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24-Year-Old Asks Facebook For His Data, Gets 1,200 PDFs
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ask-and-ye-shall-receive department:
chicksdaddy writes "Be careful of what you ask for. That's a lesson Max Schrems of Vienna, Austria learned the hard way when he sent a formal request to Facebook for a copy of every piece of personal information that the social network had collected on him, as required under European law. After a wait, the 24-year-old law student got what he was seeking: a CD with all his data stored on it — 1,222 files in all. The collection of PDFs was roughly the length of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, but told a more mundane story: a record of Schrems' years-long relationship with the world's largest social network, including reams of data he had deleted. Now Schrems is pushing Facebook to disclose even more of what it knows."

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Chinese Government Ramps Up Weather Control Efforts
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-stand-the-weather department:
formaggio writes "China's government is intervening with nature by rolling out four regional programs to artificially increase precipitation across the country by 10 percent before 2015. The program is anticipated to bring in an additional 230 billion cubic meters of precipitation per year by 2015. This is on top of the 50 billion cubic meters of precipitation China already artificially creates annually in the northeastern province of Jilin."

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Paul Allen Launches Commercial Spaceship Project
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 03:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fly-me-to-the-moon department:
smitty777 writes "The phrase 'Where do you want to go today?' takes on a whole new meaning as Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder and the world's 57th richest man in the world, looks to create a new spaceship company. Stratolaunch Systems plans to bring 'airport like operations' to the world of private space travel. Partnering with Burt Rutan, the plan is to field a test within five years and commercially available flights within ten. Spacecraft will be air-launched from a giant, six-engined aircraft. There is more information available on the Stratolaunch homepage."

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-is-this-blank-text-field-for department:
PerlJedi writes "Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have conducted a very simple study, with some surprising (or at least amusing) results about how our short term memory works. Quoting: 'Sometimes, to get to the next object the participant simply walked across the room. Other times, they had to walk the same distance, but through a door into a new room. From time to time, the researchers gave them a pop quiz, asking which object was currently in their backpack. The quiz was timed so that when they walked through a doorway, they were tested right afterwards. As the title said, walking through doorways caused forgetting: Their responses were both slower and less accurate when they'd walked through a doorway into a new room than when they'd walked the same distance within the same room.'"

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Judge Dismisses 'Other OS' Class-Action Suit Against Sony
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's product-may-not-behave-as-advertised department:
An anonymous reader writes "You may recall that in early 2010, Sony decided to roll out an update that would remove the ability for PlayStation 3 owners to install a different operating system on the console, citing security concerns as the reason. Geeks and Linux enthusiasts were outraged at the move, particular since the "Other OS" functionality had been advertised as a feature of the PS3. A class-action lawsuit was soon brought against Sony. Many of the initial claims were thrown out, and now, a federal judge in California has granted Sony's motion to dismissed the lawsuit, saying, 'As a matter of providing customer satisfaction and building loyalty, it may have been questionable. As a legal matter, however, plaintiffs have failed to allege facts or articulate a theory on which Sony may be held liable.' Here's the full text of the order (PDF)."

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UK Police Test 'Temporarily Blinding' LASER
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 01:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's for-sufficiently-permanent-values-of-temporary department:
esocid writes "Called the SMU 100 it costs £25,000 and sends out a three-meter 'wall of light' that leaves anyone caught in it briefly unable to see. Designed by a former Royal Marine Commando, it was originally developed for use against pirates in Somalia. While tasers and CS gas work well over short distances the laser is said to be effective at up to 500 meters (1,640ft). Being targeted by the beam has been compared to staring into the sun before being forced to turn away. Paul Kerr, managing director of Clyde-based Photonic Security Systems, which came up with the design, said 'If you can't look at something you can't attack it.'"

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Russia Set To Extend Life of Nuclear Reactors Past Engineered Life Span
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tempting-fate department:
Harperdog writes "Yikes! Russia is extending the lifetime of nuclear power reactors beyond their engineered life span of 30 years, including the nation's oldest reactors: first-generation VVERs and RBMKs, the Chernobyl-type reactors. This goes against existing Russian law, because the projects have not undergone environmental assessments. 'Many of the country's experts and non-governmental organizations maintain that this decision is economically unjustifiable and environmentally dangerous — to say nothing of illegal. The Russian nuclear industry, however, argues that lifetime extensions are justified because the original estimate of a 30-year life span was conservative; the plants have been significantly upgraded; and extensions cost significantly less than constructing new reactors.'"

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NTSB Recommends Cell Phone Ban For Drivers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's text-your-disapproval-from-behind-the-wheel department:
ducomputergeek writes "According to this AP report, the National Transportation Safety Board says 'States should ban all driver use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices, except in emergencies.' 'The recommendation, unanimously agreed to by the five-member board, applies to both hands-free and hand-held phones and significantly exceeds any existing state laws restricting texting and cellphone use behind the wheel.' So what about all the cars today that come with built-in computers, navigation, internet capabilities, and cell phones?"

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Iran Wants To Clone Downed US Drone
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's come-fly-the-friendly-skies department:
PolygamousRanchKid sends this quote from the LA Times:
"The Obama administration has sent a formal diplomatic request asking Iran to return the radar-evading drone aircraft that crashed on a CIA spying mission this month, but U.S. officials say they don't expect Iran will comply. 'We have asked for it back,' Obama said Monday at a news conference in Washington with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. 'We'll see how the Iranians respond.' His comments marked the first public confirmation that the RQ-170 Sentinel drone now in Iranian hands is a U.S. aircraft, though U.S. officials privately acknowledged that in recent days. Iran has claimed it downed the stealthy surveillance drone, but U.S. officials say it malfunctioned. Capture of the futuristic-looking unmanned spy plane has provided Tehran with a propaganda windfall. The government announced that it planned to clone and mass produce the bat-winged craft for use against its enemies."
Iran has also demanded an apology from the U.S. for the drone flight in its airspace.

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Facebook Launches Suicide-Prevention Effort
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 10:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's d'ya-call-in-sick? department:
adeelarshad82 writes "Facebook launched an initiative that gives users who have expressed suicidal thoughts the option to connect directly with a crisis counselor via Facebook chat. Facebook doesn't troll the site in search of those who might be suicidal; with 800 million users who generate billions of posts, Facebook's algorithm could easily misinterpret comments. Instead, the new initiative is dependent on people speaking up when they feel a friend might be in danger."

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New Study Concludes Math Gender Gap Is Cultural, Not Biological
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 09:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's nice-to-see-non-paywalled-articles department:
New submitter germansausage writes "A new study was published today in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, looking at data from 86 countries, to test the 'greater male variability hypothesis' as the primary reason for the scarcity of outstanding women mathematicians. It concludes that cultural and not biological factors are the chief causes (PDF) of the gap in math skills between men and women."

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Ask Slashdot: Working As an IT Contractor In a War Zone?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 09:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-just-a-hobby-any-more department:
First time accepted submitter Capt. Picklepants writes "I have been feeling malaise about the IT and technical job market in the United States. I'm interested in doing some IT work for our government in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Africa. I've heard it pays very well. Got any advice, or pointers, aside from the usual combing corporate websites and social networking?"

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LHC Homes In On Possible Higgs Boson Around 126GeV
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 08:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's abundance-of-caution department:
New submitter Ginger Unicorn writes "In a seminar held at CERN today, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson. Their results are based on the analysis of considerably more data than those presented at the summer conferences, sufficient to make significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the elusive Higgs. The main conclusion is that the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, is most likely to have a mass constrained to the range 116-130 GeV by the ATLAS experiment, and 115-127 GeV by CMS. Tantalising hints have been seen by both experiments in this mass region, but these are not yet strong enough to claim a discovery."

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Publicly Available Russian Election Results Hint At Fraud
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 07:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's or-could-just-be-a-coincidence department:
gotfork writes "As some Russians protest the results of the recent election, several commentators (Russian), have started looking at the results which are posted to the election commission web site and there's very strong evidence of fraud. Voter turnout correlates strongly with percent voting for the ruling party, United Russia, and there are a lot of polling stations with nearly 100% turnout and 100% voting for United Russia in some unusual places. The raw data is posted so you can do your own analysis."

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Adblock Plus Developers To Allow 'Acceptable' Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 06:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's good-ads-vs-bad-ads department:
First time accepted submitter Roman Grazhdan writes "Developers of Adblock Plus, an award-winning add-on for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome boasting over 12,000,000 users, announced that starting from version 2.0 the extension would come with a white list of unobtrusive, privacy-respected ads. These will be allowed by default; users will still be able to block them by unchecking 'Allow non-intrusive advertising.' The developers say: 'Only 25% of the Adblock Plus users seem to be strictly against any advertising.' What is this — betrayal of ideals of annoyance-free web or birth of independent authority for standards for advertisement?" Ads are sometimes annoying, but they also make certain websites (like this one!) possible. Getting the balance right is tricky — I know I often avoid sites because of interstitial advertising, pop-ups, etc. Whitelisting sounds like a good way to reward sites that try to keep it subtle; offloading and generalizing the task of categorizing ads into annoying or acceptable gives sites and advertisers a good threshold to duck beneath. Next step I'd like to see: a sliding scale, so browers can be set to zero, or eleven, for tolerable annoyance.

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EU Regulators Delay Google's Motorola Buy, Seeking More Info
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's power-to-destroy department:
judgecorp writes "The European Commission is delaying Google's proposed purchase of Motorola Mobility, saying it wants 'more infromation.' Europe may be nervous of the power the purchase will give Google in the mobile space."

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MIT's New Camera Can Take 1 Trillion Frames Per Second
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 06:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's need-a-really-big-sd-card department:
First time accepted submitter probain writes "MIT has made a camera that can take trillion frames per second! With this high speed capability, they can actually see the movement of photons of light across a scene or object. This is just mind-boggling." ExtremeTech has a nice video of the system, too. What would you like to see slowed down to such a degree?

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House Panel Moving Forward With SOPA
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 05:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's freedom-is-overrated-anyway department:
itwbennett writes "The House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a debate and vote on the Stop Online Piracy Act for later this week. Representative Lamar Smith, the committee chairman and main sponsor of the bill, will offer an amendment that is meant to address some concerns with the bill. Smith's proposed amendment would clarify that the bill applies only to foreign websites, not U.S. sites, accused of aiding copyright infringement."

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Canada First Nation To Pull Out of Kyoto Accord
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 02:45 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's then-let-them-ride-bikes department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Canada will become the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto protocol on climate change, dealing a symbolic blow to the troubled global treaty. 'Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past,' says Environment Minister Peter Kent. 'We are invoking our legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto.' Kent, a Conservative, says the Liberals should not have signed up to a treaty they had no intention of respecting and says Ottawa backs a new global deal to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, but insists it has to cover all nations, including China and India, which are not bound by Kyoto's current targets. Kent adds that meeting Canada's obligations under Kyoto would cost $13.6 billion: 'That's $1,600 from every Canadian family — that's the Kyoto cost to Canadians, that was the legacy of an incompetent liberal government.' Kent's announcement came just hours after negotiators in Durban managed to thrash out an agreement at the very last minute — an agreement to begin a new round of talks on a new agreement in the years ahead. 'Staying under 2C will require drastic, immediate action — with global emissions peaking in the next five years or so,' writes Brad Plummer. 'The Durban Platform, by contrast, merely prods countries to come up with a new agreement that will go into effect no later than 2020.'"

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Million Dollar Crowdturfing Industry Dupes Social Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '11 at 12:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's and-you-thought-gold-farming-was-bad department:
New submitter bowlinearl writes "Three weeks ago Slashdot featured a story on the Chinese Water Army. A new study from researchers at UCSB delves even deeper into the problem of crowdturfing (full disclosure: I am one of the authors of the study). The study reveals that evil crowdsourcing services in China are a multi-million dollar industry, and that the number of jobs and the amount of money are growing exponentially. Hundreds of thousands of workers are involved, including a small contingent of career crowdturfers who each manage hundreds of accounts on social networks. The researchers observed the behavior of workers and the unwitting users who click on the generated spam by infiltrating the two largest crowdsourcing sites in China. However, crowdturfing isn't confined to China: the researchers discovered crowdsourcing sites in the U.S. that are 95% astroturf, as opposed to Amazon's Mechanical Turk, which actively polices itself, and is only 12% astroturf."

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