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Schneier: Break Up the NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '14 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-leave-the-door-open-to-a-reunion-tour-in-twenty-years department:
New submitter BrianPRabbit writes "Bruce Schneier proposes 'breaking up' the NSA. He suggests assigning the targeted hardware/software surveillance of enemy operations to U.S. Cyber Command. Further, the NSA's surveillance of Americans needs to be scaled back and placed under the control of the FBI. Finally, he says, is 'the deliberate sabotaging of security. The primary example we have of this is the NSA's BULLRUN program, which tries to "insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems, IT systems, networks and endpoint communication devices." This is the worst of the NSA's excesses, because it destroys our trust in the Internet, weakens the security all of us rely on and makes us more vulnerable to attackers worldwide. .... [T]he remainder of the NSA needs to be rebalanced so COMSEC (communications security) has priority over SIGINT (signals intelligence). Instead of working to deliberately weaken security for everyone, the NSA should work to improve security for everyone.'"

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S. Korea's Cyberwar Against N. Korea's Nukes
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '14 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's updating-antivirus-for-peace department:
An anonymous reader writes "Yonhap News Agency reports that South Korea has announced it is developing offensive cyber-capabilities to target North Korea's nuclear facilities. Yonhap speculates the tools will be similar to the Stuxnet computer virus the U.S. used against Iran's uranium enrichment program. A report in The Diplomat questions this assertion, noting that a Stuxnet-like virus would only temporarily disrupt Pyongyang's ability to build more nuclear weapons, while doing nothing to address its existing ones. Instead, The Diplomat suggests Seoul is interested in developing cyber-capabilities that temporarily disable North Korea's ability to launch nuclear missiles, which would be complement Seoul's efforts to develop precision-guided missiles to preemptively destroy Pyongyang's nuclear and missile facilities."

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Fishing Line As Artificial "Muscle"
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '14 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's reeling-in-the-big-one department:
brindafella writes "Researchers have made what they describe as an 'almost embarrassing' discovery, that twisted nylon fishing line can form a 'powerful, large-stroke, high-stress artificial muscle' capable of lifting as much as 100 times more weight than human muscles. They twisted the fishing line, then heated it to 'set' the shape-memory. The scientists are from the Australian Research Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at the University of Wollongong, and the University of Texas. The findings are published in Science magazine."

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Sochi Drones Are Shooting the Olympics, Not Terrorists
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '14 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's target-aquired department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Rachel Feltman reports that drones are being used to film ski and snowboarding events at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and unlike military drones, which often look like a remote-controlled airplane, the creature floating around Sochi resembles a huge flying spider. The legs of the flying spider hold the rotors that spin around to keep it airborne. The drone then has a flight deck that holds the flight control system with GPS for navigation, sensors and receivers. The camera can be mounted in the middle or suspended below the flight deck. A drone with mounted camera can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $37,000 for a top-of-the-line Ikarus from Britain's Heliguy, which is advising broadcast clients in Sochi on using drones. That compares with the cost of a few thousand dollars an hour to rent a helicopter with pilot, not including the camera crew and equipment. Cameraman Remo Masina says he can fly a drone at up to 40 mph while transmitting a high-definition, live image and says the chances of drone crashes are close to zero when a drone is handled by an experienced pilot, because the drones are programmed to return to base at the slightest problem — such as a low battery, rough winds or a malfunction. 'There have been mishaps, however. In one case last year, a drone filming an imitation version of Spain's running of the bulls in Virginia crashed and injured a few spectators.'"

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Zero Point: The First 360-Degree Movie Made For the Oculus Rift
Posted by News Fetcher on February 21 '14 at 12:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's look-around department:
Zothecula writes "The Oculus Rift has carved out a sizable reputation for itself among gamers, but virtual reality has many applications beyond playing video games. Now one production studio is preparing to release the first movie shot specifically to be watched through the VR headset. The upcoming film, called Zero Point, will focus on the history and development of virtual reality technology, while allowing viewers the freedom to look around each scene as the movie progresses."

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TSA: Confiscating Aluminum Foil and Watching Out For Solar Powered Bombs
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that's-some-good-work-there-lou department:
schwit1 writes "If you think confiscating aluminum foil to prevent a solar powered bomb attack on a plane is a waste of time, don't blame the TSA agent. According to a former employee most of the security people agree with you. Instead, we need to hold accountable the people sending down such ridiculous orders. From the article: 'Ridiculous restrictions and the TSA have become nearly synonymous in the post-9/11 airport, and as new, improbable terrorist plots come to light, we will likely continue to be burdened with new, absurd rules. But our best bet is to take the frustration toward the TSA agent confiscating our over-sized liquids, and re-direct it to the people at TSA headquarters who are being paid the big bucks to make the rules — the ones who make the call as to whether our toothpaste is verboten and whether our shoes will need extra screening'"

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Elon Musk Talks Tesla, Apple, Model X
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 09:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what'd-he-say? department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted in a Bloomberg interview that he had engaged in 'conversations' with Apple, but refused to disclose the content of those talks. Rumors have circulated for several days that Apple executives met with Musk last spring about a possible acquisition. An anonymous source with knowledge of those discussions told SFGate.com that discussions included Adrian Perica, who heads up Apple's M&A division, and possibly Apple CEO Tim Cook. 'Both [Tesla and Apple] have built brands based on advanced engineering and stylish user-friendly design,' the newspaper noted. 'And each company has become a symbol of Silicon Valley innovation—even among people who don't own their products.' But in the interview, Musk framed an acquisition as 'very unlikely,' mostly because it would distract Tesla from its goal of building an affordable electric car. 'I don't see any scenario,' he added, in which Tesla could juggle the issues associated with a takeover while producing vehicles that met his perfectionist standards. He did suggest, however, that Apple's iOS and Google Android could find their respective ways into Tesla's in-vehicle software. Tesla executives once considered integrating an early version of Android into the company's first electric cars, but the software ultimately wasn't ready to serve as an automotive application. Nonetheless, Musk could see iOS or Android within the context of a 'projected mode or emulator' that would allow someone to use applications while driving, although 'that's peripheral to the goal of Tesla.'"

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The Science of Social Participation
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 07:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's break-it-down department:
cold fjord writes in with this story about research that breaks down Twitter conversations in 6 basic types."The Pew Research Center and the Social Media Research Foundation analyzed thousands of twitter conversations going back to 2010. They found these conversations occurred based on the structure of the individual's Twitter network. For example, the subjects and content that a person tweets about, the people they follow, the people who follow them and the way they network creates a structure of social activity. In a recently released report Pew reports that they uncovered six distinct patterns for these structures. 'These are data-driven early steps in understanding Twitter discussion structures that contribute to the emerging science of social participation,' Ben Shneiderman professor of computer science at the University of Maryland ... 'This new field is emerging right before our eyes and could eventually have a large impact on our understanding of everything from health to community safety, from business innovation to citizen science and from civic engagement to sustainable energy programs.' ... 'These maps provide insights into people's behavior in a way that complements and expands on traditional research methods ... '"

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Ubuntu 14.04 Brings Back Menus In Application Windows
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 06:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's lets-try-this department:
sfcrazy writes "Canonical is bringing back menu integration with application windows. In 14.04 there will be an option for users to enable menus in application windows. That's a huge u-turn from Mark's stand on Global Menus which upset a lot of Ubuntu users."

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Dogs' Brains Have Human-like "Voice Area"
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's listen-up-lassie department:
sciencehabit writes "When you hear a friend's voice, you immediately picture her, even if you can't see her. And from the tone of her speech, you quickly gauge if she's happy or sad. You can do all of this because your human brain has a 'voice area.' Now, scientists using brain scanners and a crew of eager dogs have discovered that dog brains, too, have dedicated voice areas. The finding helps explain how canines can be so attuned to their owners' feelings."

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White House Takes Steps Against Patent Trolls
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's patents-under-the-bridge department:
itwbennett writes "The Obama administration on Thursday launched a website with information to assist people and businesses targeted in patent lawsuits or receiving patent demand letters. The White House also announced that it would launch a new crowdsourcing initiative focused on identifying prior art (evidence of existing inventions) that the USPTO can use to reject bad patent claims and will expand a USPTO patent examiner technical training program by allowing outside technologists to help with the training."

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Why Your Online Impersonation of a 16-year Old Girl Won't Last Long
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 03:46 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's because-soon-enough-you'll-be-17-anyhow department:
An anonymous reader writes "Can computers pick up your age and gender from your tweets? If you want to give it a try, here's your chance: 'To develop your software for age and gender identification, we provide you with a training data set that consists of blog posts, Twitter tweets, social media texts, as well as hotel reviews.' Well, at least my paid Amazon reviews are safe for the time being..."

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Drive-by Android Malware Exploits Unpatchable Vulnerability
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's bad-people-are-out-there department:
An anonymous reader writes "Attackers have crafted the E-Z-2-Use malware code that exploits a 14-month-old vulnerability in Android devices. The vulnerability exists in the WebView interface a malicious website can utilize it to gain a remote shell into the system with the permissions of the hijacked application. Vulnerable devices are any device that is running a version earlier than 4.2 (in which the vulnerability was patched) which is a staggeringly large amount of the market. The vulnerability is in Android itself rather than the proprietary GMS application platform that sits atop the base operating system so it is not easily patched by Google."

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Jim Weirich, Creator of Rake, Has Passed Away
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 02:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's always-sad-news department:
SirLurksAlot writes "News is beginning to circulate on Twitter and various sites that Jim Weirich, the creator of Rake, has passed away at the age of 58. He was an active developer (his last commit in the last 24 hours) and has made many contributions to the Ruby community over the years, as well as being a prolific speaker and teacher. He had a great sense of humor and was beloved by many. He will be greatly missed."

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BSD Real-Time Operating System NuttX Makes Its 100th Release: NuttX 6.33
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's you're-a-nut department:
paugq writes "NuttX is a real-time operating system (RTOS) with an emphasis on standards compliance and small footprint. Scalable from 8-bit to 32-bit microcontroller environments, the primary governing standards in NuttX are POSIX and ANSI standards. Additional standard APIs from Unix and other common RTOS's (such as VxWorks) are adopted for functionality not available under these standards, or for functionality that is not appropriate for deeply-embedded environments. NuttX was first released in 2007 by Gregory Nutt under the permissive BSD license, and today the 100th release was made: NuttX 6.33. Supported platforms include ARM, Atmel AVR, x86, Z80 and others."

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Why Your Phone Gets OTA Updates But Your Car Doesn't
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's 5g-at-95-mph department:
First time accepted submitter kjbullis writes with this snippet from Technology Review: "When Toyota recalled over two million cars last week because of flaws with antilock braking systems and other problems, the fix was simple — a few software updates.The implementation of that fix is far from simple. Every one of those cars has to be taken into a dealership to have the new software installed, an expensive process that can take months. Cars that haven't been fixed could, in some cases, suddenly stall and crash. There is an alternative — the same sort of remote software updates used for PCs and smart phones. Indeed, one automaker, Tesla Motors, already provides what it calls 'over-the-air updates,' which allowed it to execute a recent software fix without requiring anybody to bring in their cars. But other automakers are dragging their feet, both because they're worried about security and because they might face resistance from dealers."

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WhatsApp: 2nd Biggest Tech Acquisition of All Time
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's of-all-time! department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to drop a cool $16 billion on WhatsApp, a messaging service with 450 million users. It was a mind-boggling sum, even if you buy into Facebook's argument that WhatsApp (which will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary, at least for the moment) will soon connect a billion people around the world. But it wasn't the biggest tech acquisition of all time: that honor belongs to Hewlett-Packard, which bought Compaq for (an inflation-adjusted) $33.4 billion in 2001. Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp comes in second on the list, followed by Hewlett-Packard's purchase of Electronic Data Systems for $15.4 billion; Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $13 billion, and Oracle snatching up Peoplesoft for $12.7 billion. In sixth comes Hewlett-Packard again, with its Autonomy buy in 2011 (for $11.7 billion), followed by Oracle's BEA Systems acquisition ($9.4 billion) and Microsoft seizing Skype ($9.0 billion). What do many of these highest-cost purchases have in common? Many of them didn't pan out. Hewlett-Packard's Compaq, Autonomy, and EDS acquisitions, for example, made all the sense in the world on paper, the tech giant eventually took significant write-downs on all three (Autonomy in particular was an outright disaster, resulting in a $8.8 billion write-off and widespread allegations of financial and management impropriety)."

Update: 02/20 19:32 GMT by T : Of interest: Mother Jones has an interesting take on the seeming mismatch between Facebook's business model and the way the WhatsApp founders think about advertising. Hint: they hate it.

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European Space Agency Picks Plato Planet-hunting Mission
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-space-they-don't-mind-if-you-look department:
kc123 writes "A telescope to find worlds around other stars has been selected for launch by the European Space Agency's Science Policy Committee. Known as Plato (Planetary Transits and Oscillations of stars), the mission should launch on a Soyuz rocket in 2024. The Plato space telescope will prepare the way for scientists searching for alien life by locating the first genuinely Earth-like exoplanets orbiting nearby stars. It will break new ground in astronomy by using a "bug eye" array of 34 individual telescopes. The intention is for this array to sweep about half the sky, to investigate some of its brightest and nearest stars."

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WhatsApp: 2d Biggest Tech Acquisition of All Time
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's of-all-time! department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg decided to drop a cool $16 billion on WhatsApp, a messaging service with 450 million users. It was a mind-boggling sum, even if you buy into Facebook's argument that WhatsApp (which will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary, at least for the moment) will soon connect a billion people around the world. But it wasn't the biggest tech acquisition of all time: that honor belongs to Hewlett-Packard, which bought Compaq for a (inflation-adjusted) $33.4 billion in 2001. Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp comes in second on the list, followed by Hewlett-Packard's purchase of Electronic Data Systems for $15.4 billion; Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $13 billion, and Oracle snatching up Peoplesoft for $12.7 billion. In sixth comes Hewlett-Packard again, with its Autonomy buy in 2011 (for $11.7 billion), followed by Oracle's BEA Systems acquisition ($9.4 billion) and Microsoft seizing Skype ($9.0 billion). What do many of these highest-cost purchases have in common? Many of them didn't pan out. Hewlett-Packard's Compaq, Autonomy, and EDS acquisitions, for example, made all the sense in the world on paper, the tech giant eventually took significant write-downs on all three (Autonomy in particular was an outright disaster, resulting in a $8.8 billion write-off and widespread allegations of financial and management impropriety)."

Update: 02/20 19:32 GMT by T : Of interest: Mother Jones has an interesting take on the seeming mismatch between Facebook's business model and the way the WhatsApp founders think about advertising. Hint: they hate it.

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Ask Slashdot: Should I Get Google Glass?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 20 '14 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-are-you-a-stone-thrower? department:
lunatick writes "I put in my application for Google Glass as a joke. I never figured I would be selected. Well in less than one week I got my invite to buy Google Glass. My main hold back is the $1500 price tag for a device that just seems to be a camera and navigation aid. Does anyone in the /. community have Google Glass and can they give some advice to the rest of us considering it?"

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