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Independent Labs To Verify High-Profile Research Papers
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's oh-the-drama department:
ananyo writes "Scientific publishers are backing an initiative to encourage authors of high-profile research papers to get their results replicated by independent labs. Validation studies will earn authors a certificate and a second publication, and will save other researchers from basing their work on faulty results. The problem of irreproducible results has gained prominence in recent months. In March, a cancer researcher at Amgen pharmaceutical company reported that its scientists had repeated experiments in 53 'landmark' papers, but managed to confirm findings from only six of the studies. And last year, an internal survey at Bayer HealthCare found that inconsistencies between published findings and the company's own results caused delays or cancellations in about two-thirds of projects. Now, 'Reproducibility Initiative,' a commercial online portal is offering authors the chance of getting their results validated (albeit for a price). Once the validation studies are complete, the original authors will have the option of publishing the results in the open access journal PLoS ONE, linked to the original publication."

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Samsung: Apple Stole the iPad's Design From Univ of Missouri Professor
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 09:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's he-said-she-said-neer-neer department:
TheBoat writes with a bit from BGR on the Apple vs Samsung case: "We're starting to see a theme develop here. Now that it's Samsung's turn to present its case in the San Jose, California patent trial that regularly has the tech media abuzz, the company is taking an interesting approach. Rather than start out by arguing that its various Android smartphones and tablets do not copy Apple's designs or infringe on its patents, Samsung is arguing that Apple's IP is invalid to begin with. On Monday, Samsung argued that Apple's pinch-to-zoom patent was stolen from Mitsubishi's old Diamond Touch and on Tuesday evening, Samsung made a similar argument regarding the design of Apple's iPad. Samsung on Tuesday presented the jury with videotaped testimony from Roger Fidler, head of the digital publishing program at the University of Missouri. In his testimony, Fidler stated that he began work on a tablet design in 1981. 'Apple personnel were exposed to my tablet ideas and prototypes,' he testified, adding that Apple staff saw his designs in the mid-1990s."

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Mozilla Adds H.264 Support To Android Firefox
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 08:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's still-waiting-on-vp8 department:
sl4shd0rk writes "Chris Double of the Mozilla developer team has (H.264, AAC and MP3) working with the Android version of Firefox on a Nexus S handset. Although a preliminary patch, it looks like it is on track to be included in Firefox 17, which will enter the Aurora channel at the end of the month. It will be some time before being made available to users, so hang in there. A very welcome addition. Thanks Chris!"

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Adobe Officially Kills New Flash Installations On Android
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead department:
hypnosec writes "Adobe has announced that it will be making the Flash Player for Android unavailable for new devices and users from August 15 in continuation of its plan to discontinue development of Flash Player for mobile browsers. The company announced its decision through a blog post and further said that only those users who have already installed the flash player on their devices will be receiving any future updates. To ensure that this is the case, Adobe is going to make configuration changes on its Google Play Flash Player page."

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Gaining Info On Tech Execs With Just Their Email
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 07:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's mark-zuckerburg-revealed-as-closet-myspace-fan department:
jfruh writes "Did you know that Craigslist founder Craig Newmark has a loyalty points account with the Starwood hotel chain? Did you know that both Tim Cook and Steve Ballmer have Dropbox accounts? All this information — and much more — can be found out because so many prominent executives use their corporate email address for their account logins, and most sites make it possible to see if an email address is associated with an account even if you don't have the account password. Just knowing that such an account exists can lead to technical and social engineering attempts to crack it, as happened in the case of Wired's Mat Honan."

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GCC Switches From C to C++
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 06:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's break-out-your-pitchforks department:
According to a post on the GNU Compiler Collection list, GCC is now built as a C++ program by default. This is the fruition of much effort, and the goal now is to clean up the GCC internals that are reportedly pretty type-unsafe by rewriting them using C++ classes and templates.

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Inside a Ransomware Money Machine
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's spam-this-time-it-breaks-your-legs department:
tsu doh nimh writes "The FBI is warning that it's getting inundated with complaints from people taken in by ransomware scams that spoof the FBI and try to scare people into paying 'fines' in lieu of going to jail for having downloaded kiddie porn or pirated content. KrebsOnSecurity.com looks inside a few of the scams in the FBI alert, and it turns out it only takes 1-3 percent of victims to pay up to make it seriously worth the fraudsters' while."

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Calligra 2.5 Office and Creativity Suite Released
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 06:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's i-feel-more-productive-already department:
jrepin writes "The Calligra team is proud and pleased to announce version 2.5 of Calligra, the KDE's office and creativity suite. Words, the word processor, has among other things improved support for editing of tables, tight run-around of text around images, manipulation of table borders, and dragging of text. Sheets, the spreadsheet application has a new stand-alone docker for the cell editor and a new cell tool window with cell formatting controls. Stage, the presentation program, has a number of usability improvements. Flow, the diagram application, has support for new stencils in odf custom shapes. Kexi, the database application, now offers a full screen mode. Krita, the painting application, has a new compositions docker, useful in movie storyboard generation. At the same time as the desktop version, the community also releases a QML based version for tablets and smartphone: Calligra Active."

If there's one application here I'd like to see on a (pen) tablet, it's braindump.

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Grumman Building Football Field-Sized Robotic Surveillance Blimp
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 05:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's evil-genius-for-a-better-tomorrow department:
colinneagle writes with news of the latest in 1930s surveillance technology turned into a robot. From the article: "It's not fashionable to call this flying spy (hybrid military airship) a 'blimp,' but a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). You are no doubt familiar with the Goodyear blimp that hovers over football games, but the LEMV is almost the size of a seven-story flying football field; it's meant to fly at speeds between 30 and 80 knots without ceasing for 21 straight days while providing an 'unblinking' eye of surveillance. Northrop Grumman has a $517 million contract to build three of these 21st-century robotic airships for the U.S. Army. The first of three had a successful 90-minute test flight last week from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. This first test flight included two pilots, but the Army intends for the LEMV to be like the Predator, an unmanned flying surveillance machine. Both Northrop Grumman and the Army must like the term 'unblinking,' as it was used several times to describe the 'Revolutionary ISR Weapon System' aka the LEMV."

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WIPO Broadcasting Treaty Back On the Table
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 05:00 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's shuffling-slowly-mumbling-eye-pee department:
c0lo writes with a bit from BoingBoing: "The UN's World Intellectual Property Organization's Broadcasting Treaty is back. This is the treaty that EFF and its colleagues killed five years ago, but Big Content won't let it die. Under the treaty, broadcasters would have rights over the material they transmitted, separate from copyright, meaning that if you recorded something from TV, the Internet, cable or satellite, you'd need to get permission from the creator and the broadcaster to re-use it. And unlike copyright, the 'broadcast right' doesn't expire, so even video that is in the public domain can't be used without permission from the broadcaster."

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Thoughts On the iPad Mini
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-bet-it-will-have-a-button department:
John Gruber at Daring Fireball has a thoughtful piece about the design of Apple's smaller iPad, which the company is expected to announce on September 12. Simply shrinking the current iPad's dimensions to a new form factor is unlikely, he says, and the bezel surrounding the display is more likely to be a cross between an iPad and an iPhone. He also discusses evidence of Apple's PR team getting the rumor mill going immediately after the announcement of Google's Nexus 7, and how Apple has probably bet on having a thinner and lighter tablet than Google, rather than worrying about a better display. Quoting:
"Apple product designs are true to themselves. Each thing has proportions suited to its own nature. Consider how the iPad doesn’t look like a blown up iPhone. They share a few similar design elements — a family resemblance, if you will — but the proportions are different. The iPad has a thick bezel surrounding all four sides of the display; the iPhone does not. Why? Because you need a place to rest your thumbs while holding an iPad. ... Should not the iPad Mini fall somewhere in between? Not as close to the aspect ratio of its display as the iPad-as-we-know-it, but also not as far away from its display aspect ratio as the iPhone. You might need more thumb-rest room on the sides than you do on the iPhone, but not nearly as much as you do on the full-size iPad. If that assumption is right, the proportions of a 7.85-inch 4:3-aspect-ratio display iPad Mini are likely not the same as the proportions of the 9.7-inch 4:3-aspect-ratio display iPad."

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Widely Used Antibacterial Chemical May Impair Muscle Function
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '12 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-wasn't-me,-it-was-the-one-armed-antibacterial-chemical department:
New submitter daleallan writes "Triclosan, which is widely used in consumer handsoaps, toothpaste, clothes, carpets and trash bags, impairs muscle function in animal studies, say researchers at UC Davis (abstract). It slows swimming in fish and reduces muscle strength in mice. It may even impair the ability of heart muscle cells to contract. The chemical is in everyone's home and pervasive in the environment, the lead researcher says. One million pounds of Triclosan is produced in the U.S. annually and it's found in waterways, fish, dolphins, human urine, blood and breast milk. The researchers say their findings 'Call for a dramatic reduction in use.' It's in my Colgate Total toothpaste, and in fact, preventing gingivitis is the only use that may be worthwhile, although this makes me think twice about continuing to brush with it."
This isn't the first time Triclosan has been in the news over safety concerns.

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Ask Slashdot: Worth Going For a Graduate Degree In the Middle of Your Career?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '12 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's better-than-at-the-end-of-your-career department:
spiffmastercow writes "After nearly a decade of professional software development, my desire to work on something more interesting than business applications has pushed me toward looking into going back to school. I'd like to go into a graduate program for Computer Science, but I need to weigh my options very carefully. Is a Ph.D. a near-guarantee of a spot in a skunkworks type of job (Microsoft Research and the like)? Is a M.S. just as good for this? How does the 'letter of recommendation' requirement work if you haven't kept in touch with your professors?"

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Malaysia Stages Internet Blackout To Protest New Censorship Law
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '12 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shut-down-everything department:
redletterdave writes "Malaysian netizens, opposition politicians, well-known bloggers and non-governmental organizations staged an Internet blackout Tuesday to protest and raise awareness about legislation that could threaten free expression on the Web. According to Malaysia's Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), the second of two amendments to the Malaysian Evidence Act of 1950, also known as Section 114A, 'enables law enforcement officials to swiftly hold someone accountable (PDF) for publishing seditious, defamatory, or libelous content online.' In addition, those accused of posting this kind of content will be 'assumed to be guilty until proven innocent,' which completely flies in the face of the typical logic of the traditional judicial process, which is 'innocent until proven guilty.' The CIJ warns that 'if allegedly defamatory content is traced back to your username, electronic device, and/or Wi-Fi network, Section 114A presumes you are guilty of publishing illicit content on the Internet.' The CIJ organized Tuesday's blackout, where participating sites blacked out their names and services with messages that read, 'This is what the Web could look like.'"

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German Court: ISPs Must Hand Over File Sharer Info
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '12 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-i-thought-sharing-was-caring department:
itwbennett writes "The German Federal Court of Justice has ruled that ISPs have to turn over to rights-holders the names and addresses of illegal file sharers, but only 'if a judge rules that the file sharer indeed infringed on copyright,' said the court's spokeswoman, Dietlind Weinland. The ruling overturns two previous rulings by regional courts and is significant because the violation doesn't have to happen on a commercial scale, but applies whenever 'it is possible to know who was using an IP address at the time of the infringement,' the court said."

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Vote On What the Very Large Telescope Observes
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '12 at 05:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-nominate-kepler-exoplanet-candidate-ID-11192141 department:
arisvega writes "The Slashdot crowd may be aware of VLT, the Very Large Telescope array (a collaboration between several European countries). It's located at the Atacama desert in Chile, operating at the visible and infrared wavelengths and producing some very detailed images and exciting new science. It has been significantly boosting astronomy and astrophysics research for the past couple of years without the hassle and the expenses of orbital observatories. Now, and for the first time in its history, there is a public invitation calling you to vote on which of the 16 proposed locations you would like the array to be pointed at, without the need for a scientific proposal. Astronomers are standing by to do your bidding!"

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Could Flying Cars Actually Be On Their Way?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '12 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's why-is-the-future-so-slow-to-arrive department:
another random user writes "With ideas like the Taylor Aerocar, Terrafugia Transition, Terrafugia Transformer, the PAL-V, and myCopter, are we getting close to a point where flying cars could actually become practical? An article at the BBC discusses how adding automation to these craft is an important goal for the people currently working on them, something we see paralleled in the many projects to develop autonomous non-flying cars. 'The team intends to draw on drone technology to automate as much of the flying as possible. Current fly-by-wire technology, as well as some of the features being used in the development of autonomous or robotic vehicles could all help fleets of these vehicles fly along predefined highways – and crucially avoid each other. But perhaps the biggest problem the team aim to tackle are the regulatory and safety issues, as well as those of public opinion.' If that does happen, given a lot of drivers' inability to pay attention to what's going on around them on the roads as it is now, how safe would you feel in the air?"

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Amarok 2.6 Music Player Released
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '12 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
jrepin writes "KDE is proud to announce version 2.6 of Amarok music player. While it brings a reasonable set of new features, the focus of this release was on bug fixing and improving the overall stability. The new features are a complete overhaul of the iPod, iPad and iPhone support including solid support for device playlists; transcoding for iPod-like and USB Mass Storage devices; the Free Music Chart service is now activated by default; embedded cover support for Ogg and FLAC files; and album art support for tracks on the filesystem and USB Mass Storage devices."

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Knight Trading Losses Attributed To Old, Dormant Software
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '12 at 04:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they-set-themselves-up-the-bomb department:
New submitter alexander_686 points out a Bloomberg article about the cause of Knight Capital Group's $440 million algorithmic trading disaster from a couple weeks ago. The report says a dormant software system was accidentally activated on August 1, which immediately began increasing stock trade volumes by a factor of 1,000. The Wall Street Journal has further details:
"Knight Capital Group Inc.'s accidental trades earlier this month were triggered by a flawed upgrade of trading software that caused an older trading system connected to the computer code to inadvertently go "live" on the market, according to people familiar with the matter. The errors at Knight on Aug. 1 involved new code the Jersey City, N.J.-based brokerage designed to take advantage of the launch of a New York Stock Exchange trading program, which was introduced that day to attract more retail-trading business to the Big Board, the people say. ... When NYSE Euronext trading floor officials called Knight at about 9:35 a.m. to try to pinpoint the cause of unusual swings in dozens of stocks, just after the Big Board opened for trading, Knight traders and their supervisors had a difficult time detecting where in its systems the problem was located, say people familiar with the morning's events. The NYSE had to call Knight several times before deciding to shut the firm off, the people say."

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Detecting Depression From How (Not What) You Browse
Posted by News Fetcher on August 14 '12 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's scroll-scroll-click-pause-click-scroll-means-you're-a-psychopath department:
New submitter FreedomFirstThenPeac writes "Apparently we can diagnose you as depressed if the mechanics of your internet use fit certain patterns. By using a cleverly embedded questionnaire that classifies the subject as depressed, and by using existing net usage data collection to collect features (variables), researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology were able to correctly predict the diagnoses of the questionnaire using the net usage data (PDF). I wonder if this could be a new Firefox plug-in, designed to help parents detect depression in their adolescents by tracking the mechanics (not the sites) and automatically emailing them if their ward is showing increasing signs of depression."

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