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NSA Declassifies Memo About Failed TRAILBLAZER Project
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 04:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's what-a-wonderful-job-you've-done-embezzling-funds department:
decora writes "Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post reports that the NSA has just declassified one of the 5 documents NSA whistleblower Thomas Andrews Drake was charged under the Espionage Act for retaining in his basement. The document, which Drake previously faced years in prison for possessing, is essentially a cheerleading memo, complimenting the Trailblazer project team for a great presentation and demo. It stands in stark contrast to numerous other reports that described the NSA IT project as an overbudget, ineffective, billion dollar seven year boondoggle."

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The Nation Is Losing Its Toolbox
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 03:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's 3d-printers-for-freedom department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Louis Uchitelle writes that in Aisle 34 of Home Depot is precut vinyl flooring, the glue already in place. In Aisle 26 are prefab windows, and if you don't want to be your own handyman, head to Aisle 23 or Aisle 35, where a help desk will arrange for an installer, as mastering tools and working with one's hands recede as American cultural values. 'At a time when the American factory seems to be a shrinking presence, and when good manufacturing jobs have vanished, perhaps never to return, there is something deeply troubling about this dilution of American craftsmanship,' writes Uchitelle. 'Craftsmanship is, if not a birthright, then a vital ingredient of the American self-image as a can-do, inventive, we-can-make-anything people.' Mass layoffs and plant closings have drawn plenty of headlines and public debate over the years, and they still occasionally do. But the damage to skill and craftsmanship — what's needed to build a complex airliner or a tractor, or for a worker to move up from assembler to machinist to supervisor — has gone largely unnoticed. 'In an earlier generation, we lost our connection to the land, and now we are losing our connection to the machinery we depend on,' says Michael Hout. 'People who work with their hands are doing things today that we call service jobs, in restaurants and laundries, or in medical technology and the like.' The damage to American craftsmanship seems to parallel the precipitous slide in manufacturing employment. And manufacturing's shrinking presence helps explain the decline in craftsmanship, if only because many of the nation's assembly line workers were skilled in craft work. 'Young people grow up without developing the skills to fix things around the house,' says Richard T. Curtin. 'They know about computers, of course, but they don't know how to build them.'"

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USB 3.0 100W Power Standard Seeks To End Proprietary Chargers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 01:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's tim-the-toolman-taylor department:
judgecorp writes "The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has published a Power Delivery standard which will deliver up to 100W. The specification (press release with link to full details) includes new bi-directional — and backward compatible — USB cables, and has been proposed as the new connector between mains adapters and laptops, eliminating e-waste by standardizing a proprietary component."

At home, only having to run one cable to the wall might be nice, and being able to grab some juice from any friend may end the disaster that is forgetting your laptop power brick when on the road. And imagine only having to pack a single power hub instead of three or four redundant transformers (how many people don't use their laptop to charge their phone nowadays?).

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Neuroscience May Cure Videogames Industry's Obsession With Guns
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 11:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's stanley-kubrick-presents department:
An anonymous reader writes "Leading developer Chris Stevens tells Edge magazine that neuroscience researchers will soon find 'non-violent triggers to mimic the rush of pleasure gamers feel when firing guns.' Researchers can now use functional MRI scanners to monitor what is going on in a player's brain and search for more optimistic and non-violent pleasure triggers. 'For decades it's as if developers have been driving a car with no speedometer,' Stevens claims, referring to the reliance on reported emotions rather than empirical measurements in game development. The functional MRI now gives a much more accurate indication of when peaceful triggers light up the brain's pleasure regions, opening up alternative game designs, without crude weaponry. 'I would like to see many more beautiful games like Fez and Limbo,' Stevens says. 'When I was a kid, games were more beautiful and magical and immersed you in fantastical, peaceful and enjoyable landscape.' The functional MRI could make these peaceful titles provably superior — no mean feat in a mass-market games industry currently obsessed with the crude dopamine-triggering effects of simulated weaponry."

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Microsoft Won't Say If Skype Is Secure Or Not. Time To Change?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 08:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's disinfo-campaign department:
jetcityorange writes "When asked repeatedly a Microsoft spokesperson refused to confirm or deny that Skype conversations [could be monitored]. Microsoft was granted a patent a month after purchasing Skype that covers 'legal intercept' technology designed to be used with VOIP services. Is it time to consider more secure alternatives like Jitsi like Tor's Jacob Appelbaum suggests?"

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NSA Chief To Address Hackers At DEF CON
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 06:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's and-then-arrest-them department:
wiredmikey writes "Later this week, theNSA's organizational leader and head of the U.S. Cyber Command – General Keith Alexander — will address an audience of hackers at DEF CON. News of General Alexander's talk at Def Con broke on Friday. Up until that point, the 12:00 Track 1 slot was kept secret, leaving attendees to the world's largest hacker conference to speculate. The buzz was that it would be something interesting – if only because this year is Def Con's 20th anniversary.General Alexander will be giving a talk titled 'Shared Values, Shared Responsibility,' which is outlined as a presentation that will focus on the shared core values between the hacker community and the government's cyber community. Namely, the vision of the Internet as a positive force, the fact that information increases value by sharing, the respect and protection of privacy and civil liberties, and the opposition to malicious and criminal behavior."

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Being Honest In Exit Interviews Is Pointless
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 04:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's but-burning-bridges-is-really-run department:
Esther Schindler writes "Say that you're leaving a job, either on your own volition or because they decided it was time for you to 'pursue other opportunities.' Before you leave, the HR department wants to chat with you about the employment experience, in an exit interview. 'Oh goodie,' you think. 'Now I can really tell them what I really feel.'

Don't do it. If your employer couldn't find the time to ask you what was good or bad about working at the company while you were still working there, writes Lisa Vaas, why bother with honesty and potentially burned bridges now? (If they did ask, give them constructive feedback before you leave this job; they deserve it). Discuss."


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Prime Ministerial Plagiarism Farce Continues In Romania
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 03:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
ananyo writes "Two investigations into the case of alleged plagiarism by Romania's prime minister, Victor Ponta, have reached opposite conclusions, ramping up the tension in a fierce struggle over political power in Bucharest. As Slashdot has noted before, Ponta stands accused of having copied large sections of his 2003 PhD thesis on the International Criminal Court. ... On 29 June, the Romanian National Council for the Attestation of University Titles (CNATDCU), which is in charge of investigating plagiarism charges in PhD theses according to Romanian law, had concluded that Ponta had copied and pasted 85 pages of his thesis from three books without properly marking the copied sections as quotes. But the committee was dissolved during the course of its meeting by acting education minister Liviu Pop. Meanwhile, concerns are rising in the European Union over what political observers say is a lack of respect in Romania for the fundamental principles of democracy."

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Sally Ride Takes Her Final Flight
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 03:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's new-life-haunting-the-iss department:
fructose writes "Sally Ride, America's first woman in space died today at age 61. She succumbed to pancreatic cancer according to her office in San Diego. Here's to wishing her a safe trip on her final journey."

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Discovery Channel Telescope Snaps Inaugural Pictures
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's space-is-always-cool department:
eldavojohn writes "Two decades ago ... Discovery Channel teamed up with Lowell Observatory and embarked upon a $53 million adventure: the fifth largest telescope in the United States funded entirely without state or federal money. The very first photos snapped with its 16 million pixel camera are in and they look beautiful. Yet to be seen are the simultaneous spectroscopic and imaging observations that should be provided to researchers by the DCT's Ritchey-Chretien instrument cube. Located near a dark-sky site (Coconino National Forest), scientists hope to use this new telescope to answer many research questions including how our solar system formed and how dwarf galaxies evolve. For more telescope porn, check out the DCT's photo tours. Luckily 'the process of planning and building the telescope is due to be featured in a one-hour Discovery Channel documentary set to air in September 2012.' Perhaps there is hope for Discovery Channel to return to its former glory?"

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DNI Admits FISA Surveillance Violated the 4th Amendment
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's fox-mulder-reporting department:
colinneagle writes, quoting Ms. Smith: "It's official; the government's spying efforts exceeded the legal limits at least once (PDF), meaning it is also officially 'unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.' The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) sent a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden giving permission to admit that much. This started with Sen. Wyden requesting that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) declassify some statements regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act enacted by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Although this FISA power is supposed to sunset in December 2012, in May a new Senate bill extended the warrantless wiretapping program for five more years. That vote was regarded as the first step 'toward what the Obama administration hopes will be a speedy renewal of an expanded authority under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to monitor the U.S. e-mails and phone calls of overseas targets in an effort to prevent international terrorist attacks on the country.'"

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Developer Drops Game Price To $0 Citing Android Piracy
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's step-two-still-unknown department:
hypnosec writes with news of a curious way of fighting piracy. From the article: "Android based devices are being activated at the rate of million a day and users are downloading apps and games at a rate never seen before. Despite these promising stats, developers of Android based games and apps are not really keen on porting games and apps that have been successful on iOS to Android. Why? Rampant piracy on Android! Madfinger Games has joined the long list of developers who have recently turned their paid Android based game, Dead Trigger, to a free one. Originally priced at $0.99 on Play Store, the first person shooter game is now available for free . The iOS version of the game still costs $0.99 and hasn't been made free."

Zero-cost, but certainly not Free Software; one has to wonder whether Open Source games with a "donation" build in the store would do better than proprietary games with upfront costs.

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UK Government Faces Lawsuit Over Surveillance Exports
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's was-that-wrong? department:
judgecorp writes "The UK government has been threatened with legal action, over its failure to block exports of espionage technology to oppressive regimes. British firms have sold covert surveillance equipment to the former Egyptian regime, as well as to Iran and Syria in recent months, and pressure group Privacy International has sent a letter asking for a change of policy and an update of export restrictions — backed by a threat that it will take the government to court if there is no response."

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Microsoft Lays Out Money-Making Options For Windows Store Developers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 12:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's price-guide department:
tsamsoniw writes "With the release of Windows 8 just around the corner, Microsoft is eager to see its Windows Store well stocked with third-party, Metro-friendly apps. Hoping to get developers on board, the company has announced pricing structure, along with guidance and tools to help developers create trial versions of apps and set up lucrative in-app purchases."

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World Population Grows Beyond 7 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bigger-is-nor-better department:
First time accepted submitter assertation writes in with a LA Times feature about the booming world population and the strain it puts on the environment and governments. "After remaining stable for most of human history, the world's population has exploded over the last two centuries. The boom is not over: The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years. The coming wave will reshape the planet, and the impact will be greatest in the poorest, most unstable countries."

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Who Really Invented the Internet?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 11:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's original-net department:
jaymzter writes "The Wall Street Journal is running an article that it claims seeks to dispel an urban legend about the internet: 'The creation of the Arpanet was not motivated by considerations of war. The Arpanet was not an Internet.' The position of the piece is that it was Xerox's contribution of Ethernet that enabled the global series of tubes we know and love today, and what's interesting is that the former head of DARPA supports this claim."

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US Regaining Manufacturing Might With Robots and 3D Printing
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's finally-something-we-can-exploit-for-cheap-labor-again department:
For years, the U.S. has been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs to China because of the vastly cheaper labor pool. But now, several different technologies have ripened to the point where U.S. companies are bringing some operations back home. 3D printing, robotics, AI, and nanotechnology are all expected to dramatically change the manufacturing landscape over the next several years. From the article:
"The factory assembly that the Chinese are performing is child’s play for the next generation of robots—which will soon become cheaper than human labor. Indeed, one of China’s largest manufacturers, Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, announced last August that it plans to install one million robots within three years to do the work that its workers in China presently do. It found Chinese labor to be too expensive and demanding. The world’s most advanced car, the Tesla Roadster, is also being manufactured in Silicon Valley, which is one of the most expensive places in the country. Tesla can afford this because it is using robots to do the assembly. ... 3D printers can already create physical mechanical devices, medical implants, jewelry, and even clothing. The cheapest 3D printers, which print rudimentary objects, currently sell for between $500 and $1000. Soon, we will have printers for this price that can print toys and household goods. By the end of this decade, we will see 3D printers doing the small-scale production of previously labor-intensive crafts and goods. It is entirely conceivable that in the next decade we start 3D-printing buildings and electronics."

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New Coating Technology Promises Self-Cleaning Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's wash-it-and-forget-it department:
Zothecula writes "Nissan's "Scratch Guard Coat" has been healing fine scratches on the company's cars for a few years now, and the technology has also made its way into an iPhone case. More recent developments have produced coatings to heal more substantial scratches and scrapes using nano-capsules. Now researchers at The Netherlands' Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have developed a coating that is not only self-healing, but also promises to free car owners of the tiresome chore of washing the car ."

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Dr. Faragher Answers Your Questions About the Future of Navigation Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 09:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's where-in-the-world department:
Earlier this month you asked Principal Scientist at the BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre, Dr. Ramsey Faragher, about his NAVSOP navigation system and the future of positioning systems in general. Below you'll find his answers.

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Google Wants You to Use Your Real Name on YouTube
Posted by News Fetcher on July 23 '12 at 08:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what's-your-handle department:
Google has launched a pop-up dialogue box on YouTube that urges you to use your real name when trying to make a comment. From the article: "When you try to comment on a YouTube video, a box will pop up that displays your username as it’s currently seen, along with a side-by-side comparison to what it will look like if you let YouTube pull your name from Google+. You can choose 'I don’t want to use my real name,' but that will lead to another dialogue box that basically guilts you into agreeing. If you still insist on remaining anonymous, you have to tell Google why: 'My channel is for a show or character' or 'My channel name is well-known for other reasons' are two options. 'I want to remain anonymous, is–unsurprisingly–not one."

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