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Company To Balloon Tourists To the Edge of Space For $75,000
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-can't-they-balloon-them-all? department:
astroengine writes "If the thought of a rocket ride to space — or the $250,000 price tag to get there — leaves you feeling queasy, an Arizona firm thinks it has a gentler, less expensive alternative. World View, an offshoot of privately owned Paragon Space Development Corp., is developing a balloon-launched, near-space (30 kilometers) ride for $75,000 — less than one-third the current cost to fly on Virgin Galactic's suborbital SpaceShipTwo. "It really is very gentle. You can be up at altitude for hours, for days for research if you need to be... I think we have the opportunity to give a really, really incredible experience to people — and for a lot less than most of what's out on the market right now," project co-founder and Paragon president Jane Poynter told Discovery News."

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USB Implementers Forum Won't Play Nice With Open Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's keeping-the-universal-out-of-universal department:
DeathToBill writes "Hack A Day reports on the attempts of open hardware hackers to obtain a vendor and product ID for their devices to be able to sell them as USB compliant: 'A not for profit foundation [in this case Arachnid Labs] could buy a VID, give PIDs away to foundation members making open source hardware, and we would all live in a magical world of homebrew devices that are certified as USB compliant.' The USB Implementers Forum, which controls the sale of PIDs, has lawyered up, responding to the effort with a cease and desist notice, requiring Arachnid Labs to stop 'raising funds to purchase a unique USB VID' and 'delete all references to the USB-IF, VIDs and PIDs for transfer, resale or sublicense from your website and other marketing materials.' A slight over-reaction? Or dark conspiracy against open hardware? You decide!"

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'Pushback': Resisting the Life of Constant Connectivity
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-don't-care-what-you-had-for-breakfast department:
vinces99 writes "Researchers at the University of Washington have studied and named a trend lots of people can identify with: the desire to resist constant connectivity and step back from the online world. They call it 'pushback.' The researchers looked closely at instances of pushback against technology, reviewing 73 sources divided equally among three areas of online expression: personal blogs and websites, popular media sources and academic conferences and journals. Co-author Ricardo Gomez said they thought they'd find frustration with devices, costs or learning new technologies as key pushback motivations. Instead, the reasons were more emotionally based, with 'dissatisfaction' — the thought that users' needs are not really being met by technology — most often expressed, followed by political, religious or moral concerns. Other motivations were the wish to regain control of time and energy and fear of addiction to the technology. Among the least-often reported objections were worries about loss of privacy."

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PM Calls Facebook Irresponsible For Allowing Beheading Clips
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 03:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's please-don't-do-that department:
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt: "David Cameron has attacked Facebook as irresponsible for lifting a ban on videos of beheadings being posted on its site. The prime minister said the social network must explain its decision to allow images showing decapitations to worried parents. Facebook has said users should be free to view such videos and then condemn the content. Cameron wrote on Twitter: 'It's irresponsible of Facebook to post beheading videos, especially without a warning. They must explain their actions to worried parents.' Facebook introduced a temporary ban on such videos in May but has since decided to remove the block on the grounds that the site is used to share information about world events, such as acts of terrorism and human rights abuses."

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Simple Bug Exposed Verizon Users' SMS Histories
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nsa-never-needed-to-ask department:
Trailrunner7 writes "A security researcher discovered a simple vulnerability in Verizon Wireless's Web-based customer portal that enabled anyone who knows a subscriber's phone number to download that user's SMS message history, including the numbers of the people he communicated with. The vulnerability, which has been resolved now, resulted from a failure of the Verizon Web app to check that a number entered into the app actually belonged to the user who was entering it. After entering the number, a user could then download a spreadsheet file of the SMS activity on a target account. Cody Collier, the researcher who discovered the vulnerability, said he decided right away to report it to Verizon because he is a Verizon customer and didn't want others to have access to his account information. 'I am a Verizon Wireless customer myself, so upon finding this, I immediately looked for a way to contact Verizon. I wouldn't want my account information to exposed in such way,' Collier said via email."

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Dell Ad Says Windows 8.1 Apps Will Run On Xbox One
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's welcome-to-crazy-town department:
cold fjord writes "An article at DailyTech begins, 'While many people scoffed at or failed to recognized the significance of Microsoft Corp.'s talk of a "unified" development path for Windows, Xbox, and Windows Phone, the real world ramifications of that approach are now becoming clear — and they're significant. A pre-order page from Dell for the Xbox One "accidentally" (and, it appears, officially) revealed that Windows 8.1 apps will run on the Xbox.'"
A Microsoft spokesperson told AllThingsD, 'The suggestion that all Windows 8 apps run on Xbox One is not accurate," but they didn't deny that there would be some cross-compatibility. PCWorld's article has words of caution: "It would certainly be interesting if the full-blown Windows Store landed on Xbox One. But don't hold your breath for it to be there at the console's launch, no matter what Dell's words vaguely imply."

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Finnish Team Makes Diabetes Vaccine Breakthrough
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-two-nontwinkies-and-call-me-in-the-morning department:
jones_supa writes "A team working at Tampere University, Finland has discovered the virus that causes type 1 diabetes. The enterovirus penetrates the pancreas and destroys insulin-producing cells, eventually causing diabetes. Researchers have looked at more than a hundred different strains of the virus and pinpointed five that could cause diabetes. They believe they could produce a vaccine against those strains. One virus type has been identified to carry the biggest risk. A vaccine could also protect against its close relatives, to give the best possible effect. A similar enterovirus causes polio, which has been almost eradicated in many parts of the world thanks to vaccination programmes. A prototype diabetes vaccine has already been produced and tested on animals. Taking the vaccine through a clinical trial would cost some 700 million euros. Some funding is in place from the United States and from Europe, but more is required. Professor Heikki Hyöty says that money is the biggest obstacle in moving to testing in humans, but he sees that people are interested in their research and that the funding problems will ultimately be solved."

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Facebook Lets Beheading Clips Return To Its Site
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 06:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's heads-will-roll-for-this department:
another random user sends this quote from the BBC:
"Facebook is allowing videos showing people being decapitated to be posted and shared on its site once again. The social network had placed a temporary ban on the material in May following complaints that the clips could cause long-term psychological damage. The U.S. firm now believes its users should be free to watch and condemn, but not celebrate, such videos. One suicide prevention charity criticized the move. 'It only takes seconds of exposure to such graphic material to leave a permanent trace — particularly in a young person's mind,' said Dr. Arthur Cassidy, a former psychologist who runs a branch of the Yellow Ribbon Program in Northern Ireland. 'The more graphic and colorful the material is, the more psychologically destructive it becomes.' Decapitation videos are available elsewhere on the net — including on Google's YouTube — but critics have raised concern that Facebook's news feeds and other sharing functions mean it is particularly adept at spreading such material."

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Book Review: Minecraft
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 05:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-the-game,-the-book-about-the-game department:
Nick Kolakowski writes
"Markus 'Notch' Persson is the famous indie-game developer behind Minecraft, which is also the name of the new book about his life and work by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson. (The effect is slightly odd, like naming the Steve Jobs biography iPhone.) Minecraft traces Persson’s development from an isolated young man building simple PC games in his bedroom, to a frustrated game developer who feels the software conglomerates are stifling his creativity, to a multimillionaire who's had some trouble coming to grips with his gamer-land fame. The Persson described in the book is an introvert's introvert, far more interested in coding than partying, although he does display flashes of entrepreneurial aggression that would make Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos proud: at one point, he confesses that he wants to build a gaming behemoth on the scale of Valve."
Read below for the rest of Nick's review. Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus ‘Notch’ Persson and the Game that Changed Everything
author Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson (translated by Jennifer Hawkins)
pages 256
publisher Seven Stories Press
rating 7/10
reviewer Nick Kolakowski
ISBN 1609805372 (ISBN-10); 978-1609805371 (ISBN-13)
summary Markus 'Notch' Persson's development from isolated coder to famous game developer.

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Ask Slashdot: Legal Advice Or Loopholes Needed For Manned Space Program
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's load-all-the-lawyers-onto-the-first-rocket department:
Kristian vonBengtson writes "A DIY, manned space program like Copenhagen Suborbitals is kept alive by keeping total independence, cutting the red tape and simply just doing it all in a garage. We basically try to stay below the radar at all time and are reluctant in engagements leading to signing papers or do things (too much) by the books. But now there might be trouble ahead. (Saul Goodman! We need you...) During the last 5 years we have encountered many weird legal cases which does not make much sense and no one can explain their origin. If we were to fix up a batch of regular black gunpowder (which we use for igniters) we are entitled for serving time in jail. Even a few grams. But no one give a hoot about building a rocket fueled with 12 tonnes of liquid oxygen and alcohol. Thats is perfectly legal. If Copenhagen Suborbitals fly a rocket into space for the first time there are likely legal action that must be dealt with. At my time at the International Space University we had lectures and exams in space law and I remember the Outer Space Treaty which is the most ratified space treaty with over 100 countries including Denmark and U.S. And here is the matter – in which I seek some kind of advice or what you may call it: Outer Space Treaty, Article 6 states: 'the activities of non-governmental entities in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall require authorization and continuing supervision by the appropriate State Party to the Treaty.' Does this mean that Denmark (or any other country for that matter – if it was your project) suddenly have to approve what we are doing and will be kept responsible for our mission, if we launch into space?"

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CryptoSeal Shuts Down Consumer VPN Service To Avoid Fighting NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department:
sl4shd0rk writes "CryptoSeal Privacy, a VPN provider, has closed down its consumer VPN service. The company says it has zeroed its crypto keys, adding, 'Essentially, the service was created and operated under a certain understanding of current U.S. law, and that understanding may not currently be valid. As we are a US company and comply fully with U.S. law, but wish to protect the privacy of our users, it is impossible for us to continue offering the CryptoSeal Privacy consumer VPN product.' The announcement ends with a warning: 'For anyone operating a VPN, mail, or other communications provider in the U.S., we believe it would be prudent to evaluate whether a pen register order could be used to compel you to divulge SSL keys protecting message contents, and if so, to take appropriate action.' Sounds like another victim of FISA-endorsed NSA activity."

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Scientists Induce New Hair Growth In Balding Men
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stan-sitwell-is-thrilled department:
sciencehabit writes "Scientists have successfully grown new hair follicles from the skin cells of balding men. While the research team (abstract) hasn't yet shown whether the structures, which produce strands of hair on our bodies, are fully functional and usable for transplants onto a scalp, experts say the discovery is a significant step toward finding new treatments for hair loss. Previous attempts used standard two-dimensional cell culturing techniques, but the new works grows the follicles in suspended droplets, better replicating the 3-D environment of the body. Using one's own cells to generate new follicles is useful because hair color and thickness will match perfectly with the rest of someone's head of hairs. And with the new technique, clinicians would be able to take just a few dermal papilla cells from a balding patient and expand the number of hair follicles available for transplant, rather than only be able to move follicles around."

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A Live Map of Ongoing DDoS Attacks
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-the-traffic-you-can-eat department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Check out the Digital Attack Map. It was produced in a collaborative effort by Google Ideas and Arbor Networks to raise awareness about distributed denial of service attacks. You know, those malicious digital attempts to choke, or shutdown websites by sending them volumes of traffic far too large for them to handle. The map 'surfaces anonymous attack traffic data to let users explore historic trends and find reports of outages happening on a given day,' as its about page explains. Created using attack data from Arbor's 'ATLAS® global threat intelligence system,' this is the D.A.R.E. of DDoS — it's about the danger of having information streams cut off. Under the heading 'DDoS Attacks Matter,' Google and Arbor explain that 'sites covering elections are brought down to influence their outcome, media sites are attacked to censor stories, and businesses are taken offline by competitors looking for a leg up.'"
This comes alongside Google's announcement of Project Shield, the company's homegrown DDoS mitigation service.

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Physicist Unveils a 'Turing Test' For Free Will
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's whoa-man-that's-deep department:
KentuckyFC writes "The problem of free will is one of the great unsolved puzzles in science, not to mention philosophy, theology, jurisprudence and so on. The basic question is whether we are able to make decisions for ourselves or whether the outcomes are predetermined and the notion of choice is merely an illusion. Now a leading theoretical physicist has outlined a 'Turing Test' for free will and says that while simple devices such as thermostats cannot pass, more complex ones like iPhones might. The test is based on an extension of Turing's halting problem in computer science. This states that there is no general way of knowing how an algorithm will finish, other than to run it. This means that when a human has to make a decision, there is no way of knowing in advance how it will end up. In other words, the familiar feeling of not knowing the final decision until it is thought through is a necessary feature of the decision-making process and why we have the impression of free will. This leads to a simple set of questions that forms a kind of Turing test for free will. These show how simple decision-making devices such as thermostats cannot believe they have free will while humans can. A more interesting question relates to decision-makers of intermediate complexity, such as a smartphone. As the author puts it, this 'seems to possess all the criteria required for free will, and behaves as if it has it.'"

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Why Does Windows Have Terrible Battery Life?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's optimized-for-profit department:
An anonymous reader writes "Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror is trying to figure out why the battery life for devices running Windows is so much worse than similar (or identical) devices running other operating systems. For example, the Surface Pro 2 made great strides over the original Surface Pro, increasing web-browsing battery life by 42%, but it still lags far behind Android and iOS tablets. The deficit doesn't get any better when Windows is run on Apple hardware. Atwood says, 'Microsoft positions Windows 8 as an operating system that's great for tablets, which are designed for casual web browsing and light app use – but how can that possibly be true when Windows idle power management is so much worse than the competition's desktop operating system in OS X – much less their tablet and phone operating system, iOS?' Anand Lal Shimpi is perplexed, too. Atwood is now reaching out to the community for answers: 'None of the PC vendors he spoke to could justify it, or produce a Windows box that managed similar battery life to OS X. And that battery life gap is worse today – even when using Microsoft's own hardware, designed in Microsoft's labs, running Microsoft's latest operating system released this week. Microsoft can no longer hand wave this vast difference away based on vague references to "poorly optimized third party drivers." ... I just wish somebody could explain to me and Anand why Windows is so awful at managing idle power.'"

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New York City To Get Manhole Covers That Wirelessly Charge Electric Vehicles
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sending-power-through-the-ether department:
Lucas123 writes "A new project between NYU and start-up HEVO Power will disguise wireless charging stations in manhole covers. The wireless charging stations are aimed at providing fleets of delivery vehicles with power in parking spaces around the city. Next year, Toyota plans to test a wireless charging Prius in Japan, Europe. And, U.S. Auto electronics giant Delphi is developing technology for electric vehicles that could be used industrywide. The charging stations could be embedded in asphalt or pads that lay on garage floors. Wireless charging, however, still has many obstacles to overcome, including the time it takes to recharge a vehicle, cost to deploy the technology and power loss during electrical transfer."

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Biological Clock Discovered That Measures Ages of Most Human Tissues
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-have-the-genes-of-a-97-year-old-man department:
starr802 writes "A biological clock capable of determining how old different human tissues and cells are has been discovered by a team of researchers from the University of California Los Angeles (abstract). 'To fight aging, we first need an objective way of measuring it. Pinpointing a set of biomarkers that keeps time throughout the body has been a four-year challenge,' Steve Horvath, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health said in a statement. 'My goal in inventing this clock is to help scientists improve their understanding of what speeds up and slows down the human aging process.'"

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Most IT Workers Don't Have STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math) Degrees
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's contrast-this-support-ticket-with-john-donne's-early-elegies department:
McGruber writes "The Wall Street Journal's Michael Totty shares some stereotype-shattering statistics about IT workers: Most of them don't have college degrees in computer science, technology, engineering or math. About a third come to IT with degrees in business, social sciences or other nontechnical fields, while more than 40% of computer support specialists and a third of computer systems administrators don't have a college degree at all! The analysis is based upon two job categories as defined by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics: network and computer systems administrator, and computer support specialist."

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Connecting To Unsecured Bluetooth Car Systems To Monitor Traffic Flow
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 09:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's drive-slowly-for-maximum-confusion department:
New submitter TheTerseOne writes "The Columbian, the local newspaper of Vancouver (not BC), Washington (not DC) is reporting that local county traffic officials plan on spending $540k of government money to monitor traffic by connecting to vehicles' Bluetooth systems (whose owners/drivers have left them discoverable). The county claims that, although this sounds 'creepy' and 'like Big Brother,' there is no cause for concern. The specific brand of the system is not mentioned, but similar systems have already been the subject of security alerts."

County officials note that they are stripping out part of the MAC, and the system is intentionally designed not to be useful for law enforcement to locate specific devices.

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Experian Sold Social Security Numbers To ID Theft Service
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '13 at 09:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's you-can-totally-trust-us department:
realized writes "Experian — one of the three national U.S. credit bureaus — reportedly sold SSNs through its subsidiary, Court Ventures, to the operators of SuperGet.info who then offered all of the information online for a price. The website would advertise having '99% to 100% of all USA' in their database on websites frequented by carders. Hieu Minh Ngo, the website owner, was recently been indicted for 15-counts filed under seal in November 2012, charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, substantive wire fraud, conspiracy to commit identity fraud, substantive identity fraud, aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and substantive access device fraud."

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