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Flame Malware Authors Hit Self-Destruct
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's without-a-trace department:
angry tapir writes "The creators of the Flame cyber-espionage threat ordered infected computers still under their control to download and execute a component designed to remove all traces of the malware and prevent forensic analysis. Flame has a built-in feature called SUICIDE that can be used to uninstall the malware from infected computers. However, late last week, Flame's creators decided to distribute a different self-removal module to infected computers that connected to servers still under their control."

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Earth Approaching Tipping Point Say Scientists
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's let-the-flaming-begin department:
Hugh Pickens writes "The UC Berkeley News Center reports that a prestigious group of 22 internationally known scientists from around the world is warning that population growth, widespread destruction of natural ecosystems, and climate change may be driving Earth toward an irreversible change in the biosphere, a planet-wide tipping point that would have destructive consequences absent adequate preparation and mitigation. 'It really will be a new world, biologically, at that point,' warns lead author Anthony Barnosky. 'The data suggests that there will be a reduction in biodiversity and severe impacts on much of what we depend on to sustain our quality of life, including, for example, fisheries, agriculture, forest products and clean water. This could happen within just a few generations.' The authors note that studies of small-scale ecosystems show that once 50-90 percent of an area has been altered, the entire ecosystem tips irreversibly into a state far different from the original, in terms of the mix of plant and animal species and their interactions. Humans have already converted about 43 percent of the ice-free land surface of the planet to uses like raising crops and livestock and building cities. This situation typically is accompanied by species extinctions and a loss of biodiversity. 'My view is that humanity is at a crossroads now, where we have to make an active choice,' says Barnosky. 'One choice is to acknowledge these issues and potential consequences and try to guide the future (in a way we want to). The other choice is just to throw up our hands and say, 'Let's just go on as usual and see what happens.'"

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Trained Rats Map Minefields With GPS
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-explosions-great-and-small department:
An anonymous reader writes "Believe it or not, but the Department of Defense is paying psychologists to train rats to find mines and circle around them. By attaching little GPS backpacks and supplying a laptop with software that looks for the 'circling around' signature, the DOD hopes its project will allow the release of platoons of rats near suspected minefields so that the laptop software creates a detailed map of where all the mines are located automatically. Not sure if they plan on picking up the rats afterward, but they do assure us that the rats are too lightweight to set off the mines!"

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Could Insurance Coverage Hobble Commercial Space Flights?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 03:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's devil's-in-the-details department:
coondoggie writes "Should the government continue to share the monetary risk of a catastrophic spacecraft accident even as the United States depends ever-more on commercial space technology? The question is one currently up for debate as the program that currently insures space launches, the Federal Aviation Administration's 'indemnification' risk-sharing authority, which can provide a maximum of $2.7 billion of insurance per launch, expires at the end of the year. According to the Government Accountability Office a catastrophic commercial launch accident could result in injuries or property damage to the uninvolved public, or 'third parties.' In anticipation of such an event, a launch company must purchase a fixed amount of insurance for each launch, per calculation by FAA; the federal government is potentially liable for claims above that amount up about $2.7 billion."

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OpenLogic Backs Linux On Windows Azure With SLA
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's odd-couple department:
MikeatWired writes "OpenLogic announced on Thursday that it will provide CentOS Linux — and service-level agreement (SLA) support — through Microsoft's new Windows Azure gallery. Yesterday, Microsoft announced support for Linux instances on its cloud service, among other cloud news, in what Wired Enterprise's Cade Metz dubbed an Amazonian facelift. OpenLogic's Steven Grandchamp writes in a blog post that for 'enterprise developers and IT folks who are multi-source and multi-platform, today's announcement is good news. The Windows and Linux worlds take one step towards each other.' However, Grandchamp notes that despite Microsoft 'maturing its views on open source' with 'significant work' with Node.js, Hadoop, and Samba, the open source community 'will meet [Linux on Azure] with overall wariness and skepticism.' 'Some will view this with hope and a positive step; others will continue to be cynical,' he writes. 'For me, it's part of a larger overall process that continues to signal open source coming of age. What major vendor doesn't have an open source story now? It's such an ingrained part of development, from legacy to mobile to cloud, that we can't live without and we are figuring out how to love living with it.'"

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Huge Phytoplankton Bloom Found Under Arctic Ice
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 02:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's basis-of-a-new-cocktail department:
ananyo writes "Researchers have been shocked to find a record-breaking phytoplankton bloom hidden under Arctic ice. The finding is a big surprise — few scientists thought blooms of this size could grow in Arctic waters. The finding implies that the Arctic is much more productive than previously thought — researchers now think some 25% of the Arctic Ocean has conditions conducive to such blooms (abstract). The discovery also helps to explain why Arctic waters have proven such a good carbon dioxide sink."

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The Art of Elections Forecasting
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 01:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's can-we-get-a-point-spread-in-vegas? department:
ideonexus writes "Years ago Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com, a blog seeking to educate the public about elections forecasting, established his model as one of the most accurate in existence, rising from a fairly unknown statistician working in baseball to one of the most respected names in election forecasting. In this article he describes all the factors that go into his predictions. A fascinating overview of the process of modeling a chaotic system."

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Ask Slashdot: Teaching Chemistry To Home-Schooled Kids?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 12:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's coz-what-he-thought-was-h2o department:
First time accepted submitter mikewilsonuk writes "I have a 10-year-old grandson who has shown an interest in chemistry. He is home educated and doesn't read as well as schooled kids of his age. He hasn't had much science education and no chemistry at all. None of his parents or grandparents have chemistry education beyond the school minimum and none feel confident about teaching it. My own memories of chemistry teaching in school are of disappointment, a shocking waste of everyone's time and extreme boredom. I think there must be a better way. Can anyone suggest an approach that won't ruin a child's interest?"

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LinuxQuestions Interviews Slackware Founder Patrick Volkerding
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 12:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's slack-attack-orchestrator department:
An anonymous reader writes "In this in-depth interview with LinuxQuestions.org, Patrick Volkerding discusses how he got involved with Linux and Open Source, the succession plan for Slackware, the Slackware development model, his opinion on the current trends in desktop environments, potentially disruptive changes to Linux such as systemd, his favorite beer and much more."

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Best Buy Chairman and Founder Resigns Ahead of Schedule
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 11:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's to-spend-time-with-family-no-doubt department:
lightbox32 writes with the news as carried by MSNBC that "Best Buy's chairman and founder Richard Schulze has announced his resignation from the board of directors Thursday a year ahead of the planned transition at the helm of the struggling retailer. The resignation of Dunn and Schulze come after Best Buy reported a quarterly loss of $1.7 billion after same-store sales dropped 5 percent." This sounds like a bad omen for people who get their electronic fix there. For all its imperfections and limited range, when I'm looking for computer stuff new, at retail, and in person — meaning it's not at the Goodwill and I need it right now — I'm usually glad to be near a Fry's location. What brick-and-mortar stores make sense where you live?

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Is OpenStack the New Linux?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 11:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's interesting-tools-find-interesting-uses department:
snydeq writes "As the self-proclaimed 'cloud OS for the datacenter,' OpenStack is fast becoming one of the more intriguing movements in open source — complete with lofty ambitions, community in-fighting, and commercial appeal. But questions remain whether this project can reach its potential of becoming the new Linux. 'The allure of OpenStack is clear: Like Linux, OpenStack aims to provide a kernel around which all kinds of software vendors can build businesses. But with OpenStack, we're talking multiple projects to provide agile cloud management of compute, storage, and networking resources across the data center — plus authentication, self-service, resource monitoring, and a slew of other projects. It's hugely ambitious, perhaps the most far-reaching open source project ever, although still at a very early stage. ... Clearly, the sky-high aspirations of OpenStack both fuel its outrageous momentum and incur the risk of overreach and collapse, as it incites all manner of competition. The promise is big, but the success of OpenStack is by no means assured.'"

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After Launch Day: Taking Stock of IPv6 Adoption
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 10:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's perhaps-romania-loves-broccoli-too department:
darthcamaro writes "So how did World IPv6 Launch go? Surprisingly well, according to a participants at the event. Google said that it has seen a 150% growth in IPv6 traffic, Facebook now has 27 million IPv6 users and Akamai is serving 100x more IPv6 traffic.

But it's still a 'brocolli' technology 'I've said in the past that IPv6 is a 'broccoli' technology,' Leslie Daigle, CTO of the Internet Society said. 'I still think it is a tech everybody knows it would be good if we ate more of it but nobody wants to eat it without the cheese sauce.'"
Reader SmartAboutThings adds a few data points: "According to Google statistics, Romania leads the way with a 6.55% adoption rate, followed by France with 4.67%. Japan is on the third place so far with 1.57% but it seems here 'users still experience significant reliability or latency issues connecting to IPv6-enabled websites.' In the U.S., and China the users have noticed infrequent issues connecting to the new protocol, but still the adoption rate is 0.93% and 0.58%, respectively."

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Intel Builds On Top of Android, But Hedges On Open-Sourcing Improvements
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's mixed-motivations department:
Barence writes with this news as carried by PC Pro: "Intel claims it is making significant improvements to the multicore performance of Android — but isn't sure if it's willing to share them with the open-source community. Speaking to journalists in London, Intel's mobile chief Mike Bell said that Intel's engineers were making significant improvements to Android's scheduler to improve its multicore performance. 'Android doesn't make as effective use of multicore as it could,' he said. However, when pressed by PC Pro on whether those improvements would be shared with the open-source community and Intel's competitors, Bell remained non-committal. 'Where we are required to give back to open source, we do,' said Bell. 'In cases where it's not required to be open source, I'm going to think about it. I don't like doing R&D for competitors if they're not going to contribute themselves,' said Bell, before adding that 'in general, our philosophy is to give things back.'"

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AMD/ATI Video Drivers: Unsafe At Any Speed
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's hey-man-we've-all-got-problems department:
An anonymous reader writes "CERT/CC has called out AMD for having insecure video drivers. AMD/ATI video drivers are incompatible with system-wide ASLR. 'Always On' DEP combined with 'Always On' ASLR are effective exploit mitigations. However, most people don't know about 'Always On' ASLR since Microsoft had to hide it from EMET with an 'EnableUnsafeSettings' registry key — because AMD/ATI video drivers will cause a BSOD on boot if 'Always On' ASLR is enabled."

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Cognitive Software Identifies America's Brainiest Cities
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 08:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-but-the-alaskans-are-just-bored department:
Hugh Pickens writes writes "We are often told that the smartest cities and nations do the best and economists typically measure smart cities by education level, calculating the cities or metros with the largest percentage of college grads or the largest shares of adults with advanced degrees. Now Richard Florida writes that a new metric developed by Lumos Labs based on their cognitive training and tracking software Lumosity seeks to track "brain performance" or cognitive capacity of cities in a more direct way by measuring the cognitive performance of more than one million users in the United States who use their games against their location using IP geolocation software. Lumosity's website offers forty games designed to sharpen a wide range of cognitive skills. Individual scores were recorded in five key cognitive areas: memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention, and problem solving.The data was normalized into a basic brain performance index controlling for age and gender. The results are shown on a map from Zara Matheson of the Martin Prosperity Institute that shows the brainy metro index across US metro areas with the top five brainy clusters in Charlottesville Virginia, Lafayette Indiana, Anchorage Alaska, Madison Wisconsin, and the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area. The result is not driven principally by college students, according to Daniel Sternberg, the Lumosity data scientist who developed the metro brain performance measure. 'Since our analysis controlled for age, the reason they score well is not simply that they have a lot of young people,' says Sternberg. 'Instead, our analysis seems to show that users living in university communities tend to perform better than users of the same age in other locations.'"

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MD5crypt Password Scrambler Is No Longer Considered Safe
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 07:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's risky-busy-ness department:
As reported here recently, millions of LinkedIn password hashes have been leaked online. An anonymous reader writes "Now, Poul-Henning Kamp a developer known for work on various projects and the author of the md5crypt password scrambler asks everybody to migrate to a stronger password scrambler without undue delay. From the blog post: 'New research has shown that it can be run at a rate close to 1 million checks per second on COTS GPU hardware, which means that it is as prone to brute-force attacks as the DES based UNIX crypt was back in 1995: Any 8 character password can be found in a couple of days. The default algorithm for storing password hashes in /etc/shadow is MD5. RHEL / CentOS / FreeBSD user can migrate to SHA-512 hashing algorithms.'" Reader Curseyoukhan was was one of several to also point out that dating site eHarmony got the same treatment as LinkedIn.

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Germany Readying Offensive Cyberwarfare Unit, Parliament Told
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's approve-or-face-our-blackmail-threats department:
concertina226 writes to note that it's not just the U.S. that's increasingly open about using malware as an offensive tool of state security: From the TechWorld story: "According to German reports, the Bonn-based Computer Network Operations (CNO) unit had existed since 2006 but was only now being readied for deployment under the control of the country's military. 'The initial capacity to operate in hostile networks has been achieved,' a German press agency reported the brief document as saying. The unit had already conducted closed lab simulations of cyber-attacks."
"Unlike physical attacks," concertina226 writes, "cyber-weapons can't be isolated from their surroundings with the same degree of certainty. If, as a growing body of evidence suggests, the U.S. Government sanctioned the use of cyber-malware such as Stuxnet, are the authorities also held responsible should such campaigns hit unintended victims?"


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Microsoft Ignores Usability With All-Caps Menu in Visual Studio
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 07:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's this-glass-house-sure-is-pretty department:
mikejuk writes "The recent release of Visual Studio 2012 contained a UI element that few believed could make it into the final version — ALL-CAPS menus. After lots of user criticism and disbelief, Microsoft has moved swiftly to do something about it — by tweaking the typography. '... we explored designs with and without uppercase styling. In the end we determined it to be a very effective way of providing structure and emphasis to the top menu area in Visual Studio 2012.' This must be a new meaning of the word 'structure,' because putting the menu items into all-caps means that they are all the same height. When each menu items starts with a cap then there is structure because you can see the change in height, marking the start of the next menu item. The idea that putting a menu into all caps adds structure is something that is very difficult to see. If you wanted to put structure into a menu, well how about color? Oh wait, I forgot the design department dumped color in favour of the 'everything-is-grey UI.' Developers are the people who invented CamelCase to make sure that the structure of run together words would stand out better — and now we are asked to believe that making a menu all-caps adds structure. I don't think so."

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Could Cops Use Google As Pre-Cogs?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 06:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's oh-sure-that's-easy department:
theodp writes "Remember the Pre-Cogs in Minority Report? Slate's Will Oremus does, and wonders if Google could similarly help the police apprehend criminals based on foreknowledge collected from searches. Oremus writes: 'At around 3:45 a.m. on March 24, someone in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., used a mobile phone to Google "chemicals to passout a person." Then the person searched Ask.com for "making people faint." Then Google again, for "ways to kill people in their sleep," "how to suffocate someone," and "how to poison someone." The phone belonged to 23-year-old Nicole Okrzesik. Later that morning, police allege, she and her boyfriend strangled 19-year-old Juliana Mensch as she slept on the floor of their apartment.' In theory, Oremus muses, Google or Ask.com could have flagged Okrzesik's search queries as suspicious and dispatched cops to the scene before Mensch's assailants had the chance to do her in." I bet you're already thinking of just a few reasons why this might not such a good idea.

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Ask Slashdot: Enterprise-Grade Linux Networking Hardware?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '12 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's 12-linksys-boxes-and-a-disposable-intern department:
An anonymous reader writes "In spite of Linux's great networking capabilities, there seems to be a shortage of suitable hardware for building an enterprise-grade networking platform. I've had success on smaller projects with the Soekris offerings but they are suboptimal for large-scale deployment due to their single-board non-redundant design (eg., single power supply, lack of backup 'controller'). What is the closest thing to a modular Linux-capable platform with some level of hardware redundancy and substantial bus/backplane throughput?"

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