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Whistleblower: NSA Has All of Your Email
Posted by News Fetcher on April 21 '12 at 04:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-most-of-it department:
mspohr writes with this excerpt from Democracy Now!: "National Security Agency whistleblower William Binney reveals he believes domestic surveillance has become more expansive under President Obama than President George W. Bush. He estimates the NSA has assembled 20 trillion 'transactions' — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans. This likely includes copies of almost all of the emails sent and received from most people living in the United States. Binney talks about Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and challenges NSA Director Keith Alexander's assertion that the NSA is not intercepting information about U.S. citizens." The parts about National Security Letters in particular are chilling, even though the issue is not new.

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UK Web Snooping Plan Invades Privacy, Despite Claims To the Contrary
Posted by News Fetcher on April 21 '12 at 01:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you're-doing-a-wrong-thing-badly department:
sweetpea86 writes with a snippet from this story at TechWorld:"The UK government's proposal to separate communications data from content, as part of new plans to allow intelligence services to monitor all internet activity, is infeasible according to a panel of technology experts. Speaking at the 'Scrambling for Safety' conference in London, Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, said that the distinction between traffic data as being harmless and content as being sensitive is becoming less and less relevant. 'Now that people are living more and more of their lives online, the pattern of who you communicate with and in what order gives away pretty well everything,' he said. 'This means that, in data protection terms, traffic data is now very often going to be specially sensitive data.'"

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Weekend Lyrid Meteor Shower Visible From Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 10:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's big-dark-blue-room department:
jamaicaplain writes "The annual Lyrid meteor shower will hit its peak this weekend and promises to put on an eye-catching display. NASA scientists plan to track the Lyrid meteor shower using a network of all-sky cameras on Earth, as well as from a student-launched balloon in California. Meanwhile, an astronaut on the International Space Station will attempt to photograph the meteors from space."

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Computer Game Designed To Treat Depression As Effective As Traditional Treatment
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 07:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's defeat-the-zoloftians department:
New submitter sirlark writes "'Researchers at the University of Auckland tested an interactive 3D fantasy game called Sparx on a 94 youngsters diagnosed with depression whose average age was 15 and a half. Sparx invites a user to take on a series of seven challenges over four to seven weeks in which an avatar has to learn to deal with anger and hurt feelings and swap negative thoughts for helpful ones. Used for three months, Sparx was at least as effective as face-to-face conventional counselling, according to several depression rating scales. In addition, 44% of the Sparx group who carried out at least four of the seven challenges recovered completely. In the conventional treatment group, only 26% recovered fully.' One has to wonder if it's Sparx specifically — or gaming in general — that provides the most benefit, given that most of the symptoms of depression relate to a feeling of being unable to influence one's environment (powerlessness, helplessness, ennui, etc) and games are specifically designed to make one feel powerful but challenged (if they hit the sweet spot)."

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Google Developer Testifies That Java Memo Was Misinterpreted
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 05:00 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-what-I-meant department:
benfrog writes with a piece that appeared in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about the in-progress legal battle between Oracle and Google over Java: "Ex-Sun and current Google employee Tim Lindholm testified that it was "not what he meant" when asked about the smoking gun email (included here (PDF)) that essentially said that Google needed to get a license for Java because all the alternatives 'suck[ed].' He went on in 'brief but tense testimony' to claim that his day-to-day involvement with Android was limited."

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A Week After Apple's Fix, Flashback Still Infects Half a Million Macs
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 03:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's retract-all-advice-to-mom department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Security firm Dr. Web released new statistics Friday showing that the process of eliminating Flashback from Macs is proceeding far slower than expected: On Friday the security firm, which first spotted the Mac botnet earlier this month, released new data showing that 610,000 active infected machines were counted Wednesday and 566,000 were counted Thursday. That's a slim decrease from the peak of 650,000 to 700,000 machines infected with the malware when Apple released its cleanup tool for the trojan late last week. Earlier in the week, Symantec reported that only 140,000 machines remained infected, but admitted Friday that an error in its measurement caused it to underestimate the remaining infections, and it now agrees with Dr. Web's much more pessimistic numbers."

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Canadian Bureacracy Can't Answer Simple Question: What's This Study With NASA?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 03:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's how-thick-is-your-thicket? department:
Saint Aardvark writes "It seemed like a pretty simple question about a pretty cool topic: an Ottawa newspaper wanted to ask Canada's National Research Council about a joint study with NASA on tracking falling snow in Canada. Conventional radar can see where it's falling, but not the amount — so NASA, in collaboration with the NRC, Environment Canada and a few universities, arranged flights through falling snow to analyse readings with different instruments. But when they contacted the NRC to get the Canadian angle, "it took a small army of staffers— 11 of them by our count — to decide how to answer, and dozens of emails back and forth to circulate the Citizen's request, discuss its motivation, develop their response, and "massage" its text." No interview was given: "I am not convinced we need an interview. A few lines are fine. Please let me see them first," says one civil servant in the NRC emails obtained by the newspaper under the Access to Information act. By the time the NRC finally sorted out a boring, technical response, the newspaper had already called up a NASA scientist and got all the info they asked for; it took about 15 minutes."

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Studies Suggest Massive Increase In Scientific Fraud
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can-we-blame-this-on-madoff department:
Titus Andronicus writes "Scientific fraud has always been with us. But as stated or suggested by some scientists, journal editors, and a few studies, the amount of scientific 'cheating' has far outpaced the expansion of science itself. According to some, the financial incentives to 'cut corners' have never been greater, resulting in record numbers of retractions from prestigious journals. From the article: 'For example, the journal Nature reported that published retractions had increased tenfold over the past decade, while the number of published papers had increased by just 44 percent.'"

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If You Resell Your Used Games, the Terrorists Win
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-hyperbole-at-all department:
MojoKid writes "Game designer Richard Browne has come out swinging in favor of the rumored antipiracy features in the next-gen PlayStation Orbis and Xbox Durango. 'The real cost of used games is the damage that is being wrought on the creativity and variety of games available to the consumer,' Browne writes. Browne's comments echo those of influential programmer and Raspberry Pi developer David Braben, who wrote last month that '...pre-owned has really killed core games. It's killing single player games in particular, because they will get pre-owned, and it means your day one sales are it, making them super high risk.' Both Browne and Braben conflate hating GameStop (a thoroughly reasonable life choice) with the supposed evils of the used games market. Braben goes so far as to claim that used games are actually responsible for high game prices and that 'prices would have come down long ago if the industry was getting a share of the resells.' Amazingly, no game publishers have stepped forward to publicly pledge themselves to lower game prices in exchange for a cut of used game sales. Publishers are hammering Gamestop (and recruiting developers to do the same) because it's easier than admitting that the current system is fundamentally broken."

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Hypersonic Test Aircraft Peeled Apart After 3 Minutes of Sustained Mach 20 Speed
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's make-a-video-of-this-please department:
coondoggie writes "DARPA's experimental Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2), lost significant portions of its outer skin and became uncontrollable after three minutes of sustained Mach 20 speed last August. That was the conclusion of an independent engineering review board investigating the cause of what DARPA calls a 'flight anomaly' in the second test flight of the HTV-2. Quoting the report: 'The resulting gaps created strong, impulsive shock waves around the vehicle as it traveled nearly 13,000 miles per hour, causing the vehicle to roll abruptly. Based on knowledge gained from the first flight in 2010 and incorporated into the second flight, the vehicle's aerodynamic stability allowed it to right itself successfully after several shockwave-induced rolls. Eventually, however, the severity of the continued disturbances finally exceeded the vehicle's ability to recover.'"

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Facebook, Instagram, Ben Bernanke: Thank You For the New Tech Bubble
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 01:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's grab-some-popcorn department:
pigrabbitbear writes "Those who continue to inflate the tech bubble will be quick to remind us all of how they've learned from the past. That this time, it's simply different. They do have a point. Silicon Valley (and Alley) have matured. Startups these days are focused, driven, and efficient, creating products that people actually use. In a period of less than a year after its launch, Instagram was used by 5 million users, who by August of 2011 had uploaded 150 million photos. But even with these impressive results, it's impossible to ignore the fact that many of the fundamental economic factors that led the first bubble remain."
A couple other readers contributed similar articles — Instagram's sale seems to have solidified the idea for many that we're in the midst of another tech bubble, though some are more certain about it than others.

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Survey Finds No Hint of Dark Matter Near Solar System
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's did-you-check-under-the-couch-cushions department:
Eponymous Hero writes "Does dark matter exist or doesn't it? It seems these results don't shed as much light as we'd hoped. 'Moni Bidin says he's not sure whether dark matter exists or not. But he says that his team's survey (PDF) is the most comprehensive of its type ever done, and the puzzling results must be reckoned with. "We don't have a good comprehension of what is going on," he says.' This has the smell of a Neutrinogate scandal, but at least we've been warned about the shoulder shrugging. 'As an example, Newberg notes that the researchers assumed that the group of stars they examined were smoothly distributed above and below the plane of the Milky Way. But if the distribution turns out to be lumpier, as is the case for stars in the outer parts of the galaxy, then the resulting calculations of dark matter density could be incorrect. Flynn agrees that there are a number of ways that the method employed by Moni Bidin and his co-authors "could get it wrong."'"

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Pay Less If You're a Nice Person: Valve's Freemium Model For DOTA 2
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-like-that-shirt-by-the-way department:
Canazza writes "In a podcast interview with Seven Day Cooldown, summarized by Develop, Valve Boss Gabe Newell discusses the payment model for upcoming strategy game DOTA 2. 'The issue that we're struggling with quite a bit is something I've kind of talked about before, which is: how do you properly value people's contributions to a community? ... An example is – and this is something as an industry we should be doing better – is charging customers based on how much fun they are to play with. ... “So, in practice, a really likable person in our community should get DOTA 2 for free, because of past behavior in Team Fortress 2. Now, a real jerk that annoys everyone, they can still play, but a game is full price and they have to pay an extra hundred dollars if they want voice.'"

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Technology Makes It Harder To Save Money
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 11:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's push-a-button-to-spend-twenty-bucks department:
Hugh Pickens writes "LiveScience reports that a survey conducted for the American Institute of CPAs reveals that while more than half of U.S. adults believe technology has made it easier to spend money, just three percent think it has made it easier to save. The research found that Americans who subscribe to digital services spend an average of $166 each month for cable TV, home Internet access, mobile phone service and digital subscriptions, such as satellite radio and streaming video — the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly rent or mortgage payment. Those who download songs, apps and other products spend an additional $38 per month. 'Our gadgets and connections can bring benefits like mobility and efficiency,' says Jordan Amin. 'But they can also bring financial challenges, like taking money that could go to savings, for instance, or contributing to credit card debt.' If facing a financial crunch, Americans would rather change what they eat than give up their cell phones, downloads or digital TV services. Asked to choose the one action they would most likely take in tight time, 41 percent said they would cut back on eating out, 20 percent said they would cut off cable TV, 8 percent said they would end cell phone service and 8 percent said they would stop downloading songs and digital products."

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US Small-Scale Nuclear Reactor Industry Gains Traction In Missouri
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's grabbing-market-share-from-mr-fusion department:
trichard writes with this quote from an AP report:
"Ameren Missouri is vying to be the first utility in the country to seek a construction and operating license for a small-scale nuclear reactor, a technology that's appealing to utilities because of the smaller upfront costs and shorter development lead times. The small reactors, about a fourth or less the capacity of full-size nuclear units, are appealing to the nuclear industry because they could be manufactured at a central plant and shipped around the world. By contrast, building nuclear reactors today is a more cumbersome process that must be done largely on site and takes years."

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Coursera: Dozens of Free, Massive, and Open Online Courses
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's teaching-the-interesting-bits department:
Titus Andronicus writes "Professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng of Stanford University announced a major expansion in the catalog of free, massive, open online courses being offered by the company they founded, Coursera. The subject areas include computer science, mathematics, and business. The providers include Stanford, Princeton, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania. Even more courses are expected to be announced by competitors such as Udacity, MITx, Minerva, and Udemy — perhaps soon. Is this the future of education?"

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Berners-Lee: You've Got Our Data, Show Restraint
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's facilitating-the-blackmailing-of-ourselves department:
itwbennett writes "Your browsing behavior may reveal more personal information than you'd tell your own mother. Which is why Tim Berners-Lee is urging technology companies to 'show more restraint' in how they use the information they hoover up. 'We're moving towards a world in which people agree not to use information for particular purposes. It's not whether you can get my information, it's when you've got it, what you promise not to do with it,' said Berners-Lee, speaking out against the U.K.'s proposal to allow government intelligence to monitor digital communications."

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YouTube Ordered To Remove Videos, Filter Future Uploads By German Court
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 09:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's germany-sets-precedent department:
suraj.sun sends this excerpt from Deutsche Welle:
"YouTube was told by a regional court in Hamburg on Friday not to display seven out of 12 contested clips without permission from the German copyright fee collecting society Gema. Gema claimed that its members were losing money every time their music was being displayed on YouTube. A proper licensing fee between the two sides expired in 2009. The Hamburg State Court ruled YouTube would in future have to install an efficient mechanism to filter out such content uploaded by users or face a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($330,000) for each case, or up to six months imprisonment. Knowing that a foolproof filter system looks next to impossible, Gema is now hoping that Google will finally agree to a new bilateral licensing treaty whereby the collecting society would not get an annual lump sum for the contested videos, but a fixed fee each time copyright-protected videos are watched."

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Game Theory, Antivirus Improvements Explain Rise In Mac Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's apple-blames-solar-flares department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Four years ago, security researcher Adam J. O'Donnell used game theory to predict in a paper for IEEE Security and Privacy when malware authors would start targeting Macs. Based on some rough assumptions and a little algebra, he found that it would only become profitable to target Apple's population of users when they reached 16% market share. So why are we now seeing mass attacks on Macs like the Flashback trojan when Apple only has 11% market share? O'Donnell says it turns out he may have underestimated the effectiveness of the antivirus used by most Windows users, which now makes overconfident Mac users a relatively vulnerable and much more appealing target. Based on current antivirus detection rates, O'Donnell's equations now show that victimizing Macs becomes a profitable alternative to PCs at just 6.5% market share."

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Artificial DNA Replicates and 'Evolves'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 20 '12 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cylons-were-created-by-man department:
ananyo writes "Scientists have demonstrated that several lab-made variants of DNA can store and transmit information much like the genuine article. DNA is made up of nucleic acid bases — labelled A, C, G and T — on a backbone made of phosphates and the sugar deoxyribose. The artificial polymers, dubbed XNAs, carry the normal genetic 'alphabet' on a backbone made using different sugars. The researchers engineered enzymes that transcribed DNA into the various XNAs, then back into new DNA strands. Faithful genetic transmission over successive DNA-to-XNA cycles allowed researchers to select for only those XNAs that attached to certain target proteins from a pool of random samples — a process akin to evolution over multiple generations (abstract). The research confirms for the first time that replication, heredity and evolution can take place in artificial DNA-like molecules."

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