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Why Bad Directors Aren't Thrown Out
Posted by News Fetcher on March 30 '13 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's power-behind-the-throne department:
An anonymous reader writes "For publicly-owned companies, the CEO gets most of the spotlight. If the company is successful and the stock goes up, the CEO gets the credit. If the company stumbles, the CEO gets the blame. But an article at the NY Times points how the board of directors for most companies seem to get a free pass, even when their decisions or their CEO selections consistently go wrong. 'Last year, there were elections for 17,081 director nominees at United States corporations, according to the service. Only 61 of those nominees, or 0.36 percent, failed to get majority support. More than 86 percent of directors received 90 percent or more of the votes. Of the 61 directors who failed to get majority approval, only six actually stepped down or were asked to resign. Fifty-one are still in place, as of the most recent proxy filings.' The article uses Hewlett-Packard as an example; the past several years have seen poor CEO choices, the abominable Autonomy acquisition, and billions in write-offs for other failed endeavors. Yet HP's directors were all re-elected."

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FCC To Update 1996 Cell Phone Radiation Standard
Posted by News Fetcher on March 30 '13 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-rush-yourselves department:
An anonymous reader writes "It's been more than a decade and a half since the FCC adopted a set of standards for radiation exposure from cell phones. The guidelines set in 1996 (and based on studies from the '80s) have applied to all cell phones released in the U.S. since then. Now, the FCC has decided that modern devices are just a tiny bit different than models from the '90s (where did those suitcase phones go?), so they're going to review and update the standard. 'Even though the FCC hasn't changed its standards for evaluating the safety of cell phones, it has provided consumers with information about how to minimize the risk of exposure to cell phone radiation. For example, the FCC recommends people use the speakerphone feature or an earpiece when talking on the phone, since increasing the distance the device is held from the body greatly reduces exposure. But the agency has not advocated for stricter warnings nor has it even endorsed these safety measures as necessary. The current review of the standards could change that as the agency will look at its testing procedures as well as the educational information it provides to the public about cell phone safety.'"

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Cyber-Terrorists Attacking U.S. Banks Are Well-Funded
Posted by News Fetcher on March 30 '13 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bankrolled-by-interested-parties department:
An anonymous reader writes "A DDoS attack targeting American Express on March 28th was just one in a series of incidents by self-proclaimed 'cyber-fighters' over the past few weeks. Beyond that, it's part of a much longer campaign to disrupt financial infrastructure using attacks over the internet. Ars details the group behind the most recent attacks, called 'the cyber-fighters of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam.' From the article: 'Named after a Muslim cleric who led The Black Hand, an anti-British and anti-Zionist jihadist organization in the 1920s and 1930s, and sharing a name with the military wing of Hamas (which the group's statements claim it is tied to), Izz ad-Din al-Qassam has taken credit for a variety of attacks on U.S. financial institutions over the past year, all allegedly in protest against the posting of trailers for the film The Innocence of Muslims on YouTube. Until the film is removed, the group said it would target "properties of American-Zionist CapitalistsThis attack will continue till the Erasing of that nasty movie." [sic]' There are concerns that the group is providing cover for organizations looking to defraud those banks. 'But even if the group behind the attacks isn't profiting from them, [Arbor Networks' Dan Holden] said it's clear that there are very real investments being made in their activities—maybe not in servers or hard assets, but in the form of countless hours of maintenance of the botnet by finding new servers to exploit, and further development of attacks. "Regardless of who's behind this," Holden said, "it has to be funded at some level. Even if it's hacktivists, it's got to be funded hacktivism." That, he says, is because of both the amount of time dedicated to the attack, and to its ongoing refinement. "It's not that these are the most sophisticated things in the world," he explained, "but it has been getting more sophisticated, and it's growing."'"

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North Korea Declares a State of War
Posted by News Fetcher on March 30 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let-me-know-how-that-works-out-for-you department:
paysonwelch writes "North Korea has declared a state of war against South Korea, stating that neither peace nor war has ended. Quoting the news release via Reuters: '1. From this moment, the north-south relations will be put at the state of war and all the issues arousing between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations.' The DPRK goes on to say that this will be a 'blitz' war and that they will regain control of the south, and destroy U.S. bases in the process."
Great line from the declaration: "[The U.S.] should clearly know that in the era of Marshal Kim Jong Un, the greatest-ever commander, all things are different from what they used to be in the past." A senior U.S. official called this statement "pot-banging and chest-thumping." The official said, "North Korea is in a mindset of war, but North Korea is not going to war."

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Why Your Next Phone Will Include Biometric Security
Posted by News Fetcher on March 30 '13 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it'll-draw-blood-and-give-you-an-EKG department:
An anonymous reader sends this quote from Forbes:
"... it is an almost certainty that within the next few years, three biometric options will become standard features in every new phone: a fingerprint scanner built into the screen, facial recognition powered by high-definition cameras, and voice recognition based off a large collection of your vocal samples. ... We store an enormous amount of our most intimate and personal information on cell phones. Businesses today are already struggling with policies regarding bringing devices from home, and it’s only going to get more difficult. A study by Symantec highlighted the depth of the problem – around the world, all different types of companies consider enterprise mobile device security to be one of their largest challenges. ... Ever since Apple purchased Authentec Inc in July of last year, there has been an endless stream of news stories obsessing over whether Apple will include a fingerprint scanner in their next release. In reality, Apple is one among many players, and whether they include a biometric sensor in the 5S or wait till the 6 is largely irrelevant, the entire mobile industry has been headed this way for years now. ... There are separate questions as to whether these technologies are ready for such a wide-scale deployment."

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Microsoft Makes Millions Renting Campus Space to Vendors
Posted by News Fetcher on March 30 '13 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-so-does-harvard department:
theodp writes "In a move that would do Bill Lumbergh (YouTube homage) proud, Microsoft has been pulling in about $25 million a year through its unusual practice of charging its vendors for occupying office space on its campus while working on Microsoft projects, according to the real estate firm that manages the program. And that's before a planned July 1st rate increase that Microsoft informed vendors of earlier this week, which will boost the 'chargeback' rate for its 'shadow workforce' from $450 per month ($5,400 per year) for every workstation to $510 per month (or $6,120 per year). So, is there a discount if you're moved downstairs into Storage B?"

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Iranian Lab's Quadcopters To Rescue Swimmers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 30 '13 at 03:46 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-skynet-is-nice department:
mpthompson writes "Via RoboticsTrends' newsletter, RTS Lab in Tehran is developing Pars, which is an aerial rescue robot quadcopter designed to save potential drowning victims. The ship-based quadcopter responds instantly when alerted to potential victims in the ocean, locating them with thermal imaging sensors, and dispensing life preservers directly over them. The current prototype carries one life preserver, but they are working on a new model to carry three life preserver rings. Future models may dispense up to 15 self-inflating rings. A launching platform for use on ships has been designed, but more intriguing is an idea for a remote stand-alone launching platform. It's good to see innovative robot tech coming from a country that is not normally well covered in Western media."

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Is Eccentric Sven Olaf Kamphius To Blame For Spamhaus DDoS?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 30 '13 at 01:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-be-does-have-sort-of-a-guilty-look department:
RougeFemme writes "Sven Olaf Kamphius, self-described 'Internet freedom fighter,' is reportedly at the center of the investigation into this week's alleged cyber-attack against Spamhaus, a group that fights Internet spam. Mr. Kamphius became incensed when Spamhaus blacklisted two companies that he runs, including Cyberbunker, a company that, earlier this week, claimed be under attack from Dutch swat teams. Though he initially solicited support for a DDoS against Spamhaus, he now disavows any direct role in the cyberattack, which threatened to slow some web traffic to a crawl."

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New Catalyst Allows Cheaper Hydrogen Production
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 10:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's keeping-the-attic-warm department:
First time accepted submitter CanadianRealist writes "Electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen is very inefficient without the use of a catalyst. Unfortunately catalysts are currently made of crystals containing rare, expensive toxic metals such as ruthenium and iridium. Two chemists from the University of Calgary have invented a process to make a catalyst using relatively non-toxic metal compounds such as iron oxide, for 1/1000 the cost of currently used catalysts.
It is suggested this would make it more feasible to use electrolysis of water to create hydrogen as a method of storing energy from variable green power sources such as wind and solar."


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New Facebook-Branded Android Coming?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 07:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-did-you-want-those-calls-chronologically? department:
Earthquake Retrofit writes "The Register reports that 'Facebook has sent out invitations to an event at its Menlo Park headquarters next week that many believe will see the launch of a new, Facebook-branded smartphone...' I have lately become disillusioned with Google having so much power over my phone and the usual privacy concerns, so this announcement means I now have a choice. Oh, wait..."

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Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Archive and Access Ancient Emails?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 04:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's learn-them-like-the-ancient-memory-singers department:
An anonymous reader writes "I started using email in the early 90s and have lost most of that first decade due to ignorance, botched backups, and so on. But since about 2000, I've got most — if not all — of my email in some form or other. I run Linux, so this has mainly been in a mix of various programs: Kmail, Evolution, Thunderbird. The past 2-3 years are still on the IMAP servers. My problem is that I only rarely NEED to look back to email of 5 years ago. But sometimes it's nice. Or I just want to reminisce about something...or find an old attachment that I was sent. But I do not want to be clogging my current email client of choice with vast backups and even more, I don't know if it will even easily convert. The file structures are different, some are mbox, others maildir, etc., and I would ideally like a way to 1) store and archive these emails, 2) access them, and 3) search by Sender, Subject, Date, Attachments. Is there anything I can do or do I just have to keep legacy applications on hand for this? Should I keep trying to upgrade and pull old files into the new applications? Any help or suggestions about what YOU do would be great."

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NASA Asteroid Capture Mission To Be Proposed In 2014 Budget
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's other-people's-money department:
MarkWhittington writes "Included in President Obama's 2014 budget request will be a $100 million line item for NASA for a mission to capture and bring an asteroid to a high orbit around the moon where it will be explored by asteroinauts. Whether the $2.6 billion mission is a replacement or a supplement to the president's planned human mission to an asteroid is unclear. The proposal was first developed by the Keck Institite in April, 2012 and has achieved new impetus due to the meteor incident over Russia and new fears of killer asteroids."

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Boston Cops Go Undercover Online To Crack Down on Concerts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's on-the-internet-dog department:
Boston Police, according to an article at Slate, are engaging in a strange use of social media to fight crime. Or at least, to stop raucous music from disturbing the city. As the Slate writer says, "While police departments have been using social media to investigate for years, its use in such seemingly trivial crimes would be rather chilling, if these efforts didn’t seem so laughably inept."

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US and Russia Lead List of Malware Hosts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 01:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's so-close-to-home department:
Trailrunner7 writes "China has become the go-to bogeyman behind every cyber attack or malware campaign, but if you're looking for the most malicious hosting providers on the Web, you won't find any of the top 10 in China. In fact, the United States and Russia have many more bad hosting providers in the top 20 than China does. ... [One] interesting data point is the appearance of Amazon in the top 10 list of providers hosting the highest concentration of infected Web sites. These are the kind of sites used in drive-by download attacks and to deliver exploits from exploit packs. Amazon, with more than two million IPs, ranks fourth in the list of providers hosting infected sites. Also on that list is Google, which comes in at number seven. The top spot belongs to Mail.ru, a Russian hosting provider."

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Wayland/Weston Gets Forked As Northfield/Norwood
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's same-number-syllables department:
An anonymous reader writes "Weeks after Canonical announced Mir, Wayland's display server protocol and Weston compositor have been forked. A contributor to Wayland found differing views with the project over desktop eye candy and other technical decisions to the X11 successor, which resulted in forming the Northfield and Norwood projects. The developer, Scott Moreau, has been outted from the project but has provided a lengthy explanation why the fork was needed to advance the Linux desktop."

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Microsoft Mulling Smaller Windows 8 Tablets
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 11:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's cut-an-eight-get-two-zeros department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft might want a piece of the mini-tablet market. The company has lowered the minimum screen resolution for Windows 8 tablets, from 1,366 x 768 pixels to 1024 x 768 pixels. "This doesn't imply that we're encouraging partners to regularly use a lower screen resolution," it wrote in an accompanying newsletter. "We understand that partners exploring designs for certain markets could find greater design flexibility helpful." As pointed out by ZDNet's Ed Bott—cited by other publications as the journalist who first noticed the altered guidelines—that lowered resolution "would allow manufacturers to introduce devices that are in line with the resolutions of the iPad Mini (1024 x 768) and the Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 (both 1280 x 800)." Whatever the contours of the smaller-tablet market, it's certainly popular enough to tantalize any potential competitor. But if Microsoft plunges in, it will face the same challenges that confronted it in the larger-tablet arena: lots of solid competitors, and not a whole lot of time to make a winning impression. There are also not-inconsiderable hardware challenges to overcome, including processor selection and engineering for optimal battery life."

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Internet's Energy Needs Growing Faster Than Efficiency Gains
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's more-dilithium-obviously department:
Electrons may not weigh anything, but it takes some heavy lifting, both literal and figurative, to point them in the right direction. Reader terrancem writes with this excerpt: "Energy efficiency gains are failing to keep pace with the Internet's rapid rate of expansion, says a new paper published in the journal Science. Noting that the world's data centers already consume 270 terawatt hours and Internet traffic volume is doubling every three years, Diego Reforgiato Recupero of the University of Catania argues for prioritizing energy efficiency in the design of devices, networks, data centers, and software development. Recupero highlights two approaches for improving efficiency: smart standby and dynamic frequency scaling or CPU throttling."

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How Could Swarms of Robots Help Humanity?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's terrible-secret-of-space department:
ceview writes "Researchers at Sheffield Centre for Robotics have demonstrated that a swarm of 40 robots can carry out simple fetching and carrying tasks. This is done by grouping around an object and working together to push it across a surface. They believe that this could provide opportunities for us mere humans to harness such power to do all sorts of things like safety — what like catching falling workers perhaps? Youtube action here."

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Bitcoin Currency Surpasses 20 National Currencies In Total Value
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's fake-money department:
Velcroman1 writes "More than $1 billion dollars worth of bitcoins now circulate on the web – an amount that exceeds the value of the entire currency stock of small countries like Liberia, Bhutan, and 18 other countries. Bitcoin is in high demand right now — each bitcoin currently sells for more than $90 U.S. dollars — which bitcoin insiders say is because of world events that have shaken confidence in government-issued currencies. 'Because of what's going on in Cyprus and Europe, people are trying to pull their money out of banks there,' said Tony Gallippi, the CEO BitPay.com, which enables businesses to easily accept bitcoins as payment. 'So they buy gold, they put it under the mattress, or they buy bitcoin,' Gallippi said."

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Biological Computer Created at Stanford
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '13 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's meat-machine department:
sciencehabit writes "For the first time, synthetic biologists have created a genetic device that mimics one of the widgets on which all of modern electronics is based, the three-terminal transistor. Like standard electronic transistors, the new biological transistor is expected to work in many different biological circuit designs. This should make it easier for scientists to program cells to do everything from monitor pollutants and the progression of disease to turning on the output of medicines and biofuels."

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