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OS X Mountain Lion Review
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-got-your-mobile-OS-in-my-desktop-OS department:
John Siracusa at Ars Technica has published a lengthy and detailed review of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. (Lengthy enough that the review garnered a review of its own.) Siracusa methodically goes through all of the changes in the new version, covering everything from the minor new features to the overarching goals. Quoting:
"Despite the oft-cited prediction that Mac will eventually be subsumed by iOS, that's not what's happening here. Apple is determined to bring the benefits of iOS to the Mac, but it's equally determined to do so in a way that preserves the strengths of the Mac platform. Where we Mac nerds go wrong is in mistaking traditions for strengths. Loss aversion is alive and well in the Mac community; with each 'feature' removed and each decision point eliminated from our favorite OS, our tendency is to focus heavily on what's been lost, sometimes blinding ourselves to the gains. But the larger problem is that losses and gains are context-dependent. A person who never uses a feature will not miss it when it's gone. We all pay lip service to the idea that most users never change the default settings in software, but we rarely follow this through to its logical conclusion. The fact is, we are not the center of the market, and haven't been for a long time. Three decades ago, the personal computer industry was built on the backs of technology enthusiasts. Every product, every ad was created to please us. No longer. Technology must now work for everyone, not just 'computing enthusiasts.'"
< article continued at Slashdot >

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Leaked IFPI Report Details Anti-Piracy Strategy
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's filter-or-it-gets-the-hose-again department:
hypnosec writes "IFPI has inadvertently made available its own confidential internal report, penned by none other than IFPI's chief anti-piracy officer, which details its strategy against online piracy for major recording labels across the globe. The document, 30-pages long, talks about file sharing sites, torrents, cyberlockers, phishing attacks, expectations from Internet service providers, mp3 sites and a lot more. The document is a global view representation of IFPI's 'problems,' 'current and future threats,' and the industry's responses to them."

A few tactics: shutting down music services, requiring file lockers filter uploads or be shut down (interesting, since the DMCA's one good provision is the safe harbor, and proactive filtering could mean losing that protection), lobbying for DNS blocking legislation, pressuring ISPs into extra-legally enforcing their will, disrupting payment processing for pirate sites through blacklists, and providing "training built around 'real world' experiences and challenges rather than focusing on theory" on copyright law to judges and legal bodies.

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Father of SSH Says Security Is 'Getting Worse'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's living-in-the-pupil-of-1000-eyes department:
alphadogg writes with an excerpt from an interview with the designer of SSH-1: "Tatu Ylönen has garnered fame in technology circles as the inventor of Secure Shell (SSH), the widely used protocol to protect data communications. The CEO of SSH Communications Security — whose crypto-based technology invented in 1995 continues to be used in hundreds of millions of computers, routers and servers — recently spoke with Network World on a variety of security topics, including the disappearance of consumer privacy and the plight of SSL. (At the Black Hat Conference this week, his company is also announcing CryptoAuditor.)"

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Latest Netflix Earnings Report Mixed
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 08:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's hive-of-profit-and-drm department:
nmpost writes with one interpretation of Netflix's Q2 results (PDF). From the article: "The beginning of the end may be at hand for Netflix. On Tuesday, the movie rental company posted its second quarter results, and they were not promising. While the company returned to profitability following a first quarter loss, Netflix had a 91% drop in net income. The company's troubles began when it attempted to split its DVD-by-mail and streaming services, effectively doubling the price it was charging customers. External forces are now beginning to weigh on the company, and its doom appears to be within sight. The biggest challenges facing Netflix over the coming months are going to be competition and licensing fees. Three huge companies are competing against Netflix in the streaming arena, which has already surpassed its DVD-by-mail business. Amazon, Apple, and Google all offer streaming content as well. As movie and television studios began to demand higher licensing fees, Netflix will not be able to pay, while these tech giants will. Netflix will eventually be priced out of the market."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Malware Strikes Apple iOS App Store Again
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's clever-marketing-campaign-for-osx department:
tlhIngan writes "Well, it's happened again. Malware has slipped past Apple again and appeared in the iOS App Store. This time though, an iOS application came bundled with two Windows executables containing relatively old malware. It will not infect an iOS device nor Macs, but might affect Windows iTunes users. Looks like Apple needs to update their Windows malware scanner for iOS app submissions now."

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New Reality Series: Be the Next Microsoft Employee
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 07:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's worst-prize-ever department:
theodp writes "No, Steve Ballmer doesn't swap spit with contestants in a hot tub. Nor does he present a rose to each contestant he wishes to keep at the end of each episode. But the contestants in Microsoft's Be the Next Microsoft Employee web series, which is being billed as Top Chef for Geeks, do live together in a luxury waterfront home as they compete for the chance to interview for a job with the software giant. So, what's next from Microsoft? The Real Housewives of Medina?"

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US Army Developing Armor Tailored For Females
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 07:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's still-waiting-for-armored-skants department:
cylonlover writes, quoting Gizmag: "Body armor is a blessing and a curse for soldiers. Modern tactical armor has saved thousands of lives from bullets and bombs, but it can also be a major problem if it doesn't fit properly. That's what the women who make up 14 percent of the U.S. Army face on a regular basis. Now, according to the Army News Service, the Army is preparing to test a new armor that is tailored to the female form to replace the standard men's armor that the women now use. Working on data collected in studies overseas and at stateside army bases, the Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier has identified several problem areas and has developed a new armor that will be tested in 2013."

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World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Launches On September 25
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's getting-in-touch-with-your-fuzzy department:
New submitter JestersGrind writes "Blizzard has announced that Mists of Pandaria, the latest expansion of the popular World of Warcraft MMO, will be launched on September 25, 2012 and can be pre-ordered now."
The game page has a good deal of information about the new expansion. The level cap is increased to 90, there is a new race (Pandaren) and a new class (Monk), and the talent system has been completely redesigned. They've added Challenge Modes for dungeons, which normalizes player gear and lets them compete to see who can clear it the fastest. The MMO-Champion website keeps track of all the minor details, if you're interested.

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Open Millions of Hotel Rooms With Arduino
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 06:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's do-not-disturb-taken-as-challenge department:
MrSeb writes with an excerpt from Extreme Tech about a presentation at Black Hat: "Bad news: With an Arduino microcontroller and a little bit of programming, it's possible for a hacker to gain instant, untraceable access to millions of key card-protected hotel rooms. This hack was demonstrated by Cody Brocious, a Mozilla software developer, at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. At risk are four million hotel rooms secured by Onity programmable key card locks. According to Brocious, who didn't disclose the hack to Onity before going public, there is no easy fix: There isn't a firmware upgrade — if hotels want to secure their guests, every single lock will have to be changed. I wish I could say that Brocious spent months on this hack, painstakingly reverse-engineering the Onity lock protocol, but the truth — as always, it seems — is far more depressing. 'With how stupidly simple this is, it wouldn't surprise me if a thousand other people have found this same vulnerability and sold it to other governments,' says Brocious. 'An intern at the NSA could find this in five minutes.'"

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Senate Bill Raises Possibility of Withdrawl From ITER As Science Cuts Loom
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's brought-to-you-by-duke-energy department:
ananyo writes "Are the knives coming out for ITER? A Senate Department of Energy spending bill, yet to be voted on, would cut domestic research for fusion and directs the DOE to explore the impact of withdrawing from ITER. The proposed cuts for domestic fusion research are in line with those proposed in the Obama administration's budget request but come after the House ... voted to boost ITER funding and to support the domestic program at almost 2012 levels on 6 June. U.S. fusion researchers do not want a withdrawal from ITER yet but if the 2014 budget looks at all like the 2013 one, that could change. 'They're not trying to kill ITER just yet,' says Stephen Dean, president of advocacy group Fusion Power Associates. 'If this happens again in 2014, I'm not so sure.' The problems for fusion could be small beans though. The 'sequester', a pre-programmed budget cut scheduled to take effect on 2 January, could cut 7.8% or more off science and other federal budgets unless Congress can enact last-minute legislation to reduce the deficit without starving U.S. science-funding agencies."

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Tor Project Experiments With Funding Fast Exit Nodes
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's cash-for-secrets department:
mask.of.sanity writes "The Tor Project is considering paying exit relay hosts to make the network faster and more secure. The project has called for discussion on the idea, notably from relay hosts. Its founder has suggested $100 a month would attract fast and diverse nodes. Exit nodes are the last hopping point on the Tor network and are critical to its performance and safety."

The problem: "But lately the Tor network has become noticeably faster, and I think it has a lot to do with the growing amount of excess relay capacity relative to network load ... on today's network, clients choose one of the fastest 5 exit
relays around 25-30% of the time, and 80% of their choices come from a
pool of 40-50 relays
. ... Since we're
not doing particularly well at diversity with the current approach,
we're going to try an experiment: we'll connect funding to exit relay
operators so they can run bigger and/or better exit relays." As to funding: "We've lined up our first funder (BBG, ...), and they're excited to have us start as soon as we can. They want to sponsor 125+ fast exits."

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Apple Blames Earnings Miss On iPhone 5 Anticipation
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 04:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doesn't-fall-far-from-the-tree department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Reuters reports that Apple shed more than five percent of its stock price value in after-hours trading after the company reported its second quarterly miss on results in less than a year, highlighting how the Apple brand is becoming less resistant to the economic and product cycles that have plagued rivals. 'Clearly it was a disappointment,' says Channing Smith, Co-Manager of Capital Advisors Growth Fund. 'We expected a lot of consumers will probably delay their upgrade and their purchases until the iPhone 5 comes out. We saw a similar trend occur last year with the iPhone 4S.' Executives acknowledged buyers were refraining from purchases because of 'rumors and speculation' around the iPhone 5, which sources have said will ship in September with a thinner and larger screen. 'The iPhone 5 is already the most hyped device and for it to exceed expectations is going to be really hard,' says BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis. This is one of many reasons Apple is so notoriously secretive. With the levels of hype that Apple product launches garner, it would undoubtedly crush its own sales if it announced products even months in advance. Instead, Apple slowly and silently draws down inventory in distribution channels, and then the upgraded product is available immediately (or nearly immediately) after it's announced. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, 'there is an incredible anticipation out there or for future products and as you would expect given what we've been able to deliver in the past.'"

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Contest To Sequence Centenarians Kicks Off
Posted by News Fetcher on July 25 '12 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's mining-our-old-people-for-boosterspice department:
ananyo writes "The first competitor has swaggered up to the starting line for a contest that aims to push the limits of genome-sequencing technology. The X Prize Foundation of Playa Vista, California, is offering a US$10 million prize to the first team to accurately sequence the genomes of 100 people aged 100 or older, for $1,000 or less apiece and within 30 days. Ion Torrent, part of Life Technologies of Carlsbad, California, believes that its semiconductor-based technology gives it a shot, and on 23 July it announced that it will compete. The Archon Genomics X Prize competition, to be held in September 2013, is intended to spur technology, boost accuracy and drive down costs — currently $3,000–5,000 per genome. Peter Diamandis, the X Prize Foundation's chief executive, says that the contest will help to establish a standard for a 'medical grade' genome, with the high accuracy needed to diagnose or treat a patient. This time, the X prize Foundation has relaxed the time frame, allowing competitors 30 days — rather than the 10 specified by the 2006 contest — and focused on centenarians, who might carry gene variants promoting longevity. The winning team will be the first to sequence all 100 genomes to 98% completion, with less than one error per million base pairs, and to determine which variants appear on which of the paired chromosomes."

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Windows 8 Graphics: Microsoft Has Hardware-Accelerated Everything
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's even-clippy department:
MrSeb writes "Microsoft has detailed the extensive changes made to the Windows 8 graphics subsystem and DirectX 11.1. In short, everything in Windows 8 is hardware accelerated, and as a result its text, 2D, and 3D performance will blow Windows 7 away. DirectX 11.1 has also received a significant overhaul that should result in faster and more efficient games and applications. The bulk of the graphics changes in Windows 8 pertain to hardware acceleration for simple, typographically-rich Metro-style apps. In Windows 8, the rendering speed of text and simple shapes has been massively increased across the board: Title and heading text renders 336% faster than Windows 7; Lines render 184% faster; Rectangles render 438% faster; and so on. The rendering of JPEG, PNG, and GIF image files has also been improved in Windows 8, mostly by expanding SIMD usage. In one demo, Windows 8 decodes and renders 64 JPEGs in 4.38 seconds, while Windows 7 performs the same task in 7.28 seconds. Amongst a few changes to DirectX, the most significant feature in DX 11.1 is the new, simplified, unified Direct3D 11.1 API, which finally brings together the many API offshoots that MS has implemented in recent years."

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UK ISP and Mobile Networks Snub Net Neutrality Pledge
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's acting-in-somebody's-best-interests department:
nk497 writes "UK ISP Virgin Media and two of the largest mobile networks, Everything Everywhere and Vodafone, are among the high-profile absentees from a new voluntary code of conduct on net neutrality, set to be unveiled tomorrow. The code requires those who sign it to give users access to all legal content and not to discriminate against content providers on the basis of a commercial rivalry — but Virgin has refused to sign because it isn't tough enough. 'These principles remain open to misinterpretation and potential exploitation so, while we welcome efforts to reach a broad consensus to address potential future issues, we will be seeking greater certainty before we consider signing,' a company spokesman said."

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Amazon Offers To Help Train Workers For Other Jobs
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 06:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's living-the-dream-at-clown-school department:
itwbennett writes "Amazon, which has come under attack for harsh warehouse working conditions, on Monday announced a new training benefit program for fulfillment center employees. The program will cover 95% of the cost of vocational training for jobs that Amazon determined to be in high demand and that pay relatively well, including aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technology, medical laboratory science and nursing."
Two limitations of note: the maximum Amazon will contribute is $2,000/year for four years, and the employees need to have worked full-time for three consecutive years before they can take advantage of the program.

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NASA Satellite Measurements Show Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Melt
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 04:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cave-man-army-activated department:
NASA reports that measurements taken from orbiting satellites indicate the Greenland ice sheet underwent melting over a larger area than they've seen in 30 years of observations. On July 8, the satellites found evidence that about 40% of the ice sheet's surface had melted. Observations just four days later showed 97% of the surface had melted.
"This extreme melt event coincided with an unusually strong ridge of warm air, or a heat dome, over Greenland. The ridge was one of a series that has dominated Greenland's weather since the end of May. 'Each successive ridge has been stronger than the previous one,' said Mote. This latest heat dome started to move over Greenland on July 8, and then parked itself over the ice sheet about three days later. By July 16, it had begun to dissipate. Even the area around Summit Station in central Greenland, which at 2 miles above sea level is near the highest point of the ice sheet, showed signs of melting. Such pronounced melting at Summit and across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889, according to ice cores analyzed by Kaitlin Keegan at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather station at Summit confirmed air temperatures hovered above or within a degree of freezing for several hours July 11-12."
Photos also surfaced last week showing the Petermann Glacier in Greenland 'calving' — some very large chunks of it broke off and started to drift away.

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Washington, D.C. Police Affirm Citizens' Right To Record Police Officers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's doing-it-right department:
dcsmith writes "Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier says, 'A bystander has the same right to take photographs or make recordings as a member of the media,' and backs it up with a General Order to her Department. Quoting: The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) recognizes that members of the general public have a First Amendment right to video record, photograph, and/or audio record MPD members while MPD members are conducting official business or while acting in an official capacity in any public space, unless such recordings interfere with police activity.'"

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iRobot's Robot Doc Is Ready To Heal You
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bones-wouldn't-trust-them department:
SkinnyGuy tips news that patients may soon be getting diagnosed with the help of a 5'4", 140lb assistant going by the name of RP-VITA. The 'Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant' was unveiled this week by iRobot (the company behind the Roomba vacuum bot) and InTouch Health, and it allows doctors a way to remotely gather data. "It may be controlled via joystick, but RP-Vita does have some awareness of its environment. It employs a dazzling array of sensors that include PrimeSense Sensors (the same ones you find in the Kinect for Xbox 360), two cameras that together approximate normal human vision, sonar and a laser range finder. It also creates a map of the hospital and knows the location, for example, of its roll-into charging base." RP-VITA is currently waiting on FDA approval for use inside a hospital, which its creators expect by the end of the year.

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Would You Trust an 80-Year-Old Nuclear Reactor?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 24 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-off-my-nuclear-lawn department:
the_newsbeagle writes "The worst nuclear near-disaster that you've never heard of came to light in 2002, when inspectors at Ohio's Davis-Besse nuclear power station discovered that a slow leak had been corroding a spot on the reactor vessel's lid for years (PDF). When they found the cavity, only 1 cm of metal was left to protect the nuclear core. That kind of slow and steady degradation is a major concern as the US's 104 reactors get older and grayer, says nuclear researcher Leonard Bond. U.S. reactors were originally licensed for 40 years of operation, but the majority have already received extensions to keep them going until the age of 60. Industry researchers like Bond are now determining whether it would be safe and economically feasible to keep them active until the age of 80. Bond describes the monitoring techniques that could be used to watch over aging reactors, and argues that despite the risks, the U.S. needs these aging atomic behemoths."
Meanwhile, some very, very rich individuals have taken an interest in the future of nuclear power.

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