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Turkish Finance Minister Defends Twitter Ban
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 08:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I'd-do-it-again department:
An anonymous reader writes "Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek has defended his governments ban on Twitter and accused the social networking site of not complying with court orders. Simsek said: 'The Turkish telecommunications watchdog has made a number of statements saying that they have asked Twitter on a number of occasions to remove some content on the back of court orders and Twitter has been refusing to comply. I don’t think any global company, whether it’s a media company, whether it’s an industrial company, it shouldn’t see itself [as being] above the law.'" As a result of the ban, Tor gained over 10,000 new users in Turkey.

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Drone-Assisted Hunting To Be Illegal In Alaska
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's eye-in-the-sky department:
garymortimer (1882326) writes in with news about rules for hunting with drones in Alaska. "At its March 14-18 meeting in Anchorage, the seven-member Alaska Board of Game approved a measure to prohibit hunters from spotting game with such aircraft, often called drones. While the practice does not appear to be widespread, Alaska Wildlife Troopers said the technology is becoming cheaper, easier to use and incorporates better video relay to the user on the ground. A drone system allowing a hunter or helper to locate game now costs only about $1,000, said Capt. Bernard Chastain, operations commander for the Wildlife Troopers. Because of advances in the technology and cheaper prices, it is inevitable hunters seeking an advantage would, for example, try to use a drone to fly above trees or other obstacles and look for a moose or bear to shoot, he said."

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In the Unverified Digital World, Are Journalists and Bloggers Equal?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 06:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's but-I-play-one-on-tv department:
oztechmuse (2323576) writes "As the source of news moves increasingly away from traditional channels to the millions of people carrying mobile phones and sharing commentary, photos and video on social networks, the distinction between journalists and bloggers has become increasingly blurred. Making sense of this type of information has been as much a challenge for journalists as it has bloggers. Journalists, like bloggers, have had to learn new skills in working in this environment. Highlighting this has been the release of the Verification Handbook which attempts to education journalists in how to process user-generated content in the form of videos or images acknowledging that much of the reporting about situations, especially emergency ones, comes from the public. The techniques outlined are accessible to anyone reporting on a story, adding to the eroding gap between bloggers and journalists."

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Last Week's Announcement About Gravitational Waves and Inflation May Be Wrong
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's not-so-fast department:
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "If you've been living under a stone, you might not have heard last week's announcement that astrophysicists from the BICEP2 experiment have found the first evidence of two extraordinary things. The first is primordial gravitational waves--ripples in spacetime from the very first moments after the Big Bang. The second is that these waves are evidence of inflation, the theory that the universe expanded rapidly, by twenty orders of magnitude in the blink of an eye after the Big Bang. But that can only be possible if the gravitational waves formed before inflation occurred. Now critics have begun to mutter that the waves might have formed later and so provide no evidence of inflation. The new thinking is that as the universe cooled down after inflation, various phase changes occurred in the Universe which generated the laws of physics we see today. These phase changes would have been violent events that generated their own ripples in space time, which would look very much like the primordial gravitational waves that the BICEP2 team claims to have found. So the BICEP2 team must rule out this possibility before they can claim evidence of inflation. But the critics say the data does not yet allow this to be done. That doesn't mean inflation didn't occur. Indeed, the critics say this is still the most likely explanation. But until the phase change possibility is ruled out, the result must be considered ambiguous. So put the champagne back in the fridge."

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Apple Reportedly In Talks With Comcast For Separate Apple Streaming Path
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 05:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's fast-lane department:
An anonymous reader writes "Apple is reportedly in talks with Comcast to obtain a network pathway dedicated to live and on-demand programming for subscribers of unspecified Apple services. In other words, Apple traffic would be separated from the rest of the public's internet traffic. This deal is different from the one Netflix made with Comcast in that Apple is reportedly asking for separate traffic in the path from Comcast facilities to consumer homes; the Netflix deal only gains Netflix direct access to the Comcast network. While net neutrality rules no longer restrict ISPs from monetizing their traffic prioritization, Comcast is still bound in that respect until 2018 as part of the conditions for its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011."

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Titanium-Headed Golf Clubs Create Brush Fire Hazard In California
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 04:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's match-point department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Things to pack in your golf bag: clubs, balls, tees, beverages and a fire extinguisher. The NYT reports that scientists have determined that striking a rock while swinging a titanium club can create a shower of sparks that are hot enough, and last long enough, to start a brush fire. The finding, by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, clears up what fire officials in Southern California have seen as a mystery: the origin of two recent golf course fires in Irvine and Mission Viejo including one that burned 25 acres and injured a firefighter in 2010. "That was hard for anybody to believe," says Steve Concialdi, a captain with the Orange County Fire Authority. "We were thinking they were started by cigars or cigarettes." Most clubs come with stainless steel heads, but a significant number have recently been produced with a titanium alloy, which makes them lighter and easier to swing. The only problem is that, when struck against hard surfaces — like rocks or concrete — the impact with the rock abrades the titanium surface, producing small particles — up to about one-fiftieth of an inch in diameter — that burned for up to a second, at temperatures high enough to cause dry vegetation to ignite. Given the drought in California and the extreme fire danger, Concialdi says the fire department is asking golfers using titanium-coated clubs to move their balls away from rocks and dry vegetation and onto the irrigated fairways. He says while golfers may complain it's making the game easier, it's too risky to do otherwise this season. "Talk about a hazard," says Concialdi. "We are looking at a severe fire season because of the drought, and no one should take chances with titanium clubs on dry ground.""

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AWS Urges Devs To Scrub Secret Keys From GitHub
Posted by News Fetcher on March 24 '14 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's key-is-under-the-mat department:
An anonymous reader writes "GitHub contains thousands of 'secret keys', which are stored in plain text and can be used by miscreants to access AWS accounts and either run up huge bills or even delete/damage the users files. Amazon is urging users of the coding community site to clean up their act."

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MIT Researcher Enlists Bacteria To Assemble Nanotech Materials
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 10:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's would-change-ikea-directions-forever department:
The Register reports on an approach to nanotech that combines biological computing with micro-mechanics, embodied in the work of MIT associate professor Timothy Lu. Lu's research has resulted in the creation of tiny structures assembled using modified E. coli. "Specifically," says the article, "the MIT researchers were able to put bacteria to work producing conducting biofilms, some of which were studded with quantum dots, and arranging gold nanowires. This paves the way for the development of mass manufactured cell-based material factories, and even 'living materials' that have some of the desirable properties of bones or trees, Lu confirmed." His most radical idea, says Lu, is furniture that shapes itself to cushion the user's most-stressed areas.

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Cryptocurrency Exchange Vircurex To Freeze Customer Accounts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 07:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's experiencing-unusually-heavy-call-volume department:
Powercntrl (458442) writes "Vircurex, an online exchange for Bitcoin as well as other cryptocurrencies is freezing customer accounts as it battles insolvency. While opinions differ on whether cryptocurrency is the future of cash, a Dutch tulip bubble, a Ponzi scheme, or some varying mixture of all three, the news of yet another exchange in turmoil does not bode well for those banking on the success of Bitcoin or its altcoin brethren, such as Litecoin and Dogecoin."

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Why US Gov't Retirement Involves a Hole in the Ground Near Pittsburgh
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 04:01 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's it's-just-that-simple department:
Increasing automation worries some people as a danger to the livelihood of those who currently earn their livings at jobs that AI and robots (or just smarter software and more sophisticated technology generally) might be well-suited to, as the costs of the technology options drop. The Washington Post, though, features an eye-opening look at one workplace where automation certainly does not rule. It's "one of the weirdest workplaces in the U.S. government" — a subterranean office space in what was once a limestone mine, where 600 Office of Personnel Management employees process the retirement papers of other government employees. The Post article describes how this mostly-manual process works (and why it hasn't been changed much to take advantage of advancing technology), including with a video that might remind you of Terry Gilliam's Brazil. As the writer puts it,

"[T]hat system has a spectacular flaw. It still must be done entirely by hand, and almost entirely on paper. The employees here pass thousands of case files from cavern to cavern and then key in retirees’ personal data, one line at a time. They work underground not for secrecy but for space. The old mine’s tunnels have room for more than 28,000 file cabinets of paper records."

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L.A. Police: All Cars In L.A. Are Under Investigation
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's adjust-your-mirrors-and-put-your-hands-on-the-hood department:
An anonymous reader writes with a link to an article by the EFF's Jennifer Lynch, carried by Gizmodo, which reports that the L.A. Police Department and L.A. Sheriff's Department "took a novel approach in the briefs they filed in EFF and the ACLU of Southern California's California Public Records Act lawsuit seeking a week's worth of Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) data. They have argued that 'All [license plate] data is investigatory.' The fact that it may never be associated with a specific crime doesn't matter. This argument is completely counter to our criminal justice system, in which we assume law enforcement will not conduct an investigation unless there are some indicia of criminal activity. In fact, the Fourth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution exactly to prevent law enforcement from conducting mass, suspicionless investigations under "general warrants" that targeted no specific person or place and never expired.

ALPR systems operate in just this way. The cameras are not triggered by any suspicion of criminal wrongdoing; instead, they automatically and indiscriminately photograph all license plates (and cars) that come into view. ... Taken to an extreme, the agencies' arguments would allow law enforcement to conduct around-the-clock surveillance on every aspect of our lives and store those records indefinitely on the off-chance they may aid in solving a crime at some previously undetermined date in the future. If the court accepts their arguments, the agencies would then be able to hide all this data from the public."


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Turkey Heightens Twitter Censorship with Mandated IP Blocking
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's until-tomorrow department:
The Net may have briefly routed around Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan's DNS-based anti-Twitter censorship, but the minister's next move has been to mandate that Turkish ISPs block Twitter's assigned IP addresses. Reports Ars Technica: " This move essentially erases Twitter from the Internet within Turkey—at least to those people who don’t have access to SMS messaging, a foreign virtual private network or Web proxy service, or the Tor anonymizing network.

'We can confirm that Turkey is now blocking the IP addresses of Twitter after the previous DNS blocking technique proved ineffective,' said Doug Madory, of the Internet monitoring company Renesys, in an e-mail to Ars. A Turkish government webpage shows that there is an IP address block order in effect for 199.16.156.6, the primary IP address for twitter.com."


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IPCC's "Darkest Yet" Climate Report Warns of Food, Water Shortages
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's c'mon-fellas-lighten-up department:
The Australian reports that "UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed.

A draft of their report, seen by the news organisation AFP, is part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, likely to shape policies and climate talks for years to come.

Scientists and government representatives will meet in Yokohama, Japan, from tomorrow to hammer out a 29-page summary. It will be unveiled with the full report on March 31.

'We have a lot clearer picture of impacts and their consequences ... including the implications for security,' said Chris Field of the US’s Carnegie Institution, who headed the probe.

The work comes six months after the first volume in the long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report declared scientists were more certain than ever that humans caused global warming. It predicted global temperatures would rise 0.3C-4.8C this century, adding to roughly 0.7C since the Industrial Revolution. Seas will creep up by 26cm-82cm by 2100. The draft warns costs will spiral with each additional degree, although it is hard to forecast by how much."

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Ask Slashdot: Moving From Tech Support To Development?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's which-flavor-of-ice-cream? department:
An anonymous reader writes "My eastern European tech-support job will be outsourced in 6 months to a nearby country. I do not wish to move, having relationship and roots here, and as such I stand at a crossroads. I could take my current hobby more seriously and focus on Java development. I have no degree, no professional experience in the field, and as such, I do not hold much market value for an employer. However, I find joy in the creative problem solving that programming provides. Seeing the cogs finally turn after hours invested gives me pleasures my mundane work could never do. The second option is Linux system administration with a specialization in VMware virtualisation. I have no certificates, but I have been around enterprise environments (with limited support of VMware) for 21 months now, so at the end of my contract with 27 months under my belt, I could convince a company to hire me based on willingness to learn and improve. All the literature is freely available, and I've been playing with VDIs in Debian already.

My situation is as follows: all living expenses except food, luxuries and entertainment is covered by the wage of my girlfriend. That would leave me in a situation where we would be financially alright, but not well off, if I were to earn significantly less than I do now. I am convinced that I would be able to make it in system administration, however, that is not my passion. I am at an age where children are not a concern, and risks seem to be, at first sight, easier to take. I would like to hear the opinion and experience of fellow readers who might have been in a similar situation."


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Silicon Valley Anti-Poaching Cartel Went Beyond a Few Tech Firms
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's say-clancy-why-don't-you-drop-by-the-club department:
The gentleman's agreement that several Silicon Valley firms are now widely known to have taken part in to minimize employee poaching within their own circles went much further than has been generally reported, according to a report at PandoDaily. The article lists many other companies besides the handful that have been previously named as taking part in the scheme to prevent recruiting, and gives some insight into what kind of (even non-tech) organizations and practices are involved.

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Google Tries To Defuse Glass "Myths"
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-all-opinions-are-myths department:
As reported by Beta News, Google has tried to answer some of the criticism that its Glass head-mounted system has inspired with a blog post outlining and explaining what it calls 10 "myths" about the system. Google's explanation probably won't change many minds, but in just a few years the need to defend head-worn input/output devices might seem quaint and backwards.

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IPPC's "Darkest Yet" Climate Report Warns of Food, Water Shortages
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's c'mon-fellas-lighten-up department:
The Australian reports that "UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed.

A draft of their report, seen by the news organisation AFP, is part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, likely to shape policies and climate talks for years to come.

Scientists and government representatives will meet in Yokohama, Japan, from tomorrow to hammer out a 29-page summary. It will be unveiled with the full report on March 31.

'We have a lot clearer picture of impacts and their consequences ... including the implications for security,' said Chris Field of the US’s Carnegie Institution, who headed the probe.

The work comes six months after the first volume in the long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report declared scientists were more certain than ever that humans caused global warming. It predicted global temperatures would rise 0.3C-4.8C this century, adding to roughly 0.7C since the Industrial Revolution. Seas will creep up by 26cm-82cm by 2100. The draft warns costs will spiral with each additional degree, although it is hard to forecast by how much."

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Electric 'Thinking Cap' Controls Learning Speed
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's worshipping-moist-temples department:
An anonymous reader writes "Vanderbilt researchers say they've shown it's possible to selectively manipulate our ability to learn by applying a mild electrical current to the brain. Using an elastic headband that secured two electrodes conducted by saline-soaked sponges to the cheek and the crown of the head, the researchers applied 20 minutes of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to each subject. Depending on the direction of the current, subjects either learned more quickly, slower, or in the case of a sham current, with no change at all. The [paywalled] study appears in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience."

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Twitter Turns 8; May Drop Hashtags and @replies
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's #-your-fist-@-them-in-rage department:
Twitter has only just turned eight years old, but in that time it's become so pervasive that some of its conventions have spread beyond Twitter itself, and its character limit seems almost like a natural law. Now, Buzzfeed reports that some Twitter-isms may be about to change: based on screenshots of interfaces in alpha testing, it seems that hashtags and "at" replies may be on the chopping block, or (based on some updates made to the story) at least made less visible for some readers.

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French, Chinese Satellite Images May Show Malaysian Jet Debris
Posted by News Fetcher on March 23 '14 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's lot-of-ocean-out-there department:
Bloomberg News reports that "French satellite scans provided fresh indications of objects adrift in part of the Indian Ocean that's being scoured for the missing Malaysian airliner, backing up Chinese evidence as more planes and ships join the hunt. ... The developments rekindled prospects for a breakthrough in the mystery of Malaysian Air (MAS) Flight 370 after radar and visual scans failed to find objects spotted in earlier images taken from space. Searchers, bolstered by a growing fleet of international vessels, also want to locate a wooden pallet seen from the air to check if it could have come from the jet's hold."

And if you have your own database of recent photos to trawl through, the article says "The Chinese photo, taken March 18, is focused 90 degrees east and almost 45 degrees south, versus almost 91 degrees east and 44 degrees south for similar items on a March 16 satellite image, putting the object 120 kilometers southwest of that sighting."

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