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Ask Slashdot: What Equipment and Furniture For an Electronics Hardware Lab?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 10:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's 100-gross-self-sealing-stem-bolts department:
bartoku writes "Slashdot, what would you put in your dream electronics hardware lab? I am putting one together, and I'm looking for suggestions on everything from equipment to furniture. My aim is for a professional-grade setup, not just a hobby lab. The goal is to be able to test and debug modern electronic device prototypes. I would love to see money-is-no-objective suggestions alongside more economically practical solutions. Links or contacts for good distributors to acquire the equipment and furniture are also welcome. I'm also interested in commentary on renting versus buying new or used higher-end equipment to be economical and keep up with equipment that will become obsolete quickly."

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Phil Zimmermann's New App Protects Smartphones From Prying Ears
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 08:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's using-your-ears-to-pry-things-is-not-recommended department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Neal Ungerleider notes that cryptography pioneer and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) creator Phil Zimmermann has launched a new startup that provides industrial-strength encryption for Android and iOS where users will have access to encrypted phone calls, emails, VoIP videoconferencing, SMS, and MMS. Text and multimedia messages are wiped from a phone's registry after a pre-determined amount of time, and communications within the network are allegedly completely secure. An 'off-shore' company with employees from many countries, Silent Circle's target market includes troops serving abroad, foreign businesspeople in countries known for surveillance of electronic communications, government employees, human rights activists, and foreign activists. For encryption tools, which are frequently used by dissidents living under repressive regimes and others with legitimate reasons to avoid government surveillance, the consequences of failed encryption can be deadly. 'Everyone has a solution [for security] inside your building and inside your network, but the big concern of the large multinational companies coming to us is when the employees are coming home from work, they're on their iPhone, Android, or iPad emailing and texting,' says Zimmermann. 'They're in a hotel in the Middle East. They're not using secure email. They're using Gmail to send PDFs.' Another high-profile encryption tool, Cryptocat, was at the center of controversy earlier this year after charges that Cryptocat had far too many structural flaws for safe use in a repressive environment."

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Judge Orders Piracy Trial To Test IP Address Evidence
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-computer-is-broadcasting-an-ip-address department:
another random user sends word of a case in Pennsylvania District Court in which Judge Michael Baylson has ordered a trial to resolve the issue of whether an IP address can identify a particular person. The plaintiff, Malibu Media, has filed 349 lawsuits against groups of alleged infringers, arguing that getting subscriber information from an ISP based on an IP address that participated in file-sharing was suitable for identification purposes. A motion filed by the defendants in this case explains "how computer-based technology would allow non-subscribers to access a particular IP address," leading Judge Baylson to rule that a trial is "necessary to find the truth."
"The Bellwether trial will be the first time that actual evidence against alleged BitTorrent infringers is tested in court. This is relevant because the main piece of evidence the copyright holders have is an IP-address, which by itself doesn't identify a person but merely a connection. ... Considering what's at stake, it would be no surprise if parties such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) are willing to join in. They are known to get involved in crucial copyright troll cases, siding with the defendants. We asked the group for a comment, but have yet to receive a response. On the other side, Malibu Media may get help from other copyright holders who are engaged in mass-BitTorrent lawsuits. A ruling against the copyright holder may severely obstruct the thus far lucrative settlement business model, meaning that millions of dollars are at stake for these companies. Without a doubt, the trial is expected to set an important precedent for the future of mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the U.S. One to watch for sure."

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Facebook Tests 'Want' Button To Hoard User Data, Save Its Stock Price
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-not-want department:
colinneagle writes with news that Facebook is beginning to roll out tests of "want" and "collect" buttons in an attempt to bring users and retailers closer together.
"The company is working with Victoria's Secret, Pottery Barn, Michael Kors, Wayfair, Neiman Marcus, Fab.com and Smith Optics. The difference between 'liking' and 'wanting' would be like discovering the holy grail of datamining. Inside Facebook said that although the 'Want' button is different than the Want plugin that developer Tom Waddington noticed in June, the company may eventually offer it as a plugin. Unsurprisingly, Facebook wants to keep people on the site as opposed to leaving to visit Pinterest. Collections will offer retailers a Pinterest-like option to engage buyers, offer users a way to collect images, while also collecting even more data about users. For example, Facebook asks, 'Why are you collecting this?' Regardless of a user's answer, the wants and collects will surely be used to deliver targeted ads. Eventually, the Collections feature could help Facebook generate more revenue."

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Pandora Shares Artist Payment Figures
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's money-for-nothin' department:
An anonymous reader writes "Today in a blog post, Pandora has shared some details of the fees they pay to musical artists for playing songs over their music streaming service. Over 2,000 different artists will pull in $10,000 or more in the next year, and 800 will get paid over $50,000. They provided a few specific examples as well. Grupo Bryndis, who has a sales rank on Amazon of 183,187 (in other words, who is not at all a household name), is on track to receive $114,192. A few earners are getting over $1 million annually, such as Coldplay and Adele. 'Drake and Lil Wayne are fast approaching a $3 million annual rate each.' The post segues into a broader point about the age of internet radio: 'It's hard to look at these numbers and not see that internet radio presents an incredible opportunity to build a better future for artists. Not only is it bringing tens of millions of listeners back to music, across hundreds of genres, but it is also enabling musicians to earn a living. It's also hard to look at these numbers, knowing Pandora accounts for just 6.5% of radio listening in the U.S., and not come away thinking something is wrong. ... Congress must stop the discrimination against internet radio and allow it to operate on a level playing field, under the same rules as other forms of digital radio.'"

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Study: Kids Under 3 Should Be Banned From Watching TV
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-we-ban-them-from-being-on-tv-too department:
An anonymous reader sends this quote from The Guardian:
"Doctors and government health officials should set limits, as they do for alcohol, on the amount of time children spend watching screens – and under-threes should be kept away from the television altogether, according to a paper in an influential medical journal published on Tuesday. A review of the evidence in the Archives Of Disease in Childhood says children's obsession with TV, computers and screen games is causing developmental damage as well as long-term physical harm. Doctors at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which co-owns the journal with the British Medical Journal group, say they are concerned."

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Microsoft Patents 1826 Choropleth Map Technique
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's right-click-add-to-dictionary department:
theodp writes "A newly-granted Microsoft patent for Variable Formatting of Cells covers the use of 'variable formatting for cells in computer spreadsheets, tables, and other documents', such as using the spectrum from a first color to a second color to represent the values in or associated with each cell. Which is really not a heck of a lot different from how Baron Pierre Charles Dupin created what's believed to be the first choropleth map way back in 1826, when he used shadings from black to white to illustrate the distribution and intensity of illiteracy in France. By the way, beginning in March, the U.S. will switch from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system of granting patents. Hey, what could go wrong?"

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VMware: Hey, Other Cloud Services Exist
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-are-not-alone department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "VMware has updated its cloud-management portfolio to support alternative tools, including Amazon's platform. That's a big step for the company, which for some time seemed to shy away from the idea of backing heterogeneous cloud environments. VMware's vFabric Application Director 5.0 is designed to, in the company's words, 'provision applications on any cloud.' That includes Amazon's EC2. The platform includes pre-approved operating system and middleware components for modeling and deploying those aforementioned applications, with the ability to use the platform's blueprints for deploying applications across 'multiple virtual and hybrid cloud infrastructures.' The other platform, vCloud Automation Center 5.1, enables 'policy-based provisioning across VMware-based private and public clouds, physical infrastructure, multiple hypervisors and Amazon Web Services.'"

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Water-Prospecting Lunar Rover Prototype Built
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's now-let's-make-it-self-replicating department:
Zothecula writes "Astrobotic Technology Inc., a spin-off company of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), has debuted its full-size flight prototype of its Polaris lunar water-prospecting robot. Polaris is specially designed to work in the permanently shadowed craters at the Moon's poles. Scheduled to be sent to the Moon using a SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the solar-powered rover is a contender in the US$20 million Google Lunar X Prize and is tasked with seeking ice deposits that could be used by future colonists."

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KDE Publishes Manifesto
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ok-i-guess department:
Several readers sent word that KDE has published a manifesto. According to its official announcement, the KDE community's growth over the past 15 years has "created a need for clarity about what pulls us together as a community." It continues, "The KDE Manifesto is not intended to change the organization or the way it works. Its aim is only to describe how the KDE Community sees itself. What binds us together are certain values and their practical implications, without regard for who a person is or what background and skills they bring." The manifesto opens boldly, saying, "We are a community of technologists, designers, writers and advocates who work to ensure freedom for all people through our software." It comes along with more detailed descriptions of the benefits and principles of a KDE project.

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Will the Desktop PC Live Forever?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's there-can-be-only-one department:
concealment points out a rebuttal from PCWorld of the increasingly common claims that we live in a post-PC world.
"It's an intriguing proposition, but don't count on mobile devices killing off your desktop PC any time soon. While mobile gear is certainly convenient when you're trying to conduct business on the go, it's nowhere near as convenient as a desktop when you're trying to complete serious work in an office environment. Sure, your phone, tablet or even laptop might conveniently fit in your pocket or backpack, but all these devices are fraught with compromises, whether it's computing power, screen size, or, well, a really expensive price tag."

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Microsoft's Hand-Gesture Sensor Bracelet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-you-build-in-a-laser-pistol department:
another random user tips this quote from the BBC:
"A wrist-worn sensor that creates 3D-models of the user's hand movements in real-time has been built by Microsoft. The Digits prototype is part of an effort to create a mobile device that would allow its owner to control a range of equipment using hand gestures. The firm said it could be used as a virtual TV control, a way to operate a smartphone while it is in the user's pocket, and to play video games. It is designed to be less cumbersome and uncomfortable than sensor gloves. However, some experts question whether consumers would want to wear such a device during their day-to-day activities."
ACM has the research paper (PDF) describing this device and its use.

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Humble eBook Bundle Lets You Pay What You Want For eBooks
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's everybody-needs-books department:
Following on the success of the various Humble Bundles for DRM-free video games, the organization has just launched its first Humble eBook Bundle. It includes Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow, Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Invasion by Mercedes Lackey, Stranger Things Happen, and Magic for Beginners, both by Kelly Link. If you choose to pay more than the average (about $11 at this writing), you also get Old Man's War by John Scalzi, and Signal to Noise, by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. The books are available in PDF, MOBI, and ePub formats, without DRM. As with all the Humble Bundles, you can choose how much you'd like to pay, and how the proceeds are split between any of the authors and/or among three charities.

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Curiosity Spies Unidentified, Metallic Object On Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's littering-on-another-planet department:
MrSeb writes "A few hundred million miles away on the surface of the Red Planet, Mars rover Curiosity has photographed an unidentified, shiny, metallic object. Now, before you get too excited, the most likely explanation is that bright object is part of the rover that has fallen off — or perhaps some debris from MSL Curiosity's landing on Mars, nine weeks ago. There is the distinct possibility, however, that this object is actually native to Mars, which would be far more exciting. It could be the tip of a larger object, or perhaps some kind of exotic, metallic Martian pebble (a piece of metal ore, perhaps). Close-up imagery will now be captured and analyzed, and within the next few days we should know if it's simply a piece of Curiosity — or something a whole lot more exciting."

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Firefox 16 Released: More HTML5 Support
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
Today Mozilla released the final version of Firefox 16, which includes a number of new tools for developers. "A number of HTML5 code has been 'unprefixed,' which means that Mozilla has decided it has matured enough to run in the browser without causing instability. The newly unshackled HTML5 includes CSS3 Animations, Transforms, Transitions, Image Values, Values and Units, and IndexedDB. Two Web APIs that Mozilla helped to create, Battery API and Vibration API, are also now unprefixed. These changes help keep Firefox competitive, but it also sends a signal to developers that Mozilla thinks these are good enough to begin baking into their sites. It's a strong endorsement of the 'future-Web' tech." Here's the complete change list and the download page.

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Russian Officials Consider Ban On W-iFi Use For Kids
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-can-still-be-young-at-heart department:
dsinc writes that Russia's "Communications and Press Ministry has proposed banning children from using Wi-Fi networks in public, potentially making cafes, restaurants and other locations providing the service responsible for enforcing the law. An official with the ministry's Federal Mass Media Inspection Service, known as Roskomnadzor, said the ban should apply to people under 18 years old. Locations providing Wi-Fi access would be held legally responsible for implementing the rule, and failing to meet the proposed measure would result in a fine ranging from 20,000 rubles to 50,000 rubles ($640 to $1,600), Vedomosti reported Thursday." The law, ostensibly to "shield" children, would apply to a fairly broad definition of child — anyone under 18.

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OS Upgrades Powered By Git
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's sounds-like-a-good-idea department:
JamieKitson writes "The latest Webconverger 15 release is the first Linux distribution to be automagically updatable from a Github repository. The chroot of the OS is kept natively in git's format and fuse mounted with git-fs. Webconverger fulfills the Web kiosk use case, using Firefox and competes indirectly with Google Chrome OS. Chrome OS also has an autoupdate feature, however not as powerful, unified & transparent as when simply using git."

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Insurance For Cybercriminals, or Giant Sting?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's needs-scott-joplin-soundtrack department:
tsu doh nimh writes "Brian Krebs follows up on a recent Slashdot discussion about a cybercrime gang that is recruiting botmasters to help with concerted heists against U.S. financial institutions. The story looks at the underground's skeptical response to this campaign, which is being led by a criminal hacker named vorVzakone ('thief in law'), who has released a series of videos about himself. vorVzakone also is offering a service called 'insurance from criminal prosecution,' in which miscreants can purchase protection from goons who specialize in bribing or intimidating Russian/Eastern European police into scuttling cybercrime investigations. For $100,000, the service also claims to have people willing to go to jail in place of the insured. Many in the criminal underground view the entire scheme as an elaborate police sting operation."

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Ask Slashdot: Video Monitors For Areas That Are Off the Grid?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-expletive-you-expletive-expletive department:
An anonymous reader writes "I have a cottage at the end of a long dirt road, no electricity nor internet, and recently some (insert expletive here) wads are using the area as a trash dump: countertops, sofas, metal scraps, tvs — all the stuff they don't want to pay to dump at the landfill. I can't block the road because it's a fire access. But I would really like to have a way to catch who is doing this. Are there any a) waterproof, b) self-contained, c) self-powered, and (ideally) d) inexpensive video-recording units out there? Are there any other creative ways to get the guys? I was thinking of something like a device that will cycle, so that the last week of video is recorded. It could take photos or video, and as long as it's small enough that I could camouflage it well, I suspect I'd be able to figure this out soon. And any idea of what my legal rights are to videotape or record?" Hunters have been doing this for years (with film, and now digital) to figure out prey patterns with cameras that are built for concealment; what else would you recommend?

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How To Add 5.5 Petabytes and Get Banned From Costco
Posted by News Fetcher on October 09 '12 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-need-the-executive-membership department:
concealment writes with this extract from GigaOm: " We buy lots and lots of hard drives . . . . [They] are the single biggest cost in the entire company.' Those are the words of Backblaze Founder and CEO Gleb Budman, whose company offers unlimited cloud backup for just $5 a month, and fills 50TB worth of new storage a day in its custom-built, open source pod architecture. So one might imagine the cloud storage startup was pretty upset when flooding in Thailand caused a global shortage on internal hard drives last year. Backblaze details much the process in a Tuesday-morning blog post, including the hijinks that followed as the company got creative trying to figure out ways around the new hard drive limits. Maps were drawn, employees were cut off from purchasing hard drives at Costco — both in-person throughout Silicon Valley and online (despite some great efforts to avoid detection, such as paying for hard drives online using gift cards) — and friends and family across the country were conscripted into a hard-drive-buying army."

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