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Exoplanet Count Peaks 1,000
Posted by News Fetcher on October 23 '13 at 12:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's drake-equation-still-looks-intimidating department:
astroengine writes "The first 1,000 exoplanets to be confirmed have been added to the Europe-based Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia. For the last few weeks, astronomers (and the science media) have been waiting with bated breath as the confirmed exoplanet count tallied closer and closer to the 1,000 mark. Then, with the help of the Super Wide Angle Search for Planets (SuperWASP) collaboration, the number jumped from 999 to 1,010 overnight. All of the 11 worlds are classified as 'hot-Jupiters' with orbital periods between 1 day and 9 days."

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Laser Communication System Sets Record With Data Transmissions From Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 10:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shoot-the-moon-with-lasers department:
sighted writes "NASA reports that it has used a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 384,633 kilometers (239,000 miles) between the Moon and the Earth at a transfer rate of 622 megabits per second. The transmissions took place between a ground station in New Mexico and the LADEE robotic spacecraft now orbiting the moon. 'LLCD is NASA's first system for two-way communication using a laser instead of radio waves. It also has demonstrated an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps transmitted from the primary ground station in New Mexico to the spacecraft currently orbiting the moon. ... LLCD is a short-duration experiment and the precursor to NASA's long-duration demonstration, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). LCRD is a part of the agency's Technology Demonstration Missions Program, which is working to develop crosscutting technology capable of operating in the rigors of space. It is scheduled to launch in 2017.'"

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Firefox's Blocked-By-Default Java Isn't Going Down Well
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 08:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's teaching-grandma-to-click-through-dialog-boxes department:
JG0LD writes "The Firefox web browser will, henceforth, require users to manually activate Java objects on sites that they visit, Mozilla has confirmed. This even affects up-to-date versions of Java, which you can see on the block list. The change is aimed at improving security and moving away from a dependence on proprietary plug-ins, but critics say it will cause untold headaches for developers, admins and less-technical end-users. "

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A Look Inside the 8K Theater Technology At the Newly Renovated Fiske Planetarium
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 07:32 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's imagine-playing-quake-3-on-that-thing department:
An anonymous reader writes "Sky gazers at CU-Boulder's Fiske Planetarium are getting better, clearer and deeper views. And not just of astronomy anymore. The planetarium has been upgraded, transforming it into a digital IMAX-like theater that's open to the public every Saturday and Sunday with a variety of programs including shows for children. 'Fiske's refurbished video system projects ultra high-definition pictures at 8,000 by 8,000 pixels in size, giving audience members a crystal-clear 360-degree view on the dome’s 65-foot screen. "The size and quality is the equivalent of 40 Blu-ray players projecting 40 sections of one video image at once," said [Doug Duncan, director of Fiske]. This gallery of images shows a behind-the-scenes look at the Planetarium's brand new 8k Fulldome projection system. ' In addition to space odysseys and laser shows — longtime favorites of audiences — movies are now part of the Fiske lineup. 'Just like at an IMAX theater, we can take you near a black hole, through the Grand Canyon, under the ocean, or up to a super volcano,' said Duncan. "The sky is no longer the limit.'"

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Automakers Struggle With Pairing Smartphones To Car Infotainment Systems
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 06:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-make-it-a-terminal-for-pete's-sake department:
Lucas123 writes "As Toyota owners have often found out the hard way, they cannot use Bluetooth to pair an iPhone to their car's Entune infotainment system in order to use mobile apps. Drivers can set up their iPhones as a WiFi hotspots, but there's a fee for that. Part of the problem is that Toyota bundles all of the available Internet apps — such as Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora and other data services such as local fuel prices, traffic and weather information — on the infotainment system so it can track how they're being used. The company suggests drivers simply plug their phones into the car's USB port. Toyota's not alone in its wireless dilemma. Part of the problem is automakers can't keep up with mobile app software upgrades, so they use proprietary interfaces. But that may soon be changing. Toyota said its next model year will include Bluetooth pairing, but it still doesn't solve the longer term problem of how to upgrade infotainment systems without waiting the two to four years that new car models typically take to roll off the lines. Some automakers, like Audi, are moving to modular infotainment systems that allows chipsets to be replaced on the fly."

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How To Lose $172,222 a Second For 45 Minutes
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's step-one-accrue-at-least-$172,222 department:
An anonymous reader writes "Investment firm Knight Capital made headlines in 2012 for losing over $400 million on the New York Stock Exchange because of problems with their algorithmic trading software. Now, the owner of a Python programming blog noticed the release of a detailed SEC report into exactly what went wrong (PDF). It shows how a botched update rollout combined with useless or nonexistent process guidelines cost the company over $172,000 a second for over 45 minutes. From the report: 'When Knight used the Power Peg code previously, as child orders were executed, a cumulative quantity function counted the number of shares of the parent order that had been executed. This feature instructed the code to stop routing child orders after the parent order had been filled completely. In 2003, Knight ceased using the Power Peg functionality. In 2005, Knight moved the tracking of cumulative shares function in the Power Peg code to an earlier point in the SMARS code sequence. Knight did not retest the Power Peg code after moving the cumulative quantity function to determine whether Power Peg would still function correctly if called. ... During the deployment of the new code, however, one of Knight's technicians did not copy the new code to one of the eight SMARS computer servers. Knight did not have a second technician review this deployment and no one at Knight realized that the Power Peg code had not been removed from the eighth server, nor the new RLP code added. Knight had no written procedures that required such a review.'"

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OS X 10.9 Mavericks Review
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's installation-will-finish-before-you-get-through-the-article department:
An anonymous reader writes "John Siracusa at Ars Technica has put together a comprehensive review of Apple's OS X 10.9 Mavericks. This is the first time a major OS X update has been free, and it works on any device that supports Mountain Lion. This suggests Apple is trying to boost adoption rates as high as possible. Siracusa says the following about Apple's move away from skeuomorphic design: 'Mavericks says enough is enough. The leather's gone, the fake pages are gone, the three panes are independently resizable (more or less), even the title bar is bone-stock, and it's boring?' On the other hand, he was a big fan of all the internal optimizations Apple has done, since the energy savings over Mountain Lion are significant. He found a 24% increase in his old MacBook Pro's battery life, and a 30% increase for his new MacBook Air. He also praised the long-needed improvements to multi-monitor support: ' Each attached display is now treated as a separate domain for full-screen windows. Mission Control gestures and keyboard shortcuts will now switch between the desktop and full-screen windows on the display that contains the cursor only, leaving all other displays untouched.' The 24-page review dives deeply into all the other changes in Mavericks, and is worth reading if you're deciding whether or not to upgrade."

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Wikipedia Actively Battling PR Sockpuppets
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's citation-needed department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Over the weekend we discussed news that PR firms have been selling their ability to modify Wikipedia entries to help clients clean up their image. Now, the Wikimedia Foundation's executive director has confirmed that Wikipedia editors are actively engaged in a wide-ranging battle against those PR firms. Over the past couple weeks, those editors have isolated several hundred user accounts linked to people 'paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products,' according to Sue Gardner. Those users' accounts violate Wikipedia's guidelines, 'including prohibitions against sockpuppetry and undisclosed conflicts of interest.' Some 250 suspicious user accounts have already been nuked. Correcting biased text is a thankless job for those Wikipedia editors — the literary-world equivalent of killing endless hordes of zombies approaching your protective fence. But that job gets even harder when a PR agency deploys dozens, or even hundreds of writers to systematically adjust clients' Wikipedia pages."

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Nokia Introduces Windows Tablet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's also-ran department:
jones_supa sends this news from The Verge:
"Rumored for a long time, Nokia's Windows tablet has finally been released. Microsoft might be buying Nokia's device business, but for the next few months they're going to be battling it out as competitors for Windows-based tablet market share. The new Lumia 2520 tablet is everything you'd expect from Nokia; it comes with a very bright and colorful full HD 10.1" display and it looks just like a supersized version of a Lumia series Windows Phone. Other Nokia signatures are a high-quality camera and maps which work reliably offline too. Inside there's a 2.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor, and the word is that Windows RT 8.1 runs great. It's responsive and multitasking apps seems just as good as the Surface 2. Because this is Windows RT you also get access to the desktop Office apps as part of this device. At that point the real Surface-like keyboard and trackpad become useful, alongside two USB ports. Estimated battery life is of 11 hours, which is increased when the cover is attached."

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To Beat Spam Filters, Look Like A Spammer?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hello-sir-madam department:
Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes
"A recent webinar for newsletter publishers suggested that if you want your emails not to be blocked as 'spam,' you paradoxically have to engage in some practices that contribute to the erosion of users' privacy, including some tactics similar to what many spammers are doing. The consequences aren't disastrous, but besides being a loss for privacy, it's another piece of evidence that free-market forces do not necessarily lead to spam filters that are optimal for end users."
Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

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Scenes from the Fort Wayne Regional Maker Faire (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 01:00 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's industry-is-what-made-our-country-great department:
Slashdot visited Fort Wayne, Indiana, during its 2013 Maker Faire. We brought back videos of R2D2 model makers in all their bleeping glory, Mad Sasquatch Rocketry launching rockets, and functioning home-made jet engines, which no Maker Faire should be without. Since Fort Wayne has a strong industrial history, it is not surprising that this Maker Faire had more industrial-scale exhibits than most maker-type events Slashdot has attended. The noise level in much of the event area was industrial scale, too, which is why this video sounds the way it does. But we love large, noisy machinery, not just computers so quiet you can't hear their fans (if, indeed, they *have* fans), so we're happy to enjoy some good Industrial Sound and check out some of Mark Phenicie's steampunk creations now and then.

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Google Wants To Help You Tiptoe Around the NSA & the Great Firewall of China
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's be-vewy-vewy-quiet department:
Kyle Jacoby writes "The NSA was right when it postulated that the mere knowledge of the existence of their program could weaken its ability to function. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which serve to mask the source and destination of data by routing it through a third-party server, have been a popular method for maintaining internet anonymity for the paranoid and prudent. However, the all-but-silent fall of secure email server Lavabit, and VPN provider CryptoSeal, have shown us just how pervasive the government's eye on our communications is. These companies chose to fold rather than to divulge customer data entrusted to them, which raises the million-dollar question: how many have chosen to remain open and silently hand over the keys to your data? Google has decided to put the private back in VPN by supporting uProxy, a project developed at the University of Washington with help from Brave New Software. Still using a VPN schema, their aim is to keep the VPN amongst friends (literally). Of course, you'll need a friend who is willing to let you route your net through their tubes. Their simple integration into Firefox and Chrome will lower the barrier, creating a decentralized VPN architecture that would make sweeping pen register orders more difficult, and would also make blocking VPNs a rather difficult task for countries like China, who block citizens' access to numerous websites. On a related note, when will the public finally demand that communications which pass encrypted through a third party still retain an reasonable expectation of privacy (rendering them pen register order-resistant)?"

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Bell Canada To Collect User Data For Advertising
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's because-it's-not-enough-that-they-already-pay-you-money department:
beerdragoon writes "One of Canada's biggest mobile and TV providers will soon begin collecting detailed information on usage patterns of its subscribers. Starting November 16th, Bell plans on using this information to provide targeted ads for subscribers. According to Bell this policy will allow customers 'to receive Internet advertising that's relevant to them rather than the random online advertising they're receiving now.' Customers have until the 16th to opt out of the targeted ads, but there doesn't appear to be a way to opt out of the data collection. Apparently this is not illegal, but it is certainly considered unethical by many."

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Apple Announces iPad Air
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's listening-to-this-press-conference-is-like-mainlining-the-essence-of-marketing department:
Today Apple held a press conference to unveil its updated software and hardware products. The biggest news was the announcement of the 'iPad Air,' which has a 9.7" Retina display. It's 7.5 mm thick, which is 20% thinner than the older iPad. The weight has dropped from 1.4 lbs to 1.0 lbs, and it runs on a 64-bit A7 chip with an M7 motion coprocessor. Apple claims performance has doubled over the previous-gen iPad. The iPad Air will be available on November 1st. The iPad Mini is getting a new revision as well. The display has been upgraded to 7.9" at 2048x1536, which is the same resolution as the iPad Air. The new Mini has an A7 chip as well.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Oregon Extends Push To Track, Tax Drivers Per Mile
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's he-ain't-heavy-he's-a-hitchhiker-who-stalks-and-fines-me department:
schwit1 writes "Oregon is moving ahead with a controversial plan to tax motorists based on the number of miles they drive as opposed to the amount of fuel they consume, raising myriad concerns about cost and privacy. The problem for lawmakers is that the existing per-gallon gas tax has hit a point of diminishing returns, as Americans drive less and vehicles become more fuel efficient. Economists and civil libertarians are concerned about the Oregon pilot project in large part because some mileage meters can track and record residents' every vehicular move. Rick Geddes, a Cornell University professor, said the basic device is okay because it is simply attached to a vehicle's computer, which cannot track locations. However, Geddes said privacy concerns could resurface should governments expand the program and use SmartPhone or apps to track movements and reward motorists who avoid congested roads and drive during off-peak hours. Mark Perry, a University of Michigan scholar, says the GPS or 'black box' system is 'particularly untenable.'" Per-car tracking and taxation has been a long time coming in Oregon, and it's not the only state where such an idea's been floated.

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Call Yourself a Hacker, Lose Your 4th Amendment Rights
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's such-tricks-of-conjuring-as-never-were department:
An anonymous reader writes "As described on the DigitalBond blog, a security researcher was subjected to a court ordered search in which a lack of pre-notification was premised on his self description as a 'hacker.' From the court order, 'The tipping point for the Court comes from evidence that the defendants – in their own words – are hackers. By labeling themselves this way, they have essentially announced that they have the necessary computer skills and intent to simultaneously release the code publicly and conceal their role in that act.'"

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Cow Burps Tapped For Fuel
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's like-y'-do department:
Dave Knott writes with this intriguing snippet from CBC: "Argentine scientists have found a way to transform the gas created by the bovine digestive system into fuel, an innovation that could curb greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Using a system of valves and pumps, the experimental technique developed by Argentina's National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) channels the digestive gases from bovine stomach cavities through a tube and into a tank. The gases — which otherwise are commonly known as burps, or "eruptos" in Spanish — are then processed to separate methane from other gases such as carbon dioxide. Each head of cattle emits between 250 and 300 liters of pure methane a day, enough energy to keep a refrigerator running for 24 hours."

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Would-Be Tesla Owners Jump Through Hoops To Skirt Wacky Texas Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let's-at-least-have-open-range-for-cars-fellas department:
cartechboy writes "Texas is known for having the nation's most draconian anti-Tesla rules, based on intense and cash-rich lobbying and political donations by Texas car dealers. What's amazing is what would-be Tesla owners still have to do to get their hands on--and maintain--a Tesla Model S. How do you buy a car the laws try to stop you from owning? By jumping through wacky hoops, it turns out. Tesla store staff, for example, can't tell visitors how much a Model S costs. They can't give test drives, and they can't discuss financing options. Tesla service centers are banned from showing the company logo — or advertising that they do Tesla warranty work or service at all. So how have 1,000 Model S cars been sold? That would be sheer persistence."

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Ask Slashdot: Can Bruce Schneier Be Trusted?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's shifty-eyes-and-a-beard department:
An anonymous reader writes "Security guru Bruce Schneier is, among other things, a world renowned cryptography expert, author of several popular books, and a second-order internet meme. He is also an outspoken critic of the NSA, in particular the massive NSA surveillance programs disclosed over the summer by Edward Snowden. Schneier has been involved in reviewing the leaked documents and has put in effort to determine which cryptosystems should still be considered safe. I'm a big fan of Bruce Schneier, but just to play devil's advocate, let's say, hypothetically, that Schneier is actually in cahoots with the NSA. Who better to reinstate public trust in weakened cryptosystems? As an exercise in security that Schneier himself may find interesting, what methods are available for proving (or at least affirming) that we can trust Bruce Schneier?"

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Ubuntu Touch On a Nexus 7: "Almost Awesome"
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '13 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's battery-life-is-a-killer-feature department:
colinneagle writes "I installed Ubuntu Touch "1.0" on my first-generation Nexus 7 tablet and have been using it as my main tablet system for the last four days. Here's how it went. First off, the installation was surprisingly painless. I followed the official instructions and didn't encounter a single problem. That being said, the installation is really geared toward software developers, power users or people already comfortable on a Linux command line. If you're not in one of those categories, I recommend holding off for the time being. Once installed, Ubuntu Touch booted up rather quickly — in only just a few seconds (a fair bit faster than Android 4.x on the same tablet). And, immediately, I was presented with a short tutorial that appears the first time the system is booted, which, I might add, has got to be one of the slickest, least annoying tutorials I've seen. But... there were problems. The battery life was, to put it mildly, terrible. Performance has been mixed, and the OS was prone to what I call 'The Pulsating Seizure Feature' a few dozen times over the weekend. In a nutshell: launching apps (and, occasionally, moving between apps) can cause the device to freeze and begin flashing the screen rapidly."

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