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.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
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.
Fluffeh writes "Federal authorities have arrested eight men accused of distributing more than $1 million worth of LSD, ecstasy, and other narcotics with an online storefront called 'The Farmer's Market' that used the Tor anonymity service to mask their Internet addresses. Prosecutors said in a press release that the charges were the result of a two-year investigation led by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Los Angeles field division. 'Operation Adam Bomb, ' as the investigation was dubbed, also involved law enforcement agents from several U.S. states and several countries, including Colombia, the Netherlands, and Scotland. The arrests come about a year after Gawker documented the existence of Silk Road, an online narcotics storefront that was available only to Tor users. The site sold LSD, Afghani hashish, tar heroin and other controlled substances and allowed customers to pay using the virtual currency known as Bitcoin."
Fluffeh writes "After around 900 motions and filings, not to mention a timeline of two years, Google and Oracle are finally putting their case before a jury which will be selected on Monday. While Oracle originally sued for billions, the possible damages have come down to a more reasonable $30-something million (the details vary depending on if you ask Google or Oracle). However, the sides are still far apart. Oracle's proposal was a minimum, not a maximum, and Oracle has asked for a tripling of damages because of the 'willful and deliberate nature of Google's infringement.' For ongoing royalties from future sales, Google has proposed payment of just over one-half of one percent of revenue if patent infringement is proven, but Oracle wants more. Beyond financial damages, Oracle has asked for a permanent order preventing Google from continuing to infringe the patents and copyrights. The case is planned to start on Monday afternoon, after jury selection or Tuesday at the latest."
Fluffeh writes "The World Bank is taking steps toward greater transparency. It announced recently that it would be instituting a new 'Open Access policy for its research outputs and knowledge products' beginning July 1. The policy's full title is 'World Bank Open Access Policy for Formal Publications,' and the Bank says it will apply to 'manuscripts and all accompanying data sets... that result from research, analysis, economic and sector work, or development practice... that have undergone peer review or have been otherwise vetted and approved for release to the public; and... for which internal approval for release is given on or after July 1, 2012,' as well as the final reports prepared by outside parties for the Bank. Over 2,100 books and papers from 2009-2012 are already available in the repository"
techfun89 writes "New analysis of data, now 36 years old, from the Viking robots, suggests that NASA had found life on Mars. This conclusion was published by an international team of mathematicians and scientists this week. The Labeled Release experiment looked for signs of microbial metabolism in soil samples in 1976. The general thinking was that the experiment had found geological not biological activity. However, the new study approached things differently. Researchers broke the data into sets of numbers and analyzed the results for complexity. What they found were close correlations between the Viking results' complexity and those of terrestrial biological data sets. Based on this they concluded that the Viking results were more biological in nature than just geological processes."
An anonymous reader writes "The University of Pittsburgh has been plagued with 78 bomb threats (and counting) since February 14. It started low-tech, with handwritten notes, but has progressed to anonymous emails. Nearly every campus building has been a target. The program suspected is anonymous mailer Mixmaster. The university has been evacuating each building when threats come in (day or night), and police departments from around Allegheny County have offered assistance with clearing each building floor by floor with bomb sniffing dogs. There is a popular tracking blog set up by a student as well as a growing Reddit community. Is there any foreseeable defense (forensic or socially engineered) to a situation like this?"
pbahra writes "Conferences for start-ups and entrepreneurs often feature 'pitch contests,' slots in which aspiring entrepreneurs take to the stage to sell their ideas to the audience. Last month's ArabNet conference, held in the Lebanese capital, was no different. What was different, however, was the number of pitches from female entrepreneurs. The stereotype has it that women in the Middle East are subjugated, oppressed and barely let out of their houses. But if that is the case, how come 40% of the pitches were from women—a higher percentage than is typical in equivalent conferences held in Europe? Nor was this closer-to-equal representation of women unique to ArabNet--other conferences in the region boast similar ratios."
Oldcynic writes "The Canadian mint has allowed 500 developers to enter a contest to create a new digital currency. The currency would allow micro payments using electronic devices. From the article: 'Less than a week after the government announced the penny’s impending death, the Mint quietly unveiled its digital currency called MintChip. Still in the research and development phase, MintChip will ultimately let people pay each other directly using smartphones, USB sticks, computers, tablets and clouds. The digital currency will be anonymous and good for small transactions — just like cash, the Mint says. To make sure its technology meets the gold standard in a world where digital transactions are gaining steam, the Mint is holding a contest for software developers to create applications using the MintChip.'" It looks like the Canadian Mint might have a bit of Sweden envy.
snydeq writes "J. Peter Bruzzese questions whether Microsoft receives unfair criticism in the media, while Apple, Facebook, and Google seem to get away from missteps unscathed. 'I've noticed an unfair, ongoing trend: If Microsoft does something a little off, it gets bashed into the ground for it. But if Google, Facebook, or Apple (all three of which can be categorized, like Microsoft, as The Man in their own rights) missteps, it generally gets mild reprimands and even support from the media and those drinking the Kool-Aid.' Do you feel any inherent media bias in its coverage of the tech industry?"
stoolpigeon writes "It is a well known fact that the United States has an obesity problem. There are numerous causes that ultimately lead to an imbalance in the ratio between the number of calories taken in to the number of calories burned. The size of the American diet industry is another good indicator of how widespread the problem has become. Clay Johnson believes that the issues the U.S. has with food have become mirrored in how we consume information." Read below for the rest of stoolpigeon's review.
techfun89 writes "Ever wished that you could defeat Bowser literally right from your coffee table with giant built in buttons? Well, your dreams have come true with the fully-functional Nintendo Controller Coffee Table. This is the creation of Charles Lushear that has combined old school entertainment with maple wood and craftsmanship. Simply plug into an existing classic NES system and go to town. The table also features a removable glass top with retractable cord to use the furniture as just a table when you are done playing Mario."
OverTheGeicoE writes "Jonathan Corbett, creator of the video showing that TSA's body scanners can't see metal objects on our sides, has a new video out. This time he's interviewing an experienced TSA screener identified only as 'Jennifer,' and her allegations point to 'fatal flaws' in TSA and its procedures. Worse, TSA's screeners are well aware of these flaws. According to Jennifer, body scanners frequently fail to detect objects on passengers, and this flaw is well known to the screeners on the job. People with visible items in their pockets can pass through scanners without detection, even when the items are simulated weapons or explosives. Jennifer also alleges that training for screeners is severely lacking. Screeners are directed to operate body scanners, even the X-ray scanners, without any training whatsoever. The manual of standard operating procedures often can't be found at the checkpoints, let alone read. Jennifer was so alarmed by what she experienced that she wrote her congressional representative to complain. She was ultimately fired as a result, effective yesterday."
skywiseguy writes "I have only used Kickstarter to back a single project so far, but one of the backers of that project pointed us to a project promising video capable glasses which was once one of the top 10 highest funded projects in Kickstarter history. After reading through the comments, it is obvious that the project has not met its expected deadline of 'Winter 2011,' but the project team rarely gives any updates with concrete information. All emails sent to them by backers get a form letter in reply, they routinely delete negative comments from their Facebook page, and apparently very soon after the project was funded, they posted pictures of themselves on a tropical beach with the tagline, 'We are not on a beach in Thailand.' Their early promotions were featured on Engadget and other tech sites but since the project was funded they've rarely, if ever, communicated in more than a form letter. So at what point can a project like this be considered to have failed? And if you had backed a project with this kind of lack of communication from the project team, what would you consider to be the best course of action? Disclaimer: I have not backed this project, but I am very interested in funding Kickstarter projects and I do not want to get caught sending money to a less than reputable project. According to the above project's backers, Kickstarter claims to have no mechanism for refunding money to backers of failed projects and no way to hold the project team accountable to their backers. This does not seem like a healthy environment for someone who is averse to giving their money to scam artists."
judgecorp writes "Intel security subsidiary McAfee has claimed a successful wireless attack on insulin pumps that diabetics rely on to control blood sugar. While previous attempts to attack insulin pumps have met with mixed success, McAfee's Barnaby Jack says he has persuaded an insulin pump to deliver 45 days worth of insulin in one go, without triggering the pump's vibrating alert safety feature. All security experts still say that surgical implants are a benefit overall."