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Voynich Manuscript May Have Originated In the New World
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's good-to-know-which-side-of-the-atlantic-we-were-trolled-from department:
bmearns writes "The Voynich Manuscript is most geeks' favorite 'indecipherable' illuminated manuscript. Its bizarre depictions of strange plants and animals, astrological diagrams, and hordes of tiny naked women bathing in a system of interconnected tubs (which bear an uneasy resemblance to the human digestive system), have inspired numerous essays and doctoral theses', plus one XKCD comic. Now a team of botanists (yes, botanists) may have uncovered an important clue as to its origin and content by identifying several of the plants and animals depicted, and linking them to the Spanish territories in Central America."

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You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's transportation-as-a-service department:
cartechboy writes "These days, you go to a car dealership and you buy a car. If you want seat heaters, you might need to option for the cold weather package from the factory. Want the high-end stereo? You'll be likely be opting for some technology package which bundles in navigation. While some options are a la carte, most are bundled, and even when they are a la carte, they aren't cheap. What if in the future you could buy a car and unlock options later? Say the car came from the factory with heated seats, but you didn't pay for them. But later on, say in the middle of the freezing winter, you suddenly want them. What if you could simply pay a monthly fee during the winter months to have those heated seats work? Whether this model would benefit the consumer, the automakers, or both is yet to be seen. But automakers such as MINI are already talking about this type of a future. Is this the right road to be headed down, or are consumers going to just get screwed in the long run?"

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Who Makes the Best Hard Disk Drives?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's spoiler:-it's-not-mcdonald's department:
Hamsterdan writes "Backblaze, the cloud backup company who open sourced their Storage Pod a few years ago, is now providing information on drive failure rates. They currently have over 27,000 consumer grade drives spinning in Backblaze storage pods. There are over 12,000 drives each from Seagate and Hitachi, and close to 3,000 from Western Digital (plus a too-small-for-statistical-reporting smattering of Toshiba and Samsung drives). One cool thing: Backblaze buys drives the way you and I do: they get the cheapest consumer-grade drives that will work. Their workload is almost hundred percent write. Because they spread the incoming writes over several drives, their workload isn't overly performance intensive, either. Their results: Hitachi has the lowest overall failure rate (3.1% over three years). Western Digital has a slightly higher rate (5.2%), but the drives that fail tend to do so very early. Seagate drives fail much more often — 26.5% are dead by the three-year mark."

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'Web Junkie': Harrowing Documentary On China's Internet Addiction Rehab Clinics
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-are-addicted-to-breathing department:
cold fjord writes "The Daily Beast reports on Web Junkie, a documentary showing the unsettling efforts undertaken by the Internet Addiction Treatment Center in China to break teenagers of their internet habits. Quoting: 'China was one of the first countries to brand "Internet addiction" as a clinical disorder, and to claim it's the number one threat to its teenagers today. The Chinese government has erected 400 rehabilitation boot camps like this one ... a bizarre hybrid of military barracks and mental hospital. ... Every room in the facility is monitored by cameras. ... Teens spend a minimum of three months at Daxing. ... Wires and nodes will be hooked to their head ... they're administered daily medication (without being told what it is), they have to keep their rooms spotless, partake in individual and group therapy sessions with their parents, and do boot camp-style exercise ... One kid in the film claims to have played World of Warcraft for 300 hours straight, taking only tiny naps in between. ... "Some kids are so hooked on these games they think going to the bathroom will affect their performance. So they wear a diaper. These are the same as heroin addicts. ... That's why we call it electronic heroin."' Wired has further details and a clip from the documentary."

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CES 2014: A Bedbug Detector that Looks Interesting but has Detractors (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's sometimes-a-real-dog's-nose-is-better-than-an-electric-one department:
This is a slightly puzzling product. To begin with, Christopher Goggin, shown as the inventor of the Electronic Dog Nose (as featured in Popular Science) may not be the actual inventor, at least according to some of the comments attached to that 2011 Popular Science article. Yet other comments on the same article claim that the unit Goggin supposedly ripped off is totally different from his, and doesn't work, while his does. A report (pdf) on bed-bugs.co.uk says the device "...clearly fails to perform to the manufacturers specification and procedures." Goggin's badge at CES showed his company affiliation as Datt Solutions Group, but Datt's website did not mention him as of Jan. 21, 2013, several weeks after CES 2014 closed. A New York Real Estate blog is skeptical, as are others. Goggin also claims to have a laser device that will kill the bedbugs you find. It sounds great. But a person who prefers the tried and true to new products that may or may not work might want to use old-fashioned, all-natural Diatomaceous earth, which kills not only bedbugs but other insect pests, and costs very little compared to most other methods. If that method doesn't work, then it may be time to try dogs, lasers, and other ways to find and kill bedbugs, which have been spotted everywhere from luxury hotels to housing projects, even in taxicabs and movie theaters.

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Google Faces Off Against Intellectual Ventures In Landmark Patent Trial
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's clash-of-the-titans department:
enharmonix writes "Although Google initially invested in Intellectual Ventures, a patent holding firm, the two have since parted ways and are about to face off in court over some technologies used in Motorola (and other) phones. This is an important battle and the timing is significant given Congress's recent interest in patent reform. 'Two of the patents in the upcoming Motorola trial cover inventions by Richard Reisman, U.S. government records show. Through his company, Teleshuttle, Reisman has developed several patent portfolios for various technologies, including an online update service, according to the Teleshuttle website. IV claims that the two Reisman patents cover several of Motorola's older-generation cellphones that have Google Play, a platform for Android smartphone apps. Motorola argues that IV's patents should never have been issued because the inventions were known in the field already."

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CERN Antimatter Experiment Produces First Beam of Antihydrogen
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 12:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-we-just-need-some-dilithium-crystals department:
An anonymous reader writes "Matter and antimatter annihilate immediately when they meet, so aside from creating antihydrogen, one of the key challenges for physicists is to keep antiatoms away from ordinary matter. To do so, experiments take advantage of antihydrogen's magnetic properties (which are similar to hydrogen's) and use very strong non-uniform magnetic fields to trap antiatoms long enough to study them. However, the strong magnetic field gradients degrade the spectroscopic properties of the (anti)atoms. To allow for clean high-resolution spectroscopy, the ASACUSA collaboration developed an innovative set-up to transfer antihydrogen atoms to a region where they can be studied in flight, far from the strong magnetic field (scientific paper)."

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Code Is Not Literature
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's neither-are-tea-leaves department:
An anonymous reader writes "Hacker and author Peter Seibel has done a lot of work to adopt one of the most widely-accepted practices toward becoming a better programmer: reading high quality code. He's set up code-reading groups and interviewed other programmers to see what code they read. But he's come to learn that the overwhelming majority of programmers don't practice what they preach. Why? He says, 'We don't read code, we decode it. We examine it. A piece of code is not literature; it is a specimen.' He relates an anecdote from Donald Knuth about figuring out a Fortran compiler, and indeed, it reads more like a 'scientific investigation' than the process we refer to as 'reading.' Seibel is now changing his code-reading group to account for this: 'So instead of trying to pick out a piece of code and reading it and then discussing it like a bunch of Comp Lit. grad students, I think a better model is for one of us to play the role of a 19th century naturalist returning from a trip to some exotic island to present to the local scientific society a discussion of the crazy beetles they found.'"

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Rosetta Probe Awakens, Prepares To Chase Comet
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cue-benny-hill-music department:
sciencehabit writes "The European comet-chasing probe Rosetta is up and running again today after it successfully roused itself from a 2½-year sleep and signaled anxious controllers on the ground. The spacecraft had been put into hibernation during the most distant part of its 10-year journey in pursuit of comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko because sunlight was too dim to keep its solar-powered systems running. Dozing in a slow stabilizing spin, Rosetta could not receive signals from the ground, so there was a risk that some problem might prevent it from responding to its preset alarm call at 10:00 GMT. Even then, there were many processes to go through before news reached Earth: The spacecraft's heaters would need to warm up its systems, its startrackers get a fix, boosters halt the spin, solar arrays turn towards the sun, and, finally, its communications antenna would need to point at Earth. It was not till 18:18 GMT that the signal was picked up by NASA's ground stations at Goldstone, California, and Canberra in Australia, and transmitted to the European Space Agency's (ESA's) control center at Darmstadt in Germany."

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Hacker Says He Could Access 70,000 Healthcare.Gov Records In 4 Minutes
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-eggs-one-basket department:
cold fjord writes with this excerpt from Computerworld: "[W]hite hat hacker David Kennedy, CEO of TrustedSec, may feel like he's beating his head against a stone wall. Kennedy said, 'I don't understand how we're still discussing whether the website is insecure or not. ... It is insecure — 100 percent.' Kennedy has continually warned that healthcare.gov is insecure. In November, after the website was allegedly 'fixed,' he told Congress it was even more vulnerable to hacking and privacy breaches. ... 'Out of the issues identified last go around, there has been a half of a vulnerability closed out of the 17 previously disclosed ... other security researchers have also identified an additional 20+ exposures on the site.' ... Kennedy said he was able to access 70,000 records within four minutes ... At the House Science and Technology Committee hearing held last week ... elite white hat hackers — Kevin Mitnick, Ed Skoudis, Chris Nickerson, Eric Smith, Chris Gates, John Strand, Kevin Johnson, and Scott White – blasted the website's insecurity. ... Mitnick, the 'world's most famous hacker' testified: '... It would be a hacker's wet dream to break into Healthcare.gov ... A breach may result in massive identity theft never seen before — these databases house information on every U.S. citizen! It's shameful the team that built the Healthcare.gov site implemented minimal, if any, security best practices.'"

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Sniffing and Decoding NRF24L01+ and Bluetooth LE Packets For Under $30
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's on-the-cheap department:
An anonymous reader writes "I was able to decode NRF24L01+ and Bluetooth Low Energy protocols using RTL-SDR. As far as I can see, this is the first time NRF24L01+ is being decoded, especially considering the low entry price for the hardware. Given the extreme popularity of this transceiver, we are likely to see a wave of hackers attacking the security of many wireless gadgets, and they are likely to succeed as security is usually the last priority for hardware designers of such cheap gadgets. A lot of work has been done to decode bluetooth using dedicated hardware, and I am sure this software can be adapted to output the right format as input to existing Bluetooth decoders such as Wireshark."

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Sites Blocked By Smartfilter, Censored in Saudi Arabia
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's there-go-my-saudi-visa-opportunities department:
Internet users in Saudi Arabia, along with most users in the United Arab Emirates, are blocked
by their respective government censors from accessing the websites of the
Trinity Davison Lutheran Church,
Deliverance Tabernacle Ministries in Pittsburgh,
the Amitayu Buddhist Society of Taiwan,
and GayFaith.org. An attempt to access any of
those websites yields an error page like
this one.
However, the sites are not blocked because they conflict with
the religions beliefs of those countries' governments. Rather, they
are blocked because Smartfilter -- the American-made blocking
program sold by McAfee, and used for state-mandated Internet censorship
in those countries -- classifies those sites as
"pornography". You can see the screen shots
here,
here,
here and
here.

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BT and Alcatel-Lucent Record Real-World Fibre Optic Speed of 1.4Tbps In the UK
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's zipping-it-along department:
Mark.JUK writes "The United Kingdom's national telecoms operator, BT, has successfully teamed up with Alcatel-Lucent to conduct a field trial that delivered real-world data speeds of 1.4 Terabits per second over an existing commercial-grade 410km fiber optic link. The trial used a 'record spectral efficiency' of 5.7 bits per second per Hertz and Flexgrid technology to vary the gaps between transmission channels for 42.5% greater data transmission efficiency than today's standard networks. The speed was achieved by overlaying an 'Alien Super Channel' (i.e. it operates transparently on top of BT's existing optical network), which bundled together 7 x 200Gbps (Gigabits per second) channels and then reduced the 'spectral spacing' between the channels from 50GHz to 35GHz using the 400Gb/s Photonic Services Engine (PSE) technology on the 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS). It's hoped that this could help boost capacity to those who need it without needing to lay expensive new fiber cables."

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Candy Crush Maker King.com Has Trademarked 'Candy' For Games
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's seeking-such-sweet-sweet-rent department:
An anonymous reader writes ""King.com, owners of Candy Crush, have received a U.S. trademark on the use of the word 'candy' in games and clothing. Forbes thinks it is overly broad. 'One would think Hasbro, the maker of that venerable children's board game (which does have video game versions) Candy Land, would already have this trademark sewed up.'" According to an update on the story, the company also has a EU trademark on the same term, but (however much comfort this is) is enforcing its claims only selectively, as against a game called All Candy Casino Slots – Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land.

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Short Notice: LogMeIn To Discontinue Free Access
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-much-friction-can-be-applied department:
An anonymous reader writes "The remote desktop service LogMeIn sent an email to its users today notifying them that 'LogMeIn Free' will be discontinued — as of today. This is a major shock with minimal warning to the millions of users who have come to rely on their service, made all the more surprising by the fact that 'consensus revenue estimates for LogMeIn in 2014 are $190.3 million,' suggesting that their system of providing both free and paid accounts for what is ultimately a straightforward service that could be duplicated for well under $1 million was already doing quite well." Asks reader k280: "What alternative tools are available for free, and how do they compare to LogMeIn?"

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HP Brings Back Windows 7 'By Popular Demand' As Buyers Shun Windows 8
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's classic-coke-stockholm-syndrome department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Gregg Keizer reports at Computerworld that Hewlett-Packard has stuck their finger in Microsoft's eye by launching launched a new promotion that discounts several consumer PCs by $150 when equipped with Windows 7, saying the four-year-old OS is 'back by popular demand.' 'The reality is that there are a lot of people who still want Windows 7,' says Bob O'Donnel. 'This is a twist, though, and may appeal to those who said, "I do want a new PC, but I thought I couldn't get Windows 7."' The promotion reminded O'Donnell and others of the dark days of Windows Vista, when customers avoided Windows 7's predecessor and instead clamored for the older Windows XP on their new PCs. Then, customers who had heard mostly negative comments about Vista from friends, family and the media, decided they would rather work with the devil they knew rather than the new one they did not. 'It's not a perfect comparison,' says O'Donnell, of equating Windows 8 with Vista, 'but the perception of Windows 8 is negative. I said early on that Windows 8 could clearly be Vista Version 2, and that seems to have happened.' HP has decided that the popularity of Windows 7 is its best chance of encouraging more people to buy new computers in a declining market and is not the first time that HP has spoken out against Microsoft. 'Look at the business model difference between Intel and ARM. Look at the operating systems. In today's world, other than Microsoft there's no one else who charges for an operating system,' said HP executive Sridhar Solur in December, adding that that the next generation of computers could very well not be dominated by Microsoft."

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EU Commissioner Renews Call for Serious Fines in Data Privacy Laws
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 06:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's except-when-the-state-does-it department:
DW100 writes "Despite Google being fined €900,000 by Spanish authorities and €150,000 in France for its controversial privacy policies in recent months, an EU commissioner has admitted this is mere 'pocket money' to the company. Instead, a new legal regime that would have seen Google fined $1bn for breaching data protection laws is needed to make U.S. companies fear and respect the law in Europe. 'Is it surprising to anyone,' asked Commissioner Viviane Reding, 'that two whole years after the case emerged, it is still unclear whether Google will amend its privacy policy or not? Europeans need to get serious. And that is why our reform introduces stiff sanctions that can reach as much as 2% of the global annual turnover of a company. In the Google case, that would have meant a fine of EUR 731 million (USD 1 billion). A sum much harder to brush off.'"

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Microsoft Paying for Positive XBox One Coverage on YouTube
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 05:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's smell-of-fresh-cut-astroturf department:
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft, partnered with Machinima, has put forth a promotion for YouTube personalities: make a video about the XBox One and get money for it. Problematically, they also require the reviewer not to disclose that they're getting paid (or mention anything negative), which breaks FTC disclosure rules (PDF). Microsoft has a well-known history of astroturfing, but is this the first proof of them doing it illegally?"

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AMC Theaters Allegedly Calls FBI to Interrogate a Google Glass Wearer
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 02:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's probable-russian-spy department:
An anonymous reader writes "A Google Glass user was interrogated without legal counsel for a couple of hours under suspicion that he may have been recording a film in the AMC movie theater. Although the matter could have been cleared in minutes, federal agents insisted on interrogating the user for hours. So long for our constitutional freedoms."

Hours of being detained that could have been avoided if they had just searched his devices (which he repeatedly suggested they do): "Eventually, after a long time somebody came with a laptop and an USB cable at which point he told me it was my last chance to come clean. I repeated for the hundredth time there is nothing to come clean about and this is a big misunderstanding so the FBI guy finally connected my Glass to the computer, downloaded all my personal photos and started going though them one by one (although they are dated and it was obvious there was nothing on my Glass that was from the time period they accused me of recording). Then they went through my phone, and 5 minutes later they concluded I had done nothing wrong."

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Data Analysts Attempt To Predict World's Largest Music Vote, Again
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 12:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's manufactured-tastes-prove-easy-to-predict department:
littlekorea writes "Data analysts in the U.S. and Australia have come up with alternative means to predict the world's largest music vote, Triple J's Hottest 100. The Warmest 100 was close to spot on last year after analysts mined data from social posts auto-generated during the voting process. This year, with that avenue shut off, they relied on data extracted using the Instagram API, among others, and hope to achieve similar results."

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