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Cobalt-60, and Lessons From a Mexican Theft
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-everybody-knows-where-to-get-some-cheap-cobalt-60 department:
Lasrick writes "George Moore and Miles Pomper examine the theft of a truck containing Cobalt-60 and find that, while Mexico did the right thing and reported the theft promptly, they were under no obligation to do so according to international rules and the IAEA. This was true even though the stolen material was 3,000 curies, making it a Category 1 source (the most dangerous). Quoting: 'At a distance of 30.5 centimeters (1 foot) from an unshielded source with an activity level of 3,000 curies, the dose to a bystander would be about 37,000 Rem per hour (a measure of radiation exposure). This means that anyone within a foot of the source when it was out of its shield was being exposed to about 10 Rem per second, a level that would typically kill half of a population exposed to it for 30 seconds. ... The number of fatalities will not be nearly as high as it would have been if the source capsule had been left in a public place. Cobalt 60, like other high-risk radiological sources, is more lethal when it is kept intact as a high-strength source than it would be if spread using a radiological dispersal device such as a so-called “dirty bomb.” Nonetheless, had the Mexican source been used in a dispersal device, the economic consequences could have been extremely significant.'"

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Cobalt-60, and Lessons From a Mexican Theft
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-everybody-knows-where-to-get-some-cheap-cobalt-60 department:
Lasrick writes "George Moore and Miles Pomper examine the theft of a truck containing Cobalt-60 and find that, while Mexico did the right thing and reported the theft promptly, they were under no obligation to do so according to international rules and the IAEA. This was true even though the stolen material was 3,000 curies, making it a Category 1 source (the most dangerous). Quoting: 'At a distance of 30.5 centimeters (1 foot) from an unshielded source with an activity level of 3,000 curies, the dose to a bystander would be about 37,000 Rem per hour (a measure of radiation exposure). This means that anyone within a foot of the source when it was out of its shield was being exposed to about 10 Rem per second, a level that would typically kill half of a population exposed to it for 30 seconds. ... The number of fatalities will not be nearly as high as it would have been if the source capsule had been left in a public place. Cobalt 60, like other high-risk radiological sources, is more lethal when it is kept intact as a high-strength source than it would be if spread using a radiological dispersal device such as a so-called “dirty bomb.” Nonetheless, had the Mexican source been used in a dispersal device, the economic consequences could have been extremely significant.'"

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NASA's Next Mars Mission Will Join the Interplanetary Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's buffering-buffering-buffering department:
New submitter radioedit writes "When the MAVEN orbiter arrives at Mars on 22 September 2014, the spacecraft will join up with the other seven nodes of NASA's interplanetary internet, exchanging data with orbiters, rovers on the surface, and us back on Earth using delay-tolerant protocols. It's the latest part of Vint Cerf's mission (video) to create a giant antenna array across the solar system that'll be able to receive signals by laser from Alpha Centauri."

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Oculus Raises $75 Million To Make VR Headset
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
An anonymous reader writes "The company making the VR headset that has John Carmack and many others in the gaming industry excited has just received another $75 million in funding to make it happen. Netscape founder Marc Andreessen is joining the company's board, along with fellow investor Chris Dixon. Dixon had seen a prototype earlier this year, but it wasn't good enough to spark his interest. After recently seeing how the device has progressed since then, he was blown away, comparing it to early demos of the iPhone. 'The dimensions where you need to improve this kind of VR are latency, resolution and head tracking, and they have really nailed those things.' Now that the device is in good shape, Oculus is going to work on turning it into a product they can produce and ship for gamers."

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Safari Stores Previous Browsing Session Data Unencrypted
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's security-through-obscurity department:
msm1267 writes "Users of Apple's Safari browser are at risk for information loss because of a feature common to most browsers that restores previous sessions. The problem with Safari is that it stores session information including authentication credentials used in previous HTTPS sessions in a plaintext XML file called a Property list, or plist, file. The plist files, a researcher with Kaspersky Lab's Global Research and Analysis Team said, are stored in a hidden folder, but hiding them in plain sight isn't much of a hurdle for a determined attacker. 'The complete authorized session on the site is saved in the plist file in full view despite the use of https,' said researcher Vyacheslav Zakorzhevsky on the Securelist blog. 'The file itself is located in a hidden folder, but is available for anyone to read.'"

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'Darkness Ray' Beams Invisibility From a Distance
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bright-ideas department:
KentuckyFC writes "Optical engineers generally build imaging systems with the best possible resolving power. The basic idea is that an imaging system focuses light into a pattern known as a point spreading function. This consists of a central region of high intensity surrounded by a concentric lobe of lower intensity light. The trick to improving resolution is narrowing and intensifying this central region while suppressing the outer lobe. Now optical engineers have turned this approach on its head by suppressing the central region so that the field intensity here is zero while intensifying the lobe. The result is a three-dimensional beam of darkness that hides any object inside it. The engineers say this region can be huge — up to 8 orders of magnitude bigger than the wavelength of the imaging light. What's more, the optics required to create it are simple and cheap: a lens consisting of concentric dielectric grooves. The team has even tested a prototype capable of hiding a 40-micrometre object in visible laser light."

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NuScale Power Awarded $226 Million To Deploy Small Nuclear Reactor Design
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's melts-down-in-your-mouth,-not-in-your-hand department:
New submitter ghack writes "NuScale power, a small nuclear power company in Corvallis Oregon, has won a Department of Energy grant of up to $226 million dollars to enable deployment of their small modular reactor. The units would be factory built in the United States, and their small size enables a number of potential niche applications. NuScale argues that their design includes a number of unique passive safety features: 'NuScale's 45-megawatt reactor, which can be grouped with others to form a utility-scale plant, would sit in a 5 million-gallon pool of water underground. That means it needs no pumps to inject water to cool it in an emergency - an issue ... highlighted by Japan's crippled Fukushima plant.' This was the second of two DOE small modular reactor grants; the first was awarded to Babcock and Wilcox, a stalwart in the nuclear industry."

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Why Cloud Infrastructure Pricing Is Absurd
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's buzzwords-as-a-service department:
itwbennett writes "Two reports out this week, one a new 'codex' released by 451 Research and the other an updated survey into cloud IaaS pricing from Redmonk, show just how insane cloud pricing has become. If your job requires you to read these reports, good luck. For the rest of us, Redmonk's Stephen O'Grady distilled the pricing trends down to this: 'HP offers the best compute value and instance sizes for the dollar. Google offers the best value for memory, but to get there it appears to have sacrificed compute. AWS is king in value for disk and it appears no one else is even trying to come close. Microsoft is taking the 'middle of the road,' never offering the best or worst pricing.'"

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Pulsar Gets the Munchies, Snacks On an Asteroid
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's om-nom-nom department:
astroengine writes "In research accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal, astronomers documented the anomalous spin rate of a pulsar that has been observed 'multiple times' between 1988 and 2012. In September 2005, the spin rate of the well-observed PSR J0738-4042 changed and a team of astronomers headed by Paul Brook, of the University of Oxford, think they know why. 'The data lead us to postulate that we are witnessing an encounter with an asteroid or in-falling debris from a disk,' they write in a paper published to the arXiv pre-print service. The moral of the story? It's not just black holes that get the asteroid munchies."

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Senators Propose Bill Prohibiting Phone Calls On Planes
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nobody-wants-to-hear-your-conversation department:
SonicSpike writes with news that two U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), have proposed legislation to ban cell phone calls while aboard an airplane. This follows a recent announcement from the FAA increasing the range of electronic gadgets travelers can use while flying, and a vote by the FCC to consider allowing phone calls during flight. However, even as those government agencies work to lift regulations on in-flight technology, the Department of Transportation is pondering a in-flight call ban of its own, saying it might not be "fair" to consumers to have to listen to other passengers talk on the phone throughout a long flight. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, "If we move beyond what we do here today and actually update our rules to allow voice calls on planes we can see a future where our quiet time is monetized and seating in the silent section comes at a premium."

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NSA Head Asks How To Spy Without Collecting Metadata
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-and-your-connected-dots-can-shove-off department:
jfruh writes "NSA Director Keith Alexander, testifying before the Senate this week, got weirdly petulant, asking his critics how he was supposed to do his job without collecting metadata on American communications. 'If we can come up with a better way, we ought to put it on the table and argue our way through it,' he said. 'There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots.' He also implied that major U.S. tech companies might have greater capacities than his organizations, and that they should help him out with new ideas."

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Australia's National Broadband Network Downgraded
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-you-use-it-to-buy-health-insurance department:
RobHart writes "Following election promises to create a 'better, cheaper, sooner' National Broadband Network (NBN), the new Australian government has reneged, announcing instead the NBN will cost $12bn more and take four years longer. The critical change is that the new network is based on Telstra's aging and unreliable copper network rather than fiber to the home, as has already been delivered during the NBN roll out to date."

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More Students Learn CS In 3 Days Than Past 100 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-forth-and-write-half-of-a-hangman-clone department:
theodp writes "Code.org, backed by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, boasts in a blog post that thanks to this week's Hour of Code, which featured a Blockly tutorial narrated by Gates and Zuckerberg, 'More students have participated in computer science in U.S. schools in the last three days than in the last 100 years.' Taking note of the impressive numbers being put up on the Hour of Code Leaderboards ('12,522,015 students have done the Hour of Code and written 406,022,512 lines of code'), the Seattle Times adds that 'More African American and Hispanic kids learned about the subject in two days than in the entire history of computer science,' and reports that the cities of Chicago and New York have engaged Code.org to offer CS classes in their schools. So, isn't it a tad hyperbolic to get so excited over kids programming with blocks? 'Yes, we can all agree that this week's big Hour of Code initiative is a publicity stunt,' writes the Mercury News' Mike Cassidy, 'but you know what? A publicity stunt is exactly what we need.'"

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Google Cuts Android Privacy Feature, Says Release Was Unintentional
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pay-no-attention-to-the-droid-behind-the-curtain department:
An anonymous reader writes "Peter Eckersley at the EFF reports that the 'App Ops' privacy feature added to Android in 4.3 has been removed as of 4.4.2. The feature allowed users to easily manage the permission settings for installed apps. Thus, users could enjoy the features of whatever app they liked, while preventing the app from, for example, reporting location data. Eckersley writes, 'When asked for comment, Google told us that the feature had only ever been released by accident — that it was experimental, and that it could break some of the apps policed by it. We are suspicious of this explanation, and do not think that it in any way justifies removing the feature rather than improving it.1 The disappearance of App Ops is alarming news for Android users. The fact that they cannot turn off app permissions is a Stygian hole in the Android security model, and a billion people's data is being sucked through. Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago.'"

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Wikipedia's Lamest Edit Wars
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's from-the-depths-of-my-mother's-basement-I-stab-at-thee department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Who says Wikipedians don't have a sense of humor? While perusing Wikipedia I recently came across an article documenting the lamest examples of wikipedia edit wars over the most trivial things. As one wikipedian says: 'Some discussions are born lame; some achieve lameness; some have lameness thrust upon them.' A few of the most amusing examples include: Was Chopin Polish, French, Polish–French, or French–Polish? Can you emigrate from a country of which you are not a citizen? Can you receive citizenship if you already have it? The possibilities for intensive study are endless. Next up, Are U2 an 'Irish band' or simply a band that happen to be from Ireland, since two of their members were born in the UK? A heated discussion took place for over two-and-a-half weeks that resulted in at least one editor getting blocked and many more getting warnings. Next, should members of the Beatles be listed in the 'traditional' order or in alphabetical order? Another edit war which flares up continuously in The Beatles involves whether to identify the band as 'The Beatles' with a capital T or 'the Beatles' with a lower case t. The issue became so contentious it merited an article in the Wall Street Journal. One such installment of this saga was brought before the arbitration committee (by an administrator, no less) where it was quickly declared 'silly.' Next, Is J. K. Rowling's name pronounced like 'rolling' or to rhyme with 'howling'? Rowling is on record claiming she pronounces her name like 'rolling'. An irate editor argues that this is a 'British' pronunciation and the 'American" pronunciation of her name should also be noted. 'This is slightly ridiculous as she is English, and therefore of course will pronounce it in an English manner. Perhaps it rhymes with "Trolling"?' Finally did Jimmy Wales found Wikipedia or co-found it? 'Not surprisingly, those who actually were around at the time and know the answer stayed far away from this one. The casualty list has yet to be compiled, but no doubt editor egos will be among the worst hit.'"

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Ford Self-Driving R&D Car Tells Small Animal From Paper Bag At 200 Ft.
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's where-you-going? department:
cartechboy writes "Autonomous driving is every car manufacturer's immediate R&D project. In car-building terms, even if a new technology isn't due for 10 years — since that's just two full vehicle generations away-- it has to be developed now. So now it is for autonomous car research and testing, and this week Ford revealed a brand new Fusion Hybrid research vehicle built for autonomous R&D with some interesting tech capabilities. Technologies inside the new Fusion Hybrid research vehicle include LIDAR (a light-based range detection), which scans at 2.5 million times per second to create a 3D map of the surrounding environment at a radius of 200 feet. Ford says the research vehicle's sensors are sensitive enough to detect the difference between a small animal and a paper bag even at maximum range. More road-ready differentiations include observation and understanding of pedestrians, cyclists, and plain old stationary objects. Ford is working on this project in cooperation with the University of Michigan."

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Was Julian Assange Involved With Wiretapping Iceland's Parliament?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's lets-have-a-listen department:
An anonymous reader writes "Wired reports that the chat logs between Bradley Manning and Julian Assange that were used as evidence in Manning's trial have made it onto the web, at least briefly. One of those logs contained something very interesting on page 4, which was picked up on by the News of Iceland, which reports, '"Jesus Christ. I think that we have recordings of all phone calls to and from the Icelandic parliament during the past four months". This text can be found in documents that the US military published on its website and is said to be part of the conversations between Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. According to the documents, Assange claims to have phone call recordings from Althingi, the Icelandic parliament, but this is the first time that the existence of such data is mentioned publicly. ... According to Icelandic laws, it is required to inform the person you are speaking with if the phone call is being recorded. Given that the parliament is not violating laws it is clear that Assange or his associates would have to have installed recording devices or wiretaps in the parliament.' — What makes it even more interesting is that Wired also reports in this recent story: Someone's Been Siphoning Data Through a Huge Security Hole in the Internet."

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The New Kings of Kong
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 09:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's goodbye-billy department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Ever since Chien won the inaugural Kong Off at Richie Knucklez Arcade Games in Flemington, NJ back in 2011, Lemay has been nipping at Chien's heels. His guiding mission in life now, other than getting Hulked out at the gym, is annihilating Hank Chien at Donkey Kong. Last month, Motherboard traveled to Denver, Colorado, to attend The Kong Off 3, the highly anticipated and near-capacity Donkey Kong world championship, held at the 1UP arcade and bar. During four loopy days of shooting inside a subterranean cave of amusement, which assaulted our senses with flashing lights, blippity bloops, and killscreens, we witnessed first-hand the drama of a showdown between a video game's top contenders."

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YouTube Expands Live Streaming To All Channels
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 08:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's free-for-all department:
An anonymous reader writes "YouTube today announced it is expanding its live streaming service to all YouTube channels. The Google-owned company now only has two requirements: your account must be verified and it has to be in good standing. If you have both, but don't see the feature yet, don't worry as it's rolling out 'over the next few weeks.' YouTube Live was previously only available to a small number of individuals and YouTube partners whom Google deemed worthy to test it out. The video site then opened up the feature to channels with at least 1,000 subscribers, and then at least 100 subscribers. Now it's available to all."

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Oregon Signs Up Just 44 People For Obamacare Despite Spending $300 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 07:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's try-again-later department:
cold fjord writes "The Washington Examiner reports, 'Oregon ... signed up just 44 people for insurance through November, despite spending more than $300 million on its state-based exchange. The state's exchange had the fewest sign-ups in the nation, according to a new report today by the Department of Health and Human Services. The weak number of sign-ups undercuts two major defenses of Obamacare from its supporters. One defense was that state-based exchanges were performing a lot better than the federal healthcare.gov website servicing 36 states. But Oregon's website problems have forced the state to rely on paper applications to sign up participants. Another defense of the Obama administration has attributed the troubled rollout of Obamacare to the obstruction of Republican governors who wanted to see the law fail as well as a lack of funding. But Oregon is a Democratic state that embraced Obamacare early and enthusiastically.'"

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