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Saturn's Tidal Tugs Energize Enceladus' Icy Plumes
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fun-with-gravity department:
astroengine writes "Giant plumes of water vapor and ice particles blast from geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus — but scientists have often wondered why the relatively diminutive moon, which measures only 310 miles across, wasn't frozen solid. They also began creating computer models to try to unravel the physics behind the stunning geological phenomenon. Now, after analyzing 252 images of Enceladus' plumes, scientists have part of the answer: Gravitational variations during the moon's slightly eccentric, 1.37-day orbit around Saturn create tidal forces that directly impact how much material is shot into space from four fissures around the moon's south pole. 'It's not a subtle variation. You can look at some of the images and you can actually see it with your eyes. It's very dramatic,' said planetary scientist Matthew Hedman."

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Liberal Saudi Web Forum Founder Sentenced To 600 Lashes and 7 Years In Prison
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's take-a-moment-to-appreciate-free-speech department:
cold fjord writes "Some reformers travel a harder road than others. The Seattle Times reports, 'The founder of a liberal-minded website in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes after angering Islamic authorities in the ultraconservative kingdom. ... Raif Badawi, through his website known as Free Saudi Liberals, had urged Saudis to share opinions about the role of religion in the country, which follows a strict form of Islam that includes harsh punishments for challenging customs. A judge in the Red Sea port of Jiddah imposed the sentences but dropped charges of apostasy, which could have brought a death sentence, the Al-Watan newspaper reported. Badawi has been held since June 2012.' More at details are available at the BBC, which informs us that 'The judge ordered that the 600 lashes be administered 150 at a time.' 'The lashes could be spread out but in Sharia this is a sign that the judge wants to insult him,' Badawi's lawyer said."

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Cell Phones For Science: BOINC Now Available For Android
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let-your-phone-do-something-more-productive-than-angry-birds department:
Luyseyal writes "BOINC is now available on Android. Many of you may not know, but the Slashdot Users team makes a decent showing on World Community Grid. WCG supports research on AIDS, schistoma, cancer, clean energy, and more. Now is your chance to put your idle charge cycles to good use. Let's do some science!"

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Jono Bacon Talks About Ubuntu Phone Progress (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 11:45 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's my-phone-is-smarter-than-yours department:
Timothy Lord caught up with Ubuntu's Jono Bacon at OSCON and got a nice update on the state of the Ubuntu Phone, which Canonical first announced in January, 2013. Tim interviewed Jono about it on camera at CES in February. Look at the "Related Stories" attached to this intro and you'll see a bunch more Ubuntu phone stories. DISCLOSURE: At least two Slashdot editors currently run Ubuntu or Kubuntu, so we have at least a mild pro-Ubuntu bias. Bias or no, It's interesting to watch the Ubuntu phone development process, even as those who are satisfied with Android phone or iPhones, ask, "Why?" We could ask the same about the Firefox OS Phone, too. Maybe the most realistic answer in both cases is, "Because we could." But who knows? These new phone operating systems might turn out to be more useful than Android or iOS. We'll see.

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Government Study Finds TSA Misconduct Up 26% In 3 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's backed-by-strong-quarterly-growth department:
rullywowr writes "CNN reports that a recent government study found TSA misconduct has risen sharply in three years. Most have heard of the problems such as stealing, but the report also notes that some employees are sleeping on the job, taking bribes, and letting friends/family through the checkpoints without screening."

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Microsoft Will Have To Rename SkyDrive
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sorry-about-your-luck department:
SmartAboutThings writes "A month ago, Microsoft was involved in a legal battle in the United Kingdom, when the court found that there was a conflict between Microsoft's SkyDrive and a trademark owned by the British Sky Broadcasting Group (BSkyB). Back then, the UK court ruled that Microsoft was infringing the BSkyB's trademark. And now we have confirmation that Microsoft will be forced to change the SkyDrive brand name. This is quite a big branding issue for Microsoft. What are they going to call it? DriveSky? And chances are that the name change will be worldwide and not only in the United Kingdom."

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A Year of Linux Desktop At Westcliff High School
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 09:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's freedom-for-all department:
jrepin writes "Around a year ago, a school in the southeast of England, Westcliff High School for Girls Academy (WHSG), began switching its student-facing computers to Linux, with KDE providing the desktop software. The school's Network Manager, Malcolm Moore, contacted us at the time. Now, a year on, he got in touch again to let us know how he and the students find life in a world without Windows."

And they didn't even meet much resistance: "Younger students accept it as normal. Older students can be a little less flexible. There are still a few that are of the view that I can get rid of Microsoft Word when I can pry it from them. Staff are the same (although it is surprisingly not age-related). Some are OK and some hate it. Having said that, an equal number hate Windows 7 and nobody liked Windows 8. I think the basic problem is that Windows XP is a victim of its own success. It works fairly well from a user point of view, it's been around practically forever, and people don't like change, even some students, oddly."

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Wii Outselling Wii U, Only 160,000 Units Shipped Last Quarter
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's collect-all-five department:
rescendent writes with news that the Wii U still isn't selling very well. From the article: "Nintendo's Wii U console sold only 160,000 units worldwide during the past three months, with the company blaming a lack of first-party releases for the poor performance. Software sales for the system were just 1.3 million units. During the period Nintendo sold 90,000 Wii U consoles in Japan, 60,000 in the US and only 10,000 in Europe and Australia."

El Reg reports that the Wii sold 210,000 units in the same quarter. On the bright side, Nintendo is once again profitable.

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Training Materials for NSA Spying Tool "XKeyScore" Revealed
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 08:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's how-did-this-just-get-even-worse department:
dryriver writes with news of the latest document release on NSA spying programs. Quoting The Guardian: "A top secret National Security Agency program allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through vast databases containing emails, online chats, social media activities and the internet browsing histories of millions of individuals, according to documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The NSA boasts in training materials that the program, called XKeyscore, is its 'widest-reaching' system for developing intelligence from the Internet. The latest revelations will add to the intense public and congressional debate around the extent of NSA surveillance programs. They come as senior intelligence officials testify to the Senate judiciary committee on Wednesday, releasing classified documents in response to the Guardian's earlier stories on bulk collection of phone records and Fisa surveillance court oversight. The files shed light on one of Snowden's most controversial statements, made in his first video interview published by the Guardian on June 10. 'I, sitting at my desk,' said Snowden, could 'wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email.' U.S. officials vehemently denied this specific claim. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, said of Snowden's assertion: 'He's lying. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do.'"

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Early Surface Sales Pitiful
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 07:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's things-no-one-wants department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft has earned $853 million from sales of its Surface tablets, according to the company's annual Form 10-K filed with the SEC. That's a bit of a disaster, to put it bluntly. Earlier estimates put Surface sales at roughly 1.5 million units; the $853 million figure reinforces that projection. By comparison, Apple sold 14.6 million iPads in its last quarter alone. Adding insult to injury, Microsoft spent quite a bit producing and marketing Surface. The Windows division's 'cost of revenue increased $1.8 billion, reflecting a $1.6 billion increase in product costs associated with Surface and Windows 8, including a charge for Surface RT inventory adjustments of approximately $900 million,' read the Form 10-K. 'Sales and marketing expenses increased $1.0 billion or 34 percent, reflecting an $898 million increase in advertising costs associated primarily with Windows 8 and Surface.' Overall, Microsoft's Windows division earned $19.2 billion in its fiscal 2013."

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Nvidia Releases Tegra 4 Powered SHIELD Handheld
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's slices-and-dices department:
An anonymous reader writes "Today, Nvidia officially releases the SHIELD. After an unexpected delay last month, the company dropped the price of its hotly-anticipated handheld gaming system from $350 to just $300. Sporting a 5-inch 720p touchscreen attached to an XBox-style controller, the SHIELD is the first serious Android-based handheld gaming device. The SHIELD is also the first major device top ship with Nvidia's new Tegra 4 SoC. But the potentially killer feature of the SHIELD is its ability to steam heavy-duty PC games from your desktop right into your hands. Right now the selection of PC games is pretty scarce, with just 21 titles to choose from so far, though Nvidia promises more to come. Tom's Hardware just posted an exhaustive review of the Nvidia SHIELD, which includes demos of both Android gaming and PC streaming, display and battery testing, plus the usual bevy of performance tests versus the Tegra 3-based Nexus 7 (2012), the new Nexus 7 carrying a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, the iPhone 5, and a Wintel tablet with the Atom Z2760. Tegra 4 presents nearly four times the performance of Tegra 3, and leaves most of its competition in the dust. However, it also means that Nvidia is now the only ARM competitor without an OpenGL ES 3.0 implementation on the horizon, making Nvidia's new position as top dog quite uncertain."

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Fifth Circuit Upholds Warrantless Cellphone Location Tracking
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's cops-concerned-you-never-leave-home department:
First time accepted submitter mendax writes "The New York Times is reporting, 'In a significant victory for law enforcement, a federal appeals court on Tuesday said that government authorities could extract historical location data directly from telecommunications carriers without a search warrant. The closely watched case, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, is the first ruling (PDF) that squarely addresses the constitutionality of warrantless searches of historical location data stored by cellphone service providers. Ruling 2 to 1, the court said a warrantless search was 'not per se unconstitutional' because location data was 'clearly a business record' and therefore not protected by the Fourth Amendment.'' The article pointed out that this went squarely against a New Jersey Supreme Court opinion rendered earlier this month but noted that the state court's ruling was based upon the text of the state's constitution, not that of the federal constitution."

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Asus CEO On Windows RT: "We're Out."
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's some-companies-like-making-money department:
symbolset writes "AllThingsD's intrepid reporter Ina Fried has an interview up where Asus chairman and CEO Jonney Shih says they will not make any more Windows RT devices until Microsoft proves demand for the product. This leaves Dell as the only OEM who has not sworn off Windows RT. Dell is seeking to take itself private, relying on a $2 billion loan from Microsoft."

Turns out people want things that are the size of a laptop to work as well as a laptop.

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Obama Praises Amazon At One of Its Controversial Warehouses
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's should-have-been-born-a-robot department:
theodp writes "In his first term, President Obama was a big booster of indie bookstores. But on Tuesday, the President chose to deliver his speech on Jobs for the Middle Class at one of Amazon's controversial fulfillment centers in Chattanooga, TN. 'Amazon is a great example of what's possible,' said Obama, who also toured the 'amazing facility' where workers can make $10.50-$11.50 an hour as an employee of Integrity Staffing Group, 'may also be eligible for medical and dental benefits', and 'must be able to stand/walk for up to 10-12 hours' in temperatures that 'will occasionally exceed 90 degrees.' So, are '21st century migrant workers' the new middle class?"

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Samsung Caught Boosting Galaxy S4 Benchmarks
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-that-you-should-buy-a-phone-for-its-benchmarks department:
A recent forum post at Beyond3D made an interesting claim: that the Samsung Galaxy S4's GPU ran at 532 MHz for certain whitelisted benchmark applications, and at 480 MHz for everything else. The folks at AnandTech decided to investigate and found out that the phone does indeed let its GPU run at a higher frequency when particular benchmark software is running. They found a similar oddity with the CPU — it wasn't restricted for other apps, but it was forced to run at max speed during benchmarks. Then they decided to look for direct evidence that this was intentional.
"Poking around I came across the application changing the DVFS behavior to allow these frequency changes – TwDVFSApp.apk. Opening the file in a hex editor and looking at strings inside (or just running strings on the .odex file) pointed at what appeared to be hard coded profiles/exceptions for certain applications. The string 'BenchmarkBooster' is a particularly telling one. ... Quadrant standard, advanced, and professional, linpack (free, not paid), Benchmark Pi, and AnTuTu are all called out specifically. Nothing for GLBenchmark 2.5.1 though, despite its similar behavior.

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Ask Slashdot: Should More Math and Equations Be Used In the Popular Press?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '13 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's readers-shouldn't-be-distracted-from-drooling-on-their-shoes department:
raque writes "The NY Times recently published two op-eds in their Philosophy section, The Stone, discussing how Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle is abused. The second is a followup to the first. The author struggled to make clear his point and left the impression he was creating a strawman argument. In his followup he said he was avoiding equations because he was writing for a general audience. I replied to both articles, asking whether showing some basic equations would have worked better, allowing math to illustrate where metaphors struggled. Now I'm asking the same question to everyone on Slashdot. Would Dr. Callendar have been better off just diving in and dealing with Heisenberg and quantum mechanics using the tools that were developed for it?"

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SF Airport Officials Make Citizen Arrests of Internet Rideshare Drivers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '13 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sharing-is-caring-except-when-it's-apparently-illegal department:
transporter_ii writes "In the past month, San Francisco International Airport officials have been citing and arresting drivers from mobile-app enabled rideshare companies that pick up and drop off passengers, an airport spokesman said. Doug Yakel said there have been seven citizen arrests issued to 'various offenders' since July 10. The airport had issued cease and desist letters to several rideshare companies, including Lyft, Sidecar and Uber, in April. Taxi drivers are holding a noon rally at San Francisco City Hall Tuesday to 'keep taxis regulated and safe' and are calling for the end of ridesharing services."

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NASA Appoints New Chief Scientist
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '13 at 09:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's welcome-aboard department:
SchrodingerZ writes "Planetary Geologist Ellen Stofan, expert in the terrains of Venus, Mars, and Titan, has recently been appointed the Chief Scientist for the space agency. Stofan will act as the top adviser for Charles Bolden, NASA's current administrator. Beginning August 25th, Stofan will be Bolden's head adviser for NASA's project planning and investments. She will replace former chief scientist Dr. Waleed Abdalati, who left his position to be the director of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado. Stofan has both a masters and doctoral degree of geological sciences from Brown University, and is known for her involvement in the Applied Science Laboratory's project to put a boat on Saturn's moon Titan, as well as a member of the radar team for the Cassini spacecraft. Though she'll be joining in a time of large budget cuts, Bolden explains that '[Stofan's] breadth of experience and familiarity with the agency will allow her to hit the ground running. We're fortunate to have her on our team.'"

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Ad Networks Lay Path To Million-Strong Browser Botnet
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '13 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-computer-is-broadcasting-an-ip-address department:
jfruh writes "Every day, millions of computers run unvetted, sketchy code in the form of the JavaScript that ad networks send to publishers. Usually, that code just puts an advertiser's banner ad on a web page. But since ad networks and publishers almost never check the code for malicious properties, it can become an attack vector as well. A recent presentation at the Black Hat conference showed how ad networks could be used as unwitting middlemen to create huge, cheap botnets."

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Remember the Computer Science Past Or Be Condemned To Repeat It?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '13 at 06:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's never-get-involved-in-a-land-war-in-COBOL department:
theodp writes "In the movie Groundhog Day, a weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. It's a tale to which software-designers-of-a-certain-age can relate. Like Philip Greenspun, who wrote in 1999, 'One of the most painful things in our culture is to watch other people repeat earlier mistakes. We're not fond of Bill Gates, but it still hurts to see Microsoft struggle with problems that IBM solved in the 1960s.' Or Dave Winer, who recently observed, 'We marvel that the runtime environment of the web browser can do things that we had working 25 years ago on the Mac.' And then there's Scott Locklin, who argues in a new essay that one of the problems with modern computer technology is that programmers don't learn from the great masters. 'There is such a thing as a Beethoven or Mozart of software design,' Locklin writes. 'Modern programmers seem more familiar with Lady Gaga. It's not just a matter of taste and an appreciation for genius. It's a matter of forgetting important things.' Hey, maybe it's hard to learn from computer history when people don't acknowledge the existence of someone old enough to have lived it, as panelists reportedly did at an event held by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us last Friday!"

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