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Drug-Sniffing Drones Take Flight Over Bolivia
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 03:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's big-nose-in-the-sky department:
pigrabbitbear writes "Anti-drug squads are now using Brazilian spy drones to sniff out drug labs that dot Bolivia in increasing numbers. Felipe Caceras, Bolivia's top anti-drug official, claims that some 240 drug labs have been busted in Santa Cruz, an eastern lowlands state bordering Brazil, this month alone, all thanks to Brazil's drones."

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Texas GOP Educational Platform Opposes Teaching Critical Thinking Skills
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's let-the-flamewar-begin department:
An anonymous reader writes "Texas Republican delegates met earlier this month to put together their 2012 platform. Much of this focused on the educational system. Alarmingly, they openly state that they oppose schools teaching critical thinking, on the grounds that it may challenge 'student's fixed beliefs' and undermine 'parental authority.' Page 12 of their official platform(Pdf) discusses their thinking on teaching thinking."

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Targeted TV Ads: Silver Bullet Or Privacy Nightmare?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 02:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-heard-you-like-silver-bullets department:
ericjones12398 writes "The effectiveness of television, as an advertising medium and as a return on investment (ROI), has been constantly questioned since the arrival of the 'digital marketing age.' Not surprisingly, those who are loudest with this concern are mainly high-tech technology companies that are either strong proponents of online advertising — like Google — and/or device hardware manufacturers — like Apple. These organizations hope to 'improve the user experience' by introducing proprietary technologies — usually their own — that can integrate within the existing television environment."

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Book Review: Permanent Emergency
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 01:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
OverTheGeicoE writes "Former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley has been in the news in recent months, talking about how the Transportation Security Administration is broken and how it can be fixed. Some of his TSA criticisms in the popular press seem to make sense. This seemed strange to me. Just last March he was defending TSA in a debate with Bruce Schneier in The Economist. Then, the very next month, he's criticizing his former agency as if he was on the other side of that debate to begin with. Why? I felt like I was missing something, so I decided to read his book to find out more about his position. The title of the book is Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security, and it is co-written by Nathan Means." Keep reading for the rest of OverTheGeicoE's review. Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security
author Kip Hawley and Nathan Means
pages 260
publisher Palgrave Macmillan
rating 6
reviewer OverTheGeicoE
ISBN 978-0-230-12095-2
summary An inside look at TSA from its former leader.

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A Maker Space Favorite: Using a Laser Cutter (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's we-(heart)-lasers department:
Slashdot editor Jeff Boehm visted Maker Works in Ann Arbor, MI, where they not only have an Epilog Helix Laser Cutter/Engraver, but let him use it. Which, of course, he happily did, just as you or I would have done if somebody said, "Here. Borrow my laser cutter and engraving machine." The sound in the video is a little rough, since it was recorded live in a room full of loud machines -- like laser cutters. But it's still fascinating to watch (and hear) the process. The only downside is the "Ooh! I want one of those!" effect. There are used units available out there, but they cost as much as a pretty good used car. Maybe that's why there are so many Maker Spaces, also called Hacker Spaces, out there. Here's a global Hacker Space list. Hopefully, you'll find one near you, so you can do a little laser cutting (and lots of other neat stuff) yourself.

Note: Slashdot accepts reader video submissions. Email robin at roblimo dot com for details.

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Stellar Blast Boils Away Some of a Planet's Atmosphere
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 12:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's cloudy-with-a-chance-of-destruction department:
The Bad Astronomer writes "Using a combination of Hubble and Swift observations, astronomers have apparently witnessed some of a planet's atmosphere being peeled away by a powerful stellar blast. HD 189733b orbits its star just 4 million km from the surface, and a few hours after Swift detected a big X-ray flare from the star, Hubble data revealed a big jump in hydrogen absorption as the planet transited the star. This indicates the planet's atmosphere was blasted off by the flare to the tune of a thousand tons of hydrogen per second. The planet is so hot it probably already loses a substantial amount of air to space all the time, but this spike is the first time a change in an exoplanet's atmosphere has been detected."

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GRUB 2.00 Bootloader Officially Released
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's hot-off-the-griddle department:
An anonymous reader writes "After being in development for more than a decade, GRUB2 was released today as stable. The mailing list announcement covers new features including a standard theme, support for new file-systems, ports to new CPU architectures, new driver coverage, better EFI support, and many other new features that have materialized over the years of development to succeed GRUB Legacy."

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The Long Death of Fat Clients
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 11:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's slimming-down department:
snydeq writes "With Adobe's divestment of Flex and mobile Flash and Microsoft's move from Silverlight to Metro, Oracle now seems all alone in believing that a fat client framework — in the form of JavaFX — is a worthwhile investment, writes Andrew Oliver. 'Fewer and fewer options exist for developing purely fat client desktop applications and fewer still for RAD applications with Web-based delivery (aka, "thick clients"). We are on the verge of a purely HTML/JavaScript client world. Or we would be, if it weren't for mobile pushing us back to client-side development.'"

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Facebook iOS App Ditching HTML5 For ObjectiveC
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 10:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's goodbye-5 department:
Wrath0fb0b writes "The New York Times reports that Facebook is overhauling their iOS App to ditch their HTML5 based UI for a native ObjectiveC one. This is an about face from their position a few months ago in which FB wonks said HTML5 would allows them to write once run anywhere. While WORA certainly has a lot of appeal for both programmers (due to desire not to duplicate effort) and management alike (due to desire not to pay programmers to duplicate effort), the large number of negative reviews that FB for iOS has illustrate that this approach is not without drawbacks. No matter how the new app is received, this is more fuel on the native vs. web-app fire."

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Google I/O Day Two
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 10:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's twice-as-nice department:
Yesterday Timothy was at Google I/O watching the keynote but there is still plenty of announcements on day two. Today's first big theme: Chrome. Tim reports: "Brian Rakowski VP for (and inventor of) Chrome, shows device transferability among devices of tabs, bookmarks, with a multi-part contrived story, looking at his opened tabs from home and work, etc. from a phone running Chrome. Not only can open tabs from there, but (and this is cool), 'we've made sure the back button works as well.' So you can open a page from a different computer, and have the browsing history of that tab as well. This Chrome syncing affects settings, bookmarks, etc. Also, for those transferred tab pages, pre-loading! So when you click on a tab, it's been loading and now should be read, BAM." As before we'll be updating the story live (below the fold) with his updates as they stream in.

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Why Microsoft Killed the Windows Start Button
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's just-to-watch-it-die department:
Barence writes "Microsoft claims it took the controversial decision to remove the Start button from the traditional Windows desktop because people had stopped using it. The lack of a Start button on the Windows 8 desktop has been one of the most divisive elements of the new user interface, and was widely assumed to have made way for the Metro Start screen. However, Chaitanya Sareen, principal program manager at Microsoft, said the telemetry gathered from Windows 7 convinced Microsoft to radically overhaul the Start menu because people were using the taskbar instead. 'When we evolved the taskbar we saw awesome adoption of pinning [applications] on the taskbar,' said Sareen. 'We are seeing people pin like crazy. And so we saw the Start menu usage dramatically dropping, and that gave us an option. We're saying "look, Start menu usage is dropping, what can we do about it? What can we do with the Start menu to revive it, to give it some new identity, give it some new power?"'"

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UK Considering Automatic Web Filtering For Adult Content
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us department:
Dupple writes with news that the British government is considering restrictions for ISPs that would block by default anything considered "adult content." From the article:
"Ministers are suggesting that people should automatically be barred from accessing unsuitable adult material unless they actually choose to view it. It is one of several suggestions being put out for a consultation on how to shield children from pornography. Websites promoting suicide, anorexia and self-harm are also being targeted. The discussion paper asks for views on three broad options for the best approach to keeping children safe online, in a rapidly changing digital industry. ... The latest system, called 'active choice-plus,' is aimed at reaching a compromise. It would automatically block adult content, but would set users a question, along the lines of whether they want to change this to gain access to sites promoting pornography, violence and other adult-only themes. This is partly based on 'Nudge' theory, a U.S. concept which states that persuasion, rather than enforcement, can be an effective way of changing behavior."

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Supreme Court: Affordable Care Act Is Constitutional
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's let-the-celebrations-and-recriminations-begin department:
This morning the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. The health insurance mandate, also known as "Obamacare" was found to be "permissible under Congress's taxing authority." The full ruling (PDF) is now available, and the court's opinion begins on page 7. Amy Howe from SCOTUSblog summarized the ruling thus:
"The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn't comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding."
< article continued at Slashdot >

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Guild Wars 2 Release Date Announced
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's once-more-unto-the-breach department:
New submitter Woldry writes "After five years in development, Guild Wars 2 has been given a launch date: August 28, 2012. ArenaNet's aim is to provide 'a living, breathing online world that challenges convention, that's designed for fun instead of grind.' There's a beta weekend planned for July 20-22 for those who have pre-purchased the game (and for those who have gotten legitimate beta keys in advance)."
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a good write-up of some hands-on time during one of the earlier beta weekends, saying, 'Time after time, Guild Wars 2 impressed me with just how carefully no, how smartly everything has been thought out. Those things that annoy us in other games are simply banished here.'

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Has a Biochem Undergrad Solved a Cosmic Radiation Mystery?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 06:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's nice-work-scoob department:
scibri writes "A few weeks ago, reports of a mysterious spike in carbon-14 levels in Japanese tree rings corresponding to the year 775 intrigued astronomers. Such a spike could only have been caused by a massive supernova or solar flare, but there was no evidence of either of these at that time. Until Jonathon Allen, a biochem undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, Googled it. He found a reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to a 'red crucifix' appearing in the sky in 774, and speculates that it could have been a supernova hidden behind a cloud of dust, which could mask the remnants of the exploded star from astronomers today."

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France Ending Minitel Service
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bits-of-history-of-bits department:
New submitter pays-vert writes "On Saturday, France will turn off the Minitel service. A forerunner of the world wide web, Minitel provided news, online banking and, yes, porn via a chic plug'n'play terminal. The service remained massively popular for a while even after the rise of the Internet, but ultimately has lost out to technological innovation. 'About 400,000 of the machines are still in use across the country, but perhaps most affected will be Brittany, where the devices were developed, and where many farmers still depend on them. ... Internet service spread much more slowly in France than it did elsewhere in Europe or in the United States, largely because of the popularity of the Minitel, historians say. Only around the turn of the century did the Internet come to much of this soggy western region, an expanse of green that bulges out into the Atlantic Ocean. The Minitel was hugely useful to farmers. Realizing that the devices could save time and money, local agricultural organizations developed programs for farmers to, say, track pork prices, inform the authorities of animal births and deaths, or consult the results of chemical tests on milk.'"

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Dotcom Search Warrants Ruled Illegal
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's federal-amateur-hour department:
New submitter StueyNZ writes "Justice Helen Winkelmann of New Zealand's High Court (non-appellate court) has ruled that the search warrants used to search and seize property from Kim Dotcom's Coatsville residence did not properly describe the offenses under which the search was being made. In particular, warrants did not make it clear that the breach of copyright law and money laundering offenses were U.S. federal offenses rather than NZ offenses. Therefore the search and seizure was illegal. I hope this means Mr. Dotcom gets his security footage back, which should shed some light on how many tourists from the FBI were present at the NZ police raid, and how many firearms those tourists were waving around as they joined in."

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Firm Threatens To Sue Consumer Websites For Harrassment
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sticks-and-stones department:
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that RLP, a legal firm that sues shoplifters on behalf of retail groups, has shown its ignorance of the Streisand Effect by attempting to censor The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and other consumer websites. RLP has accused CAB of harassment and is demanding that they and other consumer websites remove all 'defamatory posts' and publications. This is the latest salvo in a long running battle and although organizations like CAG (Consumer Action Group) have removed some offending posts, CAB and the Legal Beagles website are refusing to remove content and have accused RLP of trying to stifle reporting of adverse court judgments against them."

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UK Universities Caught With Weak SSL Security
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '12 at 02:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's come-on-in department:
judgecorp writes "UK Universities have been found using weak SSL security implementations on their websites. An investigation by TechWeekEurope found 17 of the top 50 British universities scored C or worse on the SSL Labs tool launched by the Trustworthy Internet Movement earlier this year. which grades SSL security. Contacted by the site, most have put upgrades in place to improve security."

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Senator Pushes For Tougher H-1B Enforcement
Posted by News Fetcher on June 27 '12 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-room-for-you department:
mk1004 writes "Computerworld says that the industry lobbying group TechNet is calling on Congress to eliminate the per-country cap on H-1B workers. Last year a bill was passed in the house, 389-to-15, to remove the cap. Grassley put a hold on the bill in the Senate, indicating that he would be willing to lift the cap if companies faced an annual audit. The US currently allows 140K H-1B workers, but allows only 7% of those to come from any one country."

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