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Two Years In Prison For Using Infrared Contact Lenses To Cheat At Poker
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's somebody-warn-levar-burton department:
dmfinn writes "It was back in 2011 when Stefano Ampollini and two accomplices cheated a French casino out of over €90,000 thanks to the help of Chinese-made infrared contact lenses. According to French authorities, Ampollini and two casino workers marked cards using an invisible liquid that would be picked up by the infrared lenses, which Ampollini then used to read his competitors' cards. Though the contacts themselves cost over €2,000, the crew managed to take €71,000 in their first night. However, the trio was finally caught when a lawyer working for the casino became suspicious after Ampollini folded with an unbelievably good hand, which suggested he knew the croupier's cards. This week, a French court sentenced Ampollini to two years in prison and a €100,000 fine. His main accomplice was handed an even harsher sentence; he was forced to pay the same fine and given a 36-month sentence. It appears, despite their best efforts and advanced tactics, that the men were still unable to beat the house without raising significant alarms. So, at least for now, it seems modern technology still can't simulate good old 'luck.'"

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An Animated, Open Letter To J.J. Abrams About Star Wars
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ease-off-the-lens-flare department:
juliangamble writes "Designer Prescott Harvey has written and animated an open letter to J.J. Abrams about the plans for the next Star Wars movie. He says, 'Like so many people, I've spent most of my recent years wondering why the original Star Wars trilogy was so awesome, and the new movies were so terrible. What are the factors that make Star Wars Star Wars? I took an empirical approach, determining what elements were in the original movies that differed from the prequels. My first major epiphany was that, in the originals, the characters are always outside somewhere very remote. The environment and the wildlife are as much a threat as the empire. All three movies had this bushwacky, exploratory feel. Contrast that with the prequels, where the characters are often in cities, or in the galactic senate. In order for Star Wars to feel like a true adventure, the setting has to be the frontier, and this became my first rule.'"

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The Circle Skewers Google, Facebook, Twitter
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ripe-targets department:
theodp writes "This week's NY Times Magazine cover story, We Like You So Much and Want to Know You Better, is an adaptation from The Circle, the soon-to-be-published novel by Dave Eggers which tells the tale of Mae Holland, a young woman who goes to work at an omnipotent technology company and gets sucked into a corporate culture that knows no distinction between work and life, public and private. The WSJ calls it a The Jungle for our own times. And while Eggers insists he wasn't thinking of any one particular company, the NYT excerpt evokes memories of Larry Page's you-will-be-social edict and suggests what the end-game for Google Glass might look like."

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Matchstick-Sized Sensor Can Record Your Private Chats Outdoors
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-in-case-your-paranoia-was-wearing-off department:
wabrandsma sends this story from New Scientist:
"A sensor previously used for military operations can now be tuned to secretly locate and record any single conversation on a busy street. [A] Dutch acoustics firm, Microflown Technologies, has developed a matchstick-sized sensor that can pinpoint and record a target's conversations from a distance. Known as an acoustic vector sensor, Microflown's sensor measures the movement of air, disturbed by sound waves, to almost instantly locate where a sound originated. It can then identify the noise and, if required, transmit it live to waiting ears. Security technologist Bruce Schneier says this new capability is unwelcome – particularly given the recent claims about the NSA's success at tapping into our private lives. 'It's not just this one technology that's the problem,' Schneier says. 'It's the mic plus the drones, plus the signal processing, plus voice recognition.'"

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Automatic Translation Without Dictionaries
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's baby-steps-to-the-universal-translator department:
New submitter physicsphairy writes "Tomas Mikolov and others at Google have developed a simple means of translating between languages using a large corpus of sample texts. Rather than being defined by humans, words are characterized based on their relation to other words. For example, in any language, a word like 'cat' will have a particular relationship to words like 'small,' 'furry,' 'pet,' etc. The set of relationships of words in a language can be described as a vector space, and words from one language can be translated into words in another language by identifying the mapping between their two vector spaces. The technique works even for very dissimilar languages, and is presently being used to refine and identify mistakes in existing translation dictionaries."

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EU Committee Votes To Make All Smartphone Vendors Utilize a Standard Charger
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's which-will-surely-go-into-effect-in-a-timely-manner department:
Deathspawner writes "The EU has been known to make a lot of odd decisions when it comes to tech, but one committee's latest vote is one that most people will likely agree with: Standardized smartphone chargers. If passed, this decision would cut down on never having the right charger handy, but as far as the EU is concerned, this is all about a reduction of waste. The initial vote went down on Thursday, and given its market saturation, it seems likely that micro USB would be the target standard. Now, it's a matter of waiting on the EU Parliament to make its vote."

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Robotic Boat Hits 1,000-Mile Mark In Transatlantic Crossing
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-only-christopher-columbus-had-an-arduino-and-GPS department:
toygeek writes "'Scout,' a 4-meter-long autonomous boat built by a group of young DIYers, is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean. It is traveling from Rhode Island, where it launched on 24 August, to Spain, where all being well it will arrive in a few months' time. Scout has now gone about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of its planned 3,700-mile (5,900 kilometer) journey. Should it complete this voyage successfully, its passage will arguably belong in the history books."

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First Cases of Flesh-Eating Drug Emerge In the United States
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's enjoy-your-weekend department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Having spent the last decade wreaking havoc in Russia, a flesh-eating drug called Krokodil has arrived in Arizona, reports Eliza Gray at Time Magazine. The Banner Poison Control Center has reported the first two users of the drug which makes user's skin scaly and green before it rots away [Warning: Graphic Images]. Made of codeine, a painkiller often used in cough syrup, and a mix of other materials including gasoline, paint thinner, and alcohol, Krokodil become popular in Russia because it costs 20 times less than heroin and can be made easily at home. Also known as Desomorphine, Krokodil has sedative and analgesic effects, and is around 8-10 times more potent than morphine. When the drug is injected, it rots the skin by rupturing blood vessels, causing the tissue to die. As a result, the skin hardens and rots, sometimes even falling off to expose the bone. 'These people are the ultimate in self-destructive drug addiction,' says Dr. Ellen Marmur. 'Once you are an addict at this level, any rational thinking doesn't apply.' The average life span of a Krokodil user is two to three years, according to a 2011 TIME investigation of the drug's prevalence in Russia."

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Metadata On How You Drive Also Reveals Where You Drive
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's turn-this-off-before-driving-through-a-mall-like-the-blues-brothers department:
chicksdaddy writes "Pay-as-you-drive programs are all the rage in the auto insurance industry. The (voluntary) programs, like Progressive Insurance's Snapshot use onboard monitoring devices to track information like the speed of the automobile, sudden stops, distance traveled and so on. Safe and infrequent drivers might see their rates drop while customers who log thousands of miles behind the wheel and/or drive recklessly would see their insurance rates rise. GPS data isn't generally collected, and insurance companies promise customers that they're not tracking their movement. No matter. A study (PDF) by researchers at the University of Denver claims that the destination of a journey can be derived by combining knowledge of the trip's origin with the metrics collected by the 'pay-as-you-drive' device. The data points collected by these remote sensing devices are what the researchers call 'quasi-identifiers' – attributes that are 'non-identifying by themselves, but can be used to unique identify individuals when used in combination with other data.' In one example, researchers used a strategy they called 'stop-point matching,' to compare the pattern of vehicle stop points from a known origin with various route options. They found that in areas with irregular street layouts (i.e. 'not Manhattan'), the pattern will be more or less unique for any location. The study raises important data privacy questions for the (many) 'pay-as-you-drive' programs now being piloted, or offered to drivers – not to mention other programs that seek to match remote sensors and realtime monitoring with products and services."

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What Valve's Announcements Mean for Gaming
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's steam-team's-dream-stream department:
Now that we have the full picture of Valve's efforts to bring PC gaming to the living room (SteamOS, dedicated hardware, and a fresh controller design), people are starting to analyze what those efforts will mean for gaming, and what Valve must do to be successful. Eurogamer's Oli Welsh points out that even if Steam Machines aren't able to take the market away from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, they put us a step closer to the final console generation. "Valve has hopefully sidestepped the most depressing aspect of console gaming: the enforced obsolescence that makes you consign your entire games collection to a dusty cupboard every five years." GamesRadar notes that Valve's approach is fundamentally different from that of the current console manufacturers because it's about putting more power into the hands of the users. "The takeaway from SteamOS, then, is that openness breeds innovation. Valve's putting the very source code of its operating system in the hands of everyone who wants it just to see what happens. Comparatively, Microsoft is pushing its Windows Store, turning Windows into an increasingly closed platform (i.e. one that charges costly development licensing fees and restricts access to certain content providers)." Everyone's curious to see how the controller will perform, so Gamasutra and Kotaku reached out to a number of game developers who have experimented with prototypes already. "[Dan Tabar of indie studio Data Realms] said the configuration map for the controller allows you to do 'pretty much anything.' For example, developers can slice up a pad into quarters, each one representing a different input, or even into eight radial sections, again, each section representing whatever you want, mapping to key combinations, or to the mouse." Tommy Refenes, co-creator of Super Meat Boy, wrote an in-depth description of his experience with the device. He summed up his reaction by saying, "Great Start, needs some improvements, but I could play any game I wanted with it just fine."

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Social Networks Force Barilla Chairman To Apologize For His Anti-gay Remarks
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-poke-the-internet-with-a-stick department:
ifchairscouldtalk writes "Pasta maker Barilla is in hot water over its chairman's anti-gay comments. Guido Barilla said his brand would 'never feature gays in ads' because Barilla does not agree with them. He added, '[if gay people] like our pasta and our advertising, they'll eat our pasta, if they don't like it then they will not eat it and they will eat another brand.' Vehement protest worldwide calling for a boycott of Barilla products via Twitter and Facebook forced the chairman to apologize with a video on Facebook."

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Why iOS 7 Is Making Some Users Feel 'Sick'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you're-not-supposed-to-eat-the-phone department:
dryriver sends this story from The Guardian:
"The introduction of fake zooms, parallax, sliding and other changes in Apple's new iPhone and iPad software has a very real effect on people with vestibular disorders. ... It makes frequent use of zoom and slide animations; the home screen boasts parallax, with icons apparently floating above subtly animating wallpaper. And it's making people sick. Triggers and symptoms vary, but TidePool mobile app developer Jenni Leder's experience is not uncommon. A self-professed power-user, she frequently switches apps; but on iOS 7, this has caused headaches and feelings associated with motion sickness. 'I now have to close my eyes or cover the screen during transitions, which is ridiculous,' she told The Guardian, adding that there's nowhere to hide: 'It's not apps that affect me, but accessing them. Tap a folder and the view zooms in. Tap an app and it's like flying through the icon and landing in that app's micro world — and I'm getting dizzy on the journey there.' Reactions to screen-based systems — especially those utilizing 3D effects — aren't new. Cynthia Ryan, executive director of the Vestibular Disorders Association, says 3D effects can cause 'intense nausea, dizziness and vertigo,' sometimes from general vision problems, but also from visual-vestibular conflict. She added symptoms 'manifest more severely if a viewer already has a disorder of the vestibular system.'"

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Microsoft: We Offer Up User Data To Law Enforcement 2 Percent of the Time
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-one-in-50 department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "In its second announcement of the kind, Microsoft revealed [Friday] that it received more than 37,000 requests for information on customers of its Skype, Azure and other services from law enforcement agencies around the world. The count does not include requests made using "National Security Letters" issued by the FBI or other U.S. federal agencies that have the force of a warrant or subpoena, albeit without the oversight or control provided by the courts that issue those sorts of orders. During the first six months of 2013, Microsoft received 37,196 requests that covered a total of 66,539 customer accounts. The company refused to provide any information in response to 21 percent of those requests. It provided "non-content data" in response to 77 percent of the requests – non-content data usually includes information such as names or basic subscriber information rather than information on the content of messages or other details describing online activity of those customers. In 2.19 percent of cases, however, Microsoft reports having provided "customer content data" – which includes the content of messages or data stored in accounts owned by Microsoft companies. Ninety-two percent of requests for customer content came from U.S. law-enforcement agencies."

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Did NIST Cripple SHA-3?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 03:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's who-do-you-trust-and-why? department:
An anonymous reader writes "In the process of standardizing the SHA-3 competition winning algorithm Keccak, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may have lowered the bar for attacks, which might be useful for or even initiated by NSA. 'NIST is proposing a huge reduction in the internal strength of Keccak below what went into final SHA-3 comp,' writes cryptographer Marsh Ray on Twitter. In August, John Kelsey, working at NIST, described (slides 44-48) the changes to the algorithm, including reduction of the bit length from 224, 256, 384 and 512-bit modes down to 128 and 256-bit modes."

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Cricket Reactor Inventor Says $1mil Prize Winners Stole His Work
Posted by News Fetcher on September 28 '13 at 12:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-that's-just-not-cricket department:
An anonymous reader writes "A group of Montreal MBA students took home this year's million-dollar Hult Prize, winning a competition for socially innovative business ideas that calls itself 'one of the planet's leading forces for good.' But now the ethics of the winners and the prize committee are being called into question. McGill PhD researcher Jakub Dzamba says that after he supplied the idea and design behind their pitch, products of years of development work, the team reneged on its promises to make him a partner and is instead taking credit for his work. Apparently, Hult knew about the issue before it awarded the prize." Yes, these are the students whose win garnered $1 million awarded by Bill Clinton.

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Justice Department Slaps IBM Over H-1B Hiring Practices
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '13 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's rules-from-above department:
Dawn Kawamoto writes "IBM reached a settlement with the Justice Department over allegations it posted discriminatory online job openings, allegedly stating a preference for H-1B and foreign student visa holders for its software and apps developer positions. The job openings were for IT positions that would eventually require the applicant to relocate overseas. IBM agreed to pay $44,400 in civil penalties to the U.S., as well as take certain actions in the way it hires within the U.S. The settlement, announced Friday, comes at a time with tech companies are calling for the U.S. to allow more H-1B workers into the country."

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GNU Hurd 0.5, GNU Mach 1.4, GNU MIG 1.4 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '13 at 06:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's gathering-storm department:
jrepin writes "Which day could be better suited for publishing a set of Hurd package releases than the GNU project's 30th birthday? These new releases bundle bug fixes and enhancements done since the last releases more than a decade ago; really too many (both years and improvements) to list them individually, The GNU Hurd is the GNU project's replacement for the Unix kernel. It is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux)."

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Martha Stewart Out To Exterminate Patent Troll Lodsys
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '13 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's taking-back-the-inch-and-the-mile department:
McGruber writes "Gigaom's Jeff John Roberts reports that Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (MSLO) has filed a lawsuit against Lodsys, a shell company that gained infamy two years ago by launching a wave of legal threats (http://paidcontent.org/2011/10/13/419-app-developer-gives-in-to-lodsys-in-david-and-goliath-patent-fight/) against small app makers, demanding they pay for using basic internet technology like in-app purchases or feedback surveys. In the complaint filed this week in federal court in Wisconsin, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia asked a judge to declare that four magazine iPad apps are not infringing Lodsys' patents, and that the patents are invalid because the so-called inventions are not new. The complaint explained how Lodsys invited the company to 'take advantage of our program' by buying licenses at $5,000 apiece. It also calls the Wisconsin court's attention to Lodsys' involvement in more than 150 Texas lawsuits. In choosing to sue Lodsys and hopefully crush its patents, Martha Stewart is choosing a far more expensive option than simply paying Lodsys to go away."

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Declassified NSA Docs Shed Light On Cold War (And Modern) Operations
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '13 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's since-we-were-in-the-neighborhood department:
AHuxley writes "With the U.S. trying to understand the domestic role of their foreign intelligence and counterintelligence services in 2013, what can a declassified look back into the 1960s and 1970s add to the ongoing legal debate?
Welcome to the world of Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel and the work done by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Read how prominent anti-war critics and U.S. senators were tracked, and who was on the late-1960s NSA watch list, from Rev. Martin Luther King to civil rights leader Whitney Young, boxer Muhammad Ali, Tom Wicker, the Washington bureau chief and Washington Post columnist Art Buchwald, and Sen. Howard Baker (R-Tenn.). The NSA was aware of the legality of its work and removed all logos or classification markings, using the term 'For Background Use Only.' Even back then, NSA director at the time, Lew Allen noted: "appeared to be a possible violation of constitutional guarantees" (from page 86 of this PDF). What did the NSA think about signals intelligence sites in your country? See if your country makes the 'indefinite' list on page 392."


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Protesters Are Dodging Sudan's Internet Shutdown With a Phone-Powered Crowdmap
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '13 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's routing-around-damage department:
Lasrick writes "Motherboard's Africa correspondent, Amanda Sperber, has a great piece on how protesters in Sudan are getting around the government's shutdown of the internet. Quoting: 'Since Wednesday afternoon, Sudan's internet has been sporadically shut off amid a fifth day of protests against President Omar al Bashir's regime. Despite the attempt to cut off communications and limit organization and reporting on the ground, a group of tech-savvy people based in Khartoum have developed a map for recording key data about the protests that's powered by cell networks. '"

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