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CBS 60 Minutes: NSA Speaks Out On Snowden, Spying
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '13 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what-did-he-get? department:
An anonymous reader writes "This week CBS New's 60 Minutes program had a broadcast segment devoted to the NSA, and additional online features. It revealed that the first secret Snowden stole was the test and answers for a technical examination to get a job at NSA. When working at home, Snowden covered his head and screen with a hood so that his girlfriend couldn't see what he was doing. NSA considered the possibility that Snowden left malicious software behind and removed every computer and cable that Snowden had access to from its classified network, costing tens of millions of dollars. Snowden took approximately 1.7 million classified documents. Snowden never approached any of multiple Inspectors General, supervisors, or Congressional oversight committee members about his concerns. Snowden's activity caught the notice of other System Administrators. There were also other interesting details, such as the NSA has a highly competitive intern program for High School students that are given a Top Secret clearance and a chance to break codes that have resisted the efforts of NSA's analysts — some succeed. The NSA is only targeting the communications, as opposed to metadata, of less than 60 Americans. Targeting the actual communications of Americans, rather than metadata, requires a probable cause finding and a specific court order. NSA analysts working with metadata don't have access to the name, and can't listen to the call. The NSA's work is driven by requests for information by other parts of the government, and there are about 31,000 requests. Snowden apparently managed to steal a copy of that document, the 'crown jewels' of the intelligence world. With that information, foreign nations would know what the US does and doesn't know, and how to exploit it."

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The Business of Attention Deficit Disorder
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '13 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's drug-'em-all-let-god-sort-'em-out department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Alan Schwarz writes in the NYT that the rise of ADHD diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years have coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. 'The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it's not. It's preposterous,' says Dr. Keith Conners, a psychologist who has led the fight to legitimize attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for more than fifty years. Few dispute that classic ADHD, historically estimated to affect 5 percent of children, is a legitimate disability that impedes success at school, work and personal life. But recent data from the CDC show that the diagnosis had been made in 15 percent of high school-age children, and that the number of children on medication for the disorder had soared to 3.5 million from 600,000 in 1990." (Read on for more.)

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Norway Rejects Bitcoin As Currency; Taxes As Asset, Instead
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '13 at 02:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's money-need-not-derive-from-the-state department:
An anonymous reader writes "Norway is the latest country to consider the legal implications of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Norway's director general of taxation has come out and said '[Bitcoin] doesn't fall under the usual definition of money,' which means that it will be considered as assets and charged under capital gains laws. This sentiment was echoed last week by the European banking authority as well, where citizens were warned of using the cyrptocurrency."

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NZ Developers Win 'Koha' Trademark Case
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '13 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's good-on-them department:
An anonymous reader writes "Horowhenua Libraries Trust has successfully challenged a 2011 decision to let American company Liblime PTFS trademark in New Zealand the word Koha, the name of its library management system. That application was approved by the then Ministry of Economic Development, a decision appealed by the Horowhenua Library Trust and software firm Catalyst IT. A judgment delivered by assistant commissioner of trademarks Jennie Walden found the two pieces of software were largely the same and that it was likely a 'substantial number' of people would be confused or deceived if Liblime used the Koha trademark." Here's a previous Slashdot article discussing the PTFS/Liblime's trademark application.

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Want a FPGA Board For Your Raspberry Pi Or Beagle Bone?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 10:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-the-kids-talk-like-that-now department:
First time accepted submitter hamster_nz writes "Hot topics for the maker community are things such as embedded vision, bitcoin mining, autonomous vehicle control, Arduino, Open Hardware, software defined radio, small ARM/Linux boards and reconfigurable computing, A current Kickstarter project, LOGi FPGA, is touching all these bases. Funding has been reached after just a day, and Kicktraq currently has it projected to reach over $133,000. As a long time FPGA enthusiast I'm very interested to see what will happen when a thousand keen users get together to explore programmable logic."

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Theo De Raadt Says FreeBSD Is Just Catching Up On Security
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's diplomatic-mission department:
An anonymous reader writes "The OpenBSD project has no reason to follow the steps taken by FreeBSD with regard to hardware-based cryptography because it has already been doing this for a decade, according to Theo de Raadt. 'FreeBSD has caught up to what OpenBSD has been doing for over 10 years,' the OpenBSD founder told iTWire. 'I see nothing new in their changes. Basically, it is 10 years of FreeBSD stupidity. They don't know a thing about security. They even ignore relevant research in all fields, not just from us, but from everyone.'"

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Playstation 4 Vs Xbox One: Which Shares Better?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's which-paint-dries-fastest-let's-watch department:
itwbennett writes "One of the new features that both Sony and Microsoft touted for their next-gen gaming consoles was easy sharing of gameplay videos. Peter Smith has put sharing to the test on both consoles, and (spoiler alert), found that both have plenty of room for improvement. There are pros and cons to each, but ultimately, which console does sharing best comes down to personal preference: 'I really hate that the Playstation 4 is limited to sharing on Facebook and I really like that the Xbox One saves to my Skydrive,' says Smith. 'But I hate having to wait for that upload to happen before I can go back to gaming.'"

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Photos Stream Back From China's Lunar Lander
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's entire-mountain-covered-in-cheese department:
After the successful soft landing of its carrier vessel on the surface of the moon, China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover has begun beaming back photos of the lunar surface. From the BBC's article, with links to video as well as several photos, comes this description: "Chang'e-3 is the third unmanned rover mission to touch down on the lunar surface, and the first to go there in more than 40 years. The last was an 840kg (1,900lb) Soviet vehicle known as Lunokhod-2, which was kept warm by polonium-210. But the six-wheeled Chinese vehicle carries a more sophisticated payload, including ground-penetrating radar which will gather measurements of the lunar soil and crust. The 120kg (260lb) Jade Rabbit rover can reportedly climb slopes of up to 30 degrees and travel at 200m (660ft) per hour. ... The rover and lander are powered by solar panels but some sources suggest they also carry radioisotope heating units (RHUs), containing plutonium-238 to keep them warm during the cold lunar night. According to Chinese space scientists, the mission is designed to test new technologies, gather scientific data and build intellectual expertise. It will also scout valuable mineral resources that could one day be mined."

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Graphene-based Nanoantennas Could Allow WLANs of Nanodevices
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's psst-pass-it-on department:
Freshly Exhumed writes "With the onslaught of graphene experimentation, especially in computing and RF, news from IEEE Spectrum comes that researchers at Georgia Tech have computer-modeled nanoantennas made from graphene that could provide wireless network communications between nanoscopic devices. "We are exploiting the peculiar propagation of electrons in graphene to make a very small antenna that can radiate at much lower frequencies than classical metallic antennas of the same size," said Ian Akyildiz, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, in a press release. "We believe that this is just the beginning of a new networking and communications paradigm based on the use of graphene.""

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US Light Bulb Phase-Out's Next Step Begins Next Month
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's word-from-on-high department:
SonicSpike writes "Light bulb manufacturers will cease making traditional 40 and 60-watt light bulbs — the most popular in the country — at the start of 2014. This comes after the controversial phasing out of incandescent 75 and 100-watt light bulbs at the beginning of 2013. In their place will be halogen bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs, LED bulbs and high efficiency incandescents — which are just regular incandescents that have the filament wrapped in gas. All are significantly more expensive than traditional light bulbs, but offer significant energy and costs savings over the long run. (Some specialty incandescents — such as three-way bulbs — will still be available.) ... The rules were signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007. They are designed to address gross inefficiencies with old light bulbs — only 10% of the energy they use is converted into light, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has a handy fact sheet about the changes. The rest is wasted as heat. But the rules have drawn fire from a number of circles — mainly conservatives and libertarians who are unhappy about the government telling people what light bulbs they can use. They argue that if the new ones really are so good, people will buy them on their own without being forced to do so."

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Google Makes It Harder For Marketers To Collect User Data
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's no-peeking-now department:
cagraham writes "In a seemingly minor update, Google announced that all Gmail images will now be cached on their own servers, before being displayed to users. This means that users won't have to click to download images in every email now — they'll just automatically be shown. For marketers, however, the change has serious implications. Because each user won't download the images from a third-party server, marketers won't be able to see open-rates, log IP addresses, or gather information on user location and browser type. Google says the changes are intended to enhance user privacy and security."

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France Broadens Surveillance Powers; Wider Scope Than NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's touch-of-the-old-industrial-espionage department:
krakman writes "With the NSA disclosures, French media was 'outraged'. Yet they appear to be worse then the NSA, with a new law that codifies standard practice and provides for no judicial oversight while allowing electronic surveillance for a broad range of purposes, including "national security," the protection of France's "scientific and economic potential" and prevention of "terrorism" or "criminality." The government argues that the law, passed last week with little debate as part of a routine military spending bill, which takes effect in 2015, does not expand intelligence powers. Rather, officials say, those powers have been in place for years, and the law creates rules where there had been none, notably with regard to real-time location tracking. French intelligence agencies have little experience publicly justifying their practices. Parliamentary oversight did not begin until 2007. "

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Former Google Lawyer Michelle Lee To Run US Patent Office
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's insiders-and-outsiders department:
First time accepted submitter Tigger's Pet writes "The BBC report that 'Google's former top patent lawyer has been put in charge of America's patent and trademark office (USPTO). Michelle Lee was made deputy director of the USPTO this week and will run the agency while it seeks a new boss. Ms Lee joined the patent office after leaving Google in June 2012 but said the opinions of her former employer would not guide her work.' Maybe she will use her knowledge from some of the insanity she has seen to actually tackle the current situation of patents, patent-trolling and lawsuits, so that companies can concentrate on true development which benefits all their users, not just the lawyers."

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Ask Slashdot: How Would You Secure Your Parents' PC?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's what's-the-late-2013-version? department:
New submitter StirlingArcher writes "I've always built/maintained my parents' PC's, but as Mum has got older her PC seems to develop problems more readily. I would love to switch her to Linux, but she struggles with change and wants to stay with Vista and MS Office. I've done the usual remove Admin rights, use a credible Internet Security package. Is there anything more dramatic that I could do, without changing the way she uses her PC or enforcing a new OS on her again? One idea was to use a Linux OS and then run Vista in a VM, which auto-boots and creates a backup image every so often. Thanks for any help!"

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No Longer "Noble"; Argon Compound Found In Space
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-illusion-is-gone department:
mbstone writes "Scientists at the University College of London — where argon was originally discovered in 1894 — have now found spectroscopic signatures of molecules of argon hydride (ArH), said to be produced via explosive nucleosynthesis in a core-collapse supernova in the Crab Nebula. The post-supernova molecular dust was observed by the Herschel Space Observatory shortly before it ran out of coolant in April.."

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Code.org Stats: 507MM LOC, 6.8MM Kids, 2K YouTube Views
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's infinite-kids-writing-hamlet department:
theodp writes "On the final day of Computer Science Education Week, the Hour of Code bravado continues. Around 12:30 a.m. Sunday (ET), Code.org was boasting that in just 6 days, students of its tutorials have "written" more than 10x the number of lines of code in Microsoft Windows. "Students of the Code.org tutorials have written 507,152,775 lines of code. Is this a lot? By comparison, the Microsoft Windows operating system has roughly 50 million lines of code." Code.org adds, "In total, 15,481,846 students have participated in the Hour of Code. Of this group, 6,872,757 of them used the tutorials by Code.org, and within the Code.org tutorial, they've written 507,152,775 lines of code." On YouTube, however, a playlist of the Code.org tutorial videos has distinctly lower numbers, with only 2,246 views of the Code.org Wrap Up video reported as of this writing. So, any thoughts on why the big disconnect, and how close the stats might reflect reality? Code.org does explain that an 'Hour of Code' is not necessarily an 'hour of code' ("Not everybody finishes an Hour of Code tutorial. Some students spend one hour. Some spend 10 minutes. Some spend days. Instead of counting how many students 'finish one hour'; or how much time they spent, this [LOC] is our simplest measure of progress"). So, with millions being spent on efforts to get Code.org into the nation's schools — New York and Chicago have already committed their 1.5 million K-12 students — is it important to get a better understanding of what the Hour of Code usage stats actually represent — and what their limitations might be — and not just accept as gospel reports like AllThingsD's 15 Million Students Learned to Program This Week, Thanks to Hour of Code ("every other school family in the U.S. has a child that has done the Hour of Code")?"

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How the Lessons of Columbine Saved Lives At Arapahoe High School
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's factory-schooling department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Ray Sanchez reports at CNN that the handling of Friday's shooting at Arapahoe High School, just 10 miles from the scene of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, drew important lessons from the earlier bloodshed. At Arapahoe High School, where senior Claire Davis, 17, was critically injured before the shooter turned the gun on himself, law enforcement officers responded within minutes and immediately entered the school to confront the gunman rather than surrounding the building. As the sound of shots reverberated through the corridors, teachers immediately followed procedures put in place after Columbine, locking the doors and moving students to the rear of classrooms. "That's straight out of Columbine," says Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services. "The goal is to proceed and neutralize the shooter. Columbine really revolutionized the way law enforcement responds to active shooters." Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson credits the quick police response time for the fact that student Karl Pierson, the gunman, stopped firing on others and turned his weapon on himself less than 1 minute, 20 seconds after entering the school. Authorities knew from research and contact with forensic psychologists that school shooters typically continue firing until confronted by law enforcement. "It's very unfortunate that we have to say that there's a textbook response on the way to respond to these," says Trump, "because that textbook was written based on all of the incidents that we've had and the lessons learned (PDF).""

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Census Bureau: Majority of Affluent Counties In Northeast US
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 03:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's water-runs-downhill department:
An anonymous reader writes "I'm not a big fan of heat maps, but the US Census Bureau has just released a set of maps that succinctly capture average income distribution across the US. BusinessInsider points out that well over half of the most affluent counties in the US are concentrated in the Northeast (counting Virginia, presumably for the suburbs of Washington, D.C. located in that southern state). Of course, the cost of living is higher in those counties as well. Meanwhile, poor counties tend to be clustered in the southeast and in southwestern states on the Mexican border. There is good news for the northern prarie states, though, particularly North and South Dakota, as they lead in the number of counties with gains in household income over the past five years."

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IETF To Change TLS Implementation In Applications
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '13 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's nice-orderly-scramble department:
Trailrunner7 writes "The NSA surveillance scandal has created ripples all across the Internet, and the latest one is a new effort from the IETF to change the way that encryption is used in a variety of critical application protocols, including HTTP and SMTP. The new TLS application working group was formed to help developers and the people who deploy their applications incorporate the encryption protocol correctly. TLS is the successor to SSL and is used to encrypt information in a variety of applications, but is most often encountered by users in their Web browsers. Sites use it to secure their communications with users, and in the wake of the revelations about the ways that the NSA is eavesdropping on email and Web traffic its use has become much more important. The IETF is trying to help ensure that it's deployed properly, reducing the errors that could make surveillance and other attacks easier."

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NSA Has No Clue As To Scope of Snowden's Data Trove
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's known-unknowns department:
krakman writes "According to a NY Times article, a 6-month internal investigation has not been able to define the actual files that Edward Snowden had copied. There is a suspicion that not all the documents have been leaked to newspapers, and a senior NSA official (Rick Ledgett), who is heading the security agency's task force examining Mr. Snowden's leak, has said on the record that he would consider recommending amnesty for Mr. Snowden in exchange for those unleaked documents. 'They've spent hundreds and hundreds of man-hours trying to reconstruct everything he has gotten, and they still don't know all of what he took,' a senior administration official said. 'I know that seems crazy, but everything with this is crazy.' That Mr. Snowden was so expertly able to exploit blind spots in the systems of America's most secretive spy agency illustrates how far computer security still lagged years after President Obama ordered standards tightened after the WikiLeaks revelations of 2010."

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