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Saturn In All Its Glory
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's all-hail-the-hypnotoad department:
The Bad Astronomer writes "On Oct. 10, 2013, the Cassini spacecraft took a series of wide-angle pictures of Saturn from well above the plane of the rings. Croatian software developer and amateur astronomical image processor Gordan Ugarkovic assembled them into a stunning mosaic (mirrored on Flickr), showing the planet from a high angle not usually seen. There's a lot to see in this image, including the rings (and the gaps therein), moons, and the planet itself, including the remnants of a monstrous northern hemisphere storm that kicked off in 2010. It's truly wondrous."

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VirtualBox 4.3 Comes With New Multi-Touch Support, Virtual Cam and More
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's abstractly-wrap-your-collection-of-virtual-boxes department:
donadony writes "Oracle announced the release of VirtualBox 4.3; this is a major release that comes with important new features, devices support and improvements. According to the announcement, 'Oracle VM VirtualBox 4.3 adds a unique virtual multi-touch interface to support touch-based operating systems, and other new virtual devices and utilities, including webcam devices and a session recording facility. This release also builds on previous releases with support for the latest Microsoft, Apple, Linux and Oracle Solaris operating systems, new virtual devices, and improved networking functionality.'"

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Windows 8.1 Rolls Out Today
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's improvements-abound department:
The newest iteration of Windows has begun rolling out, and is winning positive reviews. (Here's an in-depth review from Ars, and a more concise one from Wired — both give 8.1 a thumbs-up).
Kelerei wrote with the above-linked TechDirt article on the release, noting that it is a staged rollout rather than global. Starting this morning, though, 8.1 is available to some customers. Kelerei writes: "The upgrade is optional (and free) for existing Windows 8 users, though if one looks at the changes, it's hard to imagine why those already on it wouldn't upgrade."

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NSA Director Keith Alexander Is Reportedly Stepping Down
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's so-long-farewell department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Keith Alexander will step down by April or May of next year. What's more, the agency's deputy director Chris Inglis also plans to retire by the end of next year, anonymous US officials told Reuters today. Though the news comes in the midst of a global public backlash over the NSA's widespread surveillance programs, it's worth pointing out that Alexander had revealed his plans to retire before Edward Snowden leaked details of PRISM in June. Officials didn't give a reason for his departure."

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Online Journalism Is Becoming a Billionaires' Plaything (Again)
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 02:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's use-it-or-lose-it department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "In the 1941 film Citizen Kane, the titular newspaper magnate (played with cheeky insouciance by Orson Welles) gleefully tells a doubter that he's prepared to lose a million dollars every year in order to keep publishing. "At a rate of a million dollars a year," he smirks, "I'll have to close this place in 60 years." Over the past decade, of course, many newspapers and magazines have lost a lot more than a million dollars a year, and there are signs that online publications are having trouble holding their finances together, as well. But some very rich people are stepping in to prop things up: first Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million, then eBay founder Pierre Omidyar offered journalist Glenn Greenwald a whole lot of cash to start up a general interest publication. Billionaires and multimillionaires, of course, have total freedom to fund whatever they want—and that could be a good thing for publications with a mission and a serious need for cash. But what if the rich investor disagrees with something that his pet publication releases into the world? If (and when) that situation occurs, it could serve as an interesting test of whether the latest version of this "generous benefactor" model can work more effectively as an impartial channel for news than it has in the past (when conflicts of interest often sparked titanic fights between editors and owners)."

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Oakland Is Building a Big Data Center For Police Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on October 17 '13 at 01:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-the-better-to-police-you-with department:
rjmarvin writes "$7 million in federal grant money originally tasked with terrorism prevention is now being used to fund construction of a new data center in Oakland to electronically gather and analyze data around the clock from a variety of sensors and databases, displaying selected info on a bank of giant monitors. The center will mine massive data streams, helping the police department tap into 911 calls, port and traffic cameras, license plate readers, gunshot sensors, social media posts and commuters' electronic toll payments."

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How To Attend Next Week's Robotics Show Robotically
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 10:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's from-the-confort-of-your-own-chair department:
DeviceGuru writes "Suitable Technologies is offering $50 rentals of its Beam mobile telepresence robot, allowing 50 robotics enthusiasts to remotely attend the RoboBusiness conference in Santa Clara, Calif. on Oct. 23-25. The Ubuntu- and ROS-based Beam will be available to the first 50 applicants, letting them explore the show at up to 1.5 meters/sec and interact with others via video conferencing. The bots will be allowed everywhere on the show floor as well as in conference rooms, and the show will be open late to accommodate remote users from distant time zones. The Beam is a good choice for remotely exploring conferences, saving users the cost and time of traveling to an event, says Suitable Tech; for example, RoboBusiness registration costs $1,595, not including hotel and travel. A list of the conference's keynotes, which include one by Christ Urmson, director of Google's Self-Driving Cars project, is available here."

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US Government Shutdown Ends
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nobody-surprised,-everybody-irritated department:
An anonymous reader writes "After more than two weeks of bickering that made the schoolyard appear civilized, Congress has finally passed a bill to reopen the U.S. Federal Government. 'The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 81 - 18, followed by approval in the House by a vote of 285 - 144. The bill now goes to the President, who will make remarks on Thursday regarding the reopening of the federal government. ... Earlier in the day, Speaker Boehner conceded that the House would not vote to stop the Senate-negotiated agreement. In a statement, the Speaker said that, after a fight with President Obama over his signature health care law, " . . . blocking the bipartisan agreement reached today by the members of the Senate will not be a tactic for us." The agreement will raise the debt limit until February 2014, fund the government through January 2014 and establish a joint House-Senate committee to make spending cut decisions.' CNN adds, 'Obama, for one, didn't seem in the mood Wednesday night for more of the same -- saying politicians in Washington have to "get out of the habit of governing by crisis." "Hopefully, next time, it will not be in the 11th hour," Obama told reporters, calling for both parties to work together on a budget, immigration reform and other issues. When asked as he left the podium whether he believed America would be going through all this political turmoil again in a few months, the President didn't waste words. "No."'"

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Curiosity Confirms Origins of Martian Meteorites
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 07:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sky-is-falling department:
littlesparkvt writes "Earth's most eminent emissary to Mars has just proven that those rare Martian visitors that sometimes drop in on Earth — a.k.a. Martian meteorites — really are from the Red Planet. A key new measurement of Mars' atmosphere by NASA's Curiosity rover provides the most definitive evidence yet of the origins of Mars meteorites while at the same time providing a way to rule out Martian origins of other meteorites."

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Google To Support Windows XP Longer Than Microsoft
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 07:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's if-it-aint-broke department:
An anonymous reader writes in that Google plans to support XP longer than Microsoft. "Microsoft will officially retire its Windows XP operating system early next year, but Google on Wednesday announced it will continue to support its Chrome browser for the platform through at least early 2015. The Mountain View, Calif., Web giant announced it will keep sending out updates and security patches to the Windows XP version of Google Chrome 'until at least April 2015.'"

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Mark Cuban Found Not Guilty of Insider Trading
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 05:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's off-the-hook department:
schwit1 writes "Mark Cuban won a years-long fight with the federal government Wednesday as jurors decided that the billionaire basketball team owner did not commit insider-trading when he sold his shares in an Internet company in 2004. The jury in federal district court in Dallas said that the Securities and Exchange Commission failed to prove the key elements of its case, including the claim that Cuban agreed to keep certain information confidential and not trade on it. The nine-member jury deliberated about half a day before reaching the unanimous decision that ended the three-week trial."

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Swartz-Designed Whistleblower Tool "SecureDrop" Launched
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's protect-ya-neck department:
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a new tool for whistleblowers/ "The 'strongest-ever' whistleblowing tool for sources to speak anonymously with journalists, partly developed by the late Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, has been launched by the Freedom of The Press Foundation. Before his suicide in January 2013, Swartz had been working on a tool for sources to anonymously submit documents to journalists online, without using traceable email and in a way that could be easily catalogued by news organisations. Called SecureDrop, the tool can be installed on any news organisation's website as a 'Contact Us' form page. But where these pages usually require a name and email address, the encrypted SecureDrop system is completely anonymous, assigning the whistleblower two unique identifiers - one seen by the journalist, and one seen by the whistleblower. These identities stay the same, so a conversation can be had without names being shared or known."

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Most Parents Allow Unsupervised Internet Access To Children At Age 8
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's how-old? department:
colinneagle writes "The timing for this study is interesting, given the arrests of two teenagers believed to have bullied a 12-year-old classmate until she committed suicide, but Microsoft found that 94% of parents said they allow their kids unsupervised access to at least one device or online service like email or social networks. The average age at which most children are allowed access to at least one online service, such as email or social media, was 8 years old, while 40% allow children under the age of 7 to access a computer unsupervised."

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Ask Slashdot: As a Programmer/Geek, Should I Learn Business?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-recommend-buying-low-and-selling-high department:
An anonymous reader writes "During my career I've always been focused on learning new technologies and trending programming languages. I've made good money at it, but I'm not sure what the next step is. I don't want to do this for the rest of my life. I'm not sure how to find a good way to transition from programmer to somebody with more responsibility. Should I learn business? It it more important to focus on personal networking? Do I step into the quagmire of marketing? I'm not sure what goals I should set, because I don't know what goals are realistic. Running my own business seems like something I'd like to do, but I'm unsure how to get from here to there. I'd appreciate advice from any fellow geeks who are making (or have made) that change."

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Blizzard Wins Legal Battle Against WoW Bot Company
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department:
New submitter gamersunited writes with news of Blizzard Entertainment's defeat of another company that created bot software to automate World of Warcraft characters. Ceiling Fan Software faces a judgment of $7 million, and must disable any active licenses for the software. They're also forbidden from transferring or open-sourcing the bot software, and from facilitating its continued use in any way. The court order (PDF) follows more than two years of legal wrangling. Blizzard won a similar judgment a few years ago against another bot company called MDY Industries, which created the popular Glider bot.

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No, Oreos Aren't As Addictive As Cocaine
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 01:01 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's time-to-abandon-my-latest-business-plans department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "If you give a mouse a cookie, you can spend all day following it around the house while it wants to do a bunch of tedious activities. Or, you can trap it in a box, keep feeding it cookies, and then make the outrageous claim that Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. Students at Connecticut College opted for the second option, and the consequences that ensued were much more annoying than making some arts and crafts with a darn mouse. Fox News reported that a 'College study finds Oreo cookies are as addictive as drugs,' Forbes explained 'Why Your Brain Treats Oreos Like a Drug,' and a ton of other sites ran with the story as well. Here's how the experiment, which has not been peer reviewed and has not been presented yet, went down. Mice were placed in a maze, with one end holding an Oreo and the other end holding a rice cake. The mice, without fail, decided to eat the Oreo over the rice cake, proving once and for all that mice like cookies better than tasteless discs with a styrofoamy texture."

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Fleet of Drones Maps a Mountain in 3D
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 12:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stuff-that-matterhorns department:
Zothecula writes "Explorers have mapped the surface of the iconic Matterhorn painstakingly by foot, by satellite, and now by drone, thanks to a partnership between drone maker senseFly and nonprofit Drone Adventures. Launching a small squadron of eBee minidrones off the summit and sides of the famous Alps mountaintop, the mission tested the navigational abilities of the system and created a staggering data-rich 3D model."

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Uneven Enforcement Suspected At Nuclear Plants
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bring-donuts-for-the-inspectors department:
mdsolar sends this news from the Associated Press:
"The number of safety violations at U.S. nuclear power plants varies dramatically from region to region, pointing to inconsistent enforcement in an industry now operating mostly beyond its original 40-year licenses, according to a congressional study awaiting release. Nuclear Regulatory Commission figures cited in the Government Accountability Office report show that while the West has the fewest reactors, it had the most lower-level violations from 2000 to 2012 — more than 2½ times the Southeast's rate per reactor. The Southeast, with the most reactors of the NRC's four regions, had the fewest such violations, according to the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. The striking variations do not appear to reflect real differences in reactor performance. Instead, the report says, the differences suggest that regulators interpret rules and guidelines differently among regions, perhaps because lower-level violations get limited review."

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Book Review: Secret History: the Story of Cryptology
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
benrothke writes "Narrating a compelling and interesting story about cryptography is not an easy endeavor. Many authors have tried and failed miserably; attempting to create better anecdotes about the adventure of Alice and Bob. David Kahn probably did the best job of it when wrote The Codebreakers: The story of secret writing in 1967 and set the gold standard on the information security narrative. Kahn's book was so provocative and groundbreaking that the US Government originally censored many parts of it. While Secret History: The Story of Cryptology is not as groundbreaking, it also has no government censorship. With that, the book is fascinating read that provides a combination of cryptographic history and the underlying mathematics behind it." Keep reading for the rest of Ben's review. Secret History: The Story of Cryptology
author Craig P. Bauer
pages 620
publisher CRC Pres
rating 9/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-1466561861
summary Excellent comprehensive and decipherable text on the history of cryptography

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Square Debuts New Email Payment System
Posted by News Fetcher on October 16 '13 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
cagraham writes "Mobile payment company Square — best known for their smartphone credit-card swipers — has launched a new payment service called Square Cash. The service doesn't require users to sign up or make an account. Instead, they just email the person they'd like to transfer money to (with the amount as the subject), and CC 'cash@square.com.' Square asks the sending for their debit card info, and then sends a link to the recipient, who can transfer the money into any account they want within 1-2 business days."

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