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25,000-Drive Study Gives Insight On How Long Hard Drives Actually Last
Posted by News Fetcher on November 12 '13 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-they-go-they-go department:
MrSeb writes with this excerpt, linking to several pretty graphs: "For more than 30 years, the realm of computing has been intrinsically linked to the humble hard drive. It has been a complex and sometimes torturous relationship, but there's no denying the huge role that hard drives have played in the growth and popularization of PCs, and more recently in the rapid expansion of online and cloud storage. Given our exceedingly heavy reliance on hard drives, it's very, very weird that one piece of vital information still eludes us: How long does a hard drive last? According to some new data, gathered from 25,000 hard drives that have been spinning for four years, it turns out that hard drives actually have a surprisingly low failure rate."

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How 3 Young Coders Built a Better Portal To HealthCare.gov
Posted by News Fetcher on November 12 '13 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's trying-to-be-everything-to-everyone department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Doug Gross writes at CNN that spurred by the problems that have surrounded the rollout of the official HeathCare.gov website, three 20-year-old programmers in San Francisco have created an alternative website to help people get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act quickly and cheaply. The result is a bare-bones site called Health Sherpa, which lets users enter their zip code, plus details about their family and income, to find suggested plans in their area. 'We were surprised to see that it was actually fairly difficult to use HealthCare.gov to find and understand our options,' says George Kalogeropoulos, who created the site along with Ning Liang and Michael Wasser. 'Given that the data was publicly available, we thought that it made a lot of sense to take the data that was on there and just make it easy to search through and view available plans.' Of course, it's not fair to compare the creation of Health Sherpa to the rollout of the more complicated government ACA site, which even President Obama has acknowledged as a horribly botched affair. 'It isn't a fair apples-to-apples comparison,' says Kalogeropoulos. 'Unlike Healthcare.gov, our site doesn't connect to the IRS, DHS, and various state exchanges and authorities. Furthermore, we're using the government's data, so our site is only possible because of the hard work that the Healthcare.gov team has done.' But it does cast light on the difference between what can be done by a small group of experts, steeped in Silicon Valley's anything-is-possible mentality, and a massive government project in which politics and bureaucracy seem to have helped create an unwieldy mess. The three programmers have continued fine-tuning the site as its popularity has grown. In less than a week, the site has had almost 200,000 unique visitors and over half a million page views. '"The Health Sherpa makes it ridiculously easy for anyone to compare health care plans covered under Obamacare in 34 states," writes Connor Simpson at Atlantic Wire. "The result is a simple, beautiful, remarkably responsive website that anyone could use.'"

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Music Industry Issues Take Down Notices to 50 Major Lyrics Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on November 12 '13 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's public-does-not-understand department:
alphadogg writes "A music industry group is warning some 50 website that post song lyrics that they need to be licensed or face the music, possibly in the form of a lawsuit. The National Music Publishers Association said Monday that it sent take-down notices to what it claims are 50 websites that post lyrics to songs and generate ad revenue but may not be licensed to do so. The allegedly infringing sites were identified based on a complicated algorithm developed by a researcher at the University of Georgia."

The "complicated algorithm" (basis statistics using Excel and Google) is described in the NMPA's "Undesirable Lyric Website List." Anyone remember lyrics.ch?

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Digital Textbook Startup Kno Was Sold For $15 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on November 12 '13 at 02:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's knowledge-is-not-profit department:
Nate the greatest writes "Intel didn't mention how much they paid for digital textbook startup Kno when they announced the acquisition last week but inside sources are now saying that the digital textbook startup was picked up for a song. GigaOm reported earlier today that their sources told them that Kno sold effectively for pennies on the dollar: 'Well placed sources who were in the know told us that the company sold for $15 million with some retention bonuses for the employees. Intel bought the company mostly for its hardware-related intellectual property and the employees. Intel also was one of the largest investors in the company — having pumped in $20 million via its Intel Capital arm.' Kno had raised $73 million in venture capital since it was founded 4 years ago, and it picked up another $20 million in debt. This deal was nothing less than a fire sale, and that does not bode well for the digital textbook market or other startups in this niche. Inkling, for example, just raised $20 million dollars this summer in order to compete in a market that where one of their competitors failed."

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Desert Farming Experiment Yields Good Initial Results
Posted by News Fetcher on November 12 '13 at 12:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's preparing-for-2045 department:
Taco Cowboy writes "For the past year or so, a tiny scale farming experiment in has been carried out in the desert field of Qatar, using only sunlight and seawater. From the article: 'A pilot plant built by the Sahara Forest Project (SFP) produced 75 kilograms of vegetables per square meter in three crops annually (or 25 kilograms per square meter, per crop)' If the yield level can be maintained, a farm of the size of 60 hectares would be enough to supply the nation of Qatar with all the cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and egglants that it needs. 'The project will proceed to the next stage with an expansion to 20 hectares, to test its viability into commercial operation.'"

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Sweden Is Closing Many Prisons Due to Lack of Prisoners
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 09:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's literal-land-of-the-free department:
rtoz writes "Sweden is taking steps to close many prisons due to lack of prisoners. This year alone, four prisons and a detention center got closed in Sweden. The percentage of the population in Sweden prison is significantly lower than in most other countries. ... Though the Swedish Government is taking steps to close the prisons, the crime rate in Sweden has increased slightly. It seems they are planning to take steps for preventing crime rather than focusing on jailing people involved in criminal activities."

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NASA's Mars Orbiter Reaches Data Milestone
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 07:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's two-hundred-treelion-bits department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has sent 200 terabits of scientific data all the way back to Earth over the past seven years. That data largely comes from six instruments aboard the craft, and doesn't include the information used to manage the equipment's health. That 200-terabit milestone also surpasses the ten years' worth of data returned via NASA's Deep Space Network from all other missions managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. 'The sheer volume is impressive, but of course what's most important is what we are learning about our neighboring planet,' JPL's Rich Zurek, the project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, wrote in a statement. It takes roughly two hours for the craft to orbit Mars, recording voluminous amounts of data on everything from the atmosphere to the subsurface. Thanks to its instruments, we know that Mars is a dynamic environment, once home to water. 'Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has shown that Mars is still an active planet, with changes such as new craters, avalanches and dust storms,' Zurek added. 'Mars is a partially frozen world, but not frozen in time.' While the Orbiter's two-year 'primary science phase' ended in 2008, NASA has granted the hardware three additional extensions, each of which has resulted in additional insight into the Red Planet's secrets."

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GOCE Satellite Burned Up Over Falkland Islands
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 06:31 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's burning-up department:
An anonymous reader writes with an update on the fate of the GOCE satellite. From the article: "The mystery of GOCE's re-entry has now been solved — the one-ton satellite came down over the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory 300 miles east of the Patagonian coast in the South Atlantic Ocean."

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Netflix, Youtube Surpass 50% Mark of Internet Traffic
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 05:31 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's reading-is-hard department:
First time accepted submitter sqorbit writes "Netflix and Youtube are gaining ground not only on the competition, such as Amazon, but also over peer-to-peer file sharing. Netflix claims more than 30 million customers and believes it could double that number in the future. Traffic from Netflix and Youtube amounted to over 50% of Internet traffic in September. Meanwhile Bittorrent traffic is down slightly (7.4% from 10%) in Internet traffic compared to last year. Could more people be satisfied with current video offerings or are less people finding useful things to download via file sharing?"

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WxWidgets 3.0: First Major Release in Several Years
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 05:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's still-breathing department:
First time accepted submitter VZ writes "The first new stable wxWidgets release in years and the first new major release since 1998 has just been announced. wxWidgets 3.0 now includes official support for Cocoa-based 32 and 64 bit applications under OS X, GTK+ 3 under Unix and has thousands of other improvements."

Update: 11/12 01:00 GMT by U L : Clarification: it's been several years since the 2.8 release series, and fifteen years since wxWidgets 2.0.

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WxWidgets 3.0: First Major Release in Seven Years
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 04:31 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's still-breathing department:
First time accepted submitter VZ writes "The first new stable wxWidgets release in years and the first new major release since 1998 has just been announced. wxWidgets 3.0 now includes official support for Cocoa-based 32 and 64 bit applications under OS X, GTK+ 3 under Unix and has thousands of other improvements."

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Scientist Seeks Investment For "Alcohol Substitute"
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bottoms-up department:
First time accepted submitter MalachiK writes "A senior academic and former UK government drugs adviser reckons that pretty soon it'll be possible to enjoy the fun of being drunk without having to suffer the negative effects of alcohol. In a proposal reminiscent of Star Trek's synthehol, Professor David Nut has identified a number of molecules that he claims offer experiences that are subjectively indistinguishable from alcohol intoxication. Apparently a major advantage of using these more selectively psychoactive drugs is that the effects can be quickly reversed. It's not all good news though as Professor Nut seems to think that the drinks industry is using its financial and political clout to stop this sort of research being undertaken."

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Journalists Banned From Using Smartphones At 2014 Sochi Olympics?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 03:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-tweet-for-you department:
First time accepted submitter SlongNY writes in with a story that journalists may be banned from taking photos or videos with smartphones at the 2014 Olympics. "'Journalists using mobile phones to film athletes or spectators will be considered a serious violation and will result in cancellation of accreditation,' said Vasily Konov, head of the state-run R-Sport news agency, which controls accreditation at the games. According to Buzzfeed, Mr. Konov later denied that he had said the ban was in place. Radio Free Europe, however, also reported him as saying the same thing."

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Humble Bundle Launches Online Store For Games
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's new-place-to-shop department:
sfcrazy writes "Humble Bundle has opened an online store called Humble Store, an extension of the sales system developed for managing the Humble Bundles. That puts Humble Bundle in the same league of Valve's Steam which sells works online via Steam Store. Humble Store, will continue the organization’s legacy of supporting causes. 'The Humble Store is a permanent addition to our Humble site that will allow our customers to buy great games at great prices 24/7 and support charity with every purchase. Ten percent of all purchases will go to vital causes like American Red Cross, Child’s Play, Electronic Frontier Foundation, World Land Trust and charity:water.'"

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MPAA Backs Anti-Piracy Curriculum For Elementary School Students
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's think-of-the-children department:
An anonymous reader writes "A number of groups, including the MPAA, are pushing to educate elementary school kids about the dangers of piracy. From the article: 'A nonprofit group called the Center for Copyright Information, which is supported by the MPAA and other groups, has commissioned a school curriculum to teach elementary-age children about the value of copyrights. The proposed curriculum is still in draft stage, but it's already taking flak. Some critics say the curriculum promotes the biased agenda of Hollywood studios and music labels. Others contend it would use up valuable classroom time when U.S. public schools are already struggling to teach the basics.'"

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Head of Silk Road 2.0 Says It Will Be Back In Minutes If Shut Down
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 01:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's never-going-to-die department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "It only took a month for the Silk Road 2.0 to go live after the now infamous Silk Road marketplace shuttered. One month. Should the budding deep-web bazaar experience the same fate as its predecessor, and be knocked out by authorities still whack-a-moling their way through the online front of the war on drugs, the Silk Road 3.0 would be up and running in 15 minutes, tops. That's according to the Dread Pirate Roberts, the pseudonymous head of SR 2.0. In what are arguably his most breathy public remarks to date the 'new' DPR, who either cribbed his handle from the DPR of SR 1.0 fame or who is indeed the original DPR, opened up to Mike Power on his long-term vision for the site."

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Thor: The Dark World — What Did You Think?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-as-dark-as-doom-3 department:
On Friday, Marvel released its latest superhero blockbuster, Thor: The Dark World. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hiddleston reprise their roles as Thor, Dr. Jane Foster, and Loki. Christopher Eccleston, best known for his role as the Ninth Doctor on BBC's Doctor Who, portrays Thor's nemesis in The Dark World: Malekith, ruler of the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim. Despite a strong opening weekend at the box office, critical reception has been lackluster. The movie averaged 66/100 on Rotten Tomatoes and 54/100 on Metacritic, but user reviews rated it higher, at 86/100 and 8/10 respectively. io9's review calls the plot "completely forgettable," but also said, "at a time when superhero films are gravitating towards Christopher Nolan-style darkness, it's really nice to see a movie go swinging into adventure with a song in its heart." Comic Book Resources also commented that the movie was a lot of fun, but added, "the film doesn't quite reach its true potential due to a villain who never truly feels like much more than an amorphous bad guy." Those of you who went to see it over the weekend: what did you think?

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IE Zero-Day Exploit Disappears On Reboot
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's poof-it's-gone department:
nk497 writes "Criminals are taking advantage of unpatched holes in Internet Explorer to launch 'diskless' attacks on PCs visiting malicious sites. Security company FireEye uncovered the zero-day flaw on at least one breached U.S. site, describing the exploit as a 'classic drive-by download attack'. But FireEye also noted the malware doesn't write to disk and disappears on reboot — provided it hasn't already taken over your PC — making it trickier to detect, though easier to purge. '[This is] a technique not typically used by advanced persistent threat (APT) actors,' the company said. 'This technique will further complicate network defenders' ability to triage compromised systems, using traditional forensics methods.'"

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One Year Since John McAfee Fled Belize
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's man-on-the-run department:
Velcroman1 writes "It has been a year since fallen software magnate John McAfee fled his adopted home and country — wanted by police for questioning in connection to the murder of his neighbor. In that year, the often eccentric programming pioneer led the media and the public on a wild ride with his outlandish behavior and off-the-wall statements during a catch-me-if you-can escape from the small Central American country. McAfee is a person of interest in the investigation surrounding the murder of his neighbor, American ex-pat Gregory Faull, near his compound in San Pedro Town on the island of Ambergris Caye. No headway has been made in the investigation — and authorities in Belize are still looking to speak with McAfee. 'Nothing has really changed. It's not a closed case,' police spokesman Raphael Martinez said. 'He is still a person of interest.'"

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Fukushima Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Starts Generating Power
Posted by News Fetcher on November 11 '13 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's power-up department:
mdsolar writes in with news about a new wind-energy project off the coast of Fukushima. "A project to harness the power of the wind about 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, began generating power on an operational basis today. The project, funded by the government and led by Marubeni Corp. (8002), is a symbol of Japan's ambition to commercialize the unproven technology of floating offshore wind power and its plan to turn quake-ravaged Fukushima into a clean energy hub. 'Fukushima is making a stride toward the future step by step,' Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima, said today at a ceremony in Fukushima marking the project's initiation. 'Floating offshore wind is a symbol of such a future.'"

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