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Orangutans To Skype Between Zoos With iPads 149

MrSeb writes "For the last six months, orangutans — those great, hairy, orange apes that go 'ook' a lot — at Milwaukee Zoo have been playing games and watching videos on Apple's iPad, but now their keepers and the charity Orangutan Outreach want to go one step further and enable ape-to-ape video chat via Skype or FaceTime. 'The orangutans loved seeing videos of themselves — so there is a little vanity going on — and they like seeing videos of the orangutans who are in the other end of the enclosure,' Richard Zimmerman of Orangutan Outreach said. 'So if we incorporate cameras, they can watch each other.' And thus the idea of WiFi video chat between orangutans — and eventually between zoos — was born. It might seem like folly, but putting (ruggedized!) iPads into the hands of apes could really revolutionize our understanding of great ape behavior."

Transistor Made From Cotton Yarn 92

MrSeb writes "Altering the very fabric of technophilic society, a multinational team of material scientists have created electric circuits and transistors out of cotton fibers (abstract). Two kinds of transistor were created: a field-effect transistor (FET), much like the transistors found in your computer's CPU; and an electrochemical transistor, which is similar but capable of switching at lower voltages, and thus better suited for wearable computers. Cotton itself is an insulator, but by using various coatings, the team from Italy, France, and the United States was able to make conductor and semiconductor cotton 'wires' that retained most of their flexibility. The immediate use-cases are clothes with built-in sensors (think radiation or heartbeat monitors), but ultimately, think of how many thousands of interconnections are in every piece of cotton clothing — you could make a fairly powerful computer!"

Stephen Hawking Looking For Personal Techie 289

kaptink writes "One of the great grandmasters of space, time and the history of our existence is seeking an assistant to help develop and maintain the electronic speech system that allows him to communicate his vision of the universe. An informal job ad posted on Stephen's website said the assistant should be computer literate, ready to travel and able to repair electronic devices 'with no instruction manual or technical support.' He lost his real voice in a tracheotomy in 1985, but has something based on NeoSpeech's VoiceText speech synthesizer mounted on his wheelchair that helps synthesize speech by interpreting the twitches of his face. The synthesizer's robotic monotone has become nearly as famous as Hawking himself, but the computer — powered by batteries fastened to the back of Hawking's wheelchair — isn't just for speaking. It can connect to the internet over mobile phone networks and a universal infrared remote enables the physicist to switch on the lights, watch television, or open doors either at home or at the office. It's a complicated, tailor-made system, as the ad makes clear. A photograph of the back of Hawking's wheelchair, loaded with coiled wires and electronic equipment, is pictured under the words: 'Could you maintain this? If your answer is "yes", we'd like to hear from you!'. Hawking's website says that the job's salary is expected to be about $38,500 a year."

World's Worst PR Guy Gives His Side 576

First time accepted submitter Narnie writes "Follow up to Tuesday's story of a PR rep's lack of professionalism. Kyle Orland provides a follow up interview with Paul Christoforo after a simple email chain escalated into internet infamy. N-Control official response to Paul Chrostoforo's actions can be found here. even has a whole section devoted to covering the entire ordeal. I for one found myself caught following the news releases and in awe of the combined load forced on penny-arcade's servers from Slashdot, Reddit, Digg, Kotaku, and other news sites covering the story."

Apocalypse Tourism: Where To Celebrate Doomsday? 233

PolygamousRanchKid writes "December 21, 2012 marks the end of the current cycle of the Mayan 'Long Count' calendar. And while this has had some fearful types preparing for the end of the world, others have been preparing to travel. The Mexican government is expecting 52 million tourists as part of their "Mundo Maya 2012," campaign to visit the five regions — Chiapas, Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Campeche, over the next 12 months. So, if you're wondering where to spend the last tourist dollars you'll have as a breathing human being or just want to see the looks on those faces when December 21 comes and goes uneventfully, President Felipe Calderon hopes you'll choose Mexico."

Progressive Era Hacker Griefed Marconi Demonstration 147

nbauman writes "In June 1903, Gugliemo Marconi and his partner Ambrose Flemming were about to give the first demonstration of long-range wireless communication at the Royal Institution in London, which, Marconi said, could be sent in complete confidentiality with no fear of the messages being hijacked. Suddenly, the silence was broken by a huge mysterious wireless pulse strong enough to take over the carbon-arc projector and make it sputter messages in Morse Code. First, it repeated the word 'Rats' over and over again (abusive at that time). Then it tapped out, 'There was a young fellow of Italy, who diddled the public quite prettily.' Further rude epithets followed. It was Nevil Maskelyne, a stage musician and inventor who was annoyed because Marconi's patents prevented him from using wireless. It was the first hacking, to demonstrate an insecure system."

Customers Gleefully Mock Best Buy's $1,095.99 HDMI 369

First time accepted submitter Forthan Red writes "It may be a pricing bot run amok, or a ridiculously over-inflated sense of worth, but Best Buy has been offering an HDMI cable for a whopping $1,095.99 (currently sold out!). While Best Buy seems to be oblivious to the absurdity of this price for a digital cable, those posting customer reviews are not. Enjoy the mockery!" One of my favorites is: "saved a ton of money on a new TV on black Friday and decided to use the extra cash to get the best cable available. At a whopping 3.3 feet in length, this cable is no joke. When all my friends come over to watch football, they always say 'WOW what kind of HDMI cable do you have?' I proudly tell them about my audioquest diamond and its advanced features such as its Dark Gray/Black finish. It is a great conversation piece! Not to mention it fits into my dvd player and tv perfectly."

New Car Anti-Theft Device Profiles Your Rear End 126

Hugh Pickens writes "A car-seat identifier developed at Japan's Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology by Associate Professor Shigeomi Koshimizu can recognize a person by his or her rear end with 98 percent accuracy when the person takes a seat in his car. The bucket seat's lower section is lined with 360 pressure sensors that measure pressure on a scale from 0 to 256, sending information to a laptop, which aggregates the information, generates the key data and produces a precise map of the seated person's rear profile. Researchers say traditional biometric techniques such as iris scanners and fingerprint readers cause stress to people undergoing identity checks, while the simple act of getting seated carries less psychological baggage. Koshimizu wants to see his work available commercially as an anti-theft product in two to three years if automakers agree to collaborate. He sees possibilities of this device being used beyond auto-theft identity protection to a device for security identification in office settings, where users log on to their PCs as they sit down."

Satellite Piece Crashes Through Man's Roof 121

PolygamousRanchKid writes "A Siberian resident miraculously escaped serious injury or even death when a fragment of a Russian communication satellite crashed through the roof of his house. A Meridian satellite that was launched Friday from the Plesetsk space center in northern Russia on board a Soyuz-2 carrier rocket crashed near the Siberian city of Tobolsk minutes after lift-off. A titanium ball of about five kg fell on to the roof of a house in Ordyn district."

The Science of Santa 223

Hugh Pickens writes writes "For decades, mystified scientists have chalked up Santa's power to the inexplicable wonder of magic, but North Carolina State University aerospace engineer Larry Silverberg, team leader on a first-of-its-kind visiting scholars program at Santa's Workshop-North Pole Labs (NPL), says that Santa is, in fact, a scientific genius and that Silverberg looks forward to Christmas each year, so he can ponder the remarkable accomplishments of one of the greatest pioneers in his field. 'Santa is not just a jolly old elf,' says Silverberg. 'He really has an understanding of engineering, technology, science that's far beyond our own.' It all starts at the North Pole where Santa has an elaborate technical setup that rivals the nerve center of the CIA including an underground antenna that listens to children's thoughts. 'He takes those signals and finds out whether the child has been naughty or nice, and ultimately, what present the child wants.' Santa's mastery of nanotechnology allows Santa to grow presents on the spot eschewing the necessity of carrying them on the sleigh which would be prohibitive because of the weight. Then there's Santa's sleigh itself, an advanced aerodynamic structure equipped with laser sensors to find the optimal path, and covered by a nanostructured 'skin' that is porous and contains its own low-pressure system, which holds the air flowing around the airborne sled onto the body, reducing drag by as much as 90 percent. Finally there's Santa's greatest invention, the relativity cloud, that bends time and space to allow for his round-the-world Christmas journey and explains why Santa is so seldom seen. 'Relativity clouds are controllable domains – rips in time – that allow him months to deliver presents while only a few minutes pass on Earth. The presents are truly delivered in a wink of an eye.'"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Face-Scanning Vending Machine Denies Children Access To Pudding 215

smitty777 writes "What do you do when you spend over a billion dollars on products targeted specifically for adults? Simple, just put a device on your pudding dispensing vending machines that scans faces, and denies the delicious food to the kiddies. The Minority Report-like device will apparently judge the age of the individual based on the space between their eyes and ears. If the criteria is not met, the vending machine will shut down and ask the individual to step away from the machine. There are some vending machine combos that this makes sense for, but seriously — pudding?"
The Internet

Democratic Super PAC Buys 630

netbuzz writes "The purchase of by a Democratic Super PAC — and the use of it to highlight Newt Gingrich's political weaknesses — is either amusing or a dirty trick, depending on your politics and your view of the Republican presidential hopeful. In either case, however, it is a cautionary tale about the importance of controlling your brand online, a task that is about to get more difficult for everyone thanks to the impending expansion of generic top-level domains."

Bon Jovi Says He's Not Dead 7

bdking writes "Imagine finding out from the Internet that you're dead. That's what happened Monday to rock star Jon Bon Jovi, who took to the stage at a New Jersey benefit concert to prove he's still alive. Like that flimsy evidence can debunk what millions already had read online."

Kim Jong-Il Was an "Internet Expert" 238

pigrabbitbear writes "The late Kim Jong Il made many bizarre claims and bestowed upon himself many extravagant titles during his iron-clad rule over North Korea. But here's one that's particularly interesting in light of the recent SOPA debate – 'Internet expert.' The DPRK's Dear Leader fancied himself as such during an international summit in 2007. Seven years prior, he had asked U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright for her email address, indicating that the North Korean internet black hole was perhaps not as thoroughly opaque as we made it out to be — at least not for those at the top."

Man Changes Name to "Mark Zuckerberg" After Facebook Sues Him 113

An anonymous reader writes "This has to be the funniest Facebook name story in a while. Facebook disabled the account of Israeli entrepreneur Rotem Guez because he runs a business called the Like Store, where he sold Likes to advertisers. Guez countered by suing Facebook for deleting his accounts on the social network. Facebook countered with its own cease and desist letter. Guez didn't respond to Facebook's demands. Instead, he legally changed his name to Mark Zuckerberg. 'If you want to sue me, you're going to have to sue Mark Zuckerberg,' Guez reportedly told Facebook."