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Russia Today: Vladimir Putin's Weapon In 'The War of Images'
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's next-gen-propaganda department:
dryriver sends in a story at Der Spiegel Online about news network Russia Today, and how it is becoming a powerful propaganda tool for Vladimir Putin to use against Western audiences. Quoting:
"Since 2005, the Russian government has increased the channel's annual budget more than tenfold, from $30 million (€22.6 million) to over $300 million. Russia Today's budget covers the salaries of 2,500 employees and contractors worldwide, 100 in Washington alone. And the channel has no budget cuts to fear now that Putin has issued a decree forbidding his finance minister from taking any such steps. The Moscow leadership views the funds going to the channel as money 'well invested,' says Natalya Timakova, the press attaché to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. 'In addition, Russia Today is — and I hope the Germans will forgive me for this remark — significantly more modern than Deutsche Welle, for example, and it also has more money.' ... Russia Today sees itself as a champion of a global audience critical of the West. But it is also meant to amplify the self-doubts of Europeans and Americans who have been forced by recent events to wonder if their own countries — like Russia and China — are corrupt and in the grip of a pervasive intelligence apparatus. In any case, the station has a rare knack for propaganda. ... To spice up the news, directors sometimes use Hollywood-like special effects, such as a computer-animated tank that looks like it is rolling over the newscaster's feet or Israeli fighter jets that fly a virtual loop through the studio before dropping their bombs over a map of Syria."

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Microsoft: Xbox One Won't Require Kinect To Function
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hmm,-what-do-we-complain-about-now? department:
UnknowingFool writes "Microsoft has reversed course on another aspect of the Xbox One. Though Xbox One will come bundled with a Kinect sensor, the console will work without it. Critics were had suggested that an always-on video and audio sensor could be used to spy on users. Microsoft's Marc Whitten said, 'Games use Kinect in a variety of amazing ways from adding voice to control your squad mates to adding lean and other simple controls beyond the controller to full immersive gameplay. That said, like online, the console will still function if Kinect isn't plugged in, although you won't be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.' This is the latest reversal from Microsoft since they killed the phone-home DRM and made it region-free."

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Illuminating Window-Less Houses With a Plastic Bottle
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's completely-beats-cow-dung department:
New submitter DancesWithWolves writes "The BBC reports on Alfredo Moser, who came up with a way of illuminating his house during the day without electricity — using nothing more than plastic bottles filled with water and a tiny bit of bleach. In the last two years his idea has spread throughout the world. It is expected to be in one million homes by early next year.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Med-School Note-Taking?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-mean-you-don't-like-onenote department:
First time accepted submitter spencj writes "I'm just starting year two of medical school, and I've been rethinking the way I make and create notes/study guides. One of the problems I've considered is that we learn about the same topic in several arenas. For example, if I consider some disease like coronary artery disease, I will likely learn about this topic in cardiology, radiology, pharmacology, and then in outside study resources such as Kaplan guides, online resources, etc.. Further, it will come up in August, October, March, April, etc.. My dream app is some combination of Excel, Visio, Word, and a blog where I could tag selections of text. If I then 'filtered' by certain parameters, it would collapse all the information I'd collected from different resources. For example, say I create a flowchart in Visio, take some notes in Word, create a table in Excel, and save from text from a web resource. I tag each item with 'coronary artery disease,' then I want to quickly query for all of my items with this tag. Is there any kind of app or resource that can pull this off? Medical students everywhere would be grateful."

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Larry Ellison Believes Apple Is Doomed
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-the-long-run-we're-all-doomed department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Oracle CEO Larry Ellison thinks that Apple will collapse without Steve Jobs at the helm. In a televised interview with CBS News, scheduled to air August 13, Ellison called the deceased Jobs 'brilliant' and compared him to iconic creators such as Thomas Edison and Pablo Picasso. When asked about Apple's future now that Jobs is dead, Ellison didn't hold back: 'We already know, we saw — we conducted the experiment, it's been done.' Raising his hand above his head, presumably to indicate the rise of Apple's fortunes during Jobs' initial reign, Ellison said: 'We saw Apple with Steve Jobs.' Then he lowered his hand: "We saw Apple without Steve Jobs." In other words, the period following Jobs' ouster, when the company's revenues declined and it launched whole portfolios of consumer products that failed. 'We saw Apple with Steve Jobs,' Ellison continued, raising his hand above his head again — this time, to suggest that incandescent period following Jobs' return to the company, when it released the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and a variety of bestselling PCs. 'And now, we're going to see Apple without Steve Jobs,' he finished, and his hand fell."

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Obama's Privacy Reform Panel Will Report To ... the NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-washing-the-dishes-honey department:
FuzzNugget writes "No, you didn't just stumble upon The Onion by mistake. Ars Technica reports that Obama's "reform" panel will report directly to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who arguably lied to congress about whether the NSA conducted dragnet surveillance of Americans' communications. But is anyone really surprised?"

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Hacking Lightbulbs To Cause a Sustained Blackout
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's dark-as-a-particle-or-as-a-wave department:
An anonymous reader writes "Researcher Nitesh Dhanjani just published an evaluation of the Philips Hue wireless lighting system that are available at Apple stores (and online). These lightbulbs come with a wireless bridge that you can control from your iPhone. Dhanjani has published a video demonstrating a vulnerability he found that can be exploited by malware to cause a sustained blackout. The video shows how the malware script can continuously turn the light bulbs off. Dhanjani also discusses other scenarios such as the systems' tie in with IFTT (If This Then That) to cause a blackout by tagging a Facebook user on a completely black photo. Lots of interesting ideas on security vulnerabilities targeting future malware and smart devices. The paper can be downloaded here (PDF)."

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IAB Urges People To Stop "Mozilla From Hijacking the Internet"
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's reverse-psychology department:
hypnosec writes "In its latest attempt to stop Mozilla from going ahead with its proposed default blocking of third-party cookies in Firefox, the IAB took out a full page ad urging users to stop 'Mozilla from hijacking the Internet.' Through the advert, IAB has claimed that the Firefox maker wants to be the 'judge and jury' when it comes to business models on the web. According to the IAB, Mozilla wants to eliminate the cookies which enable online advertisers to reach the right audience. IAB notes that 'If cookies are eliminated, it is clear to us that consumers will get a less relevant and diverse Internet experience.'"

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Aussie Public Servant Criticises Gov't On Twitter, Gets Sacked
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's new-destination-moscow department:
An anonymous reader writes "An Australian public servant who criticised the government on Twitter has been sacked even though she did not reveal her name or her job to her readers. Federal Judge Warwick Neville told her Australians had no 'unfettered implied right (or freedom) of political expression.' Unlike Americans, Australians have only limited rights to Free Speech. The new ruling makes means public servants cannot criticize the government on social media, even privately and in their own time."

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SDL 2.0 Release Improves 2D/3D Rendering, Better Audio & New Features
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's simple-is-modest department:
An anonymous reader writes "Simple DirectMedia Layer 2.0 has finally been released. The cross-platform multimedia layer used by hundreds of cross-platform games has seen its first major release in years. The SDL 2.0 release has many new features including GL3 and OpenGL ES rendering support, a new 2D rendering API, better full-screen / multi-window support, multiple input support, Android and iOS support, power management, and other new functionality. SDL 2.0 can be downloaded from libsdl.org."

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Losing the War Data For Iraq and Afghanistan
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-you-save-everything-you-save-nothing department:
cervesaebraciator writes with an excerpt from an analysis of a kind we're likely to see more of as ubiquitous sensors and cheap storage continue to proliferate: "'The Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns are unique in that they were the first wars to be documented electronically. The use of computers to track stabilization efforts produced enormous datasets in which important indicators were tracked, including daily electricity-production rates, georeferenced insurgent attacks, factory employment numbers, military spending on locally sourced goods and services and public opinion. [...] Army Secretary John McHugh recently admitted to members of Congress that thousands of records from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are missing. [...] The problem is that much of the existing data were collected in an ad hoc manner that reflects the lack of planning for stability operations following both invasions. While certain data types were methodically maintained, others were kept by single individuals in more arbitrary ways—in some cases, on a single computer's hard drive, in a personal computer or within an e-mail account. As flash drives are lost, computers reformatted, files erased, and human and magnetic memory degrades, various data types have been and will continue to be destroyed." With apologies to Santayana, those who do not backup data sets of the past are condemned to repeat them."

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Photocopying Michelle Obama's Diary, Just In Case
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 04:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's potus-doesn't-actually-do-dishes-anyway department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Conor Friedersdorf has a good (and humorous) read in the Atlantic about the analogy that President Obama has settled on to explain his theory of the NSA surveillance controversy to reporters. 'The question is how do we make the American people more comfortable?' Obama said. 'If I tell Michelle that I did the dishes ... and she's a little skeptical, well, I'd like her to trust me, but maybe I need to bring her back and show her the dishes and not just have her take my word for it.' The analogy has been widely panned, and for good reason. Friedersdorf writes that he has come up with a much better analogy. What if 'Barack snuck into Michelle's closet one day, dug through her belongings until he found her diary, and photocopied it. Then he replaced the original, locked the copy in his desk, and didn't think about it much until she found out months later and furiously confronted him.' Admittedly, it isn't a perfect analogy either says Friedersdorf, 'but it comes a lot closer than Obama did to capturing the actual stakes in this debate, and the reason so many Americans are angry at him.'"

In related news, Snowden's father disagrees that his son isn't a patriot: "My son has spoken the truth, and he has sacrificed more than either the president of the United States or Peter King have ever in their political careers or their American lives. So how they choose to characterize him really doesn't carry that much weight with me."

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GNUstep Kickstarter Campaign Launched
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 03:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's will-code-for-crowdfunds department:
borgheron writes "A maintainer of GNUstep has launched a Kickstarter campaign to get the resources needed to make GNUstep more complete and bring the implementation to API compatibility with Mac OS X 10.6's Cocoa. This will allow applications for Mac OS X to run on GNU/Linux with a simple recompile using new tools developed by the GNUstep team to directly build from xcodeproj project files. If the Kickstarter project is funded beyond it's $50,000 goal, it's possible that WebKit and Darling might also be completed allowing applications built on Mac OS X to run without the need for a recompile... think WINE-like functionality for Mac OS X applications on other platforms... including Windows, Linux, BSD, etc."

GNUStep is pretty useful now, but increased coverage of newer Cocoa APIs would be nice, and Darling in particular is interesting by providing a portable Mach-O binary loader.

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First Portions of Aaron Swartz's Secret Service File Released
Posted by News Fetcher on August 13 '13 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's can't-make-jstor-look-bad department:
Despite attempts by MIT and JSTOR to block the release of files pertaining the Aaron Swartz investigation, the court has ordered the release of documents not referencing MIT or JSTOR. There are approximately 14,500 pages of documents that will be released over the coming six months, after having information that could lead to harm against MIT or JSTOR employees redacted. Wired has the full story, and the author uploaded the first hundred pages of files. The first batch reveals that the Feds had indeed been looking into Swartz since the publication of his 2008 'Guerilla Open Access Manifesto,' several years before being indicted for copying documents from JSTOR.

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Despite Global Release, Breaking Bad Heavily Pirated
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '13 at 11:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's broadcast-is-dead department:
tlhIngan writes "One reason that many people pirate TV shows is "it's not available in my country until months after it airs". Which is why the second episode of Breaking Bad's final season was aired globally within a few hours of each other yesterday evening. Despite this, many users still decided to download it than watch it when it aired locally. Australia users we the top, perhaps because it was on FoxTel. This was followed by US and Canada (who obviously got to see it when it aired), and the UK where Netflix had it within hours of the US premier. Fifth on the list was the Netherlands, where it had aired hours before the U.S. premier on a public channel. It's obvious that despite the global release, the show was headed to top its previous highs in number of downloads. Could this spell the doom to future global releases, since the evidence is people just pirate them anyways?"

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Royal Navy Deployed Laser Weapons During the Falklands War
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '13 at 08:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's zap-zap-you're-dead department:
Zothecula writes "Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain."

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Playing StarCraft Could Boost Your Cognitive Flexibility
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '13 at 06:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's tricked-into-learning department:
First time accepted submitter briglass writes "Imagine being a total non-gamer and then suddenly playing an hour of StarCraft a day for almost two months. A new study of mine demonstrates that a group of female gaming novices (seriously novice, as in 0 to 1 hour of gaming per week novice) demonstrated increased cognitive flexibility after playing StarCraft, a sort of fast-paced chess on steroids. The control group played The Sims. It's been well known that video gaming can lead to psychological benefits, such as faster perceptual information processing after playing first-person shooter games. But this new study, published in PLOS ONE, shows that video gaming can also affect higher-level cognitive functions. The StarCraft game was customized to be adaptive and remain challenging as the newly minted gamers honed their skills, and in-game behavior was recorded to determine what aspects of StarCraft leads to the boost in flexibility."

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20 People Shot With BB Guns At LG G2 Promotional Event
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '13 at 04:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's run-for-cover department:
coolnumbr12 tipped us to a tale of a contest gone wrong at LG's G2 release event. Quoting El Reg: "The PR boffins at LG decided it would be a good idea to release 100 helium-filled balloons, each carrying a voucher entitling the recipient to claim their 950,000 won ($852.54) smartphone. It then took to social media to promote the event, inviting people to witness the balloons' release and encouraging them to grab one of the vouchers. But what must have sounded like a good idea in the marketing meeting quickly dissolved into chaos. People aren’t stupid. They figured out that the only way to get the voucher was to burst the balloons, and they showed up equipped to do so with BB guns, knives on sticks, and other tools."

In the ensuing carnage, 20 people were injured. Whoops.

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Apache Web Server Share Falls Below 50 Percent For First Time Since 2009
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '13 at 04:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's netcraft-confirms-netcraft-meme-is-dying department:
darthcamaro writes "Apache has always dominated the web server landscape. But in August, its' share has slipped below 50 percent for the first time in years. The winner isn't nginx either — it's Microsoft IIS that has picked up share. But don't worry, this isn't likely a repeat of the Netscape/IE battle of the late 90's, Apache is here to stay (right?)"

The dip is mostly the result of GoDaddy switching to IIS from Apache. Which is to say GoDaddy hosts a whole lot of sites.

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Federal Judge Rules NYC "Stop and Frisk" Violated Rights
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's what-fourth-amendment department:
In a mixed ruling for Fourth Amendment rights, a federal judge today ruled that NYC's Stop-and-Frisk program violated constitutional rights due to disproportionately targeting minorities. However, despite the program being unconstitutional in its current form, it will not stop. From the New York Times: " Judge Scheindlin also ordered a number of other remedies, including a pilot program in which officers in at least five precincts across the city will wear body-worn cameras in an effort to record street encounters. She also ordered a 'joint remedial process' — in essence, a series of community meetings — to solicit public input on how to reform stop-and-frisk. ... The Supreme Court had long ago ruled that stop-and-frisks were constitutionally permissible under certain conditions, and Judge Scheindlin stressed that she was 'not ordering an end to the practice.' But she said that changes were needed to ensure that the street stops were carried out in a manner that “protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much needed police protection.' ... The judge found that the New York police were too quick to deem as suspicious behavior that was perfectly innocent, in effect watering down the legal standard required for a stop. "

The ruling itself (PDF). Bloomberg is furious about the decision, and the city, naturally, intends to appeal.

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