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Cells Reprogrammed In Living Mice
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's turn-your-excess-bodyfat-into-brain-cells department:
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have discovered a surprisingly effective way to 'reprogram' mature mouse cells into an embryolike state, able to become any of the body's cell types (abstract). Their recipe: Let the transformation happen in a living animal instead of a petri dish. The finding could help scientists better understand how reprogramming works and it may one day help breed replacement tissues or organs in the lab—or in living patients."

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SSD Failure Temporarily Halts Linux 3.12 Kernel Work
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's must-be-nvidia's-fault department:
jones_supa writes "The sudden death of a solid-state drive in Linus Torvalds' main workstation has led to the work on the 3.12 Linux kernel being temporarily suspended. Torvalds has not been able to recover anything from the drive. Subsystem maintainers who have outstanding pull requests may need to re-submit their requests in the coming days. If the SSD isn't recoverable he will finish out the Linux 3.12 merge window from a laptop."

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Valve Announces Family Sharing On Steam, Can Include Friends
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's microsoft-looks-on-sadly department:
Deathspawner writes "Valve has today announced its next attempt at a console-killer: 'Family Sharing' is a feature that will allow you to share your Steam library with family and close friends. This almost seems too good to be true, and while there are caveats, this is going to be huge, and Valve knows it. As Techgage notes, with it you can share nearly your entire Steam library with family or friends, allowing them to earn their own achievements, and have their own saved games. 'Once a device is authorized, the lender's library of Steam games becomes available for others on the machine to access, download, and play. Though simultaneous usage of an account’s library is not allowed, the lender may always access and play his games at any time. If he decides to start playing when a friend is borrowing one of his games, the friend will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.'"

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NSA Shares Intel On Americans With Israel
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hits-keep-coming department:
An anonymous reader writes "The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper is reporting that the NSA shares the raw intel collected on Americans with Israel. From the article: 'Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the U.S. government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis. ... The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing. The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies "pertaining to the protection of U.S. persons," repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights. But this is undermined by the disclosure that Israel is allowed to receive "raw Sigint" – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: "Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content."'

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The Windows Flaw That Cracks Amazon Web Services
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's you're-doing-it-wrong department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Developer and editor Jeff Cogswell decided to poke around the security of Amazon Web Services, and found a potential loophole that could theoretically allow anyone — a developer, an unscrupulous Amazon employee, the NSA — to access and copy data volumes stored on the system, using a slightly modified version of the popular 'chntwp' password tool. In this article, he breaks down how he did it, and suggests some ways for those who use cloud-hosting services to keep their data a little more secure in the future. 'The key here, of course, is that an unscrupulous employee might be able to make a copy of any existing Windows volume, and go to work on it without the customer ever knowing that it happened,' he writes. 'Now let's be clear: I'm not accusing anyone of having done this; in fact, I doubt anybody has, considering I was unable to find a working copy of chntpw until I modified it.' It's a security concern, and one that's particularly insidious to patch."

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Croak & Dagger: Following the Trail of a Herpetologist Spy
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 09:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's tales-of-science-and-intrigue department:
bmahersciwriter writes "When Rafe Brown started doing field research in the Philippines, he constantly found himself in the long shadow of Edward Taylor, an irascible giant of herpetology (the study of amphibians) from the mid-20th century, whose legacy was tarnished by accusations of fraud, questions about his naming methods, and rumours of a double life working for the U.S. government. Brown forged a bond with his predecessor and has begun to restore a collection of Taylor's specimens that were lost during the Second World War, and which could aid in allocating resources for conservation. He has meanwhile found out more about Taylor's extracurricular activities, which included work with the organization that would eventually become the CIA."

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Intel Bay Trail Brings New Architecture and Performance To Atom
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's small-cpus-are-so-cute department:
Vigile writes "Today at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, the company officially released the Atom Z3000 series of SoCs (Bay Trail) based on the Silvermont architecture. Unlike previous Atom designs, the Z3000 and Silvermont is a completely re-architected product from the ground up and is no longer based on legacy processors. Changes include a move to an out-of-order x86 architecture with drastically improved single threaded performance but the removal of Intel's HyperThreading technology. Dual-core modules with 1MB of shared cache can be paired up to create a quad-core SoC that also includes upgraded graphics design. Intel is no longer depending on PowerVR for a GPU and has integrated a 4 EU (execution unit) Intel HD Graphics design that is very similar to the one used in Ivy Bridge. As a result, as tested at PC Perspective in both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.2.2, the Bay Trail part is as much as 4x faster in single threaded tasks and 3.5x faster in gaming and graphics. Power consumption remains nearly the same as it did with Clover Trail (Atom Z2760) but with improved power gating and support for Connected Standby, Intel's new Atom looks and feels completely different than any before it."

MojoKid notes that Intel also announced an "open" SoC architecture (where open involves you giving Intel tons of money).

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Trove of NSA Documents and FISC Opinions Declassified Thanks to EFF Lawsuit
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 08:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's what-is-truth department:
An anonymous reader writes "Thanks to an EFF lawsuit, the office of the Director of National Intelligence is releasing declassified redacted versions of various documents relating to the NSA's domestic surveillance activities. The documents are being released on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks."

The EFF is hosting the documents, which are searchable. A few initial findings were posted yesterday evening; they include (thanks to another anonymous reader) the NSA illegally using phone data for three years, and evidence that Clapper knowingly mislead the public about metadata collection.

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Google Joins Open edX
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's by-your-sources-combined department:
lpress writes "Google and MIT have both built open source MOOC platforms and offered innovative MOOCs. They have just announced the establishment of mooc.org, a non-profit organization that will provide a platform to develop, host, and research online courses. The devil is, no doubt, in the details, but this combination of MIT's educational expertise and reputation, Google's vast infrastructure, and the lofty goals of both organizations might turn out to be revolutionary."

From Google's research weblog: "Google and edX have a shared mission to broaden access to education, and by working together, we can advance towards our goals much faster. In addition, Google, with its breadth of applicable infrastructure and research capabilities, will continue to make contributions to the online education space, the findings of which will be shared directly to the online education community and the Open edX platform." Course Builder will continue to be maintained for the time being, but eventually Google will "provide an upgrade path to Open edX and MOOC.org from Course Builder."

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Study Suggests Weather and Not Hunting Killed Off Wooly Mammoths
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's mother-nature-wants-you-to-die department:
Big Hairy Ian writes, quoting the BBC: "A DNA analysis shows that the number of creatures began to decrease much earlier than previously thought as the world's climate changed. It also shows that there was a distinct population of mammoth in Europe that died out around 30,000 years ago. ... Dr Dalen worked with researchers in London to analyse DNA samples from 300 specimens from woolly mammoths collected by themselves and other groups in earlier studies ... [The researchers] speculate that it was so cold that the grass on which they fed became scarce. The decline was spurred on as the Ice Age ended, possibly because the grassland on which the creatures thrived was replaced by forests in the south and tundra in the north."

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FreeBSD Removes GCC From Default Base System
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 06:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's autoconf-revival department:
An anonymous reader writes "With the LLVM/Clang migration, FreeBSD developers have now disabled building GCC and the GNU C++ standard library (libstdc++) as part of the FreeBSD base system. GCC and libstdc++ have been superseded by LLVM's Clang and libc++, respectively, on primary architectures for FreeBSD 10.0."

You can still flip a few switches to get GCC, but the system compiler will still be clang.

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Court Declares Google Must Face Wiretap Charges For Wi-Fi Snooping
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's sergey-brin-peering-through-your-window department:
New submitter Maser_24 writes with news about continued action against Google for snooping on unsecured Wi-Fi networks when collecting data for Street View. From the article: "A federal appeals court this week ruled that Google could be held liable for civil damages for the company's 2011 scandal involving the company's collection of Wi-Fi data from unsecured hotspots using their Street View vehicles. To come to that conclusion, the court followed a rather unique logic path; according to the court, unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots are not 'radio communications' that are 'readily accessible' to the general public and therefore Google violated the Wiretap Act."

This despite being cleared of wrongdoing by the FCC.

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Java 8 Developer Preview Released
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 06:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's now-contains-three-quarters-of-a-common-lisp department:
An anonymous reader writes "Oracle has released the first developer preview of Java 8 for the full range of platforms (Windows, Max OS X, Linux, Solaris). Java 8 is a major update to both language and platform with Lambda expressions, method references, default methods, a new Date and Time API, Compact Profiles, the Nashorn JavaScript Engine, and the removal of the Permanent Generation from the HotSpot virtual machine. 'This milestone is intended for broad testing by developers,' Java Platform Chief Architect Mark Reinhold wrote on his blog. 'We've run all tests on all Oracle-supported platforms and haven't found any glaring issues. We've also fixed many of the bugs discovered since we reached the Feature Complete milestone back in June.' Let the bug hunt commence!"

This is the second part of the JDK "Plan B" where JDK 7 was pushed out without cool new features like lambda expressions to prevent stalling language development for too long.

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Are the NIST Standard Elliptic Curves Back-doored?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's nsa-versus-nist department:
IamTheRealMike writes "In the wake of Bruce Schneier's statements that he no longer trusts the constants selected for elliptic curve cryptography, people have started trying to reproduce the process that led to those constants being selected ... and found it cannot be done. As background, the most basic standard elliptic curves used for digital signatures and other cryptography are called the SEC random curves (SEC is 'Standards for Efficient Cryptography'), a good example being secp256r1. The random numbers in these curve parameters were supposed to be selected via a "verifiably random" process (output of SHA1 on some seed), which is a reasonable way to obtain a nothing up my sleeve number if the input to the hash function is trustworthy, like a small counter or the digits of PI. Unfortunately it turns out the actual inputs used were opaque 256 bit numbers, chosen ad-hoc with no justifications provided. Worse, the curve parameters for SEC were generated by head of elliptic curve research at the NSA — opening the possibility that they were found via a brute force search for a publicly unknown class of weak curves. Although no attack against the selected values are currently known, it's common practice to never use unexplainable magic numbers in cryptography standards, especially when those numbers are being chosen by intelligence agencies. Now that the world received strong confirmation that the much more obscure and less widely used standard Dual_EC_DRBG was in fact an NSA undercover operation, NIST re-opened the confirmed-bad standards for public comment. Unless NIST/the NSA can explain why the random curve seed values are trustworthy, it might be time to re-evaluate all NIST based elliptic curve crypto in general."

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Space Food From Space Farms
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-have-a-space-burger-with-space-fries-please department:
Modern Farmer magazine has an article about NASA's efforts into growing food in space, a slow, difficult process that's nonetheless necessary if humanity is to have any significant presence away from Earth's surface. Quoting:
"This December, NASA plans to launch a set of Kevlar pillow-packs, filled with a material akin to kitty litter, functioning as planters for six romaine lettuce plants. The burgundy-hued lettuce (NASA favors the 'Outredgeous' strain) will be grown under bright-pink LED lights, ready to harvest after just 28 days. NASA has a long history of testing plant growth in space, but the goals have been largely academic. Experiments have included figuring out the effects of zero-gravity on plant growth, testing quick-grow sprouts on shuttle missions and assessing the viability of different kinds of artificial light. But [the Vegetable Production System] is NASA's first attempt to grow produce that could actually sustain space travelers. Naturally, the dream is to create a regenerative growth system, so food could be continually grown on the space station — or, potentially, on moon colonies or Mars. ... Plant size is a vital calculation in determining what to grow on the space station, where every square foot is carefully allotted. Harvest time is also of extreme importance; the program wants to maximize growth cycles within each crew’s (on average) six-month stay."

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The Tech Behind Man of Steel's Metropolis
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '13 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-childhood-has-been-replaced-with-a-very-small-shell-script department:
angry tapir writes "Much of the urban vistas of Man of Steel, Cars 2 and the horrible remake of Total Recall were not modelled by hand. Instead they relied on a product called CityEngine, which is more typically associated with local government bodies' urban planning and urban design. The software procedurally generates cities using scripts written in a Python-like language. The next version of CityEngine, coming out next month, will incorporate an SDK so third-party developers can use parameter-defined procedural generation of urban environments in their own applications. CityEngine's product manager talks about the upcoming version, how it's being used at the moment, and plans to incorporate augmented reality in it."

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PS Vita TV's Killer App: Remote Play
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 10:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-your-gadgets-have-subgadgets department:
jfruh writes "When Sony announced the PS Vita TV yesterday, most observers saw it as competition for the Apple TV and Roku, or maybe the Ouya. But gaming writer Peter Smith views it differently; he thinks that remote play, including the ability to stream games from the upcoming PlayStation 4 console, will be the Vita TV's killer-app. In that sense, it isn't so much a low-cost replacement for casual gamers as an add-on to the high-end PS4. '[W]hen you're in the middle of a game and someone wants to watch TV, you can just grab a Vita and keep on playing. (This is similar to the popular "tablet play" feature of Nintendo's Wii U, without the Wii U's limitation of having to stay in close proximity to the base console.) ... For any Playstation 4 household with more than one TV I think the PS Vita TV will become a 'must-have' accessory; it's almost like getting a second PS4 for $100.'"

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How To Turn Your Pile of Code Into an Open Source Project
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 08:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's learn-how-to-swear-at-people-on-mailing-lists department:
Esther Schindler writes "You've written some code, you think it would be useful to the world, and you'd like to give back to the open source world. But how do you do it? Andy Lester provides a checksheet for developers for how to release an open source project and get it noticed. For instance: Before you release the project to the wild, write some documentation, create a mailing list, create an issue tracker, and so on. 'Users require releases of your software. It’s a disservice to your users to point at the Git repo and say “Just pull from the master branch and install it.” Users don’t want to have to use version control just to get a release of the code. Create a proper tarball (.tar.gz) that is easily downloadable by anyone. Announce each release. Your announcements should not assume that the reader is familiar with your project.' You think he's missing anything?"

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Google's Encryption Plan To Stifle NSA's Dragnet Will Raise the Stakes
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 06:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-at-least-get-the-public-relations-departments-some-more-work department:
CWmike writes "Google's strategy for making surveillance of user Internet activity more difficult for U.S. and foreign governments — started last year, but accelerated in June following the NSA leaks — is as much about economics as data encryption, experts say. Eric Grosse, vice president for security engineering at Google, told The Washington Post: 'It's an arms race.' The crux of the issue with Google making the NSA dragnet harder (knowing if the government wants in, it will get in) is that the NSA evaluates the tactic it uses by weighing the cost with the value of the information obtained. However, the agency does evaluate the tactic it uses by weighing the cost with the value of the information obtained. 'The NSA has turned the fabric of the Internet into a vast surveillance platform, but they are not magical,' Bruce Schneier, a renowned security technologist and cryptographer, wrote in The Guardian. 'They're limited by the same economic realities as the rest of us, and our best defense is to make surveillance of us as expensive as possible.' The NSA's capabilities for cracking encryption are not known outside the agency. However, the most secure part of an encryption system remains the 'mathematics of cryptography,' Schneier said. The greater weaknesses, and the ones mostly likely to be exploited by governments in general, are the systems at the start and end of the data flow. 'I worry a lot more about poorly designed cryptographic products, software bugs, bad passwords, companies that collaborate with the NSA to leak all or part of the keys, and insecure computers and networks.' Is this about citizen's rights, or a business decision (some might say an existential issue) for Google? Does it matter, and will it make a difference?"

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Bomb Defuse Simulator 2013: a Head-Tracking Tech Demo
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's baby-steps-to-a-holodeck department:
New submitter Johnny G. Mills writes "During a gamejam (an event to quickly develop and build an interesting game), two members of Sassybot Studio used a projector, Microsoft Kinect, and two moving boxes to create a simulator for defusing a bomb. They used me as a test subject, and thought Slashdot would enjoy this convergence of tech and gaming. 'The wires generated in Bomb Defuse Simulator 2013 are created procedurally to provide the player with a random challenge each time the game is played. ... The controls in the game are split up into physical input and Xbox controller input. With physical input the player moves around the bomb to see what is happening. This is literally done by walking around the real environment ... In our case we projected onto cardboard boxes to prove the concept. In theory this concept can be applied to larger and more unconventional objects. Doing so will challenge the game designer with utilizing the real space in order to create a game in virtual space.'"

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