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Cisco Releases Open Source "Binary Module" For H.264 In WebRTC
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 08:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's bait-and-switch department:
SD-Arcadia writes "Mozilla Blog: 'Cisco has announced today that they are going to release a gratis, high quality, open source H.264 implementation — along with gratis binary modules compiled from that source and hosted by Cisco for download. This move enables any open source project to incorporate Cisco's H.264 module without paying MEPG LA license fees. Of course, this is not a not a complete solution. In a perfect world, codecs, like other basic Internet technologies such as TCP/IP, HTTP, and HTML, would be fully open and free for anyone to modify, recompile, and redistribute without license agreements or fees. Mozilla is fully committed to working towards that better future. To that end, we are developing Daala, a fully open next generation codec. Daala is still under development, but our goal is to leapfrog H.265 and VP9, building a codec that will be both higher-quality and free of encumbrances.'"

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Insect-Inspired Flying Robot Handles Collisions And Keeps Going
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's great-for-robo-dodgeball department:
Sabine Hauert writes "GimBall is a new flying robot that can collide with objects seamlessly. Generally, flying robots are programmed to avoid obstacles, which is far from easy in cluttered environments. Instead, researchers from the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL believe that flying robots should be able to physically interact with their surroundings. Take insects: they often collide with obstacles and continue flying afterwards. Their robot uses a passively rotating spherical cage to remain stable even after taking hits from all sides. This approach enables GimBall to fly in the most difficult places without complex sensors."

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Root of Maths Genius Sought
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's army-of-cloned-math-nerds-not-very-terrifying department:
ananyo writes "He founded two genetic-sequencing companies and sold them for hundreds of millions of dollars. He helped to sequence the genomes of a Neanderthal man and James Watson, who co-discovered DNA's double helix. Now, entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg has set his sights on another milestone: finding the genes that underlie mathematical genius. Rothberg and physicist Max Tegmark, who is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, have enrolled about 400 mathematicians and theoretical physicists from top-ranked US universities in a study dubbed 'Project Einstein'. They plan to sequence the participants' genomes using the Ion Torrent machine that Rothberg developed. Critics say that the sizes of these studies are too small to yield meaningful results for such complex traits. But Rothberg is pushing ahead. 'I'm not at all concerned about the critics,' he says, adding that he does not think such rare genetic traits could be useful in selecting for smarter babies. Some mathematicians, however, argue that maths aptitude is not born so much as made. 'I feel that the notion of "talent" may be overrated,' says Michael Hutchings, a mathematician also at Berkeley."

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Taiwan Protests Apple Maps That Show Island As Province of China
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's reality-calling department:
itwbennett writes "Taiwan is demanding Apple revise its mapping software and remove a label that describes the island as a province of China, rather than as a sovereign state. The complaint was lodged after local media reports said that users on the island had noticed the change in Apple's latest iOS and Mac OS versions. 'The maps don't acknowledge Taiwan as its own nation. We voiced our disapproval, and hope Apple will make the change,' an official with Taiwan's foreign ministry said Wednesday. This isn't the first time such a mistake was made. Google also labeled Taiwan as a Chinese province in 2005."

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U.S. Will Not Provide Financing For New International Coal-Fired Power Plants
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's free-nuclear-reactors-oh-wait department:
Dorianny writes "The Treasury Department declared it would no longer support any new coal-fired power plants around the world. By leading a coalition of like-minded countries including several European ones that have already announced similar intentions, they will effectively be able to block the World Bank and other international development banks from providing financing for new coal-fired plants. The policy is unlikely to amount to any real change as 75 percent of proposed coal-powered plants are in China and India, which do not rely on outside financing. It seems to me that the poorest, most underdeveloped nations that contribute the least to global emissions are the ones getting the short end of the stick from this policy."

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Drive With Google Glass: Get a Ticket
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's no-hud-for-you department:
mrspoonsi writes "Engadget reports 'California is technology's spiritual home in the US, where Teslas roam free, and Google Glass is already a social norm. Well, unless you're a member of the San Diego law enforcement that is — as one unlucky driver just found out. That commuter was Cecilia Abadie, and she's (rather fittingly) taken to Google+ after being given a ticket for driving while wearing her Explorer Edition'"

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Drone-Mounted Laser Weapons Are On the Way
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 04:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we've-officially-skipped-the-sharks department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "DARPA is funding research into drone-mounted laser weapons. The project, called Endurance, is referred to in DARPA's 2014 budget request as being tasked with the development of 'technology for pod-mounted lasers to protect a variety of airborne platforms from emerging and legacy EO/IR guided surface-to-air missiles.' The budget explains that it will be the first application of DARPA's much-discussed Excalibur laser defense system, which developed lasers powerful enough to use as weapons. With the new program, DARPA is focused on miniaturizing the technology, as well as 'developing high-precision target tracking, identification, and lightweight agile beam control to support target engagement. The program will also focus on the phenomenology of laser-target interactions and associated threat vulnerabilities." In other words, DARPA hopes that drone-mounted lasers will soon be able to shoot missiles out of the sky."

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UN Mounts Asteroid Defense Plan Following Chelyabinsk Meteor
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bruce-willis-on-call department:
Philip Ross writes "Astronomers have warned that our planet is long overdue for a defense plan against catastrophic asteroid collisions. When it comes to deflecting Earth-obliterating celestial bodies, short of a superhero capable of punching the approaching rock back into outer space, there is no single force dedicated to stopping cosmic bullies from striking our little blue planet straight in the eye. That's why the United Nations said it will establish an International Asteroid Warning Group to intercept and divert dangerous asteroids."

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Car Hackers Mess With Speedometers, Odometers, Alarms and Locks
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '13 at 12:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-mr.-bond,-i-expect-you-to-die department:
mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers have demonstrated how controller area networks in cars can make vehicles appear to drive slower than their actual speed, manipulate brakes, wind back odometers and set off all kinds of alarms and lights from random fuzzing (video). The network weaknesses stem from a lack of authentication which they say is absent to improve performance. The researchers have also built a $25 open-source fuzzing tool to help others enter the field."

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Police Use James-Bond-Style GPS Bullet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's coordinated-assault department:
mrspoonsi writes "The BBC reports that police in the U.S. are now using 'GPS bullets,' a device they can shoot at fleeing vehicles in order to track them. They're designed to make high-speed chases safer. The pursuing police car presses a button, a lid pops open, and a GPS bullet is fired which becomes attached to the fleeing car. The car can then be track from a distance in real-time without the need for a high-speed pursuit."

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Crashing Rockets Could Lead To Novel Sample-Return Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 09:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's have-you-tried-asking-the-russians-for-their-data department:
vinces99 writes "During spring break the last five years, a University of Washington class has headed to the Nevada desert to launch rockets and learn more about the science and engineering involved. Sometimes, the launch would fail and a rocket smacked hard into the ground. This year, the session included launches from a balloon that were deliberately directed into a dry lakebed. Far from being failures, these were early tests of a concept that in the future could be used to collect and return samples from forbidding environments – an erupting volcano, a melting nuclear reactor or even an asteroid in space. 'We're trying to figure out what the maximum speed is that a rocket can survive a hard impact,' said Robert Winglee, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences, who heads that department and leads the annual trek to the desert. The idea for a project called 'Sample Return Systems for Extreme Environments' is that the rocket will hit the surface and, as it burrows in a short distance, ports on either side of the nose will collect a sample and funnel it to an interior capsule. That capsule will be attached by tether to a balloon or a spacecraft, which would immediately reel in the capsule to recover the sample. 'The novel thing about this is that it developed out of our student rocket class. It's been a successful class, but there were a significant number of rockets that went ballistically into the ground. We learned a lot of physics from those crashes,' Winglee said. The technology, which recently received $500,000 over two years from NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts, could have a number of applications. It would allow scientists a relatively safe way of recovering samples in areas of high contamination, such as Japan's Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant, or from an erupting volcano, or even from an asteroid in space, in advance of a possible mining project."

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Astronomers Detect Planetary System Similar To Our Own
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 08:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's maybe-it-has-oil department:
littlesparkvt writes "A team of astrophysicists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und- Raumfahrt; DLR), together with German and European colleagues, has discovered the most extensive exoplanetary system to date. Seven planets circle the star KOI-351 – more than in other known planetary systems. They are arranged in a similar fashion to the eight planets in the Solar System, with small rocky planets close to the parent star and gas giant planets at greater distances. Although the planetary system around KOI-351 is packed together more tightly, it provides an interesting comparison to our cosmic home."

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Magma Reservoir Under Yellowstone Is Much Bigger Than Previously Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 07:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's journey-to-the-center-of-wyoming department:
schwit1 writes "The reservoir of molten rock underneath Yellowstone National Park in the United States is at least two and a half times larger than previously thought. Despite this, the scientists who came up with this latest estimate say that the highest risk in the iconic park is not a volcanic eruption but a huge earthquake. Jamie Farrell, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Utah, mapped the underlying magma reservoir by analyzing data from more than 4,500 earthquakes. Seismic waves travel more slowly through molten rock than through solid rock, and seismometers can detect those changes. The images show that the reservoir resembles a 4,000-cubic-kilometer underground sponge, with 6–8% of it filled with molten rock. It underlies most of the Yellowstone caldera and extends a little beyond it to the northeast."

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Battlefield 4 DRM Locking Out Part of North America Until EU Release
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's digital-region-management department:
An anonymous reader writes "On the whole, Battlefield 4 had a reasonable launch. The have clearly learned from their past experiences with Battlefield 3 and, more notably, SimCity. Still, some customers are unable to access the game (until, presumably, October 30th at 7PM EDT, 39 hours after launch) because they are incorrectly flagged by region-locking. Do regional release dates help diminish all the work EA has been putting into Origin with their refund policy and live technical support? Should they just take our money and deliver the service before we change our minds?"

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How Big Data Is Destroying the US Healthcare System
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 06:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's optimizing-for-profit-does-not-optimize-for-health department:
KindMind writes "Robert Cringely writes on the idea that technological advances have changed the health care system, and not for the better. The idea is that companies now rate individuals instead of groups, and so move to a mode of simply avoiding policies that might lose money, instead of the traditional way that insurance costs were spread over a group. From the article: 'Then in the 1990s something happened: the cost of computing came down to the point where it was cost-effective to calculate likely health outcomes on an individual basis. This moved the health insurance business from being based on setting rates to denying coverage. In the U.S. the health insurance business model switched from covering as many people as possible to covering as few people as possible — selling insurance only to healthy people who didn't much need the healthcare system.'"

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Genome Hacker Uncovers 13-Million-Member Family Tree
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's turns-out-several-million-people-married-their-cousins department:
ananyo writes "Using data pulled from online genealogy sites, a renowned 'genome hacker' has constructed what is likely the biggest family tree ever assembled. The researcher and his team now plan to use the data — including a single uber-pedigree comprising 13 million individuals, which stretches back to the 15th century — to analyze the inheritance of complex genetic traits, such as longevity and facial features. In addition to providing the invitation list to what would be the world's largest family reunion, the work presented by computational biologist Yaniv Erlich at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting in Boston could provide a new tool for understanding the extent to which genes contribute to certain traits. The pedigrees have been made available to other researchers, but Erlich and his team at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, have stripped the names from the data to protect privacy."

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How Your Compiler Can Compromise Application Security
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's my-compiler-levels-me-out department:
jfruh writes "Most day-to-day programmers have only a general idea of how compilers transform human-readable code into the machine language that actually powers computers. In an attempt to streamline applications, many compilers actually remove code that it perceives to be undefined or unstable — and, as a research group at MIT has found, in doing so can make applications less secure. The good news is the researchers have developed a model and a static checker for identifying unstable code. Their checker is called STACK, and it currently works for checking C/C++ code. The idea is that it will warn programmers about unstable code in their applications, so they can fix it, rather than have the compiler simply leave it out. They also hope it will encourage compiler writers to rethink how they can optimize code in more secure ways. STACK was run against a number of systems written in C/C++ and it found 160 new bugs in the systems tested, including the Linux kernel (32 bugs found), Mozilla (3), Postgres (9) and Python (5). They also found that, of the 8,575 packages in the Debian Wheezy archive that contained C/C++ code, STACK detected at least one instance of unstable code in 3,471 of them, which, as the researchers write (PDF), 'suggests that unstable code is a widespread problem.'"

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Infosys Fined $35M For Illegally Bringing Programmers Into US On Visitor Visas
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 03:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-you-ain't-cheatin'-you-ain't-tryin' department:
McGruber writes "The U.S. government fined Infosys $35 million after an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department found that the Indian company used inexpensive, easy-to-obtain B-1 visas meant to cover short business visits — instead of harder-to-get H-1B work visas — to bring an unknown number of its employees for long-term stays. The alleged practice enabled Infosys to undercut competitors in bids for programming, accounting and other work performed for clients, according to people close to the investigation. Infosys clients have included Goldman Sachs Group, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. Infosys said in an email that it is talking with the U.S. Attorney's office, 'regarding a civil resolution of the government's investigation into the company's compliance' with employment-record 'I-9 form' requirements and past use of the B-1 visa. A company spokesman, who confirmed a resolution will be announced Wednesday, said Infosys had set aside $35 million to settle the case and cover legal costs. He said the sum was 'a good indication' of the amount involved."

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Adobe Breach Compromised Over 38 Million Users, Photoshop Source Code
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's downside-to-massive-reach department:
rjmarvin writes "Adobe's investigation into the massive data breach they were hit with this past August has revealed that over 38 million active users, not to mention inactive accounts, had their user IDs and passwords pilfered by hackers. An Adobe spokesperson confirmed the number, along with the theft of Adobe Photoshop source code. The initial report earlier this month put the extent of the breach at only 3 million credit card accounts, plus stolen Adobe Acrobat, Reader and ColdFusion source code."

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RIAA Targets 21 Sites For Shutdown
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '13 at 01:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
New submitter souperfly writes "The Inquirer has a list of 21 sites that the RIAA is looking to get shutdown by ISPs this week. The list includes sites filestube, Bomb-Mp3, Mp3skull, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Torrenthound, Torrentreactor and Monova, and at least one ISP — Virgin Media in the UK — has confirmed the number of targeted sites. BT confirmed it will block the site, but didn't say when. Before, it was thought that only six sites were lined up for a chop."

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