Damien1972 writes "Conservationists have converted a remote-controlled plane into a potent tool for conservation. The drone — an HK Bixler equipped with cameras, sensors and GPS — has been used to map deforestation, count orangutans and elephants, and get a bird's eye view of hard-to-access forest areas. During their 4 days of testing in Sumatra, the drone flew 30 missions without a single crash. A mission, which typically lasts about 25 minutes, can cover 50 hectares. The drone, full equipped, costs less than $2,000."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
smitty777 writes "An Australian woman who was being used by a group of Nigerian scam artists stole over $33,000 from the group who employed her. Her bank account was being used to funnel the cash from a dodgy internet car sales website. Irony aside, it makes one wonder how these folks ever got the nerve to go to the police with this matter. Those of you wondering, this article offers some answers to the question of why so many of these scams originate from this area."
retroworks writes "Great piece in The Atlantic by Kyle Wiens of IFIXIT.org, who visited and photographed the Molycorp Mountain Pass rare earth facility in California's Mojave Desert. The mine is the only source of rare earths in North America, one of the only alternatives to the mineral cartels in China, and one of the only sources for the key metals such as tantalum needed in cell phones. There is of course actually one other source of rare earth metals in the USA — recycled cell phones. Is the best 'state of the art' mining as good as the worst state of the art recycling? If the U.S. Department of Energy subsidizes the mine, will China open the floodgates and put it out of business? Or will electronics be manufactured with alternative materials before the mine ever becomes fully scaleable?"
OverTheGeicoE writes "Here's a familiar story: a breast cancer survivor's mastectomy scars showed up on a TSA scan, which forced a horrifying pat-down ('feel-up' in her words) of the affected area. The woman decided that she would not subject herself to that again, and was barred from a later flight from Seattle to Juneau for that reason. But now the story takes an interesting turn: the woman is Alaska State Rep. Sharon Cissna, and once she finally made it back to Alaska she started sponsoring legislation to restrict TSA searches. Her many bills, if passed, would criminalize both pat-downs and 'naked scanning,' as well as require better health warnings for X-ray scanners and even studies of airport screenings' physical and psychological effects. Other states, including Utah and Texas, are considering similar legislation. For example, Texas State Rep. David Simpson is preparing to reintroduce his Traveler Dignity Act again in 2013 if he is re-elected. The last time that bill was being considered the Federal government threatened to turn all of Texas into a 'no-fly zone'."
An anonymous reader writes "Each year, the U.S. government places Canada on its piracy watch list, claiming that it is a pirate country similar to China or Russia. This year, Professor Michael Geist and Public Knowledge teamed up to respond to myths about Canadian copyright law with a submission to the USTR focusing on how Canadian law provides adequate and effective protection, how enforcement is stronger than often claimed, why Canada is not a piracy haven, and why Bill C-11 does not harm the interests of rights holders (critics of Bill C-11 digital lock rules will likely think this is self-evident)."
ananyo writes "One hundred academics at the University of Sydney, Australia, have this week been told they will lose their jobs for not publishing frequently enough. The move is part of a wider cost-cutting plans designed to pay for new buildings and refurbishment to the university. Letters were posted to researchers on Monday 20 February, informing them their positions were being terminated because they hadn't published at least four 'research outputs' over the past three years. It is unclear which research fields the academics work in. Another 64 academics were told they had a choice between leaving and moving to a teaching-only position, he said."
garymortimer writes "A secret network of 20 roadside listening stations across the UK has confirmed that criminals are attempting to jam GPS signals on a regular basis. From the article: 'Government-funded trials involving the police have revealed more than a hundred incidents of GPS jammer use in the UK. The Sentinel project, which has been running since January 2011, was designed to measure GPS jamming on UK roads. The project, run by GPS-tracking company Chronos Technology, picked up the illegal jamming incidents via four GPS sensors in trials lasting from two to six months per location.'"
Julie188 writes "Last summer the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to spend millions to reinvent the toilet. That investment has born fruit with teams from around the world coming up with many different ways to turn human waste into energy."
First time accepted submitter Nick Fel writes "As the UK nears the end of a lengthy digital TV switch-over, the sale of the analogue TV spectrum for 4G mobile phones will disrupt digital TV in almost a million homes. Affected homes will be issued with a filter or required to upgrade to satellite or cable, and in extreme cases may be granted funding to find their own solution."
mdsolar writes "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today released transcripts and audio recordings made at the NRC Operations Center during last year's meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The release of these audio recordings comes at the request of the public radio program 'BURN: An Energy Journal,' and its host Alex Chadwick. The recordings show the inside workings of the U.S. government's highest level efforts to understand and deal with the unfolding nuclear crisis as the reactors meltdown. In the course of a week, the NRC is repeatedly alarmed that the situation may turn even more catastrophic. The NRC emergency staff discusses what to do — and what the consequences may be — as it learns that reactor containment safeguards are failing, and that spent fuel pools are boiling away their cooling water, and in one case perhaps catching fire."
redletterdave writes "Business networking site LinkedIn acquired Rapportive on Wednesday, which is a Gmail add-on that provides information about your social contacts as you e-mail them. The deal was reportedly already in place by Dec. 8, but Rapportive confirmed the acquisition on Wednesday in its company blog. Rapportive, which is still available over Gmail, adds an e-mailer's social networking accounts, including their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, and overlays the information over open messages and e-mail drafts. Neither Rapportive nor LinkedIn would release the financial details of the acquisition, but sources close to the situation say the deal closed in the 'low teens' of millions of dollars."
eldavojohn writes "As the presidential race heats up, the smear ads on TV are also increasing. But Microsoft isn't going to site idly by and let the politicians engage in all that song and dance — and Microsoft really does employ both song and dance. Their Youtube channel appears to be slowly transforming from trade show videos and launches into a marketing attack or propaganda campaign that only targets Google (both videos I've watched seemed to have nothing positive about Microsoft in them). Under a month ago, they launched a spoof called GMail man, a creepy guy that flips through all your GMail and serves up super personal ads that are wrong (although they never say if Hotmail engages in targeted marketing). And a few days ago Googlighting shows up to spread fear and uncertainty about Google Docs. Most amusing to this viewer was that I found no such trace of 'Googlighting' on Bing's video service."
First time accepted submitter El Fantasmo writes "I work in public education, K-12, for a small, economically shaky, low performing school district. What are some good or effective tactics for getting budget controllers to stop bypassing the IT boss/department? We sometimes we end up with LOW end MS Win 7 Home laptops, that basically can't get on our network (internet only) or be managed. The purchaser refuses to return them for proper setups. Unfortunately, IT is currently under the 'asst. superintendent of curriculum and instruction,' who has no useful understanding of maintaining and acquiring IT resources and lets others make poor IT purchasing decisions, by bypassing the IT department, and dips into IT funds when their pet project budgets run low. How can this be reversed when you get commands like 'make it work' and the budget is effectively $0?"
First time accepted submitter RenderSeven writes "Manufacturing.net reports that U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials plan to investigate whether inhalable caffeine sold in lipstick-sized canisters is safe for consumers and if its manufacturer was right to brand it as a dietary supplement. AeroShot went on the market late last month in Massachusetts and New York, and it's also available in France. Consumers put one end of the canister in their mouths and breathe in, releasing a fine powder that dissolves almost instantly."
An anonymous reader writes "The KWin window manager maintainer for KDE is looking at removing the legacy OpenGL 1.0 renderer from the KWin code-base due to the costs of supporting legacy hardware. This means dropping support for non-GL2+ graphics cards, which are all over six years old, but in the process would mean that for now there is no longer any support for the AMD Catalyst driver on the KDE desktop. Due to driver bugs, AMD's proprietary Catalyst software only works well with the GL1 renderer even though their latest hardware supports OpenGL 4."