Fluffeh writes "Twitter today unveiled a bold new commitment that will be made in writing to its employees — the company will not use any patents derived from employee inventions in offensive lawsuits without the inventor's permission. Twitter has written up a draft of what it calls the 'Innovator's Patent Agreement,' or IPA, which encourages its developers to invent without the fear that their inventions will be used for nefarious purposes. 'The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes,' Messinger wrote. 'We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What's more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended.'"
Cazekiel writes "In January 2011, an Air Canada Boeing 767 carrying 95 passengers and eight crew members was on route to Zurich from Toronto when its First Officer, fatigued and disoriented from a long nap he'd taken, panicked in seeing what he believed to be a U.S. cargo plane on a collision course with his aircraft. The panicking F.O. pushed forward on the control column to make a rapid descent. Only, it wasn't an aircraft he'd been looking at, but Venus. According to the article: 'The airliner dropped about 400 feet before the captain pulled back on the control column. Fourteen passengers and two crew were hurt, and seven needed hospital treatment. None were wearing seat belts, even though the seat-belt sign was on.' The only danger in this situation had been the F.O. napping for 75 minutes instead of the maximum 40, as the disorientation and confusion stemming from deeper sleep was the culprit in this mix-up. However, the Air Canada Pilots Association, 'has long pressured authorities to take the stresses of night flying into account when setting the maximum hours a pilot can work,' taking into account that North Atlantic night-flights are hardest on an already-fatigued pilot."
The Bad Astronomer writes "A lot of folks are posting about the amazing new pictures of the icy moon Enceladus returned from the Cassini spacecraft. However, one of them shows the shadow of the moon across the geyser plumes. This has been seen before, but I suddenly realized how that can help determine the geysers' locations, and I thought Slashdot readers might be interested in the general method."
ErichTheRed writes "Yet another move by IBM out of end-user hardware, Toshiba will be buying IBM's retail point-of-sale systems business for $850M. Is it really a good idea for a company defined by good (and in this case, high-margin) hardware to sell it off in favor of nebulous consulting stuff? 'Like IBM's spin-offs of its PC, high-end printer, and disk drive manufacturing businesses to Lenovo, Ricoh, and Hitachi respectively in the past decade, IBM is not just selling off the RSS division but creating a holding company where it will have a stake initially but which it will eventually sell.' Is there really no money in hardware anymore? "
itwbennett writes "John Larson hears a lot of 'ideas' from a lot of entrepreneurs who want his programming expertise, but says he 'will almost never sign an NDA.' He has plenty of reasons for refusing to sign, but one that really resonates is that, regardless of what your lawyer may say, demanding an NDA upfront starts the relationship off on the wrong foot. The bottom line: If you want a programmer to hear you out, don't start by assuming that they'll steal your great idea."
rbarreira writes "The source code for the original Prince of Persia game has been released on github by its author, Jordan Mechner. This release comes three weeks after Jordan announced the find of a box containing old floppy disks that had been forgotten in the back of a closet for 20+ years. A 'digital archeology' effort was launched to recover the contents of the floppy disks, with the help of Jason Scott from textfiles.com. Some photos from the 'copy party' have also been posted."
nk497 writes "Mobile operators are complaining that Nokia's Lumia line of handsets would sell better if it ran a different OS — or if Microsoft was more willing to put marketing money behind Windows Phone. 'No one comes into the store and asks for a Windows phone,' said an executive in charge of mobile devices at one European operator. He said Microsoft's software worked nicely with PCs and allowed you 'to do tons of cool things,' but few customers knew this. 'If the Lumia with the same hardware came with Android in it and not Windows, it would be much easier to sell,' he said."
A longstanding task for the GIMP has been porting the core graphics code from the ancient implementation (dating back to version 1.2) to GEGL. Progress has been hampered by the amount of code relying on details of the implementation of image data: tiles are directly accessed instead of linear buffers, and changing that detail would break the entire core and all plugins. A few weeks ago, two GIMP hackers got together to do some general hacking, and inadvertedly ported the core graphics code to GEGL. They work around the mismatch between GEGL buffers and GIMP tiles by implementing a storage backend for GEGL using the legacy GIMP tiles; to their surprise things Just Worked (tm), and their code branch will become the 2.9 development series once 2.8 is released. With this, 2.10 will finally feature higher bit depth images, additional color spaces (CMYK for one), and hardware accelerated image operations. There's still work to be done: to take advantage of the new features, plugins need to be ported to access GEGL buffers instead of GIMP tiles, but the conversion work is straightforward and current plugins will continue working as well as they do now in the meantime.
redletterdave writes "The outbreak of a new livestock disease in western Europe last year, particularly harmful to offspring, could move further into areas surrounding the worst affected countries in the next cycle of new births, scientists say. The Schmallenberg virus — named after the German town where it was first detected in November — infected sheep and cows on at least 2,600 farms in eight EU countries last year, most likely between August and October. Thought to have been spread for hundreds of miles across Europe by biting midges and warm late summer winds, the virus has since been confirmed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain and Britain. 'It is certainly a warning for the whole world in the sense that, unfortunately, new threats may emerge,' said Alberto Laddomada, a former virologist who heads the animal health unit at the European Commission. 'This virus has spread very, very quickly in the European Union amongst an animal population of many millions.'"
ananyo writes "Many of the problems that led to the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill have not been addressed, say the members of a commission set up by U.S. President Barack Obama to study the disaster. The group released a report today (PDF) on progress towards its 2011 recommendations for preventing future disasters and improving spill response. The U.S. Congress fares worst in the new report, earning a 'D' rating for its failure to enact any meaningful legislation in response to the disaster. The Restore Act would allocate 80% of any fines that BP pays for the spill under the Clean Water Act to restoring the environment and economies of the states in the Gulf of Mexico, but the act has stalled in the House of Representatives. The Obama administration did better, with a B, thanks in part to new drilling regulations, while the oil industry's efforts to improve safety saw it awarded a C+."
theodp writes "How much would you pay for an amazing light bulb? On Sunday — Earth Day — Philips' $60 LED light bulb goes on sale at Home Depot and other outlets. The bulb, which lasts 20 years, won a $10 million DOE contest that stipulated the winning bulb should cost consumers $22 in its first year on the market. Ed Crawford, the head of Philips' U.S. lighting division, said it was always part of the plan to have utility rebates bring the price down to the $22 range."
An anonymous reader writes "The water at a high school in Afghanistan was contaminated today, poisoning roughly 150 girls in attendance. Afghan officials say this was a deliberate attack: 'We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls' education or irresponsible armed individuals.' From the article: 'Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said. They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated. ... None of the officials blamed any particular group for the attack, fearing retribution from anyone named.'"
fishmike writes "NOAA has made sea floor maps and other data on the world's coasts, continental shelves and deep ocean available for easy viewing online. Anyone with Internet access can now explore undersea features and obtain detailed depictions of the sea floor and coasts, including deep canyons, ripples, landslides and likely fish habitat. The new online data viewer compiles sea floor data from the near shore to the deep blue, including the latest high-resolution bathymetric (sea bottom) data collected by NOAA's Office of Coast Survey primarily to support nautical charting."
mdsolar writes in with a Reuters article about the continued fallout of Fukushima on the nuclear industry in Japan. "Japan will within weeks have no nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years, after the trade minister said two reactors idled after the Fukushima disaster would not be back online before the last one currently operating is shut down. Trade Minister Yukio Edano signaled it would take at least several weeks before the government, keen to avoid a power crunch, can give a final go-ahead to restarts, meaning Japan is set on May 6 to mark its first nuclear power-free day since 1970. 'If we thoroughly go through the procedure, it would be (on or) after May 6 even if we could restart them,' Edano told a news conference, adding that whether they can actually be brought back online is still up to ongoing discussions. The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered radiation leaks, has hammered public faith in nuclear power and prevented the restart of reactors shut down for regular maintenance checks, with all but one of 54 reactors now offline."
Hugh Pickens writes "Jean-Louis Gassée writes that iTunes is the best thing that has happened to Apple because without iTunes' innovative micropayment system and its new way of selling songs one at a time, the iPod would have been just another commodity MP3 player. The well-debugged iTunes infrastructure turned out to be a godsend for the emergence of the iPhone. But today, the toxic waste of success cripples iTunes: increasingly non-sensical complexity, inconsistencies, layers of patches over layers of patches ending up in a structure so labyrinthine no individual can internalize it any longer. 'It's a giant kitchen sink piled high with loosely related features, and it's highly un-Apple-like' says Allen Pike. 'Users know it, critics know it, and you can bet the iTunes team knows it. But for the love of god, why?' People naturally suggest splitting iTunes into multiple apps, but Apple can't, because many, if not most iOS users are on Windows. It's Apple's one and only foothold on Windows, so it needs to support everything an iOS device owner could need to do with their device. 'Can you imagine the support hurricane it would cause if Windows users suddenly needed to download, install, and use 3-4 different apps to sync and manage their media on their iPhone?' But help may be on the way with iOS 5. As iCloud duplicates more and more of iTunes' sync functionality, they can start removing it from iTunes. 'Apple is very explicit about it in their marketing materials: they call it "PC Free". They're not quite there yet, but they're driving towards a future where you don't need to manage your iOS device with a PC at all – Mac or Windows.'"