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After Non-Profit Application Furor, IRS Says It's Lost 2 Years Of Lois Lerner's
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's computer-crashed-whaddya-do department:
As reported by the Associated Press, via US News & World Report, the IRS says that it cannot locate much of the email sent by a former IRS official over a two-year period. "The IRS told Congress Friday it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner's emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year. Lerner headed the IRS division that processed applications for tax-exempt status. The IRS acknowledged last year that agents had improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups." Three congressional committees are investigating the agency because of the allegations of politically motivated mishandling of those applications, as is the Justice Department and the IRS's own inspector general. As the story says, "Congressional investigators have shown that IRS officials in Washington were closely involved in the handling of tea party applications, many of which languished for more than a year without action. But so far, they have not publicly produced evidence that anyone outside the agency directed the targeting or even knew about it." CBS News has a slightly different version, also based on the AP's reporting.

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The FCC Can't Help Cities Trapped By Predatory Internet Deals With Big Telecom
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 02:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's there-oughta-be-a-law department:
Jason Koebler writes: At least 20 states have laws that make it illegal for communities to offer local government-owned high speed internet access. Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler threw consumers a bone by suggesting that the agency could make it easier for cities to skirt those laws. That's a great first step — but many cities have locked themselves into telecom company-caused messes the FCC probably can't fix. The FCC's power becomes much less certain once you drill into the other major reason—besides state laws—why cities can't offer broadband to their constituents: local, long-term agreements with internet service providers.

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Clueless About Card Data Hack, PF Chang's Reverts To Imprinting Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's 40-year-old-technology-will-save-us department:
wiredmikey writes: After saying earlier this week that it was investigating reports of a data breach related to payment cards used at its locations, P.F. Chang's China Bistro confirmed on Thursday that credit and debit card data has been stolen from some of its restaurants. What's interesting, and somewhat humorous, is that the company said that it has switched over to manual credit card imprinting systems for all of its restaurants located in the continental United States. The popular restaurant chain said that on Tuesday, June 10, the United States Secret Services alerted the company about the incident. Admitting that it does not know the extent or current situation and impact of the attack, the company noted in a statement: "All P.F. Chang's China Bistro branded restaurants in the continental U.S. are using manual credit card imprinting devices to handle our credit and debit card transactions," the company said. "This allows you to use your credit and debit cards safely. If it's not obvious, anyone who has visited a P.F. Chang's and used a payment card in the last several months should monitor their accounts and report any suspected fraudulent activity to their card company.

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Saurabh Narain and His Homemade Lego-Based Rubik's Cube Solver (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 01:30 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's round-and-round-the-little-cube-goes department:
Here's another one Tim spotted at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014: A Rubik's Cube solver made by 12-year-old Saurabh Narain. He's in 7th grade -- and started soldering in 2nd grade and messing with Linux in 3rd grade. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Tim asked. "An engineer..." (not that you couldn't have guessed). There may be faster Rubik's Cube solvers, and there may be slicker-looking ones, but Saurabh's is a lot more elegant, if you define engineering elegance as getting the most accomplished with the fewest possible parts, using the simplest possible design. And both of the fancier Rubik's Cuber solvers linked to in this paragraph were made by adult engineers, while Saurabh is 12. Can you imagine what he'll be like at 18? Or 28? Not that he's alone; there are lots of other engineering prodigies out there. The next 10 or 20 years are going to be amazing if we encourage young people to go into STEM, and even 5% of them are as smart as Saurabh. (Alternate Video Link)

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Dinosaurs May Have Been Neither Warm-blooded Nor Cold-Blooded
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 01:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bbq-sauce-for-blood-like-americans department:
An anonymous reader writes An article published in Science (abstract) points to the possibility that dinosaurs were mesotherms more akin to modern Tuna. Their internal temperature would have been warmer than their surrounding environment, conferring on them the ability to move more quickly than any ectotherm ("cold blooded" animal), but wouldn't have been constant or as warm as any endoderm ("warm blooded" animal). Their energy use and thus their necessary food intake would have been greater than an ectotherm, but much less than an endotherm. In order to arrive at this possibility, bone growth rings in fossilized bone were used to establish growth rates and then compared to modern ectotherms and endotherms.

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Canadian Supreme Court Delivers Huge Win For Internet Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's getting-a-lot-done-now-that-the-Habs-lost department:
An anonymous reader writes For the past several months, many Canadians have been debating
privacy reform, with the government moving forward on two bills
involving Internet surveillance and expanded voluntary, warrantless
disclosure of personal information. Today, the Supreme Court of
Canada entered the debate and completely changed the discussion,
issuing its long-awaited R.
v. Spencer decision
, which examined the legality of voluntary
warrantless disclosure of basic subscriber information to law
enforcement. Michael Geist summarizes
the findings
, noting that the unanimous decision included a
strong endorsement of Internet privacy, emphasizing the privacy
importance of subscriber information, the right to anonymity, and
the need for police to obtain a warrant for subscriber information
except in exigent circumstances or under a reasonable law.


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545-Person Programming War Declares a Winner
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bring-me-the-severed-subroutine-of-your-fallen-foe department:
An anonymous reader writes: A while back we discussed Code Combat, a multiplayer game that lets players program their way to victory. They recently launched a tournament called Greed, where coders had to write algorithms for competitively collecting coins. 545 programmers participated, submitting over 126,000 lines of code, which resulted in 390 billion statements being executed on a 673-core supercomputer. The winner, going by the name of "Wizard Dude," won 363 matches, tied 14, and lost none! He explains his strategy: "My coin-collecting algorithm uses a novel forces-based mechanism to control movement. Each coin on the map applies an attractive force on collectors (peasants/peons) proportional to its value over distance squared. Allied collectors and the arena edges apply a repulsive force, pushing other collectors away. The sum of these forces produces a vector indicating the direction in which the collector should move this turn. The result is that: 1) collectors naturally move towards clusters of coins that give the greatest overall payoff,
2) collectors spread out evenly to cover territory. Additionally, the value of each coin is scaled depending on its distance from the nearest enemy collector, weighting in favor of coins with an almost even distance. This encourages collectors not to chase lost coins, but to deprive the enemy of contested coins first and leave safer coins for later."


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European iPhone Chargers Prone To Overheating
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's marketed-as-the-only-incendiary-device-you'll-ever-need department:
jones_supa sends word that Apple has launched an exchange program for European iPhone USB power adapters. The company says its A1300 adapters were bundled with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S models, and were also sold on their own from Oct. 2009 to Sept. 2012. The reason for the recall is that the adapters "may overheat and pose a safety risk." No further details are provided (a YouTube video shows a teardown of the device).

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The Profoundly Weird, Gender-Specific Roots of the Turing Test
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-sorry-dave,-these-shoes-are-half-off department:
malachiorion writes: Alan Turing never wrote about the Turing Test, that legendary measure of machine intelligence that researchers claimed to have passed last weekend. He proposed something much stranger — a contest between men and machines, to see who was better at pretending to be a woman. The details of the Imitation Game aren't secret, or even hard to find, and yet no one seems to reference it. This article explains why they should — in part because it's so odd, but also because it might be a better test for 'machines that think' than the chatbot-infested, seemingly useless Turing Test.

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FWD.us: GOP Voters To Be Targeted By Data Scientists
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-every-other-type-of-voter department:
theodp writes: "We are excited to announce that FWD.us and Hackers/Founders are joining forces to host the 'DEBUG DC' Growthathon on June 21st & June 22nd," reads the blog over at FWD.us, the PAC whose Founders and Major Contributors include current and former CEOs from Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and LinkedIn. "This is a unique opportunity to push the envelope in online advocacy for immigration reform." The blog entry explains, "The machine of government is wedged, and is in desperate need of debugging. How do we DEBUG DC? Step One: Target critical legislative districts. Step Two: Data mine these districts to find registered voters who are registered Republicans who we think are likely to support immigration reform. Step Three: Growth hack ways to motivate these people to effectively engage their legislators to tell them they want them to call for a vote on immigration reform. Step Four: Measure results. Step Five: Iterate." The Eventbrite invitation for the event includes a call for Data Scientists who are "pissed off about immigration and want to fix it," are "well versed in statistics and data analysis," and can "infer voter sentiment from sparse data." So, how does this jibe with the outrage expressed by the FWD.us supporters' companies over unauthorized government surveillance?

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NVIDIA Is Better For Closed-Source Linux GPU Drivers, AMD Wins For Open-Source
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's best-of-different-worlds department:
An anonymous reader writes "Phoronix last week tested 65 graphics cards on open source drivers under Linux and the best result was generally with the open source AMD Radeon drivers. This week they put out a 35-graphics-card comparison using the proprietary AMD/NVIDIA drivers (with the other 30 cards being too old for the latest main drivers) under Ubuntu 14.04. The winner for proprietary GPU driver support on Linux was NVIDIA, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise given that Valve and other Linux game developers are frequently recommending NVIDIA graphics for their game titles while AMD Catalyst support doesn't usually come to games until later. The Radeon OpenGL performance with Catalyst had some problems, but at least its performance per Watt was respectable. Open-source fans are encouraged to use AMD hardware on Linux while those just wanting the best performance and overall experience should see NVIDIA with their binary driver."

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Priceline To Buy OpenTable For $2.6 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's monopoly-money department:
An anonymous reader sends this news from Bloomberg:
Priceline Group Inc. stepped up its acquisition spree by buying OpenTable Inc. in a deal valued at $2.6 billion, adding restaurant bookings to an online travel business already spanning flights, hotels and cars. The all-cash offer of $103 per share for the popular Internet restaurant reservation company is 46 percent higher than OpenTable's closing price yesterday. The deal is expected to be completed in the third quarter, the companies said in a statement today. Priceline is buying a company that seats over 15 million diners per month across more than 31,000 restaurants via online bookings.

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Man Behind Hacks of Bush Family and Other Celebs Indicted In the US
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bet-you-wish-you'd-stood-in-bed department:
New submitter criticalmass24 writes: 42-year-old Marcel Lehel Lazar, better known as Guccifer, the hacker that gained unauthorized access to email and social network accounts of high-profile public figures, has been charged in the United States. According to the Department of Justice, "[F]rom December 2012 to January 2014, Lazar hacked into the e-mail and social media accounts of high-profile victims, including a family member of two former U.S. presidents, a former U.S. Cabinet member, a former member of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a former presidential adviser. After gaining unauthorized access to their e-mail and social media accounts, Lazar publicly released his victims’ private e-mail correspondence, medical and financial information, and personal photographs. The indictment also alleges that in July and August 2013, Lazar impersonated a victim after compromising the victim’s account." The full indictment can be read online.

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Cockpit Revealed For Bloodhound Supersonic Car
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's zoom-zoom department:
Zothecula writes: Unveiled at a special event in Bristol, U.K., the Bloodhound land speed team showed off the cockpit that will be driver Andy Green's "office" for his record attempt run in 2015 and 2016. Although Green holds the current world land speed record of 763 mph (1,227 km/h), the challenges in attempting to break the 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) barrier will be significant for both pilot and the design team.

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AT&T Says Customer Data Accessed To Unlock Smartphones
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-day-another-breach department:
itwbennett writes: Personal information, including Social Security numbers and call records, was accessed for an unknown number of AT&T Mobility customers by people outside of the company, AT&T has confirmed. The breach took place between April 9-21, but was only disclosed this week in a filing with California regulators. While AT&T wouldn't say how many customers were affected, state law requires such disclosures if an incident affects at least 500 customers in California.

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US To Auction 29,656 Bitcoins Seized From Silk Road
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's enjoy-your-windfall department:
ClownP writes with news that the U.S. Marshals Service is selling off 29,656.51306529 Bitcoins that were seized when the Silk Road website was shut down. At current exchange rates, they're worth around $17-18 million. The coins will be auctioned off in nine blocks of 3,000 coins, plus one block with the remainder.
The USMS said that the first deadline for bidders will be 9am Eastern Time on June 16, 2014. All bidders must complete the government's Bidder Registration Form, which requires that you provide a copy of a government-issued ID as well as a $200,000 deposit sent by wire transfer from an American bank. The government added that the highest bidder will win, and he or she cannot finance its payment in installments — the winner must pay the full amount in cash. The USMS added one final stipulation. "The USMS will not sell to any person who is acting on behalf of or in concert with the Silk Road and/or Ross William Ulbricht, and bidders will be required to so certify," the USMS stated.

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Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 04:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's put-out-to-pasture department:
An anonymous reader writes with this article about the future of the analog engineer. Some say technology advancements are obsoleting the need for analog engineers, while others say that good, experienced analog designers will always be needed and currently are in short supply. After years spent encouraging engineering students to focus on software and digital electronics, some people say the day of reckoning appears to be drawing near: Many analog mixed-signal design jobs now stay open longer or are simply going unfilled, say recruiters, with some engineers even unable to retire because they can't find a suitable replacement. On the one hand, some people blame the shift from analog to digital, which produced a generation of engineers who speak the language of code, not circuit schematics. On the other hand, others say that with the advent of systems-on-chip, the easy availability of free circuits, pioneered by companies like TSMC, and software tools to verify designs, there is simply less need for analog designers.

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Samsung Debuts Thin Galaxy Tab S With Super AMOLED 2560X1600 Display
Posted by News Fetcher on June 13 '14 at 02:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's brand-new department:
MojoKid (1002251) writes Samsung unveiled its latest flagship tablet, the Galaxy Tab S, at an event in New York City tonight, and the new device is thin, lightweight, and sports a killer Super AMOLED display. Samsung boasts that the Galaxy Tab S's 2560x1600 display has 73% better color reproduction than conventional LCD displays and can match colors up to 94% of "nature's true palette" with deeper blacks and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. The 10.5-inch device weighs just 467g and measures a mere 6.6mm in thickness (and there's an 8.4-inch version, too). Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab S features Android KitKat 4.4, 3GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage with a microSD slot that supports up to 128GB. The front camera is 2.1MP and the rear 8MP camera has an LED flash. No word on the exact processor on board just yet, other than it's a quad-core SoC. It's likely a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 though an Exynos variant or perhaps even Tegra 4 wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility.

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Open-Source Hardware For Neuroscience
Posted by News Fetcher on June 12 '14 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's freeing-things-up department:
the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "The equipment that neuroscientists use to record brain signals is plenty expensive, with a single system costing upward of $60,000. But it turns out that it's not too complicated to build your own, for the cost of about $3000. Two MIT grad students figured out how to do just that, and are distributing both manufactured systems and their designs through their website, Open Ephys. Their goal is to launch an open-source hardware movement in neuroscience, so researchers can spend less time worrying about the gear they need and more time doing experiments."

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US Government OKs Sale of Sharper Satellite Images
Posted by News Fetcher on June 12 '14 at 09:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's clear-skies department:
itwbennett (1594911) writes The U.S. government has lifted a long-standing restriction that meant companies like Google and Microsoft didn't have access to the most accurate pictures taken by imaging satellites. Satellite operator DigitalGlobe said that it received approval from the U.S. Department of Commerce this week to sell sharper images to its clients. Until now, satellite operators like DigitalGlobe were prevented by law from selling images to foreign or commercial organizations in which features smaller than 50 centimeters were visible. The restriction was meant to ensure that foreign powers didn't get access to satellite images that were too good.

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