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Google Raises Campaign Funds For Climate Change Denier
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's pi-is-exactly-3 department:
HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "Alex Altman reports at Time Magazine that Google recently hosted a fundraiser for Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, one of the Senate's most conservative Republicans and a staunch opponent of EPA regulations. Inhofe authored a treatise called 'The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,' thinks the Bible disproves global warming, and once denounced the 'arrogance' of scientists who suggest that 'we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate.' What prompted Google to host a fund raiser where attendees shelled out up to $2,500 for lunch with Inhofe? A data center that Google operates in Pryor, Oklahoma. 'Google runs a significant operation that provides around 100 jobs,' says Rusty Appleton, Inhofe's campaign manager. 'The Senator had an opportunity to tour the facilities in May of last year, and is committed to ensuring that Oklahoma remains a great place to do business.' A Google spokesperson says the company regularly hosts fundraisers for candidates of all stripes, even when Google disagrees with some of their policies — as it does with Inhofe on climate change. This explanation didn't wash with the activists outside Google's D.C. headquarters near K Street. "

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New Analysis Casts Doubt On Intel's Smartphone Performance vs. ARM Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's keep-on-marking-those-benches department:
MojoKid writes "A few weeks ago, the analyst company ABI Research published a report claiming that Intel's new CloverTrail+ platform (dual-core Medfield) for smartphones was significantly faster and more power efficient than anything ARM's various partners were shipping. If you follow the smartphone market, that was a very surprising claim. Medfield was a decent midrange platform when it launched in 2012, but Intel made it clear that it's goal for Medfield was to compete with other platforms in its division — not seize the performance crown outright. Further investigation by other analysts has blown serious holes in the ABI Research report. Not only does it focus on a single, highly questionable benchmark (AnTuTu), the x86 version of that benchmark is running different code than the ARM flavors. Furthermore, the recently released Version 3.3 of the test is much faster on Intel hardware than on any of the other platforms. But even with those caveats in place, the ABI Research report is bad science. Single-source performance comparisons almost inevitably are."

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Italian Team Cures Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome With the Help of HIV
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bending-it-to-our-will department:
New submitter tchernobog writes "An Italian team funded by Telethon and S. Raffaele of Milan, was able to cure six kids affected by lethal genetic diseases (in Italian, English video): the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and the metachromatic leukodystrophy. This is the culmination of a project lasted 15 years, and which cost more than 30M €; the researchers published some preliminary results last year in Nature, and are waiting for the results on more patients to submit another. The really interesting part is: they used a mix of advanced genetic techniques to achieve this result. Firstly, the DNA of a defective cell is corrected with a gene assembled in the lab. This procedure has been very dangerous for the past 20 years: that it can even be used is a good achievement alone. Secondly, the corrected DNA is propagated in the patient's body using a stripped-down version of HIV, of which less than 10% of its original genome remains. Might the feared HIV in reality prove to be salvation for some?"

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DHS Chief Janet Napolitano Resigns
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 07:16 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-cavity-searches department:
schwit1 writes with news that the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has resigned her post. Napolitano entered the office at the beginning of President Obama's first term, and she was only the third person to hold the position since it was created in response to the September 11th attacks. In a statement, she said the Department of Homeland Security "has improved the safety of travelers; implemented smart steps that make our immigration system more fair and focused while deploying record resources to protect our nation's borders; worked with states to build resiliency and make our nation's emergency and disaster response capabilities more robust; and partnered with the private sector to improve our cybersecurity." Napolitano will be taking over the presidency of the University of California's 10-campus education system. "UC officials believe that her Cabinet experiences –- which include helping to lead responses to hurricanes and tornadoes and overseeing some anti-terrorism measures — will help UC administer its federal energy and nuclear weapons labs and aid its federally funded research in medicine and other areas."

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Kremlin Security Agency To Buy Typewriters To Avoid Leaks
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's perfectly-reasonable department:
Presto Vivace writes "Russia's agency responsible for the Kremlin security is buying typewriters — a move reportedly prompted by recent leaks by WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. 'After scandals with the distribution of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the exposes by Edward Snowden, reports about Dmitry Medvedev being bugged during his visit to the G20 London summit (in 2009), it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents,' the source said. Snowden's service consists of informing Americans what is being done in our name. If he has panicked the Russians into abandoning their computers, that is so much extra goodness."

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Gladwell's Culture & Air Crashes Analysis Badly Flawed
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-think-his-point-is-that-canadian-golfers-are-to-blame department:
Koreantoast writes "As a recent Slashdot article showed, interest in Malcolm Gladwell's theory on the impact of culture on airline crashes has come up again following the tragic accident of Asiana Flight 214. Yet how good was Gladwell's analysis of the Korean Air Flight 801 accident which is the basis of his theory? A recent analysis by the popular Ask a Korean! blog shows serious flaws in Gladwell's presentation: ignorance of the power dynamics amongst the flight crew, mischaracterizations of Korean Air's flight accident record (three of the seven deadly incidents characterized as 'accidents' were actually military attacks or terrorism) and manipulative omissions in the pilot transcripts to falsely portray the situation. 'Even under the most kindly light, Gladwell is guilty of reckless and gross negligence. Under a harsher light, Gladwell's work on the connection between culture and plane crashes is a shoddy fraud.' Perhaps Gladwell should have asked a Korean before writing the chapter."

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Aussie Telco Telstra Agreed To Spy For America
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-even-trust-giant-soulless-corporations-anymore department:
An anonymous reader writes "Australian telecommunications giant Telstra has for a decade been storing huge volumes of electronic communications carried between Asia and America for surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies. This includes not just the metadata, but the actual content of emails, online messages and phone calls. With the blessing of the Australian government Telstra agreed to route data through a 'U.S. point of contact through a secure storage facility on U.S. soil that was staffed exclusively by U.S. citizens.' The contract was prompted by Telstra's decision to expand its business in Asia by taking control of hundreds of kilometers of undersea telecommunications cables. The deal started under the Liberal Party and continued under Labor. The Greens have demanded an explanation."

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Electrical Engineering Labor Pool Shrinking
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's getting-a-piece-of-the-pie department:
dcblogs writes "The number of electrical engineers in the workforce has declined over the last decade. It's not a steady decline, and it moves up and down, but the overall trend is not positive. In 2002 the U.S. had 385,000 employed electrical engineers; in 2004, post dot.com bubble, it was at 343,000. It reached 382,000 in 2006, but has not risen above 350,000 since then, according to U.S. Labor Data. In 2012, there were 335,000 electrical engineers in the workforce. Of the situation, one unemployed electrical engineer said: 'I am getting interviews but, they have numerous candidates to choose from. The employers are very fussy. They are really only interested in a perfect match to their needs. They don't want the cost to develop talent internally. They are even trying to combine positions to save money. I came across one employer trying to combine a mechanical and electrical engineer.'"

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Kenyans Will Soon Be Able To Send Bitcoin By Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on July 12 '13 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's 1-800-money department:
jfruh writes "M-Pesa is a wildly popular mobile payment system in Kenya, which allows citizens of a country with a poor banking infrastructure to easily transfer money to each other using ubiquitous dumbphones. Currently the system only works in the local currency, but there are plans afoot to allow users to transfer Bitcoin — which would help Kenyans working abroad send money back home without paying high international bank transfer fees."

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The Pope Criminalizes Leaks
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 11:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's keeping-secrets-secret department:
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Pope Francis overhauled the laws that govern the Vatican City State on Thursday, criminalizing leaks of Vatican information and specifically listing sexual violence, prostitution and possession of child pornography as crimes against children that can be punished by up to 12 years in prison. But without the leaks, how would we find out about those crimes against children? Many of the new provisions were necessary to bring the city state's legal system up to date after the Holy See signed international treaties, such as the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Others were necessary to comply with international norms to fight money-laundering, part of the Vatican's push toward financial transparency. One new crime stands out, though, as an obvious response to the leaks of papal documents last year that represented one of the gravest Vatican security breaches in recent times. Paolo Gabriele, the butler for then-Pope Benedict XVI, was tried and convicted by a Vatican court of stealing Benedict's personal papers and giving them to an Italian journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi. Using the documents, Nuzzi published a blockbuster book on the petty turf wars, bureaucratic dysfunction and allegations of corruption and homosexual liaisons that afflict the highest levels of Catholic Church governance. Gabriele, who said he wanted to expose the 'evil and corruption' that plagued the Holy See, was convicted of aggravated theft and sentenced to 18 months in the Vatican's police barracks."

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First Successful Unmanned Drone Landing On an Aircraft Carrier
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 09:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's let-the-computer-do-it department:
redletterdave writes "Salty Dog 502 flew from the Patuxent River Naval Station in Maryland to the USS George H.W. Bush operating off the Virginian coast, but unlike other drones, Salty Dog was piloted entirely by computer without a human operator. The unmanned operation is considered one of the most difficult operations due to navigating the air and a moving ship, and many have said it's a major milestone in the development of drone warfare. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus described the event as witnessing the future and compared it to the first manned aircraft landed on a carrier in 1911."

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HP Keeps Installing Secret Backdoors In Enterprise Storage
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 06:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that's-a-feature department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "For the second time in a month, Hewlett-Packard has been forced to admit it built secret backdoors into its enterprise storage products. The admission, in a security bulletin posted July 9, confirms reports from the blogger Technion, who flagged the security issue in HP's StoreOnce systems in June, before finding more backdoors in other HP storage and SAN products. The most recent statement from HP, following another warning from Technion, admitted that 'all HP StoreVirtual Storage systems are equipped with a mechanism that allows HP support to access the underlying operating system if permission and access is provided by the customer.' While HP describes the backdoors as being usable only with permission of the customer, that restriction is part of HP's own customer-service rules—not a limitation built in to limit use of backdoors. The entry points consist of a hidden administrator account with root access to StoreVirtual systems and software, and a separate copy of the LeftHand OS, the software that runs HP's StoreVirtual and HP P4000 products. Even with root access, the secret admin account does not give support techs or hackers access to data stored on the HP machines, according to the company. But it does provide enough access and control over the hardware in a storage cluster to reboot specific nodes, which would 'cripple the cluster,' according to information provided to The Register by an unnamed source. The account also provides access to a factory-reset control that would allow intruders to destroy much of the data and configurations of a network of HP storage products. And it's not hard to find: 'Open up your favourite SSH client, key in the IP of an HP D2D unit. Enter in yourself the username HPSupport, and the password which has a SHA1 of 78a7ecf065324604540ad3c41c3bb8fe1d084c50. Say hello to an administrative account you didn't know existed,' according to Technion, who claims to have attempted to notify HP for weeks with no result before deciding to go public."

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Hands On With the Nokia Lumia 1020
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 05:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's take-a-look department:
adeelarshad82 writes "Nokia's new phone, Lumia 1020, feels very similar in the hand to Nokia's Lumia 900 and 920, with one exception: it has a camera bump. The 41-megapixel uber-camera projects out very slightly as a black disc on the back. In terms of functionality, though, the camera provides for smooth zooming only a pinch away. However, it takes a noticeable amount of time to lock focus and save images. At one point during hands-on testing, the camera app crashed so hard that it required a phone reboot, which is hopefully just a pre-release firmware issue. The phone itself carries a brightly colored polycarbonate body that rolls around the edges to cradle a 4.5-inch, 1,280-by-768 screen. Lumia 1020 is powered by a dual-core, 1.5-GHz Qualcomm MSM8960 processor which plows through apps well. Speaking of apps, there's a ton of bloatware on here, as you'd expect from any AT&T device. AT&T adds four apps right at the top of the app list. Nokia Lumia is set to hit AT&T shelves on July 26th for $299."

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What the Government Pays To Snoop On You
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's spying-for-simoleons department:
transporter_ii writes "So what does it cost the government to snoop on us? Paid for by U.S. tax dollars, and with little scrutiny, surveillance fees charged by phone companies can vary wildly. For example, AT&T, imposes a $325 'activation fee' for each wiretap and $10 a day to maintain it. Smaller carriers Cricket and U.S. Cellular charge only about $250 per wiretap. But snoop on a Verizon customer? That costs the government $775 for the first month and $500 each month after that, according to industry disclosures made last year to Congressman Edward Markey."

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Iris Scans Are the New School IDs
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's sir-your-frog-is-boiling-even-as-we-speak department:
An anonymous reader writes "Winthrop University in South Carolina is testing out iris scanning technology during freshman orientation this summer. Students had their eyes scanned as they received their ID cards in June. 'Iris scanning has a very high level of accuracy, and you don't have to touch anything, said James Hammond, head of Winthrop University's Information Technology department. 'It can be hands free security.'" I wouldn't want to be blocked out a building because of a scratched lens or a system outage, though.

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Researchers Now Pulling Out of DEF CON In Response To Anti-Fed Position
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's at-least-the-tsa-gives-free-massages department:
darthcamaro writes "Earlier today it, Slashdot had a story about DEF CON's position on not allowing U.S. Federal agents to attend the annual hacking conference. We're now starting to see the backlash from the hacker community itself with at least two well respected hackers pulling out of the DEF CON speaking sessions so far: "'The issue we are struggling with, and the basis of our decision, is that we feel strongly that DEF CON has always presented a neutral ground that encouraged open communication among the community, despite the industry background and diversity of motives to attend,' security researcher Kevin Johnson wrote. 'We believe the exclusion of the "feds" this year does the exact opposite at a critical time.'"

Meanwhile, Black Hat welcomes Federal attendees; this year's conference will feature as a speaker former NSA head Keith Alexander.

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Math and Science Popular With Students Until They Realize They're Hard
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 02:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's luckily-I-skipped-out-early department:
First time accepted submitter HonorPoncaCityDotCom writes "Khadeeja Safdar reports in the WSJ that researchers who surveyed 655 incoming college students found that while math and science majors drew the most interest initially, not many students finished with degrees in those subjects. Students who dropped out didn't do so because they discovered an unexpected amount of the work and because they were dissatisfied with their grades. "Students knew science was hard to begin with, but for a lot of them it turned out to be much worse than what they expected," says Todd R. Stinebrickner, one of the paper's authors. "What they didn't expect is that even if they work hard, they still won't do well." The authors add that the substantial overoptimism about completing a degree in science can be attributed largely to students beginning school with misperceptions about their ability to perform well academically in science. ""If more science graduates are desired, the findings suggest the importance of policies at younger ages that lead students to enter college better prepared (PDF) to study science.""

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Mozilla Launches Firefox OS Simulator 4.0 With Test Receipts
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 02:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-far-it's-just-anti-monopoly-money department:
An anonymous reader writes "As promised, Mozilla today announced the release of Firefox OS Simulator 4.0 with a focus on developers who want to make money in the Firefox Marketplace. You can download the new version now for Windows, Mac, and Linux from Mozilla Add-Ons. First and foremost, the new simulator supports test receipts for paid apps: each app's dashboard features a drop-down menu where you can select a receipt type. Choosing one of these will have the simulator add-on downloading a test receipt from a Marketplace receipt service and reinstalling the app using it. This lets developers test receipt verification with whatever receipts types they may require (valid, invalid, and refunded)."

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IT Analyst Dan Kusnetzky Talks about Cloud Computing and Cloud Hype (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's the-more-the-buzzwords-chaange-the-more-things-stay-the-same department:
Dan Kusnetzky and I started out talking about cloud computing; what it is and isn't, how "cloud" is often more of a marketing term than a technical one, and then gradually drifted to the topic of how IT managers, CIOs, and their various bosses make decisions and how those decisions are not necessarily rational. What you have here is an 18-minute seminar about IT decision-making featuring one of the world's most experienced IT industry analysts, who also writes a blog, Virtually Speaking, for ZDnet.

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MS Handed NSA Access To Encrypted Chat & Email
Posted by News Fetcher on July 11 '13 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's tangled-web-they-weave department:
kaptink writes "Microsoft helped the NSA to circumvent its encryption to address concerns that the agency would be unable to intercept web chats on the new Outlook.com portal. The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail. The company worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide. Microsoft also worked with the FBI's Data Intercept Unit to "understand" potential issues with a feature in Outlook.com that allows users to create email aliases. Skype, which was bought by Microsoft in October 2011, worked with intelligence agencies last year to allow Prism to collect video of conversations as well as audio. Material collected through Prism is routinely shared with the FBI and CIA, with one NSA document describing the program as a "team sport"."

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