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Amazon Launches Kindle Fire HDX Tablets
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's a-little-faster department:
New submitter casab1anca writes "In classic Amazon fashion, without much fanfare, a bunch of new tablets just popped up on their homepage today. The new range, dubbed HDX, is available in the usual 8.9" and 7" versions, with improved hardware and software, but perhaps equally interesting is the revamped 7" Fire HD from last year, which goes for just $139 now."

Compared to the Kindle Fire HD, the new models feature a jump in display density (216 PPI to 323 PPI for the 7" and 254 to 339 PPI for the 9"), a switch from a dual-core TI OMAP Cortex-A9 (at 1.2/1.5GHz) to a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon, and a bump from 1G to 2G of RAM. On the software side, Android has been upgraded from 4.0 to 4.2.2 and Amazon added a few new features to their applications.

Businessweek has an interview with Jeff Bezos running today too (starting a bit down the first page).

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LLVM's Libc++ Now Has C++1Y Standard Library Support
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's john-titor-joins-the-team department:
An anonymous reader writes "LLVM's libc++ standard library (an alternative to GNU libstdc++) now has full support for C++1y, which is expected to become C++14 next year. Code merged this week implements the full C++1y standard library, with support for new language features in the Clang compiler frontend nearly complete."

GCC has some support for the soon-to-be standard too. The C++ standards committee is expected to produce a more or less final draft in just a few weeks. The LLVM and GCC C++14 status pages both have links to the proposals for the new features.

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The Chip That Changed the World: AMD's 64-bit FX-51, Ten Years Later
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 08:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's the-day-unix-workstations-died department:
Dputiger writes "It's been a decade since AMD's Athlon 64 FX-51 debuted — and launched the 64-bit x86 extensions that power the desktop and laptop world today. After a year of being bludgeoned by the P4, AMD roared back with a vengeance, kicking off a brief golden age for its own products, and seizing significant market share in desktops and servers."

Although the Opteron was around before, it cost a pretty penny. I'm not sure it's fair to say that the P4 was really bludgeoning the Athlon XP though (higher clock speeds, but NetBurst is everyone's favorite Intel microarchitecture to hate). Check out the Athlon 64 FX review roundup from 2003.

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Frameworks 5: KDE Libraries Reworked Into Portable Qt Modules
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 08:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's kde-for-the-masses department:
jrepin writes "The KDE libraries are being methodically reworked into a set of cross platform modules that will be readily available to all Qt developers. The KDE Frameworks, designed as drop-in Qt Addons, will enrich Qt as a development environment with functions that simplify, accelerate and reduce the cost of Qt development. For example, KArchive (one of the first Frameworks available) offers support for many popular compression codecs in a self-contained and easy-to-use file archiving library. Just feed it files; there's no need to reinvent an archiving function."

This is a pretty major thing: "The introduction of Qt's Open Governance model in late 2011 offered the opportunity for KDE developers to get more closely involved with Qt, KDE's most important upstream resource. ... These contributions to Qt form the basis for further modularization of the KDE libraries. The libraries are moving from being a singular 'platform' to a set of 'Frameworks'. ... Instead it is a comprehensive set of technologies that becomes available to the whole Qt ecosystem."

The new KDE Frameworks will be layered as three tiers of components, with each tier consisting of three semi-independent groups of libraries (the article explains the category/tier dependencies; it's a bit hairy for a quick summary). A dashboard shows the status of each component.

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LexisNexis and Other Major Data Brokers Hacked By ID Theft Service
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's someone-forgot-to-install-rkhunter department:
gewalker writes "Have we reached the point where it is time to admit that the ID thieves are winning and will continue to win as long as their incentives are sufficient to make it lucrative for them? According to Krebs On Security an analysis of a database pilfered from commercial identity thieves identified breaches in 25 data brokers including the heavyweights Dun and Bradstreet and LexisNexis."

And they had access for months to most of them. From the article: The botnet’s online dashboard for the LexisNexis systems shows that a tiny unauthorized program called <tt>nbc.exe</tt> was placed on the servers as far back as April 10, 2013, suggesting the intruders have had access to the company’s internal networks for at least the past five months. The program was designed to open an encrypted channel of communications from within LexisNexis’s internal systems to the botnet controller on the public Internet." The companies compromised aggregated data for things like "credit decisions, business-to-business marketing and supply chain management. ... employment background, drug and health screening."

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DEA Argues Oregonians Have No Protected Privacy Interest In Prescription Records
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's we-see-you're-taking-terrorism-pills department:
schwit1 writes "Like emails and documents stored in the cloud, your prescription medical records may have a tenuous right to privacy. In response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) over the privacy of certain medical records, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is arguing (ACLU response) that citizens whose medical records are handed over to a pharmacy — or any other third-party — have 'no expectation of privacy' for that information."

Oregon mandates that pharmacies report information on people receiving certain drugs to a centralized database (ostensibly to "...help people work with their health care providers and pharmacists to know what medications are best for them."). State law does allow law enforcement to access the records, but only with a warrant. The DEA, however, thinks that, because the program is public, a citizen is knowingly disclosing that information to a third party thus losing all of their privacy rights (since you can always just opt out of receiving medical care) thanks to the Controlled Substances Act. The ACLU and medical professionals (PDF) don't think there's anything voluntary about receiving medical treatment, and that medical ethics override other concerns.

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Facebook Autofill Wants To Store Users' Credit Card Info
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 06:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's amazon-probably-patented-this department:
cagraham writes "Facebook has teamed up with payment processors PayPal, Braintree, and Stripe, in an attempt to simplify mobile payments. The system allows Facebook members (who have turned over their credit and billing info) to click a 'Autofill with Facebook' button when checking-out on a mobile app. Facebook will then verify the details, and securely transfer a user's info over to the payment processing company. The move is likely aimed at gathering more data on user behavior, which can be used to increase the prices Facebook charges for mobile ads. Whether or not the feature takes off however, will depend almost entirely on how willing users are to trust Facebook with their credit card data."

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Interview: Contiki OS Creator On Building the Internet of Things
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 05:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's atari-jaguar-power-meter department:
angry tapir writes "Last year Adam Dunkels, the creator of the open source Contiki operating system, launched a startup to build tools for the 'Internet of Things'. This week his company, Thingsquare, is releasing an evaluation kit that lets people test drive their IoT system. I caught up with him to talk about Thingsquare's plans and the hype around the IoT."

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President of Brazil Lashes Out At NSA Espionage Programs In Speech To UN
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's heavy-fallout-for-some-awful-powerpoint-slides department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Guardian reports that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff launched a blistering attack on US espionage at the UN general assembly, accusing the NSA of violating international law by its indiscriminate collection of personal information of Brazilian citizens and economic espionage targeted on the country's strategic industries. 'Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the center of espionage activity,' said Rousseff. 'Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the permanent mission to the UN and the office of the president of the republic itself, had their communications intercepted.' Rousseff's angry speech was a direct challenge to President Barack Obama, who was waiting in the wings to deliver his own address to the UN general assembly, and represented the most serious diplomatic fallout to date from the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Washington's efforts to smooth over Brazilian outrage over NSA espionage have so far been rebuffed by Rousseff, who has proposed that Brazil build its own internet infrastructure. 'Friendly governments and societies that seek to build a true strategic partnership, as in our case, cannot allow recurring illegal actions to take place as if they were normal. They are unacceptable.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Are We Witnessing the Decline of Ubuntu?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '13 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's too-many-people-running-visigoth-linux department:
jammag writes "'When the history of free software is written, I am increasingly convinced that this last year will be noted as the start of the decline of Ubuntu,' opines Linux pundit Bruce Byfield. After great initial success, Ubuntu and Canonical began to isolate themselves from the mainstream of the free software community. Canonical, he says, has tried to control the open source community, and the company has floundered in many of its initiatives. Really, the mighty Ubuntu, in decline?"

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Pakistan Earthquake Raises New Island
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's planet-trying-to-kill-us department:
schwit1 writes with news that a recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Pakistan killed 45 people and caused a new island to form a few hundred meters off the country's coast. The island is roughly 35 meters long, and 7-14 meters high. "Seismologists suspect the island is a temporary formation resulting from a "mud volcano," a jet of mud, sand and water that gushed to the surface as the temblor churned and pressurized that slurry under the ocean floor." Long-time residents of the area say a similar island formed in 1968 after another earthquake, but disappeared a year later. "It is clear that 'the islands are not created because the ground was ... pushed up by the earthquake,' [said geophysicist Paul Earle], but more likely it was a secondary effect of shifting sediments. He also agrees the formation appears to have been caused by a mud volcano, but added that they don't need an earthquake to set them off. There are 'mud volcanoes in Yellowstone that have not been triggered by earthquakes,' he said."

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Mozilla Plan Seeks To Debug Scientific Code
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 08:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's unit-tests-are-for-undergrads department:
ananyo writes "An offshoot of Mozilla is aiming to discover whether a review process could improve the quality of researcher-built software that is used in myriad fields today, ranging from ecology and biology to social science. In an experiment being run by the Mozilla Science Lab, software engineers have reviewed selected pieces of code from published papers in computational biology. The reviewers looked at snippets of code up to 200 lines long that were included in the papers and written in widely used programming languages, such as R, Python and Perl. The Mozilla engineers have discussed their findings with the papers’ authors, who can now choose what, if anything, to do with the markups — including whether to permit disclosure of the results. But some researchers say that having software reviewers looking over their shoulder might backfire. 'One worry I have is that, with reviews like this, scientists will be even more discouraged from publishing their code,' says biostatistician Roger Peng at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. 'We need to get more code out there, not improve how it looks.'"

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Popular Science Is Getting Rid of Comments
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's science-got-a-bit-too-popular department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "From an article announcing the sites' decision to do away with comments: 'It wasn't a decision we made lightly. As the news arm of a 141-year-old science and technology magazine, we are as committed to fostering lively, intellectual debate as we are to spreading the word of science far and wide. The problem is when trolls and spambots overwhelm the former, diminishing our ability to do the latter. ... even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader's perception of a story, recent research suggests. ... A politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is mistakenly up for grabs again. Scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grotesque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.'"
This comes alongside news that Google is trying to clean up YouTube comments by adding integration with Google+. "You’ll see posts at the top of the list from the video’s creator, popular personalities, engaged discussions about the video, and people in your Google+ Circles."

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Car Dealers Complain To DMV About Tesla's Website
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-you-don't-like-it,-go-on-the-internet-and-complain department:
cartechboy writes "State and national car dealer groups have been battling Tesla Motors for years, trying to stop them from selling its electric cars directly to buyers. Most of the time, the dealers work behind the scenes to change state laws and and force Tesla to conduct its sales through 'independently-owned third parties' which are... well, car dealers. But in California, Tesla's operations are legal, so that tactic won't work. So dealers there are taking an interesting new tack — complaining to the DMV about Tesla's website."

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Naps Nurture Growing Brains
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's reasons-to-keep-horse-tranquilizer-around-the-house department:
sciencehabit writes "Few features of child-rearing occupy as much parental brain space as sleep, and with it the timeless question: Is my child getting enough? Despite the craving among many parents for more sleep in their offspring (and, by extension, themselves), the purpose that sleep serves in young kids remains something of a mystery—especially when it comes to daytime naps. Do they help children retain information, as overnight sleep has been found to do in adults? A new study provides the first evidence that daytime sleep is in fact critical for effective learning in young children."

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Myst Was Supposed To Change the Face of Gaming. What Is Its Legacy?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-still-don't-know-where-i'm-supposed-to-go department:
glowend writes "On 24 September 1993, computer users were introduced to Myst. Grantland takes a look at the game's legacy, two decade on. Quoting: 'Twenty years ago, people talked about Myst the same way they talked about The Sopranos during its first season: as one of those rare works that irrevocably changed its medium. It certainly felt like nothing in gaming would or could be the same after it. Yes, Myst went on to sell more than 6 million copies and was declared a game-changer (so to speak), widely credited with launching the era of CD-ROM gaming. It launched an equally critically adored and commercially successful sequel, and eventually four more installments. Fans and critics alike held their breath in anticipation of the tidal wave of exploratory, open-ended gaming that was supposed to follow, waiting to be drowned in a sea of new worlds. And then, nothing.' Why didn't Myst have a larger impact?"

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Boeing Turning Old F-16s Into Unmanned Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-order-a-dozen department:
dryriver sends this news from the BBC:
"Boeing has revealed that it has retrofitted retired fighter jets to turn them into drones. It said that one of the Lockheed Martin F-16s made a first flight with an empty cockpit last week. Two U.S. Air Force pilots controlled the plane from the ground as it flew from a Florida base to the Gulf of Mexico (video). Boeing suggested that the innovation could ultimately be used to help train pilots, providing an adversary they could practise firing on. The jet — which had previously sat mothballed at an Arizona site for 15 years — flew at an altitude of 40,000ft (12.2km) and a speed of Mach 1.47 (1,119mph/1,800km/h). It carried out a series of maneuvers including a barrel roll and a 'split S' — a move in which the aircraft turns upside down before making a half loop so that it flies the right-way-up in the opposite direction. This can be used in combat to evade missile lock-ons. Boeing said the unmanned F-16 was followed by two chase planes to ensure it stayed in sight, and also contained equipment that would have allowed it to self-destruct if necessary. The firm added that the flight attained 7Gs of acceleration but was capable of carrying out maneuvers at 9Gs — something that might cause physical problems for a pilot. 'It flew great, everything worked great, [it] made a beautiful landing — probably one of the best landings I've ever seen,' said Paul Cejas, the project's chief engineer."

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New York Turns Rest Stops Into 'Texting Zones'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's good-luck-with-that department:
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a new plan to cut down on texting while driving: 'texting zones' along state highways. Existing parking areas, rest stops, and Park-n-Ride facilities will be designated as places for drivers to pull off the road and send text messages. There will be 91 locations to start, along with a few hundred signs to notify drivers. Cuomo said, "With this new effort, we are sending a clear message to drivers that there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road because your text can wait until the next Texting Zone." This follows a 365% increase in tickets issued for distracted driving this summer, compared to last summer. The increase comes in part from New York state police using unmarked SUVs with "platforms higher than an average vehicle, allowing officers greater ability to see into other vehicles and detect individuals in the process of sending text messages."

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Google To Encrypt All Keyword Searches
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's did-you-mean-*8ahd2$-#-I3oEf7? department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Danny Sullivan reports that in the past month, Google has quietly made a change aimed at encrypting all search activity to provide 'extra protection' for searchers, and possibly to block NSA spying activity. In October 2011, Google began encrypting searches for anyone who was logged into Google. The reason given was privacy. Now, Google has flipped on encryption for people who aren't even signed-in. In June, Google was accused of cooperating with the NSA to give the agency instant and direct access to its search data through the PRISM spying program, something the company has strongly denied. 'I suspect the increased encryption is related to Google's NSA-pushback,' writes Sullivan. 'It may also help ease pressure Google's feeling from tiny players like Duck Duck Go making a "secure search" growth pitch to the media.'"

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FDA Will Regulate Some Apps As Medical Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on September 24 '13 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's software-is-hardware department:
chicksdaddy writes "In an important move, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has released final guidance to mobile application developers that are creating medical applications to run on mobile devices. Some applications, it said, will be treated with the same scrutiny as traditional medical devices. The agency said on Monday that, while it doesn't see the need to vet 'the majority of mobile apps,' because they pose 'minimal risk to consumers,' it will exercise oversight of mobile medical applications that are accessories to regulated medical devices, or that transform a mobile device into a regulated medical device. In those cases, the FDA said that mobile applications will be assessed 'using the same regulatory standards and risk-based approach that the agency applies to other medical device.' The line between a mere 'app' and a 'medical device' is fuzzy. The FDA said it will look to the 'intended use of a mobile app' when determining whether it meets the definition of a medical 'device.' The Agency may study the labeling or advertising claims used to market it, or statements by the device maker and its representatives. In general, 'when the intended use of a mobile app is for the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or the cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease, or it is intended to affect the structure of any function of the body of man, the mobile app is a device.'"

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