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The Emerging RadioShack/Netflix Debacle
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-forgot-to-run-the-jerkbag-test-case department:
New submitter DigitalParc writes "RadioShack recently launched a promotion for 6 months of free Netflix service with the purchase of a laptop, tablet, or phone. This ended up being a fantastic deal, until the shoddy redemption site they were using for the Netflix code redemption was exploited and many of the codes were stolen. 'Users on slickdeals, a deal-finding and sometimes deal-exploiting website, found that the URL of the redemption website could be changed upon trying to enter a code, resulting in a valid Netflix subscription code being generated. Within hours, many of Netflix codes that were allocated to this promotion were stolen and some were redeemed or put up for sale on eBay.'"

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Horseshoe Crabs Are Bled Alive To Create an Unparalleled Biomedical Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's apparently-we're-a-race-of-vampires-to-horseshoe-crabs department:
Lasrick writes "Alexis Madrigal at the Atlantic: 'The marvelous thing about horseshoe crab blood, though, isn't the color. It's a chemical found only in the amoebocytes of its blood cells that can detect mere traces of bacterial presence and trap them in inescapable clots.' Madrigal continues, 'To take advantage of this biological idiosyncrasy, pharmaceutical companies burst the cells that contain the chemical, called coagulogen. Then, they can use the coagulogen to detect contamination in any solution that might come into contact with blood. If there are dangerous bacterial endotoxins in the liquid—even at a concentration of one part per trillion—the horseshoe crab blood extract will go to work, turning the solution into what scientist Fred Bang, who co-discovered the substance, called a "gel." ... I don't know about you, but the idea that every single person in America who has ever had an injection has been protected because we harvest the blood of a forgettable sea creature with a hidden chemical superpower makes me feel a little bit crazy. This scenario is not even sci-fi, it's postmodern technology.'"

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Supreme Court Ruling Relaxes Warrant Requirements For Home Searches
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 10:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's arrest-everyone-until-someone-consents department:
cold fjord writes with news that the Supreme Court has expanded the ability of police officers to search a home without needing a warrant, quoting the LA Times: "Police officers may enter and search a home without a warrant as long as one occupant consents, even if another resident has previously objected, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday ... The 6-3 ruling ... gives authorities more leeway to search homes without obtaining a warrant, even when there is no emergency. The majority ... said police need not take the time to get a magistrate's approval before entering a home in such cases. But dissenters ... warned that the decision would erode protections against warrantless home searches."

In this case, one person objected to the search and was arrested followed by the police returning and receiving the consent of the remaining occupant.

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Tesla Used A Third of All Electric-Car Batteries Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 10:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's elon-musk-hungers-for-power department:
cartechboy writes "We've heard about Tesla building this new gigafactory to produce battery packs for its electric cars. Heck, the company's current bottleneck is its ability to get battery packs for its electric cars. In fact, last year Tesla used a bit more than one-third of the auto industry's electric-car batteries, and that was with only selling 22,477 cars last year. Tesla is expanding its model lineup as quickly as possible with the introduction of the Model X crossover next year and a compact sports sedan in 2017. With the rapid expansion of its vehicle line, Tesla is going to need a crazy amount of battery packs, and quickly. Thus, the Silicon Valley upstart is building the gigafactory to engineer and produce battery packs in march larger quantities. If Tesla can remove the battery production bottle neck it's currently facing, the only question left will be market acceptance of a mainstream electric car."

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Interview: Ask Richard Stallman What You Will
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 09:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's go-ahead-and-ask department:
Richard Stallman (RMS) founded the GNU Project in 1984, the Free Software Foundation in 1985, and remains one of the most important and outspoken advocates for software freedom. He now spends much of his time fighting excessive extension of copyright laws, digital rights management, and software patents. RMS has agreed to answer your questions about GNU/Linux, how GNU relates to Linux the kernel, free software, why he disagrees with the idea of open source, and other issues of public concern. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

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Augmented Reality Treatment May Alleviate Phantom Limb Pain
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's perception-is-weird department:
Zothecula writes with this excerpt from GizMag: "Studies have shown that a large percentage of amputees feel pain in their missing limbs. ... The ailment has so far proven difficult to treat, but a new study suggests therapy involving augmented reality and gaming could stimulate these unused areas of the brain (full journal article), resulting in a significant reduction in discomfort. ... In testing the treatment, the team used myolectric pattern recognition to predict phantom movements in the stump of a chronic PLP patient. By using the patterns as inputs in an augmented setting where a virtual arm was superimposed on the patient's real-life body, as well as controlling a car racing game, the team were able to gradually reduce the pain reported by the patient to zero."

The study is an early one: there's only a single test subject, but one that had no success with any other form of treatment.

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Mt. Gox Shuts Down: Collapse Should Come As No Surprise
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's virtual-currency-actual-losses department:
New submitter Dan541 writes in with word that Mt. Gox has halted all operations indefinitely. A statement from the CEO: "As there is a lot of speculation regarding MtGox and its future, I would like to use this opportunity to reassure everyone that I am still in Japan, and working very hard with the support of different parties to find a solution to our recent issues. ... In light of recent news reports and the potential repercussions on MtGox's operations and the market, a decision was taken to close all transactions for the time being in order to protect the site and our users. We will be closely monitoring the situation and will react accordingly."

MrBingoBoingo writes that we should not be surprised Mt. Gox appears to have failed "The recent closure of the famous Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox has grabbed a lot of media attention lately, but people involved heavily in bitcoin have been raising alarms about business practices at Mt. Gox for quite some time now. With the Mt. Gox failure being Bitcoin's biggest since the collapse of the ponzi run by Trendon Shavers, also known as Pirateat40, it might be time to revisit the idea of counterparty risk in the world of irreversible cryptocurrency."

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IE Vulnerability Exposing Banking Logins, Spreading Rapidly
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 07:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's apt-get-wrong-operating-system department:
jfruh writes "A vulnerability in Internet Explorer 9 and 10 that allows attackers to target banking login info, first reported on February 13, is being exploited in the wild, and attacks are spreading rapidly. Sites compromised by the malware run the gamut from U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars site, to a site frequented by French military contractors, to a Japanese dating site. Microsoft has released a 'fix-it tool' but not a regular patch."

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YouTube Ordered To Remove "Illegal" Copyright Blocking Notices
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 06:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's some-organizations-deserve-scorn department:
An anonymous reader writes in with new developments in a two year old spat between Youtube and GEMA (a German music royalty collection foundation). After the courts ordered Youtube to implement tools to block videos that contained music GEMA licenses, it seems that telling users why content was blocked isn't making GEMA happy. From the article: "GEMA applied for an injunction to force YouTube to change the messages, claiming that they misrepresent the situation and damage GEMA’s reputation. YouTube alone is responsible for blocking the videos, claiming otherwise is simply false, GEMA argued. ... Yesterday the District Court of Munich agreed with the music group and issued an injunction to force YouTube to comply, stating that the notices 'denigrate' GEMA with a 'totally distorted representation of the legal dispute between the parties.' Changing the message to state that videos are not available due to a lack of a licensing agreement between YouTube and GEMA would be more appropriate, the Court said."

The messages currently read "Unfortunately, this video is not available in Germany because it may contain music for which GEMA has not granted the respective music rights." Seems pretty neutral. Non-compliance with the order could result in fines of €250,000 per infraction.

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Do We Really Have a Shortage of STEM Workers?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's only-if-you're-cheap department:
New pweidema writes "Michael Teitelbaum, a senior research associate in the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School who has been writing a book on the subject of the current state of employment in science and technology fields, recently spoke at an Education Writers Association Conference about the 'STEM Worker Shortage: Does It Exist and Is Education to Blame?' The National Science Board's biennial book, Science and Engineering Indicators , consistently finds that the U.S. produces many more STEM graduates than the workforce can absorb. Meanwhile, employers say managers are struggling to find qualified workers in STEM fields. What explains these apparently contradictory trends? And as the shortage debate rages, what do we know about the pipeline of STEM-talented students from kindergarten to college, and what happens to them in the job market? An article LA Times summarizes his findings of his findings on the STEM hype: '...some of it comes from the country’s longtime cycle of waxing and waning interest in science; attention seems to focus on science every 10 to 15 years before slacking off. The only forces pushing the idea of STEM doom, he said, are those that have something to gain from it. Mostly those are STEM employers ... that want to pack the labor force with people to suppress wages ... Joining the chorus are universities that want more funding for science programs...'"

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Terrafugia Wants Their Flying Car To Be Autonomous
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 05:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's car-industry-meets-drone-industry department:
Lucas123 writes "Terrafugia, a company that has been working on flying car prototypes for years, said it is now leaning toward an autonomous vehicle for safety reasons. Carl Dietrich, co-founder, CEO and CTO at Terrafugia, said at MIT last weekend that the company wants to build something that is statistically safer than driving a car. 'It needs to be faster than driving a car. It needs to be simpler to operate than a plane. It needs to be more convenient than driving a car today. It needs to be sustainable in the long run,' he said. The company's flyable car is designed with foldable wings and falls into the light sport aircraft category. It's expected to take off and land at small, local airports and to drive on virtually any road. Dietrich said the next-generation flying car is a four-seat, plug-in hybrid that doesn't require the operator to be a full-fledged pilot. A spokeswoman said today that the company is probably two years away from production."

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Thief Debuts To Mediocre Reviews
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 04:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sneaky-sneaky department:
The latest title in the stealth game series Thief launched in North America yesterday for the PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Windows. Reviews of the game are mixed. Rock, Paper, Shotgun's John Walker says that the story is poor, but "it matters very little, since it's only there as an excuse to link epic, intricate and hugely enjoyable levels together." He also laments the loss of a dedicated "Jump" button, noting that veterans of the series will miss it. "There are far too often obstacles that a toddler could easily scale, but Garrett won't even try, and his refusing to jump certain gaps in order to force a challenge is maddening." Polygon's review says navigating the game's open environments was fun, but "In the latter half of the game, when a glimpse of that openness was dangled in front of me once again, Thief snatched it away with murderous AI and controls that didn't feel up to the challenge." They add, "a new obsession with scripted story sequences and stealth action often leaves Thief feeling like the worst of both worlds." Giant Bomb's review is brutal, saying Thief is "a game that spends an inordinate amount of time making the player do uninteresting things while shoving the more fun stuff so far in the corner you'd be forgiven for missing most of it."

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Ask Slashdot: What Essays and Short Stories Should Be In a Course On Futurism?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-have-no-mouth-and-i-must-scream department:
Ellen Spertus writes "I'll be teaching an interdisciplinary college course on how technology is changing the world and how students can influence that change. In addition to teaching the students how to create apps, I'd like for us to read and discuss short stories and essays about how the future (next 40 years) might play out. For example, we'll read excerpts from David Brin's Transparent Society and Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near. I'm also considering excerpts of Cory Doctorow's Homeland and Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age. What other suggestions do Slashdotters have?"

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Blizzard To Sell Level 90 WoW Characters For $60
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '14 at 01:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's kung-fu-panda-pledge-week department:
An anonymous reader writes "After their online store accidentally spilled the beans last week, Blizzard has now confirmed plans to let players pay $60 to boost one of their World of Warcraft characters to level 90, the current cap. At Blizzcon a few months ago, the company unveiled the game's next expansion, Warlords of Draenor, currently in development. When it comes out, they're giving every player a free boost to 90 in order to get to the new content immediately. They say this was the impetus for making it a purchasable option. 'It's tremendously awkward to tell someone that you should buy two copies of the expansion just to get a second 90. That's odd. So we knew at that point we were going to have to offer it as a separate service.' Why $60? They don't want to 'devalue the accomplishment of leveling.' Lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas said, '[L]eveling is something that takes dozens if not over 100 hours in many cases and people have put serious time and effort into that, and we don't want to diminish that.'"
On one hand, I can appreciate that people who just want to get to endgame content may find it more efficient to spend a few bucks than to put a hundred hours into leveling a new character. On the other hand, I can't help but laugh at the idea that Blizzard will probably get a ton of people paying them to not play their game.

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Crowded US Airwaves Desperately In Search of Spectrum Breathing Room
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 11:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's running-out-of-ether department:
alphadogg writes "Ahead of a major new spectrum auction scheduled for next year, America's four major wireless carriers are jockeying for position in the frequencies available to them, buying, selling and trading licenses to important parts of the nation's airwaves. Surging demand for mobile bandwidth, fueled by an increasingly saturated smartphone market and data-hungry apps, has showed no signs of slowing down. This, understandably, has the wireless industry scrambling to improve its infrastructure in a number of areas, including the amounts of raw spectrum available to the carriers. These shifts, however, are essentially just lateral moves – nothing to directly solve the problems posed by a crowded spectrum. What's really going to save the wireless world, some experts think, is a more comprehensive re-imagining of the way spectrum is used."

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Report: Space Elevators Are Feasible
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 09:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-order-a-dozen department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "It's the scourge of futurists everywhere: The space elevator can't seem to shake its image as something that's just ridiculous, laughed off as the stuff of sci-fi novels and overactive imaginations. But there are plenty of scientists who take the idea quite seriously, and they're trying to buck that perception. To that end, a diverse group of experts at the behest of the International Academy of Astronautics completed an impressively thorough study this month on whether building a space elevator is doable. Their resulting report, 'Space Elevators: An Assessment of the Technological Feasibility and the Way Forward,' found that, in a nutshell, such a contraption is both totally feasible and a really smart idea. And they laid out a 300-page roadmap detailing how to make it happen."

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Scientists Demonstrate Virus That Spreads Across Wi-Fi Access Points
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 07:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's proof-of-concept department:
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Liverpool have shown for the first time that WiFi networks can be infected with a virus that can move through densely populated areas as efficiently as the common cold spreads between humans. The team designed and simulated an attack by a virus, called 'Chameleon,' that not only could spread quickly between homes and businesses, but avoided detection and identified the points at which WiFi access is least protected by encryption and passwords. The research appears in EURASIP Journal on Information Security."
The technical details are explained in the journal article.

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DARPA Funds Research Into a Network-Based Interpretation of Dreams
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 05:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-was-funneled-into-a-distortive-hub-by-percolative-clowns department:
KentuckyFC writes "Despite the universal experience of dreaming, psychologists and neuroscientists have little understanding of its purpose and mechanisms, or how it varies from one culture to another. So new approaches to oneirology, or dream research, are always welcome. Now a DARPA-funded research team is using network science to analyse dreams for the first time. Dreams have become amenable to network studies because dream reports and their interpretations are now widely available on the web in repositories such as UC Santa Cruz's Dreambank. The DARPA team crawled these databases in English, Chinese and Arabic for symbols that appear in dreams and their descriptions. They then created a network for each language by treating symbols as nodes and linking them to other nodes with similar descriptions. They then searched the networks for regions of more densely connected nodes that form communities. For example, in English, symbols such as 'ladder,' 'hill' and 'goal" form just such a community, representing 'achievement after a struggle.' Finally, they compared the communities from different languages to look for similarities. The results show that dream symbols seem to be connected in similar ways regardless of the cultural background of the dreamers. That provides a new window into the cultural links between dreams experienced by people in different parts of the world."

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Apple Urges Arizona Governor To Veto Anti-Gay Legislation
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 04:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's getting-involved department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "According to NBC, Apple has confirmed that it urged Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to veto a bill that would allow business owners with strongly held religious beliefs to deny service to gays and lesbians. Last November Tim Cook announced that Apple was building a sapphire glass plant in Mesa, AZ, that would bring 2,000 new jobs to the state. 'Apple is indisputably one of the world's most innovative companies and I'm thrilled to welcome them to Arizona,' said Gov. Brewer at the time. 'Apple will have an incredibly positive economic impact for Arizona and its decision to locate here speaks volumes about the friendly, pro-business climate we have been creating these past four years.' According to Philip Elmer-DeWitt, it sounds like Tim Cook may be having second thoughts about how 'friendly' and 'pro-business' the climate in Arizona really is."

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New Review Slams Fusion Project's Management
Posted by News Fetcher on February 25 '14 at 03:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doing-great-except-for-the-fusion-stuff department:
sciencehabit writes "ITER, the international fusion reactor project in France, is reeling from an assessment that found serious problems with the project's leadership, management, and governance. The report is so damning that after a 13 February special session that reviewed and accepted the report's conclusions and recommendations, the ITER Council — the project's governing body — restricted its readership to a small number of senior managers and council members. 'We feared that if [the assessment] leaked to people who don't know about the ITER agreement, the project could be interpreted as a major failure, which is not what the management assessor intended,' says nuclear engineer Bob Iotti of the consulting firm CH2M HILL, who chairs that council."

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