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Tar Pitch Drop Captured On Camera
Posted by News Fetcher on July 19 '13 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-now-die-happy department:
New submitter Ron024 sends this news from Nature:
"After 69 years, one of the longest-running laboratory investigations in the world has finally captured the fall of a drop of tar pitch on camera for the first time. A similar, better-known and older experiment in Australia missed filming its latest drop in 2000 because the camera was offline at the time. The Dublin pitch-drop experiment was set up in 1944 at Trinity College Dublin to demonstrate the high viscosity or low fluidity of pitch — also known as bitumen or asphalt — a material that appears to be solid at room temperature, but is in fact flowing, albeit extremely slowly. ... The Trinity College team has estimated the viscosity of the pitch by monitoring the evolution of this one drop, and puts it in the region of 2 million times more viscous than honey, or 20 billion times the viscosity of water. The speed of formation of the drop can depend on the exact composition of the pitch, and environmental conditions such as temperature and vibration."

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The H Shuts Down
Posted by News Fetcher on July 19 '13 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-folks-did-good-work department:
TexasDex writes "After years of providing great news reporting to the open source community, including interviews, great Linux kernel update summaries, and even breaking the Skype spying story well before it was leaked, The H Online is closing down due to lack of profitability. I've checked them daily for years, so it's be sad to see them go."

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TSA Orders Searches of Valet Parked Car At Airport
Posted by News Fetcher on July 19 '13 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's one-step-forward,-one-step-back department:
schwit1 writes "Laurie Iacuzza walked to her waiting car at the Greater Rochester International Airport after returning from a trip and that's when she found it — a notice saying her car was inspected after she left for her flight. She said, 'I was furious. They never mentioned it to me when I booked the valet or when I picked up the car or when I dropped it off.' Iacuzza's car was inspected by valet attendants on orders from the TSA."

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New Jersey Supreme Court Restricts Police Searches of Phone Data
Posted by News Fetcher on July 19 '13 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's at-least-one-branch-of-government-is-on-our-side department:
An anonymous reader sends this quote from the NY Times:
"Staking out new ground in the noisy debate about technology and privacy in law enforcement, the New Jersey Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that the police will now have to get a search warrant before obtaining tracking information from cellphone providers. The ruling (PDF) puts the state at the forefront of efforts to define the boundaries around a law enforcement practice that a national survey last year showed was routine, and typically done without court oversight or public awareness. With lower courts divided on the use of cellphone tracking data, legal experts say, the issue is likely to end up before the United States Supreme Court. The New Jersey decision also underscores the extent of the battles over government intrusion into personal data in a quickly advancing digital age, from small town police departments to the National Security Agency's surveillance of e-mail and cellphone conversations."

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MIT Attempts To Block Release of Documents In Aaron Swartz Case
Posted by News Fetcher on July 19 '13 at 05:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's actions-speak-louder-than-words department:
Dputiger writes "In the wake of activist Aaron Swartz's suicide, MIT launched an investigation into the circumstances that led to his initial arrest and felony charges. It's now clear that the move was nothing but a face-saving gesture. Moments before the court-ordered release of Swartz's Secret Service file under the Freedom of Information Act, MIT intervened, asking the judge to block the release. Supposedly this is to protect the identities of MIT staff who might be harassed — but government policy is to redact such information already."

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When Metadata Analytics Goes Awry
Posted by News Fetcher on July 19 '13 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's six-degrees-of-separation department:
jfruh writes "When blogger Dan Tynan started seeing lots of Latvians in his LinkedIn People You May Know list, it was pretty funny, considering he'd never been to Latvia or ever met anyone from there. But now that shadowy spy agencies are using algorithms similar to LinkedIn's to see if we're terrorists, mistakes like this are a lot scarier. From the article: 'More than ever -- and online in particular -- who you know can be more important than who you are. In fact, who somebody thinks you know may be more important than who you are, especially if that somebody is a faceless government bureaucracy with limitless power to izjaukt savu dzvi (mess up your life).'"

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How One Drunk Driver Sent My Company To the Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on July 19 '13 at 02:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's agent-of-change department:
snydeq writes "Andrew Oliver offers further proof that drunk driving and on-site servers don't mix. Oliver, who had earlier announced a New Year's resolution to go all-in on cloud services, had that business strategy expedited when a drunk driver, fleeing a hit-and-run, drove his SUV directly into the beauty shop next door to his company's main offices. 'Our servers were down for eight hours, and various services were intermittent for at least 12 hours. Had things been worse, we could have lost everything. Like our customers, we needed HA and DR. Moreover, we thought, maybe our critical services like email, our website, and Jira should be in a real data center. This made going all-cloud a top priority for us rather than "when we get to it."' Oliver writes, detailing his company's resultant hurry-up migration plan to 100 percent cloud services."

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Study Finds iOS Apps Just As Intrusive As Android Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on July 19 '13 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's more-of-the-same department:
wiredmikey writes "Despite fevered arguments that iOS is more secure than Android, and that Android offers developers more options than iOS, a study has found that both platforms are equally as invasive and curious when it comes to collecting user data. Security firm BitDefender analyzed more than 522,000 apps over the past year and focused on the 'intrusive behaviors' the app developer may have included in the product, such as tracking location, reading contact lists, and leaking your email address or device ID. According to Catalin Cosi, iOS applications appear to be more focused on harvesting private data than the ones designed for Android. Cosi did acknowledge that Android apps state all the permissions needed at installation time and there is no way to change the settings afterwards, while iOS permissions are requested at run-time, as the specific resource is used, making iOS a little bit more secure in practice."

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Microsoft Is Sitting On Six Million Unsold Surface Tablets
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's inventory-reduction-sale department:
DavidGilbert99 writes "Microsoft took everyone by surprise last year with the Surface tablet. It was something completely new from the company everyone knew as a software company. However nine months later and the sheen has worn off the Surface tablet and Microsoft's financial results on Thursday revealed it has taken a $900 million write down on the Surface RT tablets, leading David Gilbert in IBTimes to estimate it is sitting on a stockpile of six million unsold tablets."

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Is the World's Largest Virus a Genetic Time Capsule?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 08:47 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's virus-zero department:
gbrumfiel writes "Researchers in France have discovered a the worlds largest virus and given it a terrifying name: Pandoravirus. NPR reports it doesn't pose a threat to people, but its genetic code could hint at an unusual origin. The team believes that the virus may carry the genes from a long-dead branch of the tree of life, one that possibly even started on Mars or somewhere else. Other scientists are skeptical, but everyone agrees that the new giant virus is pretty cool."

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James Bond's Creator, and the Real Spy Gadgets He Inspired
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's laser-watch-please department:
cylonlover writes "It's one of the most memorable moments in perhaps the best James Bond film, From Russia with Love: SPECTRE agent Rosa Klebb, posing as a hotel maid, drops her gun, and appears to be at a disadvantage as she goes toe to toe with Sean Connery's imposing Bond. That is until she deploys her iconic poison-tipped dagger shoes, which have gone on to be copied in other notable action films. But as kitsch as Klebb's cleaver clogs might seem, the CIA attempted to replicate them, and another classic Bond gadget, in real life, according to research by Dr. Christopher Moran of Warwick University. At the heart of the story is the close friendship of Bond author and Ian Fleming and former CIA Director Allen Dulles. Gizmag spoke to Moran about 20th century Intelligence, and its peculiar relationship with the fictional British spy."

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Don't Tie a Horse To a Tree and Other Open Data Lessons
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 04:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's made-sense-at-the-time department:
itwbennett writes "Baltimore this week became the first city to hop on the open data bandwagon with the launch of the Baltimore Decoded website. The site makes the city's charter and codes more accessible to the public and will eventually include information on court decisions, legislative tracking and city technical standards (e.g., building regulations, zoning restrictions, fire codes). The site also offers a RESTful, JSON-based API for accessing the data. ITworld's Phil Johnson dug in and found these lesser-known Baltimore codes: You can't hold more than 1 yard sale every 6 months, you can't tie a horse to a tree, and you can't have fruit on a wharf. What you do with this information is up to you."

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Research Suggests Mars Once Had a Thick Atmosphere
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's air-that-I-breathe department:
astroengine writes "At one time, Mars had a thick, protective atmosphere — possibly even cushier than Earth's — but the bubble of gases mostly dissipated about 4 billion years ago and has never been replenished, new research shows. The findings come from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, which has been moonlighting as an atmospheric probe as it scours planet's surface for habitats that could have supported ancient microbial life. 'On Earth, our magnetic field protects us, it shields us from the solar wind particles. Without Earth's magnetic field, we would have no atmosphere and there would be no life on this planet. Everything would be wiped out — especially when you go back 4 billion years. The solar wind was at least 100 times stronger then than it is today. It was a young sun with a very intense radiation,' Chris Webster, manager of the Planetary Sciences Instruments Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., told Discovery News. Unfortunately for Mars, the last 4 billion years have not been kind."

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Tech Firms Planning Highly Irate Letter To Government Over Requests Transparency
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 03:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-sir-I-don't-like-it department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "a 'broad alliance' of 63 technology companies and civil liberties organizations plan on demanding more transparency about U.S. government surveillance programs, according to a new report in AllThingsD. Those companies and organizations will reportedly ask the government to allow them to report more accurate information about user-data requests. At the moment, federal agencies forbid Google, Microsoft, and other tech vendors from reporting more than a broad numerical range; for example, Google might announce as part of its Transparency Report that it received between 0-999 National Security Letters (issued by agencies as part of national security investigations) in 2009. 'We seek permission for the same information to be made available regarding the government's national security–related authorities," reads a portion of a letter that will be reportedly published July 19 and signed by all those tech companies. "This information about how and how often the government is using these legal authorities is important to the American people, who are entitled to have an informed public debate about the appropriateness of those authorities and their use.' This is all continuing fallout from Edward Snowden's leaks of top-secret documents alleging that the NSA maintains a program called PRISM that allegedly siphons personal information from the databases of the world's largest tech companies. Ever since, those companies (which have all denied participation in PRISM) have been anxious to show the world that they only give the government as little user data as possible. This new push for more 'transparency' plays to that strategy, and the stakes couldn't be higher—if consumers and businesses lose faith in their IT providers' ability to preserve privacy, the latter's very existence could be at risk."

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Microsoft Has 1 Million Servers. So What?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 02:46 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-megaserver department:
itwbennett writes "The only thing that's noteworthy about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's recent disclosure that the company has one million servers in its data centers is that he decided to disclose it — most of the industry giants like to keep that information to themselves, says ITworld's Nancy Gohring. But just for fun, Amazon Web Services engineer James Hamilton did the math: One million servers equals 15–30 data centers, a $4.25 billion capital expense, and power consumption of 2.6TWh annually, or the amount of power that would be used by 230,000 homes in the U.S. Whether this is high or low, good or bad is impossible to know without additional metrics."

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NSA Admits Searching "3 Hops" From Suspects
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 02:01 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's extrapolation-nation department:
New submitter cpitman writes "In a house hearing Wednesday the NSA admitted that it could query not only a suspect's records, but also perform up to a 'three hop query'. Considering that most people in the world are separated by under 6 degrees of separation, the NSA essentially claims that any single suspect gives them rights to investigate a large chunk of the world's population. With the terror watch list having over 700,000 names, just how many times has Kevin Bacon been investigated?"

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PayPal Credits Man With $92 Quadrillion
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 01:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-but-are-those-old-imperial-credits-or-new department:
solareagle writes "Pennsylvania resident Chris Reynolds got quite a shock when he opened his most recent PayPal statement — it said he had a $92,233,720,368,547,800 balance in his account. 'I'm just feeling like a million bucks,' Reynolds told the [Philadelphia] Daily News yesterday. 'At first I thought that I owed quadrillions. It was quite a big surprise.' When asked what he would do with the money, he said, 'I would pay the national debt down first. Then I would buy the Phillies, if I could get a great price.' The Daily News speculates that the astronomical balance may be related to PayPal's new Galactic initiative, announced last month, to expand its business beyond Earth."

He should have quickly minted a new coin.

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VLC For iOS Returns On July 19, Rewritten and Fully Open-Sourced
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 01:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's media-player-beats-media-platform department:
An anonymous reader writes "VideoLAN revealed some very exciting news today: VLC for iOS will be back in Apple's App Store by tomorrow (July 19). The company tells TNW the app will be available for free worldwide, requires iOS 5.1 or later, as well supports the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. As you can expect, VLC for iOS version 2.0 will be open-source. This time, however, its code will be available online (also by tomorrow), bi-licensed under both the Mozilla Public License Version 2 as well as the GNU General Public License Version 2 or later."

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Comcast May Put Wi-Fi Transceivers On Cars, Buses, Humans
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 12:46 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's put-an-ssid-on-it department:
An anonymous reader writes "Comcast engineers want to put WiFi transceivers in rental cars, taxis, buses and even on humans to extend reach of its Xfinity WiFi network. They also detail an idea for offering incentives to drivers to move WiFi-enabled cars to areas where it needs WiFi coverage. The plan was detailed in a patent application published today by the USPTO (I wrote a story about it for FierceCable)."

Speaking of extension, this sounds like a logical outgrowth of using wireless routers to grow the network. (I hope they choose their humans carefully, if this plan bears fruit.)

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C|Net Reporter Declan McCullagh Talks About Privacy (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on July 18 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's quit-looking-under-my-skirts-said-lady-liberty department:
Declan Mccullagh, C|net's Chief political correspondent, has covered politics since the late 1990s for a variety of publications. He is a strong libertarian, privacy advocate, and long time Slashdot reader who is not happy about how the NSA and other government bodies are sticking their noses into our personal business. He and I originally talked about doing an interview based on a story he wrote for C|net on July 12 titled How the U.S. forces Net firms to cooperate on surveillance. Scheduling problems put the interview off for a bit, but here we are. Note that Declan has written millions of pixels worth of material about privacy, NSA spying, and related matters. With new revelations about unsavory government activities coming to light seemingly every day the interview delay is no big deal. And this question still remains: Can we repeal the Patriot Act? New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt wants to. What about your representatives? Are they willing to join Rep. Holt? Do you think they might if a bunch of people -- perhaps starting with you -- asked them to?

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