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Ballmer Admits Microsoft Whiffed Big-Time On Smartphones
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '13 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's first-step-is-admitting-you-have-a-problem department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "During an executive Q&A at Microsoft's Financial Analyst Meeting on Sept. 19 (video), outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer admitted that Windows Phone had a minuscule share of the smartphone market, and expressed regret over his company's inability to capitalize on burgeoning interest in mobile devices. 'I regret that there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows that we weren't able to redeploy talent to the new device called the phone,' Ballmer told the audience of Wall Street analysts and investors. 'That is the thing I regret the most.' Back in 2007, Ballmer famously denigrated the first-generation iPhone as an expensive toy that would fail to gain significant market share. He was forced to eat his words after the iPhone became a bestseller and ignited a huge market for touch-screen smartphones. Google subsequently plunged into that smartphone arena with Android, which was soon adopted by a variety of hardware manufacturers. While the iPhone (running iOS) and Android carved up the new market between them, Microsoft tried to come up with its own mobile strategy. The result was Windows Phone, which (despite considerable investment on Microsoft's part) continues to lag well behind Android and iOS in the smartphone wars. Even as he focused on discussing Microsoft's financials, Ballmer also couldn't resist taking some swipes at Google, suggesting that the search-engine giant's practices are 'worthy of discussion with competition authority.' Given Microsoft's own rocky history with federal regulators, that's sort of like the pot calling the kettle black; but Ballmer's statement also hints at how, in this new tech environment, Microsoft is very much the underdog when it comes to some of the most popular and lucrative product segments."

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Homeless, Unemployed, and Surviving On Bitcoins
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '13 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's when-does-money-become-money department:
An anonymous reader writes "Wired profiles a homeless man who's supporting himself primarily through Bitcoin. Jesse Angle, a former network engineer, earns small amounts throughout the day by visiting various websites that pay him to look at ads. He then converts it to gift certificates and uses the certificates to buy food. '"It's a lot less embarrassing," he says. "You don't have to put yourself out there." And unlike panhandling in Pensacola, using an app like Bitcoin Tapper won't put him on the wrong side of the law. This past May, Pensacola — where Angle has lived since April — passed an ordinance that bans not only panhandling but camping on city property.' Angle learned about Bitcoin from a charity organization called Sean's Outpost that wanted something better than PayPal for accepting donations over the internet. The organization has even opened an outreach center paid for solely with Bitcoins. Founder Jason King said, 'Bitcoin beats the s#!% out of regular money, We've resonated so well with people because it's direct action. There's no chaff between donation and helping people.'"

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Snowden Docs: Brits Hacked Accounts of Belgian IT Admins
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '13 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what's-good-for-the-goose-is-good-for-the-gander department:
An anonymous reader writes "British secret service GCHQ is willing to penetrate the networks of telecoms firms to subsequently use them for spying. German magazine DER SPIEGEL reports GCHQ hacked the machines of Belcacom staff to later use their GRX routers for targeted man-in-the-middle-attacks on people's phones. Belgacom is the biggest telecom in Belgium, and is partly state-owned. DER SPIEGEL publishes three original slides from a GCHQ presentation. They specifically mention targeting 'engineers/systems administrators.'"

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'Alien Life' Story of Dubious Provenance Goes Viral
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '13 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's truth-is-out-there-but-not-in-the-journal-of-cosmology department:
Sockatume writes "By now you have likely read about the 'alien life forms' discovered in the upper atmosphere over Yorkshire, via the mass media reprinting a press release from the University of Sheffield. Unfortunately, the paper comes from researchers with an infamous tendency to identify inanimate objects as aliens, and is published in a journal that seems to principally exist to print unlikely astrobiological claims. Phil Plait points out flaws in a number of their claims. Quoting: 'They found what appears to be a fragment of a frustrule, the hard outer casing around a diatom. It certainly does look like one. But is it? Weirdly, they apparently didn’t even check. Seriously, in the paper they describe the photo of the object and say [emphasis mine], "On one stub was discovered part of a diatom which, we assume, is clear enough for experts on diatom taxonomy to precisely identify." That implies very strongly they didn’t ask an expert in diatoms to look at their sample. That’s bizarre. If I were claiming this were an ET plant, that’s the very first thing I’d do!'"

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iOS 7 Lock Screen Bug Leaves Certain Apps Vulnerable For Access
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '13 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-least-it's-a-flat-bug department:
MojoKid writes "News of a proven security vulnerability involving Apple iOS 7 has started making the rounds. The exploit specifically involves the lockscreen, the most common piece of security that stops an unauthorized individual from gaining access to anything important on your phone. The 'hack,' if you want to call it that, is simple: Swipe up on the lock screen to enter the control center, and then open the alarm clock. From there, hold the phone's sleep button to bring up a prompt that will ask you if you wish to shut down, but instead of doing that, hit the cancel option, and then tap the home button to access the phone's multi-tasking screen. With access to this multi-tasking screen, anyone could try opening up what you've already had open on your phone. If you had Twitter open, for example, this person might be able to pick up where you left off and post on your behalf. Or, they could access the camera — and of course, every single photo stored on the phone."
The new iPhone models were released today; iFixit has a teardown of the iPhone 5s, giving it a repairability score of 6/10.

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Its Nuclear Plant Closed, Maine Town Is Full of Regret
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '13 at 04:46 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's and-you're-done department:
mdsolar writes in with a story about the fallout from a nuclear plant closing on a small town in Maine. "In a wooded area behind a camouflage-clad guard holding an assault rifle, dozens of hulking casks packed with radioactive waste rest on concrete pads — relics of the shuttered nuclear plant that once powered the region and made this fishing town feel rich. In the 17 years since Maine Yankee began dismantling its reactors and shedding its 600 workers, this small, coastal town north of Portland has experienced drastic changes: property taxes have spiked by more than 10 times for the town's 3,700 residents, the number living in poverty has more than doubled as many professionals left, and town services and jobs have been cut. 'I have yet to meet anyone happy that Maine Yankee is gone,' said Laurie Smith, the town manager. 'All these years later, we're still feeling the loss of jobs, the economic downturn, and the huge tax increases.'"

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40-Million-Year-Old 'Walking Whale' Fossil Found In Peru
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '13 at 02:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-long-time-ago department:
minty3 writes "Found in the Ocucaje Desert in southern Peru, the fossils belong to a group called Achaeocetes, or ancient whales, that possess both land and sea-dwelling characteristics. Over time, the ancient land animals adapted to water environments where their legs became fin-like and their bodies began to resemble modern sea mammals like dolphins and whales."

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Why Are Some Hell-Bent On Teaching Intelligent Design?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's just-the-facts-mam department:
Funksaw writes "Here's an op-ed by first-time politician, long-time Slashdotter Brian Boyko, where he talks about his experiences testifying at the Texas Board of Education in favor of having real science in science textbooks. But beyond that, he also tries to examine, philosophically, why there is such hardened resistance to the idea of evolution in Texas. From the article: '[W]hat is true is that evolution tests faith. The fact of evolution is incontrovertible and supported by mounds of empirical evidence. Faith, on the other hand, is fragile. It is supported only by the strength of human will. And this is where it gets tricky. Because to many believers, faith, not works, is the only guarantee that one can pass God's litmus test and gain access to His divine kingdom. To lose one's faith is to literally damn oneself. So tests to that faith must be avoided at all costs. Better to be a philosophical coward than a theological failure.'"

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Internet of Things Demands New Social Contract To Protect Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:01 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's don't-harvest-my-data-bro department:
chicksdaddy writes "Changes brought about by the Internet of Things demands the creation of a whole new social contract to enshrine the right to privacy and prevent the creation of technology-fueled Orwellian surveillance states in which individual privacy protections take a back seat to security and 'control.' That, according to an opinion piece penned by the head of the European Commission's Knowledge Sharing Unit. Gérald Santucci argues that technology advances, including the advent of wearable technology and the combination of inexpensive, remote sensors and Big Data analytics threaten to undermine long-held notions like personal privacy and the rights of individuals."

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Is HTML5 the Future of Book Authorship?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:01 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's forget-the-paper department:
occidental writes "Sanders Kleinfeld writes: In the past six years, the rise of the ebook has ushered in three successive revolutions that have roiled and reshaped the traditional publishing industry. Revolution #3 isn't really defined by a new piece of hardware, software product, or platform. Instead, it's really marked by a dramatic paradigm change among authors and publishers, who are shifting their toolsets away from legacy word processing and desktop publishing suites, and toward HTML5 and tools built on the Open Web Platform."

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Poor US Infrastructure Threatens the Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's not-the-best department:
snydeq writes "Thanks to state-sponsored cable/phone duopolies, U.S. broadband stays slow and expensive — and will probably impede cloud adoption, writes Andrew C. Oliver. 'As a patriotic American, I find the current political atmosphere where telecom lobbyists set the agenda to be a nightmare. All over the world, high-end fiber is being deployed while powerful monopolies in the United States work to prevent it from coming here,' Oliver writes. 'I expect that cloud adoption will closely match broadband speed, cost, and availability curves. Those companies living in countries where the broadband monopoly is protected will adopt the cloud at a slower rate than those with competitive markets and municipal fiber. There's a good chance U.S. firms will fall into that group.'"

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California Becomes First State In Nation To Regulate Ride-Sharing
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's take-a-ride department:
Virtucon writes "Ride Sharing Services such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar received a big boost today when the California Public Utilities Commission approved rules that would allow them to continue to operate as long as the followed a few rules. This makes California the first state to adopt such rules and is expected to preempt local governments who are trying to clamp down on these services and try to regulate them like local taxi companies."

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To Boldly Go Nowhere, For Now
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-don't-have-lift-off department:
An anonymous reader writes "A recent Slate article makes the argument that manned space exploration is not useful and we should concentrate on Robots. The article makes the claim that manned space exploration was never popular and by diverting money to robotic space exploration we can get more bang for the buck. From the article: 'Most of the arguments in favor of manned space exploration boil down to the following: a) We need to explore space using people since keeping the entire human race on a single piece of rock is a bad strategy, and even if we send robots first, people would have to make the journey eventually; and b) humans can explore much better than robots. Both these arguments are very near-sighted—in large part because they assume that robots aren’t going to get any better. They also fail to recognize that technology may radically change humans in the next century or so.'"

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StumbleUpon Claims They've Stumbled Onto Profits
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's thought-you-were-dead department:
cagraham writes with this excerpt from Technology Advice: "In an interview with Bloomberg, CEO Mark Bartels says that StumbleUpon is now profitable, and expects to grow their revenue by 33% this year, up to $40 million. The service has been around since 2001, was briefly owned by eBay,and earlier this year cut its staff from 120 to 70. According to Bartels, a huge increase in mobile usage has led to the turn-around, and they now have over 100,000 advertising clients. Still, they didn't provide any hard profit numbers to Bloomberg, so you'll have to take them on their word that they've successfully monetized."

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Russian Government Takes Over Country's 289-year Old Scientific Academy
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's putin-rears-his-ugly-head-over-your-research department:
ananyo writes "Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, approved controversial reforms to the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) on 18 September. More than 330 members of the Duma voted in favor of the law, with only 107 against, in a move critics say will deprive the 289-year-old body of its independence and halt attempts to revitalize Russia's struggling science system. If, as is widely expected, the parliament's upper house and Russian President Vladimir Putin approve the law, the 436 institutes and 45,000 research staff of Russia's primary basic-research organization will be managed by a newly established federal agency that reports directly to Putin. The agency will manage the academy's 60-billion-rouble (US$1.9-billion) budget and extensive property portfolio, which includes lucrative sites in Moscow and St Petersburg, and will also have a say in the appointment of institute directors. 'This is not a reform — this is a liquidation of science in Russia,' says Alexander Kuleshov, director of the academy's Institute for Information Transmission Problems in Moscow."

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Wi-Fi Sniffing Lets Researchers Build Graph of Offline Social Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's think-before-you-connect department:
angry tapir writes "The probe requests emitted by a smartphone as it seeks a Wi-Fi network to connect reveal the device's manufacturer thanks to its MAC address. This can offer some information about a crowd of people by looking at the breakdown by device brand. However, because some OSes include a preferred network list (PNL) in their probes, it may be possible to use Wi-Fi sniffing to infer even more information about a group of people by looking for common SSIDs, and potentially mapping them to known network locations (PDF). A group of Italian researchers has been looking at ways to use the information in probe requests to analyze the social connections of crowds."

The idea being that if you share preferred networks (especially ones only seen infrequently) you are more likely to be socially connected.

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Next Chapter In the Leap Second Story
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's time-what-is-time department:
at10u8 writes "The ITU-R and BIPM are holding a joint workshop on the Future of the International Time Scale. This is the next of many steps toward the possibility that radio broadcasts of time signals might abandon leap seconds. All of the presentations are online and the press release for the workshop indicates there will be video interviews afterwards."

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Mystery of Missing Martian Methane Deepens
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's send-burritos department:
astroengine writes "NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has been scouring the thin Martian atmosphere for methane — a potential tracer for the presence of Martian life. However, since the gas also can be produced geologically, any findings promised a meaty debate. That discussion can be shelved, perhaps permanently, new findings from a team of Curiosity scientists shows. The most extensive search yet for methane in Mars' atmosphere has come up empty. 'It's disappointing, of course. We would have liked to get [to Gale Crater] and found lots of methane and measure all the isotopes,' lead researcher Christopher Webster, with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Discovery News."

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Nokia's Elop Set To Receive $25 Million Bonus After Acquisition
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's surprise-surprise department:
jones_supa writes with an update on the Microsoft purchase of Nokia. From the article: "Stephen Elop, the former Nokia Oyj chief executive officer who is rejoining Microsoft, is set to get more than $25 million if the Finnish company completes the sale of its handset business to the software maker. Microsoft will pay 70 percent of the projected total amount of about 18.8 million euros ($25.5 million), and Nokia the remainder, according to a proxy filing by Nokia today. The value of Elop's reward is estimated using Nokia's Sept. 6 closing share price and may still change. Nokia shares have dropped by more than a third since Elop was hired on Sept. 10, 2010, even with the stock's gain since the sale to Microsoft was announced. Nokia shareholders are set to vote on the transaction Nov. 19. Elop will move back to Microsoft as part of the $7.2 billion takeover. He is also a candidate to succeed Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer."

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Fracked Shale Could Sequester Carbon Dioxide
Posted by News Fetcher on September 19 '13 at 09:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's delerium-tremens department:
MTorrice writes "The same wells that energy companies drill to extract natural gas from shale formations could become repositories to store large quantities of carbon dioxide. A new computer model suggests that wells in the Marcellus shale, a 600-sq-mile formation in the northeastern U.S. that is a hotbed for gas extraction, could store half the CO2 emitted by the country's power plants from now until 2030."

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