimum of two years. "As the popularity of text messages has exploded in recent years, so has their use in criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. They have been introduced as evidence in armed robbery, cocaine distribution, and wire fraud prosecutions. In one 2009 case in Michigan, wireless provider SkyTel turned over the contents of 626,638 SMS messages, a figure described by a federal judge as 'staggering.' Chuck DeWitt, a spokesman for the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, which represents the 63 largest U.S. police forces including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago, said 'all such records should be retained for two years.' Some providers, like Verizon, retain the contents of SMS messages for a brief period of time, while others like T-Mobile do not store them at all. Along with the police association, other law enforcement groups making the request to the Senate include the National District Attorneys' Association, the National Sheriffs' Association, and the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies, DeWitt said."
hypnosec writes "The Linux 3.7 kernel has been delayed by one week as Linus Torvalds has released the Linux 3.7-rc8 instead. Because of some hiccups following the 'resurrection of a kswapd issue,' Torvalds wasn't comfortable releasing version 3.7 this week and instead went ahead with another release candidate. Torvalds revealed in his release announcement that because of this delay, the merge window for Linux 3.8 will close just around Christmas time."
lkcl writes about his effort to go further than others have, and actually have a processor designed for Free Software manufactured: "A new processor is being put together — one that is FSF Endorseable, contains no proprietary hardware engines, yet an 800MHz 8-core version would, at 38 GFLOPS, be powerful enough on raw GFLOPS performance figures to take on the 3ghz AMD Phenom II x4 940, the 3GHz Intel i7 920 and other respectable mid-range 100 Watt CPUs. The difference is: power consumption in 40nm for an 8-core version would be under 3 watts. The core design has been proven in 65nm, and is based on a hybrid approach, with its general-purpose instruction set being designed from the ground up to help accelerate 3D Graphics and Video Encode and Decode, an 8-core 800mhz version would be capable of 1080p30 H.264 decode, and have peak 3D rates of 320 million triangles/sec and a peak fill rate of 1600 million pixels/sec. The unusual step in the processor world is being taken to solicit input from the Free Software Community at large before going ahead with putting the chip together. So have at it: if given carte blanche, what interfaces and what features would you like an FSF-Endorseable mass-volume processor to have? (Please don't say 'DRM' or 'built-in spyware')." There's some discussion on arm-netbook. This is the guy behind the first EOMA-68 card (currently nearing production). As a heads ups, we'll be interviewing him in a live style similarly to Woz (although intentionally this time) next Tuesday.
The Bad Astronomer writes "A recent hearing of the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform became a bully pulpit for antivaccination rhetoric when Representatives Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.) made speeches connecting vaccines to autism — a connection that medical experts have shown does not exist. Although there were actual medical researchers there as witnesses, they were mostly berated by the Congressmen on the panel. Vaccines are one of the most successful medical advancements in human history, having saved hundreds of millions of lives, and after copious studies have been shown to have no connection with autism. Despite this, a vocal antivax lobby exists, including, clearly, members of Congress. In part this is why preventable and potentially fatal diseases like pertussis and measles are once again on the rise."