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Updated: 7 hours 33 min ago

Cheap At $40,000: Phoenix Exoskeleton Gives Paraplegics Legs to Walk With

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 3:37am
Fast Company highlights the cheap-for-the-price Phoenix exoskeleton, created by University of California Berkeley professor (and Berkeley Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory director) Homayoon Kazerooni and a team of his former grad students at SuitX, a company Kazerooni founded in 2013. Set to sell for $40,000 when it goes on sale next month, the Phoenix sounds expensive -- except compared to the alternatives. For paraplegic patients, there are a handful of other powered exoskeletons, but they cost much more, and are engineered for more than the modest goals of the Phoenix, which allows only one thing: slow walking on level ground. That limited objective means that the rig is light (27 pounds), and relatively unobtrusive. Kazerooni says that he'd like the price to go down much further, too, noting that all the technology in a modern motorcyle can be had for the quarter of the price. A slice: [The] only driving motors in Phoenix are at the hip joints. When the user hits a forward button on their crutches, their left hip swings forward. At this moment, the onboard computer signals the knee to become loose, flex, and clear the ground. As the foot hits, the knee joint stiffens again to support the leg. This computer-choreographed process repeats for the right leg. As it happens, this hinged knee joint has another benefit. If the wearer hits something midstep, like a rock or a curb, a powered knee would blindly drive the leg forward anyway, likely leading to a fall. The hinge naturally absorbs such resistance and allows the wearer a chance to compensate.

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Patent Troll VirnetX Awarded $626M In Damages From Apple

Thu, 02/04/2016 - 1:11am
Tackhead writes: Having won a $200M judgement against Microsoft in 2010, lost a $258M appeal against Cisco in 2013, and having beaten Apple for $368M in 2012, only to see the verdict overturned in 2014, patent troll VirnetX is back in the news, having been awarded $626M in damages arising from the 2012 Facetime patent infringement case against Apple.

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Julian Assange May Surrender To British Police On Friday

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 10:22pm
bestweasel writes: As reported by The Guardian and others, Julian Assange has announced via Wikileaks that: "Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. ... However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me."

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Beyond the Liberator: A 3D-Printed Plastic 9mm Semi-Auto Pistol

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 7:40pm
Profiled at Ars Technica is the (mostly) 3D-printed semi-auto pistol design from a West Virginia maker known as Derwood. The PLA-based design, which Derwood calls the Shuty MP-1, isn't quite all-plastic; like others that are roughly similar, it utilizes metal for a few parts that aren't practical in plastic. (Ars says just the barrel and springs, but it looks like metal is used for the guide rod and an internal plate, as well as for the screws that hold the whole thing together.) The core of the gun is a lower that bears a strong resemblance to an AR-15's, but the assembled gun looks to me more like a Skorpion submachine gun. Unlike Cody Wilson's single-shot Liberator pistol (mentioned here a few times before), the design files are not available for download -- at least not yet: "Not long," Derwood writes in a comment on a YouTube video of the pistol's assembly.

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Storing Very Large Files On Amazon's Unlimited Cloud Photo Storage

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 4:57pm
AmiMoJo writes: Last year Amazon started offering unlimited cloud storage for photos to customers who subscribed to its "Prime" service. Japanese user YDKK has developed a tool to store arbitrary data inside a .bmp file, which can then be uploaded to Amazon's service. A 1.44GB test image containing an executable file uploaded at over 250Mb/sec, far faster than typical cloud storage services that are rate limited and don't allow extremely large files.

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Link Rot Rx: 'Amber' Add-on For WordPress and Drupal

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 3:48pm
David Rothman writes: If you run a WordPress or Drupal site, you can now fight link rot with Amber, a new open source add-on from Harvard's Berkman Center. If links are dead, visitors can still summon up the pages as stored on your server or, if you prefer, outside ones such as the Internet Archive. TeleRead has the details, and the Amber site is here, with download information.

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Russia Begins Work On a Lunar Lander

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 3:27pm
MarkWhittington writes: Whether and when Russia will try to send cosmonauts to the moon is an open question. The Putin government has heavily slashed spending on the Russian space program, a measure brought on by declining oil and gas revenues. But, as Popular Mechanics reports, Russian engineers have gone ahead and have started to design a lunar lander for the eventual Russian lunar surface effort. When money is going to be forthcoming for such a vehicle is unknown, though Russia could partner with another country with lunar ambitions, such as China or the European Union.

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New Hack Shrinks Docker Containers

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 2:46pm
destinyland writes: Promising "uber tiny Docker images for all the things," Iron.io has released a new library of base images for every major language optimized to be as small as possible by using only the required OS libraries and language dependencies. "By streamlining the cruft that is attached to the node images and installing only the essentials, they reduced the image from 644 MB to 29MB,"explains one technology reporter, noting this makes it quicker to download and distribute the image, and also more secure. "Less code/less programs in the container means less attack surface..." writes Travis Reeder, the co-founder of Iron.io, in a post on the company's blog. "Most people who start using Docker will use Docker's official repositories for their language of choice, but unfortunately if you use them, you'll end up with images the size of the Empire State Building..."

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Former DoE Employee Ensnared By Secret-Selling Sting Pleads Guilty

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 2:06pm
mdsolar writes: A former Energy Department employee accused of attempting to infiltrate the agency's computer system to steal nuclear secrets and sell them to a foreign government pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of attempting to damage protected government computers in an email "spear-phishing attack." Charles Harvey Eccleston, a former employee at the department and at the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was arrested March 27 by Philippine authorities after an undercover FBI sting operation. Eccleston, 62, a U.S. citizen who had been living in the Philippines since 2011, was "terminated" from his job at the NRC in 2010, according to the Justice Department. In January 2015, the department said, he targeted more than 80 Energy Department employees in Washington at four national nuclear labs with emails containing what he thought were links to malicious websites that, if activated, could infect and damage computers.

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Torrents Time Lets Anyone Launch Their Own Web Version of Popcorn Time

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 1:24pm
An anonymous reader writes: Popcorn Time, an app for streaming video torrents, just got its own web version: Popcorn Time Online. Unlike other attempts to bring Popcorn Time into the browser, this one is powered by a tool called Torrents Time, which delivers the movies and TV shows via an embedded torrent client. Oh, and the developers have released the code so that anyone can create their own version. If Popcorn Time is Hollywood's worst nightmare, Torrents Time is trying to make sure Hollywood can't wake up.

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Ask Slashdot: Fixing UVC Camera Issues Under Windows?

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 12:43pm
Khyber writes: I bought some cheap Chinese camera glasses with built-in microphones. These are (supposedly) UVC cameras manufactured in 2015. Under Windows XP, these cameras are seen perfectly fine and work as web cameras; even the microphones work. Under Windows 7, the camera appears to install just fine, however I get the 'This device can perform faster if you connect to USB 2.0' (which it is connected to) and when I try to load it up with any camera viewer such as manycam or any chat program's built-in previewer, I cannot receive any video from the camera. I can get audio from the camera microphones under Windows 7, so I am wondering if the camera device is having problems enumerating as a USB 2.0 device due to some change in Windows 7 (which it doesn't seem to have issues doing under XP,) or if the UVC driver for Windows 7 is missing something in comparison to the one used for Windows XP. Anybody else had issues getting newer UVC cameras to work in newer operating systems?

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Ethics Panel Endorses Mitochondrial Therapy, But Says Start With Male Embryos

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 12:19pm
sciencehabit writes: An experimental assisted reproduction technique that could allow some families to avoid having children with certain types of heritable disease should be allowed to go forward in the United States, provided it proceeds slowly and cautiously. That is the conclusion of a report released today from a panel organized by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), which assesses the ethics questions surrounding the controversial technique called mitochondrial DNA replacement therapy. More controversially, however, the panel recommended that only altered male embryos should be used to attempt a pregnancy, to limit the possible risks to future generations. (Males can't pass along the mitochondrial DNA that is altered in the procedure.)

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MIT Inches Closer To ARC Reactor Despite Losing Federal Funding

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 12:00pm
Lucas123 writes: Experimenting with a fusion device over the past 20 years has edged MIT researchers to their final goal, creating a small and relatively inexpensive ARC reactor, three of which would produce enough energy to power a city the size of Boston. The lessons already learned from MIT's even current Alcator C-Mod fusion device — with a plasma radius of just 0.68 meters — have enabled researchers to publish a paper on a prototype ARC that would be the world's smallest fusion reactor but with the greatest magnetic force and energy output for its size. The ARC would require 50MW to run while putting out about 200MW of electricity to the grid. Key to MIT's ARC reactor would be the use of a "high-temperature" rare-earth barium copper oxide (REBCO) superconducting tape for its magnetic coils, which only need to be cooled to 100 Kelvin, which enables the use of abundant liquid nitrogen as a cooling agent. Other fusion reactors' superconducting coils must be cooled to 4 degrees Kelvin. While there remain hurdles to overcome, such as sustaining the fusion reaction long enough to achieve a net power return, building the ARC would only take 4 to 5 years and cost about $5 billion, compared to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the world's largest tokamak fusion reactor due to go online and begin producing energy in 2027.

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Low-Cost EEG Head-Sets Promise Virtual Reality Feedback Loops

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 11:19am
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the University of Memphis have found that it's possible to use a low-cost EEG device such as the $300 Emotiv Epoc to understand how a user is feeling — opening up the path to genuine psycho-biological feedback in virtual/augmented reality scenarios. The Epoc has been used, in combination with the Razer Hydra, to give users control over VR/AR environments, but integrating emotional feedback into VR environments heralds many new possibilities in the fields of medical research, gaming — and, of course, marketing research.

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Receiving Real-Time Imagery From Russia's Meteor-M N2 Satellite

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 10:37am
An anonymous reader writes: The Meteor-M N2 is a low orbit Russian weather satellite which broadcasts live weather satellite images, similar to the APT images produced by the NOAA satellites. But Meteor digital images are however much better as they are transmitted as a digital signal with an image resolution 12x greater than the aging analog NOAA APT signals. Radio enthusiasts are receiving images with hacked cheap digital TV dongles. There is even the AMIGOS project which stands for Amateur Meteor Images Global Observation System: users around the world can contribute Meteor images through the internet to create worldwide real-time coverage.

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Winner of the 2015 Underhanded C Contest Announced

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 10:18am
Xcott Craver writes: The Underhanded C contest results have now been announced. This time the contest challenge was to cause a false match in a nuclear inspection scenario, allowing a country to remove fissile material from a warhead without being noticed. The winner receives $1000 from the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

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Elon Musk Cancels Stewart Alsop's Tesla Order Over Complaints About Launch Event

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 9:56am
New submitter umafuckit writes: Blogger Stewart Alsop wrote an open letter to Elon Musk following a supposedly badly run launch event for the Model X. Alsop complained that the event started almost 2 hours late and was unable to test drive the car (for which has put down a deposit). In response, Musk cancelled Alsop's pre-order saying "Must be a slow news day if denying service to a super rude customer gets this much attention." Alsop, who is known not just for his prolific blogging but for his role as a founding partner at VC firm Alsop Louie Partners, compares his treatment by Tesla to that of BMW, about which he's also said some unflattering things as a customer.

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Shopping Mall SMS Parking Notifications Could Be Used To Track Any Car

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:22pm
Bismillah writes: Westfield's Scentre Group has removed SMS notifications for its ticketless parking system after it was discovered they could be used to track other people's cars unnoticed. The system allows you to enter any licence plate, which in turn will be scanned upon entry and exit at mall parking facilities — and when the free parking time is up, a notification message is sent to the mobile phone number entered, with the exact location of the car.

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How Uber Profits Even When Its Drivers Aren't Earning Money

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 8:32pm
tedlistens writes: Jay Cassano spoke to Uber drivers about "dead miles" and what work means when your boss is an algorithm, and considers a new frontier of labor concerns and big data. "Uber is the closest thing to an employer we've ever seen in this industry," Bhairavi Desai, founder of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, told him. "They not only direct every aspect of a driver's workday, they also profit off the entire day through data collection, not just the 'sale of a product.'"

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Ask Slashdot: How Can We Improve Slashdot?

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 5:42pm
Hi all. Most of you are already aware that Slashdot was sold by DHI Group last week, and I very much enjoyed answering questions and reading feedback in the comments of that announcement story. There's no doubt that the Slashdot community is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, and prolific communities on the web. I wanted to use this opportunity to get a discussion going on how we can improve Slashdot moving forward. I am not talking about a full re-design that will detract from the original spirit of Slashdot, but rather: user experience, bug fixes, and feature improvements that are requested from actual /. users. We appreciated many of your suggestions in the story announcing the sale, and I have taken note of those suggestions. This story will serve as a more master list for feature requests and improvement suggestions. We welcome any and all suggestions. Some ideas mentioned in the sale story were, in no particular order: Unicode support, direct messaging, increased cap on comment scores, put more weight on firehose voting to determine which stories make the front page, reduced time required between comments, and many more. We'd love a chance to discuss these suggestions and feature improvements and pros and cons here before we bring them back to our team for implementation.

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