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Ask Slashdot: What's the Most Depressing Sci-fi You've Ever Read?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's depress-all-humans department:
50000BTU_barbecue writes "Usually sci-fi provides adventure with happy endings for everyone. But what story have you read that resonates years later because of some insight about human nature or society that's basically cynical or pessimistic? For me it's Fred Pohl's Jem, with its sharply divided resource-constrained future world driven by politics, and its conclusion that humans are just too destructive to handle contacting alien life, especially if humans have the technological upper hand. I'm wondering what other stories have stuck in people's minds. It can be a short story, a novel or an entire series of books."

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SCO Group Files For Chapter 7
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-just-goes-on-and-on-my-friends department:
New submitter rkhalloran writes "The remnants of the failed litigation engine that was the SCO Group has finally filed for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. 'There is no reasonable chance of "rehabilitation."' Groklaw describes the recent filing (PDF) thus: 'I will try my best to translate the legalese for you: the money is almost all gone, so it's not fun any more. SCO can't afford Chapter 11. We want to shut the costs down, because we'll never get paid. But it'd look stupid to admit the whole thing was ridiculous and SCO never had a chance to reorganize through its fantasy litigation hustle. Besides, Ralph Yarro and the other shareholders might sue. So they want the litigation to continue to swing in the breeze, just in case. But SCO has no money coming in and no other prospects, so they want to proceed in a cheaper way and shut this down in respects to everything else.' I guess that means the lawyers will suck the marrow from the carcass and leave the bones to bleach out in the sun."

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This Is What Wall Street's Terrifying Robot Invasion Looks Like
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's skynet-begins-in-our-stock-markets department:
pigrabbitbear writes "Given the the endless mind-whirling acronyms, derivatives and structures of the financial markets, we're rarely served with a visualization that so elegantly illustrates the arrival of Wall Street's latest innovation. This is what High Frequency Trading — the official monicker of Wall Street's robot army — looks like, when specially programmed computers make massive bets at lightning speed. Created by Nanex, the GIF charts the rise of HFT trading volumes across all U.S. stock exchanges between 2007 and 2012. The initial murmur, the brewing storm, the final detonation: Not just unsettling, it's terrifying."

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Acer: Microsoft Surface 'Negative For The Whole PC Industry'
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-that-they-have-a-dog-in-this-fight department:
Shortly after Microsoft announced its upcoming Surface tablet, there was speculation that it might sour the company's relationships with OEM partners. Statements from an Acer spokesperson indicate that's definitely the case. The spokesperson told Bloomberg, "On one hand Microsoft is our partner, but on the other, Microsoft’s move makes them compete not only with us but all PC makers. We think that Microsoft’s launch of its own-brand products is negative for the whole PC industry." The company is reportedly considering whether or not they want to keep relying on Microsoft's software products.

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US Gov't Can't Be Sued For Warrantless Wiretapping
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's consequence-free department:
Wired has an article about a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals saying the government can't be sued over intercepting phone calls without a warrant. The decision (PDF) vacated an earlier ruling which allowed a case to be brought against the government. The plaintiffs in the case argued that the government had implicitly waived sovereign immunity, but today's ruling points out that it can only be waived explicitly. Judge McKeown wrote, "This case effectively brings to an end the plaintiffs’ ongoing attempts to hold the Executive Branch responsible for intercepting telephone conversations without judicial authorization." The ruling does, however, take time to knock down the government's claim that the case was brought frivolously: "In light of the complex, ever-evolving nature of this litigation, and considering the significant infringement on individual liberties that would occur if the Executive Branch were to disregard congressionally-mandated procedures for obtaining judicial authorization of international wiretaps, the charge of 'game-playing' lobbed by the government is as careless as it is inaccurate. Throughout, the plaintiffs have proposed ways of advancing their lawsuit without jeopardizing national security, ultimately going so far as to disclaim any reliance whatsoever on the Sealed Document. That their suit has ultimately failed does not in any way call into question the integrity with which they pursued it."

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Astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell Dies At 98
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department:
An anonymous reader writes "Sir Bernard Lovell, the founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory and namesake of the Lovell telescope has died at the age of 98. The Mark 1 telescope, as it was known in the '60s, was the only western telescope that could track the early Russian moon probes, which ensured its debts were paid off. However, the telescope is more famous for radio astronomy, including pulsar research, hydrogen line studies of the galaxy, and much more as other telescopes joined it in the Merlin network."

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Amazon Expanding Delivery Locker Service
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's putting-rectangular-prisms-into-other-rectangular-prisms department:
An anonymous reader writes "The WSJ reports that Amazon's new secret weapon in its fight against other retailers is its delivery locker service. Dropping a package at a customer's door is not particularly secure, so Amazon Lockers were introduced about a year ago to provide a secure location for customers to retrieve their shipments. Now, Amazon is ramping up the service, opening new sites in the San Francisco Bay Area. From the article: 'Users don't pay extra to use the service but the locker program helps Amazon save on certain shipping costs. ShopRunner's Ms. Dias said UPS and FedEx Corp. FDX 0.00% charge retailers as much as 20% more to deliver packages to residential addresses because it is more efficient to deliver multiple packages to a business address. Failed deliveries are also more expensive for online retailers because those consumers are more likely to call customer service, switch to a competitor, or get a replacement item.'"

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Paid Media Must Be Disclosed In Oracle v. Google
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bring-out-your-shills department:
jfruh writes "One of the odder moments during the Oracle v. Google trial over Java patents came when patent blogger Florian Mueller disclosed that he had a 'consulting relationship' with Oracle. Now it looks like we're going to find out which other tech bloggers and journalists were on the payroll of one of the two sides in this epic fight. Judge William Alsup has ordered (PDF) that both parties disclose 'all authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have reported or commented on any issues in this case and who have received money (other than normal subscription fees) from the party or its counsel during the pendency of this action.'"

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Report Cites Highest IT Job Growth In 4 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's job-precipitation-from-the-cloud department:
netbuzz writes "Employment research firm Foote Partners says U.S. labor statistics from last month reveal an increase of some 18,200 jobs in IT, which represents the largest such monthly jump since 2008. 'The overall employment situation in the U.S. is lackluster, in fact this is the fifth consecutive month of subpar results,' says David Foote. 'But the fact that more than 18,000 new jobs were created last month for people with significant IT skills and experience — and nearly 57,000 new jobs added in the past three months — is incredibly good news.'"

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Bitcoin-Based Drug Market Silk Road Thriving With $2 Million In Monthly Sales
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's virtually-profitable department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Every day or so of the last six months, Carnegie Mellon computer security professor Nicolas Christin has crawled and scraped Silk Road, the Tor- and Bitcoin-based underground online market for illegal drug sales. Now Christin has released a paper (PDF) on his findings, which show that the site's business is booming: its number of sellers, who offer everything from cocaine to ecstasy, has jumped from around 300 in February to more than 550. Its total sales now add up to around $1.9 million a month. And its operators generate more than $6,000 a day in commissions for themselves, compared with around $2,500 in February. Most surprising, perhaps, is that buyers rate the sellers on the site as relatively trustworthy, despite the fact that no real identities are used. Close to 98% of ratings on the site are positive."

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Thin Mini-ITX Platform Enables DIY iMacs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's computer-from-concentrate department:
crookedvulture writes "Shipments of all-in-one PCs are growing exponentially faster than those for typical desktops. Unfortunately, highly integrated systems like the iMac have traditionally made it difficult to replace or upgrade parts. And forget about assembling an all-in-one for yourself. Now, however, Intel has developed a Thin Mini-ITX platform that allows system builders and end users to put together all-in-one systems with standard parts. This hands-on look at Thin Mini-ITX pieces together an ersatz iMac using off-the-shelf components, and the process is pretty easy. While the end result isn't quite as slick as one of Apple's creations, parts can be swapped out with ease, and the configuration can be tailored to suit one's needs."

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The Google-fication of Yahoo!
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's they're-feeling-lucky department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Since coming to Yahoo!, CEO Marissa Mayer has added a weekly, Friday afternoon all-hands meeting, just like at Google; she announced that henceforth the food in Yahoo's URLs Cafe will be free, just like at Google; and she has begun prepping major changes to the layout of the work spaces and buildings of Yahoo to make it feel more collaborative and cool, just like, well.. you get the idea. Such focus on improving cultural issues is an interesting initial move by the neophyte CEO, since the care and feeding and, most of all, cosseting of employees has been a critical element to Google's success at creating an always-sunny work environment. But Mayer has been up to much more serious business, said several sources, especially product innovation as the savior for Yahoo: Better email! Better search! Better ad-serving! And a special plea to make Flickr awesome again! In other words, better every product Yahoo has to offer. 'This is the sound of Yahoo becoming a technology company again,' says one source. 'It will be all about platforms and products.' Sources say that will likely mean a big splashy tech or product deal in the days ahead, perhaps via an acquisition to signal the new direction, perhaps with the acquisition of a sexy product like Flipboard. In the meantime, many at Yahoo are bracing for a pack of current and former Googlers — Mayer had a lot of loyal staffers — to come on board, writes Kara Swisher. 'And, by the looks of all the Googley changes at Yahoo, they'll feel right at home when they get there.'"

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Content-Centric Networking & the Next Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 09:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bits-must-still-flow department:
waderoush writes "PARC research fellow Van Jacobson argues that the Internet was never designed to carry exabytes of video, voice, and image data to consumers' homes and mobile devices, and that it will never be possible to increase bandwidth fast enough to keep up with demand. In fact, he thinks that the Internet has outgrown its original underpinnings as a network built on physical addresses, and that it's time to put aside TCP/IP and start over with a completely novel approach to naming, storing, and moving data. The fundamental idea behind Jacobson's alternative proposal — Content Centric Networking — is that to retrieve a piece of data, you should only have to care about what you want, not where it's stored. If implemented, the idea might undermine many current business models in the software and digital content industries — while at the same time creating new ones. In other words, it's exactly the kind of revolutionary idea that has remade Silicon Valley at least four times since the 1960s."

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The World's Greatest Competitive Programmer
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 08:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's wait-for-the-congressional-hearings department:
An anonymous reader writes "Technology Review profiles Petr Mitrichev, who has since 2005 dominated the world of competitive programming, a little known sport where competitors furiously code for five hours in pursuit of glory and cash prizes worth tens of thousands of dollars. Mitrichev now works for Google, and competes only for leisure, but is still ranked number one. Many large tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, now sponsor and pay close attention to competitive coding contests, seeing them as a place to recruit new talent."

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Vietnamese Bank Issues Fingerprint-Enabled Debit Cards
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's can't-come-soon-enough department:
sweetpea86 writes "Mekong Development has become the first bank in Vietnam to launch fingerprint authentication enabled debit cards. Fingerprints are captured by Mekong Development at the point of opening an account, and then can be used, instead of a pin, to access funds. Not only has Mekong's account base tripled through the use of fingerprint technology since its launch in June, but the deposit balance per debit card account is two times higher than a regular account."

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The Underground Economy of Social Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's such-a-strange-world-we-live-in department:
An anonymous reader writes "In a new study, Barracuda Labs analyzed a random sampling of more than 70,000 fake Twitter accounts that are being used to sell fake Twitter followers. They also analyzed some of the people that are using such fake followers including the recent example of U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Twitter account. Between Facebook's 10-Q filing stating that 83 million of its accounts are fake, to Mitt Romney's Twitter account recently falling under scrutiny for suspicious followings, fake social network profiles are a hot topic at the moment. And these fake profiles are at the center of a very vibrant and growing underground economy. This underground economy consists of dealers who create and sell the use of thousands of fake social accounts, and abusers who buy follows or likes from these fake accounts to boost their perceived popularity, sell advertising based on their now large social audience or conduct other malicious activity."

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Wired Writer Hack Shows Need For Tighter Cloud Security
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 07:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's internet-I-think-they-mean department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "Between 4:52 and 5:12 on August 3, attackers used Wired writer Mat Honan's Apple ID to wipe his MacBook, before seizing control of his Gmail and other online identities ('My accounts were daisy-chained together,' he wrote in an Aug. 6 postmortem on Wired), and posting a message on Twitter for all to see: 'Clan Vv3 and Phobia hacked this twitter.' In the wake of Honan's high-profile hack, there are some key takeaways. Even if a typical user can't prevent a social-engineering attack on the company hosting their cloud account, they can armor their online life in ways that make attacks more difficult. First, two-factor authentication can prevent an attacker from seizing control of those vital 'hub' accounts (such as Gmail) where users tend to store much of their most vital information. Google offers two-step verification for signing in, as does Facebook. The truly security-conscious can also uncouple their cloud accounts; for example, making sure that iCloud and iTunes use two different sets of credentials. That might rob daily life in the cloud of some of its convenience, but it could also make you a harder target."

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Ask Slashdot: Understanding the SNES?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's when-you-can-snatch-this-pebble-from-my-hand department:
An anonymous reader writes "As a product of the 90s I grew up loving the classics that kids today know about from Wikipedia and pop-culture references. Games like Super Bomberman, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country I and III (II was a sellout, come on) are the foundations of my childhood memories. Now, though, as a fourth-year electrical engineering major I find myself increasingly impressed by the level of technical difficulty embedded in that 16-bit console. I am trying, now, to find a resource that will take me through the technical design of the SNES (memory layout, processor information, cartridge pin layouts/documentation) to get a better understanding of what I naively enjoyed 15 some years ago. I am reaching out to the vast resources available from the minds of the Slashdot community. Any guide/blog series that you know of that walks through some of the technical aspects of the, preferably, SNES (alternatively, NES/Nintendo 64) console would be much appreciated."

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Sensor Uses Body's Electrical Signature To Secure Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's stop-lying-so-you-can-use-your-computer department:
coondoggie writes with word that a "group of researchers is proposing a sensor that would authenticate mobile and wearable computer systems by using the unique electrical properties of a person's body to recognize their identity. In a paper [presented Monday] at the USENIX Workshop on Health Security and Privacy, researchers from Dartmouth University Institute for Security, Technology, and Society defined this security sensor device, known as Amulet, as a 'piece of jewelry, not unlike a watch, that would contain small electrodes to measure bioimpedance — a measure of how the body's tissues oppose a tiny applied alternating current- and learns how a person's body uniquely responds to alternating current of different frequencies.'"

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How Haiku Is Building a Better BeOS
Posted by News Fetcher on August 07 '12 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's 5-7-5-in-the-headline department:
angry tapir writes "BeOS may be dead, but over a decade after its lamentable demise the open source Haiku project keeps its legacy alive. Haiku is an attempt to build a drop-in, binary compatible replacement for BeOS, as well as extending the defunct OS's functionality and support for modern hardware. At least, that's the short-term goal — eventually, Haiku is intended significantly enhance BeOS while maintaining the same philosophy of simplicity and transparency, and without being weighed down with the legacy code of many other contemporary operating systems. I recently caught up with Stephan Aßmus, who has been a key contributor to the project for seven years to talk about BeOS, the current state of Haiku and the project's future plans."

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