First time accepted submitter TheGift73 writes "I have to admit, when I first read about this I thought it was a hoax, but unfortunately it's true. The UK government is considering placing surface-to-air missiles on residential buildings in London for the duration of the London Olympics. From the article: 'The Ministry of Defence is considering placing surface-to-air missiles on residential flats during the Olympics. An east London estate, where 700 people live, has received leaflets saying a "Higher Velocity Missile system" could be placed on a water tower. A spokesman said the MoD had not yet decided whether to deploy ground based air defence systems during the event.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
redletterdave writes "While downloading and storing digital media with online service providers has become commonplace — more so than purchasing DVDs and CDs at physical retail stores — it's not very easy to transfer digital files from one individual to another, usually because of copyright laws. Some digital distributors have systems for limiting usage and distribution of their products from the original purchaser to others, but often times, transferring a copyright-protected file from one device to another can result in the file being unplayable or totally inaccessible. Apple believes it has a solution to this issue: A gift-giving platform where users have a standardized way for buying, sending and receiving media files from a provider (iTunes) between multiple electronic devices (iPhones, iPads). The process is simply called, 'Gifting.'"
GMGruman writes "Simon Phipps writes, "As Apache licenses proliferate, two warring camps have formed over whether the GPL is or isn't falling out of favor in favor of the Apache License." But as he explores the issues on both sides, he shows how the binary thinking on the issue is misplaced, and that the truth is more nuanced, with Apache License gaining in commercially focused efforts but GPL appearing to increase in software-freedom-oriented efforts. In other words, it depends on the style of open source."
mikejuk writes "John Graham-Cumming is the leading light behind a project to actually build the analytical engine dreamed of by Charles Babbage. There is a tendency to think that everything that Babbage thought up was little more than a calculating machine, but as the video makes 100% clear the analytical engine was a real computer that could run programs. From the article: 'Of course Ada Lovelace was the first programmer, but more importantly her work with Babbage took the analytical engine from the realms of mathematical table construction into the wider world of non-mathematical programming. Her notes indicate that had the machine been built there is no question that it would have been exploited just as we use silicon-based machines today. To see the machine built and running programs would be the final proof that Babbage really did invent the general purpose computer in the age of the steam engine.'"
bs0d3 writes "The FCC has voted to require broadcast TV stations to post online advertising rates they charge political candidates and advocacy groups. The vote came despite strong opposition from many broadcasters. 'By law, television stations offer political candidates advertising rates that are much lower than those offered to other advertisers.' Advocates argue the public should have easy access to information about how much candidates and other groups are spending on television to suck in voters. 'Network-affiliated stations in the top 50 markets will have six months to comply. For all others, the deadline is 2014.'"
suraj.sun writes "According to The Hill, 'The Social Networking Online Protection Act, introduced by Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel (N.Y.) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), would prohibit current or potential employers from demanding a username or password to a social networking account. "We must draw the line somewhere and define what is private," Engel said in a statement. "No one would feel comfortable going to a public place and giving out their username and passwords to total strangers. They should not be required to do so at work, at school, or while trying to obtain work or an education. This is a matter of personal privacy and makes sense in our digital world."' Ars adds, 'The bill would apply the same prohibitions to colleges, universities, and K-12 schools. ... Facebook has already threatened legal action against organizations who require employees to reveal their Facebook passwords as policy.'" Maryland beat them to the punch, and other states are working on similar laws too. We'll have to hope the U.S. House doesn't kill this one like they did the last attempt. The difference this time is that the concept has its own bill, while its previous incarnation was an amendment to an existing bill about reforming FCC procedures.
New submitter elphie007 writes "Australian consumers may finally see the end of being overcharged for software simply because they live outside the U.S. Minister for Communications Senator Stephen Conroy (champion of Australia's National Broadband Network) is reported to be finalizing the terms of reference for a parliamentary inquiry into software pricing in Australia. Last week, Adobe announced Australians would be charged up to $1,600 more for Adobe CS6. With the ongoing strength of the Aussie dollar against the U.S. dollar, Australians should really be paying less, not more for software & music purchased online."
An anonymous reader writes "An article at the NY Times explains the how the most profitable tech company in the world becomes even more profitable by finding ways to avoid or minimize taxes. Quoting: 'Apple's headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif. By putting an office in Reno, just 200 miles away, to collect and invest the company's profits, Apple sidesteps state income taxes on some of those gains. California's corporate tax rate is 8.84 percent. Nevada's? Zero. ... As it has in Nevada, Apple has created subsidiaries in low-tax places like Ireland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands — some little more than a letterbox or an anonymous office — that help cut the taxes it pays around the world. ... Without such tactics, Apple's federal tax bill in the United States most likely would have been $2.4 billion higher last year, according to a recent study (PDF) by a former Treasury Department economist, Martin A. Sullivan. As it stands, the company paid cash taxes of $3.3 billion around the world on its reported profits of $34.2 billion last year, a tax rate of 9.8 percent."
mikejuk writes "Face recognition techniques usually come with a certain amount of controversy. A new application, however, is unlikely to trigger any privacy concerns — because all of the subjects are long dead. 'FACES: Faces, Art, and Computerized Evaluation Systems' will attempt to apply face recognition software to portraits. Three University of California, Riverside researchers have just received funding to try and piece together the who's who in history. 'Almost every portrait painted before the 19th century was of a person of some importance. As families fell on hard times, many of these portraits were sold and the identities of these subjects were lost. The question we hope to answer is, can we restore these identities?' If the algorithm can be fine tuned we can look forward to the digitized collections of museums and art galleries around the world suddenly yielding a who-knew-who social network graph that could put more science, and computer science at that, into history."
suraj.sun writes "CISPA, the hotly-contested cybersecurity bill making its way through Congress, has been supported by Microsoft since it was introduced. However, the company now tells CNET that any such legislation must 'honor the privacy and security promises we make to our customers,' while also 'protecting consumer privacy.' As you may recall, the U.S. House passed CISPA on Thursday. The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill. Quoting CNET: 'That's a noticeable change — albeit not a complete reversal — from Microsoft's position when CISPA was introduced in November 2011. To be sure, Microsoft's initial reaction to CISPA came before many of the privacy concerns had been raised. An anti-CISPA coalition letter (PDF) wasn't sent out until April 16, and a petition that garnered nearly 800,000 signatures wasn't set up until April 5. What makes CISPA so controversial is a section saying that, "notwithstanding any other provision of law," companies may share information with Homeland Security, the IRS, the NSA, or other agencies. By including the word "notwithstanding," CISPA's drafters intended to make their legislation trump all existing federal and state laws, including ones dealing with wiretaps, educational records, medical privacy, and more.'"
New submitter jools33 writes "The BBC has a fascinating story about how a mathematical formula revolutionized the world of finance — and ultimately could have been responsible for its downfall. The Black-Scholes mathematical model, introduced in the '70s, opened up the world of options, futures, and derivatives trading in a way that nothing before or since has accomplished. Its phenomenal success and widespread adoption lead to Myron Scholes winning a Nobel prize in economics. Yet the widespread adoption of the model may have been responsible for the financial crisis of the past few years. It's interesting to ponder how algorithms and formulas that we work on today could fundamentally influence humanity's future."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt that sounds like a good Neal Stephenson plot point: "Like a treasure chest stuffed with priceless booty, as many as 20 World War II-era Spitfire planes are perfectly preserved, buried in crates beneath Burma — and after 67 years underground, they're set to be uncovered. The planes were shipped in standard fashion in 1945 from their manufacturer in England to the Far East country: waxed, wrapped in greased paper and tarred to protect against the elements. They were then buried in the crates they were shipped in, rather than let them fall into enemy hands, said David Cundall, an aviation enthusiast who has spent 15 years and about $200,000 in his efforts to reveal the lost planes."
An anonymous reader writes "The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Amazon.com will soon start collecting sales tax from buyers in state of Texas. 'Seattle-based Amazon, which had $34 billion in sales in 2010, has long opposed collecting taxes. That has drawn fire from state governments facing budget shortfalls and from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, who say online sellers essentially give customers an automatic discount when they don’t collect taxes. Combs has estimated the state loses $600 million a year from untaxed online sales. However, Amazon has recently begun making deals with a number of states to collect sales tax. Those deals have usually included a one- to three-year window exempting Amazon from sales tax collection.'"
An anonymous reader writes "If you are looking for small niche features such as interactive word count, bundled report designer, or command line filtering etc – LibreOffice beats OpenOffice hands down. 'Noting the important dates of June 1, 2011, which was when Oracle donated OOo to Apache; and Apache OpenOffice 3.4 is due probably sometime in May 2012; Meeks compared Apache OpenOffice 3.4 new features to popular new features from LibreOffice: 3.3, 3.4, 3.5. It wasn't surprising to find that LibreOffice has merged many features not found in Apache OO given their nearly year long head start.'"