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Property Managers Use DNA To Sniff Out Dog Poop Offenders
Posted by News Fetcher on December 02 '13 at 07:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's thank-you-science department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "News changes during holidays. It gets thinner and lighter and weirder as the hordes of writers and editors who produce the overwhelming flood of news, updates and infotainments go home to annoy friends and family rather than readers and advertisers. Top points in ridiculousness, however, go to the condo- and apartment-complex managers in Braintree, MA, who were inspired to become amateur zoo-geneticists by resident pet owners who not only refused to clean up after their pets, but challenged the apartment managers to prove it was their pets contributing the increasingly hazardous, unpleasant piles of doggie doo on apartment properties. Rather than put up with a neverending supply of potential EcoBot fuel on marring the landscaping, facilities managers took cheek swabs of all the dogs on the property and sent them to A Knoxville, Tenn. that provided DNA profiles under a program with the dignified name 'PooPrints.' Now, for a fee of only $60 per pooch, residential managers can confirm the provider of a pile of PooPrintable material by comparing the DNA in the dog with the DNA in the pile. 'Now you don't really have to worry about dog poop,' said one fan of the practical application of zoological genetic analysis. 'The grass is now ours again, we don't have to worry about it [poop], and that's a good thing.' Restraint is just as important as innovation, of course, so the building managers made a point of telling the AP reporter who wrote the story that they wouldn't extend the effort to identifying which pooch peed on which bush and when. 'That's a little more difficult. We are not going to tackle that.' Finally, in this holiday season, something to be thankful for." The city of Petah Tikva, Israel started a similar identification program in 2008.

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R2-D2: Mall Cop
Posted by News Fetcher on December 02 '13 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's these-are-not-the-sales-you-are-looking-for department:
theodp writes "'The night watchman of the future,' explains the NY Times' John Markoff, 'is 5 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds and looks a lot like R2-D2 – without the whimsy. And will work for $6.25 an hour.' California-based Knightscope has developed a mobile robot known as the K5 Autonomous Data Machine as a safety and security tool for corporations, as well as for schools and neighborhoods. 'But what is for some a technology-laden route to safer communities and schools,' writes Markoff, 'is to others an entry point to a post-Orwellian, post-privacy world.'"

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Amazon Reveals "Prime Air", Their Plans For 30-minute Deliveries By Drone
Posted by News Fetcher on December 02 '13 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's amazon-air department:
Z80xxc! writes "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed during a CBS 60 Minutes interview that the company is working on a service called "Prime Air" to deliver packages by autonomous octocopter drones within 30 minutes of hitting the "buy" button. The plan still requires more testing and FAA approval, but Bezos predicts it'll be available to the public in the next 4-5 years.

With a lot of backlash against drones, and some towns even offering bounties to shoot them down, will this technology ever take off, or is this just another one of Amazon's eccentric CEO's fantastical flight ideas ?"


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The Quietest Place On Earth Will Cause You To Hallucinate In 45 Minutes
Posted by News Fetcher on December 02 '13 at 02:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's did-you-hear-that? department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Industry Tap reports that there is a place so quiet you can hear your heart beat, your lungs breathe and your stomach digest. It's the anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs in Minnesota where 3ft of sound-proofing fiberglass wedges and insulated steel and concrete absorbs 99.99% of sound, making it the quietest place in the world. 'When it's quiet, ears will adapt,' says the company's founder and president, Steven Orfield. 'The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You'll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.' The chamber is used by a multitude of manufacturers, to test how loud their products are and the space normally rents for $300 to $400 an hour. 'It's used for formal product testing, for research into the sound of different things — heart valves, the sound of the display of a cellphone, the sound of a switch on a car dashboard.' But the strangest thing about the chamber is that sensory deprivation makes the room extremely disorienting, and people can rarely stay in the dark space for long. As the minutes tick by in absolute quiet, the human mind begins to lose its grip, causing test subjects to experience visual and aural hallucinations. 'We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark — one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes,' says Orfield who says even he can't stand the quiet for more than about 30 minutes. Nasa uses a similar chamber to test its astronauts putting them in a water-filled tank inside the room to see 'how long it takes before hallucinations take place and whether they could work through it.'"

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RMS Calls For "Truly Anonymous" Payment Alternative To Bitcoin
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 11:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's don't-follow-the-money department:
BitVulture writes "Richard Stallman took time to air his views on the crypto-currency that has become virtually as valuable as gold. In an interview with Russian media giant RT, Stallman praised Bitcoin for allowing people to 'send money to someone without getting the permission of a payment company'. But he also warned against a major weakness of Bitcoin and called for the development of 'a system for truly anonymous payment' online."

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Telefonica To Shut Down VoIP Provider Jajah On January 31, 2014
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 08:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's so-long-farewell department:
An anonymous reader writes "Voice over IP (VoIP) provider Jajah has announced it will be shutting down on January 31, 2014. This means Jajah.com and Jajah Direct services will no longer be offered, and users will not be able to make any more calls. Existing Jajah users will be able to use their account normally until the kill date, but new registrations meanwhile are no longer being accepted. You can also apply for a refund of any balance remaining on your account prior to the service closing by submitting a request to customer support (processing time is 30 days)."

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How Much of ISON Survived Its Closest Approach To the Sun?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 06:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-thousand-little-pieces department:
SternisheFan writes "This ArsTechnica article examines what may be left of ISON and contains a detailed animated GIF from the NASA STEREO Ahead spacecraft. 'It looks like comet ISON, or most of it, did not survive its encounter with the Sun yesterday, when it made a close approach at just 1.2 million kms from that fiery surface. This distance may seem large, but it is close enough to have subjected the comet to temperatures of around 2,700C. To survive such a close shave with the Sun may sound unlikely, but a few other sungrazing comets have managed the feat during even closer passes. So some people hoped ISON would perform a death-defying stunt and emerge intact. ISON did not leave us without a final serving of mystery though. Soon after reaching its nearest point to the Sun (known as perihelion), there was no sign of it emerging afterwards. Twitter and news agencies were alight, lamenting its loss and assuming it disintegrated—RIP ISON. But then, moments later, new images emerged showing a hint of something appearing on the other side of the Sun. Was this still a diminished comet ISON or a ghostly version of its former self? Well, even comet experts are not sure.'"

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Mediterranean Sea To Possibly Become Site of Chemical Weapons Dump
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's scuttle-the-gas department:
An anonymous reader writes "The organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has proposed destroying at least 1000 tones of the confiscated Syrian chemical weapon stockpile out at sea, which some fear will destroy delicate eco systems vital to sea and human life alike. The OPCW claims the plan is 'technically feasible' and is apparently willing to risk ecological disaster to destroy the toxic contents of the weaponry in or above the sea. Members of the press were told, the 'group is considering whether to destroy the chemical weapons in the ocean, either on a ship or by loading them onto an offshore rig.'"

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Siberia's Methane Release Larger Than Previously Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 03:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bubbling-up department:
An anonymous reader writes "New research suggests that the amount of methane being released from Siberian permafrost is much larger than previously thought. From the article: 'Thawing permafrost gets a lot of attention as a positive feedback that could amplify global warming by releasing carbon dioxide and methane, both of which are greenhouse gases. Because of this, a lot of effort goes into studying Arctic permafrost. An international group of researchers led by Natalia Shakhova at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been plying the remote waters of the Siberian Shelf for about a decade to find out how much methane was coming up from the thawing permafrost. They didn't expect to find it bubbling.'"

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Bitcoin Thefts Surge, DDoS Hackers Take Millions
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-your-bitcoin-are-belong-to-us department:
CowboyRobot writes "In November, Denmark-based Bitcoin Internet Payment System suffered a DDoS attack. Unfortunately for users of the company's free online wallets for storing bitcoins, the DDoS attack was merely a smokescreen for a digital heist that quickly drained numerous wallets, netting the attackers a reported 1,295 bitcoins — worth nearly $1 million — and leaving wallet users with little chance that they'd ever see their money again. Given the potential spoils from a successful online heist, related attacks are becoming more common. But not all bitcoin heists have been executed via hack attacks or malware. For example, a China-based bitcoin exchange called GBL launched in May. Almost 1,000 people used the service to deposit bitcoins worth about $4.1 million. But the exchange was revealed to be an elaborate scam after whoever launched the site shut it down on October 26 and absconded with the funds. The warnings are all the same: 'Don't trust any online wallet', 'Find alternative storage solutions as soon as possible', and 'You don't have to keep your Bitcoins online with someone else. You can store your Bitcoins yourself, encrypted and offline.'"

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Chinese Chang'e-3 Lunar Rover On Its Way After Successful Launch
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 01:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-have-lift-off department:
savuporo writes "The Chang'e-3 lunar probe, which includes the Yutu or Jade Rabbit buggy, blasted off on board an enhanced Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 1:30 a.m. (12.30 p.m. EDT). Landing is expected on December 14, at a landing site called Sinus Iridium (the Bay of Rainbows), a relic of a huge crater 258 km in diameter. Coverage of the launch was carried live on CCTV, with youtube copies available."

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White House Calls On Kids To Film High-Tech Education
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 12:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's lights-camera-learn department:
theodp writes "Over at WhiteHouse.gov, Bill Nye has issued a call for entries for the first-ever White House Student Film Festival, a video contest for K-12 students, whose finalists will have their short films shown at the White House. From the website: "The President has an assignment for you: Our schools are more high-tech than ever. There are laptops in nearly every classroom. You can take an online course on Japanese — and then video chat with a kid from Japan. You can learn about geometry through an app on your iPad. So, what does it all mean? We're looking for videos that highlight the power of technology in schools. Your film should address at least one of the following themes: 1. How you currently use technology in your classroom or school. 2. The role technology will play in education in the future."

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A Review of the "Mental Illness" Definition Might Prevent Crime
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's getting-it-right department:
An anonymous reader writes "Following a BBC report showing abnormal variation in the number of people taken into police custody with mental health problems, concerns have been raised about the legal definition of "mental illness". Prof. Steve Fuller argues that a much sharper legal distinction is required to ensure criminals with mental disorders are not released without appropriate treatment. Fuller distinguishes between two cases: a 'client', who pays a therapist and enjoys a liberal, level-playing field in face-to-face interactions, and a 'patient' who is being treated by a doctor for a particular disorder. If the former relationship cannot be established due to person's mental state, then the latter one should be enforced. Thus, Fuller calls for 'a return to institutions analogous to the asylums of the early 19th century.'"

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Piracy Offers Heavy Metal a New Business Model
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's run-to-the-dollar-bills department:
hessian writes "Despite being extensively pirated worldwide, Iron Maiden have managed to put themselves in the £10-20m for 2012. This means that despite the growing popularity of the band on social media, and the extensive and pervasive torrent downloading of the band's music, books and movies, the band is turning a profit. This is in defiance of the past business model, and the idea that piracy is killing music. In fact, piracy seems to be saving music in Iron Maiden's case. One reason for this may be metal itself. It has a fiercely loyal fanbase and a clear brand and identity. The audience identifies with the genre, which stands in contrast to genericized genres. It doggedly maintains its own identity and shuns outsiders. As a result, fans tend to identify more with their music, and place a higher value on purchasing it."

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Protect Your Privacy When It's Out of Your Control?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 09:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's always-watching department:
An anonymous reader writes "A week ago, Slashdot was asked, "How do you protect your privacy?" The question named many different ways privacy is difficult to secure these days, but almost all of the answers focused on encrypting internet traffic. But what can you do about your image being captured by friends and strangers' cameras (not to mention drones, police cameras, security cameras, etc.)? How about when your personal data is stored by banks and healthcare companies and their IT department sucks? Heck; off-the-shelf tech can see you through your walls. Airport security sniffs your skin. There are countless other ways info on you can be collected that has nothing to do with your internet hygiene. Forget the NSA; how do you protect your privacy from all these others? Can you?"

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Research Suggests One To Three Men Fathered Most Western Europeans
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 07:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's you-are-the-father department:
Taco Cowboy writes "'While the distribution of Y-chromosome haplogroups in Africa took 12 thousand years to spread, those in Europe started from around 3rd millennium.' The speed of spread of the European haplogroups was totally astounding, to say the least. 'There was no R1b found in Europe before a Bell Beaker site from the 3rd millennium BC and today many Europeans (most in western Europe) belong to this haplogroup. 'We used coalescent simulations to investigate the range of demographic models most likely to produce the phylogenetic structures observed in Africa and Europe, assessing the starting and ending genetic effective population sizes, duration of the expansion, and time when expansion ended. The best-fitting models in Africa and Europe are very different. In Africa, the expansion took about 12 thousand years, ending very recently; it started from approximately 40 men and numbers expanded approximately 50-fold. In Europe, the expansion was much more rapid, taking only a few generations and occurring as soon as the major R1b lineage entered Europe; it started from just one to three men, whose numbers expanded more than a thousandfold.'"

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Why Competing For Tenure Is Like Trying To Become a Drug Lord
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 07:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bad-teacher-coming-through department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Scott Jaschik writes in Inside Higher Education that the academic job market is structured in many respects like a drug gang, with an expanding mass of outsiders and a shrinking core of insiders and with income distribution within gangs extremely skewed in favor of those at the top, while the rank-and-file street sellers earned even less than employees in legitimate low-skilled activities. According to Alexandre Afonso, academic systems rely at least to some extent on the existence of a supply of 'outsiders' ready to forgo wages and employment security in exchange for the prospect of prestige, freedom and reasonably high salaries that tenured positions entail. 'What you have is an increasing number of brilliant PhD graduates arriving every year into the market hoping to secure a permanent position as a professor and enjoying freedom and high salaries, a bit like the rank-and-file drug dealer hoping to become a drug lord,' says Afonso. 'To achieve that, they are ready to forgo the income and security that they could have in other areas of employment by accepting insecure working conditions in the hope of securing jobs that are not expanding at the same rate.' The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported on adjunct lecturers who rely on food stamps to make ends meet. Afonso adds that he is not trying to discourage everyone from pursuing Ph.D.s but that prospective graduate students need to go in with a full awareness of the job market."

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Zuckerberg Shows Kindergartners Ruby Instead of JavaScript
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's presto-changeout department:
theodp writes "If one was introducing coding to 10 million K-12 kids over 5 days, one might settle on a programming language for examples more than a few weeks before D-Day. But the final tutorials for the Hour of Code aren't due now until the day they're to be taught, so Code.org was able to switch the example Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg uses to illustrate Repeat Loops from JavaScript to what looks like Ruby (earlier /. discussion of the JavaScript example), which will no doubt make things clearer for the kindergarten set working on the accompanying Angry Birds tutorial. Khan Academy, on the other hand, is sticking with JavaScript for its Hour of Code tutorial aimed at middle-schoolers, which culminates in a project showing the kids how they can draw a circular plate by invoking an ellipse function with equal major and minor axes. By the way, as Bret Victor might point out, the 2013 Khan Academy lesson looks a lot like circa-1973 PLATO!"

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Dial 00000000 To Blow Up the World
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 04:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-public-servants department:
Charliemopps writes "For 20 years the password for the U.S. nuclear arsenal was '00000000.' Kennedy instituted a security system on all nuclear warheads to prevent them from being armed by someone unauthorized. It was called PAL, and promised to secure the entire US arsenal around the world. Unfortunately for Kennedy (and I guess, the whole world) U.S. military leadership was more concerned about delaying a launch than securing Armageddon. They technically obeyed the order but then set the password to 8 Zeros, or '00000000'."

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270 Million Android Users In China
Posted by News Fetcher on December 01 '13 at 01:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's multiply-by-tea-per-user department:
An anonymous reader writes "Until now, it was particularly difficult to obtain reliable figures on the results of the Android operating system in China. Indeed, there is no 'centralized app store' and most smartphones sold in the country do not use Google services, including activation. In fact, it is very difficult to know the actual results. The search engine Baidu has corrected this by publishing a report on trends in the mobile internet for the 3rd quarter 2013. It appears that there would be now 270 million active users of the Google platform in the country (more than 20% of the total population). Growth would, however, decrease with a small 13% against 55% for the same period last year but up 10% compared to Q2 2013."

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