New submitter thuf1rhawat writes "For a certain type of geek, nothing is more important than Dungeons & Dragons. In January, Wizards of the Coast announced that the next iteration of the game (referred to as D&D Next) was under development, and now they've released an open playtest. They hope to gather as much player feedback as possible to help refine the new rules."
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Hugh Pickens writes "Continuing its tradition of reverse engineering and fabricating its stockpile of 40-year old American weaponry, Iran announced that it is about to unveil its first ever domestically produced Cobra attack choppers. Nearly 50 years after the U.S. introduced the legendary Bell AH-1 Cobra, once the backbone of the U.S. Army's attack helicopter fleet, Iran's locally-grown Cobras will be armed with 'different types of home-made caliber guns, rockets and missiles,' according to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency. 'All the phases of designing and manufacturing of the chopper have been done inside the country and the helicopter enjoys some capabilities which make it preferable to Apache Choppers,' says Brigadier General Kioumars Heidari. Iranian officials stress that Iran's military and arms programs serve defensive purposes and should not be perceived as a threat to any other country, reports the FARS news release. More photos available here."
jakooistra writes "My sister recently asked me for a laptop recommendation. I said, 'Sure, what are techie brothers for,' and diligently started my search for her perfect laptop. Two days later, I feel like I've aged two years. Every laptop vendor seems to want to sell a dozen different, poorly-differentiated models, with no real way of finding out what is customizable without following each model to its own customization page. And there are so many vendors! How am I, as a consumer, supposed to find what I need? Is there a website, hiding somewhere I just can't find, that tracks all the multivariate versions and upgrade choices in an easily searchable database?"
alphadogg writes "Cisco is slowly killing off its Cius business tablet less than a year after it started shipping. The Android-based collaboration tool, which featured a 7-inch touchscreen and was not intended to challenge more consumer-oriented tablets such as the Apple iPad, fell victim to the BYOD trend and cloud computing, Cisco said in a blog post. Cisco will instead 'double down' on software offerings like its Jabber and WebEx products for more popular tablets and smartphones supporting a variety of operating systems."
An anonymous reader sends this quote from a Reuters report: "German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022. ... The record-breaking amount of solar power shows one of the world's leading industrial nations was able to meet a third of its electricity needs on a work day, Friday, and nearly half on Saturday when factories and offices were closed."
An anonymous reader writes "People who are outgoing, optimistic, easygoing, and have a good sense of humor and a large social network are likely to live longer than others who don't possess these personality traits, according to new research (abstract). The study reveals how saying, 'It's in their genes' could refer to more than just genetic variations that give a physiological advantage, like having high levels of HDL ('good') cholesterol, because people with positive personality traits appear to live longer than those who do not."
theodp writes "If you're a COBOL programmer, you're apparently persona non grata in the eyes of the nation's Chief Information and Chief Technology Officers. Discussing new government technology initiatives at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference, Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel quipped, 'I'm recruiting COBOL developers, any out there?,' sending Federal CTO Todd Park into fits of laughter (video). Lest anyone think he was serious about hiring the old fogies, VanRoekel added: 'Trust me, we still have it in the Federal government, which is quite, quite scary.' So what are VanRoekel and Park looking for? 'Bad a** innovators — the baddest a** of the bad a**es out there,' Park explained (video), 'to design, create, and kick a** for America.' Within 24 hours of VanRoekel's and Park's announcement, 600 people had applied to be Presidential Innovation Fellows."
sethopia writes "In 2010, three people had the crazy idea to start a school where the teachers teach whatever they want and the students pay for classes with whatever teachers need — cutlery, art, advice — but never with money. Trade Schools have been popping up around the world and are now active in 15 cities and 10 countries, with almost no prodding from its founders. Caroline Woolard, one of the founders, discusses the challenges and opportunities of adapting their idea to an international audience and making the Trade School software — based on Python and Django — great."
Barence writes "Is it even possible to buy technology with a clean conscience? With the vast majority of gadgets and components manufactured using low-paid labor in Asia, manufacturers unable to accurately plot their supply chains, and very few ethical codes of conduct, the article highlights the difficulty of trying to buy ethically-sound gadgets. It concludes, 'The answer would appear to be no. Too little information is available, and nobody we spoke to believed an entirely ethical technology company exists – at least, not among the household names.'"
New submitter strangebush sends this quote from Wired about Van Jacobson's work on the TCP/IP protocol in the '80s, which helped stabilize early computer networks enough for them to eventually grow into the internet: "'I was getting a bit per second between two network gateways that were literally in the same room,' Jacobson remembers. ... In 1985, Berkeley ran one of the IMPs, or interface message processors, that served as the main nodes on the ARPAnet, a network funded by the U.S. Department of Defense that connected various research institutions and government organizations across the country. The network was designed so that any node could send data at any time, but for some reason, Berkeley's IMP was only sending data every twelve seconds. As it turns out, the IMP was waiting for other nodes to complete their transmissions before sending its data. The ARPAnet was meant to be a mesh network, where all nodes can operate on their own, but it was behaving like a token ring network, where each node can only send when they receive a master token. 'Our IMP would just keep accumulating data and accumulating data for about twelve seconds and then it would dump it,' says Jacobson. 'It was like the old token ring networks when you couldn't say anything until you got the token. But the ARPAnet wasn't built to do that. There was no global protocol like that.'"
New submitter mrnick writes "Eric Simons, 19 years old, was working at incubator Imagine K2 in Silicon Valley, which was hosted at AOL's Palo Alto campus. His grant money eventually ran out, but his access badge kept working, so he moved into AOL's office. He slept on a couch, took showers and washed clothes in the office gym, and ate for free in the cafeteria, all the while working on his new start-up. He was able to get away with this for two months before being discovered by security guard."
Hexydes writes "Early in the morning (5:53 am EST) on May 26th, 2012, NASA gave the go-ahead for the Expedition 31 crew to begin the procedure to open the hatch on the Dragon capsule, now directly attached to the ISS. 'The hatch opening begins four days of operations to unload more than 1,000 pounds of cargo from the first commercial spacecraft to visit the space station and reload it with experiments and cargo for a return trip to Earth. It is scheduled for splashdown several hundred miles west of California on May 31. Wearing protective masks and goggles, as is customary for the opening of a hatch to any newly arrived vehicle at the station, Pettit entered the Dragon with Station Commander Oleg Kononenko. The goggles and masks will be removed once the station atmosphere has had a chance to mix air with the air inside the Dragon itself.' Here is a video of the procedure."
An anonymous reader writes "A fortnight ago the Bitcoin financial website Bitcoinica was hacked and the hacker stole $87,000 worth of Bitcoins. At the time the owner promised that all users would have their Bitcoins and US dollars returned in full, but one of the site developers has just confirmed that they have no database backups and are having difficulty figuring out what everyone's account balance should actually be. A failure of epic proportions for a site holding such large amounts of money."
New submitter x0d writes with this excerpt from the L.A. Times: "The Facebook spending spree may be continuing as a new report says the social networking giant might be looking to buy Norwegian company Opera Software. Now fully under the microscope of Wall Street as well as Main Street investors, Facebook is trying to solve its mobile monetizing problems and has been gobbling up various companies in recent months to increase its presence in the world of smartphones."