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In Advance of Ramadan, Indonesian Gov't Starts Massive Censorship Push
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 04:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's night-time-is-for-snacking department:
An anonymous reader writes "The Indonesian government has blocked access to 1 million pornographic websites in advance of Ramadan, the country's holy month. Internet censorship is nothing new in Indonesia, but the scale of this particular restriction is unprecedented. Apparently this is only the beginning. Minister Tifatul Sembiring said Wednesday his office would target more sites through the country's holy month, and beyond."

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Why You Shouldn't Write Off Google+ Just Yet
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 03:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-armed-tortoise-gunning-for-hare department:
TheNextCorner writes "Cmdr Taco writes for The Washington Post on why you shouldn't write off Google+ just yet: "Google+ is technically better than its rivals in a number of key ways. The user interface is comfortable and friendly. It's easy to maintain circles of contacts, and to segregate what you share with each group. Discussions of small-to-medium sizes are manageable and readable — even in real time. Facebook wins when it comes to the open graph and app ecosystem, but a lot of people don't care about that stuff.""

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Software Emulates Organism's Entire Lifespan
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's sit-on-couch-and-eat-potato-chips,-increment department:
An anonymous reader
"Scientists have developed a software simulation, running on 128 computers, of an entire organism, a step toward carrying out full experiments without traditional instruments (abstract). 'For their computer simulation, the researchers had the advantage of extensive scientific literature on the bacterium. They were able to use data taken from more than 900 scientific papers to validate the accuracy of their software model. Still, they said that the model of the simplest biological system was pushing the limits of their computers. "Right now, running a simulation for a single cell to divide only one time takes around 10 hours and generates half a gigabyte of data," Dr. Covert wrote. "I find this fact completely fascinating, because I don’t know that anyone has ever asked how much data a living thing truly holds. We often think of the DNA as the storage medium, but clearly there is more to it than that." In designing their model, the scientists chose an approach that parallels the design of modern software systems, known as object-oriented programming. Software designers organize their programs in modules, which communicate with one another by passing data and instructions back and forth. Similarly, the simulated bacterium is a series of modules that mimic the different functions of the cell.'"

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Canadians To Get Unbundled Cable TV Channels
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shut-up-and-take-my-money department:
Jerry Rivers writes "The CRTC, Canada's communications regulator, has approved changes to the way cable companies bundle programming to allow the purchase of selected channels while dropping others they do not want. However, the customers won't necessarily be paying any less. 'The flipside is that the fewer channels that are subscribed to, the more expensive each will become, people familiar with the matter said, asking for anonymity because details of the decision are confidential. The decision is a small step toward an “à la carte” model long talked about by regulators — and longed for by consumers — but resisted by TV channel owners and distributors for fear of undermining the economics of cable television, which have come to rely on subscriber fees from those channels.'"

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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 01:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's same-bat-time-same-bat-channel department:
Unless you've managed to not watch anything in the past three weeks, you're aware that Chris Nolan's final Batman movie is out. With Christian Bale as the low-talking caped crusader, The Dark Knight Rises is two hours and forty-five minutes of of fun. While it lacks a stand-out personal performance like Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight, it is still a decent ending to this round of Batman movies. There are plenty of familiar faces, and a few new ones as well. Read below for my take on the movie, but be warned: there might be a few spoilers.

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Federal Agencies Lagging Behind In Data Center Plans
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-tax-dollars-at-work department:
Nerval's Lobster writes with news that U.S. federal agencies are falling behind in their efforts to consolidate government data centers. Current plans call for a savings of $2.4 billion and the closing of over a thousand data centers, but 17 of 24 agencies still haven't provided details on their IT infrastructure and usage. A new report from the Government Accountability Office highlights the problems with this consolidation effort.
"Data centers represent a significant cost to the federal government. Electricity to operate federal servers and data centers costs around $450 million a year, according to an EPA estimate cited in the report. Moreover, federal agencies reported limited reuse of data centers, along with server utilization rates dipping as low as 5 percent. The GAO report features agencies claiming several challenges on the way to data-center consolidation. These included accepting cultural change as part of the consolidation; funding the consolidation and identifying the resulting cost savings; operational challenges including procurement and resource constraints; and difficulties in planning a migration strategy."

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Judge: Cops Can Impersonate Owner Of Seized Cell Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's and-not-just-checking-the-weather-16-times-a-day department:
Aryden writes with news of a recent court decision in which a judge ruled it was acceptable for police to impersonate the owner of a cell phone they had seized, in order to extract information from the owner's friends. The ruling stems from an incident in 2009 when police officers seized the iPhone of a suspected drug dealer, then used text messages to set up a meeting with another person seeking drugs.
"'There is no long history and tradition of strict legislative protection of a text message sent to, displayed, and received from its intended destination, another person's iPhone,' Penoyar wrote in his decision. He pointed to a 1990 case in which the police seized a suspected drug dealer's pager as an example. The officers observed which phone numbers appeared on the pager, called those numbers back, and arranged fake drug purchases with the people on the other end of the line. A federal appeals court held that the pager owner's Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure were not violated because the pager is 'nothing more than a contemporary receptacle for telephone numbers,' akin to an address book. The court also held that someone who sends his phone number to a pager has no reasonable expectation of privacy because he can't be sure that the pager will be in the hands of its owner. Judge Penoyar said that the same reasoning applies to text messages sent to an iPhone. While text messages may be legally protected in transit, he argued that they lose privacy protections once they have been delivered to a target device in the hands of the police.

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Lenovo CEO Gives His $3M Bonus To 10k Workers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what's-the-opposite-of-a-golden-parachute department:
ndogg writes "Lenovo CEO Yang Yuanqing has decided to give his $3,000,000USD bonus to his workers instead of keeping it. Those 10,000 employees include receptionists, production line workers, and assistants. That works out to about 2,000 yuan or $300 per employee, which is about a month's worth of salary."

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Book Review: UP and To the RIGHT
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 12:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
benrothke writes "Anyone who has worked in information technology knows of Gartner. They are one of the leading information technology research and advisory firms. Most of their clients are CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, high-tech and telecom enterprises. Gartner is huge with over 5,000 associates, over 1, 200 research analysts and consultants and clients in 85 countries. Their revenue in 2011 was nearly $1.5 billion. While Gartner is the world's largest, there are over 650 independent analyst firms worldwide. Barbara French's Directory of Analysts provides a comprehensive list. With all that, very few people understand how Gartner works and what makes them tick. In UP and to the RIGHT: Strategy and Tactics of Analyst Influence: A complete guide to analyst influence, ex-Gartner analyst Richard Stiennon takes the mystery out of Gartner. In particular, a good part of the book deals with Gartner's vaunted Magic Quadrant." Read below for the rest of Ben's review. UP and to the RIGHT: Strategy and Tactics of Analyst Influence: A complete guide to analyst influence
author Richard Stiennon
pages 186
publisher IT-Harvest Press
rating 9/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 0985460709
summary Definitive guide on Gartner and their Magic Quadrant

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Valve & Intel Collaborating On Open-Source Drivers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's straining-out-the-blobs department:
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like Valve's Linux team that's still growing has found much interest in open-source graphics drivers. Intel Linux graphics driver developers and Valve's Linux team were meeting for the past week to look at each other's code, work out performance goals, and collaborate on new features. Ian Romanick of Intel blogs, 'The funny thing is Valve guys say the same thing about drivers. There were a couple times where we felt like they were trying to convince us that open source drivers are a good idea. We had to remind them that they were preaching to the choir. :) Their problem with closed drivers (on all platforms) is that it's such a blackbox that they have to play guess-and-check games. There's no way for them to know how changing a particular setting will affect the performance. If performance gets worse, they have no way to know why. If they can see where time is going in the driver, they can make much more educated guesses.' Perhaps the companies are paying attention to Linus Torvalds' memo to NVIDIA?"

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Can Anyone Catch Khan Academy?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan department:
waderoush writes "Even as name-brand universities like MIT and Harvard rush to put more courses on the Web, they're vying with an explosion of new online learning resources like Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, Dabble, Skillshare, and, of course, Khan Academy. With 3,200 videos on YouTube and 4 million unique visitors a month, Sal Khan's increasingly entertaining creation is the competitor that traditional universities need to beat if they want to have a role in inspiring the next generation of leaders and thinkers. Lately Khan's organization has been snapping up some of YouTube's most creative educational-video producers, including 'Doodling in Math Class' creator Vi Hart and Smarthistory founders Beth Harris and Steven Zucker. Universities are investing millions in software for 'massive online open courses' or MOOCs, but unless they can figure out how to make their material fun as well as instructive, Khan may have an insurmountable lead."
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a related article about the above-mentioned Coursera, and how they plan to make money off of free courses. A contract the company signed with the University of Michigan suggests they aren't quite sure yet.

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Gene Therapy Could Soon Be Approved In Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-will-take-xray-vision-please department:
another random user writes
"According to the BBC, 'Europe is on the cusp of approving a gene therapy for the first time, in what would be a landmark moment for the field. ... The European Medicines Agency has recommended a therapy for a rare genetic disease which leaves people unable to properly digest fats. The European Commission will now make the final decision. The idea of gene therapy is simple: if there is a problem with part of a patient's genetic code then replace that part of the code. The reality has not been so easy. In one gene therapy trial a U.S. teenager, Jesse Gelsinger, died, and other patients have developed leukaemia. There no gene therapies available outside of a research lab in Europe or the U.S.' They have considered the use of Glybera to treat lipoprotein lipase deficiency, which leads to fat building up in the blood, abdominal pain and life-threatening pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). 'The therapy uses a virus to infect muscle cells with a working copy of the gene.'"

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Obama's Portrait of Cyberwar Isn't Complete Hyperbole
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-mostly department:
pigrabbitbear writes "It's hard to imagine what cyberwarfare actually looks like. Is it like regular warfare, where two sides armed with arsenals of deadly weapons open fire on each other and hope for total destruction? What do they fire instead of bullets? Packets of information? Do people die? Or is it not violent at all — just a bunch of geeks in uniforms playing tricks on each other with sneaky code? Barack Obama would like to clear up this question, thank you very much. In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal the president voiced his support for the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 now being considered by the Senate with the help of a truly frightening hypothetical: 'Across the country trains had derailed, including one carrying industrial chemicals that exploded into a toxic cloud,' Obama wrote, describing a nightmare scenario of a cyber attack. 'Water treatment plants in several states had shut down, contaminating drinking water and causing Americans to fall ill.' All because of hackers!"

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2.4 Million Ontario Voters' Private Info Compromised
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's only-maple-leafs-fans department:
An anonymous reader writes "Elections Ontario, an agency tasked with the organization and conduct of general elections and by-elections in Canada's Ontario region, is warning voters about the loss and potential theft of two USB sticks containing private information of 2.4 million voters from approximately 20–25 electoral districts. The information at issue is limited to full name, gender, birth date, address, whether or not an elector voted in the last provincial election and any other personal information updates provided by voters to Elections Ontario during that time, as well as administrative codes used solely for election purposes. The information does not include how an individual voted."

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Viacom and DirecTV Reach New Agreement
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's glad-you-boys-could-work-it-out department:
An anonymous reader writes "About 10 days after Viacom pulled 26 channels from DirecTV over a contract dispute, the two companies have finally come to an agreement that should have DirecTV fans in need of their MTV rejoicing. While precise details of the newly agreed upon contract weren't made public, Bloomberg is reporting that the new contract is for 7 years with Viacom set to receive more than $600 million a year from DirecTV. That represents a 20% payment increase from the previous contract and is slightly below the 30% increase, or $1 billion, Viacom was initially pushing for."
The disturbing part of this dispute, to me, was how Viacom pulled its shows from the internet in addition to DirecTV. Advertising your side of the story is one thing, but going out of your way to directly frustrate viewers who are interested in your shows seems like bad business.

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Microsoft Taking Heat For Five-Figure Xbox 360 'Patch Fee'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-about-the-benjamins department:
wasimkadak sends this quote from Ars:
"Developer Phil Fish knows there's a problem preventing some people from enjoying his Xbox 360 puzzle platformer Fez as intended. But he's not going to fix it, thanks to what he says is an exorbitant fee of 'tens of thousands of dollars' that Microsoft would charge to re-certify the game after a needed patch. The issue started on June 22, when Fish released a patch intended to fix some outstanding gameplay and performance issues with Fez. That patch gave rise to new problems for some players, though, by causing their save files to appear as corrupted, in effect erasing their progress through the game. Microsoft pulled the initial patch for the game mere hours after it first went up, to prevent the bug it contained from spreading too far."
Another article covering the story suggests this situation is simply a mis-match between an indie-dev's expectations and the realities of a curated gaming platform.

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Don't Super-Size My Smartphone!
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's a-pox-on-anyone-uttering-the-word-phablet department:
New submitter Steve Max writes "Editor Paul Ockenden wonders, 'Has anyone else noticed what's been happening to top-end smartphones recently? They've started to get big – really big. But do people really want that at the expense of carrying around such a huge, heavy lump of tech in their pocket?' The trend for bigger and bigger screens is clear, but is it what consumers want? Is it what you want?"

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New Type of Chemical Bond Predicted To Exist In White Dwarfs
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's played-by-sean-connery department:
ananyo writes "A previously unknown type of powerful chemical bond should be induced by the ferocious magnetic fields of white dwarfs and neutron stars, according to computer simulations. If the effect can be harnessed in the lab, 'magnetized matter' could be exploited for quantum computing. Chemists identify two classes of strong molecular bonds: ionic bonds, in which electrons from one atom hop over to another, and covalent bonds, in which electrons are shared between atoms. But researchers at the University of Oslo accidentally discovered a third bonding mechanism when they simulated how atoms should behave under magnetic fields of about 105 tesla — 10,000 times the biggest fields that can be generated on Earth (abstract)."

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EFF Challenges National Security Letter
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's letter-of-the-law department:
sunbird writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court in San Francisco on behalf of an anonymous petitioner seeking to challenge a National Security Letter (NSL) the petitioner had received. NSLs are issued by law enforcement with neither judicial oversight nor probable cause, and have been discussed on Slashdot before. In response to the lawsuit, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a separate lawsuit against the individual who had received the NSL, requesting that the court order the recipient to comply with the NSL and asking the court to find that the 'failure to comply with a lawfully issued National Security Letter interferes with the United States' vindication of its sovereign interests in law enforcement, counterintelligence, and protecting national security.' Both cases are filed under seal, but heavily-redacted filings are available. The cases remain pending."

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Facebook and Wal-Mart Join Forces
Posted by News Fetcher on July 20 '12 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's planning-our-future department:
Jeremiah Cornelius writes "Wal-Mart — the retail king of Big Data analytics — will be meeting Mark Zuckerberg for two days in Bentonville, to 'deepen' their relationship with Facebook. The CEO-level strategy summit is intended to bolster the relationship between the world's No. 1 social network and the world's largest retailer. Wal-Mart has been left in the dust online by the behemoth Amazon. An alliance may be poised to challenge this dominance, particularly in light of Amazon's planned foray into same-day delivery nationwide. The companies share James Breyer, who sits on the boards of both Facebook and Wal-Mart. Adding another angle to this, Yahoo's new CEO, Marissa Mayer, was elected to Wal-Mart's board in early June, while she was still at Google. Earlier this month, Facebook and Yahoo settled a patent dispute and announced plans to form another 'strategic alliance' involving advertising and distribution. The implications for online privacy in this series of relationships are uncertain."

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