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Mystery Intergalactic Radio Bursts Detected
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 12:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's fireworks-duh department:
astroengine writes "Astronomers were on a celestial fishing expedition for pulsing neutron stars and other radio bursts when they found something unexpected in archived sky sweeps conducted by the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia. The powerful signal, which lasted for just milliseconds, could have been a fluke, but then the team found three more equally energetic transient flashes all far removed from the galactic plane and coming from different points in the sky. Astronomers are at a loss to explain what these flashes are — they could be a common astrophysical phenomenon that has only just been detected as our radio antennae have become sensitive enough, or they could be very rare and totally new phenomenon that, so far, defies explanation."

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Can Ride-Sharing Startup Lyft Survive the SoCal Heat?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's every-potluck-robs-a-restauranteur department:
First time accepted submitter Kyle Jacoby writes "The app-powered on-demand ride-sharing startup, Lyft, has brought its trademark pink mustaches to San Diego. After a successful venture in San Francisco about a year ago, Lyft has since expanded to offer their services to other congested cities, like Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago. Despite the utility of the service, Lyft (and related services Sidecar and Uber) has recently come under fire from the city of Los Angeles, whose department of transportation issued cease-and-desist letters to the startup. It seems that the service has the taxi community in an uproar, who believe that Lyft ride-share drivers should be required to obtain the permits similar to those required of taxi drivers." Nothing like some regulatory capture for Independence Day. Amid the ongoing strike of BART workers in the Bay Area, I bet some people are using on-line organization tools for ride-sharing with a similar upshot.

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French Gov't Runs Vast Electronic Spying Operation of Its Own
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-it's-only-wafer-thin-metadata department:
Freshly Exhumed writes with this news (quoting The Guardian): "France runs a vast electronic surveillance operation, intercepting and stocking data from citizens' phone and internet activity, using similar methods to the U.S. National Security Agency's Prism programme exposed by Edward Snowden, Le Monde has reported. An investigation by the French daily [en français; Google translation] found that the DGSE, France's external intelligence agency, had spied on the French public's phone calls, emails and internet activity. The agency intercepted signals from computers and phones in France as well as between France and other countries, looking not so much at content but to create a map of 'who is talking to whom,' the paper said."

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French Gov't Runs Vast Electronic Spying Operation of Its Own
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-it's-only-wafer-thin-metadata department:
Freshly Exhumed writes with this news (quoting The Guardian): "France runs a vast electronic surveillance operation, intercepting and stocking data from citizens' phone and internet activity, using similar methods to the U.S. National Security Agency's Prism programme exposed by Edward Snowden, Le Monde has reported. An investigation by the French daily [en français; Google translation] found that the DGSE, France's external intelligence agency, had spied on the French public's phone calls, emails and internet activity. The agency intercepted signals from computers and phones in France as well as between France and other countries, looking not so much at content but to create a map of 'who is talking to whom,' the paper said."

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State Dept. Bureau Spent $630k On Facebook 'Likes'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's now-that-is-some-economic-stimulus-right-there department:
schwit1 writes with this excerpt from the Washington Examiner: "State Department officials spent $630,000 to get more Facebook 'likes,' prompting employees to complain to a government watchdog that the bureau was 'buying fans' in social media, the agency's inspector general says. 'Many in the bureau criticize the advertising campaigns as "buying fans" who may have once clicked on an ad or "liked" a photo but have no real interest in the topic and have never engaged further,' the inspector general reported. The effort failed to reach the bureau's target audience, which is largely older and more influential than the people liking its pages. Only about 2 percent of fans actually engage with the pages by liking, sharing or commenting.
In September 2012 Facebook also changed its approach to users' news feeds, and the expensive 'fan' campaigns became much less valuable. The bureau now must constantly pay for sponsored ads to keep its content visible even to people who have already liked its pages."


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Anti-Government Hackers Hit Jay-Z's Android App
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's maybe-they-just-like-jay-z-at-ft.-meade department:
judgecorp writes "Jay-Z's Android app has been hit by hackers who created a clone of the software. The app was supposed to deliver a copy of the rapper's single and provide footage and other goodies. The rogue app is a ringer for the real one, but has a time-based trigger to deliver anti-Government propaganda on 4 July. The app, and its service name NSAListener, appears to suggest be a protest against U.S. surveillance."

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Anti-Government Hackers Hit Jay'Z's Android App
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's maybe-they-just-like-jay-z-at-ft.-meade department:
judgecorp writes "Jay-Z's Android app has been hit by hackers who created a clone of the software. The app was supposed to deliver a copy of the rapper's single and provide footage and other goodies. The rogue app is a ringer for the real one, but has a time-based trigger to deliver anti-Government propaganda on 4 July. The app, and its service name NSAListener, appears to suggest be a protest against U.S. surveillance."

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Theft-as-a-Service: Blocking the Cybercrime Market
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's disrupting-virtual-gait-analysis department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "The same layers of virtualization that have made networked business computing so much more convenient and useful have also given bad guys much easier access to both physical and virtual servers within previously-secure datacenters. A group of engineering researchers from MIT has demonstrated one approach to making secure servers harder to access using a physical system that prevents attackers from reading a server's memory-access patterns to figure out where and how data are stored. Ascend, which the group demonstrated at a meeting of the International Symposium on Computer Architecture in Tel Aviv in June (PDF), is designed to obscure both memory-access patterns and the length of time specific computations take to keep attackers from learning enough to compromise the server. The approach goes beyond simply encrypting everything on the whole server to try to shut off one of the most direct ways attackers can address the server directly — whether the server is an air-gapped high-security machine sitting in an alarmed and guarded room at the NSA or a departmental server whose security settings are a little too loose. Other ways to try to obscure memory-access patterns were built as applications to run on the server. Ascend is the first time a hardware-only approach has been proposed, and the first to approach an acceptable level of performance, according to Srini Devadas, Edwin Sibley Webster Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the MIT researcher who oversaw the team developing the hardware."

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Zynga Puts Random Stranger In Customer Support Role
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's have-you-tried-plugging-in-a-toaster-and-dancing? department:
An anonymous reader writes "A server error has meant that for the past few months, a man not associated in any way with social gaming powerhouse Zynga has been getting customer support emails. When Zynga failed to return his messages, he started replying to the customers himself. Hilariously." Sadly (though perhaps some of his correspondents would disagree), the glitch has now been fixed.

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EU To Vote On Suspension of Data Sharing With US
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-we-thought-you-wanted-to-share department:
New submitter badzilla writes with a story from ZDnet that says a vote is scheduled in the European Parliament for today, U.S. Independence Day, on "whether existing data sharing agreements between the two continents should be suspended, following allegations that U.S. intelligence spied on EU citizens." One interesting scenario outlined by the article is that it may disrupt air travel between the U.S. and EU: "In the resolution, submitted to the Parliament on Tuesday, more than two-dozen politicians from a range of political parties call the spying 'a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,' and call on the suspension of the Passenger Name Records (PNR) system. Prior to leaving the airport, airlines must make passenger data available to the U.S. Names, dates of birth, addresses, credit or debit card details and seat numbers are among the data — though critics say the information has never helped catch a suspected criminal or terrorist before. Should the PNR system be suspended, it could result in the suspension of flights to the U.S. from European member states."

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Boxee Sold To Samsung
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's korean-volvo department:
New submitter TheRecklessWanderer writes "Boxee, manufacturer of The Boxee Box and Boxee DVR as well as developer of the Boxee software, has been sold to Samsung. Boxee has had a hard time adapting to the quickly changing environment where appliances have converged with televisions (morphing into Smart TVs), and I'm sure Samsung is looking to integrate the software in some form or another into their smart TVs."

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ARMs Race: Licensing vs. Manufacturing Models In the Mobile Era
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '13 at 01:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's everyone-knows-salsa-works-better-on-chips department:
MojoKid writes "The semiconductor market for mobile and hand-held devices has changed dramatically in the past six years and ARM has had to evolve along side it. ARM's IP focus allows it to dedicate all its resources to building a great design rather than committing to any single manufacturing process node, customer, or foundry. Architectural design and implementation is done very much in partnership with both foundries (TSMC, GlobalFoundries) and licensees like Samsung or Qualcomm. The difference between the way Intel goes to market and ARM's model is more nuanced than the simple ownership of manufacturing facilities. Owning its own fab means that Intel can tweak process technology to match the particulars of a given architecture (and vice-versa). It also gives the company far more flexibility when planning future nodes. If Intel feels that integrating Peanut Butter Silicon on Insulator (PB-SOI) is the best way to hit its performance and power consumption targets at 14nm, for example, it can make that happen internally. ARM, in contrast, is limited by the decisions of the foundry manufacturers it partners with."

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Irish Supreme Court Upholds 3-Strikes Rule For Copyright Violation
Posted by News Fetcher on July 03 '13 at 10:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's power-of-green department:
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Irish Times: "'The Supreme Court [Wednesday] upheld a challenge by four music companies to a notice of the Data Protection Commissioner which they feared would effectively unwind their 'three strikes and you're out' agreement with Eircom aimed at combating the widespread illegal downloading of music.' In the ruling it was found the original High Court trial judge correctly concluded there was 'a complete absence of reasons' and therefore, the notice was unlawful and made in breach of Section 10.4 of the Data Protection Acts. Makes you wonder whether the High Court would have upheld it, had the Data Commissioner given reasons ... which seemed quite justified: 'In September 2011, the Commissioner told Eircom the complainant subscriber had restated his original complaint and alleged Eircom's monitoring of his internet use breached his data protection rights.'"

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Android Update Lets Malware Bypass Digital Signature Check
Posted by News Fetcher on July 03 '13 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-sign-here-mr-lector department:
msm1267 writes "A vulnerability exists in the Android code base that would allow a hacker to modify a legitimate, digitally signed Android application package file (APK) and not break the app's cryptographic signature — an action that would normally set off a red flag that something is amiss. Researchers at startup Bluebox Security will disclose details on the vulnerability at the upcoming Black Hat Briefings in Las Vegas on Aug. 1. In the meantime, some handset vendors have patched the issue; Google will soon release a patch to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), Bluebox chief technology officer Jeff Forristal said. The vulnerability, Bluebox said, affects multiple generations of Android devices since 1.6, the Donut version, which is about four years old. Nearly 900 million devices are potentially affected."

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Egyptian President Overthrown, Constitution Suspended
Posted by News Fetcher on July 03 '13 at 07:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-you're-there,-stay-safe department:
Al Jazeera and other publications are reporting that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has been overthrown by the country's army. General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, head of the Egyptian armed forces, said in a televised announcement that Morsi had been removed from power, the Constitution had been suspended, and Adli al-Mansour, leader of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court, had been appointed to lead the country until elections can be held. "Sisi called for presidential and parliamentary elections, a panel to review the constitution and a national reconciliation committee that would include youth movements. He said the roadmap had been agreed by a range of political groups." According to the BBC's report, "General Sisi said on state TV that the armed forces could not stay silent and blind to the call of the Egyptian masses," and "The army is currently involved in a show of force, fanning out across Cairo and taking control of the capital."

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In a Security Test, 3-D Printed Gun Smuggled Into Israeli Parliament
Posted by News Fetcher on July 03 '13 at 04:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's up-close-and-personal department:
GenieGenieGenie writes "After all the talk of printed guns and the problems they pose to traditional methods of perimeter security, we get a live demo courtesy of some rather brave journalists from Israel's Channel 10, who took the plastic weapon known as the Liberator past security into the Israeli parliament, and held it within meters of the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I say brave because had they been caught pulling this stunt, which involved taking their toy out of the bag while sitting in the audience of a speech by the prime minister, they would have faced some real steel. Haaretz has the video (sorry, Hebrew only at the moment) [Google-translated version of the article -- Ed.] where you can follow the breach (from ~6:30) and see them pass the metal detector and the moment when the gun comes out. The movie also shows some testing of the gun in a police-supervised weapons range. Parliament security officials said that 'this is a new phenomenon and they are checking the subject to give it a professional solution as quickly as possible.' I hope this doesn't mean we will now officially face an era of ever more intruding security checks at entrances to events like this." Would-be Liberator printers, take note: the testing shows the barrel violently separating from the rest of the gun.

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Boston U. Patent Lawsuits Hit Apple, Amazon, Samsung, and Others
Posted by News Fetcher on July 03 '13 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can't-say-a-lightbulb-went-off-in-their-heads department:
curtwoodward writes "First, we heard that Boston University — a private, four-year school overshadowed by neighbors like MIT and Harvard — was suing Apple for patent infringement. Well, sure, patent lawsuits in tech are an everyday thing, right? But it turns out this is not a one-off: BU has been quietly filing a barrage of patent lawsuits since last fall, all of them revolving around the same patents for LED and semiconductor technology. And the targets run the gamut, from Apple and Amazon to Samsung and several small companies that distribute or sell LEDs and other equipment. A couple of small guys have settled, but Amazon and Samsung are refusing. Still to come: Apple's response."

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Skype Overload Interrupts Zimmerman Trial
Posted by News Fetcher on July 03 '13 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's do-you-have-prince-albert-in-a-can? department:
MouseTheLuckyDog writes "Today during the George Zimmerman trial, an ex-professor of Zimmerman's was allowed to testify via Skype while on vacation. When setting it up the prosecution didn't have the sense to blank the destination account. The result, according to The Smoking Gun, was a flood of callers to the desination account resulting in the connection being terminated and cross examination being done on a cell phone in the wirness box." Also at CBS News.

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LibreOffice Calc Set To Get GPU Powered Boost From AMD
Posted by News Fetcher on July 03 '13 at 03:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's lightning-speed-sales-projection department:
darthcamaro writes "We all know that the open source LibreOffice Calc has been slow — forever and a day. That's soon going to change thanks to a major investment made by AMD into the Document Foundation. AMD is helping LibreOffice developers to re-factor Calc to be more performance and to be able to leverage the full power of GPUs and APUs. From the article: '"The reality has been that Calc has not been the fastest spreadsheet in the world," Suse Engineer Michael Meeks admitted. "Quite a large chunk of this refactoring is long overdue, so it's great to have the resources to do the work so that Calc will be a compelling spreadsheet in its own right."'"

Math operations will be accelerated using OpenCL, unit tests are being added for the first time, and the supposedly awful object oriented code is being rewritten with a "modern performance oriented approach."

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MasterCard and Visa Start Banning VPN Providers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 03 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's one-step-forward,-two-steps-back department:
Nyder sends this quote from TorrentFreak:
"Swedish payment service provider Payson received an email stating that VPN services are no longer allowed to accept Visa and MasterCard payments due to a recent policy change. ... The new policy went into effect on Monday, leaving customers with a two-day window to find a solution. While the email remains vague about why this drastic decision was taken, in a telephone call Payson confirmed that it was complying with an urgent requirement from Visa and MasterCard to stop accepting payments for VPN services. 'It means that U.S. companies are forcing non-American companies not to allow people to protest their privacy and be anonymous, and thus the NSA can spy even more.'"
Oddly, this comes alongside news that MasterCard has backed down on its financial blockade against WikiLeaks.

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