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Indiana State Police Acknowledge Use of Cell Phone Tracking Device
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hoosier-friend-on-the-phone? department:
An anonymous reader writes "Indiana state police acknowledge use of cell phone tracking device 'Stingray', tricking all cellphones in a set distance into connecting to it as if it were a real cellphone tower. A joint USA Today and IndyStar investigation found earlier this month that the state police spent $373,995 on a device called a Stingray. Often installed in a surveillance vehicle, the suitcase-size Stingrays trick all cellphones in a set distance ('sometimes exceeding a mile, depending on the terrain and antennas') into connecting to it as if it were a real cellphone tower. That allows police agencies to capture location data and numbers dialed for calls and text messages from thousands of people at a time."

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Boston Police Stop Scanning Registration Plates, For Now
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 02:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's expurgated-version department:
Ars Technica reports that after journalists gained access to a database readout showing a sample of the data gathered by the 14 registration plate scanners that had been in use by the Boston police and analyzed some of that data with embarrassing results, the police force has announced it will suspend use of the scanners indefinitely. Among other things, the data dump (which was not quite as thoroughly scrubbed as the police department had intended it to be) showed that a stolen motorcycle was detected by the cameras 59 times and red-flagged, but evidently no action was taken to recover it.

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Google's Dart Becomes ECMA's Dart
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 01:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's trying-for-traction department:
mikejuk writes "Google's Dart just reached version 1.0, but now it seems that it has aspirations to being an international standard. The question is will this make any difference to the language's future? Given that Google effectively owns Dart, what advantage does standardization bring? The answer to what Google thinks it brings is indicated in the Chromium blog: 'The new standardization process is an important step towards a future where Dart runs natively in web browsers.' and this seems reasonable. A standard is something that would be required before other browser makers decided to fall in line and support native Dart. It is probably a necessary but far from sufficient condition, however, with Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla having other interests to further. Last but not least, having the backing of a standard might just encourage possible users to believe that the language won't sink if Google gets distracted with other projects and decides that Dart is dispensable. However, a strong open source development community capable of supporting Dart without Google's input would be a better reassurance. If you want to help, Google would like you to join the committee. After all, it still doesn't have a Vice Chair. So can we expect to see ECMA CoffeeScript or TypeScript in the near future? Probably not."

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Programming Molecules To Let Chemicals Make Decisions
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's let-the-drugs-control-you department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Computer scientists at Harvard University have come up with a way to convert algorithms that teach machines to learn into a form that would allow artificial intelligence to be programmed into complex chemical reactions. The ultimate result could be smart drugs programmed to react differently depending on which of several probable situations they might encounter – without the need to use nano-scale electronics to carry the instructions. 'This kind of chemical-based AI will be necessary for constructing therapies that sense and adapt to their environment,' according to Ryan P. Adams, assistant professor of computer science at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), who co-wrote the paper explaining the technique. 'The hope is to eventually have drugs that can specialize themselves to your personal chemistry and can diagnose or treat a range of pathologies.' The techniques are part of a larger effort to program the behavior of molecules in manufacturing, decision-making and diagnostics, using both nano-scale electronics and the still-relatively-new study of bionanotechnology."

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Investor Lawsuit Blames NSA For $12B Loss In IBM Value
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's anyone-can-file-a-lawsuit department:
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "IBM Corp has been sued by the Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension & Relief Fund which accused it of concealing how its ties to what became a major U.S. spying scandal reduced business in China and ultimately caused its market value to plunge more than $12 billion." While anyone can file a lawsuit, being sued by an institutional investor is a little different than being sued by John Q. Disgruntled.

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Chinese Lunar Probe Lands Successfully
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's remote-control department:
China's Chang'e 3 moon probe made its intended landing earlier today, setting down softly in the moon's Sinus Iridum, as reported by Reuters. From the article: "The Chang'e 3, a probe named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, is carrying the solar-powered Yutu, or Jade Rabbit buggy, which will dig and conduct geological surveys. ... China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast images of the probe's location on Saturday and a computer generated image of the probe on the surface of the moon on its website. The probe and the rover are expected to photograph each other tomorrow. ... The Bay of Rainbows was selected because it has yet to be studied, has ample sunlight and is convenient for remote communications with Earth, Xinhua said.
The rover will be remotely controlled by Chinese control centers with support from a network of tracking and transmission stations around the world operated by the European Space Agency (ESA)."

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Leaked Passwords On Display At a German Museum
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's where's-your-scanner department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Earlier this year, it was London. Most recently, it was a university in Germany. Wherever it is, [artist Aram] Bartholl is opening up his eight white, plainly printed binders full of the 4.7 million user passwords that were pilfered from the social network and made public by a hacker last year. He brings the books to his exhibits, called 'Forgot Your Password,' where you're free to see if he's got your data—and whether anyone else who wanders through is entirely capable of logging onto your account and making Connections with unsavory people. In fact, Bartholl insists: "These eight volumes contain 4.7 million LinkedIn clear text user passwords printed in alphabetical order," the description of his project reads. "Visitors are invited to look up their own password.""

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GitHub Takes Down Satirical 'C Plus Equality' Language
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's questions-and-meta-questions department:
FooAtWFU writes "Some clowns and jokers over at 4chan thought it would be a funny idea to put together a web page for a programming language named 'C Plus Equality' as a parody of feminism, dismissing OOP as 'objectifying' and inheritance as "a tool of the patriarchy". But this parody was apparently too hot to host at Github, which took down the original Github repository after receiving criticism on Twitter, prompting a backlash and inquiry into the role of free speech and censorship on Github's platform. The project has since found a new home on BitBucket, at least for the time being." Comments on an article describing the research which sparked the parody call the parody's language "fake," and compare it to the 1996 Sokal affair. (It also reminds me a bit of Jesux.)

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Why the NSA Piggybacks On Consumer Tracking
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's because-it's-there department:
An anonymous reader writes " Snooping on the Internet is tricky. The network is diffuse, global, and packed with potential targets. There's no central system for identifying or locating individuals, so it's hard to keep track of who is online and what they're up to. What's a spy agency to do?' In a Slate op-ed, Ed Felten explains how consumer tracking makes the NSA's job much easier. Felten was the first-ever Chief Technologist at the Federal Trade Commission, serving as the agency's lead technical expert on privacy issues. Now back in academia, he argues that the NSA gets a 'free ride on the private sector,' from distinguishing users, to pinpointing geolocation, to slurping up network traffic."

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Google Acquires Boston Dynamics
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-you're-just-paranoid department:
First time accepted submitter totally_mad writes "The New York Times reports that Google has acquired Boston Dynamics, a company that is primarily a concept robot maker for the military. The robot wars appear to be heating up between the big corporations, with Amazon recently announcing plans to have 30-minute home deliveries using drones. Perhaps Boston Dynamics', or now Google's, Cheetah will outrun the drone!"

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NSA Able To Crack A5/1 Cellphone Crypto
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's keith-alexander-huffs-righteously department:
jones_supa writes "The most widely used cellphone encryption cipher A5/1 can be easily defeated by the National Security Agency, an internal document shows. This gives the agency the means to intercept most of the billions of calls and texts that travel over radiowaves every day, even when the agency would not have the encryption key. Encryption experts have long known the cipher to be weak and have urged providers to upgrade to newer systems. Consequently it is also suggested that other nations likely have the same cracking capability through their own intelligence services. The vulnerability outlined in the NSA document concerns encryption developed in the 1980s but still used widely by cellphones that rely on 2G GSM. It is unclear if the agency may also be able to decode newer forms of encryption, such as those covered under CDMA."

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Chang'e-3 Lunar Rover Landing Slated For 13:40 UTC Saturday
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 03:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's easy-does-it department:
savuporo writes "The Chinese Chang'e-3 probe will be landing on the moon [Saturday], 13:40 UTC. CCTV is likely to carry the event live as they did for initial launch. According to technical overview of the mission scenario and instruments, the landing will be fully autonomous with active landing hazard avoidance, which is the first time this has been attempted on any planetary landing. More real-time updates can be found on Twitter with ChangE3 hash tag and NASASpaceFlight forums live event section."

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Surge In Litecoin Mining Leads To Graphics Card Shortage
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '13 at 12:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cost-of-doing-business department:
New submitter Kenseilon writes "Extremetech reports that the recent price hike of Litecoins has triggered yet another arms race for the *coinminers out there, leading to a shortage of AMD graphics cards. While Bitcoin mining is quickly becoming unfeasible for GPU rigs with general purpose graphics cards, there are several alternative currencies with opportunities. The primary candidate is now Litecoin, which has the aim of 'being silver if Bitcoin is gold' Swedish Tech site Sweclockers also reports [in Swedish] that GPU manufacturer Club3D have told them that miners are becoming a new important group of potential customers. However, concerns are being raised that this is a temporary boom that may hurt AMD in the long run, since gamers, their core consumer group, may not be able to acquire the cards and instead opt for Nvidia."

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UK Men Arrested For Anti-Semitic Tweets After Football Game
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's thought-police's-little-helper department:
magic maverick writes "Reuters reports that three men were arrested for posting anti-Semitic comments on Twitter following the English Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United in October, police said on Friday. 'Two men, aged 22 and 24, were arrested on Thursday in London and in Wiltshire, while a 48-year-old man was arrested at his home in Canning Town in London last week on suspicion of inciting racial hatred. The investigation following the match on October 6 was triggered by complaints about tweets that referred to Hitler and the gas chambers.'
I guess it goes to show, you'd be stupid to use your real name or identifying details on Twitter. Perhaps the British should also work on reforming their laws on free speech (or lack thereof)."


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Valve Releases Debian-Based SteamOS Beta
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 06:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's actually-sounds-pretty-cool department:
An anonymous reader writes that, as promised, "Valve has put out their first SteamOS Linux operating system beta. SteamOS 1.0 'Alchemist' Beta is forked from Debian Wheezy and features its own graphics compositor along with other changes. Right now SteamOS 1.0 is only compatible with NVIDIA graphics cards and uses NVIDIA's closed-source Linux driver. SteamOS can be downloaded from here, but the server seems to be offline under the pressure."

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Some Londoners Cut Off As Failed Copper Thieves Take Fiber
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's friday-the-13th department:
judgecorp writes "About 37,000 Sky broadband and phone customers lost their connection, as incompetent copper thieves raided BT's infrastructure... and took fibre. Some scrap metal dealers will pay £4 per kg for stolen copper cables, but there is no dark market for fibre, so the thieves didn't make anything — which might be some small consolation to customers, some of whom had to wait for two days for BT to repair the inaccessible cables."

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Why Cloud Infrastructure Pricing Is Absurd
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's buzzwords-as-a-service department:
itwbennett writes "Two reports out this week, one a new 'codex' released by 451 Research and the other an updated survey into cloud IaaS pricing from Redmonk, show just how insane cloud pricing has become. If your job requires you to read these reports, good luck. For the rest of us, Redmonk's Stephen O'Grady distilled the pricing trends down to this: 'HP offers the best compute value and instance sizes for the dollar. Google offers the best value for memory, but to get there it appears to have sacrificed compute. AWS is king in value for disk and it appears no one else is even trying to come close. Microsoft is taking the 'middle of the road,' never offering the best or worst pricing.'"

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North Korea Erases Executed Official From the Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's personhood-redacted department:
itwbennett writes "The North Korean state propaganda machine has edited and deleted hundreds of news articles that mention Jang Song Thaek, the former top government and party official and uncle to leader Kim Jong Un, who was executed Thursday. Earlier this week, Jang was arrested in front of hundreds of senior members of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea and denounced for numerous alleged acts against the state and Kim Jong Un. From arrest to trial to death took only four days and the unprecedented fall from grace is widely being interpreted as an attempt by Kim Jong Un to keep officials loyal and scared."

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Cobalt-60, and Lessons From a Mexican Theft
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-everybody-knows-where-to-get-some-cheap-cobalt-60 department:
Lasrick writes "George Moore and Miles Pomper examine the theft of a truck containing Cobalt-60 and find that, while Mexico did the right thing and reported the theft promptly, they were under no obligation to do so according to international rules and the IAEA. This was true even though the stolen material was 3,000 curies, making it a Category 1 source (the most dangerous). Quoting: 'At a distance of 30.5 centimeters (1 foot) from an unshielded source with an activity level of 3,000 curies, the dose to a bystander would be about 37,000 Rem per hour (a measure of radiation exposure). This means that anyone within a foot of the source when it was out of its shield was being exposed to about 10 Rem per second, a level that would typically kill half of a population exposed to it for 30 seconds. ... The number of fatalities will not be nearly as high as it would have been if the source capsule had been left in a public place. Cobalt 60, like other high-risk radiological sources, is more lethal when it is kept intact as a high-strength source than it would be if spread using a radiological dispersal device such as a so-called “dirty bomb.” Nonetheless, had the Mexican source been used in a dispersal device, the economic consequences could have been extremely significant.'"

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Cobalt-60, and Lessons From a Mexican Theft
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-everybody-knows-where-to-get-some-cheap-cobalt-60 department:
Lasrick writes "George Moore and Miles Pomper examine the theft of a truck containing Cobalt-60 and find that, while Mexico did the right thing and reported the theft promptly, they were under no obligation to do so according to international rules and the IAEA. This was true even though the stolen material was 3,000 curies, making it a Category 1 source (the most dangerous). Quoting: 'At a distance of 30.5 centimeters (1 foot) from an unshielded source with an activity level of 3,000 curies, the dose to a bystander would be about 37,000 Rem per hour (a measure of radiation exposure). This means that anyone within a foot of the source when it was out of its shield was being exposed to about 10 Rem per second, a level that would typically kill half of a population exposed to it for 30 seconds. ... The number of fatalities will not be nearly as high as it would have been if the source capsule had been left in a public place. Cobalt 60, like other high-risk radiological sources, is more lethal when it is kept intact as a high-strength source than it would be if spread using a radiological dispersal device such as a so-called “dirty bomb.” Nonetheless, had the Mexican source been used in a dispersal device, the economic consequences could have been extremely significant.'"

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