itwbennett writes "In a filing to the FCC, Bay Area Rapid Transit general manager Grace Crunican defended last August's mobile shutdown, saying that 'a temporary disruption of cell phone service, under extreme circumstances where harm and destruction are imminent, is a necessary tool to protect passengers.' Taking the opposing position, digital rights groups, including Public Knowledge, Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the FCC (PDF) that 'wireless interruption will necessarily prohibit the communications of completely innocent parties — precisely those parties closest to the site where the emergency is located or anticipated.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
revealingheart writes with this quote from ScienceDaily: "On 5 and 6 June this year, millions of people around the world will be able to see Venus pass across the face of the Sun in what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It will take Venus about six hours to complete its transit, appearing as a small black dot on the Sun's surface, in an event that will not happen again until 2117. ...Transits of Venus occur only on the very rare occasions when Venus and Earth are in a line with the Sun. At other times Venus passes below or above the Sun because the two orbits are at a slight angle to each other. Transits occur in pairs separated by eight years, with the gap between pairs of transits alternating between 105.5 and 121.5 years — the last transit was in 2004." You can check this chart to see whether it'll be visible at your location, and when you should look. You'll need a safe way to watch unless you are Vulcan. And yes, there's even a phone app to help you out.
An anonymous reader writes "Today the 5.1 release of OpenBSD has surfaced. As usual, it includes improved hardware support, but also OpenSSH 6.0 and over 7000 ports, with major performance and stability improvements in the package build process (and some really cool stickers). Here's the changelog, the download page, and the CD-ordering page. "
Fluffeh writes "Breaking up terrorist plots is one of the main goals of the FBI these days. If it can't do that, well, it seems making plots up and then valiantly stopping them is okay too — but the NY Times is calling them on it. 'The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts. But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.'"
New submitter Eirenarch writes "Xamarin has just announced that they got the Java part of Android ported to C# via machine translation. The resulting OS, called XobotOS, is available on Github. They claim some serious performance gains over Dalvik. For them, this is an experiment that they are not planning to focus on, but they will be using some of the technologies in Mono for Android."
judgecorp writes "The British Government has announced its plans to handle solar storms. The idea is to improve the resilience of infrastructure, including satellite communications — which the government says will also be useful against the future possibility of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons. From the report: 'National Grid and DECC are building on the work of the Space Environment Impacts Evaluation Group and E3C to analyse the range of impacts of extreme space weather events, with the Carrington Event being adopted as the reasonable worst case. These scientific assessments have enabled National Grid to change the design requirements for its Supergrid transformers, and to increase its reserve holding of transformers. National Grid is currently developing improved monitoring tools with the British Geological Survey (BGS) and installing or reinstalling Geomagnetically Induced Currents (GIC) monitoring devices into its Strategic Asset Management program. The next steps will be for National Grid, in association with BGS and working with E3C, to develop more detailed modelling of severe space weather events including impacts on generator transformers. This will extend and strengthen its analysis on the electricity transmission system completed so far.'"
An anonymous reader writes "MIT's The Tech published an article with technical details behind the Tetris hack they did on the Green Building earlier this year. The article includes photographs of the LED modules, as well as a link to some of the source code used in the hack. The hackers have released some of the source code on GitHub, and are looking for people to contribute code that could run on the system."
Earlier today, Tizen, Intel's post-MeeGo mobile OS, announced the availability of their first stable release. The H has a summary of the new features: "The source code for Tizen's Larkspur release has seen a number of new features added. The Web capabilities have now got full W3C/HTML5 specification support with 'key' WebRTC features incorporated and APIs to access the local camera and vibration. ... Tizen's graphics are based on X11 with a compositing window manager based on Enlightenment Foundation Libraries ... The SDK's IDE includes a new browser based tool which offers support for the Tizen APIs within a browser; this should allow developers to run and debug Tizen 'web applications' and see how those applications run with various device profiles. The alpha release of the browser based simulator should reduce the need to work with the emulator for many applications." The SDK release notes and source release notes have the gritty details. A new community wiki has been created, and source is available via git. This release comes just before the first Tizen developer conference, May 7-9th in San Francisco.
arcite writes "Research in Motion Ltd's new CEO, Thorsten Heins, unveiled BlackBerry 10 in Florida today. Will new features such as a virtual keyboard that learns from typing behavior and a camera that easily focuses on faces be enough to scrape back precious market share (which could possibly fall to 5%) from the likes of Apple and Android? With no physical device yet revealed and a release date ranging anywhere from August to October, it will be an uphill battle." Engadget had some brief hands-on time with a dev Alpha. It seems RIM is trying to jumpstart app development through its App Generator and financial incentives.
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Trade Representative released its annual Special 301 Report yesterday, unsurprisingly including Canada on the Priority Watch list. While inclusion on the list is designed to generate embarrassment on target countries, Michael Geist explains why this year's report should elicit outrage. Not only is the report lacking in objective analysis, it targets some of the world's poorest countries with no evidence of legal inadequacies and picks fights with any country that dare adopt a contrary view on intellectual property issues."
hessian sends this excerpt from Medical Xpress "Autism has a strong genetic basis, but so far efforts to identify the responsible genes have had mixed results. The reason for this is that autism is influenced by many different genes, and different genes are involved in different individuals, making it hard to find the common genetic ground between patients. Now, research conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has shown that despite this fact, the different genes involved in autism tend to be involved in specific processes in the brain. This can explain, on the one hand, similarities in the behavioral symptoms of different autistics, but also the large spectrum of behaviors observed in different autistic individuals."
mask.of.sanity writes "An online search portal has been launched that reveals the IP addresses of any Skype user. The portal needs only a Skype username entered in a search bar for it to produce the IP address of a target user. It then uses IP addresses to geo-locate users on a map and reveal their ISP information."
mcmadman writes "The multi-zone audio player I'm working with uses an almost decade old card/software combo that is prone to crashes and other anomalies. I would like to know if there are open source (read 'free') or other alternatives that would allow multiple simultaneous playlists played through the myriad of audio interfaces out there. The line outs are then plugged into a CobraNet matrix, which handles the distribution of the music/sound to their respective areas. I'm looking at eight channels minimum, timed playlist start/stops, and triggered announcements. So far the only software and hardware I've found are proprietary broadcasting solutions which tend to be a bit heavy on the wallet or meant for home use."
New submitter Lasrick writes "Skip past the dry abstract to Jan Beyea's main article for a thorough exploration of what's wrong with current 'safe' levels of low-level radiation exposure. The Bulletin is just releasing its 'Radiation Issue,' which is available for free for two weeks. It explores how the NRC may be changing recommended safe dosages, and how the studies for prolonged exposure have, until recently, been based on one-time exposures (Hiroshima, etc.). New epidemiological studies on prolonged exposure (medical exposures, worker exposures, etc.) are more accurate and tell a different tale. This is a long article, but reads well." Here's the free, downloadable PDF version, too.