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No Love From Ars For Samsung's New Smart Watch
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's too-little-too-early department:
Despite the number of companies shipping or promising them, smart watches aren't the easiest sell, and Ars Technica's review of Samsung's entry illustrates why. Despite all the processing power inside, the watch is "sluggish" even for the kind of at-a-glance convenience features that are touted as the reason to have a phone tethered to an (even smarter) phone, and for the most part seems to weakly imitate features already found on that phone. There are a few features called out as cool, like a media control app, but for the most part reviewer Rob Amadeo finds little compelling in the Galaxy Gear.

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Google Cracks Down On Mugshot Blackmail Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's it'll-cost-ya department:
Google is apparently displeased with sites designed to extract money from arrestees in exchange for removing their mugshot pictures online, and is tweaking its algorithms to at least reduce their revenue stream. From the article at The New York Times: "It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation. ... The sites are perfectly legal, and they get financial oxygen the same way as other online businesses — through credit card companies and PayPal. Some states, though, are looking for ways to curb them. The governor of Oregon signed a bill this summer that gives such sites 30 days to take down the image, free of charge, of anyone who can prove that he or she was exonerated or whose record has been expunged. Georgia passed a similar law in May. Utah prohibits county sheriffs from giving out booking photographs to a site that will charge to delete them. ... But as legislators draft laws, they are finding plenty of resistance, much of it from journalists who assert that public records should be just that: public."

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Space Camp: Not Just For Kids Any More
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-take-these-antigravity-pills department:
The L.A. Times features a description of what space camp is like, not for for its traditional demographic of teens and pre-teens interested in science (and possibly thinking of careers in space), but for adults. The Huntsville program where writer Jane Engle spent three days playing astronaut gives adults a chance to experience simulated low gravity and fighter jet simulation. "We also spent hours inside mock-ups of a space shuttle cockpit, NASA mission control and the International Space Station, the settings for simulated shuttle missions that formed the core of our training. Working in teams, we took turns crewing the space shuttle orbiter, monitoring the mission, conducting research experiments and doing extravehicular activities, a.k.a. spacewalks, to make repairs." The price strikes me as surprisingly reasonable, too: about $550.

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Microsoft Makes Another "Nearly Sold Out" Claim For the Surface Line
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's superficial-seems-about-right department:
Microsoft made some confident sounding claims about sales of its first-generation Surface tablets before it became clear that the tablets weren't actually selling very well. So make what you will of the company's claim that the second version is "close to selling out." As the linked article points out, the company has "fallen short of offering any real explanation as to just how “close” to selling out the Surface 2 and Pro 2 really are – nor have they indicated how many were on hand to order in the first place."

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Sorm: Russia Intends To Monitor "All Communications" At Sochi Olympics
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's step-lively-comrade department:
dryriver writes with this excerpt from The Guardian: "Athletes and spectators attending the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February will face some of the most invasive and systematic spying and surveillance in the history of the Games, documents shared with the Guardian show. Russia's powerful FSB security service plans to ensure that no communication by competitors or spectators goes unmonitored during the event, according to a dossier compiled by a team of Russian investigative journalists looking into preparations for the 2014 Games. The journalists ... found that major amendments have been made to telephone and Wi-Fi networks in the Black Sea resort to ensure extensive and all-permeating monitoring and filtering of all traffic, using Sorm, Russia's system for intercepting phone and internet communications. Ron Deibert, a professor at the University of Toronto and director of Citizen Lab, which co-operated with the Sochi research, describes the Sorm amendments as "Prism on steroids", referring to the programme used by the NSA in the US and revealed to the Guardian by the whistleblower Edward Snowden."

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US Forces Undertake Two African Raids, Capture Embassy Bombing Figure
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's target-rich department:
CNN reports that two separate U.S. military operations have taken place this weekend in Africa; the first in Tripoli, the second in Somalia. "In the earlier raid, U.S. forces captured Abu Anas al Libi, an al Qaeda operative wanted for his role in the deadly 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa. In the second raid, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs in southern Somalia targeted the top leader of Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group linked with al Qaeda." According to the report, it's unclear for now whether the second of these attempts was successful. Unsurprisingly, the Libyan raid has raised the ire of the interim government there, which has objected to the U.S. arrest and removal of al Libi (to an undisclosed placed outside of Libya) as a kidnapping.

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Boston Dynamics Wildcat Can Gallop — No Strings Attached
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-you-hear-that-sound-run department:
Boston Dynamics has been making eye-catching (and sort of creepy) military-oriented robots for several years, and we've noted several times the Big Dog utility robot. The newest creation is the untethered, gas-powered Wildcat; this is definitely not something I want chasing after me. (Not as fast as the previous, tethered version — yet.)

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World Solar Challenge Underway
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's they-have-two-suns-I-believe department:
snowdon writes "The World Solar Challenge started today, and the top teams are now camped in the Australian outback more than 600km south of Darwin. You can follow the event live in real-time using satellite tracking at worldsolarchallenge.org."

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US Intelligence Chief Defends Attempts To Break Tor
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's we-want-to-have-torn department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Arik Hesseldahl writes that James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, says that the NSA tried to penetrate and compromise Tor, but it was only because terrorists and criminals use it, too and our "interest in online anonymity services and other online communication and networking tools is based on the undeniable fact that these are the tools our adversaries use to communicate and coordinate attacks against the United States and our allies." It was all legal and appropriate, Clapper argues, because, "Within our lawful mission to collect foreign intelligence to protect the United States, we use every intelligence tool available to understand the intent of our foreign adversaries so that we can disrupt their plans and prevent them from bringing harm to innocent Americans. Our adversaries have the ability to hide their messages and discussions among those of innocent people around the world. They use the very same social networking sites, encryption tools and other security features that protect our daily online activities." Clapper concludes that "the reality is that the men and women at the National Security Agency and across the Intelligence Community are abiding by the law, respecting the rights of citizens and doing everything they can to help keep our nation safe.""

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Google Wants Patent On Splitting Restaurant Bills
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's steak-eater-picks-the-pocket-of-the-salad-man department:
theodp writes "In a classic example of parody coming to life," writes GeekWire's Todd Bishop, "a newly published patent filing reveals Google's ambitions to solve one of the most troublesome challenges known to humanity: Splitting the bill at the end of a meal." In its patent application for Tracking and Managing Group Expenditures, Google boasts that the invention of six Googlers addresses 'a need in the art for an efficient way to track group expenditures and settle balances between group members' by providing technology that thwarts 'group members [who] may not pay back their entire share of the bill or may forget and not pay back their share at all.'

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Over 100 Missing Episodes of Doctor Who Located
Posted by News Fetcher on October 06 '13 at 12:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's as-a-result-of-time-travel department:
MajikJon writes "The BBC junking policies of the '60s and '70s resulted in the loss of hundreds of episodes of the classic series in its earliest years. Through the work of ardent fans over the succeeding decades, dozens of these lost episodes have been painstaking recovered and added back into the BBC archives. Now, it seems, the searchers have struck the mother lode. According to the Wikipedia, there are currently 106 missing episodes of the serial. If reports are correct, we may finally get to see all the episodes."

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The Era of Young Innovators: Looking Beyond Universities To Source Talents
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 10:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's yeah-but-can-you-sign-a-contract? department:
New submitter billylo writes "Tech heavy industries are constantly looking for new sources of innovations. But where are the best place to find them? Increasingly, businesses are looking beyond universities and source ideas from savvy high schoolers. Cases in point: High school programming team finished in the Top 5 of MasterCard's NXT API challenge (3rd one down the list) last weekend in Toronto; Waterloo's Computing Contest high-school level winners [PDF] tackled complex problems like these [PDF]; the FIRST robotics competition requires design, CAD, manufacturing and programming all done by high schoolers. Do you have other good examples on how to encourage high schoolers to become young innovators?
Do you have any other successful examples?"


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DOJ Hasn't Actually Found Silk Road Founder's Bitcoin Yet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's what-are-the-odds department:
Techdirt has an interesting followup on the arrest and indictment of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht, in connection to which the FBI seized 26,000 or so Bitcoins. From the Techdirt piece: "However, in the criminal complaint against Ulbricht, it suggested that his commissions were in the range of $80 million -- or about 600,000 Bitcoins. You might notice the disconnect between the 26,000 Bitcoins seized and the supposed 600,000 Ulbright made. It now comes out that those 26,000 Bitcoins aren't even Ulbricht's. Instead, they're actually from Silk Road's users. In other words, these were Bitcoins stored with user accounts on Silk Road. Ulbricht's actual wallet is separate from that, and was apparently encrypted, so it would appear that the FBI does not have them, nor does it have any way of getting at them just yet. And given that some courts have argued you can't be forced to give up your encryption, as it's a 5th Amendment violation, those Bitcoins could remain hidden -- though, I could see the court ordering him to pay the dollar equivalent in restitution (though still not sure that would force him to decrypt the Bitcoins)." The article also notes that the FBI's own Bitcoin wallet has been identified, leading to some snarky micropayment messages headed their direction.

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Taking Back Control of Your Data, With Fine Grained, Explicit Permissions
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's consent-as-a-dialogue department:
BrokenHalo writes with a story at New Scientist outlining one approach to reclaiming your online privacy: a software gatekeeper (described in detail in a paper from last year) from two MIT developers. "Developers Sandy Pentland and Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye claim OpenPDS (PDF) disrupts what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden called the 'architecture of oppression,' by letting users see and control any third-party requests for their information – whether that's from the NSA or Google. Among other things, the Personal Data Store includes a mechanism for fine-grained management of permissions for sharing of data. Personally, I'm not convinced that what the NSA demands outright to be shared is as relevant as what they surreptitiously take without asking."

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Social Fixer Falls Victim To Facebook Legal Threats
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's which-battles-to-fight department:
rueger writes "The author of the very excellent Social Fixer browser plug-in is bowing to legal threats from Facebook and removing the core functionality that made his tool so great. I like Social Fixer a lot. It makes Facebook at least three or four times more usable. The author, Matt Kruse, says 'Any threat of legal action is a big deal. I am a one-man operation. If I were sued for whatever reason, I would find it very difficult to defend myself, even if it was without merit. I would be risking my personal life to maintain a tabbed news feed for users. As much as I'd like to be your Robin Hood, I just can't do that to my family.' Bizarrely, when he asked Facebook why they don't also threaten Ad-Block, the Facebook rep claimed to have never heard of it." Kruse has some surprisingly nice things to say about his interaction with Facebook, too. Reader Daniel Dvorkin points out this commentary at BuzzFeed which points out Twitter's similar policies.

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Scientists Boycott NASA Conference Because of Ban On Chinese Participants
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's for-discriminating-tastes department:
New submitter Eunuchswear writes "Congress has passed laws forbidding NASA from allowing Chinese nationals on its premises, so NASA was forced to reject applications from Chinese scientists to attend the upcoming meeting on the Kepler space telescope next month. This ban extends even to Chinese scientists and students working in the USA, angering many American scientists. Geoff Marcy, known for his work on explanets is reported to be boycotting the conference. 'In good conscience, I cannot attend a meeting that discriminates in this way. The meeting is about planets located trillions of miles away, with no national security implications.' he said in an email to the conference organisers."

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Microsoft Exec Says Xbox One Kinect Is Not Built For Advertising
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's more-to-come-next-time-around department:
MojoKid writes "Among the various SNAFUs and PR misfires related to the Xbox One release earlier this year, one item that had people upset was that Kinect would be used for advertising--or worse, that the Xbox One Kinect was actually designed with advertising in mind. The source was a UI designer who was expounding the capabilities of the Kinect and how it could be used to deliver interactive ads and used for native advertising. However, Microsoft Director of Product Planning Albert Penello threw cold water on much of it. 'First--nobody is working on that,' he said. 'We have a lot more interesting and pressing things to dedicate time towards.' He also stated that if Microsoft were to engage in something along those lines, users would definitely have control over it, meaning that Kinect would not be spying on you; you would have to engage with Kinect for anything to happen."

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MasterCard Joining Push For Fingerprint ID Standard
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-not-gum-prints department:
schwit1 writes with this selection from a story at USA Today: "MasterCard is joining the FIDO Alliance, signaling that the payment network is getting interested in using fingerprints and other biometric data to identify people for online payments. MasterCard will be the first major payment network to join FIDO. The Alliance is developing an open industry standard for biometric data such as fingerprints to be used for identification online. The goal is to replace clunky passwords and take friction out of logging on and purchasing using mobile devices. FIDO is trying to standardize lots of different ways of identifying people online, not just through biometric methods."

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Microsoft Reportedly Seeks To Put Windows Phone On Android Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-way-or-another department:
quantr draws your attention to a Bloomberg report that Microsoft has reached out to HTC to see if the company would be interested in adding Windows as a second OS to its Android handsets. From the Bloomberg story: "Its willingness to add Windows as a second operating system underscores the lengths to which Microsoft will go to get manufacturers to carry its software. HTC, the first company to make both Windows and Android phones, hasn’t unveiled a new Windows-based handset since June and has no current plans to release any more, said one person. Microsoft, with 3.7 percent of the market, is finding it necessary to make concessions after agreeing to acquire Nokia Oyj’s handset unit, which competes with other smartphone makers.
[Microsoft operating systems head Terry] Myerson was planning to visit Asia this month and meet with senior executives at Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC to discuss his proposal, one of the people said."


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Microsoft Reportedly SeeksTo Put Windows Phone On Android Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on October 05 '13 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-way-or-another department:
quantr draws your attention to a Bloomberg report that Microsoft has reached out to HTC to see if the company would be interested in adding Windows as a second OS to its Android handsets. From the Bloomberg story: "Its willingness to add Windows as a second operating system underscores the lengths to which Microsoft will go to get manufacturers to carry its software. HTC, the first company to make both Windows and Android phones, hasn’t unveiled a new Windows-based handset since June and has no current plans to release any more, said one person. Microsoft, with 3.7 percent of the market, is finding it necessary to make concessions after agreeing to acquire Nokia Oyj’s handset unit, which competes with other smartphone makers.
[Microsoft operating systems head Terry] Myerson was planning to visit Asia this month and meet with senior executives at Taoyuan, Taiwan-based HTC to discuss his proposal, one of the people said."


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