Top Stories for the Week of January 20, 2015

  • Episode 383
  • January 20, 2015
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Tuesday January 20, 2015


The German city of Munich wants to help shape the future of LibreOffice, so they've joined The Document Foundation Advisory Board.

The City of Munich has joined The Document Foundation Advisory Board.

The City of Munich has joined The Document Foundation Advisory Board.

Germany’s third largest city has a long history of using open-source software, much of it well documented.

More than 16,000 PCs of public employees run the open-source “LiMux” Linux operating system, and the city makes heavy use of LibreOffice and its open file formats.

The role of the advisory board is to provide The Document Foundation with feedback on how the software is being used, what features or improvements need to be made, providing assistance in initiatives, community projects and marketing, and providing donations to further development and outreach.

Companies pay an annual fee as a member of the board, the exact cost of which varies depending on contribution and the number of employees with the fees starting at $5,000 and topping out at $20,000.

As a heavy user of the LibreOffice productivity suite, the City of Munich’s contributions will be invaluable in helping to guide the project towards even greater usability.

Source: www.omgubuntu.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


The MintBox Mini has double the performance of its predecessor and will fit in your pocket.

Linux Mint has announced that a new PC in its ‘MintBox’ line of PCs is coming in the spring: the ‘MintBox Mini’.

Linux Mint has announced that a new PC in its ‘MintBox’ line of PCs is coming in the spring: the ‘MintBox Mini’.

The new box continues the distro’s long-standing partnership with Israeli computer manufacturer CompuLab, which began with the release of the original MintBox PC back in 2012. That was followed the year after by the more powerful MintBox 2, a device which sold out in Europe on its Amazon debut last year.

The MintBox Mini is five times smaller than the original MintBox and is barely an inch tall. Like previous editions, the new model is fanless, with the case design working as a passive cooling system.

Previous MintBox models had a very distinctive look, but if we can be critical of anything with the MintBox Mini, it's the utilitarian design: it looks a little like an DSL modem wearing an aluminium shed.

That said, something this tiny is going to be easy to hide away, if you want.

The MintBox Mini offers twice the performance of the MintBox 2 in a form factor you could slip into a pocket.

Inside it touts an AMD A4 6400T CPU, which is a 1 GHz, 64-bit, and boast 4 cores. It also has a Radeon R3 GPU, 4GB RAM and a 64GB Solid State Hard Drive.

Nothing overly tiny about those specs.

The MintBox Mini will be $295 when sold to the US and €295 shipped in Europe.

A portion of each sale will go to supporting Linux Mint, and cover the cost of the whopping five year warranty.

Source: www.omgubuntu.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Goodbye Google Glass, we barely knew ye.

Google is ending sales of its Google Glass eyewear.

Google is ending sales of its Google Glass eyewear.

The company insists it is still committed to launching the smart glasses as a consumer product, but will stop producing Glass in its present form.

Instead it will focus on "future versions of Glass" with work carried out by a different division than before.

The Explorer programme, which gave software developers the chance to buy Glass for $1,500 (£990) will close.

The programme was launched in the United States in 2013. It was then opened up to anyone and was launched in the UK last summer.

It had been expected that it would be followed reasonably quickly by a full consumer launch.

From next week, the search firm will stop taking orders for the product but it says it will continue to support companies that are using Glass.

The things learned from Glass will be used in the development of yet-to-be-announced future products from Google.

Several companies have launched smart glasses and various other forms of wearable technology. But no single product has yet proved the major hit that technology companies are looking for as they seek out the next big thing.

Google has tried to present this announcement as just another step in the evolution of an amazing innovation. But make no mistake - Google Glass is dead, at least in its present form.

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Imagine being able to generate power by walking. That's what's being developed by a team of German researchers who plan to use the technology to power self-lacing shoes.

German researchers have built shoe-sized devices that harvest power from the act of walking.

German researchers have built shoe-sized devices that harvest power from the act of walking.

The technology could be used to power wearable electronic sensors without the need for batteries.

There are two separate devices: a "shock harvester" that generates power when the heel strikes the ground and a "swing harvester" that produces power when the foot is swinging.

Both energy harvesting devices generate power by exploiting the motion between magnets and coils.

As the magnetic field of a moving magnet passes by a stationary coil, a voltage is induced and an electric current is generated.

The energy they generate is still relatively small - in the three to four milliWatt (mW) range at their peak.

That's not nearly enough to charge a smartphone, for example, which would typically require about 2,000 mW. But it is enough to power small sensors and transmitters, opening up a range of new applications.

Klevis Ylli from HSG-IMIT, a research centre in Germany said the swing harvester was developed with the intention of making a self-lacing shoe for the elderly. The shoe would detect when a user stepped into it and lace itself up, as well as open up again when required. The harvesting device would generate the energy for the closing mechanism.

Details of the advance are outlined in the journal "Smart Materials and Structures".

Source: www.bbc.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Target is closing all its Canadian stores, not even 2 years after moving here.

Two major retailers are calling it quits in Canada.

Two major retailers are calling it quits in Canada.

Target Canada announced on January 15 that it will close its 133 stores across Canada. The U.S.–based retailer launched in Canada in March 2013 to high expectations.

Unfortunately, due to numerous problems, such as higher prices and less selection in Canada than the U.S., it never established itself in the Canadian market. Consequently, the company lost about $2 billion over two years. The closures mean 18,000 employees will lose their jobs.

Many of Target's locations were formerly Zellers stores.

Meanwhile, Sony Canada also announced it will shut down all its stores over the next six to eight weeks. It has 14 stores, with three of them in the Lower Mainland.

The Japan-based company has not released a statement explaining why the stores are being closed. The closures were announced in the wake of the much-publicized Sony Entertainment hack linked to the release of the Vancouver-shot film The Interview.

Source: www.straight.com


Canadian anti-spam laws have made it illegal for programs to auto-update without your consent.

This week in Canada, Installing computer programs without consent became a civil offence punishable by fines.

This week in Canada, Installing computer programs without consent became a civil offence punishable by fines.

Under the new regulations that form part of Canada's anti-spam legislation, it is now illegal for a website to automatically install software on a visitor's computer or for an app on your phone to be updated without first obtaining express consent from the owner or another authorised party. The updated rules are designed to protect Canadians from the "most damaging and deceptive forms of spam and online threats" without interfering with legitimate business.

The revised rules are targeting nuisances such as adware on PCs and rogue apps on smartphones.

False or misleading representations of products or services are also prohibited under the new regulations.

Canadians are encouraged to report suspected violations of Canada's anti-spam laws to the Spam Reporting Centre at fightspam.gc.ca.

Source: www.theregister.co.uk


The British-built Mars rover sent to Mars in search of signs of alien life was set to land and never heard from again. Now, 11 years later, NASA's got eyes on its whereabouts.

One of the most glorious near-misses in the history of British exploration, Beacon 2 has been found.

One of the most glorious near-misses in the history of British exploration, Beacon 2 has been found.

The British-built Beacon 2 began its fall to Mars on Dec. 19, 2003. It was expected to land on the Red Planet on Christmas Day and begin its search for alien life. But it was never heard from again.

Now, high-resolution images snapped over the last two years by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show the probe essentially just where it ought to be, within three miles of its target landing location. It also appears intact.

So what happened? The theory based on the images is that one or two of the probe's four "petals" holding its solar panels didn't deploy.

Mission manager Prof. Mark Sims says. "Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels."

While the probe can't be brought back to life, Prof. Sims claims "this is not the end of the story." They plan to do more imaging and analysis, but since the probe is intact, the team can be proud that they in fact were the first to successfully penetrate Mars' atmosphere and land on Mars, even if they couldn't continue from there.

Source: www.newser.com


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