New submitter jotaass writes "In news that is guaranteed to make the Linux gaming community (in particular, but not exclusively) excited, Valve has just announced that the Steam for Linux client Beta is now open to the public. A .deb package is available here. Interesting as well, they are using an empty GitHub repository solely as an issue tracker, open for anyone to submit, edit and track bugs, with no actual code in the repo."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
hypnosec writes "By using liquid metal researchers have created wires that can stretch up to eight times their original length while retaining their conduction properties. Scientists over at North Carolina State University made the stretchable wires by filling in a tube made out of an extremely elastic polymer with gallium and an indium liquid metal alloy."
MojoKid writes "3D printing is a fascinating new technology and an exploding new market. The process involved is pretty basic actually. Heat up some plastic, and sort of like that Play-Doh Fun Factory you were so fond of as a kid, you extrude the melted plastic out to create objects. It all started back in 2007 when the first RepRap machine was built. The idea behind RepRap was to design a machine that could build complex parts in three dimensions using extruded molten plastic and that machine could also "self-replicate" or build a copy of itself. Since then, 3D printers of all types have emerged from the community and this round-up of machines covers a few of the more prominent names in 3D printing systems. The Cube 3D, the Up! Mini and the Solidoodle 2 can all get you into 3D printing at retail consumer price points with precision down to 100 microns. The technology has very much come of age and it's going to be interesting to see where these machines can take us."
Dishwasha writes "A fellow co-worker of mine turned me on to CubeSat; apparently there are commercial space companies that will launch CubeSat systems from their payload for a modest fee. Is anybody in the /. community involved in amateur microsatellite systems? How would I go about getting involved at an amateur level? Are there any amateur user groups and meetups I can join? I have limited background in all the prerequisites but am eager to learn even if it takes a lifetime. Any links to design and engineering of satellites would be appreciated."
l2718 writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced today a large donation by Mark Cuban and Markus 'Notch' Persson to the EFF Patent Project. Notably, part of Cuban's donation is for the creation of the 'Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents' (the first holder is current staff attorney Julie Samuels). Time will tell if the new title will help her advocacy work. Cuban said, 'The current state of patents and patent litigation in this country is shameful," said Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks. "Silly patent lawsuits force prices to go up while competition and innovation suffer. That's bad for consumers and bad for business. It's time to fix our broken system, and EFF can help.' Notch added, 'New games and other technological tools come from improving on old things and making them better – an iterative process that the current patent environment could shut down entirely. '"
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Federal Trade Commission today updated the privacy standards that protect children's privacy online. The new rules say companies must gain parental consent before collecting a kid's geolocation data, photos, and videos. It also broadened existing language to include third parties and companies that collect data on users across multiple websites. 'While the new rule strengthens such safeguards, it could also disrupt online advertising. Web sites and online advertising networks often use persistent identification systems — like a customer code number in a cookie in a person's browser — to collect information about a user's online activities and tailor ads for that person. But the new rule expands the definition of personal information to include persistent IDs — such as a customer code number, the unique serial number on a mobile phone, or the I.P. address of a browser — if they are used to show a child behavior-based ads.'"
coondoggie writes "Boeing calls it Project SPUDS — or rather, Synthetic Personnel Using Dielectric Substitution — that is, using sacks of potatoes perched on aircraft seats to test the effectiveness of wireless signals in an airliner cabin. Boeing said it was researching an advanced way to test wireless signals in airplanes and needed a way to effectively simulate 200-300 people sitting in seats throughout the aircraft."
An anonymous reader send this quote from The Star: "The idea that intelligence can be measured by a single number — your IQ — is wrong, according to a recent study led by researchers at the University of Western Ontario (abstract). The study, published in the journal Neuron on Wednesday, involved 100,000 participants around the world taking 12 cognitive tests, with a smaller sample of the group undergoing simultaneous brain-scan testing. 'When we looked at the data, the bottom line is the whole concept of IQ — or of you having a higher IQ than me — is a myth,' said Dr. Adrian Owen, the study’s senior investigator... 'There is no such thing as a single measure of IQ or a measure of general intelligence.'"
jrepin writes "Today KDE released the first release candidate for its renewed Workspaces, Applications, and Development Platform. Thanks to the feedback from the betas, KDE already improved the quality noticeably. Further polishing new and old functionality will lead to a rock-stable, fast and beautiful release in January, 2013. One particular change in this RC is an updated look to Plasma workspaces."
MrSeb writes "If you've not been tracking the thorium hype, you might be interested to learn that the benefits liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs) have over light water uranium reactors (LWRs) are compelling. Alvin Weinberg, who invented both, favored the LFTR for civilian power since its failures (when they happened) were considerably less dramatic — a catastrophic depressurization of radioactive steam, like occurred at Chernobyl in 1986, simply wouldn't be possible. Since the technical hurdles to building LFTRs and handling their byproducts are in theory no more challenging, one might ask — where are they? It turns out that a bunch of U.S. startups are investigating the modern-day viability of thorium power, and countries like India and China have serious, governmental efforts to use LFTRs. Is thorium power finally ready for prime time?"
adeelarshad82 writes "A recently conducted analysis found that out of the top 50 most-funded Kickstarter projects, a whopping 84 percent missed their target delivery dates. As it turns out, only eight of them hit their deadline. Sixteen hadn't even shipped yet, while the remaining 26 projects left the warehouse months late. 'Why are so many crowdfunded projects blowing their deadlines? Over and over in our interviews, the same pattern emerged. A team of ambitious but inexperienced creators launched a project that they expected would attract a few hundred backers. It took off, raising vastly more money than they anticipated — and obliterating the original production plans and timeline.'"
ATKeiper writes "A number of companies have announced plans in the last couple of years to undertake private development of space. There are asteroid-mining proposals backed by Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, various moon-mining proposals, and, announced just this month, a proposed moon-tourism venture. But all of these — especially the efforts to mine resources in space — are hampered by the fact that existing treaties, like the Outer Space Treaty, seem to prohibit private ownership of space resources. A new essay in The New Atlantis revisits the debates about property rights in space and examines a proposal that could resolve the stickiest treaty problems and make it possible to stake claims in space."
New submitter seepho writes "Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has introduced a bill directing the National Academy of Sciences to lead an investigation to determine what impact violent video games have on children. Senator Rockefeller commented, 'Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians, and psychologists know better. These court decisions show we need to do more and explore ways Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue. This report will be a critical resource in this process.'" This legislation was prompted by reports that Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza was a gamer. A draft of the bill is available online.
Esther Schindler writes "We always talk about how programmers improve their skill by reading others' code. But the newbies aren't going to be as good at even doing that, when they start. There's some cool research underway, using eye tracking to compare how an experienced programmer looks at code compared to a novice. Seems to be early days, but worth a nod and a smile." Reader Necroman points out that if the above link is unreachable, try this one. The videos are also available on YouTube: Expert, Novice.
An anonymous reader writes "Intellectual Ventures and RPX Rational Patent, two companies frequently referred to as patent trolls, have snapped up the troubled Kodak company's imaging patents. Bloomberg reports that Kodak has agreed to sell the patent portfolio for $525 million, despite previous valuations of over $2 billion." New submitter speedplane adds "How many stories have we read hating on the biggest patent troll of them all? Finally we see Intellectual Ventures making their case in a Wired op-ed, filled with everything you would would expect from a company suing the tech world on thousands of dubious patents: '...the system needs intermediaries within the market — companies like Intellectual Ventures — to help sift through and navigate the published landscape. By developing focused expertise, these patent licensing entities and intermediaries can function as patent aggregators, assembling portfolios of relevant inventions and providing access through licensing.' And my favorite gem: 'Ultimately, the users of those products — you — are the ones who benefit.'"