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New State-Sponsored Malware "Gauss" Making the Rounds
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 10:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's just-in-the-neighborhood department:
EliSowash writes "A newly uncovered espionage tool, apparently designed by the same people behind the state-sponsored Flame malware that infiltrated machines in Iran, has been found infecting systems in other countries in the Middle East, according to Kaspersky researchers. Gauss is a nation state sponsored banking Trojan which carries a warhead of unknown designation. Besides stealing various kinds of data from infected Windows machines, it also includes an unknown, encrypted payload which is activated on certain specific system configurations. Just like Duqu was based on the 'Tilded' platform on which Stuxnet was developed, Gauss is based on the 'Flame' platform."

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Flickr Photo Leads To New Insect Discovery
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 10:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's good-excuse-for-stalkers department:
rhettb writes "Scientists have discovered a previously unknown species of lacewing insect after stumbling upon a series of photos posted on Flickr, according to a paper published in the journal ZooKeys. Entomologist Shaun Winterton first found evidence of the species when he randomly stumbled upon a set of photos posted by Hock Ping Guek, a Malaysian photographer. Winterton recognized the insect as a potentially new species, but needed to collect field specimen in order to formally describe it. About a year later, an individual was collected at the same site, enabling Winterton to write up the description in ZooKeys. Hock is a co-author on the paper."

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Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's let-me-inaccurately-count-the-ways department:
An anonymous reader writes with a question that makes a good follow-on to the claim that mathematics requirements in U.S. schools unnecessarily limit students' educational choices: "I'm a high school student who is interested in a career in a computer science or game development related position. I've been told by teachers and parents that math classes are a must for any technology related career. I've been dabbling around Unity3D and OGRE for about two years now and have been programming for longer than that, but I've never had to use any math beyond trigonometry (which I took as a Freshman). This makes me wonder: will I actually use calculus and above, or is it just a popular idea that you need to be a mathematician in order to program? What are your experiences?"

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For Much of the World, Demand For Water Outstrips Supply
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's moisture-farming-has-a-future department:
ananyo writes "Almost one-quarter of the world's population lives in regions where groundwater is being used up faster than it can be replenished, concludes a comprehensive global analysis of groundwater depletion (abstract). Across the world, human civilizations depend largely on tapping vast reservoirs of water that have been stored for up to thousands of years in sand, clay and rock deep underground. These massive aquifers — which in some cases stretch across multiple states and country borders — provide water for drinking and crop irrigation, as well as to support ecosystems such as forests and fisheries. Yet in most of the world's major agricultural regions, including the Central Valley in California, the Nile delta region of Egypt, and the Upper Ganges in India and Pakistan, demand exceeds these reservoirs' capacity for renewal."

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Data-Fed Monitoring System Will Put New Yorkers Under Police Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 09:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-this-isn't-creepy-you're-not-paying-attention department:
Nerval's Lobster writes that New York City isn't just gathering data on citizens with cameras and other data sources for sifting through later to seek evidence in the event of violent acts; it's using some of that data in real-time in an attempt to reveal potential criminal activity. They've even picked a name for their system that echoes DARPA's Total Information Awareness, which I guess is more diplomatic than just calling it Precrime:

"The Domain Awareness System will draw data from 911 calls, previous crime reports, license-plate readers, law-enforcement databases, environmental sensors, and roughly 3,000 closed-circuit cameras. It will rely on the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN), a high-speed wireless broadband infrastructure that allows city agencies to rapidly transmit data, and used for everything from emergency response to reading meters. Mayor Bloomberg argued that the system isn't an example of Big Brother overstepping the line. 'What you're seeing is what the private sector has used for a long time,' he told Gothamist. 'If you walk around with a cell phone, the cell phone company knows where you are. We're not your mom and pop's police department anymore.'"

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A Conversation with Rob Malda - Part Two of Three (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's It-just-keeps-getting-better-and-better-and-better department:
Yesterday we mentioned that Slashdot's 15th Anniversary is coming up in October. (Link to the cheezy song, I Read It On Slashdot.) Also, yesterday we ran Part One of a discussion with Rob Malda conducted by Jeff 'Soulskill' Boehm and Rob 'samzenpus' Rozeboom. Like Part One, Part Two is an audio interview with some photos laid over it, so you might want to listen rather than watch. And if this doesn't satisfy your, "What's Rob Malda up to?" curiosity, Part Three will be here Monday.

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ISPs Throttling BitTorrent Traffic, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's deep-packet-delivery-service department:
hypnosec writes "A new report by an open source internet measurement platform, Measurement Lab, sheds light onto throttling of and restriction on BitTorrent traffic by ISPs (Internet Service Provider) across the globe. The report by Measurement Lab reveals that hundreds of ISPs across the globe are involved into throttling of peer-to-peer traffic through and specifically BitTorrent traffic. The Glasnost application run by the platform helps in detecting whether ISPs shape traffic and tests can be carried out to check whether the throttling or blocking is carried out "on email, HTTP or SSH transfer, Flash video, and P2P apps including BitTorrent, eMule and Gnutella". Going by country, United States has actually seen a drop in throttling compared to what it was back in 2010. Throttling in US is worst for Cox at 6 per cent and best for Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others at around 3 per cent. United Kingdom is seeing a rise in traffic shaping and BT is the worst with 65 per cent. Virgin Media throttles around 22 per cent of the traffic while the least is O2 at 2 per cent. More figures can be found here."

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Man Orders TV On Amazon, Gets Shipped Assault Rifle
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 07:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's blow-up-your-TV department:
First time accepted submitter InfernoApple writes "Seth Horvitz, a Northeast D.C. resident, thought he had ordered a new high-definition television a few days ago through Amazon.com from a third-party merchant. When the package arrived yesterday, however, Horvitz opened the oddly shaped box to find something completely different. Instead of the flat-panel TV he had bought to enjoy with his wife, who is pregnant, Horvitz opened the long packaging to discover a Sig Sauer SIG716, a high-caliber, semi-automatic assault rifle capable of mowing down, well, just about anything."

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Secret Security Questions Are a Joke
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's totally-true-thesis department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Rebecca Rosen writes that when hackers broke into Mat Honan's Apple account last week, they couldn't answer his security questions but Apple didn't care and issued a temporary password anyway. This was a company disregarding its own measure, saying, effectively, security questions are a joke and we don't take them very seriously. But even if Apple had required the hackers to answer the questions, it's very likely that the hackers would have been able to find the right answers. 'The answers to the most common security questions — where did you go to high school? what is the name of the first street you lived on? — are often a matter of the public record,' writes Rosen, 'even more easily so today than in the 1980s when security questions evolved as a means of protecting bank accounts.' Part of the problem is that a good security question is hard to design and has to meet four criteria: A good security question should be definitive — there should only be one correct answer; Applicable — the question should be possible to answer for as large a portion of users as possible; Memorable — the user should have little difficulty remembering it; and Safe — it should be difficult to guess or find through research. Unfortunately few questions fit all these criteria and are known only by you. 'Perhaps mother's maiden name was good enough for banking decades ago, but I'm pretty sure anyone with even a modicum of Google skills could figure out my mom's maiden's name,' concludes Rosen. Passwords have reached the end of their useful life adds Bruce Schneier. 'Today, they only work for low-security applications. The secret question is just one manifestation of that fact.'"

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Digia To Acquire Qt From Nokia
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-that's-cute department:
First time accepted submitter MrvFD writes "Ever since the most recent layoffs were announced by Nokia last month and the end of Qt related programs at Nokia was rumored, the fate of Qt has been in the air despite it nowadays having a working open governance model. Fear no longer, Qt brand, since Digia has now announced acquiring the Qt organization from Nokia. While relatively unknown company to the masses, it has already been selling the non-free (non-LGPL) licenses of Qt for 1.5 years. Hopefully this'll mean a bright future for Qt in co-operation with other Qt wielding companies like Google, RIM, Canonical, Intel, Skype, Microsoft, Jolla and the thousands of Qt open source and commercial license users. Digia now plans to quickly enable Qt on Android, iOS and Windows 8 platforms, where work has already been underway for some time."

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Baskerville Is the Greatest Font, Statistically, Says Filmmaker Errol Morris
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's your-brain-is-vulnerable department:
An anonymous reader writes "A survey of unsuspecting New York Times readers implicitly answered the question: Does a certain font make you agree or disagree more often than another font? It turns out Baskerville confers a 1.5% advantage towards agreement on a survey question, compared to an average of six fonts. They responded to a passage from asked to agree or disagree to a passage from physicist David Deutsch's book The Beginning of Infinity, and were found to have an optimistic, if Baskerville-favoring, outlook on life. David Dunning, a psychologist awarded a Nobel prize and, separately, an IgNobel prize (for the eponymous Dunning-Kruger Effect), called Baskerville 'the king of fonts.' Sadly, Comic Sans — notable for its appearance in the Higgs Boson announcement — seems to be the weakest font. And why did Lisa Randall, the Harvard physicist responsible for that Higgs announcement use Comic Sans? According to the article, 'Because I like it.'"

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Facebook Facial Recognition Under Scrutiny In Norway
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 05:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's stepford-objects-for-a-different-reason department:
Qedward writes "Certainly not the first country to raise concerns, but Facebook's facial recognition feature will now be investigated by the Norwegian Data Protection Agency. Last year, Facebook added the ability to use facial recognition technology to help to tag images as a default feature to users worldwide. Ove Skåra, communications manager at the Norwegian Data Protection Agency or Datatilsynet said: 'Facial recognition, is a technology that it is important to have critical view of, and see how it is actually used.' Outside of Europe, U.S. Senator Al Franken, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's privacy subcommittee, called on Facebook to turn off the feature by default in July."

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War By Remote Control, With Military Robots Set To Self Destruct
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 05:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's if-you-hear-buzzing-it's-too-late department:
New submitter RougeFive writes "A new wave of Kamikaze unmanned military aircraft, ground robots and water vessels are being built to deliberately destroy themselves as they hit their targets. Since it now makes more economic sense to have them crash into enemy targets rather than engage them, and since direct impact needs only manned or automated navigation rather than the highly-trained skills of multiple operators, these UAVs could well become the de-facto method of engagement of the future."

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Ask Slashdot: Rugged E-book Reader?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 04:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's toughbook-is-copyrighted-though department:
First time accepted submitter Augury writes "I'm about to undertake a lengthy trip involving travel through dusty, damp and drop-inducing environments. When it comes to packing for such a trip, reading is a fundamental need, to help while away the inevitable hours spent in transit lounges, at bus stops and on beaches. The weight and bulk of the dead tree approach makes it impractical, so an e-book reader seems ideal — does anyone have any experience with ruggedising an e-book reader for such conditions?"

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Telco Company Claims Freedom of Speech Includes Misleading Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's liar-liar department:
An anonymous reader writes "Rogers Telecommunications is claiming that a ruling by Canada's Competition Bureau violates Rogers' freedom of speech. The company is in court over a 2010 ad campaign where it claimed that its discount brand 'Chatr' was more reliable and suffered fewer dropped calls than the competition. The Competition Bureau found 'no discernible difference in dropped-call rates between Rogers/Chatr and new entrants' and began legal proceedings against Rogers for violating Canada's Competition Act. The Bureau is seeking a $10 million (CDN) fine, an end to the ad campaign, and for Rogers to issue a corrective notice."

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Store Offers Kinect Body Scanner To Help You Find Jeans That Fit
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's tailor-of-tomorrow department:
itwbennett writes "For those of you who can't count on a friend to tell you that a little more air should come between you and your Calvins, a Bloomingdales store in Palo Alto has just the solution: An Xbox Kinect-based body scanner that will help you find your best fit. While body measuring systems aren't new, using the Xbox Kinect is a much more affordable solution. Which means that soon we'll all have the opportunity for a computer to tell us that we should 'avoid wearing low to mid rise jeans.'"

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Indian Government Mulls Giving Away Mobile Phones To the Poor
Posted by News Fetcher on August 09 '12 at 01:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's let-them-eat-phones department:
jalfreize writes "The Indian government is finalizing a $1.2 billion plan to hand out free mobile phones to the poorest Indian families (around six million households, according to some estimates). The Times of India reports: 'Top government managers involved in formulating the scheme want to sell it as a major empowerment initiative... While the move will ensure contact with the beneficiaries of welfare programmes (sic) ..., there is also a view the scheme will provide an opportunity for the (government) to open a direct line of communication with a sizable population that plays an active role in polls.'"

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No Bomb Powerful Enough To Destroy an On-Rushing Asteroid, Sorry Bruce Willis
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 11:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's big-bomb department:
coondoggie writes "Maybe it's the doom predictions about the end of the Mayan calendar this year, or maybe these guys are obsessed with old Bruce Willis movies. Either way a class of physics students from the University of Leicester decided to evaluate whether or not the premise of Willis' 1998 'Armageddon' movie — where a group of oil drillers is sent by NASA to detonate nuclear devices on an asteroid that threatens to destroy Earth — could actually happen. The students found it would take a bomb about a billion times stronger than the biggest bomb ever detonated on Earth."

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Open-Source Movements Bicker Over Logo
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 08:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's you're-both-pretty department:
colinneagle writes in with a story about open source organizations fighting over logos. "A gear logo proposed to represent and easily identify open-source hardware has caught the eyes of the The Open Source Initiative, which believes the logo infringes its trademark. The gear logo is backed by the Open Source Hardware Association (OSHWA), which was formally established earlier this year to promote hardware innovation and unite the fragmented community of hackers and do-it-yourselfers. The gear mark is now being increasingly used on boards and circuits to indicate that the hardware is open-source and designs can be openly shared and modified. OSI has now informed OSHWA, which is acting on behalf of the open-source hardware community, that the logo infringes on its trademark. The issue at stake is a keyhole at the bottom of the open-source hardware logo, which resembles a keyhole at the bottom of the OSI logo. The gear logo was created as part of the contest hosted by the group that founded OSHWA, and the mark was released by its designer under a Creative Commons license, opening it up for the community to use on hardware."

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US Is Finally Cleaning Up Agent Orange In Vietnam
Posted by News Fetcher on August 08 '12 at 07:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we're-gonna-need-a-bigger-mop department:
derekmead writes "It only took 40 years. And yes, Washington still disputes Hanoi's claim that up to 4 million Vietnamese suffered contact with the defoliant, which was dumped en masse in a U.S. air campaign to scorch away the dense jungle cover under which guerilla fighters hid. But the AP reports that the U.S. is finally set to start cleaning up the mess. The numbers are staggering: Between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed some 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and a galaxy of other herbicides on nearly a quarter of former South Vietnam. The defoliant ate through about 5 millions acres – a tract comparable in size to Massachusetts – of forest. An additional half-million acres of crops were decimated."

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