Why You Should Care About the Supreme Court Case On Toner Cartridges

Slashdot - 16 hours 7 min ago
rmdingler quotes a report from Consumerist: A corporate squabble over printer toner cartridges doesn't sound particularly glamorous, and the phrase "patent exhaustion" is probably already causing your eyes to glaze over. However, these otherwise boring topics are the crux of a Supreme Court case that will answer a question with far-reaching impact for all consumers: Can a company that sold you something use its patent on that product to control how you choose to use after you buy it? The case in question is Impression Products, Inc v Lexmark International, Inc, came before the nation's highest court on Tuesday. Here's the background: Lexmark makes printers. Printers need toner in order to print, and Lexmark also happens to sell toner. Then there's Impression Products, a third-party company makes and refills toner cartridges for use in printers, including Lexmark's. Lexmark, however, doesn't want that; if you use third-party toner cartridges, that's money that Lexmark doesn't make. So it sued, which brings us to the legal chain that ended up at the Supreme Court. In an effort to keep others from getting a piece of that sweet toner revenue, Lexmark turned to its patents: The company began selling printer cartridges with a notice on the package forbidding reuse or transfer to third parties. Then, when a third-party -- like Impression -- came around reselling or recycling the cartridges, Lexmark could accuse them of patent infringement. So far the courts have sided with Lexmark, ruling that Impression was using Lexmark's patented technology in an unauthorized way. The Supreme Court is Impression's last avenue of appeal. The question before the Supreme Court isn't one of "can Lexmark patent this?" Because Lexmark can, and has. The question is, rather: Can patent exhaustion still be a thing, or does the original manufacturer get to keep having the final say in what you and others can do with the product? Kate Cox notes via Consumerist that the Supreme Court ruling is still likely months away. However, she has provided a link to the transcript of this week's oral arguments (PDF) in her report and has dissected it to see which way the justices are leaning on the issue.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

'Moore's Law' For Carbon Would Defeat Global Warming

Slashdot - 17 hours 32 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: A streamlined set of goals for reducing carbon emissions could simplify the way nations approach the quest to reduce human impact on the planet. A group of European researchers have a refreshingly straightforward solution that they call a carbon law -- or, as the Guardian has coined it, a "Moore's law for carbon." The overarching goal is simple: globally, we must halve carbon dioxide emissions every decade. That's essentially it. The rule would ideally be applied "to all sectors and countries at all scales," and would encourage "bold action in the short term." Dramatic changes would naturally have to occur as a result -- from quick wins like carbon taxes and energy efficiency regulations, to longer-term policies like phasing out combustion-engine cars and carbon-neutral building regulations. If policy makers followed the carbon law, adoption of renewables would continue its current pace of doubling energy production every 5.5 years, and carbon dioxide sequestration technologies would need to ramp up in order for the the planet to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, say the researchers. Along the way, coal use would end as soon as 2030 and oil use by 2040. There are, clearly, issues with the idea, not least being the prospect of convincing every nation to commit to such a vision. The very simplicity that makes the idea compelling can also be used as a point of criticism: Can such a basic rule ever hope to define practical ideas as to how to change the world's energy production and consumption? The study has been published in the journal Science.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Microsoft Delivers Secure China-Only Cut of Windows 10

Slashdot - 18 hours 12 min ago
Earlier this week, CEO of Microsoft Greater China, Alain Crozier, told China Daily that the company is ready to roll out a version of Windows 10 with extra security features demanded by China's government. "We have already developed the first version of the Windows 10 government secure system. It has been tested by three large enterprise customers," Crozier said. The Register reports: China used Edward Snowden's revelations to question whether western technology products could compromise its security. Policy responses included source code reviews for foreign vendors and requiring Chinese buyers to shop from an approved list of products. Microsoft, IBM and Intel all refused to submit source code for inspection, but Redmond and Big Blue have found other ways to get their code into China. IBM's route is a partnership with Dalian Wanda to bring its cloud behind the Great Firewall. Microsoft last year revealed its intention to build a version of Windows 10 for Chinese government users in partnership with state-owned company China Electronics Technology Group Corp. There's no reason to believe Crozier's remarks are incorrect, because Microsoft has a massive incentive to deliver a version of Windows 10 that China's government will accept. To understand why, consider that China's military has over two million active service personnel, the nation's railways employ similar numbers and Microsoft's partner China Electronics Technology Group Corp has more than 140,000 people on its books. Not all of those are going to need Windows, but plenty will.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

US Scientists Launch World's Biggest Solar Geoengineering Study

Slashdot - 18 hours 52 min ago
In what will be the world's biggest solar geoengineering program to date, U.S. scientists part of the $20 million Harvard University project are going to send aerosol injections 20km (~12.4 miles) into the earth's stratosphere "to establish whether the technology can safely simulate the atmospheric cooling effects of a volcanic eruption," The Guardian reports. From the report: Scientists hope to complete two small-scale dispersals of first water and then calcium carbonate particles by 2022. Future tests could involve seeding the sky with aluminum oxide -- or even diamonds. Janos Pasztor, Ban Ki-moon's assistant climate chief at the UN who now leads a geoengineering governance initiative, said that the Harvard scientists would only disperse minimal amounts of compounds in their tests, under strict university controls. Geoengineering advocates stress that any attempt at a solar tech fix is years away and should be viewed as a compliment to -- not a substitute for -- aggressive emissions reductions action. But the Harvard team, in a promotional video for the project, suggest a redirection of one percent of current climate mitigation funds to geoengineering research, and argue that the planet could be covered with a solar shield for as little as $10 billion a year. Some senior UN climate scientists view such developments with alarm, fearing a cash drain from proven mitigation technologies such as wind and solar energy, to ones carrying the potential for unintended disasters. If lab tests are positive, the experiment would then be replicated with a limestone compound which the researchers believe will neither absorb solar or terrestrial radiation, nor deplete the ozone layer.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Venezuelan Developers Are Using Bitcoin, Rare Pepe Trading Cards To Fight Against a Dismal Economy

Slashdot - 19 hours 32 min ago
According to Crypto Insider, Venezuelan developers have been selling "rare pepes" -- trading cards that contain unique illustrations and photoshops of the character Pepe the Frog. While the trading cards started out as nothing more than a joke, many of them have been traded for thousands of dollars on the Counterparty platform, which is built on top of Bitcoin, and have provided a way for many developers to sustain themselves in Venezuela's poor economy. From the report: The basic idea behind the issuance of rare pepes on top of the Counterparty platform is that it enables scarcity in a digital world. Each rare pepe card is linked to a little bit of bitcoin through a practice known as coin coloring. Whoever owns the private keys associated with the address where the bitcoins that represent a specific rare pepe card is located is the one who owns that particular trading card. Now, a group of developers in Venezuela are building games similar to Hearthstone and Pokemon where the rare pepe trading cards will play an integral role. If you go to rarepepe.party right now, you're mainly presented with a video of what the first game based on the Rare Pepe digital trading cards will look like. The concept is similar to Hearthstone or Magic: The Gathering where players essentially do battle with their opponents via characters on trading cards, which have specific stats and features. In this case, the characters are various rare pepes. With many rare pepes already released (you can view them in the official rare pepe directory), the developers behind Rare Pepe Party are attempting to provide a use case for these new trading cards. While some rare pepe cards already have stats on them, the developer who chatted with Crypto Insider says those stats may not mean much when it's time to play the game. While rare pepes are nothing more than fun and games for much of the developed world, they're a matter of survival in Venezuela. "We're based in Venezuela, and our business has been saved by bitcoin many times," said the developer. The developer claims roughly 80 percent of the offices around the area where Rare Pepe Party is being developed have shut down over the past year. The biggest businesses on their street have also dropped as much as 90 percent of their employees.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Meet the Tractor Hackers, and the Week’s Other Characters

Wired News - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 11:29pm
We're proud to bring NextDraft—the most righteous, most essential newsletter on the web—to WIRED.com. The post Meet the Tractor Hackers, and the Week's Other Characters appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Scientists make new discovery about bird evolution

Science Daily - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 11:26pm
A team of scientists has described the most exceptionally preserved fossil bird discovered to date, in a newly published article. The new specimen from the rich Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota (approximately 131 to 120 million years old) is referred to as Eoconfuciusornis, the oldest and most primitive member of the Confuciusornithiformes, a group of early birds characterized by the first occurrence of an avian beak.
Categories: Science

An increasing proportion of women who are 60 years of age and older are drinking

Science Daily - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 11:23pm
Most older Americans drink alcohol. Given that this segment of the population is projected to almost double by 2050, reaching 112 million, in the future, there will likely be many more older drinkers in the United States than currently. Importantly, older individuals are more sensitive to alcohol’s effects than their younger counterparts, and are also more likely to take prescription medications that can interact negatively with alcohol, potentially leading to falls and other injuries. This study examined trends in drinking status among U.S. adults 60 years of age and older.
Categories: Science

South Korea Finds Qualcomm Prevented Samsung From Selling Its Exynos Processors

Slashdot - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 11:20pm
According to the South Korea Trade Commission (SKTC), Qualcomm prevented Samsung from selling its Exynos processors to various third-party phone manufacturers. "The Commission's report claims that Qualcomm abused its standard-essential patents -- which define technical standards like Wi-Fi and 4G -- to prevent Samsung from selling its modems, integrated processors, and other chips to smartphone makers like LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, and others," reports Digital Trends. "The Commission reportedly threatened to file suit against Samsung, which had agreed to license the patents for an undisclosed sum, if the South Korean electronics maker began competing against it in the mobile market." From the report: That bullying ran afoul of the South Korea Trade Commission's rules, which require that standard-essential patents be licensed on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. "Samsung Electronics has been blocked from selling its modem chips to other smartphone manufacturers due to a license deal it signed with Qualcomm," the commissioners wrote. The report provides legal justification for the $853 million fine the SKTC placed on Qualcomm in December for "anti-competitive practices." Qualcomm intends to appeal. "[We] strongly disagree with the KFTC's announced decision, which Qualcomm believes is inconsistent with the facts and the law, reflects a flawed process, and represents a violation of due process rights owed American companies" under an applicable agreement between the U.S. and South Korea.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

FedEx Will Pay You $5 To Install Flash

Slashdot - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 10:40pm
FedEx's Office Print department is offering customers $5 to enable Adobe Flash in their browsers. Why would they do such a thing you may ask? It's because they want customers to design posters, signs, manuals, banners and promotional agents using their "web-based config-o-tronic widgets," which requires Adobe Flash. The Register reports: But the web-based config-o-tronic widgets that let you whip and order those masterpieces requires Adobe Flash, the enemy of anyone interested in security and browser stability. And by anyone we mean Google, which with Chrome 56 will only load Flash if users say they want to use it, and Microsoft which will stop supporting Flash in its Edge browser when the Windows 10 Creators Update debuts. Mozilla's Firefox will still run Flash, but not for long. The impact of all that Flash hate is clearly that people are showing up at FedEx Office Print without the putrid plug-in. But seeing as they can't use the service without it, FedEx has to make the offer depicted above or visible online here. That page offers a link to download Flash, which is both a good and a bad idea. The good is that the link goes to the latest version of Flash, which includes years' worth of bug fixes. The bad is that Flash has needed bug fixes for years and a steady drip of newly-detected problems means there's no guarantee the software's woes have ended. Scoring yourself a $5 discount could therefore cost you plenty in future.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Judge: eBay Can't Be Sued Over Seller Accused of Patent Infringement

Slashdot - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 10:00pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: It's game over for an Alabama man who claims his patent on "Carpenter Bee Traps" is being infringed by competing products on eBay. Robert Blazer filed his lawsuit in 2015, saying that his U.S. Patent No. 8,375,624 was being infringed by a variety of products being sold on eBay. Blazer believed the online sales platform should have to pay him damages for infringing his patent. A patent can be infringed when someone sells or "offers to sell" a patented invention. At first, Blazer went through eBay's official channels for reporting infringement, filing a "Notice of Claimed Infringement," or NOCI. At that point, his patent hadn't even been issued yet and was still a pending application, so eBay told him to get back in touch if his patent was granted. On February 19, 2013, Blazer got his patent and ultimately sent multiple NOCI forms to eBay. However, eBay wouldn't take down any items, in keeping with its policy of responding to court orders of infringement and not mere allegations of infringement. In 2015, Blazer sued, saying that eBay had directly infringed his patent and also "induced" others to infringe. That lawsuit can't move forward, following an opinion (PDF) published this week by U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre. The judge found that eBay lacked any knowledge of actual infringement and rejected Blazer's argument that eBay was "willfully blind" to infringement of Blazer's patent. The opinion was first reported yesterday by The Recorder (registration required).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

How Noisy Is Your Neighborhood? Now There's A Map For That

Slashdot - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 9:40pm
An anonymous reader share an NPR article: There's no denying it: Los Angeles isn't exactly gentle on the ears. That's one lesson, at least, from a comprehensive noise map created by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. On the interactive U.S. map the agency released this week, which depicts data on noise produced primarily by airports and interstate highways, few spots glare with such deep and angry color as the City of Angels. Blame the area's handful of major airports and its legendary snarls of traffic -- ranked this year as the worst in the nation.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

AMC Plans Ad-Free Streaming Service

Slashdot - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 9:20pm
An anonymous reader shares a Fortune report: AMC Networks, whose shows include The Walking Dead, is planning to launch a commercial-free online video streaming service aimed at millennial TV subscribers, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters this week. Unlike standalone streaming options from Time Warner's HBO and from CBS, AMC's would be exclusively available to consumers who subscribe to a cable TV package. AMC is doing this, the sources said, as a way to support the traditional cable television industry at a time when many younger consumers are increasingly cutting the cord. AMC is discussing featuring digital-only spinoff shows of its existing programs like The Walking Dead and is considering pricing between $4.99 to $6.99 a month, according to the sources, who cautioned final details are still being worked out.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

A printable, sensor-laden ‘skin’ for robots (or an airplane)

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 8:59pm

Illustration of 3D-printed sensory composite (credit: Subramanian Sundaram)

MIT researchers have designed a radical new method of creating flexible, printable electronics that combine sensors and processing circuitry.

Covering a robot — or an airplane or a bridge, for example — with sensors will require a technology that is both flexible and cost-effective to manufacture in bulk. To demonstrate the feasibility of their new method, the researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have designed and built a 3D-printed device that responds to mechanical stresses by changing the color of a spot on its surface.

Sensorimotor pathways

“In nature, networks of sensors and interconnects [such as the human nervous system] are called sensorimotor pathways,” says Subramanian Sundaram, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), who led the project. “We were trying to see whether we could replicate sensorimotor pathways inside a 3-D-printed object. So we considered the simplest organism we could find” — the golden tortoise beetle, or “goldbug,” an insect whose exterior usually appears golden but turns reddish orange if the insect is poked or prodded, that is, mechanically stressed.

The researchers present their new design in the latest issue of the journal Advanced Materials Technologies.

The key innovation was to 3D-print directly on the plastic substrate (support structure) instead of placing components on top. That greatly increases the range of devices that can be created; a printed substrate could consist of many materials, interlocked in intricate but regular patterns, which broadens the range of functional materials that printable electronics can use.*

Printed substrates also open the possibility of devices that, although printed as flat sheets, can fold themselves up into more complex, three-dimensional shapes. Printable robots that spontaneously self-assemble when heated, for instance (see “Self-assembling printable robotic components“), are a  topic of ongoing research at the CSAIL Distributed Robotics Laboratory, led by Daniela Rus, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

3D-printed sensory composite

The sensory composite is grouped into 4 sets of functional layers: a base with spatially varying mechanical stiffness and surface energy, electrical materials, electrolyte, and capping layers. All these materials are 3D-printed. (credit: Subramanian Sundaram et al./ Advanced Materials Technologies)

The MIT researchers’ new device is approximately T-shaped, but with a wide, squat base and an elongated crossbar. The crossbar is made from an elastic plastic, with a strip of silver running its length; in the researchers’ experiments, electrodes were connected to the crossbar’s ends. The base of the T is made from a more rigid plastic. It includes two printed transistors and what the researchers call a “pixel,” a circle of semiconducting polymer whose color changes when the crossbars stretch, modifying the electrical resistance of the silver strip.**

A transistor consists of semiconductor channel on top of which sits a “gate,” a metal wire that, when charged, generates an electric field that switches the semiconductor between its electrically conductive and nonconductive states. In a standard transistor, there’s an insulator between the gate and the semiconductor, to prevent the gate current from leaking into the semiconductor channel.

The transistors in the MIT researchers’ device instead separate the gate and the semiconductor with an electrolyte — a layer of water containing  potassium chloride mixed with glycerol. Charging the gate drives potassium ions into the semiconductor, changing its conductivity.***

Photograph of the fully 3D-printed sensory composite shows a strain sensor (top) linked to an electrical amplifier that modulates the transparency of the electrochromic pixel (scale bar is 10mm). (credit: Subramanian Sundaram et al./ Advanced Materials Technologies)

“I am very impressed with both the concept and the realization of the system,” says Hagen Klauk, who leads the Organic Electronic Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, in Stuttgart, Germany. “The approach of printing an entire optoelectronic system — including the substrate and all the components — by depositing all the materials, including solids and liquids, by 3-D printing is certainly novel, interesting, and useful, and the demonstration of the functional system confirms that the approach is also doable. By fabricating the substrate on the fly, the approach is particularly useful for improvised manufacturing environments where dedicated substrate materials may not be available.”

The work was supported by the DARPA SIMPLEX program through SPAWAR.

* To build the device, the researchers used the MultiFab, a custom 3-D printer developed MIT. The MultiFab already included two different “print heads,” one for emitting hot materials and one for cool, and an array of ultraviolet light-emitting diodes. Using ultraviolet radiation to “cure” fluids deposited by the print heads produces the device’s substrate.

** Sundaram added a copper-and-ceramic heater, which was necessary to deposit the semiconducting plastic: The plastic is suspended in a fluid that’s sprayed onto the device surface, and the heater evaporates the fluid, leaving behind a layer of plastic only 200 nanometers thick. The layer of saltwater lowers the device’s operational voltage, so that it can be powered with an ordinary 1.5-volt battery.

*** But it does render the device less durable. “I think we can probably get it to work stably for two months, maybe,” Sundaram says. “One option is to replace that liquid with something between a solid and a liquid, like a hydrogel, perhaps. But that’s something we would work on later. This is an initial demonstration.”

Abstract of 3D-Printed Autonomous Sensory Composites

A method for 3D-printing autonomous sensory composites requiring no external processing is presented. The composite operates at 1.5 V, locally performs active signal transduction with embedded electrical gain, and responds to stimuli, reversibly transducing mechanical strain into a transparency change. Digital assembly of spatially tailored solids and thin films, with encapsulated liquids, provides a route for realizing complex autonomous systems.

Categories: Science

Uber Manager Told Female Engineer That 'Sexism is Systemic in Tech'

Slashdot - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 8:40pm
Sam Levin, writing for The Guardian: Uber is facing yet another discrimination scandal after a manager who was recruiting a female engineer defended the company by saying "sexism is systemic in tech." On 14 March, an engineering manager at Uber tried to recruit Kamilah Taylor, a senior software engineer at another Silicon Valley company, for a developer position at the San Francisco ride-hailing startup, which is struggling to recover from a major sexual harassment controversy. Taylor, who provided copies of her LinkedIn messages with the Guardian, responded by saying: "In light of Uber's questionable business practices and sexism, I have no interest in joining." Taylor was stunned by the reply she received from Uber. The manager, who is a woman, wrote: "I understand your concern. I just want to say that sexism is systemic in tech and other industries. I've met some of the most inspiring people here."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Hate to Break It to Steve Mnuchin, But AI’s Already Taking Jobs

Wired News - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 8:33pm
Today, in 2017, the treasury secretary said he had no worries about robots putting people out of work. The post Hate to Break It to Steve Mnuchin, But AI's Already Taking Jobs appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

How Trump’s Ultimatum Gambit Sank His Health Care Bill

Wired News - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 8:14pm
The GOP and White House just lost big on health care. And it's Trump's ultimatum that may have cost them the vote. The post How Trump's Ultimatum Gambit Sank His Health Care Bill appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

T-Mobile Kicks Off Industry Robocall War With Network-Level Blocking and ID Tools

Slashdot - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 8:00pm
T-Mobile is among the first U.S. telecom companies to announce plans to thwart pesky robocallers. From a report on VentureBeat: The move represents part of an industry-wide Robocall Strike Force set up by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last year to combat the 2 billion-plus automated calls U.S. consumers deal with each month. Other key members of the group include Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon. T-Mobile's announcement comes 24 hours after the FCC voted to approve a new rule that would allow telecom companies to block robocallers who use fake caller ID numbers to conceal their true location and identity. From a report on WashingtonPost: The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday proposed new rules (PDF) that would allow phone companies to target and block robo-calls coming from what appear to be illegitimate or unassigned phone numbers. The rules could help cut down on the roughly 2.4 billion automated calls that go out each month -- many of them fraudulent, according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "Robo-calls are the No. 1 consumer complaint to the FCC from members of the American public," he said, vowing to halt people who, in some cases, pretend to be tax officials demanding payments from consumers, or, in other cases, ask leading questions that prompt consumers to give up personal information as part of an identity theft scam.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Power Rangers’ Gay Moment Is a Good Step, But a Small One

Wired News - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 7:36pm
LGBTQ characters are finally starting to come out in tentpole movies. The post Power Rangers' Gay Moment Is a Good Step, But a Small One appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

The Days of Google Talk Are Over

Slashdot - Fri, 24/03/2017 - 7:20pm
The days of Google Talk are quickly coming to an end. An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report: As the company announced today, the messaging service that allowed Gmail users to talk to each other since it launched in 2005, will now be completely retired. Even while Google pushed Hangouts as its consumer messaging service (before Allo, Duo, Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet) over the last few years, it still allowed die-hard Gtalk users (and there are plenty of them) to stick to their preferred chat app. Over the next few days, these users will get an "invite" to move to Hangouts. After June 26, that switch will be mandatory.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science