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U.S. Teenagers Are Driving Much Less: 4 Theories About Why
Posted by News Fetcher on January 19 '14 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's time-and-place-restrictions department:
Paul Fernhout writes "U.S. teenagers just aren't as into driving as they used to be, U.S. government forecasters acknowledged in dramatically altered projections for transportation energy use over the next 25 years." Online presence is one of the reasons mentioned, which makes a lot of sense to me as a factor, no matter the age of the drivers involved. Whatever your age, do you drive less than you did 10 years ago?

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Nobel Prize Winning Economist: Legalize Sale of Human Organs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 19 '14 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's adults-making-choices department:
retroworks writes "Dr. Gary Becker (University of Chicago) and Julio Elias (Universidad CEMA, Argentina) wrote a thought-provoking editorial in last week's WSJ, arguing that the prohibition on voluntary sale and trade of human organs is probably killing people. In 2012, 95,000 American men, women and children were on the waiting list for new kidneys. Yet only about 16,500 kidney transplant operations were performed that year. 'The altruistic giving of organs might decline with an open market, since the incentive to give organs to a relative, friend or anyone else would be weaker when organs are readily available to buy. On the other hand, the altruistic giving of money to those in need of organs could increase to help them pay for the cost of organ transplants.' Paying for organs would lead to more transplants, the article maintains. 'Initially, a market in the purchase and sale of organs would seem strange, and many might continue to consider that market "repugnant." Over time, however, the sale of organs would grow to be accepted, just as the voluntary military now has widespread support.'"

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Actually, It's Google That's Eating the World
Posted by News Fetcher on January 19 '14 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's respond-only-with-your-real-name-and-gps-coordinates department:
waderoush writes "An Xconomy column [Friday] suggests that Google is getting too big. When the company was younger, most of its acquisitions related to its core businesses of search, advertising, network infrastructure, and communications. More recently, it's been colonizing areas with a less obvious connection to search, such as travel, social networking, productivity, logistics, energy, robotics, and — with the acquisition this week of Nest Labs — home sensor networks and automation. A Google acquisition can obviously mean a big payoff for startup founders and their investors, but as the company grows by accretion it may actually be slowing innovation in Silicon Valley (since teams inside the Googleplex, with its endless fountain of AdWords revenue, can stop worrying about making money or meeting market needs). And by infiltrating so many corners of consumers' lives — and collecting personal and behavioral data as it goes — it's becoming an all-encompassing presence, and making itself ever more attractive as a target for marketers, data thieves, and government snoops. 'Any sufficiently advanced search, communications, and sensing infrastructure is indistinguishable from Big Brother,' the column argues."

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Comet-Chasing Probe Wakes Up On Monday
Posted by News Fetcher on January 19 '14 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's looking-forward-to-pretty-pictures department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jason Major reports that after nearly a decade of soaring through the inner solar system, flying past Mars and Earth several times and even briefly visiting a couple of asteroids for a gravity assist, the European Space Agency's comet-chasing spacecraft, Rosetta, is due to 'wake up' on January 20 after 957 days of hibernation. The probe is awakening to prepare for its upcoming and highly-anticipated rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in August. The spacecraft was designed to be put in hibernation for the coldest part of the journey that took it close to the orbit of Jupiter, because even with massive solar panels the size of a basketball court, Rosetta would not have enough power to complete its mission without this energy-saving strategy. Once Rosetta enters orbit around the comet — the first time a spacecraft has ever done so — it will map its surface and, three months later in November, deploy the 220-lb (100-kg) Philae lander that will intimately investigate the surface of the nucleus using a suite of advanced science instruments. 'It's the first time we've made a rendezvous with a comet — that's never been done before — and it's going to be the first time we've escorted a comet past its closest approach to the Sun,' says ESA project scientist Matt Taylor."

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Nagios-Plugins Web Site Taken Over By Nagios
Posted by News Fetcher on January 19 '14 at 02:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bad-behavior department:
New submitter hymie! writes "Nagios is a commonly used IT tool that monitors computers, networks, and websites. It supports the use of plug-ins, many of which were developed independently by the community. Holger Weiß, formerly of nagios-plugins.org, announced that 'Yesterday, the DNS records [of nagios-plugins.org] were modified to point to web space controlled by Nagios Enterprises instead. This change was done without prior notice. To make things worse, large parts of our web site were copied and are now served (with slight modifications) by Nagios. Again, this was done without contacting us, and without our permission. This means we cannot use the name 'Nagios Plugins' any longer.' Further discussion is available in a Bugzilla thread"

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Accenture Faces Mid-March Healthcare.gov Deadline Or 'Disaster'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hope-you're-looking-forward-to-continued-drama department:
PapayaSF writes "TheHill.com reports that Accenture has two months to fix HealthCare.gov by building a 'financial management platform that tracks eligibility and enrollment transactions, accounts for subsidy payments to insurance plans, "provides stable and predictable financial accounting and outlook for the entire program," and that integrates with existing CMS and IRS systems.' The procurement document, posted on a federal website, states that if this is not completed in time, there will be 'financial harm to the government' and 'the entire healthcare reform program is jeopardized.' Risk mitigation (which pays insurers who enroll a higher-than-expected number of sick patients) must be accurately forecast, or it might put 'the entire health insurance industry at risk.' Accenture will also have to fix the enrollment transmissions, which have been sending inaccurate and garbled data to insurance companies. Because the back-end cannot currently handle the federal subsidies, insurers will be paid estimated amounts as a stopgap measure. The document also said that officials realized in December that there was no time for a 'full and open competition process' before awarding Accenture the $91 million contract. What are their odds of success?"

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OpenBSD Moving Towards Signed Packages — Based On D. J. Bernstein Crypto
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's those-signatures-will-be-worth-a-lot-of-money-some-day department:
ConstantineM writes "It's official: 'we are moving towards signed packages,' says Theo de Raadt on the misc@ mailing list. This is shortly after a new utility, signify, was committed into the base tree. The reason a new utility had to be written in the first place is that gnupg is too big to fit on the floppy discs, which are still a supported installation medium for OpenBSD. Signatures are based on the Ed25519 public-key signature system from D. J. Bernstein and co., and his public domain code once again appears in the base tree of OpenBSD, only a few weeks after some other DJB inventions made it into the nearby OpenSSH as well."

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Court Victory Gives Blogger Same Speech Protections As Traditional Press
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 05:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-that-traditional-journalism department:
cold fjord writes "Reuters reports, 'A blogger is entitled to the same free speech protections as a traditional journalist and cannot be liable for defamation unless she acted negligently, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday. Crystal Cox lost a defamation trial in 2011 over a blog post she wrote accusing a bankruptcy trustee and Obsidian Finance Group of tax fraud. A lower court judge had found that Obsidian did not have to prove that Cox acted negligently because Cox failed to submit evidence of her status as a journalist. But in the ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Cox deserved a new trial, regardless of the fact that she is not a traditional reporter. "As the Supreme Court has accurately warned, a First Amendment distinction between the institutional press and other speakers is unworkable."... Eugene Volokh, [a] Law professor who represented Cox, said Obsidian would now have to show that Cox had actual knowledge that her post was false when she published it. ... "In this day and age, with so much important stuff produced by people who are not professionals, it's harder than ever to decide who is a member of the institutional press."' Further details are available at Courthouse News Service"

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Adware Vendors Buying Chrome Extensions, Injecting Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's advertising-will-destroy-everything-good-in-the-world department:
An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports that the developers of moderately popular Chrome extensions are being contacted and offered thousands of dollars to sell ownership of those extensions. The buyers are then adding adware and malware to the extensions and letting the auto-update roll it out to end users. The article says, 'When Tweet This Page started spewing ads and malware into my browser, the only initial sign was that ads on the Internet had suddenly become much more intrusive, and many auto-played sound. The extension only started injecting ads a few days after it was installed in an attempt to make it more difficult to detect. After a while, Google search became useless, because every link would redirect to some other webpage. My initial thought was to take an inventory of every program I had installed recently—I never suspected an update would bring in malware. I ran a ton of malware/virus scanners, and they all found nothing. I was only clued into the fact that Chrome was the culprit because the same thing started happening on my Chromebook—if I didn't notice that, the next step would have probably been a full wipe of my computer.'"

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Ask Slashdot: What's the Most Often-Run Piece of Code -- Ever?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-how-quickly-could-EC2-win-the-crown department:
Hugo Villeneuve writes "What piece of code, in a non-assembler format, has been run the most often, ever, on this planet? By 'most often,' I mean the highest number of executions, regardless of CPU type. For the code in question, let's set a lower limit of 3 consecutive lines. For example, is it:


A UNIX kernel context switch?

A SHA2 algorithm for Bitcoin mining on an ASIC?

A scientific calculation running on a supercomputer?

A 'for-loop' inside on an obscure microcontroller that runs on all GE appliance since the '60s?"

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Solar Lull Could Cause Colder Winters In Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-blame-the-schools department:
Taco Cowboy writes "Since September of last year scientists have been wondering what's happening to the Sun. It's supposed to have reached the peak of its 11-year cycle, but sunspot and flare activity remains much quieter than expected. Experts now think the recent cold snap that hit North America and the wet weather that hit part of Europe might be linked to the eerie quietness of the Sun. According to the BBC, solar activity hasn't been this low in 100 years, and if activity keeps dropping, it may reach levels seen during the 'Maunder Minimum,' an 'era of solar inactivity in the 17th Century [which] coincided with a period of bitterly cold winters in Europe.' It wouldn't have a big effect on global temperatures, just regional ones. Why? The sun's UV output drops during these lulls, and the decreased amount of UV light hitting the stratosphere would cause the jet stream to change course. Prof. Mike Lockwood says, 'These are large meanders in the jet stream, and they're called blocking events because they block off the normal moist, mild winds we get from the Atlantic, and instead we get cold air being dragged down from the Arctic and from Russia. These are what we call a cold snap... a series of three or four cold snaps in a row adds up to a cold winter. And that's quite likely what we'll see as solar activity declines.'"

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Analyst Calls Russian Teen Author of Target Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-off-my-lawn department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "A digital-activity data analytics firm called IntelCrawler, Inc. claims to have identified the author of the BlackPOS malware used in attacks against Target and Neiman Marcus, and spotted similar attacks that are still in progress against six other retailers. Andrey Komarov, CEO of the Los Angeles-based IntelCrawler, told Reuters Jan. 17 that his company had spotted the six ongoing attacks while analyzing Web traffic in search of the specific entry points and origin of the malware infection behind the Target data breach, which allowed hackers to steak magnetic card-strip data on 40 million debit- and credit cards and demographic data on 70 million additional customers. According to Komarov, BlackPOS was developed by a 17-year-old Russian who goes by the username Ree4 and lives in St. Petersburg. Ree4 probably did not participate in the attack on Target, but did sell the malware to the actual attackers, according to Komarov, who refused to identify the source of his information other than to say he had been monitoring forums on which he said Ree4 sells malware. In a series of chat clips Komarov said are exchanges between buyer and seller, Ree4 tells a potential customer that the price for the software is US$2,000 and that the malware grabs credit-card numbers from system memory as they're scanned, dumps them into a file called time.txt that is sent back to the controller. Ree4 also said the app works only on standalone point-of-sale terminals with a separate monitor that also runs Windows, but not on Verifone systems, which can be attached to PCs but secure credit-card data before it can be scraped by BlackPOS."

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Valve Working on GNU/Linux Native Open Source OpenGL Debugger
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 12:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's four-dee-graphics department:
jones_supa writes "OpenGL debugging has always lagged behind DirectX, mainly because of the excellent DX graphics debugging tools shipping with Visual Studio and GL being left with APITrace. Valve's Linux initiatives are making game companies to think about OpenGL, and the video game company wants to create a good open source OpenGL debugger to improve the ecosystem. AMD and Nvidia have already expressed interest in helping them out. Valve has been developing VOGL mostly on Ubuntu-based distributions under Qt Creator. The software currently supports tracing OpenGL 1.0 through 3.3 (core and compatibility), and is expected to eventually support OpenGL 4.x. Many more details on VOGL can be found at Valve's Rich Geldreich's blog."

This looks much nicer than BuGLe. Valve is using Mercurial for version control and they plan to throw it up on bitbucket under an unspecified open source license soon. It works with clang and gcc, but debugging with gcc is currently very slow (hopefully something that can be fixed once the source is available and the gcc hackers can see what's going on). The tracer's internal binary log format can be converted into JSON for use with other tools as well.

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What Makes a Genius?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's one-percent-inspiration-and-ninety-nine-percent-radiation department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Eric Barker writes at TheWeek that while high intelligence has its place, a large-scale study of more than three hundred creative high achievers including Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Beethoven, and Rembrandt has found that curiosity, passion, hard work, and persistence bordering on obsession are the hallmarks of genius. 'Successful creative people tend to have two things in abundance, curiosity and drive. They are absolutely fascinated by their subject, and while others may be more brilliant, their sheer desire for accomplishment is the decisive factor,' writes Tom Butler-Bowdon. It's not about formal education. 'The most eminent creators were those who had received a moderate amount of education, equal to about the middle of college. Less education than that — or more — corresponded to reduced eminence for creativity,' says Geoffrey Colvin. Those interested in the 10,000-hour theory of deliberate practice won't be surprised that the vast majority of them are workaholics. 'Sooner or later,' writes V. S. Pritchett, 'the great men turn out to be all alike. They never stop working. They never lose a minute. It is very depressing.' Howard Gardner, who studied geniuses like Picasso, Freud, and Stravinsky, found a similar pattern of analyzing, testing, and feedback used by all of them: 'Creative individuals spend a considerable amount of time reflecting on what they are trying to accomplish, whether or not they are achieving success (and, if not, what they might do differently).' Finally, genius means sacrifice. 'My study reveals that, in one way or another, each of the creators became embedded in some kind of a bargain, deal, or Faustian arrangement, executed as a means of ensuring the preservation of his or her unusual gifts. In general, the creators were so caught up in the pursuit of their work mission that they sacrificed all, especially the possibility of a rounded personal existence,' says Gardner."

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Fighting Gamer Rage With an Arduino Based Biometrics Headset
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's video-games-are-serious-business department:
An anonymous reader writes "Gamer rage is a common phenomenon among people who play online, a product of the intense frustration created by stressful in-game situations and an inability to cope. It can have significant impact on the gamer's ability to play well, and to get along with others. To combat this rage and train gamers to deal with the stress, visual designer Samuel Matson of Seattle has created the Immersion project, integrating a pulse sensor tied to a Tiny Arduino with Bluetooth into a headset to monitor the gamer's heart rate. The heart rate data is sent in real time to the gaming PC, where it is displayed in the game. Matson even created a simple FPS using the Unity game engine that varies the AI and gaming difficulty based on the user's heart rate. Using this system, the gamer is able to train themselves to recognize the stress and learn to control it, in order to make them a much more agreeable and competitive player."

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GPUs Dropping Dead In 2011 MacBook Pro Models
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's satisfaction-is-not-guaranteed department:
New submitter blackwizard writes "MacRumors is reporting on pervasive GPU failures in 2011 MacBook Pro machines, leading both to intermittent video issues, corruption, crashing/freezing, and eventually even failure to boot. Luckily for Apple, the machines are now out of warranty (unless you bought AppleCare). The issues have been reported both on Apple's own forums and other blogs. Apple has so far failed to take action on the problem. Will they take ownership of the issue, or continue to ask customers to pay for an entire new logic board when just the GPU fails?"

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VPN Encryption Vulnerability On Android
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's avoid-those-malicious-apps department:
An anonymous reader writes "Cyber security labs at Ben Gurion University have uncovered a network vulnerability on Android devices which has serious implications for users of VPNs. This vulnerability enables malicious apps to bypass active VPN configuration (no root permissions required) and redirect secure data communications to a different network address. These communications are captured in clear text (no encryption), leaving the information completely exposed. This redirection can take place while leaving the user completely oblivious, believing the data is encrypted and secure."

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Stop Trying To 'Innovate' Keyboards, You're Just Making Them Worse
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we've-randomized-the-keys-for-your-convenience department:
FuzzNugget writes "Peter Bright brings the hammer down on the increasing absurdities of laptop keyboard design, from the frustrating to the downright asinine, like the 'adaptive keyboard' of the new Lenovo X1 Carbon. He says, 'The X1's Adaptive Keyboard may have a superior layout to a regular keyboard (I don't think that it does, but for the sake of argument, let's pretend that it does), but that doesn't matter. As long as I have to use regular keyboard layouts too, the Adaptive Keyboard will be at a huge disadvantage. Every time I use another computer, I'll have to switch to the conventional layout. The standard layout has tremendous momentum behind it, and unless purveyors of new designs are able to engineer widespread industry support—as Microsoft did with the Windows keys, for example—then their innovations are doomed to being annoyances rather than improvements.' When will laptop manufacturers focus on perfecting a standardized design rather than trying to reinvent the wheel with every new generation?"

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The Spamming Refrigerator
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's silly-rabbit-spam-is-for-cans department:
puddingebola writes "The 'Internet of Things' is as susceptible to malware and spam as the rest of the net. From the article, 'A fridge has been discovered sending out spam after a web attack managed to compromise smart gadgets...The spam attack took place between 23 December 2013 and 6 January this year, said Proofpoint in a statement. In total, it said, about 750,000 messages were sent as part of the junk mail campaign. The emails were routed through the compromised gadgets. About 25% of the messages seen by Proofpoint researchers did not pass through laptops, desktops or smartphones, it said.' Read Proofpoint's statement here."

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Chrome Is the New C Runtime
Posted by News Fetcher on January 18 '14 at 04:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-but-does-it-have-a-browser department:
New submitter uncloud writes "Cross-platform app development is more important than ever. But what about when you need the features and performance of native code, across platforms? And you're a startup with a small team and impossible deadlines?" His answer? Take advantage of cross-platform Chrome. From the article: "Out of necessity, the Chrome team has created cross-platform abstractions for many low-level platform features. We use this source as the core API on which we build our business logic, and it's made the bulk of our app cross-platform with little effort. Most importantly -- Chrome code has been battle-tested like almost nothing else, with an installed base in the hundreds of millions. That makes all the difference when you want to spend your days working on your company's business logic instead of debugging platform issues."

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