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Are Cable Subscribers Subsidizing Internet-Only TV Viewers?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's enjoy-it-while-it-lasts department:
waderoush sends a tongue-in-cheek open letter to cable TV subscribers from somebody who has cut the cord in favor of streaming shows over the internet.
"Dear Cable TV Subscriber: I don't think I've ever told you how grateful I am. I haven't paid a cent for cable television since 2009. Yet I have on-demand access via the Internet to a growing cornucopia of great shows like Game of Thrones, Homeland, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad, at reasonable à la carte prices. And it's all because you continue to pay exorbitant and ever-increasing monthly fees for your premium cable bundle (around $80 per month, on average). After all, your money goes straight to the studios and networks that produce and distribute all the expensive first-run programming that I'm perfectly happy to watch later at heavily discounted prices. So in effect, you're subsidizing my own footloose, freeloading, cord-cutting TV habits. I don't know how to thank you!"

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New EU Rules To Curb Transfer of European Data To the U.S.
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's international-snowden-fallout department:
dryriver points out a report at The Guardian about new regulations in the European Union that are intended to protect data from foreign government agencies like the NSA. Quoting:
"New European rules aimed at curbing questionable transfers of data from E.U. countries to the U.S. are being finalized in Brussels in the first concrete reaction to the Edward Snowden disclosures on U.S. and British mass surveillance of digital communications. Regulations on European data protection standards are expected to pass the European parliament committee stage on Monday after the various political groupings agreed on a new compromise draft following two years of gridlock on the issue. The draft would make it harder for the big U.S. internet servers and social media providers to transfer European data to third countries, subject them to E.U. law rather than secret American court orders, and authorize swingeing fines possibly running into the billions for the first time for not complying with the new rules. ... The current rules are easily sidestepped by the big Silicon Valley companies, Brussels argues. The new rules, if agreed, would ban the transfer of data unless based on E.U. law or under a new transatlantic pact with the Americans complying with E.U. law. ... The proposed ban has been revived directly as a result of the uproar over operations by the U.S.'s National Security Agency."

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Aeromobil Flying Car Prototype Gets Off the Ground For the First Time
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's somebody-forward-this-to-elon-musk department:
Zothecula writes "There is a saying in flying: 'If it looks good, it will fly well.' Stefan Klein, a designer from the Slovak Republic, has announced the first flight of his Aeromobil Version 2.5, a flying car prototype he has been developing over the last 20 years. This vehicle is a strikingly beautiful design with folding wings and a propeller in the tail. But will its flight capabilities match its looks?"

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Communications Protocol Leaves Power Grid Vulnerable
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's electricity-is-a-luxury department:
mspohr writes "The NY Times has an interesting story about a pair of researchers who 'discovered that they could freeze, or crash, the software that monitors a [power] substation, thereby blinding control center operators from the power grid.' These two engineers wrote software to test for vulnerabilities in the control systems of electrical power grids which use a protocol called DNP3 to communicate with sub-stations. They first tested an open source implementation of the protocol and didn't find any problems. They were worried that their software test wasn't adequate so they started testing proprietary systems. The broke every single one of the 16 proprietary systems they tested initially and found nine more systems vulnerable in later testing. They were able to install malware and also found firewalls ineffective. The pair reported this to the Department of Homeland Security's Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team, I.C.S.-C.E.R.T. and didn't get much of a response. It's scary that our electrical grid is so vulnerable and there doesn't seem to be much urgency to get it fixed. A few patches have been issued, but who knows if the systems have been updated?"

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NVIDIA's G-Sync Is VSync Designed For LCDs (not CRTs)
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's g-is-the-new-v department:
Phopojijo writes "A monitor redraws itself top to bottom because of how the electron guns in CRT monitors used to operate. VSync was created to align the completed frames, computed by a videocard, to the start of each monitor draw; without it, midway through a monitor's draw process, a break (horizontal tear) would be visible on screen between the two time-slices of animation. Pixels on LCD monitors do not need to wait for above lines of pixels to be drawn, but they do. G-Sync is a technology from NVIDIA to make monitor refresh rates variable. The monitor will time its draws to whenever the GPU is finished rendering. A scene which requires 40ms to draw will have a smooth 'framerate' of 25FPS instead of trying to fit in some fraction of 60 FPS."
NVIDIA also announced support for three 4k displays at the same time. That resolution would be 11520×2160.

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When Opting Out of Ad Tracking Doesn't Opt You Out
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's out-damned-spot department:
jfruh writes "Privacy blogger Dan Tynan couldn't help but notice the ads targeting his web browsing for a plus-sized women's clothing store, not least because he's neither a woman nor plus-sized. But trying to figure out why those ads kept popping up in his browser led to some disturbing discoveries. He had opted out of targeted Google ads, and at first glance the ads seemed to come from Google — but digging deeper, he found that Google's DoubleClick was only the intermediary, which meant his opt-out didn't apply. And his opt-outs from other ad services seemed to have vanished."

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USS Zumwalt — a Guided Missile Destroyer Running On Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's heavily-armed-tux department:
New submitter SanDogWeps writes "Sean Gallagher over at Ars Technica reports that when the U.S.S. Zumwalt (DDG 1000) puts to sea later this year, it will be different from any other ship in the Navy's fleet in many ways. The $3.5 billion ship is designed for stealth, survivability, and firepower, and it's packed with advanced technology. And at the heart of its operations is a virtual data center powered by off-the-shelf server hardware, various flavors of Linux, and over 6 million lines of software code. From the article: 'Called the Common Display System, or CDS (pronounced as "keds" by those who work with it), the three-screen workstations in the operations center are powered by a collection of quad-processor Intel motherboards in an armored case, which gives new meaning to the nautical phrase "toe buster." Even the commanding officer's and executive officer's chairs on the bridge have CDS workstations built-in. Each CDS system runs multiple LynxOS-based Linux virtual machines, which can run on various networks partitioned by security level and purpose. '"

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Black Death Predated 'Small World' Effect, Say Network Theorists
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's good-thing-kevin-bacon-wasn't-around-back-then department:
KentuckyFC writes "Epidemiologists know that modern diseases can spread almost simultaneously in different parts of the planet because an individual who becomes infected in Hong Kong, for example, can infect friends in New York the following day. This is known as the small world effect. It is the same property that allows any individual to link to another individual anywhere in the world in just a few steps. But in the 14th century, the Black Death spread in a very different way, moving slowly across Europe at a rate of about 2 kilometers a day. Now network theorists have simulated this spread and say it is only possible if the number of long distances travelers in those days was vanishingly small. In other words, people in medieval society were linked almost exclusively to others nearby and so did not form a small world network. That raises an interesting question. If society in 14th century Europe was not a small world but today's society is, when did the change occur? The researchers say the finger of blame points to the invention of railways and steamships which allowed large numbers of people, and the diseases they carried, to travel long distances for the first time."

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Elon Musk Making a Working Version of James Bond's Submersible Car
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-mr.-bond,-i-expect-you-to-sink department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "In The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), James Bond is given a Lotus Espirit S1 that doubles as a submarine. More than thirty years after that movie's release, a contractor opened up a random Long Island storage container to find one of the automobile-submarines used in filming. He promptly put it up for auction, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk purchased it for a cool $866,000. But Musk isn't planning to restore the Bond car and put it in a garage somewhere: he wants to make it run. 'It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me drive his Lotus Esprit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater,' Tesla PR wrote in a statement to Jalopnik. 'I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform. What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real.' Whether that means Musk will install new equipment in the actual prop, or have his engineers build a seaworthy replica, is an open question. What's more certain is that Musk has the capability (and cash) to make something like that happen, considering how he already manages the construction of next-generation electric cars and reusable rockets for a living."

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Wireshark Switches To Qt
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's changing-horses department:
An anonymous reader writes "Beginning with version 1.11.0, open source packet analyzer Wireshark is switching its user interface library from GTK+ to Qt. 'Both libraries make it easy for developers write applications that will run on different platforms without having to rewrite a lot of code. GTK+ has had a huge impact on the way Wireshark looks and feels and on its popularity but it doesn't cover our supported platforms as effectively as it should and the situation is getting worse as time goes on.'"

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No, the Earth (almost Certainly) Won't Be Hit By an Asteroid In 2032
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's too-late,-already-panicked department:
The Bad Astronomer writes "Last week, astronomers discovered 2013 TV135, a 400-meter wide asteroid that will swing by the Earth in 2032. The odds of an impact at that time are incredibly low — in fact, the chance it will glide safely past us is 99.99998%! But that hasn't stopped some venues from playing up the apocalypse angle. Bottom line: we do not have a good orbit for this rock yet, and as observations get better the chance of an impact will certainly drop. We can breathe easy over this particular asteroid."

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Ask Slashdot: What Are the Hardest Things Programmers Have To Do?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's moderate-their-criticism department:
itwbennett writes "Software development isn't a cakewalk of a job, but to hear programmers tell it (or at least those willing to grouse about their jobs on Quora and Ubuntu Forums), what makes programming hard has little to do with writing code. In fact, if the list compiled by ITworld's Phil Johnson has it right, the single hardest thing developers do is name things. Are you a software developer? What's the hardest part of your job?"

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Barbarians At the Gateways
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's our-stock-economy-is-stupid department:
CowboyRobot writes "Former high-frequency trader Jacob Loveless gives an in-depth description of the math and technology involved in HFT. From the article: 'The first step in HFT is to place the systems where the exchanges are. Light passing through fiber takes 49 microseconds to travel 10,000 meters, and that's all the time available in many cases. In New York, there are at least six data centers you need to collocate in to be competitive in equities. In other assets (foreign exchange, for example), you need only one or two in New York, but you also need one in London and probably one in Chicago. The problem of collocation seems straightforward: 1. Contact data center. 2. Negotiate contract. 3. Profit. The details, however, are where the first systems problem arises. The real estate is extremely expensive, and the cost of power is an ever-crushing force on the bottom line. A 17.3-kilowatt cabinet will run $14,000 per month. Assuming a modest HFT draw of 750 watts per server, 17 kilowatts can be taken by 23 servers. It's also important to ensure you get the right collocation. In many markets, the length of the cable within the same building is a competitive advantage. Some facilities such as the Mahwah, New Jersey, NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) data center have rolls of fiber so that every cage has exactly the same length of fiber running to the exchange cages.'"

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Report: Fisker Automotive Sold To Hong Kong Billionaire Richard Li
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 08:01 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's return-on-investment department:
cartechboy writes "It looks like an investor group led by Hong Kong tycoon (and early Fisker investor) Richard Li is the likely winner of a government loan owed by Fisker Automotive, the dormant maker of plug-in hybrid sports cars. Buying the loan would allow Li to try and restructure the company even as it's still at risk for bankruptcy. The originally company won a $529 million government loan in 2009, took venture capital investment, and created a lot of buzz around its flagship car, the $100,000 Karma plug-in hybrid. But the company had delays launching the car, struggled financially and has not built any cars since July of 2012. Is Li the new savior?"

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Full Screen Mario: Making the Case For Shorter Copyrights
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's clouds-and-bushes-are-the-same department:
barlevg writes "A college student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute spent nine months meticulously remaking Super Mario Bros. based on the latest web standards. His project is open source and the code freely available through Github. The site recently gained widespread media attention, which unfortunately brought it to the attention of Nintendo, which has requested that the site be taken down. In a column on the Washington Post website, tech blogger Timothy Lee makes the case for how this is a prime example of copyrights hindering innovation and why copyright lengths should be shortened. Among his arguments: copyrights hinder innovation by game designers seeking to build upon such games, and shortening copyright would breathe new life into games who have long since passed into obsolescence."

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Give Your Child the Gift of an Alzheimer's Diagnosis
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-least-it's-not-a-cell-phone department:
theodp writes "'There's a lot you can do for your child with 99 dollars,' explains Fast Company's Elizabeth Murphy, who opted to get her adopted 5-year-old daughter's genes tested by 23andMe, a startup founded by Anne Wojcicki that's been funded to the tune of $126 million by Google, Sergey Brin (Wojcicki's now-separated spouse), Yuri Milner, and others. So, how'd that work out? 'My daughter,' writes Murphy, 'who is learning to read and tie her shoes, has two copies of the APOE-4 variant, the strongest genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's. According to her 23andMe results, she has a 55% chance of contracting the disease between the ages of 65 and 79.' So, what is 23andMe's advice for the worried Mom? 'You have this potential now to engage her in all kinds of activities,' said Wojcicki. 'Do you get her focused on her exercise and what she's eating, and doing brain games and more math?' Duke associate professor of public policy Don Taylor had more comforting advice for Murphy. 'It's possible the best thing you can do is burn that damn report and never think of it again,' he said. 'I'm just talking now as a parent. Do not wreck yourself about your 5-year-old getting Alzheimer's. Worry more about the fact that when she's a teenager she might be driving around in cars with drunk boys.'"

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Facebook 'Stalker' Tool Uses Graph Search For Data Mining
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-least-somebody-finds-it-useful department:
angry tapir writes "Mining small details from Facebook has become even easier with Graph Search, the site's new search engine that returns personalized results from natural-language queries. Graph Search granularly mines Facebook's vast user data: where people have visited, what they like and if they share those same preferences with their friends. 'FBStalker' is a Python script debuted at the Hack in the Box security conference in Kuala Lumpur. In its current form, FBStalker runs in the Chrome browser on OS X, entering queries into Facebook's Graph Search and pulling data. Even if a person's profile is locked down to strangers, their friends' open profiles can be examined, giving an indication, for example, who the person may be close with. FBStalker uses Graph Search to find photos in which two people are tagged in, comments on profiles and more."

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Snowden Says He Took No Secret Files To Russia
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 05:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-he-stores-all-his-ebooks-on-microfiche department:
mspohr writes "There's an interesting interview with Edward Snowden in the NY Times. He talks freely about his decision to start collecting documents. His experience in reporting problems and abuse convinced him he would be discredited. He also states he didn't take any of the documents to Russia and that the Chinese don't have them either. 'What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of the materials onward? There's a zero percent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents,' he said. Snowden turned them all over to the journalists. He also corrects last week's NY Times story about the derogatory comment in his personnel file; it was due to him discovering and trying to report a vulnerability in the CIA's internal software."

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Redesigned Seats Let Airlines Squeeze In More Passengers
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 04:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's how-long-until-they-give-you-a-stool department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "AP reports that U.S. airlines are taking out old, bulky seats in favor of so-called slimline models that take up less space from front to back, allowing for five or six more seats on each plane. This gives airlines two of their favorite things: more paying passengers, and a smaller fuel bill (the seats are slightly lighter(. Whether the new seats are really closer together depends on how you measure. By the usual measure, called 'pitch,' the new ones are generally an inch closer together from front to back as measured at the armrest. The seats Southwest has put on nearly its entire fleet are 31 inches apart, about an inch less than before, allowing them to to add an extra row of six seats to each plane. International passengers are feeling crowded, too. As recently as 2010, most airlines buying Boeing's big 777 opted for nine seats across. Now it's 10 across on 70 percent of newly-built 777s, Boeing says. American's newest 777s are set up 10-across in coach, with slightly narrower seats than on its older 777s. Airlines say you won't notice. And the new seats are designed to minimize this problem. Airplane seats from 30 years ago looked like your grandmother's BarcaLounger, says Jami Counter, senior director at SeatGuru.com, which tracks airline seats and amenities. 'All that foam cushion and padding probably didn't add all that much comfort. All that's been taken out,' he said. 'You haven't really lost all that much if the airline does it right.'"

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Scientology's Fraud Conviction Upheld In France
Posted by News Fetcher on October 18 '13 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's legitimacy-illegitimate department:
schwit1 writes "France's top appeals court has upheld a fraud conviction and fines totaling hundreds of thousands of euros against the Church of Scientology, for taking advantage of vulnerable followers. France regards Scientology as a cult, not a religion, and had prosecuted individual Scientologists before, but the 2009 trial marked the first time the organization as a whole had been convicted. 'The head of a parliamentary group on religious cults in France, lawmaker Georges Fenech, hailed the ruling. 'Far from being a violation of freedom of religion, as this American organization contends, this decision lifts the veil on the illegal and highly detrimental practices' of the group, said Fenech. The court case followed a complaint by two women, one of whom said she was manipulated into handing over 20,000 euros in 1998 for Scientology products including an "electrometer" to measure mental energy. A second woman claimed she was forced by her Scientologist employer to undergo testing and enrol in courses, also in 1998. When she refused she was fired.'"

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