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California Lawmaker Wants 3-D Printers To Be Regulated
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-demand-background-checks-for-sketchpads-and-protractors department:
New submitter phrackthat writes with news that California State Senator Leland Yee (D-S.F.) says he wants regulations to track who owns and uses 3-D printers. Yee's comments come in response to the recent news of Defense Distributed's successful test-firing of a 3-D printed gun.
"He's concerned that just about anyone with access to those cutting-edge printers can arm themselves. 'Terrorists can make these guns and do some horrible things to an individual and then walk away scott-free, and that is something that is really dangerous,' said Yee. He said while this new technology is impressive, it must be regulated when it comes to making guns. He says background checks, requiring serial numbers and even registering them could be part of new legislation that he says will protect the public. Yee added, 'This particular gun has no trace whatsoever.'"

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Data Leak Spurs Huge Offshore Tax Evasion Investigation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's thousands-of-corporate-escape-pods-launched-in-response department:
New submitter lxrocks writes "Tax authorities in the U.S., Britain, and Australia have announced they are working with a gigantic cache of leaked data that may be the beginnings of one of the largest tax investigations in history. The secret records are believed to include those obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that lay bare the individuals behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, Singapore and other offshore hideaways. The IRS said, 'There is nothing illegal about holding assets through offshore entities; however, such offshore arrangements are often used to avoid or evade tax liabilities on income represented by the principal or on the income generated by the underlying assets. In addition, advisors may be subject to civil penalties or criminal prosecution for promoting such arrangements as a means to avoid or evade tax liability or circumvent information reporting requirements.'"

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Programmers Who Have Not Stayed Current?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's twinkie-on-a-stick department:
skaffen42 writes "The recent Ask Slashdot about becoming a programmer later in life got me thinking about a related question. How do you deal with programmers who have not stayed current with new technologies? In the hiring process, this is easy; you simply don't hire them. However, at most companies where I've worked, there are usually a few programmers who have been employed long enough that the skill-set they were originally hired for has become irrelevant. At the same time, they have not bothered to stay current with newer technologies. They usually have enough business knowledge that they provide some value to the company, but from a technical perspective they are a slowly-increasing liability. As an example: I work with a developer who is 10 years my senior, but still doesn't understand how to write concurrent code and cannot be trusted to use a revision control system without causing a mess that somebody else will have to clean up. On top of that, he is really resistant to the idea of code reviews; I suspect he dislikes people he considers junior to him making suggestions about how to improve his code. So, how do my fellow Slashdotters handle situations like this? How do you help somebody like this to improve their skill-sets? And, most importantly, how do you do so without stepping on anybody's feelings?"

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Astronauts Fix Phantom Space Station Ammonia Leak
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's didn't-need-to-eject-the-warp-core department:
astroengine writes "During an unscheduled spacewalk on the space station's exterior on Saturday morning, NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn and Chris Cassidy carried out the mother of all plumbing jobs: They detached a suspect ammonia pump, replaced it with a spare and watched for any further ammonia leakage. The emergency spacewalk was carried out in response to a troubling ammonia coolant leak that was discovered on Thursday. The coolant is used to maintain the temperature of the vast solar arrays the space station uses to generate electricity for its systems. 'It will take some diagnostics, still, over the course of the next several days by the thermal systems specialists to fully determine that we have solved the problem of the ammonia leak," said NASA commentator Rob Navias during the live NASA TV spacewalk broadcast. 'But so far, so "good."'"

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Elon Musk Quits Mark Zuckerberg's Lobbying Club
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'm-makin'-my-own-club-for-cool-kids department:
theodp writes "Valleywag's Adrian Chen wasn't the only one troubled by the tactics of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us political lobbying group. Composed of a Who's Who of tech millionaires and billionaires, the group boasted its control of massive distribution channels, broad popularity with Americans, and money would make it a political force to be reckoned with. But the group came under fire for embracing decidedly old-school political tactics, forming both left-leaning and right-leaning subsidiaries, thus broadening its appeal to those who might help advance its agenda. Reports that FWD.us had funded ads praising Arctic oil drilling drew fire from critics, including Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who FWD.us listed as a 'Major Supporter.' Not anymore. Valleywag reports that Musk has quit Zuckerberg's lobbying cabal, apparently feeling that the group's ends did not justify their hit-both-sides-of-the-aisle-to-get-what-you-want means. 'I have spent a lot of time fighting far larger lobbying organizations in DC and believe that the right way to win on a cause is to argue the merits of that cause,' Musk said. 'This statement may surprise some people, but my experience is that most (not all) politicians and their staffs want to do the right thing and eventually do.' By the way, didn't members of the Zuck PACk create, fund, and appear on Code.org, which lamented the sad state of U.S. CS education and featured a slick documentary showing technically clueless little kids, just weeks before launching their pro-techie immigration push? Hey, all's fair in love and lobbying!"

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17-Year-Old Girl Wins Boston TV API Programming Contest
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's strong-work department:
An anonymous reader writes "Jenny Lamere, a graduating high school senior from Nashua NH, was the youngest of 80 participants (and one of only four women) in the Hill Holiday TVnext hackathon held in Boston this past April, a programming contest sponsored by TV API providers. Her submission of 'Twivo,' an app that allows TV viewers to block spoiler tweets while watching a show and recover them later, won the contest's 'Sync to Broadcast' category (one of five), and was also named the event's 'Best in Show' (overall winner). At least one tech company has expressed interest in her app (a short demo and interview with the judges starts at 3:30 in the embedded YouTube clip). Lamere plans to enter the Rochester Institute of Technology in the fall, and will pursue a career in software development."

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Microsoft Developer Explains Why Windows Kernel Development Falls Behind
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's gotta-be-the-shoes department:
New submitter mha writes "In a response that truly seems to be from a core Microsoft developer, we are told about why Windows kernel development continues to fall further and further behind that of the Linux kernel. He says, 'The cause of the problem is social. There's almost none of the improvement for its own sake, for the sake of glory, that you see in the Linux world. ... There's no formal or informal program of systemic performance improvement. We started caring about security because pre-SP3 Windows XP was an existential threat to the business. Our low performance is not an existential threat to the business. See, component owners are generally openly hostile to outside patches: if you're a dev, accepting an outside patch makes your lead angry (due to the need to maintain this patch and to justify in in shiproom the unplanned design change), makes test angry (because test is on the hook for making sure the change doesn't break anything, and you just made work for them), and PM is angry (due to the schedule implications of code churn). There's just no incentive to accept changes from outside your own team. You can always find a reason to say "no," and you have very little incentive to say "yes."'"

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Smartphones Driving Violent Crime Across US
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's there's-an-app-for-that department:
alphadogg writes "Incidents of cellphone theft have been rising for several years and are fast becoming an epidemic. IDG News Service collected data on serious crimes in San Francisco from November to April and recorded 579 thefts of cellphones or tablets, accounting for 41 percent of all serious crime. In just over half the incidents, victims were punched, kicked or otherwise physically intimidated for their phones, and in a quarter of robberies, users were threatened with guns or knives. This isn't just happening in tech-loving San Francisco, either. The picture is similar across the United States. A big reason for such thefts, until recently, is that there had been little to stop someone using a stolen cellphone. Reacting to pressure from law enforcement and regulators, the U.S.'s largest cellphone carriers agreed early last year to establish a database of stolen cellphones."

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DRM In HTML5 — Better Than the Alternative?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's dissenting-opinion department:
Underholdning writes "DRM is coming to HTML5. The W3C published a working draft yesterday of the framework that will support the use of DRM-protected media. Ars Technica's Peter Bright reports on it with an article claiming that DRM in HTML5 is a victory for the open web, not a defeat. Bright argues that if HTML5 does not support DRM, then content providers will move their content away from open standards and implement it with native apps — abandoning the web in the process. Quoting: 'Keeping it out of W3C might have been a moral victory, but its practical implications would sit between slim and none. It doesn't matter if browsers implement "W3C EME" or "non-W3C EME" if the technology and its capabilities are identical. ... Deprived of the ability to use browser plugins, protected content distributors are not, in general, switching to unprotected media. Instead, they're switching away from the Web entirely. Want to send DRM-protected video to an iPhone? "There's an app for that." Native applications on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 can all implement DRM, with some platforms, such as Android and Windows 8, even offering various APIs and features to assist this.'"

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(Highly Divided) Federal Circuit Opinion Finds Many Software Patents Ineligible
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's system-and-method-for-bits-and-stuff department:
ais523 writes "The Federal Circuit has divided CLS Bank vs. Alice Corp., a case about various sorts of patents, including software patents. Although the judges disagreed, to a lesser or greater extent, on the individual parts of the ruling, more than half decided that the patents in question — algorithms for hedging risk — were ineligible patent matter, and that merely adding an 'on a computer'-like clause to an abstract algorithm does not make it patentable. Further coverage is available at Groklaw, or you can read the opinion itself (PDF)."

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Bloomberg Reporters Caught Spying On Terminal Users
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hot-reading-vs-cold department:
theodp writes "Big Bloomberg is watching you. CNN reports that was the unsettling realization Goldman Sachs execs came to a few weeks ago when a Bloomberg reporter inadvertently revealed that reporters from the news and financial data provider had surveillance capabilities over users of Bloomberg terminals. 'Limited customer relationship data has long been available to our journalists,' acknowledged a Bloomberg spokesman. 'In light of [Goldman's] concern as well as a general heightened sensitivity to data access, we decided to disable journalist access to this customer relationship information for all clients.' Business Insider is now reporting on allegations that Bloomberg reporters used terminals to spy on JPMorgan during the 'London Whale' disaster; Bloomberg bragged about its leadership on this story."

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The Days of Cheap, Subsidized Phones May Be Numbered
Posted by News Fetcher on May 11 '13 at 02:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's installment-plans-are-not-for-your-benefit department:
In the U.S., subsidized phones are the norm: for post-paid, long-term contract use, getting a low up-front price on a phone is one of the few upsides. New submitter Apptopia writes "After T Mobile mostly did away with subsidized phone plans, the other major carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint) are paying attention. Carriers lose money with phone subsidies for high-end smartphones (particularly Apple's iPhone). If they do away with the subsidy, you will have to pay full retail price for phones, but your monthly bill will be lower." If people had a better idea what they were paying for, though, manufacturers might fight harder on price. There are lots of well-reviewed, multi-band, unlocked phones on Amazon and DealExtreme from lesser-known companies, and Nokia's new Asha 501 (though limited in many ways, including availability, having just launched in India) shows that the "smartphone" label can apply even to a sub- $100 phone.

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Demonoid Resurrection Dismissed As Malware Was Legitimate
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '13 at 11:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-exactly-intuitive department:
wo1verin3 writes "Previously reported on Slashdot was a story about a malware attempt masquerading itself as a Demonoid resurrection. It turns out this really was Demonoid making a comeback. With the site now back online with a new host, TorrentFreak caught up with its admins who tell us they have no malicious intent and simply want to bring a community back to together. While there is still uncertainty, one thing is absolutely clear – they do have the old Demonoid database."

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Snapchats Don't Disappear
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '13 at 09:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's un-disappearing-ink department:
Mobile photo-sharing app SnapChat has one claim to fame, compared to other ways people might share photos from their cellphones: the photos, once viewed, disappear from view, after a pre-set length of time. However, it turns out they don't disappear as thoroughly as users might like. New submitter nefus writes with this excerpt from Forbes: "Richard Hickman of Decipher Forensics found that it's possible to pull Snapchat photos from Android phones simply by downloading data from the phone using forensics software and removing a '.NoMedia' file extension that was keeping the photos from being viewed on the device. He published his findings online and local TV station KSL has a video showing how it's done."

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Microsoft YouTube App Strips Ads; Adds Download
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '13 at 06:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-companies-compete department:
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft appears to be sticking a finger in Google's eye with the launch of its new YouTube app for Windows Phone. The app, ReadWrite has confirmed, strips out YouTube ads when it plays back videos and allows users to easily download video by way of a prominent 'download' button."

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Cyanogenmod 10.1 RC1 Starts To Roll Out To Devices Near You
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '13 at 04:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's loyal-quasi-opposition department:
New submitter Noitatsidem writes "Good news for Cyanogenmod users, according to their blog it looks like 10.1 is nearing its stable release. 'We haven't used the "Release Candidate" nomenclature since the ICS days, but we feel the 10.1 branch is quickly approaching the point where a "final" build is due. To prepare for that eventuality, RC1 builds for CyanogenMod 10.1.0 are now landing on our servers! This will be one of (if not the last) milestone releases before a 10.1.0 is pushed out. These builds will appear as they complete the build process and, as always, you can download the builds via get.cm!' Android Police speculates that this is due in part to the rumored release announcement of Android 4.3 given at Google I/O 2013 which is taking place in (now) less than one week. Looks like the Android community will have a lot to talk about in coming days!"

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IRS Admits Targeting Conservative Groups During 2012 Election
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '13 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's absolute-power-and-absolute-abuse-of-power department:
An anonymous reader writes "A recurring theme in comments on Slashdot since the 9/11 attacks has been concern about the use of government power to monitor or suppress political activity unassociated with terrorism but rather based on ideology. It has just been revealed that the IRS has in fact done that. From the story: "The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election . . . Organizations were singled out because they included the words 'tea party' or 'patriot' in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
< article continued at Slashdot >

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How Should the Law Think About Robots?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '13 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-see-they're-like-a-series-of-tubes department:
An anonymous reader writes "With the personal robotics revolution imminent, a law professor and a roboticist (called Professor Smart!) argue that the law needs to think about robots properly. In particular, they say we should avoid 'the Android Fallacy' — the idea that robots are just like us, only synthetic. 'Even in research labs, cameras are described as "eyes," robots are "scared" of obstacles, and they need to "think" about what to do next. This projection of human attributes is dangerous when trying to design legislation for robots. Robots are, and for many years will remain, tools. ... As the autonomy of the system increases, it becomes harder and harder to form the connection between the inputs (your commands) and the outputs (the robot's behavior), but it exists, and is deterministic. The same set of inputs will generate the same set of outputs every time. The problem, however, is that the robot will never see exactly the same input twice. ... The problem is that this different behavior in apparently similar situations can be interpreted as "free will" or agency on the part of the robot. While this mental agency is part of our definition of a robot, it is vital for us to remember what is causing this agency. Members of the general public might not know, or even care, but we must always keep it in mind when designing legislation. Failure to do so might lead us to design legislation based on the form of a robot, and not the function. This would be a grave mistake."

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CO2 Levels Reach 400ppm at Mauna Loa For First Time On Record
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '13 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's we're-number-one!-we're-number-one! department:
Titus Andronicus writes "Today, NOAA reported, 'On May 9, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, surpassed 400 parts per million for the first time since measurements began in 1958.' For comparison, over the last 800,000 years, CO2 has ranged from roughly 180 ppm to 280 ppm. 'For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.' The last time Earth had 400 ppm was probably more than 3 megayears ago."

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Why Is Science Behind a Paywall?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '13 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's because-we-are-not-a-smart-species department:
An anonymous reader writes "The Priceonomics blog has a post that looks into how so much of our scientific knowledge came to be gated by current publishing models. 'The most famous of these providers is Elsevier. It is a behemoth. Every year it publishes 250,000 articles in 2,000 journals. Its 2012 revenues reached $2.7 billion. Its profits of over $1 billion account for 45% of the Reed Elsevier Group — its parent company which is the 495th largest company in the world in terms of market capitalization. Companies like Elsevier developed in the 1960s and 1970s. They bought academic journals from the non-profits and academic societies that ran them, successfully betting that they could raise prices without losing customers. Today just three publishers, Elsevier, Springer and Wiley, account for roughly 42% of all articles published in the $19 billion plus academic publishing market for science, technology, engineering, and medical topics. University libraries account for 80% of their customers.' The article also explain how moving to open access journals would help, but says it's just one step in a more significant transformation scientific research needs to undergo. It points to the open source software community as a place from which researchers should take their cues."

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