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Snowden A Hero? Gates Says No, Woz Says Yes
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '14 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's time-for-a-cage-match department:
hcs_$reboot writes "In a lengthy interview from Rolling Stone, Bill Gates, was asked: 'Do you consider [Snowden] a hero or a traitor?' The Microsoft founder responded, 'I certainly wouldn't characterize him as a hero. ... You won't find much admiration from me'. What about government surveillance? 'The government has such ability to do these things. ... But the specific techniques they use become unavailable if they're discussed in detail. Rolling Stone retorts that privacy can be an issue: 'We want safety, but we also want privacy,' says the journalist. Bill Gates tells his main priority focuses on stopping the bad guys: 'Let's say you knew nothing was going on. How would you feel? I mean, seriously. I would be very worried. Technology arms the bad guys with orders of magnitude more [power]. Not just bad guys. Crazy guys.' Meanwhile, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak expressed the opposite opinion about Snowden at a tech conference in Germany. 'He is a hero to me, but he may be a traitor to other people and I understand the reasons for them to think that way. I believe that Snowden believed, like I do, that the U.S. has a right to freedom. '"

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Why Are There More Old Songs On iTunes Than Old eBooks?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '14 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-blame-the-schools department:
New submitter Paul J Heald writes "The vast majority of books and songs from the 20th Century are out-of-print. New data show music publishers doing an admirable job of digitizing older content, but book publishers fail miserably at putting old works in eBook form. I've done some research in an attempt to explain why: 'Music publishers can proceed with the digitization of their back catalog without competing to re-sign authors or hiring lawyers to renegotiate and write new contracts. Research has revealed no cases holding that music publishers must renegotiate in order to digitize their vinyl back catalogs. The situation for book publishers is substantially the opposite. In the landmark case of Random House v. Rosetta Books, the Second Circuit held that Random House had to renegotiate deals with its authors in order to publish their hard copy books in eBook format. ... Another advantage that the music industry may have is the lower cost of digitization. A vinyl album or audio master tape can be converted directly to a consumable digital form and be made available almost immediately. A book, on the other hand, can be scanned quite easily, but in order to be marketed as a professional-looking eBook (as opposed to a low quality, camera-like image of the original book), the scanned text needs to be manipulated with word processing software to reset the fonts and improve the appearance of the text.'"

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Malaysian Flight Disappearance 'Deliberate'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '14 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hope-dwindling department:
An anonymous reader writes "Malaysia's Prime Minister announced at a press conference that Flight 370, which disappeared a week ago, was diverted as a result of 'deliberate action.' The investigation has now focused in two ways: first, they're looking more closely at the passengers and crew, and second, they've narrowed the search for the plane down to two corridors. One stretches from Kazakhstan to northern Thailand, and the other goes from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean. 'That conclusion was based on a final signal from the plane picked up on satellite at 8:11 a.m. on March 8, nearly seven hours after ground control lost contact with the jet, he said.'

The Prime Minister said the plane's communications system and the transponder system were both disabled early on during the flight. The time of the plane's final satellite contact would have put its fuel reserves very low. 'Police on Saturday morning drove into the residential compound where the missing plane's pilot lives in Kuala Lumpur, according a guard and several local reporters who were barred from entering the complex. ... Experts have previously said that whoever disabled the plane's communication systems and then flew the jet must have had a high degree of technical knowledge and flying experience. One possibility they have raised was that one of the pilots wanted to commit suicide."


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Religion Is Good For Your Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '14 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's still-looking-for-a-nice-atheist-church department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Sheila M. Elred writes in Discovery Magazine that a recent study has found that people at risk of depression were much less vulnerable if they identified as religious. Brain MRIs revealed that religious participants had thicker brain cortices than those who weren't as religious. 'One of the worst killers of brain cells is stress,' says Dr. Majid Fotuhi. 'Stress causes high levels of cortisol, and cortisol is toxic to the hippocampus. One way to reduce stress is through prayer. When you're praying and in the zone you feel a peace of mind and tranquility.' The reports concluded that a thicker cortex associated with a high importance of religion or spirituality may confer resilience to the development of depressive illness in individuals at high familial risk for major depression. The social element of attending religious services has also been linked to healthy brains. 'There's something magical about socializing,' says Fotuhi. 'It releases endorphins in the brain. It's hard to know whether it's through religion or a gathering of friends, but it improves brain health in the long term.'" (Read more, below.)

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Ask Slashdot: Best Management Interface On an IT Appliance?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '14 at 03:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-you-never-need department:
tippen writes "The management user interface on most networking and storage appliances are, shall we say, not up to the snuff compared to modern websites or consumer products. What are the best examples of good UX design on an IT appliance that you've managed? What was it that made you love it? What should companies (or designers) developing new products look to as best-in-class that they should be striving for?"

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Goodbye, Google Voice
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '14 at 03:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-mileage-may-vary department:
itwbennett writes "The trouble with Google Voice is that the way we use phones has changed — and it hasn't kept up with the times: 'Fewer people have a mobile phone and a business line and a home line that might make One Number For All so. Text message costs (which are actually close to nothing) are almost always bundled into contract costs. Automatic voice transcription, while still a mean feat, is no longer such a magic trick,' writes Kevin Purdy in a blog post explaining why he's breaking up with Google Voice. The main problem is that, despite some very cool features, Google Voice doesn't play well with others — even apps in its own family. And it doesn't look as though that's going to get better anytime soon." I've been very happy with Google Voice for a few years now, and one reason is the transcribed voice messages, which may get hilariously garbled sometimes, but are almost always correct enough to be useful.

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Hungarian Law Says Photogs Must Ask Permission To Take Pictures
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 11:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-mom-stop-running-away department:
An anonymous reader writes "Those planning a weekend break in Budapest take note. From 15 March anyone taking photographs in Hungary is technically breaking the law if someone wanders into shot, under a new civil code that outlaws taking pictures without the permission of everyone in the photograph. According to the justice ministry, people taking pictures should look out for those 'who are not waving, or who are trying to hide or running out of shot.' Officials say expanding the law on consent to include the taking of photographs, in addition to their publication, merely codifies existing court practice. However, Hungary's photographers call the law vague and obstructive, saying it has left the country of Joseph Pulitzer and photography legend Robert Capa out of step with Europe."

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How Data Storage Has Grown In the Past 60 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 09:01 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's megaleaps-and-gigabounds department:
Lucas123 writes "Imagine that in 1952, an IBM RAMAC 350 disk drive would have been able to hold only one .MP3 song. Today, a 4TB 3.5-in desktop drive (soon to be 5TB) can hold 760,000 songs. As much data as the digital age creates (2.16 Zettabytes and growing), data storage technology has always found a way to keep up. It is the fastest growing semiconductor technology there is. Consider a microSD card that in 2005 could store 128MB of capacity. Last month, SanDisk launched a 128GB microSD card — 1,000 times the storage in under a decade. While planar NAND flash is running up against a capacity wall, technology such as 3D NAND and Resistive Random Access Memory (RRAM) hold the promise of quadrupling of solid state capacity. Here are some photos of what was and what is in data storage."

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Ask Slashdot: Easiest To Use Multi-User Map Editing?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 06:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-need-enough-highlighters department:
Lordfly writes "I'm part of an online group of local hobbyist, semi-pro, and professional photographers. I want to start an editable map that showcases interesting places to shoot photos — parks, old buildings, interesting infrastructure, etc. Ideally I'd like to be able to tag/organize the markers (public/private property), as well as add example photos for each location to give people an idea of what the place looks like.

I've used the Google Maps 'Create a Map' feature, but have found that sharing for other users to see/edit is a bit ... off. Also, given Google's propensity for dropping features without much pretext, it makes me wary to sink time and effort into a possibly ephemeral map. It does most of what I'm looking for it to do, but are there more robust alternatives out there I'm not finding?"


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U.S. Aims To Give Up Control Over Internet Administration
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 04:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-long-last department:
schwit1 writes with this excerpt from the Washington Post: "U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move likely to please international critics but alarm some business leaders and others who rely on smooth functioning of the Web.

Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance last year."
Reader Midnight_Falcon points out this press release on the move from Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

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Mozilla Scraps Firefox For Windows 8, Citing Low Adoption of Metro
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 03:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-the-burglars-bring-your-couch-back department:
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today announced it is abandoning the Metro version of its Firefox browser, before the first release for Windows 8 even sees the light of day. Firefox Vice President Johnathan Nightingale ordered the company's engineering leads and release managers to halt development earlier this week, saying that shipping a 1.0 version "would be a mistake." Mozilla says it simply does not have the resources nor the scale of its competitors, and it has to pick its battles. The Metro platform (which has since been renamed to Modern UI, but many prefer the older name) simply doesn't help the organization achieve its mission as well as other platforms Firefox is available for: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android."

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Why San Francisco Is the New Renaissance Florence
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-left-my-pants-in-san-francisco department:
waderoush writes "Despite legitimate concerns over sky-high rents, Ellis Act evictions, Google Bus traffic, and the like, the San Francisco Bay Area is perhaps the most prosperous, comfortable, enlightened, stimulating, and generative place to live in Western history. For satisfying parallels, you'd have to look to a place like Florence and a time like the Renaissance, argues an Xconomy essay entitled From Cosimo to Cosmos: The Medici Effect in Culture and Technology. Today's coder-kings are working to reinvent economic structures in much the same way Renaissance painters, poets, architects, and scientists were trying to extend the framework they'd inherited from classical Greece and Rome. And in the role of the Medici family, long Florence's most powerful rulers and art patrons, we have people like Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Seth MacFarlane. Wait, what — Seth MacFarlane? Yes, the reboot of Carl Sagan's Cosmos starring Neil deGrasse Tyson (itself a tribute to the rise of science) wouldn't have happened without the involvement of a California media mogul. It's true that Silicon Valley can feel like Dante's Inferno if you're stuck in traffic on 101, or working 70-hour weeks as a code monkey at a doomed startup. But 'It would be unthinking, and ungrateful, to overlook the surplus we're reaping from the tech boom,' the essay argues."

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Target Ignored Signs of Data Breach
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's making-themselves-quite-a-target department:
puddingebola writes "Target ignored indications from its threat-detection tools that malware had infected its network. From the article, 'Unusually for a retailer, Target was even running its own security operations center in Minneapolis, according to a report published Thursday by Bloomberg Businessweek. Among its security defenses, following a months-long testing period and May 2013 implementation, was software from attack-detection firm FireEye, which caught the initial November 30 infection of Target's payment system by malware. All told, up to five "malware.binary" alarms reportedly sounded, each graded at the top of FireEye's criticality scale, and which were seen by Target's information security teams first in Bangalore, and then Minneapolis.' Unfortunately, it appears Target's security team failed to act on the threat indicators."

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Elon Musk Addresses New Jersey's Tesla Store Ban
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let's-argue-about-regulations department:
An anonymous reader writes "On Tuesday, we discussed news that New Jersey is trying to ban Tesla stores, which would force the company to sell through car dealerships instead. Now, Elon Musk has prepared a response: 'The reason that we did not choose to do this is that the auto dealers have a fundamental conflict of interest between promoting gasoline cars, which constitute virtually all of their revenue, and electric cars, which constitute virtually none. Moreover, it is much harder to sell a new technology car from a new company when people are so used to the old. Inevitably, they revert to selling what's easy and it is game over for the new company. The evidence is clear: when has an American startup auto company ever succeeded by selling through auto dealers? The last successful American car company was Chrysler, which was founded almost a century ago, and even they went bankrupt a few years ago, along with General Motors. Since the founding of Chrysler, there have been dozens of failures, Tucker and DeLorean being simply the most well-known. In recent years, electric car startups, such as Fisker, Coda, and many others, attempted to use auto dealers and all failed.'"

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Nanoscale Terahertz Optical Switch Breaks Miniaturization Barrier
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's who-cleans-up-all-these-broken-barriers-anyway department:
Science_afficionado writes "There is a general consensus that ultimately photons will replace electrons running through wires in most of our microelectronic devices. One of the current technical barriers to the spread of optoelectronics has been the difficulty in miniaturizing the ultrafast optical switches required. Now a team of physicists at Vanderbilt has made terahertz optical switches out of nanoparticles of vanadium dioxide, a material long known for its ability to rapidly change phase between metallic to semiconducting states (abstract). They report in the Mar. 12 issue of Nano Letters that they have created individually addressable switches that are 200 nm in diameter and can switch between transparent and opaque states at terahertz rates."

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EU Votes For Universal Phone Charger
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's guilty-as-charged department:
SmartAboutThings writes "The European Union has voted in favor of a draft legislation which lists among the 'essential requirements' of electrical devices approved by the EU a compatibility with 'universal' chargers. According to a German MEP, this move will eliminate 51,000 tonnes of electronic waste. The draft law was approved by an overwhelming majority: 550 votes to 12. At the moment, according to estimates, there are around 30 different types of charger on the market, but manufacturers have two years at their disposal to get ready for the new restriction."

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Google and Microsoft Both Want To Stop Dual-Boot Windows/Android Device
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's partners-in-nope department:
An anonymous reader writes "The laptop has undergone many changes over the past decade. At various times, netbooks, ultrabooks, and Chromebooks have been en vogue. Over the past several months, we've seen signs of the next step in the laptop's evolution: Android/Windows dual-boot laptops. Several companies have built these machines already, including Asus and its upcoming Transformer Book Duet TD300. However, neither Google nor Microsoft seem to want such an unholy marriage of operating systems, and they've both pressured Asus to kill off the dual-boot product lines. Asus has now complied. 'Google has little incentive to approve dual-OS models, since that could help Microsoft move into mobile devices where Android is dominant. ... Microsoft has its own reasons for not wanting to share space on computers with Google, particularly on business-oriented desktop and laptop PCs that could give the Internet giant an entry point into a Microsoft stronghold. Computer makers that make dual-OS machines risk jeopardizing a flow of marketing funds from Microsoft that are an important economic force in the low-margin PC business.'"

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The Earth As a Gravitational Wave Detector
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we'll-never-get-funding-to-build-it department:
b30w0lf writes "Gravitational wave detection — i.e. the detection of propagating ripples in spacetime — is a hot subject these days, with ground-based interferometer experiments like LIGO active, and hopes for a space interferometer like LISA. However, physicist Freeman Dyson proposed back in 1969 that the earth itself could be used as a gravitational wave detector. The idea is behind the approach is that gravitational waves impact the earth's crust, causing potentially detectable seismic waves. Using Dyson's approach, Physicists at Harvard and NINP, Florence were able to put an upper limit on the intensity of gravitational background radiation based on a year of observational seismic data (abstract, full pre-print). The upper limit they found improved currently laboratory upper limits by 9 orders of magnitude."

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Cameras On Cops: Coming To a Town Near You
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
An anonymous reader writes "The trend of police officers using body-mounted cameras is going nationwide. As we discussed last month, the NYPD is pondering the cameras, and the LAPD is actively testing them. A town in California (population ~100,000) has tested them with seeming success: incidents involving officers using force have dropped more than half, and citizen complaints have dropped almost 90%. '[C]ops are required to turn on their cameras in any confrontation with a suspect or citizen. The footage is uploaded to computers when they return to the station, and is typically retained for one to three months.' The town's success is even drawing interest from police departments in other countries. The ACLU likes the idea, but has problems with it in practice, so they're opposing the trend (PDF). They worry about privacy abuses, and they want citizens caught on camera to be allowed equal access to the footage."

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Lies Programmers Tell Themselves
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '14 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-just-browse-the-internet-while-this-compiles department:
itwbennett writes "Everybody lies to themselves now and again in both their personal lives ('my bathroom scale probably needs to be recalibrated') and professional lives ('this code doesn't need commenting'). ITworld has compiled some of the common lies programmers tell themselves. Here are a few examples: 'This bug won't take long to fix.' 'No one could possibly fail to understand my simple user interface.' 'Code is self documenting.' 'My homebrew framework will be nimble, lightweight, debugged, and easy to use.' 'I know this is dirty code, I will rewrite it later.' 'It's just one line... it won't break anything.' '"It works on my machine.' 'I don't need version control.' 'It's written in ____, so it'll be easy to ____.' What would you add to this list?"

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