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EU Proposes To Fit Cars With Speed Limiters
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 12:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's slow-down department:
schwit1 points out a new EU road safety measure to fit cars with devices that would stop them going over 70mph. "Under the proposals new cars would be fitted with cameras that could read road speed limit signs and automatically apply the brakes when this is exceeded. Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, is said to be opposed to the plans, which could also mean existing cars are sent to garages to be fitted with the speed limiters, preventing them from going over 70mph. The new measures have been announced by the European Commission's Mobility and Transport Department as a measure to reduce the 30,000 people who die on the roads in Europe every year. A Government source told the Mail on Sunday Mr McLoughlin had instructed officials to block the move because they 'violated' motorists' freedom. They said: 'This has Big Brother written all over it and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people's backs up about Brussels.'"

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Online Law Banning Discussion of Current Affairs Comes Into Force In Vietnam
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's watch-what-you-say department:
another random user writes in with news about new internet restrictions come into effect in Vietnam. "A controversial law banning Vietnamese online users from discussing current affairs has come into effect. The decree, known as Decree 72, says blogs and social websites should not be used to share news articles, but only personal information. The law also requires foreign internet companies to keep their local servers inside Vietnam. The new law specifies that social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook should only be used 'to provide and exchange personal information.' It also prohibits the online publication of material that "opposes" the Vietnamese government or 'harms national security.' Last month the US embassy in Hanoi said it was 'deeply concerned by the decree's provisions,' arguing that 'fundamental freedoms apply online just as they do offline.'"

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US Uncorks $16M For 17 Projects To Capture Wave Energy
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's time-and-tide department:
coondoggie writes "The US Energy Department this week said it would spend $16 million for seventeen projects to help research and develop energy generating systems from waves, tides and currents. The energy agency says the US could generate up to 1,400 terawatt hours of potential power per year. One terawatt-hour of electricity is enough to power 85,000 homes, according to the agency."

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The Yosemite Inferno In the Context of Forest Policy, Ecology and Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 09:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's since-the-world's-been-turning department:
Lasrick writes "Andrew Revkin at DotEarthblog posts an assessment of the drivers of wildfire trends in the American West. He shows a graph of fire activity for the past 400 years in the Yosemite-Mariposa area, and a rather surreal time-lapse video of the current Rim Fire now burning in and around Yosemite."

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Taking the Battle Against Patent Trolls To the Public
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 08:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what-do-you-think-grandma? department:
First time accepted submitter presspass writes "A group of technology and retail groups is beginning a national ad campaign targeting so-called patent trolls. The Internet Association, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation and Food Marketing Institute Patent trolls — a term known more among geeks than the general public — are about to be the target of a national ad campaign. Beginning Friday, a group of retail trade organizations is launching a radio and print campaign in 17 states. They want to raise awareness of a problem they say is draining resources from business and raising prices for consumers."

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Apple Now Relaying All FaceTime Calls Due To Lost Patent Dispute
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's call-differently department:
Em Adespoton writes "Before the VirnetX case, nearly all FaceTime calls were done through a system of direct communication. Essentially, Apple would verify that both parties had valid FaceTime accounts and then allow their two devices to speak directly to each other over the Internet, without any intermediary or 'relay' servers. However, a small number of calls—5 to 10 percent, according to an Apple engineer who testified at trial—were routed through 'relay servers.' At the August 15 hearing, a VirnetX lawyer stated that Apple had logged 'over half a million calls' complaining about the quality of FaceTime [since disabling direct connections]."

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More Bad News From Fukushima
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 05:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's from-bad-to-worse department:
PuceBaboon writes "Both Reuters and the BBC are carrying the story of an increase in radiation levels reported by Tepco for contaminated water leaking from storage tanks on site. When this leak was discovered almost two weeks ago, Tepco reported that the radiation level was 100-millisieverts. It now transpires that 100-millisieverts was the highest reading that the measuring equipment in use was capable of displaying. The latest readings (with upgraded equipment) are registering 1800-millisieverts which, according to both news sources, could prove fatal to anyone exposed to it for four hours. Coincidentally (and somewhat ironically), today is earthquake disaster prevention day in Japan, with safety drills taking place nationwide."

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The STEM Crisis Is a Myth
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 04:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's are-there-giants?-i-like-myths-with-giants department:
theodp writes "Forget the dire predictions of a looming shortfall of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians, advises IEEE Spectrum contributing editor Robert Charette — the STEM crisis is a myth. In investigating the simultaneous claims of both a shortage and a surplus of STEM workers, Charette was surprised by 'the apparent mismatch between earning a STEM degree and having a STEM job. Of the 7.6 million STEM workers counted by the Commerce Department, only 3.3 million possess STEM degrees. Viewed another way, about 15 million U.S. residents hold at least a bachelor's degree in a STEM discipline, but three-fourths of them — 11.4 million — work outside of STEM.' So, why would universities, government, and tech companies like Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft cry STEM-worker-shortage-wolf? 'Clearly, powerful forces must be at work to perpetuate the cycle,' Charette writes. 'One is obvious: the bottom line. Companies would rather not pay STEM professionals high salaries with lavish benefits, offer them training on the job, or guarantee them decades of stable employment. So having an oversupply of workers, whether domestically educated or imported, is to their benefit...Governments also push the STEM myth because an abundance of scientists and engineers is widely viewed as an important engine for innovation and also for national defense. And the perception of a STEM crisis benefits higher education, says Ron Hira, because as 'taxpayers subsidize more STEM education, that works in the interest of the universities' by allowing them to expand their enrollments. An oversupply of STEM workers may also have a beneficial effect on the economy, says Georgetown's Nicole Smith, one of the coauthors of the 2011 STEM study. If STEM graduates can't find traditional STEM jobs, she says, 'they will end up in other sectors of the economy and be productive.'"

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How Patent Trolls Stalled a New Transit App
Posted by News Fetcher on September 01 '13 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's give-us-money-for-the-idea-we-neither-came-up-with-not-use department:
SFGate has the story of Aaron Bannert, creator of a San Francisco transit app called Smart Ride. The app was developed to provide arrival times for the city's bus system. Smart Ride was supported by ads, and Bannert had not yet turned a profit on it when he received a legal threat from a company claiming patent infringement. "It was from a company with ties to Martin Kelly Jones, who holds a series of patents claiming ownership of technologies for tracking vehicles and providing users with electronic updates. A handful of affiliated companies, including ArrivalStar and Melvino Technologies, have threatened or sued hundreds of organizations in recent years, from small entrepreneurs like Bannert to large corporations like American Airlines. ... ArrivalStar filed more than half the patent lawsuits in South Florida federal courts last year, according to the South Florida Business Journal. ... ArrivalStar will demand as much as $200,000 for a license, according to reports in other publications." The cost to the patent troll for filing a lawsuit is around $500, but Bannert was forced to spend over $10,000 on a legal defense and delay the launch of a new version for months. He's unable to provide details on the outcome of the case. "As high as the legal expenses were for Bannert, he thinks the bigger toll from patent trolling is the indirect cost to society, the products and innovation that don't make it off the drawing board."

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Lockbox Aims To NSA-Proof the Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-can-you-NSA-proof-yourself department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Lockbox, a tech startup founded in 2008, just received $2.5 million in seed funding for its end-to-end encryption cloud service, Client Portal. So, how does end-to-end cloud encryption work? Lockbox encrypts and compresses files before they are uploaded to the cloud. Only a person in possession of the corresponding key can unlock, or decrypt, the files. This means that the NSA, malicious hackers, business competitors, and even crazy girlfriends and boyfriends won't be be able to peer into users' most sensitive and private files."

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US Mounted 231 Offensive Cyber-operations In 2011, Runs Worldwide Botnet
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's distributed-denial-of-espionage-attack department:
An anonymous reader sends this news from the Washington Post:
"U.S. intelligence services carried out 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, the leading edge of a clandestine campaign that embraces the Internet as a theater of spying, sabotage and war, according to top-secret documents [from Edward Snowden]. Additionally, under an extensive effort code-named GENIE, U.S. computer specialists break into foreign networks so that they can be put under surreptitious U.S. control. Budget documents say the $652 million project has placed 'covert implants,' sophisticated malware transmitted from far away, in computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands of machines every year, with plans to expand those numbers into the millions. ... The implants that [an NSA group called Tailored Access Operations (TAO)] creates are intended to persist through software and equipment upgrades, to copy stored data, 'harvest' communications and tunnel into other connected networks. This year TAO is working on implants that “can identify select voice conversations of interest within a target network and exfiltrate select cuts,” or excerpts, according to one budget document. In some cases, a single compromised device opens the door to hundreds or thousands of others."

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Changing a Single Gene Allows Mice To Live 20 Percent Longer
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mice-suddenly-take-interest-in-shuffleboard department:
An anonymous reader writes "A research team at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has been experimenting with changing mouse genes and seeing how it impacts their life. In a surprising discovery, when targeting just one gene change it was found they could extend the life of a mouse by 20 percent. The gene the researchers focused on is called mTOR and is associated with metabolism. By lowering its expression (to about 25 percent of what is normal) in a batch of mice they did indeed live longer (abstract). They also displayed better memory, balance, muscle strength, and posture as they aged. However, the health of their bones deteriorated more quickly and their immune system was weakened, suggesting that extra time alive wouldn’t really be worth it in terms of overall health. Lead researcher Toren Finkel said, 'While the high extension in lifespan is noteworthy, this study reinforces an important facet of aging; it is not uniform. Rather, similar to circadian rhythms, an animal might have several organ-specific aging clocks that generally work together to govern the aging of the whole organism.'"

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AMD Next-Gen Kaveri APU Shipments Slip To 2014
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's better-late-than-slow-and-power-hungry department:
MojoKid writes "The story around AMD's upcoming Kaveri continues to evolve, but it's increasingly clear that AMD's 3rd generation APU won't be available for retail purchase this year. If you recall, AMD initially promised that Kaveri would be available during 2013 and even published roadmaps earlier in May that show the chip shipping in the beginning of the fourth quarter. What the company is saying now is that while Kaveri will ship to manufacturers in late 2013, it won't actually hit shelves until 2014. The reason Kaveri was late taping out, according to sources, was that AMD kept the chip back to put some additional polish on its performance. Unlike Piledriver, which we knew would be a minor tweak to the core Bulldozer architecture, Steamroller, Kaveri's core architecture, is the first serious overhaul to that hardware. That means it's AMD's first chance to really fix things. Piledriver delivered improved clock speeds and power consumption, but CPU efficiency barely budged compared to 'Dozer. Steamroller needs to deliver on that front."

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U.S. Gov't Still Fighting the Man Behind Buckyballs; Guess Who's Winning?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's interfering-with-natural-selection department:
usacoder writes with news of Craig Zucker, former CEO of the company behind Buckyballs, the popular neodymium magnet toys that were banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in July 2012. Zucker ran a brief campaign to drum up opposition to the government's ban, but it didn't turn out to be enough. Unfortunately for Zucker, the story didn't end there. Despite the magnets being labeled as not for kids, the Commission filed a motion to find him personally liable for the costs of a product recall, estimated at around $57 million.
"Given the fact that Buckyballs have now long been off the market, the attempt to go after Mr. Zucker personally raises the question of retaliation for his public campaign against the commission. Mr. Zucker won't speculate about the commission's motives. 'It's very selective and very aggressive,' he says. ... Mr. Zucker says his treatment at the hands of the commission should alarm fellow entrepreneurs: 'This is the beginning. It starts with this case. If you play out what happens to me, then the next thing you'll have is personal-injury lawyers saying "you conducted the actions of the company, you were the company."'"

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Mechwarrior Online Developer Redefines Community Warfare
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's expectations-are-the-mind-killers department:
New submitter MeatoBurrito writes "The latest iteration of Mechwarrior was crowdfunded (without Kickstarter) as a free-to-play first-person mech simulator. However, despite promises to the founders, the game has been shifted to a third-person arcade shooter and now the community is rioting. This followed a series of other unpopular decisions; the developers decided to sell an item for real money that had a significant impact on gameplay, crossing the line separating cosmetic/convenience items and 'pay-to-win.' Then they added a confusing game mechanic to limit its use, which had the unfortunate side effect of making some strategies completely useless. From the article: 'PGI’s community practices showcase a fundamental misunderstanding of both freemium development and community management. The developer has never had to deal with such a large player base before, and it has never had to deal with the strains of continuous development before. Rather, PGI seems to be handling Mechwarrior Online in much the same way they might a AAA game: by keeping quiet and only discussing its work in vague terms. ... Mechwarrior Online’s road to launch is a cautionary consumer tale, fraught with anger and betrayal. It shows how a company can take a fan base dedicated to an old IP and completely alienate it through lack of communication, unpopular features, and oathbreaking. It shows how players need to be cautious of supporting a project based solely on the IP backing it.'"

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Particle Physicists Facing Insane Competition For Work
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's poor-rewards-for-slave-labor department:
Jim_Austin writes "Teams of hundreds of young scientists — including many grad students and postdocs — staffed the Large Hadron Collider and helped make one of the most important scientific discoveries in recent decades. Now they must compete for just a handful of jobs. Quoting: 'The numbers make the problem clear. In 2007, the year before CERN first powered up the LHC, the lab produced 142 master's and Ph.D. theses, according to the lab's document server. Last year it produced 327. (Fermilab chipped in 54.) The two largest particle detectors fed by the LHC, the A Toroidal LHC Apparatus (ATLAS) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS)—which both independently spotted the Higgs—boast teams of 3000 and 2700 physicists. By themselves, the CMS and ATLAS teams minted at least 174 Ph.D.s last year. That abundance seems unlikely to vanish anytime soon, as last year ATLAS had 1000 grad students and CMS had 900. In contrast, the INSPIRE Web site, a database for particle physics, currently lists 124 postdocs worldwide in experimental high-energy physics, the sort of work LHC grads have trained for. The situation is equally difficult for postdocs trying to make the jump to a junior faculty position or a permanent job at a national lab. The Snowmass Young Physicists survey received responses from 956 early-career researchers, including 343 postdocs. But INSPIRE currently lists just 152 "junior" positions, including 61 in North America.'"

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Code For America: 'The Peace Corps For Geeks'
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's with-moderately-less-malaria department:
rjmarvin writes "Cities are taking coding to the streets through projects like Code for America and CityNext, working with governments on multiple levels to better serve constituents with mobile and cloud technologies. The 'Peace Corps for geeks' is using technology to make everyday life in cities run more smoothly, providing a way to 'connect technologists and designers with their government to solve important problems and reimagine how government could work.'"

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First Asteroid Discovered At Uranus's Leading Trojan Point
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's set-course-for-the-tilted-planet department:
LeadSongDog writes "Space.com is reporting on a 60km comet-like body in Lagrangian orbit around the Sun, locked to Uranus's leading Trojan Point. This means a distant, but fairly accessible supply of water-ice, hence: reaction mass, hydrogen and oxygen for robotic miners if we can just get them there with an energy source. 'The sun and Earth have two Trojan points, one leading ahead of Earth, known as the L-4 point of the system, and one trailing behind, its L-5 point. The sun and other planets have Lagrangian points also, with asteroids seen at those the sun shares with Jupiter, Neptune and Mars. Scientists thought the Trojan points of Uranus, the seventh planet from the sun, were too unstable to host asteroids."

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The Cognitive Cost of Poverty
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-work-for-bandwidth department:
An anonymous reader writes "It's a common trope that most poor people are poor because they're lazy or just inherently bad with money. But a new study (abstract) makes a fascinating find: being poor actually reduces your cognitive capabilities when thinking about money. 'In a series of experiments run by researchers at Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Warwick, low-income people who were primed to think about financial problems performed poorly on a series of cognition tests, saddled with a mental load that was the equivalent of losing an entire night's sleep. Put another way, the condition of poverty imposed a mental burden akin to losing 13 IQ points, or comparable to the cognitive difference that's been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults.' This makes the difficulty in climbing out of poverty much easier to understand. The researchers also demonstrated causality by showing that thinking about a very small expense led to no impairment, while thinking about a very large expense did. They confirmed this by looking at a group of farmers in India who tend to receive most of their income at one time — immediately following their harvest. Shortly before that payment, when the farmers had very little money, their scores dropped as well."

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Feds Seek Prison For Man Who Taught How To Beat a Polygraph
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '13 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's results-unreliable-except-when-we-rely-on-them department:
George Maschke writes "In a case with serious First Amendment implications, McClatchy reports that federal prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence for Chad Dixon of Indiana, who committed the crime of teaching people how to pass or beat a lie detector test. Some of his students passed polygraphs and went on to be hired by federal agencies. A pleading filed by prosecutors all but admits that polygraph tests can be beaten. The feds have also raided and seized business records from Doug Williams, who has taught many more people how to pass or beat a polygraph over the past 30 years. Williams has not been criminally charged. I'm a co-founder of AntiPolygraph.org (we suggest using Tor to access the site) a non-profit, public interest website dedicated to exposing and ending waste, fraud, and abuse associated with the use of lie detectors. We offer a free e-book, The Lie Behind the Lie Detector (1 mb PDF) that explains how to pass a polygraph (whether or not one is telling the truth). We make this information available not to help liars beat the system, but to provide truthful people with a means of protecting themselves against the high risk of a false positive outcome. As McClatchy reported last week, I received suspicious e-mails earlier this year that seemed like an attempted entrapment. Rather than trying to criminalize teaching people how to pass a polygraph, isn't it time our government re-evaluated its reliance on the pseudoscience of polygraphy?"

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