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Foxconn Beings Replacing Workers With Robots - Mar, 08/07/2014 - 4:04pd
redletterdave (2493036) writes The largest private employer in all of China and one of the biggest supply chain manufacturers in the world, Foxconn announced it will soon start using robots to help assemble devices at its several sprawling factories across China. Apple, one of Foxconn's biggest partners to help assemble its iPhones, iPads, will be the first company to use the new service. Foxconn said its new "Foxbots" will cost roughly $20,000 to $25,000 to make, but individually be able to build an average of 30,000 devices. According to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, the company will deploy 10,000 robots to its factories before expanding the rollout any further. He said the robots are currently in their "final testing phase."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Fridge: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 374

Planet UBUNTU - Mar, 08/07/2014 - 2:52pd

Intelligent Thimble Could Replace the Mouse In 3D Virtual Reality Worlds - Mar, 08/07/2014 - 2:12pd
New submitter anguyen8 (3736553) writes with news of an interesting experiment spatial input device. From the article: "The mouse is a hugely useful device but it is also a two-dimensional one. But what of the three-dimensional world and the long-standing, but growing, promise of virtual reality. What kind of device will take the place of the mouse when we begin to interact in three-dimensions? Anh Nguyen and Amy Banic ... have created an intelligent thimble that can sense its position accurately in three-dimensions and respond to a set of pre-programmed gestures that allow the user to interact with objects in a virtual three-dimensional world. ... The result is the 3DTouch, a thimble-like device that sits on the end of a finger, equipped with a 3D accelerometer, a 3D magnetometer, and 3D gyroscope. That allows the data from each sensor to be compared and combined to produce a far more precise estimate of orientation than a single measurement alone. In addition, the 3DTouch has an optical flow sensor that measures the movement of the device against a two-dimensional surface, exactly like that inside an ordinary mouse." The prototype is wired up to an Arduino Uno, with a program on the host machine polling the device and converting the data into input events. A video of it in action is below the fold, a pre-print of the research paper is on arxiv, and a series of weblog entries explain some of the development.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Joey Hess: laptop death

Planet Debian - Mar, 08/07/2014 - 2:00pd

So I was at Ocracoke island, camping with family, and I brought my laptop along as I've done probably half a dozen times before. An enormous thuderstorm came up. It rained for 8 hours and thundered for 3 of those. Some lightning cracks quite close by as we crouched in the food tent, our feet up off the increasingly wet ground "just in case". The campground flooded. Luckily we were camped in the dunes and tents mostly avoided being flooded with 2-3 inches of water. (That was just the warmup; a hurricane hit a week after we left.)

My laptop was in my tent when this started, and I got soaked to the skin just running over there and throwing it up on the thermarest to keep it out of any flooding and away from any drips. It seemed ok, so best not to try to move it to the car in that downpour.

Next time I checked, it turned out the top vent of the tent was slightly open and dripping. The laptop bag was damp. But inside it seemed ok. Rain had slackened to just heavy, so I ran it down to the car. Laptop appeared barely damp, but it was hard to tell as I had quite forgotten what "dry" was. Turned it on for 10 seconds to check the time. It was 7:30 and we still had to cook dinner in this mess. Transferred it to a dry bag.

(By the way, in some situations, discovering you have a single dry towel you didn't know you had is the best gift in the world!)

Next morning, the laptop was dead. When powered on, the fan came on full, the screen stayed black, and after a few seconds it turned itself back off.

I need this for work, so it was a crash priority to get it fixed or a replacement. Before I even got home, I had logged onto Lenovo's website to check warantee status and found 2 things:

  1. They needed some number from a sticker on the bottom of my laptop. Which was no longer there.
  2. The process required some stange login on an entirely different IBM website.

At this point, I had a premonition of how the beuracracy would go. Reading Sesse's Blehnovo, I see I was right. I didn't even try. I ordered a replacement with priority shipping.

When I got home, I pulled the laptop apart to try to debug it. I still don't know what's wrong with it. The SSD may be damaged; it seems to cause anything I put it into to fail to work.

New laptop arrived in 2 days. Since this model is now a year old, it was a few hundred dollars cheaper this time around. And now I have an extra power supply, and a replacment keyboard, and a replacement fan etc. And I've escaped the dead USB port and broken rocker switch of the old laptop too.

The only weird thing is that, while my old laptop had no problem with my Toshiba passport USB drive, this new one refuses to recognize it unless I plug it into a USB 1.0 hub. Oh well..

YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds - Mar, 08/07/2014 - 1:40pd
OakDragon (885217) writes In the shadow of the "Net Neutrality" debate, Google's YouTube has created a service to report on your carrier's usage and speed, summarizing the data in a "Lower/Standard/High Definition" graph. You may see the service offered when a video buffers or stutters. A message could display under the video asking "Experiencing interruptions? Find out why." Find your own provider's grade here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

KDE Releases Frameworks 5 - Mar, 08/07/2014 - 12:59pd
KDE Community (3396057) writes The KDE Community is proud to announce the release of KDE Frameworks 5.0. Frameworks 5 is the next generation of KDE libraries, modularized and optimized for easy integration in Qt applications. The Frameworks offer a wide variety of commonly needed functionality in mature, peer reviewed and well tested libraries with friendly licensing terms. There are over 50 different Frameworks as part of this release providing solutions including hardware integration, file format support, additional widgets, plotting functions, spell checking and more. Many of the Frameworks are cross platform and have minimal or no extra dependencies making them easy to build and add to any Qt application. Version five of the desktop shell, Plasma, will be released soon, and packages of Plasma-next and KDE Frameworks 5 will trickle into Ubuntu Utopic over the next few days. There's a Live CD of Frameworks 5 / Plasma-next, last updated July 4th.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers - Mar, 08/07/2014 - 12:18pd
coondoggie writes Taking a page from NASA's rocket powered landing craft from it most recent Mars landing mission, the European Space Agency is showing off a quadcopter that the organization says can steer itself to smoothly lower a rover onto a safe patch of the rocky Martian surface. The ESA said its dropship, known as the StarTiger's Dropter is indeed a customized quadcopter drone that uses a GPS, camera and inertial systems to fly into position, where it then switches to vision-based navigation supplemented by a laser range-finder and barometer to lower and land a rover autonomously.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Steinar H. Gunderson: Blehnovo

Planet Debian - Mar, 08/07/2014 - 12:00pd

Here's my own little (ongoing) story about Lenovo's customer support; feel free to skip if you don't like rants. (You may remember that it took me several months to get to actually buy this laptop in the first place.) Everything within “quotes” are actual quotes from Lenovo, except where otherwise noted.

May 30th: My laptop accidentially goes into the ground, and the screen cracks. Gah. Oh well, I'll be without laptop over the weekend, but I have this nice accident warranty and NBD thing from Lenovo, right? I go to their support web site; they recommend that I register with IBM and file a service ticket. I do so. Their site says I will receive a confirmation email within ten minutes.

Jun 1st: I realize I haven't received anything from Lenovo or IBM, despite 36 hours passing. Oh well.

Jun 2nd: The web system claims Lenovo has “successfully contacted” me several times, despite me never hearing anything from them.

Jun 3rd: I call Lenovo. They don't speak any English. They say there's an error in the “type” I've given them; seemingly “X240” is an invalid type, I needed to write “20AL”. I get it corected.

Jun 4th: Lenovo calls. I talk to them in German and explain what happened (again). They say that I have the choice between paying €150 + parts and sending it in, or €450 + parts to have a serviceman come to me. (I am not 100% sure these numbers are correct, but they're in the right ballpark.) I say that this sounds very weird since I have accident insurance, but the guy from Lenovo seems unfazed and says they will only cover things under warranty if it's a design mistake. Eventually I say that sure, I'll pay for the serviceman; I just want my laptop fixed, fast. They ask for photos of the damage, which I send immediately.

Jun 6th: A week after the damage, and nothing has happened.

Jun 12th: Still nothing has happened. I press the “escalate” button on the web page.

Jun 18th: Still nothing has happened. I send Lenovo email asking what the heck is going on. My case now changes to “the customer will send the machine in to the depot for servicing” (not an exact quote; I don't have this text anymore), and I get an email with an address. I reply asking why on Earth this is, quoting their web page for saying “If you are entitled to Onsite Warranty, your Accidental Damage Protection claim may be repaired at your location”.

Later that day, Lenovo calls me again. It turns out they have no extended warranty or insurance registered on me. They ask me to provide “proof of purchase”, and give me a new case number (since the old one is now seemingly locked into a “will send to depot” situation). I send them the warranty email they originally sent me, including a long warranty code (20 alphanumeric digits) and a PIN. (In passing, I notice that due to a very delayed shipment, this warranty seemingly started running a month or so before I actually received the laptop, so the so-called 4-year warranty is seemingly 3 years 11 months. Oh well.)

Jun 19th: I am contacted by Lenovo. They say this information is not good enough as “proof of purchase”. They reiterate that I need to send them “proof of purchase”. I send them every single email I have ever received for them regarding my purchase.

Jun 24th: Nothing has happened. I email Lenovo asking for a status update. I get an email saying they have “forwarded all the needed information to the warranty service, so that the extended warranty will be registered”. All I can do is wait.

Jun 30th: I miss a telephone call from Lenovo. I get an email saying they'll close the case in two days. I call them, choosing English in the telephone menu. I get to a polite gentleman who speaks English well, but all the case notes are in German, so he can't make heads or tails of my case. He says he'll have the technician responsible for my case call me back.

He does really call me back the same day. He says what they have received is not valid as “proof of purchase”. I become agitated over the phone, pointing out that it should not be my problem if their internal systems are messed up; I've obviously paid 228 CHF for something. He claims to understand, but says that the systems will not work without a “proof of purchase”. He says I need to call Digital River (the company that operates He gives me their telephone number. I think it looks funny, and asks him if this is really the right number; he says oh, no, that's the German one, not the Swiss one. He gives me the Swiss one. I call the number and it's for some completely different company, so I try the German one. It gives me a telephone menu, which says that for ThinkPad warranty questions, I need to call <some number>. I call that number; it's for Lenovo tech support in Germany. The tech in the other end of the line does not understand why Digital River would send me to Lenovo for warranty questions, but gives me their Swiss number and email address. The Swiss number is indeed correct, but just sends me to exactly the same menu. I send them an email.

On a whim, I check my warranty page on It clearly says I have the extended warranty properly registered already! I forward a screenshot to Lenovo.

Jul 1st: I get an email from Lenovo: “Although the warranty appears on Lenovo website to be ok, please send us the proof of purchase from the extended warranty, so we can register it in our database(it appears NOT to be registered). Thank you.”

Jul 3rd: I get an email from Digital River, pointing me to a web page where I can print out some very nondescript-looking bill. I make a PDF out of it and send it to Lenovo.

Jul 7th: I still haven't heard anything from Lenovo. But! Now I am in Norway on vacation, which means I have a new trick up my sleeve: I call Lenovo Norway. I describe the case. The man says that this won't be covered by warranty, and I point out that I have accident insurance. He says (my translation/paraphrasing): “Oh, you're right, it does show up in this other system here! Don't worry, we'll fix this.” He asks me to send him an email with the screenshot of the warranty. I do so. He opens a new case, tells me that I'll have to send it in (seemingly onsite is only for warranty coverage after all?), but that it'll usually take less than a week. I receive an email with a link to DHL for ordering pickup, packaging instructions and pre-filled customs documents. It also has a form where I am supposed to briefly describe the case again (sure), say what I want them to do if the SSD is damaged (give it back to me unrepaired so I can do my own rescue; no Windows 8.1 reimaging, please) and write down all my passwords (fat chance).

So, there we are. Seven minutes with Lenovo Norway got me where 38 days of talking to Lenovo Switzerland/Germany couldn't—now let's just hope that DHL actually picks it up tomorrow and that I get it repaired and back within reasonable time.

The end? I hope.

Researchers Develop New Way To Steal Passwords Using Google Glass - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 11:33md
mpicpp writes with a story about researchers who have developed a way to steal passwords using video-capturing devices.Cyber forensics experts at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell have developed a way to steal passwords entered on a smartphone or tablet using video from Google's face-mounted gadget and other video-capturing devices. The thief can be nearly ten feet away and doesn't even need to be able to read the screen — meaning glare is not an antidote. The security researchers created software that maps the shadows from fingertips typing on a tablet or smartphone. Their algorithm then converts those touch points into the actual keys they were touching, enabling the researchers to crack the passcode. They tested the algorithm on passwords entered on an Apple iPad, Google's Nexus 7 tablet, and an iPhone 5.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ancient Bird With Largest Wingspan Yet Discovered - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 10:45md
sciencehabit writes Fossils unearthed at a construction project in South Carolina belong to a bird with the largest wingspan ever known, according to a new study. The animal measured 6.4 meters from wingtip to wingtip, about the length of a 10-passenger limousine and approaching twice the size of the wandering albatross, today's wingspan record-holder. Like modern-day albatrosses, the newly described species would have been a soaring champ.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

DC Entertainment Won't Allow Superman Logo On Murdered Child's Memorial Statue - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 10:20md
An anonymous reader writes Jeffrey Baldwin was essentially starved to death by his grandparents. Funds had been raised to build a monument for Jeffrey in Toronto. The monument was designed to feature Jeffrey in a Superman costume, and even though Superman should be public domain, DC Comics has denied the request. "The request to DC had been made by Todd Boyce, an Ottawa father who did not know the Baldwin family. Boyce was so moved by the testimony at the coroner’s inquest into Jeffrey’s death last year that he started an online fundraising campaign for the monument. DC’s senior vice-president of business and legal affairs, Amy Genkins, told Boyce in an email that 'for a variety of legal reasons, we are not able to accede to the request, nor many other incredibly worthy projects that come to our attention.'... For Boyce, it was a huge blow, as he felt the Superman aspect was a crucial part of the bronze monument, which will include a bench. The coroner’s inquest heard from Jeffrey’s father that his son loved to dress up as Superman."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Tobias Mueller: [] Finding (more) cheap flights with Kayak

Planet GNOME - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 10:05md
People knowing me know about my weakness when it comes to travel itineraries. I spend hours and hours, sometimes days or even weeks with find the optimal itinerary. As such, when I was looking for flights to GNOME.Asia Summit, I had an argument over the cheapest and most comfortable flight. When I was told that […]

Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 9:58md
redletterdave writes Uber announced in a blog post on Monday it would cut the prices of its UberX service in New York City by 20% — but it's only for a limited time. Uber says this makes it cheaper to use UberX than taking a taxi. Consumers like Uber's aggressive pricing strategy but competitors — and some of its own drivers — are not as happy. UberX, Uber’s cheaper service usually hosted by regular people driving basic sedans rather than fancy black cars, also cut its rates by 25% last week in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland. As a result of that announcement, Uber said its service was effectively “45% cheaper than a taxi.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jonathan McDowell: 2014 SPI Board election nominations open

Planet Debian - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 9:30md

I put out the call for nominations for the 2014 Software in the Public Interest (SPI) Board election last week. At this point I haven't yet received any nominations, so I'm mentioning it here in the hope of a slightly wider audience. Possibly not the most helpful as I would hope readers who are interested in SPI are already reading spi-announce. There are 3 positions open this election and it would be good to see a bit more diversity in candidates this year. Nominations are open until the end of Tuesday July 13th.

The primary hard and fast time commitment a board member needs to make is to attend the monthly IRC board meetings, which are conducted publicly via IRC (#spi on the OFTC network). These take place at 20:00 UTC on the second Thursday of every month. More details, including all past agendas and minutes, can be found at Most of the rest of the board communication is carried out via various mailing lists.

The ideal candidate will have an existing involvement in the Free and Open Source community, though this need not be with a project affiliated with SPI.

Software in the Public Interest (SPI, is a non-profit organization which was founded to help organizations develop and distribute open hardware and software. We see it as our role to handle things like holding domain names and/or trademarks, and processing donations for free and open source projects, allowing them to concentrate on actual development.

Examples of projects that SPI helps includes Debian, LibreOffice, OFTC and PostgreSQL. A full list can be found at

Tractor Beam Created Using Water Waves - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 9:10md
KentuckyFC writes The idea that light waves can push a physical object is far from new. But a much more recent idea is that a laser beam can also pull objects like a tractor beam. Now a team of Australian physicists has used a similar idea to create a tractor beam with water waves that pulls floating objects rather than pushes them. Their technique is to use an elongated block vibrating on the surface of water to create a train of regular plane waves. When the amplitude of these waves is small, they gradually push the surface of the water along, creating a flow that pushes floating objects with it. However, when the amplitude increases, the waves become non-linear and begin to interact with each other in a complex way. This sets up a flow of water on the surface in the opposite direction to the movement of the waves. The result is that floating objects--ping pong balls in the experiment--are pulled towards the vibrating block, like a tractor beam.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Book Review: Data-Driven Security: Analysis, Visualization and Dashboards - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 8:24md
benrothke writes There is a not so fine line between data dashboards and other information displays that provide pretty but otherwise useless and unactionable information; and those that provide effective answers to key questions. Data-Driven Security: Analysis, Visualization and Dashboards is all about the later. In this extremely valuable book, authors Jay Jacobs and Bob Rudis show you how to find security patterns in your data logs and extract enough information from it to create effective information security countermeasures. By using data correctly and truly understanding what that data means, the authors show how you can achieve much greater levels of security. Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

IBM Tries To Forecast and Control Beijing's Air Pollution - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 7:37md
itwbennett writes Using supercomputers to predict and study pollution patterns is nothing new. And already, China's government agencies, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, publicly report real-time pollution levels to residents. But IBM is hoping to design a better system tailored for Beijing that can predict air quality levels three days in advance, and even pinpoint the exact sources of the pollution down to the street level, said Jin Dong, an IBM Research director involved in the project.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Daniel G. Siegel: summing up 56

Planet GNOME - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 6:54md

i am trying to build a jigsaw puzzle which has no lid and is missing half of the pieces. i am unable to show you what it will be, but i can show you some of the pieces and why they matter to me. if you are building a different puzzle, it is possible that these pieces won't mean much to you, maybe they won't fit or they won't fit yet. then again, these might just be the pieces you're looking for. this is summing up, please find previous editions here.

  • what the theory of "disruptive innovation" gets wrong, the logic of disruptive innovation is the logic of the startup: establish a team of innovators, set a whiteboard under a blue sky, and never ask them to make a profit, because there needs to be a wall of separation between the people whose job is to come up with the best, smartest, and most creative and important ideas and the people whose job is to make money by selling stuff. disruptive innovation is a theory about why businesses fail. it's not more than that. it doesn't explain change. it's not a law of nature. it's an artifact of history, an idea, forged in time; it's the manufacture of a moment of upsetting and edgy uncertainty. transfixed by change, it's blind to continuity. it makes a very poor prophet. highly recommended
  • five things we need to know about technological change, by neil postman. in the past, we experienced technological change in the manner of sleep-walkers. our unspoken slogan has been "technology über alles," and we have been willing to shape our lives to fit the requirements of technology, not the requirements of culture. this is a form of stupidity, especially in an age of vast technological change. we need to proceed with our eyes wide open so that we many use technology rather than be used by it. highly recommended (pdf)
  • how children what? and so in the twenty-three years since the creation of the world wide web, "a bicycle for the mind" became "a treadmill for the brain". one helps you get where you want under your own power. another's used to simulate the natural world and is typically about self-discipline, self-regulation, and self-improvement. one is empowering; one is slimming. one you use with friends because it's fun; the other you use with friends because it isn't. our tools and services increasingly do things to us, not for us. and they certainly aren't about helping us to do things with them
  • "all our inventions are but improved means to an unimproved end", henry david thoreau
  • a developer's responsibility, even though developers sometimes love to put on their headphones and crank out some piece of software wizardry, it's important to occasionally step out of the office and engage with your customers. regularly seeing the daily work-life of your users first-hand helps establish that sense of responsibility to the end-user, and it makes the software better for it
  • how the rainbow color map misleads, despite its importance for perception and visualization, color continues to be a surprisingly little understood topic. people often seem to be content with default colors, or with an arbitrary selection that just happens to look good. but without great care when picking colors, you can do a lot of damage to your visualization

Airbus Patents Windowless Cockpit That Would Increase Pilots' Field of View - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 6:50md
Zothecula writes Imagine showing up at the airport to catch your flight, looking at your plane, and noticing that instead of windows, the cockpit is now a smooth cone of aluminum. It may seem like the worst case of quality control in history, but Airbus argues that this could be the airliner of the future. In a new US patent application, the EU aircraft consortium outlines a new cockpit design that replaces the traditional cockpit with one that uses 3D view screens instead of conventional windows.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Fridge: New Ubuntu Membership Board Members

Planet UBUNTU - Hën, 07/07/2014 - 6:44md

Back in April and June the Community Council put out a call to restaff the Ubuntu Membership Board for several open spots on the board.

Today I’m happy to announce that the Community Council has appointed (or renewed membership of) the following individuals:

For the 1200 UTC time slot:

For the 2200 UTC time slot:

Thanks to all nominees for putting their names forward for consideration and thanks to the outgoing members who have served on the board these past couple of years!

Elizabeth K. Joseph, on behalf of the Community Council


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