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Tenenbaum To SCOTUS: Let's Get This Debate Rolling
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's kick-out-the-jams-in-those-hepcat-robes department:
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Joel Tenenbaum has filed a reply brief in support of his petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court, in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, trying to get the Court to take on the thorny issue of copyright statutory damages in the age of mp3 files and micropayments."

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Comcast To Remove Data Cap, Implement Tiered Pricing
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's kevlar-trial-balloon department:
StikyPad writes "Comcast is reportedly removing its oft-maligned 250GB data cap, but don't get too excited. In what appears to be an effort to capitalize on Nielsen's Law, the Internet's version of Moore's Law, Comcast is introducing tiered data pricing. The plan is to include 300GB with the existing price of service, and charge $10 for every 50GB over that limit. As with current policy, Xfinity On Demand traffic will not count against data usage, which Comcast asserts is because the traffic is internal, not from the larger Internet. There has, however, been no indication that the same exemption would apply to any other internal traffic. AT&T and Time Warner have tried unsuccessfully to implement tiered pricing in the past, meeting with strong push back from customers and lawmakers alike. With people now accustomed to, if not comfortable with, tiered data plans on their smartphones, will the public be more receptive to tiered pricing on their wired Internet connections as well, or will they once again balk at a perceived bilking?"

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From MIT Inventor To Tea Party Leader
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 12:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's interesting-people department:
An anonymous reader writes "In the midst of Congressional races around the country, one stands out to techies. Thomas Massie, an MIT whiz kid who pioneered touch-based interfaces and founded SensAble Technologies in the 1990s, is the favorite to win the Republican nomination in his Kentucky district next week. SensAble was recently sold on the cheap, but in a new exclusive, Massie explains why he left the haptics firm years ago to lead a simpler life of farming, family, and guns — lots of guns. Along the way he built a solar-powered, off-the-grid house and became a local hero of the Tea Party. Now Massie is leading the charge to get more engineers into politics, and if he wins, he could be a force to be reckoned with in Washington, DC."

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Paul Vixie: 100,000 DSL Modems May Lose Their DNS On July 9
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's blame-the-feds department:
Dante_J writes "Up to 100,000 DSL modems may lose access to DNS come July the 9th, due to scripted web interface changes made to them by DNSChanger. This and other disturbing details were raised by respected Internet elder Paul Vixie during a presentation at the AusCERT 2012 conference."

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Iran Threatens Legal Action Against Google For Not Labeling Gulf 'Persian'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hearts-and-mines department:
New submitter PantherSE writes with an article at CNN about the geopolitical importance of labeling, excerpting thus: "Iran has threatened legal action against Google for not labeling the Persian Gulf on its maps 'Toying with modern technologies in political issues is among the new measures by the enemies against Iran, (and) in this regard, Google has been treated as a plaything,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Thursday, according to state-run Press TV. He added that 'omitting the name Persian Gulf is (like) playing with the feelings and realities of the Iranian nation.'"

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The Pirate Bay Returns, Anonymous Hater Takes Credit For DDoS
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 11:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bad-childhoods-in-the-news department:
An anonymous reader writes "After being the victim of a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack by an unknown party, The Pirate Bay has returned. An Anonymous traitor who goes by the name AnonNyre has claimed responsibility for the DDoS attack that kept the site offline for days."

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Senators To Unveil the 'Ex-Patriot Act' To Respond To Facebook's Saverin
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-schumer-is-my-least-favorite-congresscritter department:
An anonymous reader writes "Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has a status update for Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin: Stop attempting to dodge your taxes by renouncing your U.S. citizenship or never come to back to the U.S. again." See this earlier story on Saverin's plan to make the leap out of the U.S. tax system.

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Ask Slashdot: Is Outsourcing Development a Good Idea?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's is-vi-better-than-emacs? department:
New submitter penmanglewood writes "I am a developer at a small IT company, and we primarily make software and games for the education market. I used to work with a team of developers, but for reasons outside the scope of this question, my boss and I are the only ones left. My boss says that our new strategy is to use outsourced developers to do the 'monkey work' for us. To me, this sounds like a bad idea. Do we give the developers access to our internal libraries? How will they be able to work on parts of our product without having access to our repository. I could think of a hundred more objections, but maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way. Is there a smart way to outsource development, or is it just a bad idea?"

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NIH Study Finds That Coffee Drinkers Have Lower Risk of Death
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 09:01 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's but-only-in-a-given-time-period department:
parallel_prankster writes "Older adults who drank coffee — caffeinated or decaffeinated — had a lower risk of death [full paper is paywalled, at the New England Journal of Medicine] overall than others who did not drink coffee, according to a study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and AARP. Coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections, although the association was not seen for cancer. These results from a large study of older adults were observed after adjustment for the effects of other risk factors on mortality, such as smoking and alcohol consumption. They also found that the association between coffee and reduction in risk of death increased with the amount of coffee consumed. Relative to men and women who did not drink coffee, those who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day had approximately a 10 percent lower risk of death. Researchers caution, however, that they can't be sure whether these associations mean that drinking coffee actually makes people live longer."

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Who Is Still Using IE6? the UK Government
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's increased-customer-enragement department:
strawberryshakes writes "The death knell for IE6 was sounded a couple of years ago, but seems like some people just can't let go. Many UK government departments are still using IE6, which is so old — 11 years old to be exact — it can't cope with social media — which the government is trying to get its staff to use more to engage with citizens."

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DreamHammer's Wants To Corner the Drone OS Market
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's special-interests-with-guns department:
nonprofiteer writes "The Pentagon is increasingly transforming the military into an unmanned force, taking soldiers out of harm's way and replacing them with drones and robots. In 2011, it spent $6 billion on unmanned systems. The problem is that the unmanned systems don't work well together thanks to contractors building proprietary control systems (to lock government into exclusive relationships and to make extra money). A company called DreamHammer plans to have a solution to this — a universal remote control that could integrate all robots and drones into one control system. It would save money and allow anyone to build apps for drones. 'DreamHammer CTO Chris Diebner compares it with a smartphone OS — on which drones and features for those drones can be run like apps. Of course, Ballista is doing something on a much larger scale. It means that it takes fewer people to fly more drones and that new features can be rolled out without the need to develop and build a new version of a Predator, for example.'"

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Online Loneliness At Google+
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's like-second-life-with-fewer-graphics department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google+ is a lonely place. At least according to a new study that paints the social networking site as a virtual tumbleweed town. Using information culled from the public timelines of 40,000 randomly selected members, data analysis firm RJMetrics found that the Google+ population, which currently numbers 170 million, is largely disengaged, with user activity rapidly decaying—at least when it comes to public posts. According to RJMetrics, 30 percent of first-time Google+ public posters don't post again. Of those who make five public posts, only 15 percent post again. The average time lapse between posts is 12 days, and RJMetrics cites a cohort analysis showing that members tend to make fewer public posts with each successive month. And the response to public posts on Google+ is extremely weak. The average post receives fewer than one reply, fewer than one '+1' (the equivalent to Facebook's 'Like'), and fewer than one re-share — basically most posts in the study did not garner any response."

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RunCore Introduces Self-Destructable SSD
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's magic-smoke-that-is department:
jones_supa writes "RunCore announces the global launch of its InVincible solid state drive, designed for mission-critical fields such as aerospace or military. The device improves upon a normal SSD by having two strategies for the drive to quickly render itself blank. First method goes through the disk, overwriting all data with garbage. Second one is less discreet and lets the smoke out of the circuitry by driving overcurrent to the NAND chips. Both ways can be ignited with a single push of a button, allowing James Bond -style rapid response to the situation on the field."

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Federal Court Rejects NDAA's Indefinite Detention, Issues Injunction
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hope-this-change-sticks department:
First time accepted submitter Arker writes "A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction late Wednesday to block provisions of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone it accuses of knowingly or unknowingly supporting terrorism. The Obama administration had argued, inter alia, that the plaintiffs, including whistleblower and transparency advocate Daniel Ellsberg and Icelandic Member of Parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir lacked standing, but Judge Katherine Forrest didnt buy it. Given recent statements from the administration, it seems safe to say this will be the start of a long court battle."

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Inside the 2012 Loebner Prize
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's actually-they're-just-toying-with-us department:
An anonymous reader writes "Not a single judge was fooled by the chatbots in the 2012 Loebner Prize, which was won by the bot Chip Vivant. According to a journalist who was a human decoy in this year's Turing Test, interactions with the humans was a tad robotic while the bots went off on crazy tangents talking about being a cat and offering condolences for the death of a pet dragon."

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Most CCTV Systems Come With Trivial Exploits
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 05:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's peek-a-boo department:
An anonymous reader writes "The use of CCTV cameras for physical surveillance of all kinds of environments has become so pervasive that most of us don't give the devices a second thought anymore. But, those individuals and organizations who actually use and control them should be aware that most of them come with default settings that make them vulnerable to outside attacks. According to Gotham Digital Science researcher Justin Cacak, standalone CCTV video surveillance systems by MicroDigital, HIVISION, CTRing, and many other rebranded devices are not only shipped with remote access enabled by default, but also with preconfigured default accounts and passwords that are banal and easy to guess."

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GMU Prof Teaches How To Falsify Wikipedia — and Get Caught
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ray-charles-is-god-see-footnote department:
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Yoni Appelbaum reports in the Atlantic that as part of their coursework in a class that studies historical hoaxes, undergraduates at George Mason University successfully fooled Wikipedia's community of editors, launching a Wikipedia page detailing the exploits of a fictitious 19th-century serial killer named Joe Scafe. The students, enrolled in T. Mills Kelly's course, Lying About the Past, used newspaper databases to identify four actual women murdered in New York City from 1895 to 1897, along with victims of broadly similar crimes, and created Wikipedia articles for the victims, carefully following the rules of the site. But while a similar page created previously by Kelly's students went undetected for years, when students posted the story to Reddit, it took just twenty-six minutes for a redditor to call foul, noting the Wikipedia entries' recent vintage and others were quick to pile on, deconstructing the entire tale. Why did the hoaxes succeed in 2008 on Wikipedia and not in 2012 on Reddit? According to Appelbaum, the answer lies in the structure of the Internet's various communities. 'Wikipedia has a weak community, but centralizes the exchange of information. It has a small number of extremely active editors, but participation is declining, and most users feel little ownership of the content. And although everyone views the same information, edits take place on a separate page, and discussions of reliability on another, insulating ordinary users from any doubts that might be expressed,' writes Appelbaum. 'Reddit, by contrast, builds its strong community around the centralized exchange of information. Discussion isn't a separate activity but the sine qua non of the site. If there's a simple lesson in all of this, it's that hoaxes tend to thrive in communities which exhibit high levels of trust. But on the Internet, where identities are malleable and uncertain, we all might be well advised to err on the side of skepticism (PDF).""

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Americans Happy To Pay More For Clean Energy, But Only a Little More
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's worth-the-money department:
Fluffeh writes "A recent study of over 1,000 folks for a paper published in Nature Climate Change has found that the average US citizen is inclined to pay a premium to ensure that by 2035, 80% of US power comes from clean energy. At random, respondents received one of three "technological treatments" or definitions of clean energy that included renewable energy sources alone, renewable sources plus natural gas, and renewable sources plus nuclear power. Delving into the socioeconomics, researchers found that Republicans, Independents, and respondents with no party allegiance were less likely by 25, 13 and 25 percentage points respectively to support a NCES than respondents that identified themselves as Democrats."

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NASA Counts 4,700 Potentially Hazardous Near-Earth Asteroids
Posted by News Fetcher on May 17 '12 at 01:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's time-to-call-bruce department:
coondoggie writes "NASA continues to get a better handle on the asteroids buzzing around in space saying today that there are roughly 4,700 potentially hazardous asteroids, or as NASA calls them PHAs. NASA says these PHAs are a subset of a larger group of near-Earth asteroids but have the closest orbits to Earth's – passing within five million miles (or about eight million kilometers) and are big enough to survive passing through Earth's atmosphere and cause damage on a regional, or greater, scale."

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World's Subways Share Common Mathematical Structure
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '12 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's common-design department:
Hugh Pickens writes "No two subway systems have the same design. New York City's haphazard rail system differs markedly from the highly organized Moscow Metro, or the tangled spaghetti of Tokyo's subway network. Now BBC reports that a study analyzing 14 subway networks around the world has discovered that the distribution of stations within each of the subway networks, as well as common proportions of the numbers of lines, stations, and total distances seem to converge over time to a similar structure regardless of where the networks were, when they were begun, or how quickly they reached their current layout. 'Although these (networks) might appear to be planned in some centralized manner, it is our contention here that subway systems like many other features of city systems evolve and self-organize themselves as the product of a stream of rational but usually uncoordinated decisions taking place through time,' write the study authors. The researchers uncovered three simple features that make subway system topologies similar all around the world. First, subway networks can be divided into a core and branches, like a spider with many legs. The 'core' typically sits beneath the city's center, and its stations usually form a ring shape. Second, the branches tend to be about twice as long as the width of the core. The wider the core, the longer the branches. Last, an average of 20 percent of the stations in the core link two or more subway lines, allowing people to make transfers. 'The apparent convergence towards a unique network shape in the temporal limit suggests the existence of dominant, universal mechanisms governing the evolution of these structures.'"

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