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Water Plume Detected At Dwarf Planet Ceres
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 12:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's alright-who-left-the-sprinklers-on department:
astroengine writes "Astronomers analyzing data from the now defunct Herschel infrared space observatory have made a huge discovery deep inside the asteroid belt. Dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body in the region, is generating plumes of water vapor. 'This is the first time water vapor has been unequivocally detected on Ceres or any other object in the asteroid belt and provides proof that Ceres has an icy surface and an atmosphere,' said Michael Küppers of the European Space Agency in Spain and lead author of a paper published today (Jan. 22) in the journal Nature."

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ShapeShifter: Beatable, But We'll Hear More About It
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's unknown-sample department:
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes:
"A California company called Shape Security claims that their network box can disable malware attacks, by using polymorphism to rewrite webpages before they are sent to the user's browser. Most programmers will immediately spot several ways that the system can be defeated, but it may still slow attackers down or divert them towards other targets."
Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

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New Supernova Seen In Nearby Galaxy M82
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 10:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's very-big-boom department:
The Bad Astronomer writes "A new and potentially bright supernova was just discovered in the nearby galaxy M82. This is a Type Ia supernova, the catastrophic explosion of a white dwarf. It appears to be on the rise, and may have been caught as much as two weeks before peak brightness. It's currently already brighter than magnitude 12, and may get to mag 8, easy to see in small telescopes. The galaxy is less than 12 million light years away, so this may become one of the best-studied supernovae in recent times. Type Ia supernovae are used to measure dark energy, so seeing one nearby is a huge boon to astronomy."

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European Research Network GÉANT Turns Spacecraft Data Into Music
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 10:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's dueling-space-probe-solos department:
New submitter samshead writes in with a bit of interesting news from GÉANT (the European research network): "GÉANT ... recently demonstrated its power by sonifying 36 years’ worth of NASA Voyager spacecraft data and converting it into a musical duet. ... To compose the spacecraft duet, 320,000 measurements were first selected from each spacecraft, at one hour intervals. Then that data was converted into two very long melodies, each comprising 320,000 notes using different sampling frequencies ... The result of the conversion into waveform, using such a big dataset, created a wide collection of audible sounds, lasting just a few seconds (slightly more than 7 seconds at 44.1kHz) to a few hours (more than 5hours using 1024Hz as a sampling frequency). A certain number of data points, from a few thousand to 44,100 were each 'converted' into 1 second of sound."

Listen to the song (it plays using HTML5 audio if you pretend to be an iPhone, otherwise it requires Flash).

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MIT Develops Inexpensive Transparent Display Using Nanoparticles
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 09:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's as-seen-on-babylon-five department:
rtoz writes "Researchers at MIT have come up with an innovative approach to creating transparent displays inexpensively, while providing wide viewing angles and scalability to large sizes. To create the transparent display, silver nanoparticles are embedded in plastic, tuned to scatter only certain wavelengths of light and to allow all other wavelengths through. In this example (video), it is tuned to scatter only blue color using 60nm silver particles. The researchers believe that it can be easily enhanced to a multicolor display by creating nanoparticles that can scatter other primary colors. The ability to display graphics and texts on an inexpensive transparent screen could enable many useful applications. For example, they could bring navigation data to windshields of cars and aircraft, and advertisements to the sides of skyscrapers. Cheap 'stick-on screens' could be developed using this technology. The messages broadcast on nanoparticle screens are accessible from virtually every angle. Transparent screens themselves are not new; for example, Google is working on Google glass. But they are expensive. This MIT invention will help to produce transparent displays easily and inexpensively."

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Ukrainian Protesters Receive Mass Text Message Ordering Them To Disperse
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 09:31 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's remember-when-you-did-that-in-the-80s department:
schneidafunk writes " Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance.' was the message sent to thousands of protesters as a new law prohibiting public demonstrations went into effect."

From NYTimes: "... Protesters were concerned that the government seemed to be using cutting-edge technology from the advertising industry to pinpoint people for political profiling. Three cellphone companies in Ukraine ... denied that they had provided the location data to the government or had sent the text messages, the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda reported. Kyivstar suggested that it was instead the work of a 'pirate' cellphone tower set up in the area."

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Canadian Music Industry Calls For Internet Regulation, Website Blocking
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's copyright-trumps-human-rights department:
An anonymous reader writes "Canadian law professor Michael Geist reports
that the Canadian arm of the RIAA is calling for new Internet
regulation
, including website blocking and search result
manipulation. While the Canadian music industry experienced increased

digital sales
last year (sales declined

in the U.S.
) and the Ontario government is handing out tens

of millions
of tax dollars to the industry, yet the industry
now wants the government to step in with website blocking
and
ordering search companies to change their results to focus on iTunes
and other sales sites."


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Marc Andreessen On Why Bitcoin Matters (And A Critique)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's hop-on-the-bandwagon department:
New submitter Ramtek writes "Marc Andreessen writes an interesting editorial on how he how he believes Bitcoin is the first practical solution to the Byzantine Generals Problem and why that is important. He also addresses many of arguments against its future by its critics such as its current limited use by ordinary consumers, its current volatility, its potential lack of acceptance by merchants, and many other issues. While politically agnostic the piece is squarely in support of Bitcoin but presents a more mature perspective than many current Bitcoin editorials."

eggboard wrote in with a rebuttal: "Marc Andreessen wrote an essay in the New York Times in which he tried to make the case for Bitcoin going mainstream for payments, if not as a currency. After comparing Bitcoin to the rise of personal computers and the Internet, he tries to explain how it eliminates fraud and will solve global money transfers and the plight of the unbanked. I wrote a critique of these and other points in his essay."

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Python Scripting and Analyzing Your Way To Love
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's you-might-be-overanalyzing-things-if department:
fiannaFailMan writes "Wired reports one mathematician's mission to find love online by data mining from OK Cupid and applying mathematical modeling to optimize his profile(s). His methods included using 'Python scripts to riffle through hundreds of OkCupid survey questions. He then sorted female daters into seven clusters, like "Diverse" and "Mindful," each with distinct characteristics.' But the real work began when he started going on dates."

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Fighting the Flu May Hurt Those Around You
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 07:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's suffer-for-the-good-of-society department:
sciencehabit writes "When you've got the flu, it can't hurt to take an aspirin or an ibuprofen to control the fever and make you feel better, right? Wrong, some scientists say. Lowering your body temperature may make the virus replicate faster and increase the risk that you transmit it to others. A new study claims that there are at least 700 extra influenza deaths in the United States every year because people suppress their fever."

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Weibo Traffic Temporarily Redirected To Freedom Software
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 06:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's shotgun-aimed-at-foot department:
jjp9999 writes "Weibo, China's replacement for Twitter and Facebook, went offline for about two hours on Jan. 20, when a DNS attack switched its IP address to overseas VPN software used to circumvent censorship. On Jan. 21, the brief IP switch was the most discussed topic on Weibo, with one user, ITHome, saying posting 'What IP is 65.49.2.178? It's sure to go down in history.' The IP address is one of those used by Freegate, which is free software released by Chinese dissidents in the U.S. intended to help Chinese people break through the Great Firewall. However, Bill Xia, president of Dynamic Internet Technology, which makes Freegate, said he and his team of volunteers thought their networks were under attack when they got a surge of traffic with about 100,000 users a second hitting their IP address. Xia said they are still trying to analyze the incident, but he assumes it was a slip-up the Chinese authorities in charge of censoring content. 'Our guess is they messed up again,' he said. 'This doesn't make sense for them, so I assume it was a mistake in their operation.'"

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T-Mobile Jumping Into the Check-Cashing Industry
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
An anonymous reader writes "T-Mobile has made headlines recently for trying to change the cellphone industry's reliance on contracts that lock customers into a particular carrier. Perhaps surprisingly, they've been fairly successful. Now, they're jumping into another industry plagued by high, customer-unfriendly fees: check cashing. 'Specifically, T-Mobile is hoping to offer an alternative for the 70 million or so U.S. adults that either have no bank account or have some bank services but still rely somewhat on check-cashing or payday-loan services.' How will they do it? 'Through the combination of a smartphone and a prepaid Visa debit card, T-Mobile (and its banking partner, Bancor) aims to offer many of the services typically offered through a bank, including check cashing, direct deposit and bill pay. The service, dubbed Mobile Money, allows customers to purchase and reload the card at more than 3,000 T-Mobile stores and, eventually, at Safeway and other retail stores. They can use the card anywhere Visa is accepted, and can also withdraw money, without a fee, at 42,000 ATMs across the country. Mobile Money customers can enroll in direct deposit for payroll, and personal checks and other types of checks can also be deposited by taking a picture of the check using the smartphone's camera.'"

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Ask Slashdot: It's 2014 -- Which New Technologies Should I Learn?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 22 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's integrated-abacus-solutions department:
An anonymous reader writes "I've been a software engineer for about 15 years, most of which I spent working on embedded systems (small custom systems running Linux), developing in C. However, web and mobile technologies seem to be taking over the world, and while I acknowledge that C isn't going away anytime soon, many job offers (at least those that seem interesting and in small companies) are asking for knowledge on these new technologies (web/mobile). Plus, I'm interested in them anyway. Unfortunately, there are so many of those new technologies that it's difficult to figure out what would be the best use of my time. Which ones would you recommend? What would be the smallest set of 'new technologies' one should know to be employable in web/mobile these days?"

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Scientists Detect Two Dozen Computers Trying To Sabotage Tor Privacy Network
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 11:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's a-few-bad-onions-spoil-it-for-the-rest-of-us department:
New submitter fynbar writes "Computer scientists have identified almost two dozen computers that were actively working to sabotage the Tor privacy network by carrying out attacks that can degrade encrypted connections between end users and the websites or servers they visit (PDF). 'Two of the 25 servers appeared to redirect traffic when end users attempted to visit pornography sites, leading the researchers to suspect they were carrying out censorship regimes required by the countries in which they operated. A third server suffered from what researchers said was a configuration error in the OpenDNS server. The remainder carried out so-called man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks designed to degrade encrypted Web or SSH traffic to plaintext traffic. The servers did this by using the well-known sslstrip attack designed by researcher Moxie Marlinspike or another common MitM technique that converts unreadable HTTPS traffic into plaintext HTTP.'"

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Regulations Could Delay or Prevent Space Tourism
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 09:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fly-me-to-the-moon department:
schwit1 writes "This report explains how Virgin Galactic space tourists could be grounded by federal regulations. From the article: 'Virgin Galactic submitted an application to the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation in late August 2013, says Attenborough. The office, which goes by the acronym AST, has six months to review the application, meaning an approval may come as early as February. Industry experts, however, say that may be an overly optimistic projection. "An application will inevitably be approved, but it definitely remains uncertain exactly when it will happen," says Dirk Gibson, an associate professor of communication at the University of New Mexico and author of multiple books on space tourism. "This is extremely dangerous and unchartered territory. It's space travel. AST has to be very prudent," he says. "They don't want to endanger the space-farers or the public, and they can't let the industry get started and then have a Titanic-like scenario that puts an end to it all in the eyes of the public.""

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IBM's x86 Server Business Back On the Market
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-throw-it-on-ebay department:
itwbennett writes "It was widely reported last year (including on Slashdot) that IBM attempted to sell off its x86 server business to Lenovo, which seemed logical as Lenovo had bought out the IBM's PC business a decade ago. However, the two firms could not come to financial terms and the deal was never struck. Well, the rumors have started up again, only this time Lenovo has some competition, as Dell and Fujitsu are now being thrown into the mix as possible suitors."

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Network Solutions Opts Customer Into $1,850 Security Service
Posted by News Fetcher on January 21 '14 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's enjoy-your-new-registrar department:
An anonymous reader writes "Brent Simmons has posted about a troubling email he received from Network Solutions. He registered two domains with them in the 1990s, and the domains remain registered today. Simmons just received an email informing him that he'd been opted into some kind of security service called Weblock, and that he would be billed $1,850 for the first year. Further, he would be billed $1,350 for every year after the first. Believing it to be a scam, he contacted the official Network Solutions account on Twitter. They said it was real. The email even said he couldn't opt out except by making a phone call."

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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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