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Inside the Decision To Shut Down Silent Mail
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's hush-now department:
Trailrunner7 writes with this snippet from ThreatPost:: "Silent Circle's decision to shut down its Silent Mail email service may have come quickly yesterday, and the timing of the announcement admittedly was prompted by Lavabit's decision to suspend operations hours before. But the seeds for this decision may have been sown long before Edward Snowden, who reportedly used Lavabit as a secure email provider, was a household name and NSA warrants for customer data were known costs of doing business. ... 'When we saw the Lavabit announcement, the thing we were worrying about had happened, and it had happened to somebody else. It was very difficult to not think I'm next,' Callas said. 'I had been discussing with Phil [founder and PGP developer Phil Zimmerman] over dinner the night before, should we be doing this and what the timing should be. I was looking at it from point that I want to be a responsible service provider and not leave users in a lurch. [The Lavabit announcement] told me I have to start moving on it now.'"

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Microsoft Is Working On a Cloud Operating System For the US Government
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's like-a-sticky-enveloping-fog-of-goo department:
SmartAboutThings writes "It seems that Microsoft is relying even more on the opportunities provided by the cloud technology. The Redmond behemoth is preparing to come up with a cloud operating system that is specially meant for government purposes. Government agencies already use two of Microsoft's basic cloud products: Windows Azure and Windows Server. But now it seems that Microsoft is working on a modified version of its somewhat new Cloud OS that could bear the name "Fairfax", Compared to Windows Azure, "Fairfax" cloud operating system would provide enhanced security, relying on physical servers on site at government locations. Given the fact that CEO Steve Ballmer is striving to make Microsoft much more than a powerful software giant, such a project makes sense, especially because it would help in their lobby activities."

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Examining the Expected Effects of Dark Matter On the Solar System
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 12:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's picks-up-loose-dirt-gets-out-tough-stains department:
First time accepted submitter LiavK writes "Ethan Siegel recently wrote a great post for ScienceBlogs discussing the expected total mass of dark matter in the solar system. As far as we can tell, dark matter only interacts weakly, via gravity, both with itself and normal matter. So, it can't collide with itself, meaning that it has no way of getting hotter and radiating away energy and momentum. This means that it remains a diffuse mess, with a density that is ridiculously low, to the point where detecting its local effects is likely to remain... challenging for the foreseeable future."

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Londoners Tracked By Advertising Firm's Trash Cans
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's time-for-spoofing department:
schwit1 asks "How can I automatically have my wi-fi turn off when I leave the house unless I specifically turn it back on?" and provides this excerpt from Wired to illustrate why that would be useful: "Hundreds of thousands of pedestrians walking past 12 locations unknowingly had the unique MAC address of their smartphones recorded by Renew London. Data including the "movement, type, direction, and speed of unique devices" was recorded from smartphones that had their Wi-Fi on. First reported by Quartz, the data gathering appears to be a Minority Report-esque proof-of-concept project, demonstrating the possibility for targeted personal advertising. 'It provides an unparalleled insight into the past behavior of unique devices — entry/exit points, dwell times, places of work, places of interest, and affinity to other devices — and should provide a compelling reach data base for predictive analytics (likely places to eat, drink, personal habits etc.),' reads a blog post on the company's site. In tests running between 21-24 May and 2-9 June, over 4 million events were captured, with over 530,000 unique devices captured. Further testing is taking place at sites including Liverpool Street Station." (The name sounds a bit like a government project, but Renew London is actually an advertising / marketing firm.)

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As AOL Prepares To Downsize Patch, CEO Fires Employee During Meeting
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-that's-offsides department:
An anonymous reader writes "AOL is closing or plans to sell nearly half of the 900 'hyperlocal' news websites operated by its money-losing Patch Media subsidiary (TechCrunch is also owned by AOL). Hundreds of staff layoffs are believed to be imminent. AOL acquired Patch in 2009, soon after ex-Googler Tim Armstrong took over as CEO; Armstrong was also a co-founder of Patch. During a tough conference call last Thursday Armstrong told Patch editors: 'Something at Patch has been missing for some time and that's leadership – leadership with a capital L'. Armstrong then demonstrated his grasp of Donald Trump's management style by firing an employee during the meeting for taking a picture. At 1:18 of the NY Post's sound clip from Jim Romensko: 'Leaking information Patch isn't going to bother me. I'm not changing direction'. At 2:00: 'Abel [Creative Director Lenz], put that camera down. Abel, you're fired. Out.' Armstrong later explained that 'The reason I fired Abel is I don't want anyone taking pictures of this meeting' and that, much like a sports team, AOL couldn't afford to have people 'giving the game plan away'."

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Ask Slashdot: Best/Newest Hardware Without "Trusted Computing"?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-light-of-recent-events department:
An anonymous reader writes "What is the best/newest hardware without trusted computing (TC) / Trusted Platform Module(TPM)? I am currently running ancient 32-bit hardware and thinking about an upgrade to something x64 with USB3, SATA3 and >1 core on the CPU ... but don't want TC/TPM. I have no need to run anything like Blu Ray movie disks or Microsoft Windows that requires TC/TPM or the UEFI boot process. Is anybody else still trying to avoid TC/TPM? What have your experiences been? Any pointers?" Worth reading on this front, too: Richard Stallman on so-called Trusted Computing,.

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GovernmentAttic Publishes Declassified Survey of Worldwide Bio-War Research
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's stuff-of-nightmares department:
An anonymous reader writes "The GovernmentAttic website has just published a dossier of reports produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency describing biological weapons development in nations throughout the world. The 16 reports were released by the Department of Defense in response to declassification request submitted five years ago. Although the sensitive bits were removed, the remaining portions of the reports demonstrate the prevalence of research, development and deployment of bio weapons worldwide, despite an international treaty prohibiting such activity. The same website has also published a Thesaurus of Biological Warfare terminology (PDF) and a listing of pre-1946 reports on biological and chemical warfare (PDF) from the Army."

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New Animated PNG Creation Tools Intend To Bring APNG Into Mainstream Use
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-many-to-choose-from department:
Kagetsuki writes "While grainy GIF images can have entertaining uses, they aren't the ideal animated image format due to lack of full color support and an alpha channel [for varied transparency]. Animated PNG doesn't have these faults and has been available and incorporated in quite a few browsers since roughly 2004. Lack of tools and recognition has hurt adoption, so to remedy this there is a campaign on Kickstarter to create an Open Source, high quality Animated PNG [APNG] conversion library and GUI Editor based on the APNG Assembler tool 'apngasm.' Even the primary goal includes libraries/modules for C/C++ and Ruby along with a cross platform GUI authoring tool. Aside from supporting the project simply using APNG willl help raise interest and support in the standard and bring us one step closer to a world with cleaner animated images."

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Study Ties High Blood Sugar To Dementia
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's news-for-nerds-with-brains department:
A study published last week in the New England Journal suggests that blood sugar levels may be a more important indicator than previously realized for non-diabetics: high blood sugar levels were linked by the study's authors with increased risk of dementia (summary free; full article paywalled). The study followed more than 2,000 elderly participants, and found a positive correlation between blood glucose levels and development of dementia, both for patients with and without diabetes.

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After Lavabit Shut-Down, Dotcom's Mega Promises Secure Mail
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-can't-he-and-mcafee-have-a-reality-show? department:
<a>Lavabit may no longer be an option</a>, but recent events driven interest in email and other ways to communicate without exposing quite so much, quite so fast, to organizations like the NSA (and DEA, and other agencies). Kim Dotcom as usual enjoys filling the spotlight, when it comes to shuttling bits around in ways that don't please the U.S. government, and Dotcom's privacy-oriented <a>Mega</a> has disclosed plans to serve as an <a>email provider with an emphasis on encryption</a>. ZDNet features an interview with Mega's CEO Vikram Kumar about the complications of keeping email relatively secure; it's not so much the encryption itself, as keeping bits encrypted while still providing the kind of features that users have come to expect from modern webmail providers like Gmail:
"'The biggest tech hurdle is providing email functionality that people expect, such as searching emails, that are trivial to provide if emails are stored in plain text (or available in plain text) on the server side,' Kumar said. 'If all the server can see is encrypted text, as is the case with true end-to-end encryption, then all the functionality has to be built client side. [That’s] not quite impossible but very, very hard. That’s why even Silent Circle didn’t go there.'"

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One-Way Ticket: Mars One Project Applicants Top 100,000
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's I'd-like-to-help-pick-'em department:
Bas Lansdorp's projected trip to Mars has a well-known catch: the ticket to space is free (rather than the millions of dollars for the more conventional kind of space travel available to civilians), but it's one-way only. That's a downside for any potential astronauts who'd like to do things like visit the beach or ever see their Earthside family again in person. Still, the Mars One project announced this week that more than 100,000 volunteers have announced their willingness to forsake this planet in favor of the next. The application process is ongoing; have you signed up?

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The Science of 12-Step Programs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '13 at 01:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-brain-on-steps department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Since the inception of Alcoholics Anonymous — the progenitor of 12-step programs — science has sometimes been at odds with the notion that laypeople can cure themselves because the numerous spiritual references that go with the 12-step program puts A.A. on "the fringe" in the minds of many scientists. But there is an interesting read at National Geographic where Jarret Liotta writes that new research shows that the success of the 12-step approach may ultimately be explained through medical science and psychology. According to Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden and sober 37 years, attending 12-step meetings does more than give an addict warm, fuzzy feelings. The unconscious neurological pull of addiction undermines healthy survival drives, causing individuals to make disastrous choices, he says. "People will regularly risk their lives—risk everything—to continue use of a substance." Addicts don't want to engage in these behaviors, but they can't control themselves. "The only way to truly treat it is with something more powerful," like the 12 steps, that can change patterns in the brain. Philip Flores, author of Addiction as an Attachment Disorder, says the human need for social interaction is a physiological one, linked to the well-being of the nervous system. When someone becomes addicted, Flores says, mechanisms for healthy attachment are "hijacked," resulting in dependence on addictive substances or behaviors. Some believe that addicts, even before their disease kicks in, struggle with knowing how to form emotional bonds that connect them to other people. Co-occurring disorders, such as depression and anxiety, make it even harder to build those essential emotional attachments. "We, as social mammals, cannot regulate our central nervous systems by ourselves," Flores says. "We need other people to do that.""

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Chaos Computer Club, Others Scoff At German Email Security Move As "Marketing"
Posted by News Fetcher on August 10 '13 at 10:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's es-klingt-aber-so-gut department:
The move on the part of three large German ISPs to provide more secure email, marketed as "Email made in Germany" (Deutsche Telekom's part specifically was mentioned here yesterday), has drawn sharp criticism from security experts, according to a report at Ars. Among those experts are members of the Chaos Computing Club, and GPGMail lead Lukas Pitschl, who responded to the move from Deutsche Telekom, GMX, and Web.de to encrypt all email in transmission with SMTP TLS : "'If you really want to protect your e-mails from prying eyes, use OpenPGP or S/MIME on your own desktop and don't let a third-party provider have your data,' he told Ars. 'No one of the "E-Mail made in Germany" initiative would say if they encrypt the data on their servers so they don't have access to it, which they probably don't and thus the government could force them to let them access it.'"

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New Zealand Court Orders Facebook Disclosure To Employer
Posted by News Fetcher on August 10 '13 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's employment-at-will department:
An anonymous reader writes with a story out of New Zealand: "Gina Kensington was sacked by Air New Zealand earlier this year following a dispute over sick leave she took to care for her sister. She said she did not misuse sick leave, and went to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) seeking reinstatement. Air New Zealand responded by demanding to see her Facebook and bank details. Kensington refused, saying it did not have that information when it dismissed her and that 'it is well accepted in New Zealand there are general and legal privacy expectations about people's personal and financial information.'"

At least in the U.S., Facebook isn't keen on employers getting access to employees' Facebook account details.

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How to Peep the Perseid's Peak
Posted by News Fetcher on August 10 '13 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-come-on-people department:
The Christian Science Monitor has a short piece with some tips on watching the Perseid meteor showers, which will peak over the next few evenings. MSNBC also has a good suggestion if you'd like to watch the show but can't because of weather: watch online, courtesy of NASA and the Slooh space telescope. I hope the skies will cooperate so I can see them from darkest Maine.

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Cory Doctorow On Privacy and Oversharing
Posted by News Fetcher on August 10 '13 at 03:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's open-book department:
slash-sa writes with a link to an opinion piece from Cory Doctorow that begins: "The European Parliament is currently involved in a wrangle over the new General Data Protection Regulation. At stake are the future rules for online privacy, data mining, big data, governmental spying (by proxy), to name a few. Hundreds of amendments and proposals are on the table, including some that speak of relaxing the rules on sharing data that has been "anonymised" (had identifying information removed) or "pseudonymised" (had identifiers replaced with pseudonyms). This is, however, a very difficult business, with researchers showing how relatively simple techniques can be used to re-identify the data in large anonymised data sets, by picking out the elements of each record that make them unique."

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DEF CON Hackers Unveil a New Way of Visualizing Web Vulnerabilities
Posted by News Fetcher on August 10 '13 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's follow-the-bouncing-ball department:
punk2176 writes "Hacker and security researcher Alejandro Caceres (developer of the PunkSPIDER project) and 3D UI developer Teal Rogers unveiled a new free and open source tool at DEF CON 21 that could change the way that users view the web and its vulnerabilities. The project is a visualization system that combines the principles of offensive security, 3D data visualization, and 'big data' to allow users to understand the complex interconnections between websites. Using a highly distributed HBase back-end and a Hadoop-based vulnerability scanner and web crawler the project is meant to improve the average user's understanding of the unseen and potentially vulnerable underbelly of web applications that they own or use. The makers are calling this new method of visualization web 3.0. A free demo can be found here, where users can play with and navigate an early version of the tool via a web interface. More details can be found here and interested users can opt-in to the mailing list and eventually the closed beta here."

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Google Posts Images, Binaries For New Nexus 7
Posted by News Fetcher on August 10 '13 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-so-bad-as-all-that department:
In the wake of AOSP maintainer Jean-Baptiste Quéru's resignation, there was speculation that there would be no factory images or binary drivers released for Google's new Nexus 7 tablet. Happily, that's not the case — whatever other open source gaps there are in the Android world, Ars reports that those images and binaries have been released for the Nexus 7.

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Bacteria Behaviour Can Shed Light On How Financial Markets Work
Posted by News Fetcher on August 10 '13 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's If-only-bacteria-had-agency-and-preferences department:
notscientific writes "Bacteria invest in proteins in an attempt to reduce stress or increase energy intake, while humans invest in cash. In both cases, better tradeoffs pay off. The similarities in tradeoffs faced by both bacteria and humans during investment are actually quite similar. Now, using synthetic biology, a group of scientists has shown that the outcomes of investment decisions in bacteria can be precisely defined, alluding to the idea that human investment activities, such as financial markets, can be thoroughly understood as well, and even modelled."

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Samsung Infringed On Apple Patents, Says ITC
Posted by News Fetcher on August 10 '13 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's will-you-blame-this-on-the-free-market? department:
The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that certain models of Samsung phone violate Apple patents, and are likely to be blocked from import to the U.S. From the article: "The patents in question are U.S. Patent No. 7,479,949, which relates to a touch screen and user interface and U.S. Patent No. 7,912,501 which deals with detecting when a headset is connected. The ITC said Samsung didn’t infringe on the other two patents. In a statement on the matter, the ITC said the decision is final and the investigation has been closed. ... As was the case with the previous ruling that saw Apple devices banned, the ban on Samsung devices won’t go into effect until 60 days but can be blocked by a favorable ruling following a presidential review. That seems unlikely as such a block has only been issued once since 1987 – last’s week’s ruling in favor of Apple."

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