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House Committee Approves Bill Banning In-Flight Phone Calls
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-to-work-bill department:
An anonymous reader tips news that the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved a bill that would ban voice calls from mobile devices on airplanes. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote. Similar efforts are underway in the Senate. There was no opposition to Shuster's bill in the House committee, and the FCC received a flood of support for such a measure when they asked for public comment. In an op-ed published Monday, Shuster wrote, "In today’s world, enriched as it is by technology, we are bombarded by data, opinions, and potential distractions. Few limits to this flow of information are necessary, partly because people can typically turn it off, disconnect from it, or go elsewhere if they choose. But in the close confines of an airplane cabin – where passengers will still be able to use their mobile devices for texting, emailing, working, and more – there is no chance to opt out. So for those few hours of flight spent with 150 strangers, we can all wait to make that phone call. It’s just common sense and common courtesy."

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Massive New Cambrian-Era Fossil Bed Found
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 12:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's long-term-storage department:
jfbilodeau sends word of a massive new trove of fossils located in Canada, which scientists say will rival the acclaimed Burgess Shale fossil bed. The rock formation inside which both fossil sites were found is roughly 505 million years old (abstract). The fossils provide insight into the Cambrian explosion, a time that brought the rapid appearance and diversification of many animal forms. "In just two weeks, the research team collected more than 3,000 fossils representing 55 species. Fifteen of these species are new to science." Paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron said, "The rate at which we are finding animals — many of which are new — is astonishing, and there is a high possibility that we'll eventually find more species here than at the original Yoho National Park site, and potentially more than from anywhere else in the world." The fossils at the new site are about 100,000 years younger and are better preserved than those at the renowned Burgess shale site.

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South Carolina Education Committee Removes Evolution From Standards
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's that's-just,-like,-your-opinion,-man department:
Toe, The writes "The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee approved new science standards for students except for one clause: the one that involves the use of the phrase 'natural selection.' Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, argued against teaching natural selection as fact, when he believes there are other theories students deserve to learn. Fair argued South Carolina's students are learning the philosophy of natural selection but teachers are not calling it such. He said the best way for students to learn is for the schools to teach the controversy. Hopefully they're going to teach the controversy of gravity and valence bonds too. After all, they're just theories."

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FBI: $10,000 Reward For Info On Anyone Who Points a Laser At an Aircraft
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's issue-sunglasses department:
coondoggie writes "Here's a good idea: The FBI has launched a targeted, 60-day program that will offer up to a $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. The FBI said the laser-pointing scourge continues to grow at an alarming rate. Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration began tracking laser strikes in 2005, there has been ridiculous 1,000% increase in the number of laser pointing/aircraft incidents. Last year, 3,960 laser strikes against aircraft were reported — an average of almost 11 incidents per day."

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What Are the Weirdest Places You've Spotted Linux?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's upside-down-mig-while-communicating department:
colinneagle writes "Bryan Lunduke recently pulled together a collection of the weirdest places he's found Linux, from installations in North Korea and the International Space Station to a super-computer made out of Legos and computer engineer Barbie. Seen any weird places for Linux not mentioned in this list?"

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How Online Clues Located North Korea's Missile-Launcher Factories
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's follow-the-conrails-backwards department:
itwbennett writes "It all started with a parade through Pyongyang on April 15, 2012, held to commemorate the birthday of the country's founder, Kim Il Sung. At this parade, one thing had analysts buzzing: six mobile launchers carrying KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Bloggers in China quickly noted the similarities between the trucks and those used by the Chinese military, right down to the shape of the windows and the grille pattern. It's the stuff of spy thrillers. A few seconds of video, literature, a couple of memoirs and Google Earth helped locate a secret North Korean military plant — and using none of the classified tools of the intelligence trade."

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A Dedicated Shell For Git Commands
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's git-goin' department:
Nw submitter CMULL writes "Stop typing Git over and over again. Ruby on Rails development and consulting firm thoughtbot created an interactive shell dedicated to Git commands, gitish. One of the primary developers says there is a need for this shell because many early Unix utilities don't take sub-commands like Git."

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FSF Approves TAZ 3 Printer As Privacy Respecting
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's our-printer-won't-blackmail-your-sister department:
sfcrazy writes "FSF (Free Software Foundation), founded by Richard M Stallman, has approved TAZ 3 as privacy respecting and awarded it Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification. TAZ 3 is the fifth model in the LulzBot line of 3D printers by Aleph Objects, Inc. FSF has certified other models of LulzBot 3D printer for respecting privacy."

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IBM Employees Caught Editing Wikipedia
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's primary-sources department:
An anonymous reader writes "Corporate employees editing Wikipedia articles about themselves or their employers sometimes commit major violations of Wikipedia's "bright line" against paid editing, devised by Jimbo Wales himself, to prevent 'COI' editing. (Consider the recent flap over the firm Wiki-PR's activities, for example.) Yet the Wikipediocracy website, run by critics of Wikipedia management, has just published an article about IBM employees editing Wikipedia articles. Not only is such editing apparently commonplace, it's being badly done as well. And most bizarrely, one of the IBM employees is a Wikipedia administrator, who is married to another Wikipedia administrator. She works on the Watson project, which uses online databases to build its AI system....including the full text of Wikipedia." Reading about edit wars is also far more informative (if less entertaining) than reading the edit wars themselves.

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Red Hat Hires CentOS Developers
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's first-national-brain-trust-of-raleigh department:
rjmarvin writes "Karanbir Singh and a handful of other CentOS developers are now full-time Red Hat employees, working in-house on the CentOS distribution with more transparent processes and methods. None of the CentOS developers will be working on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The CentOS project would become another distribution and community cared for by Red Hat, like Fedora, and Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens says the company is planning its future around OpenStack, not just Linux."

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Para Bellum Labs Will Attempt To Make the RNC a Political-Analytics Player
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's 2nd-mover-advantage? department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign relied on a sophisticated data-analytics platform that allowed organizers and volunteers to precisely target potential donors and voters. The centerpiece of that effort was Project Narwhal, which brought voter information—steadily accumulated since Obama's 2008 campaign—onto a single platform accessible to a growing number of campaign-related apps. The GOP has only a few short years to prepare for the next Presidential election cycle, and the party is scrambling to build an analytics system capable of competing against whatever the Democrats deploy onto the field of battle. To that end, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has launched Para Bellum Labs, modeled after a startup, to produce digital platforms for election analytics and voter engagement. Is this a genuine attempt to infuse the GOP's infrastructure with data science, or merely an attempt to show that the organization hasn't fallen behind the Democratic Party when it comes to analytics? Certainly the "Welcome to Para Bellum Labs" video posted by the RNC gives the impression of a huge office staffed with data scientists and programmers. However, the creation of a muscular digital ecosystem hinges on far more than building a couple of apps. Whatever the GOP rolls out, it'll face a tough opponent in the Democratic opposition, which will almost certainly emulate the robust IT infrastructure that the Obama campaign instituted in 2012 (not to mention Obama's massive voter and donor datasets). From that perspective, Para Bellum Labs might face the toughest job in politics."

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Death Hovers Politely For Americans' Swipe-and-Sign Credit Cards
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's upgrade-your-skimmers department:
schwit1 writes "U.S. banks and merchants are shifting to a more secure way of authorizing credit card transactions in which customers will enter a personal identification number (PIN) at checkout instead of signing a receipt. The US is the last major market in the world using the signature system, which is part of the reason why a disproportionate amount of credit card fraud happens here. The change is especially relevant given the massive fraud perpetrated against customers of Target in the fall. During a Congressional hearing last week, Target CFO John Mulligan said the company is accelerating the $100 million effort to switch to the so-called "chip and pin" system.
The change won't happen all at once. Banks must issue cards with microprocessors and merchants need the right equipment to process the chip and PIN transactions, which is likely to happen gradually. But Visa, American Express, and MasterCard have announced that banks and merchants that have not adopted the technology for face-to-face transactions by October 2015 will be liable for fraudulent purchases. That's a strong incentive to get up to date. The new system will also prepare merchants and banks to transition to contactless payments in the near future."


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3 Reasons To Hate Mass Surveillance; 3 Ways To Fight It
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-an-exhaustive-list department:
This site's "Your Rights Online" section, sadly, has never suffered for material. The revelations we've seen over the last year-and-change, though, of widespread spying on U.S. citizens, government spying in the E.U. on international conferences, the UK's use of malware against citizens, and the use of modern technology to oppress government protesters in the middle east and elsewhere shows how persistent it is. It's been a banner year on that front, and the banner says "You are being spied on, online and off." A broad coalition of organizations is calling today "The Day We Fight Back" against the growing culture of heads-they-win, tails-you-lose surveillance, but all involved know this is not a one-day struggle. (Read more, below.)

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Oil Companies Secretly Got Paid Twice For Cleaning Up Toxic Fuel Leaks
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 04:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's you-mean-double-profiting-from-pollution department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mica Rosenberg reports at Reuters that major oil companies including Chevron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, and Sunoco were paid twice for dealing with leaks from underground fuel storage tanks — once from government funds and again, secretly, from insurance companies. Court documents show many of the cases and settlement agreements follow a similar pattern, accusing the oil companies of 'double-dipping' by collecting both special state funds and insurance money for the same tank cleanups. Some states say any insurance payouts should have gone to them since they covered the cost of the work. 'It appears this was a really common practice and it's very disconcerting,' says Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. 'Basically the companies were defrauding the state.' Approximately 40 states and the District of Columbia have special funds to cover the costs of removing and replacing the old tanks, excavating tainted dirt and pumping out dirty groundwater. Since 1988, there have been more than half a million leaky tanks reported across the country. Nearly 80,000 spills still are waiting to be cleaned up. The lawsuits against the oil companies allege fraud or other civil, not criminal, claims, which have a lower burden of proof and do not lead to jail time. Companies are largely cooperating to forge settlement deals and were interested in partnering with the states to clean up the legacy of petroleum leaks. For example Phillips 66 paid Utah $2 million to resolve allegations that the oil company defrauded a state fund to the tune of $25 million for cleanups associated with leaking underground tanks. Phillips sued myriad insurers over coverage for contamination arising from leaking tanks around the country and Phillips 66 wound up collecting $286 million from its insurers to resolve these disputes, but it never divulged any of this to Utah officials, the suit alleged. 'When I first saw these cases, I thought this is kind of incredible,' says New Mexico assistant attorney general Seth Cohen, who handled the lawsuit for the state. 'The oil companies have, in effect, profited off polluting.'"

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How Blogs Are Changing the Scientific Discourse
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 02:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's get-ready-to-science department:
quax writes "Mainstream media always follows the same kind of 'He said she said' template, that is why even climate change deniers get their say, although they are a tiny minority. The leading science journals on the other hand are expensive and behind pay-walls. But it turns out there are places on the web where you can follow science up close and personal: The many personal blogs written by scientists — and the conversation there is changing the very nature of scientific debate. From the article: 'It's interesting to contemplate how corrosive the arguments between Bohr and Einstein may have turned out, if they would have been conducted via blogs rather than in person. But it's not all bad. In the olden days, science could easily be mistaken for a bloodless intellectual game, but nobody could read through the hundreds of comments on Scott's blog that day and come away with that impression.'"

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How To Hack Subway Fares Using Fare Arbitrage
Posted by News Fetcher on February 11 '14 at 12:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's saving-pennies-the-hard-way department:
KentuckyFC writes "Arbitrage is a way of making profit by exploiting price differences for the same asset. In capital markets, traders aggressively seek out and exploit these market 'inefficiencies.' Now one data scientist says it's possible to do the same with metro fares and has studied the fare-arbitrage potential of San Francisco's subway system, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). The idea is to swap tickets with another commuter during your journey to reduce the amount you both pay. BART has 44 stations which allows 946 different journeys and 446,985 unique pairs of trips. Of these, over 60,000 have arbitrage potential and commuters can save at least $1 on 4,666 of them. But there are good reasons why cities might want to maintain price differences for certain journeys — to encourage people to live in certain areas, for example. What's more, it's possible to imagine a pair of commuters who each travel from one side of a city to the other at considerable cost. But by swapping tickets in the city center, they could both pay for a short commute in each others' suburbs. But is that fair to other commuters?"

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DDoS Larger Than the Spamhaus Attack Strikes US and Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on February 10 '14 at 09:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's do-not-stare-directly-into-the-udp-packet department:
mask.of.sanity writes "CloudFlare has been hit by what appears to be the world's largest denial of service attack, in an assault that exploits an emerging and frightening threat vector. The Network Time Protocol Reflection attack exploits a timing mechanism that underpins a way the Internet works to greatly amplify the power of what would otherwise be a small and ineffective assault. CloudFlare said the attack tipped 400Gbps, 100Gbps higher than the previous record DDoS attack which used DNS reflective amplification."

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Why the Internet of Things Is More 1876 Than 1995
Posted by News Fetcher on February 10 '14 at 07:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's wait-until-the-singularity department:
An anonymous reader writes "Some folks would like you to think that 1995 was the year everybody was brought online and that, starting this year, we'll bring everything else along for the ride. If that seems far fetched to you, Glen Martin writes about how the Internet of Things has more in common with the age of steam than the digital revolution: 'Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition of 1876 was America's first World's Fair, and was ostensibly held to mark the nation's 100th birthday. But it heralded the future as much as it celebrated the past, showcasing the country's strongest suit: technology. ... While the Internet changed everything, says Stogdill, "its changes came in waves, with scientists and alpha geeks affected first, followed by the early adopters who clamored to try it. It wasn’t until the Internet was ubiquitous that every Kansas farm boy went online. That 1876 Kansas farm boy may not have foreseen every innovation the Industrial Revolution would bring, but he knew — whether he liked it or not — that his world was changing."'"

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Ugly Trends Threaten Aviation Industry
Posted by News Fetcher on February 10 '14 at 06:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's the-year-man-forgot-how-to-fly department:
An anonymous reader writes "The Washington Post reports, 'In the past several decades,the number of private and recreational pilots across the country has plummeted, as has the number of small aircraft being manufactured — trends that some say have been accelerated by increasingly strict federal regulations. If the decline continues, it will spell trouble for entrepreneurs ... Since 1980, the number of pilots in the country has nosedived from about 827,000 in 1980 to 617,000, according to the Frederick, Md.-based Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. During about the same period, data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association in Washington show that production of single-engine planes plunged from 14,000 per year to fewer than 700.'"

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Surrogate Database Key, Not Bitcoin Protocol Flaw, To Blame For Mt Gox Problems
Posted by News Fetcher on February 10 '14 at 06:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's third-normal-form-isn't-that-hard-people department:
An anonymous reader writes "Bitcoin values dropped sharply over the weekend after the largest trading exchange, MtGox, revealed that an investigation into unusual trading activity turned up a flaw in the underlying Bitcoin software that allowed an attacker to double withdrawal a transaction"

Not so fast according to database experts: the real problem is that Mt Gox (and other exchanges) are using a surrogate transaction id rather than a natural key in their databases: "The flaw isn't so much in Bitcoin as it is in exchange-systems. Many exchanges use the tx-id to uniquely identify transactions, but as it turns out, an attacker can change the tx-id without changing the actual transaction, rebroadcast the changed transaction (effectively creating a double-spend) and if his altered transaction gets accepted into a block instead of the legit transaction, the attacker receives his coins and can complain with the exchange that he didn't. The exchange will then check their db, fetch the tx-id from it, look it up in the blockchain and not find it. So they could conclude that the transaction indeed failed and credit the account with the coins. ... A simple workaround is to not use the tx-id to identify transactions on the exchange side, but the <tt>(amount, address, timestamp)</tt> instead."

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