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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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Bots Now Account For 61% of Net Traffic
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 05:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that-which-has-no-life department:
codeusirae writes "A study by Incapsula suggests 61.5% of all website traffic is now generated by bots. The security firm said that was a 21% rise on last year's figure of 51%. From the article: 'Some of these automated software tools are malicious - stealing data or posting ads for scams in comment sections. But the firm said the biggest growth in traffic was for 'good' bots. These are tools used by search engines to crawl websites in order to index their content, by analytics companies to provide feedback about how a site is performing, and by others to carry out other specific tasks - such as helping the Internet Archive preserve content before it is deleted.'"

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JetBlue Launches Satellite-Based Inflight Wi-Fi
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 05:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's catching-up-on-news-up-here-alone department:
First time accepted submitter spineas writes "JetBlue is rolling out a new form of inflight Wi-Fi operating from satellites instead of ground-based cell towers. Up to eight times faster than traditional inflight Wi-Fi, it will enable users to stream video whilst in the air, something that is nearly impossible to do with current dial-up speed access in aircraft."

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Hubble Discovers Water Plumes Over Europa
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's thar-she-blows department:
astroengine writes "Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have found plumes of water vapor shooting off the southern pole of Europa, an ice-covered moon of Jupiter that is believed to have an underground ocean. If confirmed — so far the plumes have only been spotted once — the finding could have implications for the moon's suitability for life and help explain why its surface appears relatively young and crater-free. "The plumes are incredibly exciting, if they are there. They're bringing up material from in the ocean, perhaps there's organic material that will be laying on the surface of the south pole. Those are the things that we want to know about," James Green, head of NASA's planetary science programs, told reporters at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco on Thursday."

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Cybercrime Marketplace Mastermind Faces 18 Years In Prison
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's doing-the-time department:
wiredmikey writes "A Ukrainian national, Roman Vega, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to creating a popular online marketplace for selling stolen financial account data has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. Called one of the world's 'most prolific cybercriminals' by the Department of Justice, Vega, 49, will serve significant time in prison for his role in co-founding the notorious website CarderPlanet. In the early 2000s, Vega co-founded and became a high-ranking administrator of the notorious website, which became one of the first and busiest online marketplaces for the sale of stolen financial information, computer hacking services and money laundering. At its height, CarderPlanet had more than 6,000 members and had a hierarchical leadership structure that borrowed its leadership titles from La Cosa Nostra, US authorities said."

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Bitcoin Token Maker Suspends Operation After Hearing From Federal Gov't
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-the-artifact-is-a-crime-why-not-the-system? department:
First time accepted submitter Austrian Anarchy writes with this story via Reason (and based on a
report at Wired) about a maker of physical Bitcoin tokens. Quoting from Reason's take: "Mike Caldwell ran a business called Casascius that printed physical tokens with a bitcoin digital key on it, key hidden behind a tamper proof strip. He'd charge $50 worth of bitcoin to print a bitcoin key you sent him via computer on this token. Cool stuff--a good friend of mine found one sitting unnoticed in her tip jar from an event at which she sold her artisan lamps from 2011 and was naturally delighted given the nearly 1000x increase in value of a bitcoin since then. So, you're making something fun, useful, interesting, harmless--naturally the federal government is very concerned and wants to hobble you. 'Just before Thanksgiving, [Caldwell] received a letter from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FINCEN, the arm of the Treasury Department that dictates how the nation’s anti-money-laundering and financial crime regulations are interpreted. According to FINCEN,
Caldwell needs to rethink his business
. "They considered my activity to be money transmitting," Caldwell says. And if you want to transmit money, you must first jump through a lot of state and federal regulatory hoops Caldwell hasn't jumped through.'"


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Engineering the Perfect Coffee Mug
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's wish-it-was-a-perfect-unblemished-cylinder department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "From the annals of Really Important Science comes word that a research assistant who picked up his B.S. just seven months ago has invented a coffee mug designed to keep java at just the right piping-hot temperature for hours. Logan Maxwell, who got his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University in May, created the "Temperfect" mug as part of his senior design project for the College of Engineering. Most insulated mugs have two walls separated by a soft vacuum that insulates the temperature of a liquid inside from the temperature of the air outside. Maxwell's design has a third layer of insulation in a third wall wrapped around the inner basin of the mug. Inside is a chemical insulator that is solid at room temperature but melts into a liquid at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The insulator – which Maxwell won't identify but swears is non-toxic – turns to liquid as it absorbs the extra heat of coffee poured into the mug at temperatures higher than 140 F, cooling it to a drinkable temperature quickly. As the heat of the coffee escapes, the insulating material releases heat through the inner wall of the mug to keep it hot as long as possible; a graph mapping the performance of a prototype shows it could keep a cup of coffee at between 128 F and 145 F for as long as 90 minutes. "Phase-change" coffee-mug insulation was patented during the 1960s, but has never been marketed because they are difficult and expensive to manufacture compared to simpler forms of insulation. While working on the Temperfect design, Maxwell met Belgian-born industrial designer Dean Verhoeven, president of consulting form Ancona Research, Inc., who had been working on a similar design and had already worked out how to manufacture a three-walled insulated mug cost effectively. The two co-founded a company called Joevo to manufacture the mugs." According to the Joevo Kickstarter page, you can get one starting at $40. For that much, I'd like a clever lid like this Contigo has.

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Google Fixes Credit Card Security Hole, But Snubs Discoverer
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's and-that's-the-thanks-I-get department:
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes: "Google has fixed a vulnerability, first discovered
by researcher Gergely Kalman, which let users search for credit card numbers by using hex number ranges. However, Google should have acknowledged or at least responded to the original bug finder (and possibly even paid him a bounty for it), and should have been more transparent about the process in general."
Read on for the rest of the story.

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ITU Standardizes 1Gbps Over Copper, But Services Won't Come Until 2015
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-you-transmit-it-they-will-come department:
alphadogg writes "The ITU has taken a big step in the standardization of G.fast, a broadband technology capable of achieving download speeds of up to 1Gbps over copper telephone wire. The death of copper and the ascent of fiber has long been discussed. However, the cost of rolling out fiber is still too high for many operators that instead want to upgrade their existing copper networks. So there is still a need for technologies that can complement fiber, including VDSL2 and G.fast. Higher speeds are needed for applications such as 4K streaming, IPTV, cloud-based storage, and communication via HD video, ITU said." Meanwhile, I'm hoping Google Fiber, FIOS, and other fast optical options scare more ISPs into action along both price and speed axes.

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Indian Government Lifts Nokia's Asset Freeze, Factory Can Transfer To Microsoft
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-the-market-will-bear department:
rjmarvin writes "The Delhi High Court approved an appeal by Nokia today to unfreeze the company's Indian assets, including the Chennai mobile phone factory set to be transferred to Microsoft as part of its devices and services acquisition. The decision was contingent on Nokia putting $367 million in escrow to go towards its imposed taxes. Nokia lobbied to lift the freeze to avoid holding up the deal or being forced to stay on as a subcontractor, though they're still on the hook for taxes and penalties to the tune of up to $3.4 billion for a financial period dating back to 2006. Microsoft, though, is in the clear."

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Game Preview: Hearthstone
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stay-awhile-and-play-cards department:
Collectible card games have been a prominent part of nerd gaming culture since the early '90s. Magic: the Gathering forged a compelling genre and dozens of games have followed in its footsteps. But the past two decades have been a time of technology, and Magic is a decidedly low-tech game. Like chess, it's been moved online in only the strictest emulation of real-world play. The game itself hasn't actually evolved to make use of technology. Enter Blizzard. Many of the developers at Blizzard grew up playing Magic and other CCGs, and it seemed natural that they'd want to design one of their own. But Blizzard is video game company; managing cardboard print runs and scheduling tournaments isn't exactly in their wheelhouse. Thus, we get Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, an entirely digital CCG. It's currently in closed beta test, but open beta is supposedly just around the corner. In this video (with transcript) we take a look at how the game is shaping up.

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You Are What Your Dad Ate
Posted by News Fetcher on December 12 '13 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's manner-of-speaking department:
Freshly Exhumed writes "What a father eats before his child is conceived may influence the chance a baby will be born with a birth defect, a new study suggests. Much of the focus on how diet relates to birth has been done on moms. A father's diet before conception plays a crucial role in the health of his offspring, researchers in Canada suggest. Sarah Kimmins, a researcher at McGill University in Montreal, said the study focused on vitamin B9, also known as folate, which is found in green leafy vegetables, cereal, fruit and meat. The researchers found that the mouse offspring of folate-deficient fathers had a 30 percent increased risk of birth defects, compared to those offspring who had received a sufficient amount of folate."

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